Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Recently, I experienced a stressful few months, of which I will not mention the cause, and I dropped about 10 pounds, putting me at a weight I haven't been at in almost 10 years. However, now that the stress is gone, and I am happy and content, about 5 pounds have already come back and taken up residence in the places I do not like it. Since I eat when I am happy, and most of the time I am happy, I KNOW I must start exercising, regularly, again. However, that simply is not as fun, or as easy, as eating! So...here are a few things I am doing right now to burn extra calories until I get motivated to pull out my Tae Bo DVDs...do you do any of these things??

-I walk up and down my stairs, a lot, so I am doing leg lifts each time I walk down, and glute squeezes when I walk up. This adds an element of danger when I am carrying glasses, laundry or boxes, but I have very little risk in my life anyway, so I suppose I should just "live a little" while I am getting my legs in shape.

-My mom, since I was a little girl, drilled into me that I MUST hold my stomach in...I am so programmed to do it that I am mortified if I accidentally let it out for some reason, like my organs are going to spill out of my navel. I am hoping this constant flexing of my midsection is attributing to some calorie burning...I was told by the doc, who did both my c-sections, that I had the most "beautiful" stomach muscles she had ever seen...of course I was cut open and she was actually LOOKING at the muscles themselves, not the layers of fat over them! Sorry, that was gross...

-I am growing out my hair again...does that expend calories you ask? Well, I don't know...maybe it does! Maybe holding your head up with more hair on it burns calories, maybe just thinking about your hair growing burns calories...someone needs to study that...anyway...
I have very thick hair, and when it is long, I have to dry it, which easily takes about 20 minutes. SO, during that time I do leg squats and calf raises. And, I make sure to always have the heaviest hairdryer I can find, and switch hands often as I dry my hair.

-I work hard when I clean house! I try to make it as cumbersome and impractical as possible, purposely carrying little at a time to make extra trips, OR carrying a ton to work my biceps...I vacuum with my left arm and wipe tables, windows and mirrors with my left as well, 'cause my left arm is in worse shape than my right...

-I also make cooking impractical too...I buy block cheeses that I have to grate and slice, veggies and fruit that need to be cleaned, peeled and cut, make recipes from scratch, etc...it all means I am standing up longer, and moving around more, before I stuff my face.

-I take the kids on walks as much as possible and play with them, including Wii sports...I actually got sore from boxing...pathetic or cool, I am not sure...

-I get jiggy with my hubby...

-I do leg lifts and glute squeezes while I am sitting here on the computer, which is quite often..I should have buns of steel, but somehow I don't.

-I fidget...I read once you can burn an extra 300 calories a day just by shaking your legs and basically not sitting still...ever seen a walking earthquake? That's me, looking like I am hopped up on caffeine or some illegal narcotic... I should be a stick...but I am not, I'm more like jell-o.

-I stress out...that's not really exercise, but often I worry about things that have no relevance, causing my heart to race, extreme perspiring, and all loss of appetite. I can get so worked up that I suppose it's like working out...hey, I actually lose weight, right?

Other than that, I really need to start up an exercise regimen again. I just need to do it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fried Chicken

OK, so I don't know who all is reading this blog...but could someone give me a REALLY good fried chicken recipe? Like, an amazing Southern recipe, with the skin, and not robbed of it's purity, but one that is not as difficult and time consuming as an Alton Brown recipe, or as easy as driving to KFC, or as annoying as a Martha Stewart recipe, or as artery-cloggingly dangerous as a Paula Dean recipe...maybe something between a Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray recipe?? Is that even possible?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kim's Tirade about Horse Poop and Other Things...

As I was cleaning the tub toys and tub to prepare for my daughter’s bath, I noticed that almost all of my son’s “action figures” were missing their heads, which, in my mind, are important parts of an action figure! I growled as I cleaned the toys, thinking it was time to let the toy manufacturers know what they were putting parents through. How dare you, Mr. Big Corporate Toy Companies, wooing us with amazing toys, commercials that are beyond compelling, and discounted Holiday prices! We are visually teased for months on end until we finally cave, convincing ourselves this is “the toy” our child MUST have, and we run out like the salivating dogs we are to buy it! However, is there ever only one, “the toy”? Oh no! There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of new and exciting toys that come out every week! So, when we leave the store after our Holiday spending debauchery, we are thankful we went shopping without our children, because there would be no place to put the kids. We would have to leave them at the store with the Cashier! How else would we get the toys home?

So back to those headless action figures. Why do their heads have to come off? I don’t ever remember opening a package and seeing multiple heads for a doll to wear. It’s not like shoes, it’s a head! They don’t have “multiple personality/emotion man” that looks one way when he is happy and another when he is in combat! Barbie doesn’t have a “carefree party-girl” head and an, “oh my gosh where is my Prada purse?” head...well, not yet anyway! Not only that, but castles, ships, trucks, airplanes and other structures that don’t start with “L” or end with “O” come in a bazillion ridiculous cryptic puzzle pieces that take precious sane hours away from parents to build, only to be completely destroyed minutes later by the loved ones we bought them for. I mean, do the heads come off so my son can stick them in the hidden compartment of his castle? Is that the reason? That’s where I find most of them, IF I can find them at all! Don’t they realize that when children see that something comes apart, they will take it apart? And, if there aren’t snazzy compartments for them to stash them, they will put the little pieces in places where you’ll never ever find them again? Are there beetles giddy with glee as they decorate their hole in the wall with the tiny heads of action figures? I imagine so…

My daughter’s horse ranch is another great example. Why couldn’t it just be one big horse ranch unit, with all the animals and cowboys, harmoniously in once piece? Why do the awning lights have to come off? Why can’t the fence be one big, possibly folding, fence? Why in the world would a cowboy build a horse gate that snaps off? For every minute it takes them to rip their toys apart it takes me 40 just to get them back together. And the lectures do not work; it is too tempting for them to dismantle anything in their path. Glue doesn’t work. Tape is a joke. Maybe dipping the whole thing in epoxy is the only solution!

