Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's the debate that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends

A web article has been making its rounds on my Facebook feed lately.  It's one of those "gotcha!" posts in which a man vigorously defends stay at home moms everywhere by lambasting working moms, because the best way to defend one group is to demean another, amiright?

In his article, popular blogger Matt Walsh hashes out how much our society degrades stay at home parents. To quote him,

"It’s happened twice in a week, and they were both women. Anyone ought to have more class than this, but women — especially women — should damn well know better... I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for “stay at home” mothers." 

Yes those damn women MUST know better since, ya know, they have vaginas which automatically makes them knowledgeable in all stay-at-home mom things.  The catcher is, the things those women said to him?  They weren't contemptuous or hostile, they were conversational.  I can't tell you how many times I've said dumb things in the course of a conversation because I just don't know what to say.  Does Matt really need to mock these women publicly?

The crux of his article focuses on how stay at home moms aren't valued in society (absolutely true, they are much more valued in those crazy socialist countries we in 'Murrica are trained to hate) and how easy working moms have it given all the down time they have.

Sure, it's important we recognize the role stay at home parents play in our society.  Given astronomical childcare prices, and ridiculously low childcare regulations, many parents have opted to stay home with their kids rather than jeopardize their income (valid) or their child's well-being, all of which I have great empathy for.  However, Matt Walsh isn't writing about how society has ultimately failed to accommodate all working parents who wish to have more family time, he is basically writing an essay glorifying his wife for all the sacrifices she is making for their family that clearly those other moms are not willing to make.

He doesn't delineate how the US has ultimately failed to support stay at home parents, instead he chooses to pit women against women by 1) vilifying those two women who made off-the-cuff remarks (that cannot show their real attitude towards parents who stay home)  and 2) fails to acknowledge the difficulty all moms - heck, all parents - face when attempting the work/life balance.

This whole stupid debate that has raged on since the 1950's pitting women who stay at home versus those who work just needs to end.  It hasn't helped a single woman I know in her daily life.  Instead, it has added to the enormous mommy guilt we all feel.  So, let's just stop it, okay?  Parenting is hard work and we certainly don't need societal pressure on top of it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting In the Groove

Over the summer I took a very intensive calculus course.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I passed that course, like a boss.  On the way I learned a few things about routine and daily rituals.

Beep. Beeep. Beeeeeeep buzzes the alarm, waking me up from a semi-confusing dream of late papers, car accidents, and missed airplanes.  I close my eyes, pleading for just a few more minutes.  After hitting the snooze button twice - hey, I'm human - I roll out of bed.  The house is dark, except for the light in the kids' room, and I shut the bedroom doors to encourage their continued sleeping.

I fix my breakfast and warm drink, blearily make my way to the office, and sit in the comfortable chair.  Within minutes I have my Calculus book open, the computer buzzing its own morning tune, and my notebook paper filled clipboard ready to go.  The equations, a little blurry this early in the morning, soon waken the sleeping mathematical curiosity, and I start drawing and writing with vigor on my clipboard.

In class later that morning, I jot down ideas on how I would teach a mathematics course to a group of university students.  Allowing my imagination to go, I find ways of teaching myself through this process, as I ask the questions I am sure these students wonder - "what's the meaning behind this?", "why do I have to do this instead of what seems like an easier way?", and, the quintessential question for every math course, "how the he!! does this apply to my life?"

(Interestingly, I find the last question easiest to answer.  The implications for physics, biology, and daily activities - financial decisions, successful physical activity implementation, maximizing one's time and minimizing risks - are all found through mathematical equations.)

Writing, my first real interest, has helped hone my mathematical skills.  Communicating effectively, especially in writing, is essential for spreading ideas and disseminating information. It's also an excellent way to really learn an idea.  If I can write down the steps and processes by which I'm computing an equation, and explain these steps to a peer, I can memorize these steps and apply them in later equations.

In the typical school year, when the semester is still busy but not as busy as summer, 5:30 is my prime writing time.  Looking at blank screen and creating a post or essay about something that either excites and amuses me, is necessary for my mental health.  As words pour from my brain onto the screen, I can ignore or understand those anxious and depressive thoughts that too often plague me.

As with math, I find my writing is best when I keep a notebook handy for random thoughts, and think about verbally expressing my writing to a friend or stranger. Is my point clear? Have I left out an integral part of the story? Is their reaction expected with regards to the emotion behind the post?

And, like in math, I use available resources to facilitate writing: dictionaries, thesauri, grammatical books, etc.
Each of these rituals are natural components of my day.  I have several apps on my phone that allow my creativity to flow - even while I'm busy doing chores or walking - so I can write essays in my head.

I guess, as much as I veer away from the term, I would consider myself a writer.  Even if I choose to write about nontraditional subjects.

Today at Project: Underblog, we are discussing our daily creative rituals.  Link up with us!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cooking With Fire. Literally.

For years now, my cooking has been a running joke between Mr. B and me.  (Now a public running joke since I introduced my blogging buddies (back on my old blog), Twitter peeps, and Facebook friends to it.) It all started we found ourselves in Burger King, for the third time in a week after I ruined another meal.

"I just get too distracted by the kids.  I don't mean to burn everything to a crisp but, you know, I forget to turn off the stove when taking care of things.  Besides, I like to save time so I figure I'll just let some things cook - er burn - while I chop other stuff and clean the dishes and change diapers and, and, etc."

