Thursday, July 26, 2012

Anxiety: My Old Friend

I love being a stay-at-home mom. It’s such a blessing that I’ve been able to be one for so long but with summer ending and the holiday season just waiting around the corner, I decided that I should find a job to make some extra money. The holidays were tight financially for us last year and this year we have two kids. That is twice the holiday magic and twice the money.

 In my head I figured that I would find a part time job and not have to leave the kids that much. Instead I got a job as a photographer with my old company and its 40+ hours a week. I’m trying to be positive about it and grateful for the opportunity because it really is a great job and being able to get a job in this economy is really a gift. It’s seasonal which means that I’ll be working from August to the end of November and then pick back up again in the spring. So right when the Christmas season really kicks in, I’ll be back at home with my babies.

The problem that I’m having is the thought of being away from my kids is freaking me out. I’ve always had an anxiety problem and this big change is scaring the crap out of me. I love being with my kids. Noah is so much fun to be around and I love watching him learn new things and play. We have a blast cooking together, reading, doing crafts, coloring and watching Disney movies in bed with a big bowl of popcorn. I’m going to miss having so much time with him but honestly, I’m not worried about leaving him to go to work. He is so independent that I can drop him off with either of his grandmas and he will barely say bye to me.

It’s Aria that is stressing me out. She is so attached to me and I don’t know how she’ll do without me for 40 hours a week. I don’t remember Noah ever being like this with me and I went to work when he was three months old.  I think that it’s different with her because of breastfeeding. I wasn’t able to nurse Noah but I am with Aria. That pretty much makes me numero uno in her world. Which makes leaving her a huge production. I pump as much as possible but it never seems to be enough. I’ve even  been drinking 3-5 cups of Mother’s Milk tea every day and taking supplements that also aid in producing milk so that I can build up a frozen supply. But when I nurse her for every feeding, it’s really hard to judge how many ounces it takes to make her full. I don’t even think that I have enough saved to make it through our first week.  Between that and her stranger anxiety, I’m a wreck.

Clearly I’m attached to her as well. She may be our last child and I want to soak up every minute of baby goodness. She’s days away from learning to crawl and she’ll be talking soon enough too. It scares me to think that I’ll miss those things.

It’s going to be a daily battle with this anxiety of mine and that ever present mommy guilt. But I’m hoping to just focus on the good of this situation because there is so much.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Noah Says

(We were driving on the freeway and Noah saw a car that looked exactly like ours)

Noah: Mama!! Look! Look!

Me: What baby?

Noah: (pointing) It's mama's car! Look it's mama's car over there!

Me: Oh yeah, that does look like our car huh?

Noah: Oh no! Mama's car got away!

He was sincerely devastated by this, thinking that someone stole the car that we were currently driving.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

6 Months And Growing

To Aria on your half birthday,

You know the old saying about looking at the glass being half full not half empty? Well I'm sure that applies in some way to how I'm feeling today. You are half a year old and as much as I love seeing you grow and change into the beautiful girl that you are, part of me is crushed that you are no longer our tiny little baby. Sure you're still technically a baby but girlie, you aren't that little anymore. 18 pounds, 3 teeth, sitting up, learning to are quickly leaving the realm of babydom (Totally made up that word. Don't use that in an academic setting, ok?) And you are so restless and impatient. We all think that you may just skip over crawling all together because all you want to do is sit up and try to stand. I’m sure it comes from watching your brother and AJ and Sophia running around playing together.

I try to focus on the amazing new things that you do every day but I can’t help but feel a tug on my heart every time I look at the pictures we took the first few days that you came into our lives. It’s a constant reminder that you and your brother are growing up no matter what Daddy and I want. And right now little princess, all we want is to soak up every delicious moment of your and Noah’s childhoods. And imprint every giggle, every good morning smile, every cuddle, every family walk, every late night drive and every sloppy kiss into our minds and hearts because one day, you and your brother won’t sit still enough for cuddling and you’ll be too embarrassed for kisses. And that day will be here sooner than any of us are prepared for.

I can’t wait to see you laughing as you crawl after your brother. And Daddy and I are placing bets on what your first word will be (Fingers crossed for Mama!). So keep on growing and learning my girl. We love watching your personality develop and change. I already see that you have a beautiful, old soul. And the joy that emanates from you all day and night is one of my favorite things about my life.

Mama loves you so much. Happy half birthday, my girl.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Artsy With A Side of Fartsy

Noah has more energy than any child I know. His energy knows no bounds. From the moment he wakes up in the morning and bursts in our room asking for "cereals", to the time I lay him in his bed at night for the seventh time, praying that he will finally fall asleep.

The kid is bonkers I tell you.