So why give them the darn things you ask? Well, we are weak, gullible, guilt-tripped! We are TOLD that our deprived children NEED these toys! They beg with their big eyes and quivering lips! And really, we all wish as youngsters we had toys half a cool as they do! We want the best for our kids, and actually, we mindlessly and thankfully accept gifts from anyone that will buy anything for our kids…and they usually buy the toys that come in a million pieces. They just don’t know.

What annoys me most about the horse ranch is while it does come with cute horsies, ranchers, cowboys, trees, wheel-barrels, brooms, brushes, etc. it also comes with, get ready, horse poop. Why, oh why, does one of the 8 million pieces have to be horse poop? Does my child really have to worry about losing her horse poop? And don’t give me that “it allows them to mimic real life situations" nonsense; if that were the case then the action figure’s stupid heads wouldn’t be popping off! Ugh…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You're Gonna Stick What, Where???

Even before you become a mother, you soon realize that things are going to be stuck in strange places, sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident. For the most part, in the beginning, many things are being stuck, purposefully, on/in you and into your baby.

With the birth of my son, I had about 12 different nurses check my cervix, a metal contraption stuck up there to break my water, and some strange fetal monitor, placed on my son's head, while he was still in there! Electrodes, very sticky electrodes, were stuck all over my chest, back and sides as well. I looked like the Goodyear Blimp tied to the ground! Thank goodness for the catheter in my back administering the epidural, AND the happy catheter in my bladder since I was on my back for 12 hours! And oh yeah, my thirst was strangely squelched by the IV in my hand. So many things, stuck in places I didn't want them...

I know there are many of you that can empathize...Had a hard labor and some trouble sitting for a while? Thank Goodness for cortisone suppositories and bags of frozen peas!** Been one of those fortunate mothers to have a SEVERELY constipated baby? Here come the ENEMA suppositories to the rescue! Breasts sore from nursing? Well, just stick on a couple of cold, gummy nipple pads, and before you leave the house, stick some nursing pads in your bra too! Think your newborn has a temp? Well, just be thankful if you have the ear/forehead thermometer! I only had the…BUM thermometer, which, actually, seemed to cure constipation…OH! Were you ecstatic not to have a period for nine months? How about that post-birth bleeding for six-weeks straight (where are those tampons???)! Baby is sick with an ear infection that won’t go away? Yeaeeeee for antibiotics!! Just shove the syringe into the back of his throat, and time the squirts in between the screams so he doesn’t choke! Baby has “gookey eye”? Who didn't squirt breast milk into her eye until it cleared up! Baby’s boogers won’t come out? Well! Get that wonderfully globed-shaped nose sucker and squeeze it BEFORE sticking it into your baby’s nose so you don’t blow air through his tear ducts and ears! And, of course, don’t forget all the needle jabs that your baby will endure before age two (if you go that route).

There might be more, but that is more trauma than I want to remember quite frankly. Where is that blog that talks about sweet-smelling babies, cooing, and that amazing maternal bonding process???

So anyway, you make it through all of that, and just about the time you are feeling pretty secure about your newly-acquired medical knowledge and techniques, baby find his nose. You will find that 98% of the time, the thing in your child’s nose will be his/her finger, but that small 2% of the time it will be something alarming that you cannot get out on your own. Unfortunately this phase can go well into adolescence, so it is hard to gauge just when you will be out of the woods for emergency room visits to dislodge any of the following…

Rolled up balls of paper
Doll shoes
Dried corn
Ball bearings
Christmas decoration
Dog food, or cat food…
Bugs-yes real ones, hopefully dead ones!

I am sure there are more, and some that are more impressive. The point is, however, it just has to be the right size and within reach to be shoved up and packed into your child’s cranium. The most important thing is not to panic AND not try to get it out yourself if blowing it out doesn’t work, and/or if you can’t see it!!! And, depending on the age, you’re never 100% sure something is really in there or isn’t. They may have tried to get something lodged in there and failed, or it was in there briefly and came out on its own.

When my daughter Audrey was about two years old, my son Jacob came to me and told me that she had stuck a sticker up her nose. We spent a ghastly amount of time with a flashlight up her nostril, trying to figure out if what we were looking at was paper or part of her nasal anatomy. After telling her to blow until she became dizzy, and hearing about 50 different versions of the story (she ate the sticker, it flew up her nose, she just smelled the sticker, she never played with stickers, it wasn't a sticker it was paper, etc), we decided she was ok and no trip to the doctor was warranted. She’s 5 now. I think I can finally stop worrying about it…

** For those of you not familiar with frozen peas, the bag works great, molding into whatever shape you need to add some cool, numbing relief, and the bag can be frozen again and again. I would suggest marking the bag, however, so you don’t later serve them for dinner…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things You Say To/About your Kids that will Come Back to Haunt You when They are Teenagers and Say...

You: Why don't you ever listen to me?

Teen: You NEVER listen to me!

