Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: 2013   

Monday, August 26, 2013

Making Sense of the New Me: Mommy Identity Crisis?

I was offered a job today. Not just any job though....the DREAM JOB. The pinnacle of everything I strived for during my 6+ years of post-secondary education. I was offered partnership in a fledgling, equine-assisted psychotherapy program. That might sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo, but it essentially boils down to just using horses to help people; something that I have always been passionate about. So what did I do? I graciously thanked the kind man and then I turned him down.

With a toddler and another baby on the way, I'm just not in the position to accept a job right now. Any job. Even the dream job.

So, I turned down the job of my dreams. And it sucked. It quite literally felt like a punch to the gut. I saw everything I had worked so hard for in college, my passions, my dreams, dissipate right before my eyes. And it made me sad.

Well, it made me sad for a little while at least. Until I came to the realization that I have a new dream job, and fortunately for me, I'm already employed there. The job description is vast and the hours and duties are seemingly endless. Associated titles are numerous as well. I have been known to go by "chief purchasing officer," "activities coordinator," "master toddler interpreter," "president of waste management," and "head housekeeper." However, my favorite title is simply "mom."

I've been a mom for two completely, often, occasionally glorious years now and it still strikes me as odd sometimes. Odd that I am responsible for (almost) two other human beings. Odd that I am shaping their  past, present, and future. Odd that no one from the hospital ever realized the error in their ways and came to rescue my son from my clearly inept and clueless hands.

I'm 26 years old and until embarrassingly recently I was under the impression that El Nino was a South American terrorist organization that deviously altered weather patterns. I'm perpetually mispronouncing things (still have to remind myself that carafe rhymes with giraffe), I'm scared of the dark, I rely on my gps to get me out of my own neighborhood, and I have even been known to mess up EasyMac. Ya. That's me in a nut shell. I'm a hot mess.

And yet, somehow, someway, I was still entrusted with the care of these tiny human beings. Most days, I haven't the faintest idea of what I'm doing. I feel as though I am simply fumbling my way through this parenting business. Living, learning, and desperately trying to keep my kid(s) out of the emergency room. And today I realized, that this is my new DREAM JOB. Motherhood.

The place where sloppy kisses and toothy smiles abound. A place where there is never a shortage of tiny arms reaching upward to be held. Where baby blue eyes plead for one more story before bed and fuzzy, blond heads just beg to be kissed each night as we rock to sleep.

This is the place where I have found my new passion. My new zest for life.

This is truly the job of my dreams.

And while I constantly find myself questioning whether I am doing a good enough job, (i.e. Am I disciplining too much? Too little? Am I providing enough stimuli for their growing minds? Do I read enough books? Provide enough socialization opportunities? Will the occasional Happy Meal destine my child to a life of diabetes and obesity?) I am also sure that at least for now, this is where I am meant to be.

Where I was always meant to be.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Babymoon on the Bayfront!!!

While the terminology may be new, the concept of a "babymoon" has been around for ages. Simply put, its a chance for the mom and dad-to-be to have one last hoorah before the new baby arrives. It can be as adventurous or as relaxing as you choose. The important thing is just to get that alone time in with your spouse, because it will likely be a long while before you get to indulge in things like uninterrupted conversation or spontaneous spooning again!

That being said, "babymoons" are not just for first-time parents. In fact, they are almost more of a necessity for the experienced ones. The second or third time around, you know exactly what you and your spouse have gotten yourselves into! You can anticipate the sleepless nights and months of zombie-like exhaustion that will ensue once multiple children are underfoot. Therefore, taking some time out to focus on the relationship with your spouse, to reflect, and to recharge is imperative.

Fortunately for my husband and I, we stumbled upon the Bayfront Westcott House when we were planning our latest getaway. I knew that I wanted to spend our vacation in the comfort of a bed & breakfast and I have always adored St. Augustine, so the Bayfront Westcott House provided the perfect marriage of the two. To say that it is charming would be the understatement of the century. Every aspect of this B&B is absolute perfection!

