Parenthood & Life
We became parents in 2010, and now we're old and drive a minivan (not!). But seriously, what a ride!
One of the things no one warned me about was how dumb motherhood makes you. Now, I don’t mean that I’m truly dumb, I just mean that my brain doesn’t quite function like it used to. I have trouble recalling words (I kid you not, a mom friend and I recently had a conversation in which neither of us could remember something really obvious. I’d tell you what that obvious thing was - just for the sake of a good laugh - but now I can’t remember it (of course)). I can’t keep thoughts in my head for longer than 45 seconds, I’m always leaving drawers open, and I constantly walk into rooms and forget why I’m there.
This is not to say that I haven’t always been kind of a dingbat. I have. But the level of dingbattedness is totally ridiculous now. I often have to read directions three times, and even then I still mess up whatever I was trying to do because I forgot something important.
What I really need is a giant whiteboard to float next to me at all times, so I can quickly write down whatever I’m thinking. It takes too long to add a reminder on my iphone. By the time I open the app, I’ve already forgotten whatever I needed to write down. Nope, the white board is the best solution. But of course it will need an attached pen, or I’ll leave it somewhere and never find it again.
Mom, I apologize for making fun of you for never knowing where your keys are. Or for leaving your coffee in the microwave. I now do both of those things, and I realize that it isn’t your fault. We’re dumb now.
One of the things I’ve repeatedly failed at is cooking. More specifically, menu-planning.
I’ve always hated figuring out what to eat. But add to that a dairy-free, gluten-free, picky-ass toddler, and you have a recipe for a major crankypants in the kitchen.
I’ve talked before about C’s intolerance to various foods, but I left off when she was under a year old and barely eating solids. What has transpired since then has changed our entire family.
I’m going to get into how we’re helping C with her allergies later, but to summarize, she and I are both seeing an acupuncturist/homeopath, who recommended that I get tested to see what I’m allergic & intolerant to (often, baby is allergic to what mama is allergic to). As it turns out, I am intolerant to dairy - like, really intolerant - and not just lactose, but dairy in all it’s forms: whey, lactose, milk protein, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, etc. I would also say that, for much of my life, I was addicted to dairy.
When C had her first reactions through my breastmilk, I decided to give up dairy, soy and wheat. At first, this was extremely hard and not something that I ever would have done for myself. When she was 10 months old, I was able to reintroduce all of these foods with no reaction from C. In total, I went nine months without dairy. I will say that I don’t crave it anymore, and it’s no longer my go-to (we don’t even keep milk in the house anymore). At this point, cutting out dairy is mostly an annoyance, as it makes eating out with friends difficult. Also, I love pizza.
But I digress.
At present, I am ashamed to admit that Y and I eat out most of the time, and we are stuck in a rut about what to feed C. She rejects most everything, so it’s really annoying to cook her something only to find that it goes in the garbage after she rejects it 15 times.
This morning as I shared a vegan black bean & yam tamale with C, I realized that I have to buck up and make a change. She will often eat stuff simply because we’re eating it, and if it’s something she can’t have, we have to hide it or she cries. It’s really sad. :( I’m feeling like a world-class awesome mama admitting this right now, let me tell you. :(
So while I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I’m making one. And only one. And I am resolving it PUBLICLY and hope that you will PUBLICLY SHAME ME if I fail. Got it? That’s your job: public shaming. As if my own guilt wouldn’t be enough. ;)
My resolution is this: I will be cooking dairy-free and gluten-free, and I will be menu-planning. I am giving myself until January to figure out how the #%!@ to do this, but if I can do it sooner, great.
So, step one: meal planning. As much as I dread this task, it has to be done - I can't imagine waking up every day and having to plan dinner. Nope, it must be done once per week. I have tried google calendars, excel spreadsheets and pretty magnetic meal planners. It hasn’t helped. I simply don’t follow through.
I also need to find some dairy-free, gluten-free recipes so that I have some meals to plan, as I’ve had to throw out all of my go-to easy meals & favorite pasta dishes.
- must be dairy- and wheat-free
- must take 30 minutes or less to prepare (including time spent chopping vegetables)
- must not taste like crap
Are you a good meal planner? Do you hate it, but do it anyway? I’d love some tips!