You: Do you not understand what I am saying?

Teen: You just don’t understand!

You: I wish I had more time with my friends!

Teen: Leave me alone I just want to be with my friends!

You: Can’t you see I’m on the phone??

Teen: Can’t you see I’m on my phone/blackberry/MySpace?

You: (To a stranger) Oh I’m sorry! I am so embarrassed my child did/said that!

Teen: Ugh my parents are SO embarrassing!

You: I REALLY don’t want to get out of bed right now!

Teen: I REALLY don’t want to get out of bed ever!

You: You’re NOT wearing that out!

Teen: Are you seriously going to wear THAT?

You: Do NOT give me that look!


You: KNOCK before you open the bedroom door!

Teen: Don’t you ever KNOCK???

You: I love you!

Teen: I love you! (OK, so this isn’t an utterance to regret, thankfully I could only think of nine…)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Breast Pump

Date night. You have been waiting and waiting for a date night since you brought your baby home a couple of weeks prior, maybe a month if you had it rough. But, life has calmed down enough to where you are getting some sleep, you have the "nursing thing" down, and wearing something that doesn't have elastic in it sounds exciting! That means it's time to schedule a DATE NIGHT! For some of us, this may be the first time we are going to be away for several hours from our exclusively breast-fed baby, and this can cause some anxiety...this is where the breast pump comes in...that wonderful invention meant to allow us some independence and ease possible emergency situations by quietly and gently expressing milk from our bodies into sterile bottles that our babies will blissfully take every time it is offered!

Yeah...no day will ever compare in humiliation to the day I sat down at my dining room table, and for the first time hooked up to my new fancy breast pump to pump milk before going out on THE first date after the birth of my son. This, of course, was an experience (experiment?) I should have done waaaaaaaaaaaay BEFORE the date night!

My husband was smart to not comment but the look on his face said it all. While I was somewhat prepared for comments related to cows (of which there were none, one good reason we are still married) I was not prepared for what this quiet apparatus was going to do to my breasts, mainly my nipples. Uh...yeah...did I say "gently express" up there, when I first mentioned the breast pump's purpose? Sorry...I meant to say it will violently suck the life and happiness out of you through your milk ducts!

I am not sure I have seen anything in nature that could help describe what my poor nipples looked like after just 10 minutes of being repeatedly suctioned into a tiny funnel. Unless you have seen this on yourself, I doubt you will find anyone that would be willing to show you. I will just use some choice descriptors and you can put them into any order you want: purple, soggy, sponge-like, about three-inches long. It’s hard to even write about. Just realize that it’s a good thing you love your baby so much, because after one session you, for a flash, consider that baby can go for more than 5 hours without your life-sustaining nourishment AND he will love formula the first time he tries it. And most importantly, you begged for one of these body modification robot-monsters just so you could go out on a date with your husband, and you're not about to bail out now!

Oh! And did I mention just how much milk you extract from about 15 minutes of using this masochistic vacuum from Hell? Three ounces! Yeah! Three! When a black hole is engulfing your breasts and you feel like your skin is being ripped off, you are beyond hysterical that 3 ounces is all you got. Your husband is now in shock as well; here he was, waiting for time alone with his wife, and you’re propped up at the dining room table, clutching your aching, sagging, dripping breasts, praying you don’t look down and see blood. Your mascara is running from your sobbing and wailing, and the last thing you want to do is put your breasts in contact with anything else, which is a let-down to your husband (ooooh if you could just manage let-down right now, if it weren't for all this PAIN!).

So, you wander around the house for about 20 minutes with your boobs hanging out (at this point who cares right?) feeling like a failure and dreading the thought of ever having to do this again. The good news is, both breasts combined managed 5 ounces after you "bucked up" and tried for a few more minutes, and once you were able to get your shirt back over your throbbing chest you were off for a night of being served fantastic food, adult conversation, and whatever else you could fit into a three-hour window, minus the driving. On the way back you imagine that baby barely made it through the whole ordeal. But, in all reality, he was just fine. You however, barely made it through, for more reasons than just your breasts deciding to fill up with milk right after your appetizers (it's hard leaving your baby for the first, second and third time, right?). No one minds as you slip into a side room and feed your baby and get in some, "I missed you!" snuggles before heading home.

OK, OK, I know some of you apparently get like, at LEAST 6 ounces in each bottle when you pump. And, your breasts snapped back pretty quickly and got “used” to it. You went on dates, or out with your friends, or to wherever, over 12 times in the first six months with no pain, engorgement or guilt, and you were able to stock the entire freezer with the liquid gold for your millions of date nights, or in case a nuclear bomb dropped…to you people I have one thing to say; shut up!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Little Short-Cuts...

**I stitched the several hundred rips in my patchwork-style comforter instead of buying a new one, so I could buy the kids their fancy soccer photos...

**I bought ice-cream, and also bought the chocolate shell to go with it; since I eat a lot of ice cream, I figured the chocolate shell was imperative, since you must shake the bottle violently for 30 seconds before applying. Now I know I am getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day!

**I too am concerned with getting enough flavonoids and anti-oxidants, so I drink a little sangria every night. See, it's EXTREMELY cheap Italian wine, tastes like a pomegranate, and for just about $5 a jug, I am sipping on health benefits with ice cubes for two weeks! Try finding THAT in a multivitamin or piece of fruit!!

**95% of the time I stick to the 15 minutes of cleaning before bed time to assure I can get up in the morning without any disruption of chores to my coffee making, which could easily ruin my day, then my children's day, then my husband's day...