"Why don't I do the cooking for a while."

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, I'll take over."

(Trying to contain my over excitement.) "Okay, only if you want to."

Fast forward 3 years later and Mr. B is still the primary cook.  His cooking skills, and I'm not being snarky here, are professional level.  Eating his food is like sitting in a high-end restaurant.  So. Freaking. Good.

A few weeks ago, when I caught the flu, my first (and, yes, selfish) thought was, "I hope Mr. B doesn't get sick."

[As a quick side note, I am the worst sick person in the world. Summed up by this -


In all fairness, I do get really sick.  Perhaps because I get like a few hours of sleep max when in school?]

So when Mr. B woke up with a sore throat a few days later, I panicked. If he got as sick as I did, I'd have to cook, which means we'd probably end up in a restaurant 100% of the time and/or eating PB&J sandwiches.

Fortunately for all of us, before I broke out the pans and prepared the kitchen for a smoke overload, Ben got better.  (It helps that his sicknesses are typically 1/16 on the serious level, even when you factor in my melodramatic tendencies.)  Our stomachs and pocket book were saved.

Until 2 weeks later, when Mr. B went out with his friends.  And then this happened (via Facebook and Twitter):

Well I just set the stove on fire. AND THIS IS WHY I DON'T



**Don't worry, we were all okay.  Only my pride was damaged***.

***Except that I don't have any pride left, so.....

Monday, May 6, 2013

Breastfeeding Is the Perfect Storm

I always imagined breastfeeding would be like how my friends and family described it: a great bonding experience with my baby. I could use those quiet moments to snuggle and and really enjoy my baby.  It serves me right for believing in such myths.

Miss A, my baby, is a wonderful nurser.  Unfortunately, breastfeeding is anything but relaxing.  It seems that her brother and sister interpret those few minutes I'm feeding her as the perfect time to act out.  Whether it's running outside naked, escaping to our neighbor's house, and/or throwing and breaking various sized glass cups, E and A use those 10 minutes well.

Perhaps if I could lock them in their rooms, I could get that peaceful bonding experience people talk about.  But I don't believe in locking my kids in their rooms so, instead, I watch as they systematically destroy the house while giggling profusely.  I believe they see breastfeeding for what it truly is - the one time that mom is basically immobile and can only repeatedly ask beg that they sit down and read a story.  In other words, the perfect time to implement their well-designed plans.

But to be perfectly honest, I'll probably breastfeed Miss A until she's 4; thus becoming one of those moms. Fair warning, y'all.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Morning Cocoa I

Welcome to the virtual coffee date. Pour yourself a cup of cocoa, iced tea, or whatever beverage you prefer and make yourself comfortable.

I'm listening to the birds sing their morning songs as I write this.  These pre-dawn minutes are precious in my book as they are often the only few uninterrupted moments I have during very busy days.

Last weekend was a wonderful blend of good food, good drinks, and great company.  The adults laughed as the kids provided endless hours of entertainment by dancing to the eternal Gangnam Psy, tumbing across the living room floor, and singing various songs.  We all enjoyed a walk down by the river and fully exhausted each child by bedtime.

This last week was an intense one.  Midterms, workshops, and hours of homework took up most of my time while mountains of clean and dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and other mundane household chores took up the rest.  Sometimes this busyness feels too much, like I'm stretched out as far as I can go, yet the alternative doesn't sound appealing either so I trudge through these really busy times and enjoy those weeks when things are busy but relatively quiet.

Yesterday was my birthday.  For those of you who follow and/or are friends with me on Facebook, you're quite aware of my sleep chronicles, or non-sleep chronicles as it were. So it was very apropos that my celebrations centered around sleep: I slept in, took a nap, and went to bed early while my sweet husband watched/entertained the kids for me.  It was blissful.  The rest of the day was spent enjoying my family, eating at a delicious Italian restaurant for lunch, and laughing as my kids and husband baked me a wonderful cake and sang Happy Birthday to me.  The most perfect birthday I've ever had.

How has your month been? Good? Bad? Busy? Any exciting news? I want to hear all about it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mourning With Boston

"Breaking news, there are reports of a possible bomb explosion at the Boston marathon. Details are still forthcoming."

"Mommy! Are we at the doctor's appointment yet?" Emily asked.

"Shhhhh.  I just heard something on the radio."

"But mommy!"


"We have eyewitness confirmation that two bombs exploded at the Boston marathon....."

I listened to the reports over and over again, tears stinging my eyes as the horrific details came out of Boston.  I thought back to the heart wrenching interview I had listened to just that morning of the Newtown Strong Fund running for the Sandy Hook Elementary school victims and how the Boston marathon had dedicated mile 26 to the victims and their families.  Sobs erupted from my throat.

I didn't write anything after the Newtown shootings.  My words felt inadequate.  After this tragedy, my words still feel inadequate.  But I am mourning for those who were injured, for those who lost their lives, for the families of the victims, for the loss of innocence and I write because I don't know what else to do.

I don't understand why these events happen or what events precipitated for a person or organization to feel justified in committing such a repulsive act.  Yet, as I've listened to and read reports of how Bostonians have reached out to victims and displaced marathon racers,  or how Newtown residents have created organizations (like the Strong Fund) to remember and support the victims, I feel hope.  I believe President Obama said it best during his press conference this morning:

"We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized.  Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love:  Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets.  The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives.  The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.”  The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful.  And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.
So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it.  Selflessly.  Compassionately.  Unafraid."
(Read more:

May we all mourn for the victims of this and other horrific acts of violence.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Morning Cocoa Revisited

Writing isn't easy lately. Parenting, homework, and other life things are getting in the way. Like so many of you, I'm sure, I just don't have the time to produce quality - or any - content.

