New Mom Confessions

Eli loves stickers, so to save money, I'll just hand him a piece of colored masking tape and shout, "Sticker!" and he gets insanely excited. I'll be running that charade just as long as I can.

Eli dropped a small round ball down our toilet and used my hair brush to really make sure he shoved it up the plumbing. When Mike couldn't get it out with the plumber's snake, we had to call in a real plumber. Five minutes and $111 dollars after the plumber arrived, we had a functioning toilet again. Thanks Eli. And for the record, I still use the hairbrush.

Every day Eli and I play a game (Exhibit A above). I lay on the floor "pretending" to be asleep and he covers me with every stuffed animal he can find. Then he sits on my head to "snuggle" and go "nigh, nigh" with me. I figure it's better than him sitting on his sister, which is his preferred seat of choice these days. I secretly love this game because I've decided having my head crushed is worth getting to close my eyes when I'm exhausted and just want to nap at 4 p.m. #pregoproblems

I totally ripped a pair of maternity pants the other day. Right where the jeans meet the stretchy fabric. I'm chalking it up to poor construction, rather than the fact that I'm so large and in charge these days.

I don't know about your toddler, but mine can be pretty lazy sometimes. Often he'll give a half hearted reach for a toy on the couch or the sippy cup on the table and then look at me with begging eyes, saying, "Help?" I'll tell him he's a big boy and that he can get it, to just "try." So he continues in his half hearted ways, and continues in his begging, so I'll give it a half hearted shot and "won't" be able to reach it either, letting him know it's too hard for momma. It almost always works in getting him to put a little effort into it and snag whatever it is he wants.

The other day Eli walked into my bathroom with his finger in his mouth, a disgusted look on his face and he kept repeating, "Icky!" I looked at his other hand and low and behold, the kid had eaten over half a tube of Burt's Bees chapstick. Don't worry, I called poison control. Sounds like he'll be just fine.

Sometimes, I'll be thinking to myself and suddenly Eli's little voice will pop into my head and my mind-voice starts to sound like Eli. Like if I'm thirsty, "Dink? Dink? Dink?" is all I'll hear in my head. Or if I'm going outside, "Side? Side? Side?" I have literally began to think to myself in a high-pitched voice with one word sentences. And they say toddlers are the ones that regress...

My husband calls me every day when he leaves work. That means that I have 25, maybe 38 minutes max (traffic) to blitz the house, clean the kitchen, pick up toys, wipe of Eli's peanut butter face, make myself look presentable and really, make it look like I actually kept the house in one piece that day. With any remaining time, Eli and I sit on the back deck, watching the alley like a hawk, (Well I do, Eli just points at airplanes.) and nearly we tackle Mike with happiness and relief when he gets home. It is seriously the best part of my day.

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Done With The Motherhood Martyr Act

It's true when they say motherhood is hard. There's nothing else like it and you really can't define it, describe it or relate to it until you become one and experience it first hand. They also say that nothing can prepare you for it, which is true too. But more than how unprepared I was for keeping a child alive, I was most unprepared for the constant deluge of martyr messages that would come my way once I entered the stay-at-home-mom club.

"Being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job in the world. I wore the same shirt three days in a row. When my head hits the pillow, I wonder what I accomplished. My heart is so heavy because the job is never done. I can't remember the last time I had a full nights sleep. I'm so exhausted, I just need a moment to myself."

Over time, I found these messages making their way to my heart. Wrapping around it and tightening their grip, telling me that it's okay to constantly vocalize and lament about my complaints, hardships and woes as a mother. In fact, I started finding that the messages began to create frustrations and indignities, not just highlight them.

I began feeling like I was supposed to wear a spit-up ridden shirt all day. Like I should be in a constant zombie state. Like toys on the floor must annoy me every single minute. That motherhood should be difficult, dirty, disgusting and tiring - and if it wasn't, I was doing something wrong.