**I actually prepare everything I need the night before a big day of activity, including setting out clothes. Without this step I would be a raving, tardy lunatic with pajama-clad children.

**I floss my teeth with my angel hair pasta.

**I have a laptop...that way I can blog/read the news/facebook/instant message anywhere doing anything, except going to the bathroom or taking a shower. I am actually surprised my laptop hasn't permanently adhered to my lap...

**And...seriously...I pray in the shower. My showers are my "me" time, and I take long, quiet, wonderful showers...no better time to get my thanks and prayer requests in!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Sweet Home???

So back to that jean shopping excursion. Remember, you survived, and last we left you on your way home. Home sweet home! But, think about it, is it really "sweet"? Are you arriving home to a peaceful, comfy and clean house where you can plop down and relieve the enormous pressure on your chest by feeding your baby? Probably not, but do not fret! Here are some minor preparations to help the transition from outings to home:

(Side note: if you already have had the baby before you got your weary hands on this info, all is not lost. You can still manage, with the help of some close friends and loved ones, to make your home a mommy haven. This is a good way to get your moms and mom-in-laws involved but out of your face. They will feel needed and integral in the life of your child.)

-Set up “nursing stations” in front of every TV in the house. If you only have one TV, tell your husband you’ll need more. And if you don’t have cable, you’ll need that too. And a couple of huge, comfy, leather recliners with cup-holders and built-in back massager. Upon hearing this news, your husband will be happier than a kid at Disneyland and, you might even see him cry! This is important because you will find if you are not sleeping, you are nursing, and the only other activity you will have enough energy to do is to click the remote to watch a show or two. Get those cooking/decorating and court TV shows in now because once you introduce the kiddo to a new boob, the Boob Tube, you will never again watch anything that has natural color, sentence structure or tangible reality.

-Have a charged portable phone, a remote with good batteries, one of your many stocked diaper bags and some water and your favorite low-cal/low fat snack at all nursing stations. This way you don’t have to move, except to use the bathroom of course (TV's in bathrooms are vital too, so as not to miss a court verdict or painting technique), and, if you must move to another station, you can do so without much hassle.

Now it's time to get your house clean! Take advantage of anyone who wants to scrub your toilet, fix you dinner, do your laundry or hold the baby while you remember how to use a toothbrush. This is vital for moms who do not know how to put their babies down. I suffered from this phenomenon. Josh would come home and I would be crying. He would ask how my day went and I would sob that I could not get anything done and the house was a mess and I didn’t make dinner and I just couldn’t handle the pressure. He would ask me, “did you put Jacob down?” and I would say, “put him down? What are you crazy?”

If you are low in offers from people to do these things for you, then, at point of contact, you MUST start crying hysterically and babbling while adding just a few coherent words like, “shower” and “moldy dishes” and "nervous breakdown" around everyone you know, and they will begin to help you, if only to shut you up. Or, just put the baby down and get something done, whichever option seems more logical to you.

The next thing you must do is throw out EVERYTHING you own except the TV’s and nursing station essentials. I know that sounds silly but you’ll need the all the room you can find for all the baby toys and swings and bouncy seats and highchairs and play pens and boxes of diapers you will acquire. You’ll never use your stuff anymore anyway, and it will only collect dust, which you will have no time to clean.

At this point laundry and dishes should be the only thing you will do for the next few years. At least that’s how it feels. If you can set up a nursing station next to the washer and dryer and the kitchen sink you will be in business. Nursing stations do not lose their practicality just because you are finished nursing!

But, if you insist on doing more yourself in the first few months, here are some more tips on other household chores:

-Vacuuming: This horrible chore can be made easier by sending your hubby or someone else out to buy as many vacuum attachments for your vacuum as you can find. That way you can duct tape them to the hose and easily make an 8 to ten-foot long tube that can reach any important area right from your nursing stations. The loss of suction created by the long tube is great for dusting and will ensure that you won’t suck up any binki’s you may need later. If you have a central vac system you could just open all the vents and see what happens…

-Window washing can be eliminated by closing all drapes and blinds.

-To avoid cleaning the fridge just order out every night. During the day you can live on protein bars and dried cereal. If you plan right you could shut off your fridge for a few months and save some money!

-Bathrooms are another story, those can get nasty quickly. Mom and mom-in-law are great for that one, but it can lead to negative feedback on your domestic abilities that you may not be emotionally ready for. On-cue crying fits seem to make this problem go away.

-Yourself! Getting a shower in and brushing your teeth was never considered a luxury before kids. Bubble bath with wine and some candles, yes, but a three-minute shower while brushing your teeth at the same time? Sadly, it is something to look forward to and thoroughly enjoy every three days.

If you have any other parts of the house that you're worried about, really, they don’t matter, until your baby starts crawling and it is time to baby-proof the house. Baby-proofing you say?

Most of us would say that we feel safe in our home, and our home is a safe place to be. This perspective changes the minute your baby starts to crawl. Everything, from petrified French fries under the couch, to lamp oil in the bottom cabinet, turns your home into a sinister mommy nightmare. Stairs, light sockets, cleaning supplies and dog food are now perilous, evil death traps! Stoves, unstable bookshelves and your clawed cat keep you up at night as you imagine your precious baby coming in contact with all of them. What do you do? Who knew that under your coffee table there were three exposed screw tips? Do the living room windows really open that far, and that easily? When did the dog get so attached to his frayed tennis ball and why is he growling? Could the cat be polluting your carpet with poo-poo and litter chemicals, you know, the carpet you baby just licked? The list goes on and on, and your concerns soon widen dramatically. Desperately you search for that plastic tube the nurse gave you to measure exactly which toys or household items could become lodged in baby’s throat. You find yourself inspecting every bite of baby food for a potential shard of glass. Your husband holds you back as you check the temperature of the freezer for the 15th time to make sure your breast milk is properly frozen. And the worst assault on your psyche and general mental health, the Internet.