The property itself is literally a stone's throw away from the Bay and is immaculately tended. There is a gorgeous courtyard, wraparound verandah, and a slew of room balconies overlooking the water. Regardless of the season, breakfast on the verandah is something that cannot be missed.

 The views are phenomenal and the food is absolutely to die for. They have a baked French toast dish that can only be described as every pregnant, scratch that, EVERY woman's fantasy. The Bayfront Westcott House's babymoon package also entitled us to breakfast in bed during our stay. They showered me with breakfast goodies, nonalcoholic mimosas, and delicious hot chocolate all in the comfort of my gorgeously decorated room. The package also included a 60-minute prenatal massage which ensured that I was one happy mama-to-be! It was as close to heaven as it gets when you're 6 months pregnant.

The property staff were beyond accommodating, and serious pushers of baked goods! Every time I turned around they had another fudgy brownie or fresh-baked cookie to offer me. The innkeepers also stocked our room with all sorts of preggo-friendly drinks and snacks so that I could satisfy my pregnancy cravings at all hours of the night. To make sure my hubbie didn't feel left out, they kept him happy with his very own "beer basket" and a nightly social hour with complimentary beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres. 

As critical as I usually am about hotels and b&b's, I literally have nothing negative to say about this St Augustine bed and breakfast. It was easily the most beautiful property we have stayed at and our stay was both relaxing and rejuvenating. Certainly everything we needed it to be in order to prepare for our pending arrival! If you are considering a babymoon, or any vacation for that matter, this is the place to go! I highly recommend it :)


Monday, July 22, 2013

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling like I'm 2! (Under the Sea Party)

As the baby's 2nd birthday rolled around, I began the party planning process. If I had the common sense God gave a walnut, I probably would have gone the "birthday in a box" route this year. Party planning while pregnant is difficult enough...but add a mischievous toddler to the mix and its practically impossible! Alas, I have never been much of a logical being! So, I set out to create a custom Under the Sea themed party for my precious, little guy. He is obsessed with turtles and other sea life, so the theme kind of chose itself.

My husband, being the smart guy that he is, had me set a strict budget this year. (Last year may have gotten a bit out of hand with all the first birthday hubbub!) And I, being the awesome-sauce wife that I am, actually abided by it!

I learned a lot from the party planning saga last year. This year I knew it was best to keep the menu as simple as possible, and avoid trying to prepare anything myself! I ordered plenty of platters from our local grocery store, and ordered the cake & cookies from an awesome local baker. This all ensured that everyone enjoyed the food and I avoided unnecessary stress!

Special Thanks to my husband for helping me set-up this birthday extravaganza & the amazing vendors that made everything possible. (Crumby Art, Chickabug Paper & Printables, & Just Like Mom's Baked Goods)

Outside Signage (Chickabug Paper & Printables)
Birthday Cake (Just Like Mom's Baked Goods)

Side View of Buffet    
                      Handmade Jellyfish                                            Table Settings
                                                            Crumby Art Fondant Cupcake Toppers
    Godiva Truffles & Turtle Cake Pops   

          Candy Buffet



       Cardboard Shark for Photo Ops!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

5 Things you Shouldn't Say to a Pregnant 2nd Time Mom

For a variety of reasons, it's been awhile since I've written a blog post.

A little writer's block. An epic bout of "morning sickness." A hormonally-induced fuse that seems to grow shorter and shorter the farther I get into this second pregnancy. All of these have combined to make me, shall we say, hesitant to blog.

Regardless, here I am! Ready to throw caution to the wind,  jump back on the proverbial blogging pony, and do what I do best: Vent.

And boy do I have some pent up frustrations! We'll start with some of the most common things my husband and I hear from family, friends, and strangers alike when they find out we are expecting again.