It seems today's stay-at-home mom has become a new kind of citizen. We've elevated her to an angelic status, a martyr for the greater good of society's future. She has become a self-sacrificing saint, tirelessly wading through her duties of chauffeur, chef, maid, accountant and administrative assistant all while covered in puke and throw up, with the sound of crying babies and screaming toddlers in the background. While she recognizes how blessed she is to soak up cuddles and kisses from her littles all day, deep down she is unhappy, restless and searching for a greater meaning among the diapers and pacifiers.

She's allowed to complain unhindered, wearing her victim-complex badge loud and proud, front and center, because she will always win the, "Who has it the hardest?" game. A game that seems to only have one contastant - the SAHM.

As a SAHM myself, I see it (and have participated in it) more often than I care to admit. We conglomerate together, in person and even more so online, rallying around our "woe-is-me" status. We lament about how no one understands our job, envying "other people's" ability to finish a still-hot cup of coffee, not have their noses singed by the stank of bodily fluids, and to start their day with a shower and end it with clean pants.
We wallow in our sleepless lives, the stress of taking three kids to Target, the fact that we have to hide in the bathroom for a moment alone, how we're covered in stuffed animals all day, (Ahem, above.) and the trial of having to make breakfast each morning while simultaneously cleaning up last night's dinner and quelling arguments over who gets to play with the digger. And while we'd say we're the most blessed people on the planet to get to stay home with our children in a heartbeat, it seems our lives are highlighted by injustices that no one understands - yet we long for others to know of, to feel both pity for our lot and wonder at how we somehow manage it all.

It's a fine balance, this line we toe. On one hand, everyone needs a space to vent, to have their feelings acknowledged and affirmed, to know they are not the first to feel these things and they won't be the last. It's healthy and necessary to talk through what we're going through, and a SAHM needs a support system just as much as anyone else.

But there's a difference in venting and complaining. And I feel, particularly online, it's a line we've crossed all too often. It's become not only tolerated to express our sighing and grumbling over yogurt on the walls, the 15 loads of laundry in the basement and having to cart two screaming children to the doctor's office with us, but it's expected and reinforced that we let everyone know just dire our situation is - in hopes of receiving some accolades and affirmation for our self-sacrificing ways.

It seems talking about the life a SHAM leads has become more than just an outlet where we can identify with each other, encourage each other, and move on to the next sleepless night. Instead, it's now often moved to griping and complaining about how exasperated and annoyed we are with our duties, children, spouse or all-together life. It's moved beyond just a type of healthy group therapy to become a self-depreciating pastime and hobby - and it's definitely something that we all seem to be enjoying just a little too much.

And as for me, I want out. I came into motherhood with visions of frosting and sprinkles and while it's no cake walk, I think motherhood is a whole lot sweeter than the dish I've recently been served up by my peers. I'm done with the motherhood martyr act. I'm done indulging in every little difficultly as if it just adds to my victim resume. I'm done feeling like I need to live my life in an unkempt state, like I need to feel frazzled and worn and just a little bit out of control all the time.

The woe-is-me act just makes motherhood harder. Thus far, motherhood has been some of the best years of my life and I don't need outside messages telling me that it's harder than I perceive it is. There are certainly days that I need a quick wake-up-call to remind me that I'm making it harder than it is, but do I really need to hear that I'm not viewing it has hard enough? I don't need more reasons to throw myself a massive pity party - I can generate quite enough on my own, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, motherhood is hard. And being a SAHM comes with it own unique difficulties. But so does everything else this life throws at us. Let's stop throwing rocks on the mountain of martyrdom we're building by complaining together, and instead mute our natural desire for self-pity before it can creep its way into all our conversations. I think we'd all find our day is filled with less frustration if we unwrapped the victim message that is wound so tightly around our hearts. Let's hit the brakes on our stress-filled dialogues containing all the reasons why we have it the worst and remember why we'd really say time and time again, deep down, that we have it the best.

It's a good life we lead. Let's not make it harder than it is.

The Sick Toddler Toolkit: All The Essentials To Care For A Sick Child

Before my son, I didn't know much about how to care for a sick child, let alone myself when I was sick, but nothing teaches you how to be a good caretaker better than becoming a mother. After last year's long season of seemingly never-ending colds and flu hit our house, I'm prepping for this winter's sickness like a Doomsday Prepper prepares for the end-times. I learned a lot last year as to what works and what doesn't in soothing Eli's cold symptoms, and while I tend to error on the side of not taking him to the doctor with every little cough or runny nose, I do like to be sure he is as comfortable as possible while he fights off infection.