DO NOT LOOK INFORMATION UP ON THE INTERNET! If you cannot heed that advice (I can't!) then make sure there is a responsible, logical, grounded, happy-go-lucky adult around you to force you back into reality, or take you to the nearest mental health facility. Too much Internet surfing on health and safety concerns for your child and you will never again put them in plastic diapers, let them drink juice, play outside, play with animals, be watched by your closest friends, ride in cars, eat food heated in the microwave, watch Sesame Street or eat birthday cake. You will think every surface your child touches is covered in e-coli, salmonella, and the influenza virus, and you will develop violent tendencies toward every individual that coughs or sneezes in your general direction. Thankfully, I got to the point that the information I was reading was so overwhelming and inflammatory (however cleverly written) that I came to the conclusion that none of us should even be alive. And, since we are, obviously by the grace of God, I needed to stop worrying about it…so much…

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Even SHE is affected!

Link: Scary Mary Poppins (spoof) trailer

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Tough Questions, and Answers...

From time to time I will be adding snippets about my current life, the poignant events that rest in my heart and mind for a while, as well as the joys and sometimes the frustrations, and especially the questions that I know I don’t have all the answers to.

My son, Jacob, has always hated Halloween; the decorations strung around malls and grocery stores, as well as billboards and road signs, cause him to cringe and sound off in a tirade of tears and objections towards the holiday. Really, I don’t blame him. The costumes and d├ęcor have become more vulgar and sexually suggestive over the years in my opinion anyway…

Recently we were off for our bi-monthly shopping ritual at one of the big warehouse stores. Upon entering, I realized that, at some point, we would be bumping into Dracula, Frankie, and probably some other un-dead things that screamed, glowed, or spewed blood. Sure enough next to the cereal and peanut-butter displays stood the gruesome treasure-trove of mechanized, children's nightmare instigators. Jacob and I assumed our walking formation for just these situations, which is for him to bury his head into my stomach and walk sideways as I guide him away from the displays and on to our next grocery item. After a while this became more of a joke than a means to survive the ordeal, and he relaxed and would only position me in between him and the displays if we had to pass by again. There were kids running around the displays, laughing and screaming as well. I thought maybe this behavior, for whatever reason, relaxed him a little.

We were almost finished with the shopping when Jacob’s attitude changed from slightly annoyed to obviously disturbed. Suddenly he wouldn’t look around at ANYTHING, even though we were out of the danger zone and in the fruits and vegetables aisle. I assured him over and over that we were done with that part of the store, we weren’t going back, and the fruits and vegetables were not going to attack him. None of this worked as he persisted on keeping his eyes closed, hanging onto me and begging to leave the store.

Now, I am sure, that all parents at some time come to the point that my husband and I did, which was no longer tolerating the behavior. We were finally in line, completely on the other side of the store, and despite our best calming efforts Jacob was sobbing. The checker inquired about his condition to which we replied, politely, that he was afraid of the Halloween decorations. My daughter, Audrey, on the other hand, was oblivious to all going on and was busy helping us load the food on to the belt and chatting with people around us. The checker mentioned that many kids had been visibly upset, and even complained that the displays were too mature for young eyes. We made it out to the car, my husband and I trying every tactic we could think of to calm Jacob down, short of treats or punishment.

The rest of the night went without incident, and sometimes when you are moving along in life at a tornado’s pace, you forget that your little ones may still be processing events that took place days ago. As we were all getting ready for bed a couple of nights later, Jacob came up to me with tears in his eyes. “Do you remember when I was scared of that boy at the store?” he asked me. I started thinking about those kids running around, and instantly realized that I had missed something that he had picked up on.

“Well, I didn’t see him.” I said, “but, he is not here now and you will probably never see him again, so if I were you I wouldn’t worry about it.” There! Done.

“No, mom, he was really scary and he looked at me!” OK…now I am lost…is he talking about the displays? I don’t remember a…oooooooh yes…I do…

“You mean that little boy in the cart with his mom?” I asked carefully.

“Yes!” He wailed. Ah…it was becoming clear.

At about the same time we were passing the displays, again, on the other side of me by the displays passed a woman with a child in her cart. This child had an extreme physical disability that even I found a little hard to look at, but all the same this child was making eye-contact with the people around him, which allowed for a glance and a smile. I had not thought much of it since Jacob was already on the other side of me, avoiding the displays, but like many people who are afraid to look at things full-on, he must have been peeking.

“Oh Honey,” I began, “that little boy can’t help the way he looks, that was just how he was born. He wasn’t trying to scare you. I am sure he is a very nice boy. Some people just look different than us, that’s all.”

“But why does he look like that?” He asked me.

“Well, I don’t know. He was just born that way, we can’t decide how we are born or how we look.”

“But why did God make him that way?”

“Well, I believe that things just happen because we live in the world that we live in, I don’t think God made him that way, sin in the world changes everything. (I am not suggesting this is a punishment to the child or his mom/dad. I am just saying that because of The Fall we are all subject to an imperfect world) but He did make him for a purpose, and God looks at our souls, not the outside anyway. That little boy is just as loved and as special as you are.”