Back on my old blog, I did a series of posts in which I invited you (the reader) over to my virtual house for a cup of tea (hot cocoa, Dr. Pepper, whatever beverage you prefer) and good conversation. I miss that. If I invited you, would you come over?  Just bring you and your beautiful words.  We'll make in a Monday tradition.

So, see you then?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sleep Training, Losers Edition

Back when Sister E was a tiny infant and I felt the familiar first parent's fear of never sleeping again, I decided to check out all the excellent sleep training books my friends and family had recommended.  Their reviews often stated, "your child will sleep through the night forever!"  And I was like, yeah. I'm totally down.

The first rule? Focus everything in your schedule around your baby's sleep schedule.  Having one made that oh-so-easy.  Like a champ, Emily was sleeping through the night by 7 months. Bed at 7/8, wake up at 6/7, it was fantastic.  When Brother A was born, it barely ruffled her sleep feathers.  Since I had had such success, I immediately started him on the sleep routine.  By 6-7 months, he was mostly sleeping through the night. I was, clearly, a fantastic and superior mom.

But as any wiser parent knows, don't ever believe reviews that promise "forever" in their marketing campaign. As the wise Kip stated, "like anyone could even know that."

With my miscarriages, moving about 1500 miles away from our old friends and all our family, and everything else that happened in that 2 year period, the kids inevitably stopped sleeping through the night. In fact, they just stopped sleeping.  Too often, Mr. B and I would stare at each other on the couch as the kids ran circles around us, at 10 pm.  They would typically wake up 1-3 times a night and wake up at 5 am, ready to go. To top it off, they refused to sleep anywhere but our bed.  With a queen bed, our sleeping quarters were cramped.

So one day I called my mom sobbing, "Why don't my kids sleep? Ever?"  (One can tell I'm desperate when I use the word, "why.") She, the mother of 10, could give me advice that no book ever could - "you are doing awesome, Amber, just remember your parenting principles of lore and stick to them."

Ding, ding, ding, ding!

That past year my parenting style definitely took a major hit. Mr. B and I were parenting out of desperation in the middle of chaos. It doesn't exactly yield great results. I dusted off my old college textbooks on child development and guzzled down the pertinent information about each of my kids' stages. I threw out the guilt I had for, well, everything, and decided to provide incentives for my kids going to sleep.

This past week, things have changed drastically. The kids not only go to bed, they stay in their bed all night long, and wake up less frequently (only if they are thirsty and/or hurting in some way or another).

I'm sure the tempting offer of a treat has helped ensure their cooperation, but it stems from more than that. I threw out those books that made everything about the child's sleep and focused more on my children. That's made all the difference.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Winter: We're Done.

Winter. We've gotta talk.

Like any uninvited guest, I wondered when you would finally leave. Sure that first snow fall was exciting and nothing rivals the starry nights of a crisp evening, but a 12.5 inch dump of snow on the first day of my spring break?  That's just cruel.

We were expecting to do a lot of this,

but ended up shoveling snow all weekend long.  While I might have gotten a good workout, I'd rather stick to aerobics thankyouverymuch.

Today was beautiful. Are you repenting of your capricious ways?  The kids and I definitely needed the walk.

So the next time you're feeling moody, just think of these kids.

Do you really want to disappoint them?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Grocery Store Women:

#1: Dear woman at the grocery store who looked at my baby's bare feet and snidely said, "where are her socks?"

Yesterday was a tough day. After having all three of my kids wake up multiple times the previous night and then greet me very happily at 6 am, I was exhausted and barely hanging on.  My life as a stay-at-home parent is fraught with constant fights, endless messes, and incessant self-doubt. I am my harshest critic, especially in parenting. Instead of offering harsh advice, wouldn't a little kindness go further? And how did you know that I had socks to put on my baby? (I didn't, by the way, they had mysteriously disappeared over the week.)

I realize that maybe you were having a hard day and felt the need to look at me and my kids with judgment to make yourself feel better.  That's fine. I have those days, too.  But something that I am keenly aware of is how much we all struggle in life.  That woman who is carrying a coat-less child around during a snow storm, how do I know that her daughter didn't throw a series of tantrums while her mom tried getting her coat on?  Or that they even own a coat?  I don't. Instead of looking at her through my limited lens, I try to give the benefit of doubt.

#2: Dear woman at the grocery store who looked at me as I was wrangling my three kids in the check-out line and said, "you are doing awesome, keep it up!" -

Thank you.  I hope I treat everyone I meet with as much kindness as you showed me that day.


Two strangers who said vastly different things. While one led to a night full of parenting self-contempt with phrases like, "you worthless lump, how could you go out without putting socks on your baby's feet?" running through my head, the other led to a day in which I cried many tears of joy.  Finally, someone recognized how hard I work to keep calm while out with my kids.

It is my goal to be more like grocery store woman #2.  Rather than more parental judgment in this world, we need more support.

Which one are you?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Power of Perspective

When discussing how certain things are really tough right now (like expensive car repairs) I said to Ben,

"Things may be tough, but at least we're not getting eaten by vampires." 

