Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do You Believe?

The most exciting day in my career as a fifth grader was the day of The School Christmas Party. Why yes, I am old enough to officially say, "Back in my day, we called it Christmas...not The Holidays. And we all lived."

Fifth graders had the prestigious honor of donning Santa Claus hats and parading around the school as Santa's elves to hand out candy canes to the younger kids. I couldn't wait. 

I was a nerdy kid with the keen ability to take any situation and blow it wildly out of proportion.

On the day of the big parade, the fifth grade teachers sat down 60 kids hopped up on Christmas break jitters to explain how the festivities would work.


Everyone knows it is of the utmost importance to blend into your surroundings and not draw attention to oneself in the fifth grade. If a popular kid makes fun of you, you get blacklisted and are suddenly eating lunch by yourself. 

Upon hearing my teacher's proclamation, I noticed my classmates did not jump onto their desks demanding Mrs. Shaw be arrested for slander. In fact, there was a lot of solemn, knowing nodding going on around me. 

I had to keep it together.

Somewhere the lines of communication had broken down. Notes had been sent home to parents about the Christmas parade, but apparently the school did not include any information like, "Oh by the way, we plan on crushing your child's hopes and dreams by letting them know you, as parents, have been lying to them for the past 10 years about their favorite holiday. Merry Christmas!"

This information might have been useful for someone like my mother who was on a different timeline than everyone else's parents.

We lined up to begin the Christmas parade. I was not the harbinger of All Things Christmas I had previously imagined.

I didn't have the heart to tell my parents what I learned in school..."I'll give them one last Christmas." So on Christmas Eve I went to bed knowing the empty stockings and Christmas tree would be overflowing with gifts in the morning - put there lovingly by my parents.

That night I was in my room contemplating existentialism when I heard a noise on the roof of our silent house.

My newly wizened self was sure there would be some logical explanation for a noise on the roof on Christmas Eve. A really fat squirrel chasing a raccoon. A UFO making a pit stop on its way to Nevada. 

But...what if...

My heart quickened. 

I raced out of my room.

I went back to my bedroom to pout. 

When the noise from above came again.

Ten whole minutes passed and I couldn't take it a second longer. I ran out of my bedroom into the silent house.

On Christmas morning I made a beeline to the small package I had found in my stocking the night before. An orange bracelet that neither my father or mother could remember purchasing sat in the box.

And how could they remember buying it...? They hadn't.

Santa had brought it to me.

So this year remember, Christmas is a time to hope, dream the impossible and keep the magic alive for just a little longer.

And question everything your fifth grade teacher told you.

Happy holidays all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

You're Welcome, In Advance

Turns out Christmas is THIS weekend and not 3 weekends away as I was imagining it to be. Boy, that came as a shock.

Every holiday season, there comes a day (read: Christmas Eve) where I head out to some general Buy Crap Here store because I have bought zero presents and am left to find the perfect gift among the remnants left by savvy shoppers who finished their shopping on Thanksgiving. I usually have a meltdown somewhere in the midst of trying to decide if my mother would prefer a birthday cake scented candle gift set or another pair of plaid pajamas startlingly reminiscent to the set I bought last year.

I'm not sure if you guys have heard of this thing called the Internet, but it's pretty amazing.

But this post isn't about Christmas shopping and how I want to make out with Amazon and its two-day free shipping because now I don't need to step foot in a mall.

This post is about The Holiday Card.

One of the main perks of becoming a parent is the seemingly easy holiday card business. Get a shot of the kid, choose a bland holiday saying, order a postcard, print labels and send. No handwritten, customized blurbs. No finding a cute, but poignant, but funny, but serious holiday card. 


As long as you remember to order the card.

Which I didn't.

So on Saturday, I was standing in my grocery store when I remembered I needed to do holiday cards. The display table wasn't inspiring: 3 boxes of cards showcasing the Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus and a Bible verse, 1 box adorned with a menorah and a box of cards with Precious Moments figurines in a nativity scene had been opened and rifled through.