"So soon? Wow!"
"Was it planned?"
"I sure hope you guys know what you're in for."
"You think it's hard now, just wait!"
"I bet you're disappointed its a boy."
Please don't get me wrong. I realize that people have been making babies for millions of years and I don't expect a parade, or a pink pony for simply knocking boots with my husband. That being said,  would a simple "congratulations" kill you? Planned or unplanned (totally planned by the way), we created life! That's pretty epic!
And frankly,  I don't think that having kids who are 2.5 years apart qualifies us for some sort of Guinness World Record.
My personal favorite is the "I sure hope you guys know what you're in for." I'd like to think that 2 years into this parenting gig, I have an inkling about how difficult it can be. But for shits and giggles, lets pretend you're right. Let's pretend my husband and I are both clueless twits whose world will be utterly rocked with the arrival of a second child. Explain to me, how even in that hypothetical scenario, that smug comment is in anyway beneficial. Am I the only "glass is half full" person left around these parts? If you can't muster up some excitement for us, or choke out a "congratulations," then I'd rather you not say anything at all! 
Or, maybe try asking me or my husband how we feel about this second pregnancy for some perspective.
To which I'd reply...
"I'm thrilled! Frequently nervous. Perpetually excited to meet our new family member and watch his tiny personality unfold. Sometimes terrified. Occasionally overwhelmed. Aware that I'll have a toddler and a newborn. Concerned about having enough time, energy, and love to go around. Awe-struck to think of my current "baby" as a big brother. Anxious about the social, emotional, physical, and financial impact of raising a second child.
But overall, I'm happy.
I am so incredibly happy to be bringing another beautiful little boy into this world. I feel like everything is just as it should be, and I cannot wait to be a mommy again."
Baby Boy 2.0 Debuting November 2013
In summation, please think before you speak to a pregnant, second-time mom. We are already on the proverbial hormonal edge, and nobody wants you to end up getting punched in the throat.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Finding the Extraordinary, in the Seemingly Ordinary: Spotlight on CF

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of my little blogging venture.

What began as an outlet, the simple rantings and ravings of a first-time mom, has since "blossomed" into something more tangible. A network of like-minded parents. A safe haven for mommy group dropouts. A supportive community willing to embrace the laughable moments  in parenthood and to shun modern ideals of what is "perfect" or "beautiful."

And with a growing readership, this blog can also occasionally be a platform.

I knew I wanted the "anniversary edition" of my blog to be about something special. Something Extraordinary even.

This is Scotty. And he is that something extraordinary.

One could argue that in many ways, Scotty is just like any other (almost) 3 year old. He is a fun-loving,  Pooh Blanket toting, self-proclaimed mama's boy. Habitual giggler. Lover of all things Mickey. A bubble fanatic and a serial napper. Scotty loves snuggling, coloring, and stockpiling his toys way out of his baby brother's reach! He is the quintessential toddler.

But there's also something really extraordinary about him. An aura of awareness. The way his eyes don't just look at you...they pierce through you. Scotty's gaze is permeated by a seasoned understanding and a maturity far beyond his years. This is perhaps, in part, because Scotty has a disease known as Cystic Fibrosis.

For those of you who aren't familiar, "Cystic fibrosis is a devastating genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. The disease causes the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and stops the body from breaking down/absorbing food," (Courtesy of Cff.org).

Scotty was diagnosed at just 2 weeks old, and has since endured a number of life-saving medical interventions. Though he looks and acts much like an "ordinary" toddler, his days are filled with many extraordinary measures to help keep him healthy.

