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Life with a “Threenager”

I read an article the other day called “10 Signs You are Living with a Threenager.” If you aren’t familiar with the term “threenager,” just picture an irrational, raging, unreasonable, infuriating teenager inside of a tiny three year old body. Yup. Writer Kristen Hewitt hit the nail right on the head with this one. And after reading her article, I am most definite that we are embarking on the threenage years. God help me.

When my son was about 18 months old, I feared the approaching, so-called terrible twos. He was always such a sweet baby, but he was showing signs of stubbornness and persistence even then. I thought for sure we were totally screwed. But to my surprise, my sweet baby turned two last February and became this awesome, hilarious toddler that had so many funny things to say, and for the most part, was pretty easy to handle. He was still young enough in which he loved me more than life itself but old enough for me to be able to take him to do some really cool stuff – we spent our summer together playing outside, swimming, riding bikes; we even took him to play mini golf for the first time. It was a pretty awesome time. And it was somewhere during these enjoyable months that I became bat shit crazy and had the bright idea that because my son was so cool, we should definitely have another child. (Slow head shake).

Fast forward several months later. Mommy is currently six months pregnant and Grey is about three weeks shy of three years old. And it’s happening. My lovable, happy-go-lucky boy has slowly turned into an independent, bossy, know-it-all, relentless threeanger.

Here’s the moment I realized that age three was most definitely going to be more challenging than age two. He woke up from his nap, like any other day, asking for juice. Fine. Totally normal, besides his slightly demanding tone. I poured the kid a cup of OJ and handed it to him, which was followed by full on, toddler-crazed tantruming, ear-splitting screaming, and some pretty impressive flailing around. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor as I watched what was happening before my eyes. After several minutes of deciphering the high-pitched shrieks, I realized that apparently, I had chosen the wrong cup. That’s right – all this insanity over the wrong fucking cup. Let the games begin.

What’s amazing is that these episodes are often mere minutes of possessed preschooler behavior before he quickly returns to his typical, easy going self – which is sometimes even more terrifying than the actual tantrums.

And tonight was no exception. My happily playing three year old turned into a total banshee at the mere mention of bath time. I’m so mind blown by the castastrophe that occurred that I won’t even go into the details, but picture my three year old attempting to trash the shit out of my bathroom while I stripped him and quickly tossed him into the shower just long enough to soap him up and drag him out. The neighbors probably thought I was attempting to torture someone in my tiny bathroom. Seriously, I was just trying to wash the Play Doh out of his hair, god forbid. Somewhere during this outrageous episode, I told him he wasn’t allowed to watch a TV show before bedtime due to his insane behavior, which just further infuriated his tiny threenage soul. After saying that, I had to chuckle to myself. I had just grounded my kid for the first time and he’s literally three years old. I’m so screwed.

After several similar incidents over the past few weeks, I came across Kristen’s article and it hit me. This is it. Buckle up everyone. Not only are we entering the threeange years, but in just four short months, there will be a newborn in this house as well. Say a prayer for me.

Maternity Meltdown

A few weeks back, I set out on a mission to buy myself some maternity clothes. I’m finally giving in – my pants don’t zip, my belly band is too tight, and as my four year old Pre-K students so bluntly like to remind me, my “tummy is getting very big.”

On a normal day, most women would relish in the opportunity to head out on a shopping spree spending some money on themselves for whatever it is they might need (or want, simply) at that exact moment. For some women, shopping is a hobby and spending money is a practiced skill. Some women shop so much that they are forced to hide their habits from their husbands by stuffing their bags into the back of their closets and wearing new their purchases slowly so that their significant others don’t notice how much they actually spent in one trip.

So when my husband actually encouraged me to go spend some cash on myself a few weeks back, you’d think I’d be thrilled. Here’s the thing. If you’ve read my blog before, you might already know that I’m not a huge shopping fan in the first place. I try to avoid the mall for the most part and I hate the process of picking out new stuff, trying it on, and so on – UNLESS of course, I am at Target. I can walk into Target for a bag of dog food and literally leave after spending $250 on a slew of shit that I surely don’t need. But for the most part, shopping is on a need-to-only basis.

As if I don’t already dislike shopping enough, shopping for maternity clothes is last on my list of things I ever want to do (except for shopping for post-partum clothing – that definitely takes the cake for the shittiest task ever). For living in a decent sized city, you’ll be shocked to find out that there are really only a small selection of stores in the area that even carry maternity options. I was set on the fact that I needed a decent pair of jeans and a formal dress to wear to some upcoming events (two of the hardest things to find, even when you aren’t preggo).