So these days, I have a go-to toolkit with all my supplies for taking care of a little one that's under the weather. With Eli being sick last week and baby girl coming in just a couple months, I was recently motivated to re-stock it so I'm as prepared as possible to take great care of both of them during the long Minnesota winters.

Here are the top items in my toolkit for taking care of a sick toddler. I'd love to hear about any great products or tips you all have to care for your children when sick!
  • Vicks Baby Rub - I rub a bit of this on his chest and feet (then cover with socks) before bed to help clear his lungs and nose. 
  • Humidifier - We have the Crane Drop Humidifer and we actually run it all winter, whether or not Eli is sick. It's a bit of a pain to clean out and refill all the time, but overall, it's definitely worth it since the Minnesota winters are so dry. 
  • Raw Honey - Eli loves when I pull out the honey and sometimes it's the only thing I can get him to take when his cold is really bad. It's great for soothing sore throats and to ease a hoarse cough. And as you saw earlier this week, I also tried my hand at making honey lollipops and Eli loves them whether or not he's sick. Here's the recipe!
  • Boogie Wipes - I totally thought these were a hoax at first. Just another way for the baby industry to make a little more money - but no. If the nose is really runny, plain kleen-x will make their noses super raw  - and please, don't make the mistake of using a baby wipe on your child's nose - those things start to sting, especially after the nose is already raw! Boogie Wipes are great for quickly loosening the hardened stuff around the nose and wiping it clean without a stinging sensation. But use them sparingly - those things are spendy. 
  • Aquaphor - Speaking of dry, raw noses, I rub a bit of this on his nose to alleviate the dryness. You could also use vaseline.
  • NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator - Nasty concept, amazing results. Every single time I use it I pray that it doesn't malfunction. 
  • Nasal Saline - I don't use this too often, although we keep it on hand. Eli doesn't like it at all, but it does loosen the dried crusties (ewwww) in his nose, and the NoseFrida is perfect for clearing it out right after. A steamy shower also works well for this, so often that's what I do instead. 
  • Eucalyptus Oil - Speaking of a steamy shower, if Eli is really congested or has a bad cough, I'll turn on a hot shower or run the bath with a bowl of eucalyptus oil nearby. Then I'll sit with him in the bathroom for a bit to help clear things up. I also like to put a few drops of the oil in a pot of water on the stove and simmer it all day long during the worst of a cold. 
  • Homemade Pedialyte - My pediatrician said it was perfectly safe to make a homemade solution, so this is the recipe I use. It's super easy and Eli (usually) sucks it right down. 
  • Rectal Thermometer - I still take Eli's temperature rectally, simply because it's the most accurate. We do have a forehead thermometer, so eventually I'll switch. But I just like the peace of mind knowing I'm getting the most accurate reading possible. 
  • Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen - If I'm going to use it, I tend to use Ibuprofen. It's a bit stronger than Acetaminophen, but it's also more effective. But overall, I tend to try to error on the side of not using it at all. Often I'll only use it before bed - because sometimes you both just need some sleep and that's the only thing that will help.
  • Nublizer - Now that we have a nebulizer, I figure we might as well use it. When we first received it, the doctor sent us home with way too much medication than we really needed, so we have lots of extra. They told me to just keep it and use it when he was extra congested. It can't hurt him by taking it, only help, so I plan on pulling it out if his cough is extra tight or he needs additional congestion relief that the other remedies can't provide. 
And a quick heads up, in the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some of my best tips for soothing Eli's cough and congestion on Twin Cities Moms Blog - keep an eye out if you're looking for more ways to help out your toddler.

 What about you all? Any you'd add? 

This Is How I Feel, XVII

When Eli falls off a chair in a room full of non-parents. (They don't realize yet kids are made of rubber.)

When I'm craving fried food, but made the "right choice for me and baby," by eating an apple.

