Tag Archives: stay-at-home moms

The Write Choice

A friend of mine recently went to work for the mom-founded, mom-run upstart Juice in the City. So, I was using my Friday night to troll the company’s site since it’s expanding to the D.C. area soon. Basically, if you subscribe to stuff like Living Social or Doodle Deals, you’d probably be a fan of the Juice. It’s similar in that it offers discounts to cool stuff in your metro area, but it’s totally targeted to the mom in us.

Every day the site features a deal on anything from mommy-and-me painting classes to family portraits to mini van tune ups, all provided by locally owned businesses. Not only are the discounts great, but you can have the assurance that it’s a good deal on a good product or service because it’s been totally checked out by a local mom. I think it’s a really cool concept–a buy-local business built by moms for moms.

But that’s not really what this post about. While I was scavenging the site, I ran across this blog post, A Writer Mom’s Balancing Act. From one writer mom to another, it really struck a chord with me. Especially this part:

“We [writer moms] have an ever-present need to put words down. No matter what else demands our attention, no matter how severe our sleep deprivation, our personal muse is always hovering nearby whispering, ‘Write.’ We must write. But finding the time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can become more challenging than finding a needle in a haystack the size of Mount Everest.”

I write for a living. And that’s fun and rewarding. But what I really find fulfilling as far as writing goes are the hours I spend feeding this site. And I so have those same muses whispering in my ear to the point that if I go too long without posting, I start to feel bad, kind of guilty or something. It’s pretty silly–I mean, who’s really reading this thing anyway–but blogging has become a major part of my weekly routine. It’s very similar to when you get into a good exercise routine and then you miss a few days; you get all anxious to get back to the gym.

And so while it’s always hard to find free time when you’ve got a baby, it wasn’t until I had a baby that I was ever this disciplined about writing for myself. And I am grateful for that. Writing is just good for my soul and, until I became a mom, I didn’t really realize how much of myself I had been missing by not writing for fun frequently enough. Funny how for as much as babies can take from you–time, energy, patience, and all the rest–they give back more without even knowing it.

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Filed under babies, daily life, first year, moms, working mom, writing

Diary of a Diaper-Eating Doberman

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know my dog eats a lot, and specifically a lot of things he shouldn’t eat. Twice his strange eating behavior has landed him at the emergency vet and once he even had to have a scope to remove the foreign object from his stomach. So far his menu of banned items includes countless baby socks, two leather-soled baby booties swallowed whole, a seat belt, and most recently a diaper.

I never really worried about him eating diapers before because we have a Diaper Champ, which not only keeps dirty diapers from fouling up baby’s room but also keeps them safe from thieving Dobermans. But every once in awhile, I’d get lazy or forget and just chuck a dirty diaper in a regular trash receptacle. Now my dog will never let me live that mistake down.

I thought he was being good, chewing on the bone that I had just given him. But that was not the case, as I soon found white papery chunks littered around my living room. Upon inspection, I found that the dog had eaten the crotch clean out of what had obviously been a dirty diaper. I just kept imagining super absorbent diaper bits getting bigger and bigger in his digestive tract and knew that couldn’t be good. Fortunately, I was able to get a couple neighbors to take shifts watching the baby while I drove out the emergency vet to get the dog’s stomach pumped. The whole way I was kicking myself for not putting the damn diaper in the Diaper Champ.

So, with another lesson painfully learned, here’s a little poem in honor of the antidote to diaper-eating Dobermans:

Ode to the Diaper Champ

When I put you on my registry
I wasn’t sure you’d please me
Or if I really needed you
To stash all the baby poo

But wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Baby’s britches are a hot mess
We’ve definitely put you to the test
You’ve kept the room from stinking
Which is why I’m totally thinking

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Bring on the diaper blow out
You make it easy to throw out
A week’s worth of dirty underoos
Without leaving smelly clues

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

Not only can I use my own sack
But you keep the dog from a tasty snack
Of diapers, dirty, ripe, and wet
And ending up at the E.R. vet

Wet, full, or just slightly damp
There’s a reason you’re the Diaper Champ

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Filed under babies, babyproofing, diapers, pets

Why Car Seats Might Be One of the Worst Things for Kids’ Health

I absolutely hate removing my car seat from its rightful spot in the back of the car, mostly because it’s an endeavor that that usually leaves me sweating and exasperated enough to have to dial for back-up to get it back into the car correctly. I also hate it because it’s confirmation that, yes, my car seat is just as nasty, if not more so, than I had imagined.