I stopped into the local maternity store thinking it was a sure thing. I mean, it’s an entire store devoted to maternity clothing, right? The first thing I noticed is that the jeans section was almost completely bare. Where the hell were all the jeans? There were only a few different styles in the first place and the majority of the inventory looked picked over. There wasn’t one pair of jeans in my size. Fail #1.

At that point, I was slightly disappointed considering my currently ill-fitting, unzipped skinny jeans were cutting off the circulation in my legs. I was really looking forward to sporting some spandex around the waist. But I shrugged it off and moved on. I headed over to the “dress section,” or really, the six different dress options that the store carries. I swore I looked online before entering this shop and saw tons of super cute stuff – so why wasn’t any of that stocked in this location? I realized it didn’t even matter if I liked the dress or not. I had two weddings and a work event to attend and I needed something ASAP. I decided to just grab a bunch of stuff and starting trying it on. Unfortunately, out of the six dresses that might actually be formal enough for what I was going to, they only had three in my size. I put on the dresses one by one – too big in the belly, too big in the boobs, too short on legs. Fail #2.  Somewhere along the line, the saleswoman (who had been previously busy chatting with her friend on the phone) decided to attempt to help me, but it was too late. She should have known the minute I walked in door that as a hormonal, emotional, pregnant woman, I needed help well before this point. I was overwhelmed, disappointed, and in a full pregnancy-induced sweat. Thus, I walked out.

And where should every woman go when you’re feeling depressed and in need of some serious retail therapy? You guessed it – Target. Thankfully, I knew Target carried a line of maternity clothes (plus I could buy a bunch of other random crap while I was at it). I walked straight back to the maternity section only to find a similar situation. Very few style options, very limited variety of sizes. I spotted one item of clothing that somewhat resembled a dress and made my way over to it. As I got closer, I became more and more…. confused. Was it a dress? Was it a shirt? Was it supposed to be pajamas? What the fuck was this thing?!?! It was like a gray, cotton, three quarter length sleeved potato sack.

Unidentified item of clothing....... WTF is this thing?!?!?

Unidentified item of clothing……. WTF is this thing?!?!?

Sometime after the potato sack encounter, I began to have a full on maternity meltdown. I may have blacked out, wandered around Target for another half hour, and then sobbed into my steering wheel after a day filled with shopping failures.

Needless to say, it was a miserable day for finding any clothes. After going home, drinking several mocktails, pounding some chocolate, and sleeping off my meltdown, I did end up finding one pair of jeans in the very small section of designated maternity clothing at Old Navy. I can officially hang up my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, until further notice (hopefully).

A win for Old Navy - jeans in my size with a nice, stretchy, elastic waistline.

A win for Old Navy – jeans in my size with a nice, stretchy, elastic waistline.

The moral of the story is this: In order to avoid any maternity store meltdowns, if you encounter any clothing resembling a potato sack while shopping for clothing, give up, go home, and shop online ladies. And hopefully, you have better luck than me!

He or She?? What Will Baby Be: The Gender Reveal

He or she?? What will baby be....

He or she?? What will baby be….

When I was pregnant the first time in 2012, my husband and I were counting the days until we could find out the sex of the baby. When we were asked if we wanted a boy or a girl, we gave the politically correct stating that we simply wanted a healthy baby (which we did, of course). And on the inside, we were both screaming, “BOY! LET IT BE A BOY!” My husband wanted a boy for obvious reasons – he had visions of throwing the baseball in the backyard and watching football on Sundays with his son. I wanted a boy simply because the idea of some day having to deal with a teenage girl absolutely terrified me. When the ultrasound tech told us that it was indeed a boy, I’m pretty sure we cried sweet tears of relief. We didn’t plan any special gender reveal – we simply texted our family and friends that our little boy was en route.

With this pregnancy, I had the same anticipation in finding out the sex of baby #2. This time around, I wanted to know the gender for different reasons – like whether or not I could toss the 45 bins of boy clothes in my basement or if I should get busy sorting and washing them. I can honestly say that I didn’t really have a particular preference this time around, just more of a burning curiosity. My pregnancy has felt pretty different than the first time around and I started to convince myself it was a girl. Only a little girl could cause such horrible nighttime nausea, pimples like a pubescent teenager, and cravings for limitless amounts of chocolate. All things I didn’t experience the first time I around, so I was secretly certain it just HAD to be a girl. Plus, the ring on a string test and the Chinese calendar said girl, and that shit is never wrong. Right?