Can I just say, “thank god for my father-in-law”? I called him in for reinforcements this morning because we woke up to an ant infestation in every single room of our house, maggots all over the strawberries from the farmer’s market, and someone is coming to clean our carpets in 20 minutes. Last night C woke up three times and then slept in so late that she will have to nap the minute the carpet cleaners get here, but she’s a light sleeper and won’t be able to. I knew today wouldn’t be fun, let’s just say that.
I started this post last week, and decided to let it marinate for a little while. I am conflicted about posting it for a couple of reasons:
- I don’t want to scare the crap out of people, but I want to be honest
- I want to be honest but I don’t want my daughter to grow up and be upset that I aired her dirty laundry to the entire internet
- I don’t want to air my daughter’s dirty laundry to the entire internet but it’s not just her story to tell - it’s mine too.
After a week of marinating, honesty won out. Sorry, C. Please don't be emotionally damaged by this post.
The last couple of weeks have sucked ass, to put it lightly. I am sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and cranky. I feel bad saying that C is a difficult baby...
But OMFG C is a difficult baby.
C is what can only be described as a “spirited child.” Well, that’s not true. There are other words you could use to describe her, but that’s the technical term.
In the early days, the sleep books like No Cry Sleep Solution (for fans of attachment parenting) might as well have been written for an entirely different species, that’s how little they related to our situation. Books about the Happiest Baby on the Block might have made a teeny tiny dent in the horrors that comprise colic, but came nowhere NEAR to alleviating our problems.
And once the colic ended, the sleep problems began. We’re talking months of taking 30 minute naps and waking up every hour and a half, every. single. night. During the day, she and I were both tired and cranky all the time, and I was totally desperate. We slowly found a schedule that worked for us, using (in part) Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
However, if we deviate from this schedule even a smidge, a hell rains down upon this house worse than the plagues, I swear. This schedule includes both sleep and feeding, and each activity must be attended to within a half hour (or we’re screwed).
I am not able to identify with people who have “easy” babies. Not even remotely. If I don’t make my kid go to sleep at the designated time and in the designated place, she simply will not go to sleep. I see photos of children asleep on the living room floor, and I think, “that must be a pod person. That is not my experience of what children are like.” I once overheard my cousin say, "my son just went to sleep when he was tired." I think C would stay awake forever if I let her.
On top of everyday difficulties, we deal with the teething - which is what we’ve been going through lately. The author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child very nearly got a psychotic phone call from me at 3am screaming "YOU'RE AN IDIOT IF YOU THINK TEETHING DOES NOT DISRUPT SLEEP, YOU PIECE OF CRAP!" Yes, the man actually said that. When I was more sane, I was glad I didn't call him. But I still have doubts about his credibility.
When C is teething, it doesn’t matter what I do - we’re just screwed no matter what. Every time she gets another tooth, it’s like someone is boring a hole in her head with an ice pick. She can’t take her naps, she can’t sleep, she throws tantrums over everything, and is totally miserable. Which, in turn, makes everyone around her completely miserable as well. This goes on for weeks for each tooth. She now has six. Out of twenty.
The only thing that keeps me from completely losing my patience is empathy. Because the only person who has it worse than me is this little child, who can’t communicate and is often overtired and in pain. But even though that often keeps me from losing my patience, it doesn’t make things any easier.
Weeks like this are absolutely awful. A friend of ours came over this weekend, and I burst into tears, saying, "I don't feel like it's gotten any easier. It's just a different type of hideous than it was when she had colic." This are my low-down moments. My moments when I am depressed, hopeless, and actually angry at an innocent child. When I forget how to keep it in perspective that my child isn't laying in a hospital bed somewhere. After a bit of sleep or even one hour of sweetness from her, I feel better and know that it has, actually, gotten easier. She can't communicate well, but at least she can tell me she's hungry or wants milk. She can walk. That's better than the colic. Also, she's cuter than she was then, which helps. ;)
When parents say, "it never gets any easier, just hard in a different way," I am praying to god that they have "easy" children, and that their "hard" is my easy or even sorta-hard. Because if it's this hard forever - OMG, I need some help. Friends with spirited children tell me that it does get easier, once they can communicate better. I am hoping they're right.
