Sweet Boy’s Humor

humor

Like most 4-year-olds, Sweet Boy is a big fan of Paw Patrol, Spider-man, and Hot Wheels.  But having older parents who like to explore Amazon Prime and YouTube means he also has a more eclectic taste in cartoons.

I teach music, so of course, I like to share classic musicals with the kids.  We started with Mary Poppins (my favorite).  By the second day of the rental, they had half of the songs memorized, and were using a British accent.  We tried Chitty Chitty Bang Bang next.  If you’ve never heard a 2 and 4-year-old try to sing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you’ve seriously got to try it.

He loves classic Peanuts movies.  We showed him Snoopy Come Home a few weeks before his third surgery.  In the movie, Snoopy returns to his original owner, Lila, while she is sick in the hospital to help her recover. While in the hospital, my husband watched it with him on a continuous loop.

He loved the “No Dogs Allowed” song, and maybe the only kid in America who can correctly pronounce the name, Thurl Ravenscroft. I may be married to the only man in America who would teach his three-year-old son to pronounce the name, Thurl Ravenscroft. At any rate, listening to a three-year-old try to do an impression of No Dog’s Allowed might be the cutest thing in the history of the world.

We also got him a stuffed Snoopy to take with him to the hospital to comfort him.  A year later, Sweet Boy still looks for Snoopy when he’s not feeling well.

Daddy’s Favorites

My husband takes great pride in choosing shows that will challenge our kids.  Hubby’s favorites are often his father’s favorites, so many of them are 50 years old or more.  Only the George Carlin episodes of Thomas were good enough.  Sweet Boy has tried Rocky & Bullwinkle, Underdog, Danger Mouse, Tennessee Tuxedo and The Ant and the Aardvark.  Honestly, I hadn’t heard of half of the cartoons he was showing him, and I’m the older one in our marriage.  As Sweet Boy has gotten older, Daddy now shows him Mystery Science 3000 and select clips of Woody Allen movies (very select clips–or mommy gets cross).

Sweet Boy loves all of the older stuff, but his sense of humor often out-dates even his pre-school teachers.  I hope that when he goes to school his humor will be appreciated because he really is quite clever.  Maybe he can find some friends who also have an older mom and dad.

Photo by collectpeanuts

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#17- The Return of the Sleepless Nights

sleepless nights

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably know that girlie is a climber.  We put her in a toddler bed just before she turned two because she was climbing out of her crib.

For the first few months, she did great.  We were pleasantly surprised.  But over the summer she started doing what we would have expected – coming to visit in the middle of the night.  Sometimes she just stares at us until we wake up.  Other nights she climbs over my husband’s face to come snuggle with me.

With the boy, I was a pro at going right back to sleep after taking care of his nightly needs.  But since I turned 40, I just can’t go back to sleep.

Last night she came in, and all she needed was one snuggle and one song to go right back to sleep.  I was up for three more hours.  Hot flashes, mind racing, Candy Crush frustration, Pinterest.  Everything was keeping me from going back to sleep.

Usually, after an hour or so, I start cleaning.  Tonight I did the bathrooms and organized the playroom.  My husband knows when he smells bleach in the morning to give me some space until the third cup of coffee has kicked in.  He offers some compliments about the playroom.  I just look up from my coffee and grunt.  He gets the kids dressed.  I look up again and mumble, “Thanks”.  He changes Girlie’s diaper and I make a snide remark about how many I change.

Just keep the coffee going, please.  Put on Amazon Prime so the kids keep quiet while the caffeine is slowly bringing my body back to its human form.  At this point, hugs and compliments are nice.  Coffee is better.

The day goes on.  The kids play outside while I watch from the deck, reading a book and counting the minutes until nap time.

 

Photo by Ben124.

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Let’s Talk Diapers

diapers

For any mother, diapers are a part of life.  (The alternative would be unthinkable.) We are a disposable diaper family.  We’ve been through a few brands and styles with our kiddos.   After 4 1/2 years of diapering, we’ve finally got our diaper management down.

With Sweet Boy, we started off with Huggies.  I started with size one because the doctor had told us he was going to be a really big baby.  Then he arrived early.  We scrambled to get the newborn sized diapers delivered while we were still at the hospital.  Here’s what I learned about the newborn diapers- they have a U-shaped cutout that doesn’t rub against the umbilical cord.  Seriously, nobody ever told me that when I was pregnant.  We continued with Huggies for the first months, because we really liked the wetness indicator.