Scotty's 5th Hospitalization
In order to break up the mucous in his lungs, Scotty has to wear a specialized vest and utilize a nebulizer at least twice a day. In addition, he takes numerous specialty vitamins and enzymes to assist his digestive tract. Because Scotty still has a difficult time maintaining a healthy weight, he is also given appetite stimulants, antibiotics (as necessary), Prilosec, saline, and formula through a feeding tube in his stomach. 
Undergoing Nebulizer/Compression Vest Treatment

Despite this strict regimen, and being perpetually monitored by vigilant parents and a slew of specialists, there are still times that the disease catches up with him, and Scotty has to be hospitalized.
To say that this disease has taken a toll on Scotty and his family would be the understatement of the century. The emotional, financial, and physical stresses associated with this chronic illness are clear. Despite their difficulties, Scotty and his family remain positive and even serve as ambassadors for the Cystic Fibrosis community. Their mission is to raise awareness about the disease, and to raise money to help fund a cure.

However, Scotty and his family are in a race against time. Even with medical advances, most children with Cystic Fibrosis will never see their 40th birthday. The current treatments focus on symptom alleviation, but they do not cure the disease.

There are many promising medical developments, but research takes money. That's where you lovely readers come in! In order to eradicate this disease, and ensure that Scotty lives a LONG and happy life, he needs YOU to make a donation.

I know that for most families right now, money is really tight. But Scotty's not asking you for a mortgage payment. Any donation, no matter how small, goes to help find a cure. Scotty, and all of the other individuals touched by this disease, appreciate every penny.

Since this is the special anniversary edition of my blog, I implore you guys to man up and make a donation. Hopefully, this blog has given you a year of candor and laughter. Or perpetual fodder and confidence that you are a way better parent than some of us nut jobs! Either way, I gave you all of the aforementioned: For free!

 I promise to keep sharing my parental exploits and misadventures, if y'all promise to go and DONATE some money! Come on, you can part with five measly bucks. That's not even enough for a coffee, or good wine. Go! Now! Donate! (please and thank you)

Monday, March 4, 2013

(Every Other) Mother Knows Best

I have a bone to pick with Mommyland.

Somewhere along the line, one of us yahoos decided it was socially acceptable to push our own personal child rearing agenda onto everyone else.

I'm not talking about Great Aunt Bertha sharing her time honored wisdom, or close friends who offer tidbits from the motherhood trenches. I'm referring to individuals like your acquaintance from Kindermusic, the friend of a friend who always manages to comment on your facebook posts, or the stranger at Target who rips you a new one for feeding your kid Gluten-full goldfish crackers in the checkout line.

To those (hopefully) well meaning mothers I say, "thanks, but no thanks, for your lectures and tirades." Call me crazy, but I kind of miss the good ole' days when we would all quietly judge those who raised their children differently from us. If one felt particularly daring, he or she could even secretly gab about said parental atrocities with some friends. Sadly, those days of closeted judgment are over. Now, moms walk right up to you, with a smile plastered on their face, and an outline of the five million ways you are irrevocably screwing up your child.

Like this job isn't hard enough. Like each of us doesn't already harbor seemingly endless feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and "mommy guilt."  

We are all on our own personal quest for parental perfection and maternal nirvana. But what is "perfect" for one family, might be imperfect in another. What is blissful for some, could be beastly to others. Somewhere along the line, we forgot that these differences are in fact.... entirely acceptable.
Instead of appreciating the diversity and supporting one another however we can, there are those among us who actively belittle, chastise, and disparage fellow moms.

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have been "corrected" or "schooled" by another mom.
               "That seat should still be rear-facing."
                "Those shoes are terrible for his developing spine."
                "He shouldn't be watching television at this age."
                "You need to put him on a sleep schedule."
                "Why aren't those berries organic?"

It's one thing if I beseech someone for their input, its another thing entirely when I am beaten about the face and neck with unsolicited critiques. 

Fortunately, my son already has two more than capable parents, and we are not currently interviewing for a third. We might not always get everything right, but we try and make informed and educated decisions based on what is best for our family. It might be a lot different from what goes on in your home, or it could be nearly identical, but it's what works for us.