On top of the fact that I was sure it was a girl, my husband’s side of the family has four grandsons, including our two year old. In my mind, the odds pointed to girl. How could we possibly end up with five little boys running around our future family gatherings? And I’m fairly certain my mother in law was looking forward to someday getting to spoil a little girl with princess things and everything pink. I have to admit, the idea of having a girl was slowly starting to grow on me… and so we counted down the days until that faithful ultrasound.

Last Monday morning, we were finally headed to the hospital with our son to find out the gender of baby #2. After drinking the required 32oz of water prior to the test, arriving 15 minutes early and having to wait for our appointment, I was more than anxious to get started. As I lay on the ultrasound table, I prayed that everything look healthy, that the baby would cooperate so we could find out the sex, and that I wouldn’t pee on the poor technician (32oz is A LOT of water, especially with a kid kicking your bladder).

It took what seemed like forever for her to get the necessary anatomical measurements before she attempted to tell us whether we were having a boy or a girl. Of course, when it was finally time for the big news, baby didn’t want to move its legs for us to sneak a peek. I made sure to tell the technician that I would do whatever it takes – Pound some sugary OJ, stand on my head, run circles around the waiting room – I was going to make that baby move if it was the last thing I did that morning. Luckily, our stubborn peanut finally gave in as I heard the technician say,

“I think….. it’s a boy!”

You think? What the hell does that mean? Is there a penis or not?????

But sure enough, after another minute or two, she confirmed that it was indeed another little boy. I was filled mostly with feelings of shock, then overcome with sheer terror – I had visions of my future unfolding before my eyes – fist fights, rough housing, toilet seats endlessly left up – I knew immediately that I was forever outnumbered.

I drove home in silence, still shocked by the thought of what life would be like with TWO crazy little boys running around my household. I know nobody likes to admit it, but I’m not ashamed to say that I was a little fearful of the amount of testosterone that was about to overcome my home. I can honestly say that it took me about two hours to fully embrace the idea that while I won’t ever get to take a daughter wedding dress shopping, I will love having a little brood of boys who will always secretly love their mother more than any other woman in the world.

And not to mention, I’ll never have to deal with a PMSing, back-talking, drama-loving, rebelling teenage girl. Thank God for that.

Because we had our family coming in for dinner the day after Christmas, we decided to have a little gender reveal cake to share our baby boy news. Because of the fact that we were making a big deal about keeping the secret and cutting the cake, I’m pretty sure our entire family was also convinced that we were having the very first granddaughter on my husband’s side of the family. And while I’m sure everyone else was probably just as surprised as I was, they were all still thrilled and excited for us.

It's a..... BOY!

It’s a….. BOY!

And the best part about a gender reveal party for the two year old big brother??? An excuse to eat a shit ton of cake, of course!

My little cake monster :)

My little cake monster :)

Back with BIG News

Several months ago, I made the decision to take a short break from blogging. I know, I know. You were devastated and depressed. But hang tight, I’ve decided to make my return.

There are really two reasons for my short hiatus. Here’s the first. If you remember, the last time you heard from me, I had returned to work full time as a teaching aide in a school district and was continuing to pursue a job as a teacher in an elementary school. After leaving my career when my two year old was born and then trying to jump back in, I knew I needed to focus all my time and energy on getting a job before anything else. Summer is crunch time for searching for teaching jobs, so I knew I needed to take a break from blogging in order to spend time writing resumes, creating lesson plans, and perfecting my portfolio. I completed a handful of phone screenings, which isn’t easy with a two year old in the background screaming for a glass of milk, or for help on the iPad, or whatever other demand he happened to have at that moment. I studied interview questions during nap times and got primped for meetings with principals all while entertaining my very clingy and needy  active toddler.  I seriously think I spent half the summer in my interview suit. It was pretty brutal. But in the end, the hard work paid off and I finally landed my very first full time teaching position in a school district in New York State. Not an easy feat to say the least.

Secondly, the reason I started blogging in the first place was honestly as a way to vent about the insanity that is parenthood. I’m sure many women transition very easily into their role as a mother. These are the women who sob at first sight of their child and post on Facebook about how they fell in love with their fetus before it even left their womb, blah blah blah. That’s all nice and sweet and emotional, but it’s not the reality for everyone. My transition to motherhood can really be described in one word: shocking. I wasn’t totally ready for a kid who didn’t really like to sleep, who was eventually diagnosed with lactose intolerance (thank god we finally figured that shit out), and for the anxiety that can come along with being responsible for another human being 24 hours a day. It was a little wild, to say the least. But time passed and eventually things started falling into place. I remember writing a post about how parenting doesn’t really get easier, but you get better at it. And looking back, that’s totally the truth. The things that seemed so crazy in the beginning are suddenly your everyday normal. All of a sudden, saying things like, “please stop licking the dog” don’t seem so unnatural. You learn to take a shit and a shower while your kid sits on the floor in the bathroom every day. And you don’t even mind it. You look forward to the conversation with your toddler as they smush their face against the glass doors of shower while you shave your legs. All of a sudden, it seemed weird to blog about it. The craziness seemed so normal that I almost felt like I didn’t have anything else to say.