I call that PERSPECTIVE.

--personal status update, January of this year

(Yes, I'm totally quoting myself. Because, why not?)

I am not a big fan of current usage of the word, "perspective."  I think that it's often misused in an attempt to dampen their personal struggles. In a  "Oh you're going through depression?  Well why don't you get a little PERSPECTIVE and stop complaining?" kind of way.  In it's pure definition it's a concept I readily apply to my own life.

2b: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance 
(Merriam Webster online dictionary)

If I start to feel all blah and dreary about life, there are three things that always cheer me up.

When I'm feeling particularly crabby about laundry, or any other chore, or the massive piling therein, I just remind myself, at least we have a washer and dryer.

From the basement apartment that we inhabited when Ben and I were newlyweds to the big town home we first lived in when moving to Missouri, we always had a washer and dryer.  But last year, when we moved to St. Louis, we didn't.  For 1 year we struggled carrying 8-10 heavy bags of laundry up and down three flights of stairs to our little car, buckling all three kids in car seats, driving 20 min to a decent laundromat, and spending the next 4+ hours doing laundry.  Now that we have a washer and dryer again (and a dishwasher, BAM!), I do not abhor laundry like I used to.  Nothing rivals sitting in a tiny apartment with bags of dirty laundry and only one or two pairs of clean clothes for your kids hoping everyone can last until the weekend for laundry day.  Yep, I'll take my constantly growing pile of laundry in the basement to that any day.

When the weather threatens to upend my mental stability, I remember that, at least we have parks nearby.

Most of my parenting life, I've also been within reasonable walking distance to parks.  I remember spending hours just playing at parks when we lived in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment in Utah and loving it. When we moved to that awful place in St. Louis, the closest parks were all about a 10-15 min drive. There wasn't space near the apartment for the kids to play in and we were often stuck inside - especially while I was pregnant and when Baby A was just born - All. Day. Long.  Now that we live right next to a park and we have a nice, big, backyard, and are within walking distance of stores and other parks, I am blissfully happy.  The weather hasn't permitted much use of either the parks or the backyard, but they're there, and that's all that matters.

If all else fails, I just think, "hey, at least I'm not pregnant."  Enough said.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Truth of Three Kids

On my former blog (you can see the archives here) I once wrote about having three kids.  At the time I said something like, "it's easy in some ways - like the baby stage - and difficult in other ways - like parenting my older kids."  Now that I'm 7.5 months into the whole thing, I have a rather different perspective. This is what parenting three kids really looks like on a daily basis.

Scene I: Nap Time

All three kids are screaming for various reasons: the 4 year-old wants a different lunch; the 3 year-old wants to watch a fire truck show; the baby wants to be picked up and probably nursed. I grab the baby and attempt to reason with the 4 year-old regarding her lunch only to have her scream at me, throw various items, and run to her room.  The 3 year-old, in the meantime, is so tired he starts making random messes - pouring orange juice all over the table and floor, dumping cereal out into the pantry, emptying out the toy boxes - so I gently lead him into his room and put him on his bed.  I try to nurse the baby while reading a story to the 3 year-old only to have the 4 year-old, a little happier now, run in and start demanding different stories.  The 4 and 3 year-old soon start jumping on and off the bed, on and off me, and running around the room.  As I'm still nursing the baby I can only parent from afar and, by this point, I'm a bit beyond patient parenting. After several attempts to convince all the kids to just lay down and sing songs with me, I huddle in the corner with a dazed look on my face pretending I'm on a shady beach, book in hand, soaking up the sun rays.

Scene II: Post Nap Time Debacle

Since nap time probably didn't happen, thanks to the shenanigans mentioned above, I try a new method.

"Okay kids, go play in the back yard (weather permitting) or down stairs with your toys."

If I'm lucky, the baby is asleep and I fool myself into thinking I can get some homework done.  But, before being able to start on homework, I must take care of all the random liquids and foods spilling from various places in the kitchen (so I can work in the kitchen and keep tabs on all the kids).  Fifteen minutes in, the 3 year-old has tried to escape down the street multiple times, the 4 year-old has come in demanding a snack 79 times, and the baby has decided she's not tired anymore.  So, with a semi-messy kitchen and a pile of homework still to complete, I sit on the floor and contemplate the possibility of cloning another me.

Three kids means more of everything - more crying, more messes, more battles, more hugs, more kisses,  MORE.

Excuse me while I hide in a closet.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To My Young(er) Self:

Having this baby (and others to come) will change your life in many good ways (complete adoration of another human being) and some not-so-good ways (crippling anxiety and depression).

Despite the massive amounts of information you consumed prior to birthing your daughter, you will have no idea what you are doing.  There are many wise people surrounding you who understand the difficulty of parenting, let them help you.

Sleep books will promise a lie - that they can train your baby to sleep through the night for life. Your baby will sleep, then not sleep, then really not sleep, then kind of sleep again, and finally sleep through the night, only to repeat the cycle when she teethes, gets sick, when you are in a different place or move, when another sibling arrives, and so on and so forth.   Her bedtime routine will change over and over again.  You will want to pull your hair out wondering what you are doing wrong.  But, you are doing nothing wrong.  As one very wise person once stated, all kids' phases - good and bad - pass.  Don't fret about it.