I know that I'm not alone in having hard times like these, and I am really thankful for that. I don't live in a world where everyone I know has an "easy" baby. Sometimes, though, I just wish it wasn't this hard.
I know there are a lot of people who are turned off by the “green revolution,” and really don’t appreciate snooty environmentalists acting all elitist. Well, sorry folks. Here’s another hippy post, but I promise not be elitist.
In my last installment of “being a hippy mama” I talked about cloth diapers. A lot of the things we’ve decided to do to “be green” are beneficial for us as well as the environment: we’re saving ourselves some serious green, which is a huge motivator. Choosing to be kind to the environment can sometimes be expensive (there’s a reason they call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”). However, one of the 3 R’s is reuse...which is what I’m going to talk about today.
Most of the larger ticket items I’ve talked about in my recommendations posts have been purchased secondhand, which has saved us a lot of money. We buy a lot of our stuff used, but baby stuff in particular is very easy to find for very little money - at some point every parent gets sick of having loads of plastic crap in their house, and they often just want it gone (which means they list it for cheap!).
In most cases we’ve recouped the money we spent by reselling the items after we’re finished with them; in some cases we’ve actually made money. Here are just a few of our purchases, all found on Craigslist:
Fisher-Price Papasan Baby Swing - Retail $159.99
Purchased $40, sold for $40
I had a hard time justifying the purchase of yet another large plastic baby thing that I wasn’t sure we’d actually use (as it turns out, this swing saved my sanity - to the point where we bought another one for the living room!). The swing was in great shape and looked clean, but I was still able to remove the padded part and wash it - good as new! We sold this sucker for exactly what we paid.
2007 Uppababy Vista Stroller - Retail $679.99
Purchased $275, sold for $350
I bought the Uppababy Vista when I was pregnant, thinking I would love it (after all, everyone raves about it!). As it turned out, I didn’t. As a bit of a tangent, Uppababy is a great company that really improves its products year after year. Thus, the 2007 Vista is not nearly as awesome as a new one, and I think that’s most of the reason I didn’t love it. But I digress. As I mentioned above, I purchased this stroller for $275, and sold it for $350. How did I make money on the Vista? It’s all about timing. When I was looking to buy on Craigslist, there were a ton for sale. I was able to negotiate with a motivated seller. When I decided to sell it, mine was one of two listed (the other was nearly brand new and twice the price), and I wasn’t in a hurry. I found a buyer who was very excited to take it off my hands. Win-win, as they say.
Fisher-Price Activity Table - Retail $50
This was a recommendation from a friend. At this point, we’d already realized that we shouldn’t buy any popular baby toys new. Charlie loves this even still, so we haven’t sold it.
2005 Bugaboo Frog (now Cameleon) - Retail $979
I’m a little bit of a stroller fiend. I thought I couldn’t be pleased, but this bugaboo has stolen my heart. It’s amazing to me that a 6 year old stroller could be far superior to brand new strollers. And with such a great deal, I am thrilled with my purchase.
These are just a few of the many, many things we've bought on Craigslit (including the office chair I'm sitting in right now!). A couple of items we haven’t purchased on Craigslist, and why:
- Car seat - did you know that car seats expire, and if they’ve been in even a small accident, you need a new one? We didn’t trust people on Craigslist to be honest - after all, you truly risk your child’s life if you put them in a faulty car seat.
- Stokke tripp trapp - we would have purchased this on Craigslist, if we had found it on Craigslist. But again, this is about the timing - right now there are a lot of tripp trapps on our local Craigslist, so I'm sure we could have gotten a better deal if we'd been willing to wait.
Tips for buying baby stuff used:
- Look for stuff used. I know this seems obvious, but I truly think most people don't even think to buy stuff used. They think whatever they find will be gross or that finding it will be too much work. Hopefully I've convinced you that buying used is not too much work.
- Be patient, if time allows. In an ideal world, you should start before you need the item, so you’re not desperate and can afford to negotiate. Sometimes (as with the Vista or the Tripp Trapp), timing is everything.
- If you're looking for something specific, set up an alert on Craigslist. Check out how to do that below.
- Don’t just check Craiglist: local baby swaps and yard sales are great resources.
- Resell it when you're done with it, so you don't have a ton of crap around your house (and you have more money to buy other, age-appropriate toys!).
