Archive | January 2011

a helpful tip? maybe?

Earlier this week I had the blessing of having a “GI bug.” At first I thought I had food poisoning. Later I was sure I was dying. (Don’t worry…I wasn’t.) Anyway, at one point I was holding a bucket closing my eyes to try to keep the one bite of Saltine cracker in the right place if you get my drift, and at the same time was explaining to Mom how many drops of vitamin D Sam gets and where to put the probiotics. At that point it dawned on me: there should be a better way to do this.

So, later, I did what I always do when faced with a problem. I opened up a Word Document and started writing. I made a little chart called “Sam’s information.” Probably everyone in the world already has this document for their kids, but I still felt very efficient and responsible. My document records things like allergies, dr. number, where to find the insurance card, as well as Sam’s favorite foods for breakfast, his naptime routine, and what to do if he wakes up in the middle of the night. I forwarded it to anyone who might watch Sam. I do think it will be helpful, because even the people closest to Sam don’t know which inhaler to give and things like that. And heck, you never know when you’ll be holding a barf bucket or delivering a baby and trying to convey important information. If you are interested in seeing my chart, I’ll forward it to you.


the witching hour

There is a funny scene in “Marley and Me” where – after they have three kids a dog – the dad is sitting in the car avoiding going into the house for dinner. Jennifer Aniston asks him what he’s doing in the car and he says “man stuff.” When I watched the movie first I was pregnant, and ignorant. I now know that that man was doing what all men do: trying desperately to avoid “the witching hour.”

My mom is the one who introduced me to the term. At the time Sam was two months old and I was complaining about how horrible the end of the day is. She explained to me what apparently all moms, kids, dogs, telemarketers, UPS men, and even houseplants know about: the horrors of 3:30pm – whenever Dad finally gets home. It is long, boring, everlasting, dreadful, and miserable. Some things make it worse. These factors include decrease in sunlight, daylight, outside temperature, or nap length, the number of kids (babies under six months count as 3 points), the hunger of all immediate persons, and number of people teething or with head colds.

There is no real solution to the witching hour. But I thought I would offer some things that we do around our house then. I am not a kindergarten teacher and I am not creative, as you will see from this list. These ideas are born from desperation, nothing more. Therefore, please comment below with your witching hour suggestions.

~ craft box. Most effective if used sparingly. Ours holds scissors, glue sticks, markers, stickers, tape, bandaids, playdough, finger paint, watercolor paint, brushes, coloring book, fuzzy sticks, dry erase board, pencils, highlighters, and a few other things in the dollar store aisle. Locals, shout-out for the new dollar store at exit 23. Tons of crafty items, all $1.
~ indoor sand box. This is a bad idea for so many reasons. First, the sand box is actually a glass jar that is decorating the bathroom. Second, hello, sand inside? Bad idea. But the second half of this project is always vaccuuming, which is actually a good witching hour activity in itself as well now that I think about.
~ baking. Contrary to normal baking, witching hour baking pays no attention to how much you actually want/need the item or whether or not you feel like scraping oats and honey off the kitching floor. It’s recreational.
~ “baking.” We make cake out of various items, such as golf balls, old head of iceberg lettuce, tea bags, flour/water, celery stalks, cheerios and raisins, blocks, spice bottles, and an orange. I don’t recommend the orange. He tried to eat it, sprayed everywhere, etc etc.
~ a good long bath. Like as an activity. Bring up a strainer, a big spoon, use lots of bubbles, waste lots of water. Real pace changer.
~ Fisher Price online alphabet game, and online books.
~ playing with all of the tupperware out of the cupboard. Sure, I always wash it after. (?)
~ taking all the cushions off the couches and making a fort.
~ going for a ride in the laundry basket, stopping at “stations” to pick up favorite animals or toys. This is not recommended for the pregnant or the weak.
~ painting with water on paper. You could accuse me of being poor, but I care not. It has used up a good fifteen minutes before.
~ homemade playdough. There is probably an official recipe somewhere, but I mix corn starch with water (and food coloring if things are really desperate) and it is pretty fun.
~ dance party.
~ playing with ice chips.
~ “driving” the car. Sam sits in the drivers’ seat and pretends he is driving. Only downside to this one is the tantrum you will get the next time he realizes he does not get to drive and must sit in the back like a mere passenger. Apparently it’s crushing.
~ TV. Used aptly, it is a lifesaver. Truly. Sam is obsessed with this video, in case you are in the market.
~ going to a new room in the house. I know, people, it’s a stretch. But you just never know what might create a whole twenty minutes of new fun.