When someone asks me if that apple "hit the spot" and if I'm no longer hungry. 

When my 18 month old decides it'd be fun to just walk down the stairs facing forward and falls on his face.

When a J.Crew catalog comes and I start flipping through it, but then realize that I can't buy anything for at least a year until I (fingers-crossed) lose the baby weight. 

When I first learned the true pronunciation of Britax and Chicco and I realized that I'd been saying it wrong for more than a year of motherhood.

When I see my toddler share without me having to prompt/force him to.

When my Midwife asks me, "How I've been eating," at a baby appointment. 

 During afternoon nap, when I'm feeling a little lonely and wish I had someone to talk to.

When a waitress sets down several hot plates of food right in front of my son before I can intercept them. 

When I see a mom with four kids cruising around Target like it ain't no thang. (Ahem, Amber at Mommy's Me Time - I'm looking at YOU!)

When my toddler's throwing a huge tantrum and I'm scared if I make any sudden movements or try to talk to him it'll escalate further.

When listening to two moms debate the pros and cons of co-sleeping vs. sleep training.

When a man off-handedly mentions that pregnancy and childbirth "can't be that bad."

When my husband asks me if I went to Starbucks that day.

DIY Homemade Honey Lollipops or Honey Pops

Yum, do I have some goodness for you all today! When Eli is sick with a cold, I often like to offer him a small spoonful of raw honey to help ease a sore throat or clear up a cough. I do the same for my husband and I when we have a cold, but usually I just put some honey in hot chamomile tea. It'd be an understatement to say that Mike doesn't like tea, but he actually does love chamomile with honey and always requests it when he's starting to feel under the weather. 

A while back I saw a recipe for honey cough drops, and after Eli got sick last week, I was motivated to try to make a few so we could have them on hand when any of us gets sick. 
And let me tell you, they are super simple to make, and Eli LOVES them. Sick or not the kid gobbles them down. The day I made these, they were out on the counter for a while as I was packaging and photographing them and he could not keep his hands off of them. I think he had three? Gah! They were small, promise! Here's him enjoying one: 
Showing me his "sweetie."
I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to make another batch of these asap or we'll never even have them around for an actual cold. Mike keeps snagging them when he has a sweet tooth after dinner and I don't have any desserts around. Heck, I crave them after lunch every day so I'm just as much to blame for their quick disappearance. 

Good thing they're super easy.  Here's what you'll need to make them too:
  • 1/2  to 1 Cup Honey - Really, any amount will do. I just eyeballed about a cup and got about 20 lollipops. 
  • Lollipop Sticks - I had some lying around - yeah, I don't know why either - but you can snag these at JoAnn, Michael's or another craft store.
  • Silpat Mat or Parchment Paper
  • A Candy Thermometer - This is helpful, but not necessary. 
Here's what you do: 
  1. Pour honey in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. If you have a candy thermometer, use it to tell you when the honey reaches about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It'll take about 10 minutes. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test the honey by dropping a bit of it into a cup of ice water. If it hardens (like candy) it's ready. If not, keep on boiling. *Keep a super close eye on your honey. It will seem like nothings happening for a while, then it will increase in temperature very quickly. It's better to test often and too soon, than to miss the mark and burn a batch. 
  2. When the honey reaches 300 degrees, remove it from the burner. 
  3. Pour small circles on the silpat mat or a piece of parchment paper. After pouring five or so circles, stop and put the lollipop sticks in each circle of honey. Give the sticks a little twist to be sure they're really stuck in there. Continue creating small honey circles on the mat, stopping every few minutes to put in the sticks. *When you first pour the honey, it's very thin and difficult to get a good circle (second row below), but as you continue on, the honey thickens and is much easier to pour (the darkest ones on the mat). Feel free to go back over your first few to help round them out and make them a bit thicker. 
  4. Allow them to cool and harden on the counter completely at room temperature, about a half hour. 
  5. To store, wrap them with a bit of plastic wrap and secure them with string or a twist tie. I used some pretty blue and white bakers twine from one of my favorite Etsy Shops, Give It Pretty.  If that's too much work for you, just cut up some parchment paper and fold it over the sucker heads. It'll keep them from sticking together when you store them, but will peel off easily when you're ready to enjoy them. 