Go with the flow in parenting.  Let your kids be kids.  You will have a great time watching them develop motor skills, language, social skills, and many other things.  Learn to laugh rather than feel frustrated at the messes they create.  Messes are just a sign of children being children.  Be adventurous.  Be relaxed. As much as you can, enjoy this time with them.

If you don't enjoy the time with them, don't feel stressed about it.  Some things are not enjoyable - poop messes, tantrums, colic, etc.  That's okay.

You are doing great.  Even when you feel like a absolute failure.  Even when you stay awake at night analyzing everything you said and kicking yourself for doing/saying something wrong and curse yourself for bringing your children to such an imperfect mom - you are doing great.

Your children will love you.  They will forgive you.  They will learn with you.  You will teach them to be kind, compassionate, respectful children and they, in turn, will teach you patience, understanding, and how to love unconditionally.

As much as some things get easier, some things get more difficult.  Your children will go from being absolutely dependent on you, to screaming for their own independence.  They will have their own thoughts about everything and will make sure to express these to you at very inconvenient moments.

Sometimes you will cry.  Sometimes you will feel so frustrated that you have to either remove them from the situation or yourself so you can both regroup.  This is parenting.

Don't let outside observations or comments get to you.  Remember that even those who seem to have perfect and easy children still struggle with various things.  And don't take parenting books and websites too seriously.  Use pieces of advice that would suit you best and let everything else go.

Above all, let love guide you.  And drink copious amounts of caffeine.  You'll need it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Breaking Study Finds Long Debated "Kid Sense"

Scientists from the Academy of Sarcastic Parents released results from their Kid Sense study early Monday afternoon. According to the results, a sixth sense was found in the outerauditory processing system in children or, what the scientists call, the "Kid Sense."

"We were excited that our hypotheses were validated; namely, that children really do have a sixth sense when it comes to parents' activities."

In this study, researchers were able to document several lab-controlled instances of children sensing when their parents were in desperate need of kid-free time and invading that space immediately.  The following are three examples.

Scenario A: Waking Up Early

Mom wakes up at 5:30 am in order to finish some work before her children wake up.
She tiptoes to the office intent on keeping her sleeping children asleep.

Child senses that mom needs to get some work done so, despite the early hour, quietly pads into the room where the mom is and shouts, "I'M HUNGRY!"

Scenario B: Couple Time

Mom and dad get kids to bed at their regular time.  Kids fall quickly fall asleep.  Mom and dad head to their room for some much needed couple time.

Child senses that parents are in their room, without him, so instantly wakes up and runs into their room screaming, "I HAVE TO GO POTTY!"

Scenario C: Nap time

Mom is exhausted due to infant waking up several times at night and is in dire need of sleep.  At the regularly scheduled nap time she does everything within her power to get all three children to sleep.  The infant and 3 year-old  fall asleep quickly but the 4 year-old, using her Kid Sense, knows what mom is up to so intends to stay awake as long as possible either making messes or getting into various dangerous items.  After 2 hours, the 4 year-old finally falls asleep and mom drops into bed only to have the infant wake up 2 minutes later.

In an interview with Amber Sarcastic, CEO and head researcher of Academy of Sarcastic Parents, she explained how this would greatly impact parenting techniques in the future.

"Now that the 'Kid Sense' has been found parents can knowingly adjust their expectations.  Whereas before they ventured for one hour of kid-free time a day, they can go for 0 hours! There's no sense in keeping unrealistic expectations."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Use Stress Wisely

Weight loss is always an important topic.  I know since having Amelia I've thought often about actively losing the postpartum weight (chocolate *always* seemed more important at the time).  This time around, though, I decided to try a different route that doesn't include dietary change or exercise.  I chose stress.

Before I was married, I spent my free time eating when my anxiety went out the roof and stress continued to build. Not very conducive for weight loss goals.  Now that I have kids, I'm confused by the term "free-time." Pretty sure it only exists in the fantasy novels I enjoy.

A month ago, with school starting soon, I decided that my wardrobe (maternity jeans and a bleach stained pair of pants) was in desperate need of updating. So I went pants shopping.  Being in between sizes, I chose a couple pairs of each size and figured my body would figure out which direction it wanted to go over the next few months. 

That was before I started the Stress Diet. Before I knew it, I had dropped 2 pants sizes in 3 weeks. 

In adulthood, one must always expect the unexpected or you'll find yourself in the really awkward situations. Like walking home from a park with 3 screaming children and no stroller (because the park is only a block away from your house!), alternating between picking up your toddler, walking 5 feet, putting him down to pull up your pants, picking him up again and repeating the process until you get home, covered in sweat and cursing your now defunct pants.  

I think I need a belt.  

Any belt buying tips? (Seriously.  I've never bought a belt before.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

God, Goddess, AND the Universe really want to teach me a few lessons in this life.  Either that or I need to stop asking for traits like compassion, empathy, and understanding of other people's life situations.

One time when I was feeling pretty smug about my successful life besides issues with anxiety and depression, I was telling other mental illness sufferers (in my head) to suck it up.  I felt pretty puffed up in my sympathizing-with-others ability, too, and let the Universe know it.

The Universe was like, "Girl, you really need some humbling."


I started having major panic attacks and depression, finally feeling the empathy I should have felt earlier.

When I was a young girl, I greatly feared having infertility issues.  After getting married and having two kids in quick succession (14 months), I was all high and mighty.  I got to know a few women who struggled with infertility so I tried really hard to understand what they were going through.  That year I said a prayer to understand these women's trials and try to be more compassionate.