So there are my lamo ideas for the witching hour. FYI, here are a few things I do not recommend doing during the witching hour:
– expecting your toddler to tell you when he/she needs to go to the bathroom, or to hold it for longer than fifteen minutes at a stretch.
– answering phone calls of people you want to impress.
– trying to actually accomplish anything, including making dinner.
– looking in the mirror.
– calling your husband to ask where he is. This is a lose/lose. The absolute only good answer is, “Yes, honey, I am currently standing at the door, and you will see my face in four seconds. Oh, and by the way I picked up dinner at Carabbas.” But we all know that is not usually how that conversation goes.
Look forward to hearing your tips!

on love and worry

I used to think love was nice. I remember watching “Bed of Roses” (which is probably a horribly made movie) around sixth grade or so and thinking I could not WAIT to fall in love. Then I got engaged, had a wedding, got married, and love was still pretty sweet. Sure it was harder than initially thought, requiring a little more self-sacrifice, overlooking of flaws, picking up dirty dishes, etc, but it was still pretty great.

Then, I had Sam. I am going to be blunt. I am nineteen months in, and I don’t like love anymore. It is too serious, too velveteen-rabbit-real, too daring, too painful. And it is getting worse. Now it seems a thousand times a day I feel love. Sometimes it’s for obvious reasons, like when he folds his hands to pray when I’ve forgotten, or tells me “thank you pretty mommy for dinner,” or tenderly comforts the teddy bear (who is getting his diaper changed) or claps because he’s so happy he’s finally seeing Daddy. But sometimes it’s the smallest thing – the way his little toes look in the bathtub, hearing him jabber to his stuffed animals in his crib while dozing off, the way his pudgy little hands pick up a raisin and his crinkly smile when I finally let him hold the spatula. Those moments make you think life is just perfect. And it is, now.

But it can’t last. The more love you feel, the more awful the reminder that you can’t prevent anything – not cancer, not child predators, not the chicken pox or bloody noses or broken arms, snotty godless girls or teenage rebellion, nor the worst one of all: time.

Of course I dread sickness and tumors and all of those horrors. But somehow it almost seems equally a tragedy that he could be spared all of those…and grow up. And not wear his fuzzy winter hat, and not need me to put on his sneakers, and not sing “songs” while he plays the piano and not tell me “Mommy I yuv you” and not struggle to use a fork but keep on trying and not drink milk from a sippy cup and not stay on the side of the babygate that I put him on. But he will, soon. Love is cruel.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can take much more love. I’ve always wanted lots of kids…now, I wonder if I have the courage to love two. Dear God, thank you for the blessing of loving the most wonderful little boy ever. Give me the courage to keep on loving, and loving, and loving, and trusting. for you are good. amen!

things that are worth the money.

At the risk of sounding like a grandpa, when did things get so expensive? I’m pretty sure I filled my car up with gas in high school (my suburban, mind you) for twenty bucks or so. I’m always shocked now when McDonalds cheeseburgers aren’t $.49. Why in the world does it cost $4.95 to buy a simple birthday card? And don’t even get me started on life insurance, chicken breast, or baby shoes. It’s crazy.
It doesn’t help that I’m frugal by nature. For me, spending money always seems to feel wrong, like eating the last oreo at a guest’s house, or texting in church. But there are a few things, a few wonderful things, which, even in these inflated times, make me feel happy, and smart, and righteous even, for buying. Here is my personal opinion, for shoppers or scrimpers, of things priced right and worth the money.
– Victoria’s Secret yoga pants. My use of the word “righteous” earlier now seems a little misplaced. But seriously. The $29.99 I spent five years ago made initial appearances in the gym and mall. Those pants followed me on my honeymoon, through years of saturday house cleaning, and yes, even into the hospital to deliver a baby. Or maybe it was a few weeks later. Whatever. They are beyond comfortable without looking comfortable.
– Our internet. Random, yes. But I feel the need to share that for $19.95 a month, Time Warner supplies us with perfectly acceptable fast speed of wireless access. And hours of time wasted. So thanks. (?)
– Harris Teeter. Yes, Bilo is cheaper. But at Bilo do they put my groceries in the car? Do they reward me for my frequent shopping with free cookies at Starbucks? Do they offer me random terrific deals like this week’s 24 water bottles for $1.88? And most importantly, do they make me feel, for one hour of the week, like I am good enough to deserve organic raspberries that are not moldy in the bottom? No, they do not.
– Pampers wipes. Sam has all but told me in his own words, please only buy Pampers wipes. They are the right amount of moist, soft, and thick.
– My Electrolux vaccuum, my kitchenaid mixer, and my Pampered Chef utility knife. Still as wonderful as the day I got them (all gifts, but I’d buy them if I had to).
– Turning on the gas fire when it’s really cold in the morning. Enough said.
– A nice dinner on your birthday. Pretending you’re more wealthy than you really are, when done discriminately, is actually very healing. My local preferences are the North Harbor Club and 131 Main.
– Mary Kay eyemakeup remover. There is no substitute.
– Going to Chick-fil-a on a really bad day to buy a small lemonade. It has made many a rough day bright.
– A caramel frappachino. Like once a season, in the afternoon, with whipped cream.
– a king-sized bed. Being the cold one/one who likes to cuddle, I was very dubious of this buy, thinking it threatened our marriage and my warmth. Oh, how I was wrong. I will never go back.
– a family vacation. We didn’t plan to travel this year, but we did. It wasn’t long, expensive, or exotic. It was Myrtle Beach, people, how could it be. We were SHOCKED at how many wonderful memories we made, how refreshed we were, and how fun a time we could have on basically a short and lame vacation. We are now determined to take one every year, and enjoy it.
– The pansies on my back porch. I was shocked the day I discovered people bought flowers that died every year. What is the sense in that. But I take it back. I am slightly happier everytime I see them in my backyard, even if it reminds me that we still haven’t sold our house and no one has even seen them yet. Oh well.
– a year’s subscription to Cook’s Country. I don’t get this magazine anymore, but thankfully I saved them all, and I read them over lunch, before menu planning, during evening wind-down time, and anytime I am curious what the best way is to make something. How many magazines do you read, save, and re-read? For me, not many, but this one I do. It’s a gem.
– And finally – can I say this without sounding like a nerd? Disability insurance. I feel obligated to remind everyone to check and made sure what your family’s coverage is in case you need to add to it.
So there! Hope you enjoyed my list! I’s love to know what some of your worthwhile buys are!