Maybe I could wait and do New Year's cards? Or Valentine's Day cards...people wouldn't expect that; it could become our shtick.

And I headed home feeling guilty. Convinced The Bean would find out that for her first Christmas I didn't dress her up like an elf and send a photo of her to every person we ever met. What kind of therapy would she need to overcome that?

Then I thought for a minute. The Internet! It MUST be able to help!

20 minutes and $4 later, I had myself a mother-loving Christmas miracle which we sent out today AND saved trees (PLUS! now my friends aren't left with the awkward decision of determining when is the appropriate day to throw out all the photos they received of people's kids - January 18th, FYI).

Happy holidays!

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
This free digital greeting card made with Smilebox

Friday, December 16, 2011

Because I'm Not Giving Out Free Funerals Here

Me: Things currently in our garbage can - 3 chicken carcasses, 2 grocery bags full of dog poop and 1 dead squirrel. It's like the 3 days of Christmas, but grosser.

Michael: Woah. Wait, you mean Ginger didn't eat the dead squirrel?

Me: Of course not, there were perfectly good turds to eat...I was cleaning those up when I came across the squirrel. I think I'd like Ginger better if she actually ate all the poop and not just some of the poop.

Can you just throw away a dead squirrel? I wasn't sure what else to do with it...I mean, I'm not interested in hosting funerals for animals I don't even know. We can't have word get out that I'll bury everything that dies in our yard. We'd suddenly have a bunch of old animals wandering in the backyard waiting to die.

Michael: True...we already have one animal we want to die...can't be taking on more.

Me: Anyway, I imagine the trash guy is happier with the dead squirrel than the 20 bags of dog crap we throw away each week. Maybe we should start composting...but I wouldn't want to eat anything growing from poop and carcasses.

Michael: I think a burial at sea is the preferred squirrel way. A solemn ceremony where other squirrels can look on in mourning.

Me: Are you saying I should've flushed him? Our toilet gets backed up if you flush a used tissue...remind me to get a card and some cash for the trash guys this week.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Not Easy for Anyone

The Bean keeps fluctuating from 'loving on everyone' to 'everyone but Mama can set themselves on fire and play in traffic for all I care.' As one can imagine, this is wildly upsetting to her father who wants nothing more than to love on his baby without her scratching out his eyes while shrieking like a rabid Velociraptor.

After a few discussions with some of my mommy friends, I discovered this a common phase that doesn't go away until EIGHTEEN MONTHS (give or take a day). And causes more than few spats on the home front because everyone wants to pull their hair out.

So I'd like to share a few words to all the Dads out there, because it seems like everyone just accepts this phase and it deserves a little prodding.

Dear Frustrated Fathers,

Just thought you would be interested to know: We're winging it too.

Despite what you think, mothers do not have a secret recipe for Happy Baby stashed away somewhere; hidden for the sole purpose of making you miserable. If I knew what series of events were guaranteed to make The Bean stop crying I would publish and distribute it to everyone I knew. I could use a night or two of sleep.

Soothing a child is a lot like playing a game of Hot/Cold. Every action will result in more or less crying ("You're getting warmer..." or "Oh My God, you are so cold it hurts!!!"). You need to keep guessing and trying different permutations until the crying stops.