And then, something bizarre happens. Just as you settle into your life, your routine, your new job, your role as a parent – Just as you think you have things under control, you begin to think your kid isn’t going to kill you after all – it hits you. The same strange urge that got you into this whole parenting mess in the first place swoops back in and blinds you to the madness you’ve just so recently overcome and you begin to believe that for some INSANE reason, you should start all over again. That’s right. You get the itch to get pregnant again.

And for some crazy reason, your husband agrees to it.

That’s right – this mother, who was convinced that we would be a “one and done” kind of family in regards to baby making, actually felt the urge to have another. And about three weeks into starting my new job in the school district, we found out we were expecting baby number two.

I know. You’re speechless.

Sadly, it’s taken me 19 weeks to share this news with you because I’ve literally been too exhausted to lift my head up at the end of the day. Before we made the decision to try for number two, I had forgotten what a bitch the exhaustion of pregnancy can be – especially while taking care of a toddler. And so, my faithful readers, I’ve finally returned to share with you the honest, insane truth about becoming a mother of TWO children. And the most definite shit show it will be.

Stay tuned.

5 Ways to Keep Your Kid Busy with Craft Sticks

This year, I was lucky enough to take the summer off and spend some extra QT with my toddler. And in the beginning, it was pretty awesome. I’ve missed having endless amounts of time to spend hanging with him since I went back to work. That being said, we’ve been home eight weeks and I think we’re both ready to get back into the swing of things. I love my toddler, but DAMN, he’s exhausting. I’d pay serious cash for the ungodly amount of energy he possesses. At this point in the summer, we’ve pretty much done anything and everything that I could possibly come up with to keep him busy. With only a few days left, I’m scraping the barrel for ideas.

Lucky for me (insert sarcastic tone here), the kid woke up well before 6:00am today. That means I had a few extra hours to spend keeping him from jumping off staircases and swinging from the chandelier. So by 8:00am, I was desperate. I found a bag of craft sticks and challenged myself to find five ways to keep this kid entertained (hopefully for a length amount of time). If you’re lucky enough to have a busy baby like me, feel free to check out some of the awesome activities I came up with below.

1.) Craft Stick and Clothes Pin Color Match

I used markers to color the end of six or seven craft sticks. Then, I colored the ends of each clothespin with the same colors. I challenged my toddler to attach the clothespin to the craft stick that has the same color. He LOVED this game! In the beginning, I had to help him squeeze the clothespins, but he got it down. Great for color recognition and fine motor skills.

Craft Stick and Clothes Pin Color Match

Craft Stick and Clothes Pin Color Match

2.) Matching

Next, I took a bunch of craft sticks and colored simple designs on each one. I made sure to make pairs of each design that I drew. Then, I laid all of the sticks on the table and had my toddler pick a stick and then find the matching design to make pairs. He really loved this one, too, and we had fun taking turns to find matches. If your child is a little bit older, turn the crafts sticks over to hide the designs and take turns picking sticks to make matches, similar to the game Memory.

Craft Stick Matching

Craft Stick Matching

3.) The Name Game

Write your child’s name in large capital letters on a piece of paper. Write each letter of their name on the end of a craft stick. Have them match the craft sticks to the correct letter on the paper. If your child already knows how to spell their name, have them do it without the paper that has their name written on it.

The Name Game

The Name Game

4.) Counting Craft Sticks

Cut four small pieces of paper into squares. Write the number “1” and color one dot on the first piece. Write the number “2” and color two dots on the second piece, and so on. Have you child lay the correct number of craft sticks onto each piece of numbered paper.

Counting Craft Sticks

Counting Craft Sticks

5.) Craft Stick Puzzles

This was, by far, our favorite! Print out two copies of a simple picture from your computer. I chose a clip art photo of a dog. Lay out craft sticks onto one copy to determine how many you will need. Cut the picture so that the pieces can be glued onto the craft sticks. When it dries, give your child the second picture so that they know what they are trying to assemble. Give them the craft sticks and ask them to assemble them to make the picture.

Craft Stick Puzzles

Craft Stick Puzzles

Need even more ideas??