“But will God fix him?”

“Well, no, Jacob, not his outside.”

Trying to answer questions like this is not easy, and my last response was not received lightly. Jacob fell into my lap, sobbing into my neck and said, “that is so sad!” I cried too.

From here we talked about how we should be thankful, always, for everything we have, including wholeness in our physical bodies…how we should not question why we look like we do, or don’t look like someone else we admire. We talked about how God is more concerned with the condition of our hearts; God sees the beauty of Christ in us, and we are called to carry that out in our lives by loving and caring for others.

We then compared Jacob’s life to the little boy’s life, taking extreme liberty in our assumptions and speculations, if only to drive the points home. We talked about the possible struggles this little boy had, people always staring at him but not always smiling, the good chance that he would never get to play on a soccer team, and even if he could the challenges he would face in being accepted. How every new person he encounters offers almost the same reaction of shock and silence, or fear or ridicule. How it is very possible that this little boy has only a handful of people in his life that look upon him like he is the most beautiful person on the planet, and embrace him. We talked about how it must feel to see other kids, and wish that he could just have a day where he wasn’t reminded of what he saw in the mirror. We also talked about how much of a burden that could be for such a little child, who really cannot control anything in his life yet.

That’s when I realized, this is just too much of a burden for Jacob to have right now as well, and the only way he knew how to control it was to cry. The only thing I knew I was saying right was that Christ loves us all, and takes us just the way we are, if we accept him.

At the end of our conversation, he seemed much better. He was relieved to know that the boy’s condition had nothing to do with how God viewed him, and that once that little boy met God his spirit would be perfect. For many days after Jacob declared how thankful he was for the way that God made him and that one day he would be in heaven, perfect.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”. NIV

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Baby is Crying but I Must Have New Jeans...

Crying. Baby crying stinks. You hate it. You want more than anything to help your Sweet One STOP so he can go back to that cooing and gurgling you love so much. Because see, you are on a mission, as you’re FINALLY losing some weight (yes!) and you have been stuck in the house for about 8 billion years. The sun is shining and new jeans sound better than the epidural you got shoved into your back at around 6 centimeters. It's time to go JEAN SHOPPING!!

So, you manage to get your 25-pound fully-stocked designer diaper bag AND baby into the car without much fuss. You are amped, have make-up on, and ready to go! As you pull out of your driveway, you feel free and totally independent, like that annoying friend who was out and about right after labor!

You're three minutes into the weekend bumper-to-bumper traffic when your Sweet Little Angel starts screaming and wailing bloody murder. What the heck is going on? Paci fell? Toe is cramped in new shoes? Sun is in his eyes? Blowout? He is backwards so you have no flippin' clue!

What are you supposed to do? Miss your exit, pull of to the shoulder and fix the problem? Continue driving and crank up 80’s rock music, hoping to drown out the screaming with the a guitar solo? Nah. You just do the twist your neck and arm backward thingie, patting baby's head in between shifting gears and changing lanes while saying, “you’re ok!” at 75 mph. While this does not do much to stop the crying, and puts you, baby, and others at extreme risk, at least you feel like you are doing something and you make your exit!

So you get to your destination no longer inspired but haggard and disoriented with the worst neck pinch you have yet experienced. With ringing ears you park wherever you can and begin to wrestle the stroller out of the trunk, breaking the one good nail you have trying to pop the dang thing open. You fit your stupid designer diaper bag halfway into the bottom of the stroller and prepare for baby transport, only to find that baby has fallen blissfully asleep while you were fighting with the stroller. Naturally. So, your best efforts to gently move baby from car to stroller starts the wailing all over again, as if you violently shook the car seat and slammed it into the stroller. The drama.

So 20 minutes into your trek, baby is crying that hunger cry, (you know the one that causes you to spray milk) even though baby just ate right before you left so he can’t POSSIBLY be hungry, right? You convince yourself of this in order to get from the parking lot into the mall.

Baby's screams are amplified, each wail echoing painfully through the mall’s large walkways. What a way to announce it is time to find some new jeans! You feel all eyes on you as you trudge by, trying to remember the names of the clothing stores you used to shop at since so many new ones have popped up while you were living in the Maternity World. The annoyed eyes become all too heavy as you duck into a normal clothing store for the first time in about 6 months, and you are happy to escape the wave of grimaces.

But oh no. Skinny, taut women parading around you cause envy and disbelief overwhelm you as you sweat that NONE of these women have had children. Swearing under your breath you angrily snatch the first three pairs of jeans you see in different sizes and lug the stroller to the dressing rooms.