How to set up a Craigslist Alert:
Craigslist alerts are a great way to find items that aren't posted very often. I have ongoing alerts set up for this Melissa and Doug shopping cart, and medium/large gCloth inserts. Neither of these items are easy to come by on my local Craigslist. Here's how to set up an alert yourself:
- Go to your city's Craigslist, and click on "baby+kids." Then enter your search term(s) and (if you want), what you're willing to pay. When you're done, click "Enter."
- Scroll to the bottom of the page. You'll see an orange button with the letters RSS. Click on that button. You'll see a whole page of code in your browser window.
- Copy that page's URL and paste it into your feed reader. Now you can be notified via your feed reader every time an item is posted on Craigslist that meets your search criteria.
I also recommend (if you're serious about Craigslist) the iPhone app "CraigsPro" which has the ability to set up alerts in the app, and also makes searching from your phone really easy.
That's about it for me! Got any other tips?
Warning: this entry is going to be epic. As in, seriously long. My apologies if you have no use for a diaper bag.
When you first have a baby, the mountain of crap you have to take with you everywhere is IN-FREAKING-SANE. Seriously. Half the time my enormous diaper bag was overflowing, and I still didn't have everything I needed!
Now that Charlie is over a year, I don't take the diaper bag everywhere I go - I leave it in the car in case of an "emergency." In the early months, however, you will definitely need a diaper bag with you at all times. Little babies poop approximately every thirty seconds, and that poop has a tendency to get everywhere. Basically, every day is a series of emergencies. ;)
In the beginning, having a very cute diaper bag was super important to me. Later, though, utility took over, and we used the "Diaper Dude" that my parents bought for Y. For every day use with an older baby (when you don't have to carry around a change of clothes, nursing pads, etc), I think putting a smaller pocketbook sized thing in an attractive purse is a better idea.
First, let's talk about the actual bags. You can get really obsessive about bags, which is a (very) dangerous road. We have four, which I think is one too many. Trust me, this can be a bad habit.
- The first bag I got was this OiOi Messenger Bag (1). I was never totally sold on this diaper bag. I thought it was really cute pre-baby, but it felt a little flimsy.
- Then I bought this Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag (2), which I think is VERY cute, but has very small side pockets that won't fit even a thin sippy cup. One major benefit to it is that turns into a backpack, which is great for the airport.
- Eventually, we switched to Y's Diaper Dude (3). It isn't cute at all, but it has all sorts of ingenious little things, like tons of pockets for organizing and a strap that you can snap on and off (so you don't have to pull it over your head).
- I also have this diaper wallet (4) for the essentials (you could also get a diaper pod, or (if you're fancy), a Petunia Picklebottom clutch). This thing is great to carry only what you need in an absolute pinch (ie, a couple of diapers, a diaper cover (if you use gDiapers or cloth, like we do), wipes and a few baggies for dirty dipes.
For newborns and small babies
Little babies must really enjoy pooping, because they do it all the time. Usually, they like to poop out the sides of their diapers (or up the back), soiling themselves, their outfit, and whatever they were sitting on. It's pretty great. They also like to barf on everything in sight, usually soiling themselves, their outfit, and you. Thus, you need to bring a LOT of crap with you.
- First, I recommend being organized. Have a bunch of little bags (like these drawstring Tote Bags (1)), and keep like items together. I am lucky because my mom is awesomesauce and made me some.
- Burp cloths are an absolute MUST. Because I like things that people see in public to be pretty, I loved these Aden & Anais burp cloths (2) for the diaper bag. At home we used these thin birdseye diapers, but they are ugly.
- A change of clothes for baby. This means a little bag filled with a new onesie, pair of pants, socks, and a sweater (because you never know if it's gonna get stormy all of a sudden, haha). These are the sorts of things to keep in a drawstring bag.
- An extra shirt for you. One day, you'll thank me. Also, snacks for you (3). Very important.
- Whatever you need to feed the baby, whether that's nursing pads for you, or bottles and formula.
- Extra pacifiers (4) if you use them.
- Diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and a changing pad (most diaper bags come with a changing pad) Plus, you need something to put the poopy/wet diapers in. I love these biodegradable trash bags (5).