  • Write one letter of the alphabet on each craft stick. Have your child put them in ABC order.
  •  Write both capital and lowercase letters on craft sticks and have your child match the capital and lowercase letters.
  • Try writing a sight word on a craft stick. Write each letter of the word on clothespins and have your child clip the correct letters onto the stick.

 

After a rough morning, these games kept my kid from climbing the walls for about an hour! Oh, and I think he learned a thing or two, as well. I’ll take it! I hope you try some out and enjoy! Leave me a comment below if you have some more crazy craft stick ideas!

Bad Parenting Moments

Well, fellow mothers. The day has come. After many months spent dreading this one inevitable parenting moment, it finally happened. It was bad. It was worse that I had imagined. And if you are a parent, you might have an idea of what I’m referring to here. Maybe it’s even happened to you.

Yup. You got it. My kid puked ALLLLLL over the backseat of my car.

When my husband and I were deciding whether or not we should have a baby, we had a lot of fears. Were we ready? Would we be able to handle the responsibility of raising a child? Were we financial stable enough? And most importantly, what the fuck would we do if our kid puked? Who would clean that shit up???

Vomit is by far my worst fear in life. Just thinking about barfing makes me want to barf. I swear, I was scarred for life after watching that scene in The Sandlot where the kids are blowing chunks at the carnival after chewing tobacco. Screw being afraid of “The Beast,” that puking was more horrifying than anything I had ever seen in my eight-year-old life. I’m actually nauseous just thinking about it.

So back to my gruesome story. Last week, we were invited over to our friend’s house for a play date. My son was acting totally normal. Happy. Fine. No indication of what was to come. He was playing contently in his car seat, chugging apple juice (yeah……. It wasn’t the last time I was going to see that apple juice). He started getting pretty obnoxious towards the end of our drive, so I told him to settle down. He screamed once or twice, which was weird… I peeked in my rearview mirror but he looked fine. As we were pulling into my girlfriend’s neighborhood, I heard him yell that his stomach hurt. God, I wish I took that comment seriously. Within moments, he was hurling apple juice all over himself, the car seat, and the back seat of my car.

Luckily, we were almost in my friend’s driveway when this all went down. I’m pretty sure I had at least three minutes of complete parenting shock. I might have momentarily blacked out while trying to decide how to the hell to handle this situation. I jumped out of my car, called my friend from the driveway, and yelled at her to come outside with supplies – I needed bags, wipes, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. (You know your friend is a good person when you make that kind of phone call and they actually come outside with all said supplies, no questions asked).

I cleaned everything up as much as I could without tossing my own cookies, plopped my son into the extra car seat that I just happened to have in my car that day (THANK GOD), and prayed to sweet Jesus that we would make it home before he puked again.

It was an intense drive home. I’m fairly certain that I ran at least three red lights and drove twice the speed limit. In my defense, there are two times that breaking traffic laws are totally acceptable: 1) when you are on your way to hospital with your wife who is in active labor and 2) when your kid is losing his lunch in the backseat of your car. And yes, I’m fully prepared to defend that in a court of law.

Thankfully, we made it home before my kid decided to engage in round two of ralphing. Actually, it turned out that his puking was a one hit wonder (THANK GOD). I spent the remainder of the day with nose plugs and rubber gloves, attempting to clean out the car seat and the back seat of my car, which is really an entirely different post of its own. FYI – assembling, washing, and reassembling a car seat is pretty much comparable to cracking the Da Vinci Code.

So all in all, we both survived (although my son and I are both equally traumatized). I’m pretty sure throwing up was one of the most confusing and scary experiences for my two year old (AND me). He will most likely talk about the back seat barfing every single day for the next six months and I have will nightmares about it for a similar time frame. I was lucky to have made it two and a half years vomit-free and I will spend every day praying to the parenting gods that it doesn’t happen again anytime soon.

And if it does, hopefully it will happen on Daddy’s watch.

Toddlers and Tricycles

When my son was a newborn, I was pretty much terrified to leave the house. Venturing into the world meant having to attempt diaper changing in public restrooms or trying to breastfeed a screaming baby in the middle of the mall without flashing a boob in front of a crowd of people. After two and a half years, I have finally mastered carting a kid around the world, but at the time, I wasn’t ready. So most days in the very beginning, we hung around the house.

Being home alone during my maternity leave quickly became monotonous, especially in the winter time when we couldn’t get outside very often. As soon as the weather changed, I was pumped to take my son for walks around the neighborhood in his stroller. Going for a walk was the perfect way for me to get out of the house without actually going anywhere too overwhelming. Plus, I felt the need to put that travel system stroller to good use considering it cost us almost as much as our monthly car payments combined.

