Top Ten Things I Didn’t Realize Would Happen Before I Had Kids

10.  I live on the floor.  I eat on the floor, I lie on the floor, I sit on the floor, I get up and down from the floor no less than 800 times a day.

9.  My relationships with family and friends would change significantly whether I wanted it to or not.  Some of that has been good (wonderful, even), some has been bad (I’m sorry to say) and some just different.

8.  I realized I wouldn’t sleep, I realized I wouldn’t have as much time for me, I did not realize that I would not shower.

7.  I was never going to be that person who loved my dog less.  I am that person.

6.  I knew that I would be responsible for little people but the magnitude of that responsibility is hard to explain and even greater with LMJ’s medical needs (injections, staying at home so we can be close to Children’s Hospital, overnight trips are out of the question).

5.  I enjoy just being at home.  I have never been a homebody, always an active person, but now we can spend full days indoors occupied and happy.

4.  I didn’t realize my full capacity to make things talk.  I can do this for hours a day, some days.  Not happily, but I do it.

3.  Some of my best friends were out there to meet still – other moms who would talk with me, laugh with me, cry with me and help me shoulder the burden of the ultimate responsibility I described above.  I’m sure there are still many wonderful men and women I will meet through this journey, and that makes me happy.

2.  For two solid years of my life (the first year of both of my children) I will walk around with “spit-up” on my clothes and hair.  Spit-up is vomit but nobody wants to call it that.

1.  I was so adamant that my husband and I share a bed – that was important to my marriage – and the children would sleep in their beds and this would never get mixed up.  My husband and I have not slept in the same bed for about 6 months.  He has spent the last two nights on a mattress on the floor at his parent’s house with LM.  LMJ sleeps in a crib next to my bed, in my bed, in my arms, in the Ergo and anywhere in between.  Now I truly don’t care who sleeps where as long as any one of us gets some sleep.

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Making time for leisure (after time for baby, husband, working, housekeeping, etc.)

Since having Peanut almost 18 months ago, it hasn’t been easy to find extra time for leisure activities. Between taking care of Peanut, working full-time and working with my husband to maintain a (semi) clean household, I am usually asleep before my head even hits the pillow.

I recently decided that I wanted to learn how to knit. I have great memories of my mother and grandmother knitting, making gifts and keepsakes for family and friends. I think that one day teaching Peanut how to knit would be a great experience and a chance to pass on a handiwork that I feel has become sort of a lost art.

My first project was a knit hat for winter and my second project that I *just* completed is a knit jumper for Peanut to wear tomorrow for Easter. Whew, just in the nick of time. Being able to make something that I know Peanut will wear and one day cherish is a very special feeling.

I am writing this post because I want to say that a) even spending 15 minutes a day with my new leisure activity has been an enjoyable and fulfilling process and that b) you can do it too! Here are a few tips to get you started…

*Check out your local craft/yarn store to get some basic information and equipment. The staff at these stores typically have a good knowledge base, especially for a beginner, and can point you in the right direction.

*Your local library will have some great books to get you started and might even subscribe to a knitting magazine. Who knows, you might find a fellow knitter checking out books too!

*I had great luck on YouTube finding videos of all kinds, showing the most simple, basic beginning steps for knitting (and how to fix the most simple, basic, beginner errors!) I really enjoyed videos posted by theknitwitch. I don’t know about you, but I am a very visual learner and by watching (and re-watching) small videos, I was able to learn some basic and essential knitting techniques, including casting on, knitting, purling and binding off.

*A co-worker also introduced me to a website called Ravelry.com, which includes patterns, tips, tricks and a live forum for questions. You can search for patterns based on experience level and save them in a queue, patterns are also rated similar to reviews on Yelp which I found very helpful. Ravelry.com also has information on crocheting, if that suits your fancy!

*Last but not least, ask around and seek out local knitters. Co-workers, friends, neighbors, family members, it is nice to have support and someone local/accessible who can guide you through the learning process.

*And really last but not least, when you finish your first, fifteenth or fortieth piece, make sure to iron on a label to remember your time and hard work. Peanut’s Easter jumper has a label that says “Handmade with love by Mommy” and it was!

Schedule Love

We affectionately refer to our house as a Bed & Breakfast because we have so many guests. Family and friends come from far and farther away to spend time with us but mostly to meet and hold little Rose. We moved to MA 2 years ago and don’t have any family in the area so we have to import all of our baby helpers. She has been popular with all of them and especially with our current batch of admirers. Right now we have a grandma, 2 aunts, an uncle and a niece vying for her attention and wanting to hold her and play with her.

She loves it. She has been tossed from one lap to another and stimulated by no less than 50 toys in a 2 hour window. Occasionally I pluck her from someone’s arms to feed her and put her down and she looks so frazzled. I don’t know why, but I keep seeing Bernadette Peters in her expression.