These would also make super cute "get well" gifts or even favors at a party. If you want to play with the flavor a bit, I've heard of adding a few mix-ins to these. I'm planning to make a few that have lemon and cinnamon next! Just add your flavoring (about a 1/2 tsp) right at the beginning when you put the honey in the sauce pan. 


Eli - 18 Month Update

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to four hours
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, and table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 18-24 month.
Bedtime: 8 p.m. Sleeps 12-13 hours consistently each night.

The big thing we've been working on this month is having him feed himself using silverware. It's a mess I tell ya. Before this month, every once in a while we'd let him feed himself with fork or spoon - but usually only if it was not that messy and/or he demanded it. Typically we just have him use his hands. But with baby girl coming in just two months (Eek!) it's important to me that he begin to learn how to use a fork and spoon well since I won't be available to feed him nearly as often. As I mentioned, it's a HUGE mess, food splatters everywhere as he tries to stab something too hard or completely spills it accidentally (usually), it gets down his shirt, in his ears, on the wall, everywhere. BUT, he's getting a lot better at it and he LOVES it. I think he eats way more food when we let him use utensils and even though I have to help him out pretty frequently (the stabbing thing is still pretty tough) it's still a lot less work for me during actual meal times. 

I've been loving these full-coverage Ikea bibs, plus I usually throw a dishtowel on his legs as well to save his pants. After a meal, I use the dishtowel and a washcloth to clean up him, the chair and the floor, and I handwash the bib in the sink so it's ready for another meal. I have two, so I just alternate them to give them time to dry. 

Overall, sleeping has been great this month. His last two teeth he's been working on popped through, and since then he's been sleeping really well. As I mentioned here, he has completely dropped that morning nap and it's great to have a consistent schedule with him! I do find he gets a little fussy/clingy around 10/11 a.m. if we're home all morning, so I've started "crib time" for about a half hour which has been a total life saver (for both of us!) In the afternoons, I can usually count on at least two hours, sometimes up to four depending on how much activity he's had that day, but let's be honest, those days are few and far between. 

As usual, this kid's vocabulary just keeps exploding. Recently, he's started putting two words together like, "I sit!" and "Where Dada?" He also finally says "Love you!" I admit it's pretty garbled, but Mike and I both recognize it, plus, it usually comes with a kiss, so that's a dead giveaway. While he says a lot of real words throughout the day, many of his speaking is still gibberish too. He pretty much talks all day long and sometimes I'll find him saying the same word over and over and over again to me, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it is. He'll say it super seriously and I'll start guessing, and he'll say, "No, jkflajfdalj!" Sometimes, if I ask him to "Show momma," we'll figure it out, but often he starts to get frustrated so I try to distract him with something else. Then later in the day the word will come back and we'll go through it all over again - with me still not figuring it out. I feel terrible that he's trying to tell me something and I can't understand - he probably thinks I'm dense! 

Also, it seems like he has so many words now that he's started to get them confused, especially opposites. Like "in" and "out," "up" and "down," "on" and "off." He'll say the wrong one so I'll correct him and he'll repeat it, but lately I've found him saying, "Up, down, up, down, up, down," all at once, when all he really wants is to be "up."  It's hilarious. He continues to rack up the body parts and animal noises, my favorite has to be his fish and bee sounds - the fish is just a kissy noise while he raises his shoulders up and down and he's got a long, loud buzz for the bee. 

He finally learned to go down stairs backwards this month! I have to give credit to his grandparents and cousins after spending quite a bit of time in Iowa this month. When he starts to look scared at the top of the stairs, I just have to say, "Turn around!" and he actually does and proceeds to go down! I'm so proud of him, that was a long time coming. He's sorta started taking it to the extreme though. Where he used to carefully walk over a threshold between doorways, now he makes a big to-do by turning around and delicately going over it on his hands and knees. It's like an inch dude, just walk over it.  