Oh, how I miss those days. Sleepy baby in the stroller. Love it.

Oh, how I miss those days. Sleepy baby in the stroller.      Love it.

Morning walks with my son became part of our daily routine. Not only did it feel good to be outside, but I was happy to chat with just about any other adult that I might run into on those daily strolls. After many long hours in the house during the middle of winter, talking only to a newborn while my husband was at work, I could have chatted with mailman for days just for the sake of some adult interaction.

A year later, when my son was about 12 months old, I still loved taking him for walks. However, at that time, the purpose of strapping him into a stroller and taking a walk around the neighborhood was solely to take a break from chasing the kid all over the house. I had no idea how much shit a baby that age could actually get in to. I was spending the majority of my time trying to prevent him from crawling up the stairs, putting anything and everything in his mouth, and splashing in the dog’s water bowl – so getting out of the house for a walk was a life saver.

And then flash forward one more year – two years old. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to convince this kid to get anywhere NEAR a stroller. It’s like it finally dawned on him one day that he could actually boycott being strapped it to any kind of baby container. No more umbrella stroller, no more jogging stroller, he’s even tired of sitting in the wagon. I had to say goodbye to hundreds of dollars worth of strolling equipment. If we were going on a walk, he was going to WALK.

And then, he learned to pedal his bike.

Oh God, the bike. Where do I begin? I love the fact that he learned to ride his bike and there are some advantages to letting him ride over pushing him in the stroller. First of all, he almost always fell asleep in the stroller, so letting him bike is a good way to avoid too much snoozing while we were walking. Plus, pedaling a bike for several blocks throughout the neighborhood is an awesome way to burn off the unnatural amount of energy that a toddler possesses.

On the flip side, following my son around while he rides his bike has a few downfalls. First of all, this kid can ride. FAST. Picture me in my PJs, carrying my coffee mug, unwashed, unruly hair blowing in the wind as I chase my two year old up and down the street at 8:00am, screaming at him to stop when he gets to the street before crossing. It’s not a pretty sight. Sometimes he rides that damn bike so quickly down the driveway that his pedals spin too fast for him to keep his feet on them, which typically doesn’t end well. Needless to say, we bought the kid a helmet.

Sweet ass helmet, if you ask me.

Sweet ass helmet, if you ask me.

And then, other days, I swear to god, it takes him two hours to ride around the block. It’s like I have to drag his ass every inch of our trip, begging him to move faster. On these days, he likes to stop at every single tree, touch the trunk, and talk about the bark. He has to inspect every blade of grass as we pass by. We stop at EVERY damn fire hydrant and have the exact same conversation that we had yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that) about how firefighters use them to put out fires in houses. Then, he stops to pick up 4000 pine cones, acorns, and rocks and spends at least 15 minutes trying to figure out how to fit all that shit in the trunk of his bike. One day, he had such a fit that he couldn’t get all of his stuff in his trunk that he ended up filling his pockets AND mine with all kinds of acorns and other random junk he came across as we walked. And god forbid if I get rid of any of this crap when we get home. It’s all neatly stored in a pile on his dresser in his bedroom – like a little acorn/pinecone trophy collection.

Stopping to inspect something. Just another day in the life of a toddler.

Stopping to inspect something. Just another day in the life of a toddler.

And then, there are days when he rides half way around the block and decides he wants to walk and I end up chasing him AND carrying the bike. I can see you shaking your head. You’ve done this too, I bet.

Needless to say, taking a walk is not the leisurely activity it once was like when he was a newborn. However, letting him ride around for two hours on his bike typically tires the hell out of his little legs – which means a nice, long nap time. For us both. I’ll take it.

So to all you new mommies out there, enjoy your relaxing walks while you can. And if you’re in the market, feel free to come browse the collection of gently used strollers that are now collecting dust in my basement. And FYI – any used stroller purchase comes free with a collection of pine cones and acorns.

Leaves, acorns, and a birthday invitation. The literal version of "junk in the trunk."

Leaves, acorns, and a birthday invitation. The literal version of “junk in the trunk.”

My Brief Blogging Break

So over the past two months, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little MIA from the blogosphere. I’m sure many of you were really concerned that I finally fell over the edge of the mommy mountain and decided to give up blogging AND parenting all together due to the out of control chaos involved in raising children. Or maybe you just assumed I’d finally checked myself into rehab due to the over-excessive, toddler-induced wine drinking that takes place around here on a regular basis. Don’t get your granny panties in a bunch. I appreciate your deep concern, but no need to worry. I haven’t thrown my child to the wolves. I’m not stuck in a permanent pinot grigio hangover. I’ve just been pretty damn busy, and I’m sure you can all relate in some way or another. So let me catch you up to date.

