Sunday, November 8, 2015

I Am Crazy Enough to Get Up With My Baby

Hello. My name is Chrissie and I foster a trained night nurser.

That's right. My youngest child is 10 months old, yet I am still getting up in the middle of the night as though she is 10 weeks. I question my sanity on a regular basis because I allow this to happen, but there is a part of me that feels I don't have a choice.

Some of my reasons may resonate with other parents and others may not, but the one thing we all have in common is that we have coffee on an IV drip and a short temper when the previous night was particularly bad.

1. My kids share a room

This isn't actually my family.
Yes, my kids ages 5, 3, and 10 months all share a room. I will admit I enjoy breaking this news to people because I am often met with an expression of utter disbelief. These days it seems every kid has his or her own room, which is crazy when I think about it. Back in the day, I daydreamed about my own room and -- when the day finally happened -- it was monumental. I also had to share a room with a piano in order for it to happen, but I made the sacrifice.

Dare I say my kids enjoy sharing a room with one another, especially since they have known no different. I am confident my 3-year-old son would be terrified in a room alone. The problem with the three of them together, though, is that the baby has a set of lungs that carry across town.

You know what I'm talking about. Those children (or people) who are loud when they are whispering? That is our baby. So even when she's whimpering in the middle of the night, her voice is ear-piercing. This isn't as big of a deal for my oldest, who sleeps like the dead (like me), but my son is a lighter sleeper. I have actually walked into the room to take care of the baby to find that my son had turned on the white noise machine to try and drown out the noise. Poor guy.

2. We tried cry it out one unfortunate weekend

When I had to sleep train my second child, he was 7 months old. My oldest was barely 2 and, with that gauntlet of toddler and infant care I had just gone through with 2 under 2, I had zero tolerance for this whole get-up-at-night thing. My solution was to wait until my husband was traveling for work and allow my daughter to sleep in bed with me. It took two nights to get him trained and the result was heavenly.

Fast forward to child No. 3 and we had a very different experience. First of all, my husband wasn't traveling for work this time, so he had to find somewhere else to sleep. Being 6-foot-3 with a large build, this wasn't easy. He tried to sleep on our air mattress downstairs, but the attempt was futile. I actually received a text message from two floors down around midnight: "The air mattress has a hole in it. This sucks." I admit I laughed in spite of his pain. He ended up sleeping on the couch and -- with the combination of our cats who enjoy batting and nuzzling those that sleep in their territory -- got about 4 hours of broken sleep.

I struggled to sleep as well. I was sharing our king sized bed with our older kids, who seem to be magnets for human beings when they sleep. I posted on Facebook the following morning that my son sleeps like the letter 'E'. I was kicked and poked all night. Hearing the baby scream down the hall was the least of my concerns.

The worst of the weekend, though, wasn't the sleep deprivation of my husband and I ... it was the older kids. Even though they destroyed my sleep with their sleep positioning and appeared to sleep soundly through the night, they were devil's spawn for the entire weekend. They clearly didn't get enough sleep and we spent the 48 hours of the weekend dealing with whining, screaming, and endless amounts of, "He touched me!" and "She's teasing me!"

As I shoved the two of them across school lines that Monday morning, I swore I didn't care if the baby woke up every night until she was 18 years old. I was never experiencing that again.

3. I changed my mind

It's been a few months since that awful weekend and -- as I struggle to focus on my work each day through sleep deprivation -- I have changed my mind about that whole getting-up-forever thing. I'm going to give it another go because, frankly, I'm losing my mind and coffee isn't making the same dent it once did. I'm also hoping to shed my parent title of, Mom Who Is Always Late at my kids' school.

The plan is to wait until my husband is in the Bahamas for work (yeah, I know, I know) and bring the older kids into bed with me. My top priority is going to be to get them good sleep. In other words, I won't have any emotion to give about the baby crying. She's just going to have to figure it out.

That, my fellow sleep-deprived parents, is what I believe to be the solution. You get to the edge of insanity and have no other choice than to break your child of his or her infant-waking habit.

If this attempt doesn't work, though, I may have to resort to bringing the baby into my room in a bassinet and really regress. Just kidding. I think. I hope.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Convenient Argument by the Almost-Birthday Girl

My kids are finishing their bath.