But having family here is fun for my husband and me too. Our house is full of fun people who aren’t short of jokes, an offer to help, a recipe to try and general willingness to help out. That is a critical characteristic of our B&B guests now, they have to be willing to pitch in now that we have Rosie, our new boss. So we’ve got cooks, jokesters, winos, a beautiful preggo lady, the baby-whisperer, and of course they are all baby experts. One sister is helping me conquer (one of) my current baby challenges – the schedule for a 4 month old. I’ll be going back to work on May 1, the nanny will start, and it will be good for everyone to know what little Rosie needs all day long. So amongst the chaos we are working towards some order.

Rough Schedule for a 4 month old, breastfed baby:

 

8:00 Wake Up

Eat (8 – 8:20) / Bath & Play (8:20 – 9:20) / Feed (9:20 – 9:50)

9:50 – 11:50 Nap #1

Eat (11:50 – 12:15) / Play (12:15 – 1:15) / Eat (1:15 – 1:30)

1:30 – 3:30 Nap #2

Eat (3:30 – 3:50) / Play (3:50 – 4:40) / Eat (4:40 – 4:50) / Play (4:50 – 5:00)

5:00 – 7:00 Nap #3

Eat (7:00 – 7:20) / Play (7:20 – 8:20) / Eat (8:20 – 8:40) / Play & Bath (8:40 – 9:00)

9:00 Down for the Night

 We’ll try to get as close as we can to this. Not having done this before I’m happy to get advice. Any other schedules out there or feedback on this plan? I’d love to hear from you.

Time to go to rescue Rose from an overdose of love. Actually, maybe I’ll leave her to it. We don’t see everyone often so they need to squeeze in as much cuddle time as possible. It makes the time between visits easier for everyone.

Whoops, there goes the schedule….

MumsySus

Daddies Do it Different

“Can you please at least make sure she brushes her teeth while I’m gone?” I said to Hubby on the way to the airport for my girls’ weekend away (woohoo!).  Hubby’s response, “hey, let’s just suppose she doesn’t brush her teeth for 2 days.  It’s not going to kill her.”  I clench my jaw but say nothing.  Besides I’m bustin’ free of Mommytown.

I then turn around to Kiki and ask her what she and Daddy will have for lunch.  She simply replies, “gluten.”  We don’t eat a lot of gluten, since I have Celiac Disease, so in my absence she is exactly right.  Daddy will make sure there is gluten in every single meal.  He might even sprinkle wheat flour on top of her veggies just for fun.   No, wait, who am I kidding?  He won’t be serving her vegetables.

I turn back to Hubby and say, “will you please feed her some veggies?”  His response:  “once again, let’s just suppose she doesn’t eat any veggies for 2 days….”  Ok fine.  He’s right.  Two days without veggies won’t kill her.  It may, however, kill me if I don’t get this two-day escape from Mommytown.  So I smile, kiss them both goodbye, and gleefully skip into the airport.

I’m not sure how things go in your house, but in our house Daddies Do it Different.   Here’s some examples for your enjoyment…

Situation:  It’s 30 minutes before bedtime (the homestretch!)

Mommy Reaction:  Time to do a puzzle, read some books, or play a board game.  In other words, start taking it down a few notches.

Daddy Reaction:  Time to race around the kitchen table, help Kiki do flips, and have tickle fights.

Situation:  Leaving the house for a chunk of time to do errands, go to museum, or what have you

Mommy Reaction:  Make sure I have the following….appropriate accessories for the weather (hat, gloves, and coat or sunscreen and sunhat), activity book to entertain Kiki at a restaurant, change of clothes in the car just in case, fresh bottle of water, and the always-crucial snacks.

Daddy Reaction:  Got the keys.  Got the kid.  Ready to go.

Situation:  Breakfast for Kiki

Mommy Reaction:  Cereal, waffle, bagel, or some other form of carb.  Milk.  Generous serving of fresh fruit.

Daddy Reaction:  A lonely bowl of cereal.

Situation:  The poking or tickling that Kiki found fun and silly at first, she now finds annoying and she asks you to stop.

Mommy Reaction:  Stop.  Why in the world would I want to agitate the bear?

Daddy Reaction:  Keep poking and laugh as Kiki gets annoyed.

 

Interested in more examples?  Check out Daddies Do it Different by Alan Lawrence Sitomer.  It’s a favorite in our house.

My Favorite Things

Being a stay at home mom with two small children takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of emotional and mental energy. This is a blog to remind myself and also to let you know there are lots and lots of wonderful and delightful things I get to experience every day. It is not JUST exhaustion and frustrations.

Funny:

Lemon Cake, “I want to put baby Banana in the garbage can.” (ok maybe a little disturbing also)

Lemon Cake, “You love me even when I am being a stinker!?!”