I would buy the cases at the local discount stores.  I could never figure out how to make the coupons work so the small packs were cheaper.  I’ve read a bunch of articles on saving on diapers, but it just didn’t work out for me.

As Sweet Boy got older, we switched to Luvs.  I learned from Baby Bargains that Luvs are made by the same company as Pampers.  They have fewer features and no featured character on them, but the absorbency is the same quality and they are much cheaper.  Like $10 a case cheaper.  And they have coupons available in the Sunday paper too.  We never went with the store brands because several daycare providers had told us that they are not as absorbent and can cause diaper rash.


            Every mom should own this book

When Girlie was born, the newborn size was not an option for us.  She was nearly 10 pounds and they just didn’t fit.  We went right to Luvs for her.  With the second child, the wetness indicator wasn’t as necessary.  Momma just knew.

We continued shopping in stores for diapers.  Our daycare provider joked with me one day that I seemed to stop at the store 2-3 times a week between Girlie’s diapers, Sweet Boy’s Night-time Pull-Ups, wipes and other baby needs.  It became too much, so I switched to the Amazon Subscribe and Save program.  We already had Amazon Prime for streaming and shipping savings, so it made sense to take advantage of the Subscribe and Save program.

Subscribe and Save

If you are not familiar with Subscribe and Save, they offer 20% off your order of diapers and 5-15% off other items, like wipes.  So now, every month we get a case of diapers for Girlie delivered to our front door.  It is very easy to change your order when they grow into a new size and it’s 5-20% off.  We get Sweet Boy’s Night-Time Pull-Ups every other month, for 5-20% off.  The case of wipes seem to last me every month and a half, so I set it up for a monthly delivery, and skip a delivery when I don’t need it.

I have a few other items on my Subscribe and Save list – protein powder, baby soap, cleaners.  I try to schedule those items so that I have five items delivered each month, so I get my maximum discount.  And it is so easy to reschedule a delivery as long as you do it with a week’s notice.  If I can’t get five items in a particular month, I still save a few dollars off the store price, and it gets delivered straight to my door.

We did run into one issue with diapers for Girlie.  For a few months, Huggies were on a super discount on Amazon.  I think they were changing the packaging or something.  We started getting the Huggies for Girlie.  She had the worst diaper rash I have ever seen.  We brought her to the doctor about five times before we realized that the diapers were the problem.  We switched her back to Luvs and the rash went away.  Sweet Boy never had a problem with Huggies, but kids are going to react differently to different products.

What Works for You?

This is the system we really use.  It saves us time and money, both of which are precious when you are a working mom with kids in daycare.  If you have any ideas that work for you, please share in a comment to help other moms.

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#15-New Car Seat Regulations

car seat regulations

Starting October 1, 2017, the state of Connecticut will have new car seat regulations.

  • All children must remain rear facing until they are 2-years-old and weigh 30 pounds.
  • All children must remain in a 5 point harness until they are 5 and weigh 40 pounds.
  • And, all children must remain in a booster until they are 8 and weigh 60 pounds.

I’m sharing this information for my Connecticut friends and family, but also for my friends and family who drive through Connecticut from time to time.

My displeasure

I’m going to admit that I have an unpopular opinion of this new law.

As the mom of a 50-pound, 4 1/2 year old (tall and solid, not chunky at all), I find this law to be a major hassle.  We knew he was a big boy from the beginning, so we got a Britax Boulevard that will hold him up to 65 pounds.  He uses that seat in my car where he probably does 90% of his car time.


Sweet Boy is in a booster seat in my husband‘s car.  He is strong enough and tall enough to sit comfortably with the seat belt in the proper position, and we wanted to get him used to the new style of seat in the car where he does a small percentage of travel.  And according to the current law, it is safe for him to do so.  But the Connecticut lawmakers seem to want me to buy a new car seat for the five months he will not meet the new regulations.

I’m sorry, but the 5-point harness car seats for a child over 50 pounds are expensive.  Christmas is coming.  Birthdays are coming.  I have better things to do with my $250.  And most importantly – I know my kid.  He looks more like a first grader than a pre-schooler and he’s very strong.  My pediatrician is also aware of our car seat choices and he seems to think it’s okay for our child.