And it’s not like I don’t try to keep it as clean as possible. I brush my kid’s car seat free from crumbs and other debris nearly every time we use it. And about once I week I probably take a rag to it to try to rub out obvious stains. But it’s when I actually get the time to do a deep clean that I start to really get grossed out. Because for as much as moms focus on  health and cleanliness for our babies, spending small fortunes on products like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and immune boosting vitamins, the car seats we put our kids in day in, day out are crawling with germs.

Or at least I know mine is.

My first step in de-grubbing the car seat is always just to get the darn seat out of the car, which comes with its requisite huffing, puffing and pushing, pulling to get it free. Immediately, I remove the cover and hose it down while aggressively going at the crumbs smooshed into every corner and crevice with a hand-held scrubber brush. (Sometimes I also just throw it in the washer.)

Once the cover is hanging up drying somewhere, I move on to the actual seat. It also gets the hose and a soapy water rubdown. I’ve learned that I need to actually flip the seat upside down and spray the bottom as well to be sure it gets really clean. Why? Because sometimes stuff like this is hanging out under the seat:

Ewwwwwww!

Yes, that is a Wheat Thin stuck to some gunk that probably was milk at some point. I still don’t understand how this stuff managed to harden into a solid and adhere itself to the underside of the seat, but it did.

Next, I move on to cleaning up the back seat. Also disturbing:

Yuck!

This stuff actually required scrubbing to remove it. But it’s curious to me how much stuff ends up under the seat given how much seems to end up either in baby’s belly or all down the front of him.

And of course the door:

Not so yummy

It sort of freaks me out when I think about how many germs the typical coffee cup contains, you know, the ones that kind of hang out in people’s cubicles never getting a truly thorough washing. So, when I see this, my inner germ-a-phobe comes rushing to the surface. Can this really be healthy for our kids?

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Filed under babies, baby travel, car seats, cleaning, daily life, health, hygiene, transportation, travel

Cool Mom or Just Crazy?

Every once in awhile the reality of my life slaps me right upside the head Joe Jackson style. Today it was the fact that I was driving home from baby’s French play group, rocking out through the rain and the traffic to Kidz Bop Monster Ballads.

I had often seen the Kidz Bop CD series and had no trouble taking a pass. The idea of a bunch of 8-year-olds singing anything from Lady Gaga to the Glee soundtrack sounded absolutely painful. But in a moment of weakness, the impulse buy got the better of me and I shelled out the $10 or so for the Monster Ballads version. I mean, seriously, bands like Poison, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Scorpion, and Firehouse definitely should have a place in my child’s musical education.

For as ashamed as I am to admit it, I love this CD. The playlist is amazing. How can you go wrong when it starts out with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and wraps up with “Love of a Lifetime”? It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think it’s a toss up between “Winds of Change” and “Love of a Lifetime.” Probably because they remind me of dancing with a boy named John Goodenbury at a junior high dance at the local YMCA. I was seriously crushing on him and couldn’t believe he picked me for the most amazing slow dance double header of the night.

But while I kind of feel like a cool mom for moving beyond “Old McDonald Has a Farm” and other classic nursery rhymes for musical entertainment, I also have a sinking feeling that my listening to Kidz Bop makes me officially lame. I can imagine that if I had gotten a glimpse of myself belting out kid-ified versions of “I Remember You” or “High Enough” in my Volvo with a baby stuffed into a car seat in the back when I was young, single, and free, I would’ve been mortified. I’m pretty sure I would’ve thought, “Man, she needs to get out more.”

And maybe I do. But chances are next time I do, I’ll be rocking out to Brett Michaels’ kids covering his classic “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” And I’m okay with that.

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Filed under babies, daily life, moms, music

Confessions of a Cosleeper

Let me just set the record straight and say that I am not an advocate of cosleeping. Not only do I just not sleep well when baby’s in the bed with me, between him kicking me all night long and my worrying he’s going to roll off the bed, but I truly believe that parents and kids should have their own separate sleeping areas.

Some experts would argue that baby belongs in crib for the simple reason that it’s safer. That’s more than likely true, but I think it’s good for a number of other reasons:

  1. It’s undeniably better quality sleep for both baby and mom. Each can go through their normal sleep cycles undisturbed and without disturbing the other.
  2. A separate sleep area reinforces the idea of a bedtime, which naturally creates a much-needed schedule for both baby and parent.
  3. Babies need to learn to self soothe. In other words, they need to be comfortable putting themselves back to sleep if they wake up at night.
  4. Babies need to learn to be independent. That means not only sleeping independently but also figuring out how to amuse themselves in their cribs for a little bit so mom can press the snooze button once every so often.
  5. It’s a heck of a lot less messy. Between the drool and the wetting through the diapers, I’d rather change a crib sheet over my bed sheets any day.