God was like, "Sure! You're a hands-on learner, so I'll just...."


And then I had 4 miscarriages in 2 years.  Yeah I learned compassion real fast.

Later on, I was wondering what it felt like to live in poverty.  I wondered if people who were underprivileged were self-inflicting their poverty or what.  So I asked Goddess about it.

Goddess asked, "How serious are you about learning?" And I was like, "Serious, serious."

Punch. (This is all figurative, you know.)

My little family and I moved to the worst apartments we've ever lived in, surrounded by real poverty.  That year was the hardest year (in regards to living circumstances) I've ever had.

Finally, after hearing of a few friends whose children suffer from chronic illnesses, I asked the Universe to help me learn compassion and feel empathy towards those families.

The Universe said, "I can do that."


With the on-set of Andrew's seizures, and his subsequent diagnosis of primary epilepsy disorder, I had my fill of hospitals, IV's, neurologists, tests, etc.

Okay Universe. Okay God.  Okay Goddess. I think I've learned my lesson. I'll be careful when I develop next year's New Year's resolutions.  

But....on second thought.  I kind of like who I am now because of all these experiences.  So. Thank you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Day My Heart Stopped

It's been quite an eventful weekend:  Four hospitals, 3 ambulance rides, 2 tired and worried parents, and one frustrated baby boy all waiting for answers.

It all started on Saturday.  Andrew woke up as happy and hungry as ever.  Ben helped me finish some math homework and then we all said good-bye to him as he went off to work.  Since it had been a late night the previous night, we were all tired and cranky so I decided an early nap was definitely in order. After nap time, I fed the kids a snack and went in the kitchen to do the dishes.  When I came out like 20 minutes later (we don't have a dishwasher), Andrew was still finishing up his lunch.

I sat on the couch with the baby and Emily, determined to read them some stories.  I looked over at Andrew and noticed that he had drool coming down his face. His eyes were a bit unfocused and his lips were stuck in a half-smile.  I asked him if he was okay.  He looked up at me but didn't respond.  I went over and picked him up.  He gave me a thumbs up sign so I figured he just didn't want to talk.  We went into their room to play with some blocks. Andrew suddenly threw up.  This is when he stopped responding to me.  His eyes stared straight ahead, his jaw was tight, he was moaning, and his breathing was shallow.

I called Ben.  He rushed home from work.  In the mean time, Andrew started shaking (what I now know as convulsing), I knew enough about seizures to conjecture that he was having one but not enough to know what to do during an episode.  When Ben got home, Andrew was still convulsing. We packed everyone up in the car and rushed to the nearest hospital.

At the ER, the receptionist took one look at Andrew and called the nurse.  The nurse picked him up out of my arms, called to the back saying, "I have an unresponsive 3 yo, I need a room and a doctor STAT."  At this point I was sobbing.  The nurse rushed to the back with me (Ben had to stay behind with the kids).  When we got into his room, nurses and a doctor converged upon my son.  They checked his oxygen (which was dangerously low) put a breathing mask on him, poked and prodded various parts of his body, and, since he was still seizing, gave him some emergency anti-seizure medication. Once his breathing was back to a normal level, and he had stopped seizing, they took him back to do a CT scan.  His whole episode from start to finish lasted a little over an hour. After finishing all preliminary tests (all of which came back clear indicating no meningitis, brain tumor, brain bleeding, etc) they went and grabbed Ben and the rest of the kids.  They transported him via ambulance to one of the children's hospitals in our city and Ben rode along with him.

He spent the night at that hospital and saw about 10 different doctors.  They were completely baffled by his episode as he had no priors, no sickness, no behavioral things, nothing to indicate that he would ever have a seizure.  They diagnosed him with a staring spell and sent him home in the morning mostly assuring us that this was probably an isolated incident (7/10 kids have a one-time seizure).  They gave us rather vague instructions regarding what to do if it happened again while basically assuring us that it wouldn't happen again.

On Monday we all woke up shaken and worried, but hopeful.  Our awesome nanny came over to watch the kids while I went to class and Ben went to work.  I came home directly after my class was over so I could work from home and continue to watch Andrew.  He was tired and seemed a bit out of it, so he went to take a nap (I checked on him every 5 minutes).  After about 10 minutes I went in and saw him awake and staring.  I picked him up and tried to get him to respond to me. He wouldn't. As the hospital doctors told me, I watched the clock. After 5 minutes passed I called the neurologist's office per the doctor's instructions.  They told me to hang up and call 911, so I did. At this point he started convulsing.  I called Ben. I took a video (so the neurologist would know what it looked like). I cried and cried and cried.  When the paramedics arrived, he was still convulsing. After a few minutes he stopped on his own.  Off to the hospital we went.  (Thankfully my nanny was there to take care of the other kids and have things ready for Ben when he came home.)

Since this was the second very prolonged seizure - over an hour for the first and over 20 min for the second - the doctors were much more concerned.  They stabilized him at the hospital, did a few more blood tests, and transferred us again to another children's hospital.  He was admitted, again, and we talked to a dozen more doctors.  Since it was the second time, I was much more confident in relaying the events which led to a more accurate diagnosis of primary epilepsy.  He was started on anti-seizure medication, given an EEG, and sent home but this time with clearer instructions as to what we needed to do if this happened again.