My daughter turns 5 tomorrow. She says to me:

"Mommy? I was telling Jack that whoever's almost birthday it is, or whoever's birthday is the closest or whoever's birthday is tomorrow gets to pick out the book. Am I right?"

Convenient, child. Convenient.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

How His Brain Works is Beyond Me

I have to thank my son's teachers for providing material while he's at school. There are a number of Jackisms we wouldn't otherwise be privy to!

Thank you, Sam, for this one.

Jack: "Ms, Sam do you have a baby at your house?"

Sam: "Nope, bud, just baby turtles."

Jack: "Well, why not?"

Sam: "I just didn't have a baby yet. One day I will."

Jack: "Oh okay, you left your baby at the dentist?"

Truly baffling.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Throw Away Your Own Fruit Snacks Wrapper

I know children are self-centered at their core and it is our role as parents to teach them to understand empathy.

I grasp this with my logical mind.

But, despite considering myself a rational adult, there are many moments day-to-day that leave me questioning my own sanity because these miniature human beings are so focused on what they want.

It really is good thing they’re cute.

1. “Can you hold this?”

Photo credit:
It never ceases to amaze me that my children can look at me holding two backpacks, two lunch boxes, a car seat, my purse, a blanket, three french hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree, and still attempt to hand me an empty fruit snacks wrapper.

Child: “Mommy, can you hold this?”

Me (in disbelief): “What do you think?”

Child (smirking): “… yeah?”

It is in this moment that I look over at my sauntering, empty-handed preschooler and offer a death glare that ultimately misses its mark because she is already throwing said-fruit snacks wrapper on the ground.

Now we must address the issue of littering.

2. “It’s too much work.”

I doubt I’m alone in the fact that I have two school-aged children who are fantastic at following rules for their teachers and awful at following those exact same rules in my home. Cleaning up their toys is a prime example.

It really is a simple rule, right? The child gets something out to play with, so the same child should put that something away when he or she is finished. It is so simple in theory.

Instead of compliant children, however, I am met with (a pathetic, whiny version of), “It’s too much work.”

It is at this point I have to throw out a threat to either tell his or her teacher about this violation of rules (yes, that actually works) or make an empty threat of taking away all toys he or she doesn’t put away.

Let me clarify that the threat of taking away all toys is not an empty threat because I refuse to do it, it’s an empty threat because there are so many damn toys in the house, my kids don’t even miss the ones I take away.

I tested this theory once with my son. Instead of remembering why he had his toys taken away, he shrugged and moved on to something else. Parenting win.

3. “Do you want to hurt me?”

Asking rhetorical questions to a preschooler is never a good idea. They don’t get it. They try to actually answer the question, and the answer is typically one you do not want to hear.

My son is a typical boy who uses his body as a weapon of love. You know what I mean … instead of giving a nice, sweet hug, he chooses to bull rush unsuspecting parties with his head at crotch length. It’s a real treat.

On a number of occasions, he has “loved” me in this way and I have asked him, “Do you want to hurt me?”

He often stops, looking like a deer in headlights, and says, “… yes …”

I know the answer is that he doesn’t, in fact, want to hurt me, but the rhetoric is lost on him and I end up more frustrated than when I started.

Moving on.

4. “No, that’s mine!”

Having young children will magically regress you to a place of having tantrums. Now, you may be someone who has tantrums anyway. If that is the case, I’m not here to judge. Tantrum away.

What I’m talking about, though, is the day you find yourself arguing with your small child over the ownership of an iPad that undoubtedly belongs to you. Why? Because your small child believes everything in the universe belongs to him or her, of course.

Child: “Where’s my iPad?”

Me (in the tone of a pre-pubescent teen): “Um, that’s my iPad.”

Child: “No, it’s my iPad!”

Me: “Did you buy it?”

Child: “Yes.”

See, this is where they get you. You think you have your child cornered with this black-and-white question, but your child really believes they own said iPad.

Unfortunately, there are only three ways to get out of this, and none of them are great. You can grumble something inaudible and hand your child the iPad, attempt to get into a conversation about hard work and ownership of property and watch your child’s eyes glaze over, or say no out of spite and watch a small earthquake erupt in your living room.