So, for five months we’ll be switching the one car seat between our two cars.  The booster seat goes away for a few months.  I’m following the regulations because I don’t want to pay for a ticket just as much as I don’t want to pay for a new car seat.

Mother knows best?

But really, I think the whole new law is more about taking away a parent’s personal judgment.  If my child were smaller, I wouldn’t have put him in a booster seat, but he’s not.  And the state of Connecticut seems to know what’s best for my child more than I do – his mother.

Photo by yourbestdigs

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#13-There’s Something About September

It’s September which means Old Mom really can’t sleep.  It’s not from being back to school.  I’m on my feet all day dancing with the school kiddos and running around trying to get everything done around the house for the few hours a day that I am home.  My body is absolutely exhausted.  I really can’t sleep because September is an awful month for Sweet Boy health wise.  Some years it’s croup.  Some years it’s asthma.  But Sweet Boy always has a hard time in September.

As a teacher, I’m fortunate to have a good bit of sick time.  I rarely used it for the first 15 years.  I only see my students once a week.  Sometimes they get a sub for me.  Sometimes they don’t.  But my students very rarely have a quality musical experience when I’m not there.  So I always feel pressure to be at work unless it is an absolute emergency.  Not from my fellow teachers, but from the sweet faces that ask why I missed their music day.

Then came my boy.  My Sweet Boy who suffers from Asthma, Acid Reflux and complications from a cleft in his larynx.  September is a nightmare for him.  Here in Connecticut, it can be 45 degrees when you wake up in the morning and 80 when you go out to play in the afternoon.  And we get a lot of very humid days.  And the ragweed makes allergy sufferers miserable.  The rapidly changing temperatures and poor air quality are a nightmare for children with breathing problems.

It all starts with the first sniffle or sneeze.  From that point, my ears are on high alert just waiting for the worst.  I know that his coughs will be at their worst at night, so I always feel like I’m just waiting for the worst.  As soon as the first cough arrives, the nebulizer treatments begin.  The preventative treatments, for lack of a better word, SUCK!  They keep him awake way past his bedtime, but they also make him very moody.  His usual demeanor disappears and he starts arguing with everyone- family, friends, teachers.

Sometimes the preventative meds work and the cold will pass after a week like normal kids.  But it never seems to work that way in September.  Usually, the September cold turns into croup and we end up in the ER.  We’ve been pretty blessed this year that his cold has “only” turned into an asthma week.  His cough escalated to the point where he struggled to breathe and would get red in the face. Time to start the next level of meds.

This is the crazy kind of relief that only an asthma parent can really understand.  I always feel a bit relieved when it’s time to move him up to the Albuterol treatments.  Crazy right?  But I know that if that doesn’t help him in a few days, we’ll be off to the doctor to get him the high-dose steroids that will quickly knock out the cough. I also like the Drunk Squirrel version of hyper-boy much better than the Angry Bull version of hyper-boy.  But with either medicine, he struggles to sleep.  Or should I say, we struggle to sleep?

Eventually, October comes, and Sweet Boy starts to feel better.  We put the medication back in the cupboard and we both get some much-needed rest.  I try to play catch up at work and give my all to those sweet kiddos who missed their music day.   I feel like the teacher who flakes out every September, but I know I’m really the mom of a boy who needs me every September.

Photo by Andreanna Moya Photography

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#16- Just Play in your Room Until 6

My kids get up early.  Because of my commute to work, we leave the house at 6:45, so they are usually up by 5:30 or 6:00–if I’m lucky.  During vacations and on weekends, we try to get the kids to let us sleep until 6:00.  Sweet Boy knew his numbers pretty early and has always been able to play independently, so putting a digital clock in his room was all that took.  He would play with his toys unless there was a problem.

Girlie is a different child.  Not better, not worse, just different.  A few weeks ago, I asked her to go play with her brother until 6.  So she did.  She grabbed my glasses and played – in the bathroom.  She played hide and seek with those glasses.  She also reorganized my towels all over the floor.  She played climb and discover to learn about Daddy’s razor (she didn’t touch the blade, Thank God).  She learned about cylinders as she unraveled all the toilet paper.  She had a great time playing, learning and discovering until six.