- A baby blanket. These are good for spreading on the floor at Baby & Me group, or for keeping your little muffin cold in a place with air conditioning. You can also put this over the carseat to block out light. You don't need anything fancy - these these thin blankets will do just fine (5) will do just fine. Or if you are fancy, you could bring an Aden and Anais swaddle wrap (6).
- Wet bag - this is great whether you use cloth diapers or not. When baby barfs on something, you need somewhere to put the dirty clothes. We have this one made by PlanetWise (7), which comes in a three sizes and lots of patterns.
- A couple of toys like this crinkly activity book (8) (see my other post about baby toys for this age group)
For older babies and little toddlers
As your baby gets older, you don't need to take the essentials everywhere you go (because they stop pooping on everything, all the time). We have the "emergency" diaper bag (with a bunch of diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, diaper salve, rags, etc), which we keep in the car. We rarely need everything in there, but its good to have, just in case. We have all that stuff in the Diaper Dude. We also keep some of the items below in the back of the car (in an ugly Drawstring Backpack), because we don't need them ALL the time. In the future, I'll do a post about what baby stuff we keep in what location, which will include a "what's in my diaper bag" show-and-tell. But for now...
Most of the stuff you'll be taking with you relates to food:
- Travel Packs of Disinfecting Wipes(1) are necessary for eating in restaurants or riding in shopping carts. I'm not afraid of germs, but I am TOTALLY grossed out by the crusty, slimy (seriously) highchairs at restaurants. To be honest (and this is a controversial "do you really need it?" item), I got a highchair cover (2) because I got so sick of cleaning highchairs only to be STILL grossed out. I also use the wipes on shopping carts all the time - some stores don't have antibacterial wipes by the carts.
- Along the same lines, if your kid is eating in a restaurant, they can either eat off the table, or they can eat off something like the Tiny Diner (3). This thing has pluses and minuses. It works well on certain kinds of tables, but the suction cups don't work that well on others. plus, the whole thing rolls into that catch-all thing at the bottom (which is great), but C tends to grab the catchall thing and pull the whole Tiny Diner off the table. I think the pluses outweigh the minuses, personally. I really don't like leaving a mess when we go to restaurants. It's not cool to make the server clean up after your kid, I say. Their lives are hard enough!
- Lifefactory Sippy Cup (4) (for water) - we actually keep the sippy cup attachment on the four ounce bottle, just because it's easier to carry around. We recently found just the sippy cup part (they were out of stock for awhile), so you can have extras or convert your existing bottles.
- Because we (mostly Y) are anal about keeping plastic away from C's food, we bought this stainless steel Eco Lunch Box (5). We also have stainless to-go containers (6) (in addition to a bunch of glass jars we've saved from jam, etc). We take these when we're packing a lunch.
- A lunch pail like our cute owl one from Skip*Hop (7) is a necessity. You need a cooler for all the food (plus one of those frozen thingies to keep it all cool). I also keep a bib and a napkin in the inside pocket. I like the Skip*Hop one because it comes in all different kinds of animals!
But you'll also need a few other things, like entertainment & diaper stuff:
- I suggest taking a diaper wallet or diaper pod (see top image) with you instead of a whole diaper bag. Keep the diaper bag in the car with stuff you don't need as much, and the wallet for the necessary things. The only drawback to these is that they don't fit most cloth diapers. We use compostables when we're out, so I have an extra Little gPant and about three compostable gRefills.
- Sunblock is always good. Make sure it passes the new sunblock tests, though!
- I keep two toys in my purse that C never gets to play with at home (and rotate them out randomly). She is always very excited to see them. I also keep a bunch of random crap that she's fascinated by - for example, she likes twisting the top back on these Plum organics baby food pouches, so I bring an empty one. Other hits? a hair elastic, an empty Myntz tin (Y is addicted to those, so we have plenty!) and two cheapy metal bracelets (sort of like these, but mine are from H&M). I also have my iPhone, filled up with the best baby apps (<--I updated that post to include screenshots, by the way!). Peekaboo Barn always works. :-)
And thus ends another of my epic "must have" lists (this one new and improved! With pictures!). I hope you find it helpful! Anyone else have any "must have" items for the diaper bag? Or, heck, indulge me: a favorite diaper bag?Comment
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