Please choose one of these and report back your results. Of course, you’ll have to wait until you get your iPad back first.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Mufasa "Got Dead" and Subsequent Lion King Conversations with My Kids

Mufasa. Doomed.
I arrived at my parents' house to pick up my kids this evening and found them watching "The Lion King."

My first thought took me back to 1994 when I saw the movie in the theater and clung to every word spoken by a pre-pubescent Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Simba (and, yes, I cursed Matthew Broderick for taking over when Simba grew up, but I digress).

My second thought was that my kids were going to freak out over the death of Mufasa, something I, personally, have freaked out about plenty of times in my life.

When you really think about it, children's movies have softened over the years. Today I watched cartoon Simba nuzzle himself under the arm of his dead father ... nuzzle under the arm of his dead father!

Nowadays, we see a tortured ship at sea and then a mourning Anna and Elsa in a Frozen castle, left to wonder what the heck happened. The entire thing completely sails over the heads of kids (see what I did there?) because they only had one scene to recognize Anna and Elsa had parents in the first place.

Back to the present and preparing my kids for the death of Mufasa. My mom wanted them to see "Hakuna Matata," and I wanted to give the kids the opportunity to see the tragic scene if they wanted to. I told Abby the dad dies and she confirmed she wanted to see the scene. Jack -- eyes fixed on the television -- nodded yes as well.

Hakuna Matata.
I essentially did a play-by-play of the scene to keep them from getting too sucked in and, let's face it, to keep myself from crying. He nuzzled under the arm of his dead father, for Pete's sake!

Once the scene was over and I had wiped my eyes, the recapping began. There were far too many conversations to reference, but I will provide a fun overview.

Conversation 1: Who Died?

Abby: "Jack! Did you see what happened? All the animals were running and bumped into the king and then he got dead."

Jack: "Yeah!"

Abby: "And then the king killed him."

Me: "No, the king died."

Abby: "Yeah, Mufasa killed him."

Me: "No, Scar killed him."

Abby: "Yeah. Why?"

Me: "Because he was mean and he wanted to be king."

Jack: "Yeah ... and then the animals were running and there were rocks and then he was the king."

Me: "..."

Conversation 2: Cactus Butt

Abby: "And then the black ... and white ..."

Me: "The hyenas."

Abby: "The hyenas ... said ... 'I don't want to look like you, Cactus Butt!'"

Jack: "Yeah ... and then he ran away and they said, 'I'll kill you!'"

Me: "They said if he came back they'd kill him."

Abby: "Yeah! Because the king died ... because the animals were running and bumped into the king and then he got dead."

Refer to Conversation 1.

Conversation 3: Enough Baby Talk!

Abby (referring to the scene in which Simba grows up): "And then they move like this (swinging her head back and forth) and he gets a little hair and then he gets a lot of hair and he's growed up!"

Jack: "Why did he get hair?"

Me: "Because lions get hair when they get older."

Abby: "Why?"

Me: "Because it happens. Just like babies. Like Evie who doesn't have any hair."

Abby: "Evie has hair!"

Me: "Yes, but not a lot. And some babies are born bald."

Abby: "Yeah! Like ... I have some baby dolls that I don't play with anymore that just have one little curl of hair and nothing else."

Jack: "We're not talking about babies! We're talking about lions!"

Me: "Okay, okay. Yes, boy lions get manes when they get older."

Abby: "Just like babies --"

Jack: "No more babies! We're talking about lions!"

Conversation 4: Who's Your Daddy?

Abby: "Do you have a mommy?"

Me: "Yes."

Abby: "Who?"

Me (still in disbelief she does not retain this information): "Grandma is my mommy."

Abby: "Oh."

Me: "Do you know who my daddy is?"

Abby: "No."

Me: "Guess."

Abby: "Papa?"

Me: "Yes. Do you know who daddy's mommy is?"

Abby: "You?"

Honestly, how does she not retain this?

Getting Dead

I'm glad we got through our first movie in which a character "gets dead" in front of the audience. I have to say, though, the minds of children fascinate me. I had to explain to Abby that Mufasa wasn't a real being ... even though he's a cartoon. How can she not tell a cartoon isn't an actual animal? I'm not sure, but apparently she can't. I had to tell her that Mufasa was an illustration and that someone spoke for him. So now I've probably helped her through her first character death and managed to ruin the Easter Bunny in the process somehow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Caillou isn't THAT Bad ... and Three Shows I Think are Worse

Please do not throw things at me ... hear me out. I do not think Caillou is that bad. Yes, he's irritating. Yes, he's whiny. But on a scale of 1-10 -- one being the least annoying kids' TV show I have to endure and 10 being the most annoying -- I give him a five.