I know I’ve bored you to death with the topic of kids and careers in the past. I’ll try not to get to long and drawn out about it again at the moment. But, let me just say, kids + careers = chaos. I’m going to try to make this long story short. I’m a certified teacher by trade and I worked in the field of early childhood education prior to having my son. After he was born, I made the decision to stay at home for a year and then attempt to transition into a position in the school districts. In case you aren’t from New York State, I will fill you in on a little secret. Getting a teaching job in this area has pretty much the same odds as winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning, or getting pregnant with quintuplets naturally. It’s damn near impossible. So in September, I started working as a substitute teacher and then eventually took a full time teacher aide position in hopes to get my foot in the door.

Well, I got my foot in the door all right and then had the door slammed several times (leaving me with a figurative sore foot and a disheartened outlook). In the past two months, I’ve gone on six job interviews for various positions and haven’t yet secured a full time teaching position for September. As of right now, I’ll be returning as an aide in the fall. Which is totally fine, of course, but I was hoping for my own classroom.

Now besides the fact that I clearly believe that I am the most amazing, dedicated teacher on the planet, I also believe I deserve a position solely based on the amount of work that goes into trying to search for a job while raising a child (and working full-time). Just attempting to use my laptop to complete job applications with a child in the house is challenge. If you are a parent, you get what I’m saying here. My toddler actually believes that every electronic device in this house belongs to him and serves no other purpose than the play Thomas the Tank Engine videos on YouTube. So trying to convince him to give me a few minutes to write a cover letter hasn’t gone over very well. To be honest, I have no fucking idea what I’ve even applied for because I’m trying to move so quickly while working on the computer, attempting to finish an application before a computer coup d’é·tat organized by the toddler occurs.

Then, of course, there is the actual interview. Printing resumes, creating folders, coordinating a babysitter. It’s exhausting to think about. And trying to get out of the house on time in a freshly pressed suit without being attacked by greasy fingers and dog hair is pretty much like a mission straight out of the motherhood matrix.

Considering the amount of effort it takes to get an interview scheduled and actually get there in a presentable manner, I should be handed a position just based on the fact that I showed up.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. And with all of the effort I’ve been putting into finding a teaching job, I was forced to take a little time away from my website. But here I am, back at it. I’ve decided not to let the job search get me down and to continue to work on the things I enjoy – like blogging and drinking wine. Oh, and parenting, of course.

So stay tuned. Lots of tales about the tireless toddler are on their way.

The Real Meaning of “Getting Mugged”

The first thing I can hear as I awake from a drowsy state is the steam spiraling out from the top of the machine. Oh, and my toddler screaming for me over the crackling of the baby monitor, of course. The water seeps through the grinds and I can hear the sweet sizzle of my first cup slowly dripping into the pot. The thick aroma of the caffeine spreads throughout the house as my husband and I begin our morning routine of madness.

Amidst packing lunches, popping Eggo’s, and picking outfits, we sneak a quick moment to take a sip from our favorite mugs. Coffee – every exhausted parent’s small savior.

I carefully prepare our travel mugs, filling each with the perfect proportion of cream and sugar, so that my husband and I can enjoy a second dose of the delightful drug during our separate commutes to work.

I make sure to pour my husband’s cup a little higher; a thank you gift for driving the toddler to daycare every morning. With that, our day begins.

I climb into my car and take a deep breath, enjoying the peacefulness of solitude. I turn on my iPod and revel in the fact that I can listen to something other than “The Wheels on the Bus” on repeat. I slowly pull out of the driveway, mentally checking off a list, ensuring that I’ve locked up, fed the dog, set the alarm, and so on. I am waiting at the end of my street for the traffic to clear when a shiny, metallic object on the side of the road catches my attention.

I recognize it in an instant. The silver of the mug. The St. John Fisher College logo. It’s my husband’s travel mug, laying right there in the gutter, pouring his precious caffeine into the street.

mugged

Here’s how it happened:

While attempting to strap the toddler into the twisted belts of the car seat, he carelessly set his coffee mug on the bumper of his truck to free up a second hand. Having successfully prevailed in the car seat-buckle-battle, he swiftly (and proudly) jumped into the driver’s seat, trying to make up for lost time.

As he pulled onto the highway, he reached for his mug, looking for a sip of that strong serum that was sure to soothe him after a fast-paced start to the day. It is at this very moment that he realized his error. It’s a devastating blow to any overtired parent. A coffee mug casualty, right there in the road.