After I explain what a “goal” is, he says, “I don’t like goals.” Like father like son, definitely not me.

Baby Banana found a box of granola bars from a grocery bag and decided to bring it to the bathroom and dipped it repeatedly into the toilet bowl.

Baby Banana saying no or scolding Lemon Cake in gibberish after he shouts at her or take her toy away. Of course, sometimes she just cries helplessly.

Wonderful:

Lemon Cake, “I love you so so much Mommy. I love you even when I am not feeling well. I really really love you.”

Baby Banana brings over books for me to read and back her bottom into my lap to snuggle up while reading.

Lemon Cake telling me how much he loves daddy.

Baby Banana hears daddy coming home and crawls at super speed to the hallway yelling Dada! Dada!

Pride:

It has been amazing to watch baby banana went from taking one step to now taking multiple steps. She still most prefers crawling since she is so much faster that way. She is also an amazing climber.

Baby Banana eating with a fork (and insisting on using a fork). She gets mad when I help her spear something onto her fork, especially if it is food she doesn’t care for. She rips the food off the fork and throws it across the kitchen.

Anytime Lemon Cake shows love, affection and care for his friends, his sister and his family. Anytime Lemon Cake says please, thank you, you are welcome, may I…. and apologize to friends after conflicts without any prompting.

Lemon Cake adjusted to his new school tremendously quickly.

Lemon Cake being so brave at his dental visit. He had two nursing cavities that needed to be fixed. It involved two Novocain shots, drilling, polishing, keeping mouth wide open for extended periods of time…etc. He cooperated the entire time. Of course, a lot of the credit goes to the amazing dentist and being allowed to watch videos throughout the visit.

Enjoyable and sweet:

Baby Banana and Lemon Cake love playing chase with each other. They go into the different bedrooms, crawling, rolling in bed together and playing peekaboo with each other. It is funny and so sweet to watch. The laughter, squealing and screaming is quite a scene. I have to supervise closely as Lemon Cake can get carried away and end up being physically to rough with baby Banana (i.e. jumping on the bed right near baby Banana’s head).

Lemon Cake is mostly very articulate and clear with his speech so I just love it when he cannot pronounce something correctly because it is so cute. He says “libilit” instead of “little bit”. It brings a smile to my face every time he says it.

Lemon Cake trying to make me feel better after telling me he wanted to be with Daddy. “I want to be with you a lot of the times Mama. I just want to be with Daddy libilit of time.” (I was not feeling bad at all. I was ecstatic to take a break haha)

Amusing (and potentially frustrating):

Baby Banana squishing a ripe pear and making a big mess instead of eating it. I reminded her to please eat the pear instead of squishing it. Lemon Cake then proceeded to offer her a piece of his pear and repeatedly ask her, “Do you want to squish it? Do you want to squish it?”

Like I told Daddykush just yesterday, being with Lemon Cake and baby Banana is series of moments of delight, intense frustration, annoyance, relaxation (if they nap/have quiet time together), reflection, exhaustion, pride and laughter all mixed together. Like today, Baby Banana was crabby all morning. It was probably a combination of waking up extra early, teething and having a cold. She was crying over everything and wanted me to hold her the whole time. As for Lemon Cake, after having a superbly wonderful morning, got angry at me as the timer went off indicating time for potty and getting ready for school, proceeded to dump his pee all over the bathroom floor instead of into the toilet bowl to flush it. I was PISSED and I most certainly yelled. It was not a pretty scene. 

Fantasy vs. Reality

From time to time I may be considered a wee bit obsessive. I may have a slight penchant for going overboard when I focus on something. For instance, I’m a gamer… I’m not really a heavy video gamer, although I have stacks of wii and pc games that sit unplayed.. (see dictionary – obsessive). No, I’m a board gamer. Unless you’re a gamer nut with a login on http://www.boardgamegeek.com (guess whether I am or not ), I likely own more board games that you’ve never heard of, than all the games you’ve ever played in your life. Seriously… And I’ve even tried to cut my collection down over time. I haven’t tried too hard but I sold a bunch when LM was born.

This is who I am. Moderation is not my strong suit. Before red came along, sports was one of my obsessions, a mood altering obsession. Baseball, football, basketball… Heck I’d watch late night badminton on espn. I even got Red to multiple baseball games when we started dating and she was game for doing things she didn’t like, ah courtship.  Red suffered through several freezing rainy hours at old Shea stadium for me. She did not develop a love of baseball but she did develop a solid cold.

So I’m obsessive, I love sports, and I’m a gamer…. I’ll just come out and admit it.. I’m addicted to fantasy sports. It was a year round thing when we met – 4 baseball leagues, 3 football leagues, basketball… you name it.  For the sake of our relationship I had to let basketball go. I agreed to give Red one season a year off when she realized the magnitude of my crazy. I confess to crazy.  With the advent of internet connected smartphones and live scoring updates I took my crazy to a new level…constant score checking, news scavaging, and team related activity. Reds’s pathological antipathy for my phone is well grounded.