But even I have to give into temptation every once in awhile. (There’s picture evidence to prove it.) Because let’s face it, it does feel awesome to have this sweet, sleepy baby curled up in the crook of your arm.

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However, this summer there was an inordinate amount of cosleeping going on. Way more than I’d like to admit, actually. So what was driving me to nearly do a 180? Here are the factors that I trace to that sudden uptick in baby-in-the-bed nights:

  1. I was missing my husband. Plain and simple. And being close to baby was like having a little piece of him next to me even when he couldn’t be. I guess it made me feel a little less lonely.
  2. It was nice to feel needed. This was probably a consequence of #1, but there is something gratifying when you can quiet a crying baby just by pulling him close.
  3. We were sleeping in the same room. We spent most of the summer at my mom’s, so baby and I were bunked into the same room. Although he went to sleep in his pack’n’play without a problem, if I started to get ready for bed at just the wrong point in his sleep cycle, it was all over. He was standing in his crib, wailing for me.
  4. We weren’t exactly alone. Throughout the summer, we had a number of guests slumbering in the room next door. So when #3 would happen, I felt obligated to find the fastest way to quiet baby down so his crying wouldn’t keep them up.

This combination of factors was like kryptonite to my cosleeper resistance. I found myself having a baby sleep-over, -on top of, -next to, and -under at least a couple nights a week. And I was exhausted each and every morning that it happened.

While this whole exercise made me appreciate the space and routine that I have in my own home, it also underlined for me just how important it really is that baby have his own digs. There’s less fussing and what little waking (if any) there is during the night is extremely short lived. Moreover, he’s sleeping sounder. When we were in the same room I could barely open the door before he was awake; now that he’s in his own room again, I can walk in with the dog trotting behind me, adjust his blanket, and even put a hand on him and he barely stirs.

In the end, my stint as a cosleeper ended up proving to me that baby and mommy really were better off in their own beds. Even if I miss hearing those last little yawns in my ear before baby books it into the land of nod.

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Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, first year, infants, naps, sleep

Sunday Funday

Most days my former single life seems forever ago. (Oh wait, it was.) But this morning, as I cruised by Target before strollering on home from the gym, it occurred to me that maybe my college days weren’t as far behind as I would have thought. Just take a look at my so-called grocery essentials:

The Essentials

That’s right: beer, bread, peanut butter, milk, and a light bulb. (In order of importance, to be sure.) I’m not even sure in college I had so much in common with a 19-year-old frat boy.

But maybe babies actually make parents retreat to what actually is really important in life–basic food and fun. It’s hard to believe that a college sophmore could possibly know more about what’s truly important in life than a 33-year-old mommy. But maybe college kids really do have their life priorities in order. At least for an NFL Sunday.

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Filed under booze, cooking, daily life, food, moms

Born To Run, Not Just Walk

Baby crossed a few major milestones this summer. And while I’m sorry that I’m only now getting to catch up on them, the truth is I’ve not only been busy trying trying to enjoy them but also just trying to keep up with them. Literally.

When baby and I arrived at my parents’ house for July Fourth weekend, baby was a crawler. He was pulling himself up on furniture, creeping around the house from chair to chair, and pushing all his walker toys, but he was not what I would consider vertical. Then one day not too long after we arrived, he took the first step on his own. The next day he took three steps on his own. The day after that he took five steps on his own. And after that he was a walker.

I had no idea it would happen that fast. I thought it would be a much longer process, one where he would spend weeks only being able to take a couple steps before crashing. I thought for sure it would take a decent chunk of time to develop the muscle strength, coordination, and balance to be toddling around. Apparently not. By the time we were packed up Labor Day weekend to head home, baby could run. 

And as fast as his chunky bow legs can carry him is clearly his preferred mode of transportation. This of course means that I also am doing a lot more running than I’m used to–even with the training that I’ve been doing to prepare for the Army Ten Miler next month. (Remember you can still donate; just click here before Oct. 3!) My mornings should start with “on your mark, get set, go” followed by the pop of a pistol because, from the second my alarm clock rings, it’s off to the races, the finish line being 7pm when my baby goes vertical to horizontal in his crib.  

But as I say that, one thing occurs to me: My baby really isn’t much of a baby anymore. I’m not sure I like the sound of toddler–just yet.

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Filed under babies, child development, daily life, first year, holidays, play time, walking

Stay at Home or Work? Every Mom’s Big Decision

As I was trying to shovel applesauce into a screaming toddler’s grimacing mouth the other morning, I saw this news segment on TV that asked: Who’s got it worse, working moms or stay at home moms? According to a University of Washington study, stay-at-home moms are more likely to be depressed. But the caveat is that those working moms who try to be super moms–meaning they have unrealistic expectations of work-life balance–were more depressed. The big takeaway being that any way a mommy slices it, she’s likely to run up against depression at one time or another.