I feel dazed by this all.  My perspective on life has drastically altered as I now realize certain things are just not important anymore.  I am still figuring out how to live life now that I have this constant worry.  I find myself just letting the kids do what they want because is it really that important to not have a lollipop in the morning?  Or eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Or stay up until 10pm?  I am sure that in a few weeks things will return to normal and we'll start some sort of routine. But right now? We're eating candy in the morning and watching movies together at night.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


On par with the whole New Year's resolutions thing, I've started a new diet.  But I'm having trouble deciding between two equally important breakfasts:
 or Girl holding 10 pound chocolate bar

I think I'll choose them both. Between school starting, house buying, and children waking up at night, I need a breakfast of champions.

Speaking of my children (because obviously we were), Baby A is mobile! I only found out because she rolled off the couch while I was changing her diaper.  Parenting win!

Since we're on the topic of winning (and since I have amazing writing skills), my first day of school went super well.  I even rode the bus for the first time! I felt like such a big girl. I also managed to miss the bus after class.  This allowed me to catch up on my exercise goals for the year by walking  2 miles in my heels.

Now that life has gotten easier, I've decided to devote more time to blogging.  No time like major life transitions to make big and almost impossible to keep goals, right?

So. Tell me. How has your week been?

*Images courtesy of Heavy Chocolate website and Dr. Pepper.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Public Broadcasting (time)Sucker

When we moved to our apartment 9 months ago, we braced ourselves for a trying period.  "Only one year!" became our anthem.  (It has worked.  Mostly.)

Upon learning that there were no parks close by - or any outside space within walking distance (or really anything within walking distance) - and due to sharing a car with Mr. B. (who holds the position as Money Bringer-in-ner which means he has priority with the car), I quickly discovered that my once valued schedule was no longer possible.  When I thought about the kids and I surviving this apartment ordeal, I prudently compromised on my long-held child development based parenting strategies and went with something that was more suitable for spending hours of the day holed up in a 700 sq. ft. apartment.

That's when I discovered something magical on TV.  I like to call it educational programming. The rest of the world calls it PBS.

Rather than divulge all my dark parenting secrets, I'll just say we have watched our combined weight in PBS programming.  On the plus side, Big Sister E learned to read and Brother A learned his letters and numbers! I'll call that a PBS Kids win. But we all know about shows like Sesame Street.  My biggest find was the shows that began after 5:30.  Just. Wow.

Last night I found myself engrossed in yet another PBS show.  The next thing I knew, 3 hours had gone by and it was close to midnight. No biggie EXCEPT, this is not the first time this has happened. And, you know, with sleep deprivation already an issue, I should probably reconsider my whole late night television viewing.  But. Science! Period Pieces! Volcanoes!

I think I have a serious addiction.

Rather than face my problem, (problem? what problem?) I've decided to share my favorite PBS shows with all of you.

Call the Midwife was my gateway drug into the PBS world.  A show about midwifery during the early 1950's in England, I quickly fell in love with the characters of this delightful show.  It's my first love.  (Even above Downton Abbey. I KNOW.)

Most of my friends are infatuated with Downton Abbey. After watching an episode, I understand why.  The drama. The outfits. The atmosphere! I'm even thinking about naming my new home Downton Home.

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Last night was my first dip into the world of DCI Banks and I already know it won't be my last.  Three words: British Crime Show.  Need I say more?

File:Nova pbs program.svg

Science.  I love science.  The kids will often watch this show with me as we learn about neanderthals, space missions, and other fascinating topics. Well researched with a novice bend, I always find myself lost in internet research after watching each episode.  Well done, Nova.

Have you heard of Food Inc? Yeah, it was first aired on POV. This show has won several major TV awards and I can't praise it enough.  I'd highly recommend the recently aired Reportero.

Another documentary style show, I love Front Line because it tackles tough issues (like Poor Kids and the Battle for Syria) with excellent investigative reporting techniques.

If you haven't noticed, I have thing for documentary-style shows.  I fell in love with American Experience with its Death and the Civil War two-part series.  Just go watch it.  Amazing stuff.

And that's why I stay up late.

*Images courtesy of Wikipedia and PBS

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Night Movie Recommendations

The past 9 months have been just one of those Series of Unfortunate Months. This has resulted in more TV watching (out of necessity) and less outside time (due to lack of outside space and accessible parks).  Thankfully, I can put this wasted time to use by giving you, dear reader, a review of my favorite movies I've watched recently!

You're welcome.

File:Extremely loud and incredibly close film poster.jpg


(Brief synopsis here.) I strongly believe this movie was highly misunderstood in the movie industry.  A beautiful movie that left me sobbing - like sobbing so much that my kids started crying - I could not think of a better representation of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I have strong links to the Autism community and I feel like this film realistically portrayed how a child with Asperger's thinks, feels, and reacts to tragedies.



(Brief synopsis here.) As winner of Best Picture, I watched this with heavy anticipation.  I worried at first that it would bore me.  A silent film in 2012? What?  But, it wasn't.  It was funny, cute, and completely reminiscent of the silent films of yore.



(Brief synopsis here.) As a self-proclaimed Disliker of Animal Movies, I was quite skeptical to watch this movie. After some convincing by the smooth Mr. B, I sat down to watch it with him and some friends.  I loved it.  As a warning, it's not a kid movie and neither is it for those who are averse to violent scenes.