Looking at the dressing rooms causes an internal dilemma: Do you use the room reserved for people with wheelchairs who need to use the support bars or not? You realistically cannot fit your diaper bag, let alone the stroller, in a dressing room designed for skinny childless people. Rationalizing the need at hand, you dart into the bigger dressing room and maneuver the stroller and diaper bag into place and position yourself in a manner that you hope will reveal the most flattering image of your “new body” in the mirror. You sit down and look at baby, who is not wailing any longer but seems to be taking a break as to save the real tantrum for an audience. You realize that baby’s binki is missing, but there is no time for that; she is quiet and it is now time for the daunting task of finding great jeans that fit! You remember the dressing room mirror as being evil, but now you wish you could try the jeans on in the dark! "Is this a fun mirror??" you moan while squinting so you can blur your view of stretch marks and chunky flesh. Of course you try on your pre-pregnancy sized pants first. Denial and agony of the truth clash when they don’t fit and you groan as you pull them up as far as they will go, which is half-way up your thighs. You manage to convince yourself that clothing sizes changed within the last 6 months due to some manufacturing mishap and attempt to move on. The next pair is not much better, but after squirming and yanking you get them to cover your behind! For a split second you think you should buy these and use a rubber band to hold them together and wear over-sized shirts for now because the weight will just “melt off” once you start that strenuous exercise routine. You are jolted back into reality and try on the third pair. Of course the largest sized pants you don’t want to fit “fit”, and you are pretty sure you are buying your first pair of "mom jeans" as tears start to well in your eyes. Jeans shopping was not as fun as you thought it was going to be! After slipping back into your maternity jeans (which are actually more current with the trends than what you are about to buy) and letting your tummy back out, you realize you now have to go stand in line to buy the darn things. On cue baby starts crying and starts to emit a very ripe and nauseating smell. You decide the diaper can wait as you exit the room and head for the line of about 2000 people waiting to buy jeans in your old jean size.

As you stand in line with sweat dripping off your brow and onto the shelf of a chest you have acquired, you fumble for binkies, toys, Cheerios, anything that will get your baby to stop crying, but nothing is working and you know it is because of that rancid diaper you are allowing you child to steep in as it ferments due to your selfish quest. Your eye catches the clock on the wall, and to your amazement, you see that it took you an HOUR to try on three pairs of jeans. You swear you will never go out alone with baby in public again as you realize it is ALSO time for baby to eat and you either will have to sit on a bench by the cell phone kiosk to nurse, or use your half-an-hour window of time to get home and feed the ravenous peanut before he explodes. If you are a mom with formula, you are probably letting out a sigh of relief as you give the baby her bottle and the rest of the experience is somewhat tolerable. Or, you’re freaked out because you forgot your ATM card and have no cash to buy bottled water and must either, let your baby starve, or get water from the bathroom that was last cleaned, uh, when?

You are able to buy your jeans just before everyone passes out in line behind you and you make it out to the car relatively in one piece and start loading everything back in. Driving all the way home with that smell is certain to be a health hazard, so you attempt your first diaper change in the passenger side seat of the car. Right now you're happy I told you to pack plastic baggies! You’re tired, your breast pads are filled to capacity, and you wish I would have also have told you to add earplugs to the list! Baby starts crying again as soon as you are out of view, and the perilous drive home requires that 80’s rock music once again. In your stressed-out stupor you actually think your baby’s screams sound great to heavy metal. At least you got some jeans, right?

Who doesn't love the "Mom Jeans" skit on SNL...Tina Fey ROCKS! Watch the clip at: http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/mom-jeans/229048/

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And Along Came Baby...

Before I had kids I was such an expert at raising them. I knew everything! OK, I didn’t, but I sure had perfected the smug, self-righteous glances deliberately shot at moms who were…just fill in the blank: squawking at their kids, ignoring their kid’s squawking, letting them tear around the store, gripping them by their necks aisle by aisle, feeding them junk, not wiping their noses. All around me were moms causing a nuisance in public with unkempt hair and mismatched socks and, oh my, a stain on their shirt! How could they leave the house looking like that?

All this from a woman that walked around the house in an old t-shirt soaked with breast milk because it hurt too much to wear my nursing bra and thus sop up the mess with nursing pads.

OK, so I know some of you just read that and are saying, “You are pathetic!” I get it, I know. I have seen you, the moms that are out and about three-days after birth, looking like they had never had a baby at all, full make-up on and their little cherubs all rosy and decked out in the latest trendy outfit with matching burp rags…oh wait, your kids don’t spit up.

I have never aspired to be like a celeb, or to parrot their insane “bounce back” behaviors after birthing a child…oh, I am not bitter, it’s just I am cut from a different mold, that’s all. So, you see, I am talking to the women who for a significant time after the birth of their baby circulate through three ragged t-shirts, one cool pair of over-sized college sweatpants and their favorite maternity jeans.

The point is, I was humbled beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Here I was a “mom” with humongoid breasts, (yes that is my word) clothes that did not fit and the challenge of trying to figure out how to not smell like partially digested breast milk when I left the house. Speaking of leaving the house, here’s a quick list of a few things you should have when leaving your house…even for 15 minutes…

-Diapers. Bring at least 12, 20 if you’re out for a day of shopping. Why do you think warehouse bigwigs sell such big boxes?

-Binkies, or nukies or pacis or plugs or dummies…in fact bring them all.

-Wipes-no need to say why, right?

-Clothing: at least two onesies, 2 pairs of socks, three shirts, four pairs of pants or dresses, weather-appropriate items such as coats, hats, mittens and booties for winter. Don’t forget some clothes for yourself! You never know when a river of baby puke will come splashing onto your one of three “good” post-pregnancy outfits. But do anticipate your baby’s first “blow out” up their backs or down their legs in their best outfit, or your first time out to dinner and/or on the day you scheduled family pictures.

-“Things to spread on”. Oh we love the savvy salves, lotions and ointments! Have some diaper rash paste, baby lotion to keep baby kissably soft at all moments of his or her life, Purel or other alcohol-based cleanser to wipe off the kisses from strangers and sniffling children, hand lotion to stop your hands and baby’s cheeks from cracking and bleeding due to all the hand sanitizer you are using, or better yet just use the nipple cream in your right pocket. That should keep those scabs away!