a letter to me

It is no secret. I was a horrible new mom. I was selfish, I worried, I stressed, I (gasp) tried to keep the house clean and dinner cooked, and I doubted myself, my calling, and, basically, whether life would ever be what I hoped it would. Well-meaning books and magazine articles remind you you can’t be a “bad” new mom, but, oh, I was. Then again you probably already knew that if you’ve read much.
I think my major problem – besides lack of sleep, which I am convinced is the most effective form of torture mankind could ever utilize – was perspective. I lost all sense of time. On some level I think I truly believed I would never again have a shower longer than eight minutes and that Sam would be crying from gas the rest of his life, a life that, incidentally, was destined to be cut terribly short from SIDS, nasal congestion, or general bad parenting.
Thus, it is with an understandable amount of apprehension that I anticipate the arrival of little Ty. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. But more than nervous, I feel determined. I know my mistakes, and I will NOT make them again. I can’t wait to meet our newest little guy, and show him how much his mommy loves him, and also that she is unfazed by inconsolable crying. It won’t be easy, though, so I’m writing myself this letter to read when things start looking bleak.

Dear new-mom-again Jessica,
First of all, stop right now and say thank you. This is hard, but it is not cancer, it is not heartbreak, it is not war or AIDS or persecution or imprisonment. God is allowing you to be stretched and made holy in the most wonderful, blessed way possible – with a precious little newborn. So say thank you.
Now take a long, deep breath. It may seem like this will last forever, but it won’t. Right now you are worried that this little guy will roll over in his sleep, that he has some undiagnosed allergy, tumor, or infection, that without you watching him like a hawk he can’t possibly survive newborn stage. Relax. Chances are good that before you can blink, he will be sitting in his Bumbo with a smiling doggy bib eating sweet potatoes reading “Green Eggs and Ham” and saying “mmmm.” Chances are, he will survive, and so will you. And that crying, gas, or colic? He might be unhappy now, but he won’t be forever. One day he will be bouncing and laughing in the farm animal chair, he will die giggling when Daddy tickles him, and he will jump up and down squealing the name of his favorite stuffed animal.
You’re tired. Every minute of crying is longer, every burnt piece of toast more devastating, every “no” from Sam more obnoxious, every too-small piece of clothing more offensive, and every worry more terrifying than it actually is. It will all look better by bathtime.
So just wait. No matter how awful-horrible-no-good this day is (and it’s only 8:26 in the morning), it will end. Eventually, all babies will be sleeping, and you and Todd will laugh at something Sam said and that you found mounds of toilet paper behind the television and nipple shields in the potato chips, and you will climb in bed and watch 24, and it won’t be so bad.
But until then, enjoy. You may be tired, someone may be fighting a nap, you might be worried about asthma or fitting in old jeans, what to make for dinner or whether Ty is allergic to peanuts or not. Nevertheless, there are still beautiful things happening. Sam might be finally learning his colors, or Ty discovering his hands, or maybe the dogwoods are starting to come out, or a new dachshund puppy going for a walk, or a friend just finding out she’s pregnant, or the sun making that pink color it does at about 5:45pm in May. Don’t miss the good things. One day the boys will be gone and your house will be empty, and believe it or not you will gladly give up your blow-dried hair and vaccuumed floors and 5:30 dinner reservations to be cleaning up playdough while two kids are crying. (So I hear anyway. 🙂 So until then, relax, trust, and enjoy. You’ll all make it! I promise.
older mom Jessica