So I am always looking for new ways to get him to release some of that energy in a positive way. Right now our favorite way is to make up a big batch of sidewalk chalk paint and let him paint the driveway. He loves it! He thinks it's the coolest thing since..well, chalk. And it is. It's cheap. It's easy. It doesn't stain the sidewalk. And it's a great way to get kids out of the house to play.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How to Potty Train Your Stubborn Toddler

It’s happened. You didn’t even see it coming but here it is. Your precious little baby is not a baby anymore. I feel your pain. The phrase Time Flies doesn’t truly click until you are a parent wondering what happened and where your tiny, compliant, little angel went. There are so many milestones to look forward to when you first learn of your impending parenthood. First smile, first laugh, first steps, first word….So many beautiful moments of growth. And then there is potty training. See the beauty in those first milestones is that the only thing you need to do is take tons of pictures to show off to anyone and everyone (even if they do not care to see anymore cute baby pictures) but potty training is a whole new ballgame. It would be magical if one day your toddler turned to you and said “Mommy, I think that I may be too big for diapers now. I’m going to the bathroom to use the toilet now. Then I’m going to wash my hands and put on clean underwear. Okay?” Magical indeed, also really creepy if your toddler just started conversing with you out of nowhere. But I digress. What I’m trying to say is that going from diaper changes to toilet time is work. For you and your kid. It takes teamwork to reach that porcelain trophy of toddlerhood. Remember when I shared your pain about missing that compliant little baby? It is because you and I both know that little stage lasts for a minute before kiddo decides independence and defiance are fun. You get to the potty training age right around the time your toddler reaches the “no” stage and the “I don’t want to stage”. Also known as the “Mommy- is- losing- her -mind –and- just- wants- to- cry alone” stage. The independence comes with stubbornness and that means if they are not interested in this new potty concept you present them with, then you will be promptly informed. But don’t give up and stock pile the diapers just yet. I have gone through all of this with my son Noah and I live to tell you the tale and all the tricks.

1. Make sure before beginning the process that your child is ready. You can’t force them to understand the concept; they need to be able to get what you want them to do. Signs that they are ready include: waking up with a dry diaper, being curious about the toilet and how you use it, not wanting to wear diapers anymore, having predictable bowel movements at the same time of day every day and announcing that they are going pee or poop. So be sure to look for some sign of readiness before jumping in.

2. If they are not ready don’t stress about it. It will make it that much harder for you and your child. Every child is different and will be ready at different times. It says nothing about your child or your parenting if your kiddo is a late learner. My son was almost three when he finally got it done and become a pro. A lot of my friends would brag about their 18-month- old being fully potty trained and that’s great for them. But I made sure that I didn’t let that affect how I saw my child and his abilities. (I also struggled to make sure I did not let it affect how I viewed myself as a mom. Some moms see motherhood as a completion and love to brag about how they are better or how their kid is smarter. DO NOT LET IT GET TO YOU! Brush it off and focus on you and your child. It is not a competition. More on this in my next hub.)

3. Go on a potty preparedness shopping spree. Buy a big girl or boy potty for them and put it next to the toilet. Explain to them that it belongs to them and they can use it whenever they want. Sure it seems weird to get excited about a toilet, except those magical ones where the seat warms up. (Hey, a girl can dream.) But they are in the midst of their terrible toddlerhood glory where everything is “mine! Mine! MINE!” and having something new and exciting is, well, new and exciting. Next buy them underwear with their favorite characters on them. Noah nearly fainted when I presented him with big boy undies featuring the Avengers. They will love to pick out the undies and they will be so excited to wear them. The catch?

4. Put on the undies and no diaper. Yes, no more diapers cold turkey style. I warn you now, it will get messy. There will be accidents but I tell you now, they will loathe the feeling of being wet and dirty. It will not take long for them to decide the potty is where it’s at.

5. To avoid accidents as much as possible invest in a potty watch. It’s a watch that your kiddo gets to wear and it goes off as often as you like letting you and him or her know that it’s time to go sit on the potty. Proceed to the bathroom and have them sit and do their best to go pee or poop. If they go, great! If not, that’s perfectly fine too. The watch will go off again soon enough for another try. If you can’t find a potty watch or just know your child well enough to know that they will not keep a watch on (*cough* Noah*cough cough*) then there is a fantastic app for smart phones called iGo Potty by Pull Ups. You set how often you want the timer to go off and the “I’m a big kid now” jingle rings to let you know when it’s time. You also set the times your child is awake so that it doesn’t go off while you or they are sleeping.

6. Celebrate their accomplishments! Hugs, high fives and praise go a long way to boost the morale of a kid learning a new skill.