I have thought a lot about this question over the past couple of years, as I struggled to decide whether to stay home full time with my wee one or go back to work. I’ve also seen a lot of mommy-friends come up against the same big question–and come up with different answers. But as I look across the spectrum of full-time moms to full-time professionals with kids on the side, one thing is clear: No one has it easy. Each work-life permutation that I’ve come across has moments that are positively overwhelming and definitely worthy of a whimper or two.

Of course I’m painting with a very broad brush, so bear with me, but most of my stay-at-home mommy-friends’ struggles stem from the fact that they are indeed home all the time. While it’s wonderful that they get to spend every waking moment with their precious wee ones, many of them seem to feel that they’ve lost a little of their shimmer and shake along with their connection to the working world. They’ve got a good grip on all things domestic–their laundry baskets aren’t overflowing and the litter box doesn’t stink–but finding things to do and places to go with the wee ones other than the grocery story and Target isn’t exactly easy. Hooking up with playgroups, classes, and activities can be as much work as dating or interviewing for a new job.

Life for working moms, on the other hand, is seriously programmed. From the moment the alarm rings to moment the last kid is in bed, it’s go-go-go time. In a way that’s good because a day can just fly by,  but one small glitch and the wheels are nearly going to fall off. There is absolutely no time for stuff like misplaced keys, runaway dogs, or flat tires. (My mommy meltdown of the week was over a broken back gate.) There’s so little time to take care of the basics that anything that requires extra, special, or immediate attention feels like a way bigger deal than it probably truly is. But having way too much to do in way too little time is the reality.

So, whether its about feeling invisible or inadequate, life for any mom, regardless of employment situation, can be stressful if not downright depressing. This realization begs the question whether there can really ever be a good work-life balance.

One of my brother-in-laws had a very good “dad” response to that question. He said that he knew he was close to striking that point when he felt like he was just doing in his estimation “good”–not fantastic or great but not bad or terrible either. It sounds a little depressing, but I get what he meant. It’s like if he was being a super star at work, he knew he wasn’t being the dad he wanted to be. And if he was being super dad, he probably wasn’t putting in the time or effort at his job that he should. So, when he was doing well enough, that was balance. I guess that makes him the good-enough father before there was the good-enough mother.

While I think that’s a truly honest assessment of the situation most young parents find themselves in, it’s not exactly prescriptive. The best how-to advice I ever heard was unsurprisingly from my best friend. (It’s always funny to me that you never really have to go far for good advice.) As an executive at a well respected, Fortune 1000 company, she’s definitely corporate to the max; however, she’s also a great mom who adores being with her kids, so she knows all too well how delicate that balance between a successful career and home life is. As I was blubbering to her about my decision to work or not to work, she finally told me the way she would have it, if she could: work 3-4 days a week, with the flexibility to work from home, and limited travel. And it dawned on me–isn’t that the way most mommies would have it? You’re home enough, but not too much, you have a little bit of income, and you still stay connected to the world that’s 18 and older.

But sadly, few of us are afforded that luxury of flexibility and those that have it cherish it. A lot of school teachers have a pretty good gig, working the same hours that their kids are in school and then summers off. But I learned recently that most female doctors only work three days a week because of this issue of family, and I instantly regretted my career decision. I certainly could have made a lot more money for the years I spent in school and have as close to a perfect work-life balance as possible. But I’ve got to imagine, or at least hope, that maybe the business world is in the process of changing to accommodate families needs to have moms and breadwinners. Maybe by the time Gen Y decides to have kids, the flex schedule will be more commonplace than it would seem today. Because the reality, at least according to that University of Washington study, is that as a mommy, you’re far from escaping depression at some point, no matter if you’re at home or at work.

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Filed under baby blues, family, moms, stay-at-home moms, working mom

All Boy From Here On Out

This morning I came face to face with the reality that I have a boy not a baby on my hands.

We were on our way out the door. I need to put the stroller in the car, so I set the not-so-wee one down in the driveway while I started folding down the third row of seats in my car. I figured he’d maybe toddle into the garage and annoy the dog for a minutes. I got one seat down, popped the stroller in the back of the car, and turned around to grab the baby to hoist him into his car seat. My dog was standing right next to me, but no baby. A little panic flared up, but I quickly convinced myself that he hadn’t gone far.