That said, here's a helpful list of things to consider when faced with a child whose crap has been lost:
  • Try everything...ever: Things known to quell my screaming child: a roll of paper towels, hanging her upside down by her toes, a spoon and chewing on her fingers (me chewing them). How did I discover these things? Desperate times people.
  • Don't try anything for more than 1 minute: If it didn't work immediately, it is not going to work and will only increase the spew of hatred being emitted by your child. It doesn't matter if the activity you're trying worked before...if the crying did not slow within 15-30 seconds, IT WILL NOT WORK, MOVE ON.
  • While you can NEVER be certain about what will stop the screams, it is usually some combination of "Hold Me Before I Burst Into Flames," "Bring Me to Where I've Imagined the Fun I Think I'm Missing Is Happening," "Give Me Something, But I Will Make You Try 50 Different Somethings Until I Find the One I Deem Acceptable," and "It's Been Three Whole Minutes Since I Last Ate, Where's The Grub?"
  • Very rarely does more noise help an already screaming child. In this instance, music does not calm the savage beast. Music, a story, loud toys or self help books on tape will only serve to make your child scream louder since they think you can't hear them. (Caveat: A Wiggles video can solve almost any meltdown.)
  • When all hope seems lost, turn to the Ergo, the stroller, the car...something that moves and will hopefully lull the banshee to sleep.
  • Sometimes you just have to let them scream. There isn't always an answer. They will tire themselves out. They scream at us all the time too and we had to suck it up many times.
Lastly, when you throw the child at their mother in a fit of exasperation and the little bugger stops crying immediately, take heart. Right now, the child isn't doing anything on purpose or out of spite. Those special tantrums and battles are reserved for their mother when the child is older and YOU are the cool parent, YOU are the fun parent, YOU are the one they turn to when "Mom is being unreasonable and just doesn't understand anything and how come she can't be more like you?"

Mrs. D-Zo

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why It's Difficult To Be Me

Thanks to a slight case of OCD, I have very clear definitions of right and wrong on certain hot-button issues.

For instance, whether counting stairs as you climb them increases your likelihood of not falling, if insisting food should be separated by color before eating it is appropriate and, perhaps most importantly, which way the toilet paper hangs.

Most people have a preference on toilet paper orientation; I have a compulsive need for the roll to hang over, not under. OhMyGodNotUnderTheWorldWillBurstIntoFlamesIfTheToiletPaperHangsUnder.

I have been known to adjust how the toilet paper is hanging in other people's homes. I'm sure they would thank me for righting this clear wrong; if only they knew I was the mysterious toilet paper adjuster - I tend to not broadcast my random acts of toilet paper kindness and usually perform these good deeds when there are multiple people around who could be blamed applauded for promoting proper toilet paper hanging awareness.

We go through a lot of toilet paper at our house these days. I work from home, we have a nanny here watching The Bean most days and Michael doesn't believe in tissues and he's had a cold for about a year and half now.

The other day we were nearing the end of the roll and I didn't want the nanny to have to navigate her way around The Closet Which Holds Everything Ever to find the toilet paper. So I pulled out a roll and put it in the bathroom in case we ran out.

I have defined a new level of crazy.

Naturally, the nanny hung the toilet paper under. After my seizure, I simply got up and left the bathroom without changing the toilet paper's orientation.

Because I didn't want to offend her. I mean, you know how often people are offended by that sort of thing. It's right up there with dropping F-bombs, discussing religion over dinner and racism.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Sort of a Big Deal

So now that I'm a major celebrity, I expect lots of fan mail, swag and stalkers.

What? You didn't hear? Oh yeah...I'm all sorts of being interviewed by the darling Nicole over at Pampers & Pumps today.

You should probably check me out before I get too big to be hanging around with you all.

If you're here for the first time after reading my compelling, insightful and touching interview, welcome! I'm totally sweet and I love you already. Mean it. Check out some of my other posts and I hope you stay awhile!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fear Does Not Exist In This Dojo

The Bean's DNA has really kicked in over this past month.

For anyone who has read this blog for any considerable time you will, no doubt, know of my tendencies towards total cowardice, physical awkwardness and extreme dislike of all things extreme - except maybe extreme ice cream eating, as long as it's plain chocolate.

Naturally, I married a man who climbs mountains, owns more motorcycles than I have pairs of jeans and considers a vacation a trip involving sliding down a mountain on a plank of wood or racing across the desert on 4-wheelers for 8 hours straight. I file these activities under "Don't Do These Things Unless You Like Extreme Pain and Better Yet Just Stick a Hot Poker in Your Ear because At Least that's Warm;" he files these activities  under "Fun."

The Bean is her father's daughter.