7. Patience is a virtue. Like I said before, accidents will happen and it’s ok. Keep calm and be encouraging. If you’re frustrated, chances are so is he or she. Lead by example and don’t get discouraged by the setbacks.

All in all it took about two days for Noah to go from diapers to underwear with no accidents. It was messy, stressful and at times just plain hilarious. But isn’t that the definition of parenthood? Wishing you lots of luck and Avengers undies!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dear Discouraged Breastfeeding Mama,

photo courtesy of

Dear Discouraged Breastfeeding Mama,

It’s late. Or early. Though you are so tired right now you probably don’t even know what year it is. Try and spell your name. I’m sorry that was mean. Don't worry though. Eventually the sleep fairy will pay you a visit and you will once again be able to do things like spell your name and tell time and laugh at lame jokes made by silly bloggers.

I’m  guessing that you are beginning to feel like a cow, yes? The new baby high is wearing off and the parade of visitors is dwindling and you are starting to feel the effects of choosing to stare at your baby in awe instead of sleeping. All of these factors can make it that much harder for you to see the light at the end of the nursing tunnel. The first few weeks are hard for everyone. Your nipples are cracked and bleeding and every time your baby latches on you cry out and tears run down your face. All that Lanisoh cream that you got at your baby shower and from the nurses at the hospital doesn’t even have time to do its job because as soon as you delicately apply it on, all the while silently praying for some nipple miracle, it’s time to feed the baby again. And in between feedings you can’t even relax the way you so desperately need to because you spend your time staring at the clock and dreading the agony of the next feeding.

If it all that isn’t enough, the time will eventually come when you get to navigate the joys of nursing in public. Those big nursing covers come in handy until your baby decides that they like to eat their meals with a view. Then you get to fight a freakishly strong mini human to stay covered up which just gets that much more attention. And when you are tired, sore and grumpy-any look thrown your way could be the straw that breaks the mama camel’s back.

And then there are all the comments you get from family, friends and even strangers. I’ve had people make comments to me about how breastfeeding is gross, that it’s going to make my daughter a lesbian, asking how long I plan on nursing and many other rude comments or questions that are none of their concern.

 Oh, the pleasures of breastfeeding.  Kind of sounds like a nightmare, huh? Well for all of you mamas that are at wits end with your breastfeeding journey, I have a message for you….

 You are incredible.  You are a beautiful, strong, super mama and you are sacrificing yourself over and over for your child’s nourishment, bonding, emotional security and peace. You are going through a hell of a lot and soldiering on for the sake of your baby and you are AMAZING.

 Trust me, I know it’s hard.  I know it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done.  I know you burst into tears on days because you just don’t think you can take it anymore.  But you are stronger than you know. 

You are going to be so proud in a few months when you look back on your journey and see what you have accomplished.  You are giving your baby not only the best nourishment possible but also an incredible bonding experience that you will cherish for life.

And it DOES get easier. The swelling and fullness that weighs you down now will go away. The cracking nipples will heal. Your baby’s latch will get better and the soreness and bleeding will disappear. What you are left with is an easy and peaceful and comfortable and snuggly and lovely way to nourish your baby while developing an emotional bond that will be a firm foundation for his or her growth in life.

By no means am I trying to make formula feeding or pumping mamas feel guilty or inadequate. Any feeding method can be lovely and an amazing bonding experience. I have two kids and was not able to nurse my first. Because of that I carried a horrible sense of guilt with me for his first year of life. I didn’t feel like a good mom. I felt like I was cheating my baby boy out of something and I felt like I was a failure. Do not EVER feel like that. I don’t whether you nurse until you feel your baby can be weaned off, if you formula feed from day one, if you pump and supplement or whatever. As long as you love and care for your baby to fullest of your abilities, YOU ARE AN AMAZING MOM. Motherhood is not measured by your choice to breastfeed or not. This just happens to be a letter directed to women who are pursuing breastfeeding but are feeling discouraged and need some encouragement.

You can do it! There is hope and it gets better.  Talk to your partner and ask them to encourage you.  You need people cheering you on!  Get ahold of a copy of The Nursing Mother’s Companion, it will also be a great source of encouragement and advice. Take time for yourself as well. A shower or a Target run can be lifesavers. Don’t be too proud to ask your close loved ones for help with the baby or the house work or with food. It takes a village. Women have been doing this thing for years and years but no one can do it all and keep their sanity. Take it one day at a time. Take it one feeding at a time. It gets better. You can do this.

You CAN do this.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless{ish} Wednesday

Twenty years ago, the world lost a beautiful and kind-hearted woman and I gained a guardian angel. I love and miss you Grandma <3