For example, in our house, I am still breastfeeding my nearly 20 month old. This is absolutely outrageous in some circles, and totally acceptable in others. Either way, you won't ever find me going door to door to try and "convert" other moms. You'd also be hard pressed to catch me cringing at the mere sight of formula or sighing dramatically when I hear that another mom had to stop breastfeeding. I don't do any of these things because, besides being ridiculous, it's not my place to. The choices another mom makes for her and her family are hers alone. Who am I to say that my way is superior? Who am I to try and make someone conform?

But clearly, not everyone values personal choice as much as I do. And to those individuals I say, "It's awesome that your motherly instincts are just overflowing like that...but maybe, just maybe, you could swallow your derogatory comments and "helpful" remarks, and utilize that parental prowess on your own kid."

 (Because if you keep hating on these gluten-full goldfish I'm liable to throat chop you.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Apocalypse Now: 30 Reasons The World is Ending Today (According to my Toddler)

We all know that there are two sides to every story.

Mom's side: We have entered the stage of child-rearing where temper tantrums are frequent, fearsome, and unpredictable. My husband and I often feel like we are toting around a ticking time bomb; it is not a matter of if, but when it will be set off. We've learned a few short-term fixes: silly songs, funny faces, the occasional lollipop, and Beverley Hills Chihuahua movies are among the most frequently employed. Occasionally, even this arsenal is not enough to combat the head thrashing, teeth gnashing, body planking tactics of our little bundle of joy. We'd love to take preventative measures, to bypass these tantrums entirely, but who knows what will set him off next?!

Baby's side: I love my parents, I really do. But the sooner they realize that their entire purpose for being, is to cater to my every whim, we will all be better off. Obviously, I'm in charge. Yet, for whatever reason, they continue to desperately cling to the idea that they make the rules.

But candidly, its a bit embarrassing too.

I see other kids at the mall playground, all of the time, whose parents are already fully trained. These parents are always armed with an array of snacks, a change of clothes, a myriad of playthings, and still manage to dash this way and that, at their child's beck and call. I often wonder how long it will take to get my own parents to that point. Sigh.

As far as this "tantrum" business, the 'rents are seriously over dramatizing it. Like I said before, I'm the boss. Should be a given. These so called tantrums, are a mere reflection of the kind of work/effort my parents are putting in. A sort of "performance review," if you will. There are numerous reasons a performance could be deemed unsatisfactory, all of which seem plain as day to me.

However, because there are some incredibly dense subordinates (parents) out there, I am including a list of obvious infractions/difficulties that need be dealt with swiftly and severely. (via screaming, thrashing, head banging, biting, planking, etc)

1. I'm hungry.
2. NO I don't want that for lunch! It's disgusting. I'm allergic. I could be poisoned. I don't care if it was my favorite food yesterday, I hate it.
3. I'm tired.
4. I don't want to take a nap. Naps are for babies. You take a nap.
5. Why won't you let me play with that steak knife?
6. I can't get the lid off this marker.
7. That lady just looked at me.
8. I don't want to wear pants.
9. That lady is STILL looking at me.
10. I don't want to hug grandpa.
11. I'm stuck in the toilet.
12. I want a sticker.
13. There's a sticker on my hand and I can't get it off.
14. I want a lollipop before bed.
15. Your IPhone isn't working. I think I broke it again. (Why are YOU crying, mom?)
16. I don't want to sit in the car seat. Car seats are for babies.
17. I just pooped myself.
18. That kid on the playground touched me.
19. This food is too hot.
20. This food is too cold.
21. Did you just stick your finger in my food?
22. You went to the bathroom without me.
23. I'm stuck in this cabinet.
24. Why can't I climb the dresser?
25. Why can't I eat this worm?
26. You look like you're trying to leave the house without me.
27. I want to color the wall again. Give me back my crayons.
28. My zebra is stuck in the toilet.
29. My playroom is messy.
30. Are you blogging again?!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Marriage Work...Because Murder is Frowned Upon

Let me set the stage for an epic marital argument that occurred in my house today.