It started with the flying. You know what I'm talking about...lift the child up in your arms and zoom around the room like they're Superman. The Bean is convinced this is the only civilized way to be carried throughout life. And you had better be humming some John Williams' inspired theme music while you are flying her around or else, what's the point, really?

If you try to sit her in your lap, The Bean will wriggle free and begin to climb down your legs - head first - while you frantically hold on to a toe to keep her from crashing to the ground. The shit-eating grin on her face during this interaction has convinced me she will be jumping out of planes by the time she's 5.

I made a vow when I became a mother that I would encourage all things daring in my child so she does not end up a 33-year old who breaks out in a cold sweat when in close proximity to bicycles, ice skates and skis (like some people I may or may not see when I look in the mirror).

Lately The Bean has been hard at work on sitting up. She's quite good at it though there are times when the head size she inherited from her father knocks her off-balance and sends her careening into the floor.

My instinct is to rush over and pull her back up and check her head for major signs of trauma...but I resist the urge. Instead, she falls, looks at me all confused-like, I cheer, she smiles and life amazingly goes on.

The other night, however, we both got a little over confident in her sitting ability. Let's just say The Bean, the couch and then the floor were involved. Infants move quick, especially when gravity is involved.

I rushed over ready to swoop up my child who would most certainly break into tears any minute having rolled off the couch in hot pursuit of a rogue block.

Instead I was greeted with a child looking at me as though she wanted to do the whole thing all over again and how come I kept this awesome activity a secret from her. She broke out into laughter and the daredevil glint in her eyes made her look exactly like her father.

There is no doubting this kid's paternity; the maternity is still in question.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Operation: Sleep For God's Sake

Apparently I'm the only one in the house ready for sleep training. Well, I could potentially put the dogs on that list too, but really they're more complacent on the topic.

But Michael, The Bean and the cat (yes, the cat - he's a better hippie than me as he's a big supporter of co-sleeping) are far more skeptical about my attempts to instill Operation: Sleep For God's Sake.

This was going to take a lot of work. Up until now, The Bean has been (1) sleeping in the Pack-n-Play in our bedroom exclusively; (2) soothing via binky or feeding with help from me or Michael; and (3) not sleeping through the night.

I appointed myself Dictator of Sleeping about a week ago. For starters, Michael is a giant soft touch when it comes to matters involving The Bean. His general go-to response with her is 'Make It Stop Crying Right Now I Don't Care What It Takes.' Also, his sense of urgency around Operation: Sleep For God's Sake is far less pronounced than my own. Mainly because he's not the one waking up to soothe The Bean back to sleep.

Like any good dictator, I made up all my own rules for sleep training. Armed with minutes of internet research and a previously unproven intuition on such matters, I went into battle. Knowing I would need Michael's support to make my sleep training efforts succeed, I mapped out our plan: Do what I tell you to do.

The Battle of "Hey That Wasn't So Bad" - Day One
After our usual bedtime routine, The Bean started to drift to sleep in my arms. I waited until she was conked out to put her in the crib. [Why yes, I ignored all the advice telling me to put her in her crib when she's drowsy. Advice was intended to be ignored. When I put her down too soon, she gets all cocaine eyeball-y at me and then it takes another 5 hours to get her to sleep.]

She slept until 3 AM. I consider 8 hours of sleep a wild success. So when she started to fuss, I happily retrieved her and put her back in the Pack-n-Play because why be traumatic on the first night of sleep training? She's actually slept in her crib! In her room! For a long period of time!

The Battle of "You're Fired" - Day Two
The second night of sleep training was not so smooth. After about 20 minutes, The Bean started her fussing. As Dictator of Sleeping, I instructed Michael very carefully: "You are to go in there and not say a word. See if the binky has fallen out of her mouth and if so, so just pop it back in without talking to her - she'll fall right back asleep."

He marched off, the good soldier, and opened the door to the nursery, "Hi Baby! What are you fussing about?"


He called for reinforcements, "Babe, she looks really freaked out."

From Dictator to Mother in .4 seconds flat.