It’s certainly a depressing way to kick off your commute. Maybe you’ve even witnessed a similar tragic event: A mother’s travel mug flies off the rooftop of a minivan packed full of kids on the way to school. A cup of Starbucks sits sadly on the bumper of a sedan (with three cars seats lined up side-by-side in the back) before slowly sliding to the pavement as the father in the driver’s seat steps on the gas. Here’s my advice: Don’t let it happen to you. Find a cozy cup holder for your coffee and avoid the dreadful consequences of getting “mugged.”

 

The Biggest Challenge After Becoming a Mother

Finding a balance between career and kids has been a long time battle for many mothers. The decision to continue to pursue a career or to spend those precious years at home when your kids are young is complicated to say the least. In my short two years as a parent, I’ve somehow managed to spend time as a full-time working mother, a part-time working mother, and a stay at home mother. Just to be sure the grass wasn’t greener, I apparently felt the need to test out every option before deciding what was going to be best for my family. Most recently, I’ve returned to work full time once again. But through it all, I’ve learned an important lesson. No matter what decision you make – to work or not to work – parenting is hard. It isn’t easy to be at home all day with crazed kiddos who’ve been cooped up with a bad case of cabin fever all winter. Similarly, it isn’t easy to work full time and to spend hours on end packing lunches and setting clothes out and fighting rush hour traffic on the way to drop the baby off at day care. Simply put, either way, it’s all hard as hell.

During the time when I was staying at home with my son, I wrote a post called “Things No One Told Me About Being a Stay at Home Mom.” It was a weird time for me. I was adjusting to motherhood in general and getting used to the fact that I had given up my career to be at home with my son (and two other children that I was nannying for, for a little extra cash). I found myself becoming jealous of my husband’s quiet commute to work, the fact that he could actually take a lunch break, and maybe even pee in peace once in a while. That post was probably the most honest thing I’ve ever shared and I was terrified of the negative feedback I was sure I’d receive. I figured I’d get people telling me to be grateful for the opportunity to choose to stay at home and to treasure the years when my son was little. I was shocked to read the comments that I received from so many other mothers who felt like they were also becoming maniacs from spending all day long taking care of kids. I realized that full-time, long term, stay-at-home-mothers are practically saints and I didn’t make the cut. I gave in and returned to work part in September.

SAHM

By January, I took on a full-time teaching position. I was thrilled to be able to regain my career (and to be able to have eight hours a day without succumbing to the constant demands of a toddler). I absolutely love my job and it’s been amazing, but that doesn’t mean that being a mother has become easier. There are times that I dread making lunches and ironing outfits before going to bed, which is probably what I should be doing right now… I hate having to wake my son up on the rare occasion that he actually sleeps past 6:00 just to rush him to get ready for daycare. And on the weeks that my husband is traveling for his job, I feel like I’m drowning in a pool of solo-parenting , counting the hours until he returns home to help me with the demands of our daily grind. It’s definitely tough, but the rewards out-weigh the challenges. I am a happier person and a more patient mother after having returned to my career.

wokring mom

Now that I’ve gotten a taste of both sides, I have the upmost respect for mothers who have taken on either role. Unfortunately, there is often a line drawn in the sand at the playground separating the working moms from the SAHMs. I’ve heard mothers who work full-time make negative comments about those who “just” stay-at-home. Additionally, I’ve listened to stay-at-home-moms judge others for leaving their children in the hands of daycare center for 8-9 hours a day.  The fact of the matter is that every mother is just trying to find a balance that works for her and her family – to figure out how to pay the bills, how to manage their kids, and how to maintain their sanity.

When a woman becomes a mother, there are a multitude of things to learn about raising an infant. But the breast feeding, the sleeping-training, and the bottle-weaning – all of that can be learned. Books, websites, and support groups can assist you in the basics of care-taking. For me, it’s finding the perfect balance between career and kids that has been the biggest challenge in becoming a mother. What I have learned is this – the grass is not any greener. Both working and being at home are equally amazing and challenging options. Both have pros and cons. Both are wonderful, difficult, and exhausting. I think it’s time that as a whole, we ban to together and support our fellow mothers no matter what decision we choose in regards to our families and our careers.

Maybe you spend your day battling a small brood of children who are capable of capsizing an entire household before 10:00am. Maybe you are that mother who pumps breast milk in your office with the shades closed while shooting off a few e-mails to your boss. Either way, kudos to you. In my book, you’re a kick ass mom who deserves a quiet bubble bath, an evening of relaxation, and a good night’s sleep (not that any of those things are actually attainable, but a mom can dream).