Turns out he had wandered over to my mom’s little shade garden. No biggie. And actually he looked kind of cute playing in among all the plants. But as I looked at him, something wasn’t right. His hair was soaking wet. I took two more steps closer to him and realized that it wasn’t just his hair; both his jacket and pants were soaked. My child–yes, the one that just a half hour before had had a bath–had found the sprinkler.

But it wasn’t just that his once-dry clothes were now sopping wet. No, just sticking his hands and face into the sprinkler wasn’t quite enough. A medium sized pool of mud and dirt had collected around the base of the sprinkler and my child was sitting, splashing in it. Of course that looked like loads of fun, so the dog jumped in.

I’m totally running late, so I run over and grab the kid, taking him far, far away from the sprinkler. He was covered in head-to-toe mud, so I started stripping my just-bathed child down in the middle of the driveway. I took off his jacket and threw it on the ground. I started shimmying off his pants when the dog stole the jacket and ran circles around me with it hanging out of his mouth. So now I’m chasing the dog around the driveway and my filthy offspring is toddling around behind me, one thunder thigh still in his pants and the other bare. Somehow he wriggled his one leg free of the pantleg and took off toward the house just as I nab the jacket from the dog. Looking for more fun times, the dog bounded toward him. The kid basically turned right into the dog, losing his balance, and face planting into the cement garage floor.

I collect my bawling child, tie up the dog, and head to the car; I am 20 minutes late at this point. I put my kid in the car seat– soakied onesie, dirt-filled shoes, and all–and realize that with his tumble we’ve now added blood to this mix of dirt and water. His cheek was swollen and crosshatched with scratches. I couldn’t believe he’d already stopped crying.

Needless to say, hot mess pretty much sums the whole ridiculous situation up. The one redeeming part was that I fortunately had a set of dry clothes in a diaper bag stashed in the car, so I was able to change him in the church parking lot. (Classy.) And I was able to clean up the blood and dirt on his face with a baby wipe. But there wasn’t much I could do about the dirt caking his feet. It’s safe to say this little boy is definitely all boy.

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Filed under boys, daily life, moms, pets, photos

Pimp My MiniVan

When our little bundle of boy was born, we had two vehicles. One was an SUV that we used mainly for long road trips and hauling stuff like my husband’s military gear and the dog. The other vehicle was a Volkswagon Jetta that was perfect for city travel because it was good on gas and a dream to park.

Move over, stationwagon

But all it took was one big trip to my parents’ house with baby gear plus all of the normal stuff for us to realize that the Jetta, for all its practicality, was rather impractical for us at this stage in our lives. So, when a friend of ours who was set to deploy, offered us the chance to buy his Volvo SUV for what he owed on it, it sounded like a great deal.

And it has been. The only thing that’s been a surprise is the fact that serious dudes with a serious interest in cars seem to especially appreciate my family mobile.

I don’t know much about cars. I don’t dabble in the aftermarket business at all. So, I had no idea I had some crazy pioneer Pioneer GPS/sound system or mad tires and rims. I’m not even sure the dude we bought it from knew all this.

But I’ve been learning. On top of the fact that we, on a whim, bought the safest SUV on the market, I’ve also learned, for example, that I have some serious low-profile tires and enviable rims. I usually know when a black guy with chains tells me he has the same ones. What size they are, I have no idea. But it’s instances like the one the other day that confirm it all to me:

So, there I am, pulling into Petco to buy some hyper expensive canned dog food because my dog craps out cow pies otherwise. I pull into a parking spot just as a dude is pulling into the space next to me. I see him nodding as I get out of the car and as I walk around to yank my kid out of the car seat, he says, “Nice ride.”

All I could muster out was, “Thanks.” But what I really wanted to say was something like, “Yeah, boo, the Graco My Ride 65 is how we roll.”

It is absolutely hilarious to me that I have milk stains literally coating the inside of my right, rear, passenger-side door and yet dudes who know stuff about cars always comment on my car, assuming I know what I even am riding on. I mean, seriously, if you weren’t into cars, you wouldn’t know that I apparently have fancy tires and rims. They aren’t tricked out in any sort of way or anything. In fact, for the first month, because of the low-profile tires, I thought I always had an under-inflated tire. (Shows you how much I know about cars.)

And yet, they do.

But there’s something about me that gets infinite amusement out of the fact that I’m carting my milk-stained munchkin around in a hot ride. Even though I’ve only committed to the SUV, I’m totally thinking that if I ever get to the minivan stage–hey, remote opening rear doors are pretty awesome–I’m totally going to have to pimp it out or lose some real street credit in the drop off/pick up lane at school.

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Filed under baby travel, delivery, family, moms, transportation