Day Two ended in an aborted mission. And Michael is no longer involved in sleep training [perhaps part of his greater master plan...touche, my friend].

The Battle of "Maybe I Can Make This Work" - Days Three through Six
3 AM became the magic time. The Bean would go down (most nights) without trouble, but at 3 AM she would wake up. 3 AM is a really inconvenient time to implement a sleep training routine. One's resolve to let an infant Cry It Out disappears when you could also just pop into the guest bedroom next to the nursery and lie down in bed together and GET SLEEP.

The Battle of "I Hate You 3 AM. Die. Die. Die." - Day Today
In an effort to not let 3 AM be the new black, I decided that if sleep training at 3 AM is what it takes, so be it.

3 AM struck and The Bean was awake. I went into her room and without speaking to her we do a quick feeding, change her diaper and get her back in the crib.

By 3:30 I was ready to throw in the towel. Maybe she just isn't ready for sleep training. She was not having any of this go back to sleep in the crib business. Not when the guest room was right.over.there.

So, I picked her up...

And she fell asleep nearly immediately, so I put her back in the crib. This is new! This is good! This doesn't last...

She wakes up at 4 AM...but I don't pick her up this time. Just put her binky in, adjust the blanket and stroke her head...she bought it!

We repeat at 5 AM. 5 minutes ago. She's still in her crib and back asleep...

Dictator of Sleeping is advancing. Stubborn infants beware.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hypothetically Speaking...

Let's pretend for a minute that you woke up in the middle of the night screaming for me because you pooped your pants. Like, really pooped your pants a lot.

Because I presumably love you, I clean you up - while you scream in my face the entire time. I'll go ahead and chalk that up to the fact that no one likes to sleep in an inescapable container of their own poop.

Now, let's assume you're a bit of a hog and since you're awake, you decide you might like a little snack and who can blame you really. I just cleaned up a good portion of your body weight; so it stands to reason you would be a little peckish.

While we're at it, let's conjecture that your favorite meal is milk...from my breast. And we all know I'm a giver. So I get us set up in a comfy chair because it's 3 in the morning and I want you to have a full stomach so you can go back to enjoying your blissful dreams.

To recap our imaginary scenario: It's 3 AM. I've cleaned your poop mess. I'm getting ready to feed you because you're hungry.

Why, I ask you, why would you thank me with a titty twister?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Sunny Side of Life

OK. Before friends and family start a suicide watch on me, call child protective services or run to the doctor's for vasectomies, I have a confession to make.

Parenthood? It doesn't all suck.

Pinky swear. No backsies.

It's easy - and a lot funnier - to focus on the mishaps and trials of parenthood because you go into parenthood thinking you have it all figured out; only to be rendered completely useless and frazzled by something weighing 10 pounds and unable to lift its own head.

Talk about humbling.

But when it comes down to it, parenthood is awesome and I wish I had done it sooner (you know, when I was younger and staying up all night was what I wanted to do).

Month 1 sucks (totally sort of kidding). The child eats, sleeps and poops - mostly sleeps. Which would be awesome if you weren't completely amped up on adrenaline and convinced the only way the child will survive is if you stare at it. Forever.

Month 1 involves a lot of TV.

Month 1

In Month 2 you learn to sleep when the child sleeps which makes your own survival through parenthood bootcamp possible.

Month 2
By Month 3, you are suddenly grateful for being alive. Not because you've made it this long in parenthood bootcamp, but because you realize it took great restraint for your own parents to not kill you when they went through this crap with you. There are some major Mother's and Father's Day presents on the horizon for Nana and Grandpa this year. 
Month 3

Month 4 brings with it baby smiles and baby laughs that can melt your heart...or extremely embarrass you because your child sounds like a dying hyena when she laughs and then it hits you that she is mimicking what she hears from you.

Month 4
 And by Month 5 you realize you have a little human on your hands. It's a person already becoming independent and having their own thoughts; most of which do not coincide with your own...a theme that will last throughout both of your lives.

Month 5
 It's amazing.

It's tough.

It's worth it.