 

The Search

I was really mad about the mess, but my biggest concern was my glasses.  I’m blind as a bat without those glasses, and of course, all of this went down the week my eye doctor was closed for vacation.  My husband searched for a few minutes and handed me a pair he found under the sink.  I couldn’t see very well, so I was sure they were an old pair of glasses.

We searched for a good 10 minutes.  My husband calmly and methodically looked in each room, while I ran from room to room tossing towels, pillows, stuffed animals, anything that was in the way of me finding those glasses.  My husband calmly told the children to stay in one room while he looked in another.  I was screaming, “For crying out loud, where did you put those glasses?!?!?!  (She still says that phrase to her toys on difficult days.  That’s why I don’t swear in front of that one).

I finally stopped for a second to think.  I looked in the mirror and pulled up a photo on my phone.  In that moment of shame, I realized that I was wearing my glasses the whole time and the reason I couldn’t see was due to them being covered with tiny fingerprints.  I hung my head low and softly said, “Honey. You were right.  These are my glasses.”

My husband sent me downstairs to cool down and have some coffee while he cleaned up the bathroom and life went on.  I have to say, this was one of his REALLY good days.

Not one of my finest Old Mom moments.  But definitely one of our family’s funniest stories.

 

Photo by serenejournal

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#12- My Monkey Girl

monkey girl

My Girlie is quite curious.  And adventurous.  And fearless.  A “fun” combination for an already anxious mother.  She was walking one week and climbing the next.  I’ll share with you a few of our adventures.

At her first birthday party, she impressed our families by climbing the 5-foot rock wall on our playscape.  All the grandmothers and aunts were ready to run to catch her and yelling for me to watch her while all the uncles were saying how cool Girlie was and debating which side of the family she gets it from.

She loved the stairs–even after falling down six of them followed by a few hours of “special mommy time” at the ER.   After we got the gate up, she would stand there and wait for us to let her try again.  “Don’t carry me!” She would say.  Miss Independent, indeed.

The stove.  Another of her favorites.  One day I went upstairs to get dressed and came back downstairs to find her inside the oven.  Yes. Inside the oven.  Thank goodness it was a cereal day for breakfast.  Another day I left some pizza on top of the stove and she stood on top of the broiler drawer to get another piece.  It was good pizza.

By the end of the toddler summer, she was climbing to the top of the dome of monkey bars.   My mom just watched her with her jaw dropped.  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like her.”  Those first six months after she started walking were pretty wild.  She never got seriously hurt, but not for lack of trying.

The Club

Some of my work friends had a club.  The second daughter club.  It seems that when you have a son first and a daughter second, the girl has a tendency to be fearless in one way or another.  They feel the drive to keep up with their older brothers and don’t want to be told that they are too little to try something.  Some of the girls were dramatic, others were talkers.  Some had an artistic flair in their adventures.  Mine was the climber.  My little monkey girl.

My poor boy.  That summer was really hard on me, but I think it was even harder on him.  I keep the kids home with me during the summer– one of the nice parts of being a teacher.  Sweet boy was away from his friends, and old enough to realize it.  Meanwhile, mommy could not take her eyes off of his little sister.  You never knew when simply checking Facebook or the Amazon Deal of the Day could lead to a trip to the ER.  Sweet boy was not getting the attention he needed, and he was not very happy that summer.  His sad little face broke my heart.  And some days, his frustrated antics broke my patience.

Like everything else, it was a phase that passed, although Girlie is still curious, adventurous and fearless.  I think that was the biggest lesson of that summer.  Each phase will pass.  It may seem incredibly intense at the moment, but it will pass and a new phase will begin.

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#14- Be Good to Yourself

be good to yourself self-care

The summer after Girlie turned one,  I went for my physical.  My doctor is a kind, but pushy older woman who switched from OB/GYN to family practice.  When I went in and she saw my labs and my face, she let me have it. I had been neglecting self-care.

Four years of being pregnant and breastfeeding had taken its toll on my body and at 40 it’s much harder to recover.  I had multiple vitamin deficiencies and my anxiety was clearly out of control.  She got me on the right supplements and we had a long talk about how hard motherhood is.  It’s emotional, exhausting and demanding.  Then put together a sick boy, an energetic and adventurous little girl, a husband who works 60-80 hours a week and a 40 year old body that is on a hormonal roller coaster without any fuel.