Perhaps it's because my own kids have mastered whining on a global level, so Caillou's game is pretty weak as far as I'm concerned. Or maybe it's because Caillou was the only thing that would get my then-two-year-old daughter to give me a break while I was caring for her infant brother that I became immune to Caillou's less-endearing qualities.

Regardless of the reason, I can, in fact, look past Caillou's no-name parents (in one episode, a restaurant host actually refers to them as "Caillou and Rosie's mommy and daddy"), the fact that they also have no tempers, and the fact that his teacher wears a red jumper every single day. I have no issue allowing my kids to watch Caillou.

There are other shows, however, that I absolutely mind them watching.

Dinosaur Train

I hate Dinosaur Train because it is illogical. Yes, I understand the message it is sending and I give it credit for that. A couple of pteranodons have four eggs -- three hatch as pteranodons, but one unexpectedly hatches a tyrannosaurus rex. Whoa, what happened?

To the credit of this loving family, Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon adopt the T-Rex ("Buddy") as their own, and the family of six enjoys adventures in prehistoric times. There are a few problems, though.

First off, this would not happen. And before you tell me that it is a kids' TV show, know that I understand that. But you are mixing carnivores and herbivores and pretending it would be no problem at all! Even in the movie "Madagascar," Alex the Lion had to fight urges to eat Marty the Zebra when they were stranded without food.

Second, this is prehistoric times with a train. A train! Why is there a working train on this show? Yes, I get that the dinosaurs also speak English, which is unrealistic in and of itself, but c'mon.

Finally, I just find them annoying. Simple as that.

Daniel Tiger

It is somewhat ironic that I find Daniel Tiger irritating because I loved Mister Rogers Neighborhood as a kid. Ironic both because I should, therefore, like Daniel Tiger and also because the same character in Mister Rogers Neighborhood injected "meow meow" in between every third word, yet I still manage to find him adorable.

It isn't the character himself that I dislike in the new version, it's the fact that each show has it's own jingle that is repeated over and over and over and over ad nauseam. 

One episode I tolerated was about potty training because, well, I was willing to try just about anything to get my kid potty trained. The episode stresses the importance of stopping to go, regardless of wanting to stay and play. This is an awesome message, but every other line in the show is interrupted by one of the characters singing this little jingle: If you have to go potty stop! and go right away ... flush and wash and be on your way!

By the end of one 25-minute episode, I'm singing the damn song, my kids are singing the damn song, and no one altered their potty methods!

Curious George

This is another show that drives me insane because it is so improbable and ridiculous. Yes, I understand that this story predates my birth, but why is there a man who looks like an oil tycoon for Bananaland housing a monkey in his apartment? And why does he take this monkey to human doctors, restaurants, and schools? And how can he talk to this monkey?

If the show is ever on (and, thank God, it never is), I find myself getting riled up over the fact that a monkey can walk into a store and have a chat with the owner by making a bunch of monkey noises and pointing ... and that no one finds it strange. At all. Then you throw in a dog that also can apparently communicate and this man with the yellow hat whose only friend in life is a monkey.

We have a handful of the books, one of which I read to the kids the other night. In it, George gets a job washing windows, but gets in trouble after he breaks into one of the apartments to paint a jungle scene on the walls and furniture. He nearly escapes, but breaks his leg in a fall and is sent to the hospital (not a vet, a hospital). 

The man with the yellow hat sees the story in the newspaper and rushes to the hospital to claim George so he can hire him as an actor to portray himself in a movie about his life as a curious monkey. Totally plausible.

The reason I'm recounting this story is because the final scene of the book has the man with the yellow hat smoking a cigar. Seeing him smoking a cigar gave him some credibility for me. Clearly anti-smoking laws have emasculated the man with the yellow hat.

In conclusion, as I look back over this blog, it appears the one thing you should take from my ramblings is to avoid PBS at all costs. As someone who loves Sesame Street, I don't recommend you avoid the network completely, but the evidence speaks for itself. There are some hokey and annoying shows on public television.