1) My husband decided to take the baby for a bike ride.
2) Ecstatic to have some baby-free time, I whipped up a tile grout cleaning connection I saw on pinterest and began scrubbing a small area of our floor. (Don't ask me why I chose this as my "fun," baby free activity, I'm not quite sure either.)
3)Hubbie came back with a tired, hungry, and cranky baby and found me Cinderella-style scrubbing said tile. (melodrama-intended)
4) Baby began screaming because he wasn't allowed in the kitchen where I was scrubbing.
5) Husband grew more and more perturbed by the minute.
6) Pot finally boiled over when hubbie stomped into the kitchen in a rage, and fell ass over tea kettle onto my sparkling clean floor.
7) And so began a long, nasty, tirade, directed at moi.

Today, my husband was a Grade-A, Douche-canoe. He was snarky. He was loud-mouthed. He was quick-tempered and downright mean. If his objective was to make me want to beat him with a rubber mallet, he not only succeeded, he struck that one out of the park. Needless to say, it was not his best day.

Thank baby Jesus, he hardly ever acts like that. Fortunately, today was the exception, not the rule.

HOWEVER, when he does act like a royal turd, I usually take his behavior as an invitation to lash back. To unload all of my pent up frustrations in a seemingly endless tirade of my own. A months worth of bottled up complaints and resentments can come spewing out of my mouth in a stream of verbal diarrhea.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that there are probably better ways to respond.

So today, instead of losing my cool, chopping him in the throat, or plotting his murder, I just zipped my lips. And as hard as that was, it actually panned out. Remaining quiet gave me the necessary time to sort through my thoughts before responding to his asshattery. And I'll be damned if after thinking things through, I didn't realize that he kind of had a point. My timing for the floor cleaning project (right before the dinner/bedtime routine) was awful and the spot I picked to initiate it (the middle of our kitchen)was even worse. He was right, and I was wrong.

The way he addressed the issue, and the lame-sauce manner in which he spoke to me was hurtful and disappointing. I was right and he was wrong.

In essence, we were both right and both wrong. But while I was thinking, it occurred to me that marriage is so much more than that.

When my husband and I got married, we did so under the mutual understanding that we are in this for the long haul. In an era in which divorce is increasingly prevalent, our commitment to one another was not something taken lightly. Seeing as we both come from broken homes, divorce was never going to be an option for us. If and when we said "I do," we would make an irrevocable promise. A promise for forever.

I am happy to say that I am just as committed to this man today, as I was that August afternoon many years ago, when my shaky fingers slid a golden band onto his strong and steady ones and promised eternity. Today's fight does not even put a dent in the amount of love and adoration I have for him. And the next fight, or the one after that can't and won't shake our sturdy foundation either. Ours is a marriage based on friendship, laughter, trust, communication, and deep-seated love. I am confident that it will stand the test of time.

However, to prevent any homicides and ensure that our marriage remains fun and livable, it needs work. Every day. We have plenty more arguments in our future, but we need to learn to fight fair and communicate better as a preventative measure. My husband is a man of metaphors, so when I finally came back to discuss this particular disagreement, I tried to speak in his language.

I told him that our marriage is a bit like a house that you love dearly and plan on living out your days in. Home ownership take effort. You are either mindfully working to make it sparkle, or lackadaisically facilitating its dilapidation. For example, snippy comments to one another might be equivalent to a chipped floor tile in the house. Big, blowout arguments akin to a gaping hole in the drywall. After awhile, you lose sight of the house's true beauty, and all you can see are the flaws. On the other hand, striving to make one another happy and actively listening and communicating would be like patching those drywall holes or adding a fresh coat of paint to the "house."

My husband and I are both in this forever, so we just have to decide whether we want to live in a beautiful cottage or a dilapidated shack, and act accordingly. I challenge you, dear readers, to ask yourself the same.