Enter parenthood.  It’s amazing how fast priorities change in the face of exhaustion and vanishing free time. Now I only play football and baseball, but that basically means there’s a 2 month window (January – February) where I’m not tracking a fantasy team. Red is a very patient woman.  So here we are in March, and it’s draft season for baseball.  Neither my 3 year old nor my 5 month old have any plans to adjust their schedules for my hobby.  LM still refer’s to me watching sports as “Daddy’s cartoons”… LMJ still seems to think sleep is optional.

A fantasy draft is a 3-4 hour affair from setup to finish and if you run a league (guess whether I do that) it will take even longer.  This week I had multiple drafts, and had to ask Red to shuffle her night schedule.  We’re trading nights on baby duty so one of us gets sleep.  Scheduling multiple 4-5 hour blocks of personal time with two young kids is no small feat.  Red worked a double for me with no hesitation.

My journey on the path towards moderation is a work in progress.  I no longer let a NY Giant’s loss or a fantasy matchup ruin my week.  Not a typo, 10 years ago it could ruin a week.  I do still yell at the TV when Eli throws it to the wrong jersey.  I don’t buy board games that never get played any more.  I purchase more digital books than digital video games now.  I’m not gonna pretend that I don’t obsess about baseball scores into the wee hours of an August evening when I’m a few points down to one of the guys in Brooklyn from my baseball leagues.  I do.  But this is who I am.  I’m also the lucky guy who’s wife takes a double night shift on short notice.  Who sits in the rain to be with me at a ballgame she doesn’t care about.  Who just this week took the time to make sure I knew that she appreciated how much ‘daddy work’ and parenting I do… while working herself to the bone tending multiple kids extra hours because I like to play a game.  I sometimes obsess about fantasy, but I never lose sight of how lucky I am in reality.

Making Lemonade

It’s a bad thing when you’re on vacation and the staff at the urgent care center recognizes you upon arrival, right?

What can I say?  This has been quite the vacation so far!  We were supposed to wake up at 4am on Wednesday to make our plane and, instead, A got things off on the right track by waking up at 3:30am, coming into our room, and saying (the dreaded words) “I don’t feel good.”  She didn’t look good either.  My immediate diagnosis was that she had pink eye.  And she also had a hacking cough.  Hoo-freaking-ray!  What to do, what to do?  Cancel vacation?  Take a visibily sick child on a plane?  The choices were so vast and appealing!  I figured they had doctors in San Diego and she wouldn’t even be able to see our doctor until after 8am, which was when our plane was landing, so we headed to the airport.
The very first thing we did in San Diego was go to urgent care.  I was right.  She had pink eye.  Apparently the cough wasn’t to be worried about (which seemed odd to me) and so she got a prescription for eye drops and we went on our way.  That night was the single worst night of my life as a mom.  We are all staying in one room together and A was hacking up a lung every 15 minutes or so.  So just as I would be able to calm and soothe the baby and get her to sleep, she would be woken up by her sister.  This went on and on and on.  Hours and hours and hours.  Remember that I had gotten up at 3:30am the day before?  Well, I was approaching being awake for 24 hours straight and I literally couldn’t handle it.  Thankfully my friend is family to me, so I went upstairs and handed her the baby.
Unfortunately, A didn’t get any better.  Her cough persisted, she had 48 hours of a temperature, and she started complaining about ear pain.  Hoo-freaking-ray again!  Back to urgent care we went.  This time they diagnosed her with an ear infection and “probably” strep throat (they said it wasn’t worth swabbing her throat because she was going on an antibiotic regardless).  The amount of guilt I felt knowing that we had dragged her through Sea World the day before was palpable.  Were we terrible parents?  What are you supposed to do when you’re on vacation and your child is sick?  You’ve spent all this money and made all these plans (we bought the Sea World tickets ahead of time).  Are you supposed to just stay in your hotel (or in our case, house)?  Should we not have gone in the first place?  I feel like there are no good answers to these questions.
Now that A is on the antibiotics, she’s definitely getting better, however her mood has been quite sour the entire time we’ve been here.  It has definitely not been the vacation you dream about where your child runs through the amusement park with a look of total and utter glee on their face.  We’ve been trying to make the best of it and have as much fun as we can muster.  Gotta make lemonade out of lemons, right?
(Very hilarious – to me at least – side note: I saw the doctor we had both times we were at urgent care at a gay bar on Saturday night!)
If anyone has ever had to be on vacation with one (or more) sick kids, I can now sympathize and I feel so terribly sorry for you.  It sucks, no matter which way you slice it.  The up side is that we have three more days to spend here and I plan to make the best of them!