This is why your kids probably love the network and why you probably loved the network as a child. And with that, I'll provide a walk down PBS memory lane:

There's this guy, who did odd things in the name of books.
This guy, who had a second home so he could change into sweaters,
feed his fish, and play with trains.
These people, who were obsessed with dots.
And, finally, not a kids show, but let's end with Bob Ross
and his happy little trees!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nature vs. Nurture: My Perspective Post-Kids

I have always been interested in psychology. I fell just two classes short of a psych minor in college because I took so many classes out of a pure desire to learn. So it isn't a surprise that, prior to having kids of my own, I assumed the majority of a child's personality is formed from parental and cultural influence.

Now that I have an almost-five-year-old daughter, three-year-old son and seven-month-old daughter, however, I have changed my tune.

Allow me to explain.

Being Beautiful

Abby's future plans include butterfly mascara.
Any young girl knows the societal pressures of being beautiful. The last thing I want for either of my daughters is to be consumed with physical appearances to the point of ignoring the awesome young ladies they become. I am cognizant that I am not only telling Abby she is beautiful inside and out, but that she is smart and funny, too. That didn't stop her from discovering the beauty gene, however.

I wasn't sure Abby would be a "girlie girl" considering she wore Toy Story t-shirts for her entire third year of life, but she is evolving. Now she's taken it to another level. 

  1. She started wearing her play high heels around the house and wanted to wear them to school, so I bought her Mary Jane's.
  2. She threw an epic tantrum because we wanted her to wear bicycle shorts under her dress for a park visit. She insisted that her dress "wouldn't be beautiful" if she wore shorts under it. It was at this point that Tom and I realized something had shifted in the Abby matrix.
  3. Most recently, we were sitting in the living room watching TV as a family and a make-up commercial came on. We were half paying attention to it, but Abby chimes in once it's over and -- with total seriousness -- asks, "Dad? When I grow up, can I get butterfly mascara?"

A Love for the Ladies

Jack has taught me that attraction is ingrained at birth. He has also taught me that he is a boob guy.

Beginning at the tender age of two, Jack has shown his love for this particular feature. He has also shown that he is 100-percent willing to cross any social barriers and make himself welcome on a woman's lap.

  1. Over the holidays, Jack -- who stopped taking naps awhile back -- perched himself on a family friend's lap and rested his head on her chest. He then proceeded to fall asleep in the midst of a crowded party. I guess he was in his happy place.
  2. At a Rodan+Fields party I hosted in April, I hosted a handful of women who were "blessed" in this area. Jack welcomed each lady as she entered the party, immediately offered a hug and then followed each to her seat where he sat on her lap. He moved on to welcome each new woman as she arrived, not discriminating.
  3. At a Tigers game in early July, Jack spotted my cousin's daughter two rows up. He was already smitten with her after a graduation party a couple weeks prior, and quickly moved to her lap. What blew me away was when the crowd volume rose to a deafening roar and he just sat there, gazing at Marisa. Jack is so sensitive to sound that I purchased hunting earphones for him to block out noise at the dinosaur exhibit at the zoo. Well. Apparently the right woman can neutralize his senses.
I truly wonder if this fearlessness will carry over into adolescence and adulthood. If it does, this child -- incredibly charming -- will have no shortage of female suiters. Tom and I also predict that his sisters will avoid bringing friends to the house.

Social Butterfly

It's difficult to tell much about the baby at this point, but I will say that she is our most social child. At just seven months, she has made it clear that she is a people person. If she has the attention of others, she's happy. If she doesn't, she's mad. Not sad, but mad

I predict she will be the most extroverted of the three. Lord help us.

This whole nature vs. nurture thing is fascinating. There are traits my kids were born with, but they are also sponges. There are things I know I never told them, but they manage to pick them up. Butterfly mascara, Abby? Really? I don't wear make-up (aside from Rodan+Fields peptides, of course), so why does she care about make-up so much?

I (clearly) sell Rodan+Fields and talk to Abby about it, but not Jack. So imagine my surprise (and delight) when he said to one of his teachers last week as she was putting on his sunscreen, "This isn't my sunscreen, it's my 'fine line potion.'" 

Moral of the story: don't discredit advertising. It clearly works.

Did I mention I sell Rodan+Fields?