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(Brief synopsis here.) Since the targeted audience was children, I wasn't particularly excited to watch this. I mean, I watch kid shows all day long. No thank you.  But I acquiesced and ended up enjoying it (which is a common theme in our marriage, apparently).  I think it's best to watch it with children as the magic will sparkle in their eyes and help smooth over adult cynicism (of which I have a very serious case.)

File:Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Poster.jpg


(Brief synopsis here.)  I adore espionage movies. I also adore British movies.  A combination of the two? You bet I'd like it. And I did. Very much.  A definite edge-of-your-seat thriller, I'd recommend watching with some delicious popcorn to munch on during the tense scenes.

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(Brief synopsis here.)  As a full disclaimer, I had to stop this movie about 20 minutes in to brush up on Margaret Thatcher history. (I'm sure that since most of you who read this are much smarter than me, you may not have to do this.) Meryl Streep is possibly my favorite actress, so this was an easy film for me to love.  Additionally, it included feminist themes of which I'm particularly fond: women in politics, women working and caring for children, etc.

Go. Enjoy your Friday night and have a blessed weekend.  Will you also please enjoy the outside for me? I'd really appreciate it.

*Images courtesy of Wikipedia.  Thanks Wikipedia!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Mother Load

When I was a young(er) mom, and full of All Motherly Wisdom, I would often hear other moms discuss the difficulty of showering.  I, in my absolute certainty, internally scoffed.  My babe was a mere infant and I managed to shower once, even twice, a day.  I even managed to do my hair and make-up and dress in nice clothes.

I was clearly above them all.

After I had Andrew, and entered the realm of Mother to More Than One Child, I knew I was still above other moms.  I continuously managed to shower daily, get dressed, do my make-up, exercise, read a million stories to my eldest, teach my baby math, cook healthy and delicious meals, volunteer at dozens of organizations, organize fantastic murder mystery dinners, and other fantastic things*.  I was the Homemaking Queen.

Then I had Baby A.  That showering thing? Yeah, I get it now.

Excuse me while I go eat a big slice of humble pie.

*I might have exaggerated these accomplishments slightly.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Semiserious Sunday: Blogging

I've been blogging for five years.

When I started my family blog (which I still have), I discovered this new world.  Like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, my heart began singing, "I want more!" (I also wanted red hair, but I figured that would be taking things a bit too far.)

So I started a new blog and called it Making the Moments Count. It became my refuge, in a way.  A place for me to vent, cry, and discuss tough issues. I began commenting on various blogs I enjoyed and met many internet friends who virtually held my hand during depressive episodes, anxiety attacks, miscarriages, changes, and parenting woes.  I grew and struggled with a burgeoning new perspective on life. I shifted, transformed, and felt frightened by new feelings and ideas.  During this period, I met the sea witch.

The original tale of The Little Mermaid* is a cautionary tale of trading one life for another and the unforeseen consequences of doing so. While it's a bit more gristly, I find it beautiful.  As I've traded one life for another, it has resulted in painful dancing and much heartache.  It has also meant embracing my wildish nature - something Clarissa Estes eloquently discusses in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves.

Part of trading one life meant letting go of the other.  For me, that meant shutting down my beloved space. This keenly weighed on my mind and spirit, but I continued putting it off.  And then, suddenly, I felt ready.  Ready to let go, ready to move on, ready to complete my personal transformation, privately.

I've lived much of my life in a dismal fog, wondering when light would shine through. Recently, though, I've found more chances to laugh than ever before.  Parenting isn't easier; heck, life isn't easier, but seeing things through a humorous lens has certainly eased the internal pressure I feel.

*What the original Little Mermaid lacks, though, is awesome music.  Under the Sea? Part of Your World? Classics.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's A Resolution!

Last year I resolved to have a healthy baby.  For the first time in my life, I fulfilled a resolution.  This has made me tingly with anticipation as I try again this year, with a much more aggressive list.  I am FEELING* the resolutions, baby! So, here is my list.

My Top Five Resolutions

1. Do my hair AT LEAST one time.  

2. Walk. And I'm not talking about walking from room to room in our 700 sq. foot apartment.

3. Eat. As in, don't skip 3 meals and then eat all the cookies in my cupboard.

4. Wake up.  This is what I call Reverse Psychology - or telling my brain that in order to wake up, it must sleep.  Yeah, take THAT brain. 

5.  Read 3 books.  I've already read two so know I will OWN this one.

How about you? Any New Year's resolutions you are dying to share?  Are you as THRILLED as I am about 2013?  

*CAPS LOCKS brought to you by the word EXCITEMENT

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Year in Review Using Six Probably Unrelated Words

January: Hospital; Soda; Snow; Ultrasounds; The Office

February: Zumba; Interviews; Crackers; Cuddly Kids; Flutters

March: Packing; Unpacking; Moving; Driving; Laughing; Crying

April: Homework; Stairs; Laundry; Plays; Birthday

May: Training; Baseball; Binky; Walks; Graduate School

June: Existential Crisis; Decisions; Bed Rest; Medications

July: Pre-term Contractions; Heat; Baby; Anniversary; Happiness

August: Family; Fourth Birthday; Tears; Healing; Adoration

September: Colic; The Mentalist; Chocolate; Naps; Joy

October: Frustration; Exhaustion; Chaos; Halloween; Books; Hope

November: Third Birthday; New Friends; Smiles; Thanksgiving

December: Houses; Traditions; Milestones; Changes; Downton Abbey