I needed to stop expecting myself to feel normal and start asking for more help.   My husband stepped up as much as he could.  We both just assumed I had been so tired because I didn’t get enough sleep.  Neither of us realized how out of balance my body had become.  He would take Sweet Boy to some of his family-style work outings so I could rest while Girlie napped.  He helped pick up a little more around the house.  We made it work so I could truly recover.

Finding Jen

I starting finding a few projects that would make me happy.  I started painting the inside of our new house.  My husband looked at me like I was nuts every time I enjoyed a newly finished room.   But the calmness of our now buttery rooms made me feel so much better than the chaos of our rainbow rooms.  (Seriously, mint green, mauve, lavender, yellow and aquamarine all on one floor.) I fixed up our gardens.  I had never been a gardener, but we had them, and it made me feel better to learn something new and bring some beauty to our yard. (Always keep learning.  It’s good for your soul.)  It felt so good to bring some sense of order and beauty to the chaos that had been the previous three years.  And it felt amazing to give myself the time to do something to make myself happy.

So moms, take care of yourselves.  Listen to your body.  Give yourself some personal time.  Trust me.  I spent three years giving my all to my kids and taking zero time for myself.  I hit rock bottom physically and emotionally.  But I’m on my way back.  One flower, one painted room, one workout, one diary at a time.

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#11 – Baby Girl’s First Year was “The Blur”

blur

The best way I can describe Girlie’s first year is “The Blur.”  Between Sweet Boy‘s asthma and Girlie’s teething ear infections, there really was no time to be anything but a working mom.  And I really didn’t feel like I was doing either part of it well.

Girlie had an ear infection on the weekend of my 40th birthday.  My poor husband couldn’t do anything right.  He offered to take the kids to day care so I could have some quiet time, and I snapped at him because it was half an hour out of his way.  He offered to take the family to dinner and I told him I just wanted to stay home after five hours of sleep in the previous two nights.

At least I can say I was too tired to have any sort of 40ish mid-life crisis.




Mommy, Mommy, Mommy

Girlie was not easy when she wasn’t feeling well– still isn’t.  She would only sit with me or her favorite day care teacher, and even that would only bring the crying down to a barely livable volume.  If I left the room, everyone knew, including the neighbors.  She got 16 teeth in eight months with an ear infection each time.  She was really uncomfortable and really miserable for the first year.  I think Girlie was about 18 months old before my husband felt like she didn’t hate him.

Sweet Boy’s asthma was really bad that year as well.  He was on a three-tier preventative treatment program, but he still ended up at the pediatrician for steroids four times that winter.  Poor kiddo was completely bonkers all winter.  All that medicine left him completely unable to handle his emotions–something that is pretty difficult for a healthy 3-year-old.

It all became too much for me to handle.  The doctor’s appointments, the weekly trips to the pharmacy, the exhaustion, the commuting, the non-stop crying, a husband with a very time-consuming job.  I needed help, but there really wasn’t anywhere to turn.

 

 

Photo by quinn.anya

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#10 – Are you her grandmother?

grandmother

I really started feeling like an old mom after #2 arrived.  I was up every night with Girlie and Sweet Boy was not taking any naps unless it was in the car.  Certain things got left behind, like hair cuts, makeup, cooking.  My husband helped, but he also had a very time-consuming job working 60 and 70 hour weeks.

It was at Girlie’s 3-month check-up that I first got asked if I was her grandmother.  I was 39 and at the moment I looked like hell.  I might have showered.  Or not.  I might have combed my hair.  Or not.  I probably had spit-up on me, but the question is really was it on my shirt, shorts or both.  I was mortified, but I was just too tired to give the woman a piece of my mind.

A quick side thought– at the time of this appointment, the local hospital had just relocated the pediatric office to the same floor as the OB/GYN.  I don’t think I was good advertising for the OB at that moment.

Turning insult into insight

When I got home, I started thinking about my friends who are close to 40.  Altogether, we had kids of all ages, from infants to college.  And there were some with no kids at all.  So I reminded myself to be grateful.  Grateful for the chance to be a loving mommy to two sweet kids–even if I did look like a grandmother.

Photo by USDAgov

 

 

It’s fruit fly season. Here’s how we get rid of them.

 

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