In addition, I feel like we're really getting into "life skills" training. He's at an age where I feel like he can understand almost everything I say - and while maybe "reasoned with" is a strong term, he understands that "patience" means "to wait quietly" and "obey" means "to do what I say," so I feel like we're at a point that I can be more intentional with him in learning and discipline. He's interacting more with other kids which means he's getting in lots of practice in the oh, so wonderful sharing. When there are other kids around that want a toy he has, or he wants theirs, sometimes I'll set a timer for one minute - and when it goes off, they have to trade. I don't think Eli really gets it completely, but he does get that "something big happens when the timer goes off," and he seems to offer over his toys with a much better attitude, so that's progress. 

We're also working on sitting patiently in his highchair at mealtimes until everyone is finished eating. I've been doing this since he was really little, but these days, Eli wants to go play when he announces he's "ALLLLL DONE!" Which is usually a good ten minutes before Mike and I. So we're working on having him sit patiently until the rest of the table is finished. Most nights, I just have to remind him several times throughout the end of dinner that we know he's finished, but he needs to wait until everyone else is to go play, and sometimes it's a lost cause so we run the timer for three or four minutes until he can be done. 

In addition I'm having him help me put away toys, get a diaper and wipes from the basket and throw it away after changing, and even put away his clothing. I've always involved him a lot in everyday chores, but really it's just him sorta playing by me/doing his own thing while I do it. Now, I'm trying to teach him how to do these things on his own. While I'm still by his side every step of the way, he's the one that is actually doing the work, and it's awesome to see how much he understands! 

Every once in a while I'll start thinking about something I'd like to teach him or have him do and I'll think to myself, "He's too young for that, he won't understand it." But time and time again, he surprises me with how much he can do as long as I'm consistent and patient in training him. 

Still totally crazy about music. He sings all the time, and often I swear I can recognize the tune! He for sure knows "Jesus Loves Me." When I say "Jesus," the kid immediately starts to sing it - only the word "Jesus" is really recognizable, but he can definitely get the entire tune. Stuffed animals, trucks and planes are still by far his favorite things. He also loves getting stickers and he usually walks out of Target with four in hand - he's sorta like a dog, the check-out lady starts ooohing and aaahing over him and he starts to do tricks, like showing his muscles, pointing to and saying his body parts, or shouting "Ready, Set, Go!" and throwing something on the floor - because he knows he'll get more stickers if he shows off. 

He still loves to be outside and go on walks, picking up sticks, smelling flowers and kicking rocks. He's also getting better and better at games, things like peek-a-boo (a massive game of it going on in the photos directly above), tag and hide and seek. As far as dislikes, it's hard to categorize them. He can certainly throw a stellar tantrum, but it's unpredictable as to what it's for. But overall, things like not getting what he wants immediately, having to give up something before he's ready, coming inside, not getting his food fast enough, just because he wants to, you know normal toddler stuff. 

Momma/Daddy Update
Thankfully, Eli is back to remembering my name! And he's equally obsessed with me as well as with his dad - it's so nice to be back in his inner circle! After our trip, Eli ran up to both of us and just kept saying our names, alternating each one. Then he'd ask to be held by one of us, then a few minutes later, he'd ask the other person to hold him, over and over and over. It was bliss for both of us. 

As always, it just keeps getting more and more fun with him, but I do feel like we're really hitting a point in parenting where we need to be very intentional, and it can be so easy to be lazy! Often I want to let things slide, but I know it's best to be consistent so I'm having to give myself an extra push to work with Eli. Mike and I are having more and more discussions about what's important to us and what's not in discipline and training, and I'm so thankful he's always on-board and thoughtful about how we're raising Eli. I do find that I have to work harder to be sure to let Mike know about things I'm learning or working on with Eli during the day - just like I wrote in this post, it can be easy to just step in and "do it," or get frustrated if I feel like he's letting something slide that I wouldn't. It's not that Mike doesn't want to, it's just that I'm usually the one doing the research or talking with mom-friends for advice, so he doesn't hear about all the "tips and tricks" I do. 

Overall, parenting is awesome, and it's so fun to see Eli become a little boy! We both consistently talk all the time about how blessed and lucky we are to be his parents!