-Cherrios. For babies experimenting with solids and up to age 2, you will find that Cheerios are the best invention outside of the wheel. Bring a whole box and share the wealth!

-Burp rags. Make sure they match all the items of clothing you are bringing in case you bump into someone you know who would care.

-Ziplock baggies! Bring all sizes, and a lot of them. Good for dirty diapers and puked on /pooped on clothing, Cheerios, toys and paci’s to wash later…

-Blankets. One for the baby, one for the car, one to cover yourself if you need to nurse. One to cover the carseat as you carry baby from place to place. One that looks handmade and really cool, just because.

-Bottles and formula. Bring bottled water too, not only to quench your thirst from lugging around so much stuff, but also to mix up your formula. Nothing like using sink water from the bathroom in the mall!

-Nose sucker! You know, that blue thing or green thing you got that you weren’t sure what to do with? You will use this most often in public, and clear a good-sized radius around you as the baby screams every time you shove it up his nose.

-Breast pads. Another baby, squeaky door or violin music in an elevator could offset a steady flow of milk not intended for consumption at that time.

-Stuffed animals and toys. You never know which one will be the favorite and thus stop crying fits, so bring all animals baby has touched within the past 24 hours. Bring all the baby toys, books and teethers that you wish to lose.

-A snuggly, backpack and a stroller that will allow a carseat to latch on. Once they get bigger you can add an umbrella stroller for quick jaunts.

-A friend, hubby or even an in-law to help you get to the car and make it to your destination in one piece.

-And last but not least, your baby!

There! That should get you to the grocery store or even a Matinee if you are adventuresome! A word of warning: if you do not bring something on this list it will become the most important thing to you once you are far from home and realize you forgot your cell phone and ATM card. If you make up more than one diaper bag and leave one in the car, one at your mom’s and one with your husband, you will be considered a rockstar among your friends. Or at least by me anyway!

Free Advice for New or Soon-To-Be First Time Moms

The day I brought my son, Jacob, home from the hospital it was a sunny and airy spring afternoon in April. Even though he was born at an impressive 9 pounds, he seemed to get lost amid the clothes and blankets we surrounded him in as we fumbled with the car seat straps to secure him. The nurse stood by with a gentle smile on her mouth as she offered tidbits of advice on how to get him in that contraption quickly and correctly. I looked at her; she looked at me; I looked at my husband and he looked at me. It was time. We were going home!

The ride was quiet and somewhat surreal. I hadn’t been in a car for 4 days but it had felt like a lifetime. I winced at every bump and dip we hit on the road, partly from having a cesarean and partly from hoping Jacob’s head wasn’t bouncing around like a tether ball. As time goes on driving in a car with your face twisted around to look into the backseat gets easier, really it does.

We got home and introduced Jacob to our 7-pound chihuahua, Paco. He was not impressed but keen on smelling me and figuring out where I had been after my “talk” with him just four days before. “You’re not the baby anymore, Paco.” I had told him with tears streaming down my face. The drama…

I put Jacob in the sun since he was a little jaundiced and the doctor said he would benefit from some natural vitamin D. He lay in his bassinet with just his diaper and blue socks on. So cute! I nursed him in the sun and it was incredible to finally be home with him on such a beautiful day with my husband by my side.

The pregnancy was not an easy one. I bled for the first six months and had 12 sonograms within that time to make sure I wasn’t losing the pregnancy. Reasons for the bleeding were never found but after Christmas it had stopped and things seemed to be fine. I was gaining a lot of weight and was quite swollen, common complaints in pregnancy especially during the holidays, but when it turned out I had pre-eclampsia I would soon have two hospital stays, one at 35 weeks and one at 37 weeks, to stabilize my condition. Thankfully I was able to carry to term, and after being induced I endured an emergency c-section after failing to progress and apparently just being “too small”. Jacob came out with a few bruises here and there from being pressed against my bones, but overall he was a robust, beautiful and happy baby boy with a perfectly round head.

The next few weeks were all about nursing, changing diapers, catching some Z’s, recovering and…pictures! We have about 800 newborn pictures of Jacob, all within his first week of life, and maybe 10 of our daughter, who came exactly two years later. Our camera wasn’t broken, and of course it was not a question of love, it’s just in retrospect you realize your time is not that taxed with just one kiddo. It took me some time to let other people outside of the family actually hold him. I suddenly was tapped into the invisible and evil world of germs and viruses and they, in my mind, were forming strategic plans to hop on board my friend’s hands and lips to directly infiltrate and attack my new and helpless child. Hand sanitizer became my best friend and is still a main weapon in my fight against the germ world today.

It took me much longer than the average mom, or at least the ones I hung out with, to get out of the house and start experiencing life as a mom. When you are handed something as precious as a child, the overwhelming task of growing them up and teaching them to spread their wings to fly becomes the most important endeavor you will ever face. And I had not a frickin’ clue how to do it outside of my bedroom and living room couch!

Now, almost 8 years and two kids later, I feel I have a grasp on what I am supposed to do (I have kept them alive and safe so far!) Everyday brings on more questions and new answers, but my hope is that I can share with you, a new mommy, some of the successes, failures, ideas and revelations (many tongue-in-cheek) that I have had in my journey thus far. And for those "seasoned" mommies, I hope you can laugh along with me at the memories of these precious and amazing times!

I pray blessings and happiness on you, you mommy you! Now sit down, get a good beverage and start reading…

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