Secrets.

I have a confession to make: I have a great many secrets. Secrets that keep this household from falling apart & keep me from a padded room in an asylum. Secrets that – if my toddler learned – would be devastating to our lifestyle.

 

You see… I’m guilty of hiding candy. All over the house. Not because the Easter Bunny just came & we forgot all about it or because I need a quick bribe handy. Because candy is my way to silently stick it to my kids when they’re being gremlins. “HAHA! I have candy & you’re too busy punching the refrigerator to notice!”

I also spend a lot of time in the bathroom. You might think I have an overactive digestive tract if you visited our house during the day, when the toddler is going straight insane. But really, I need a place where someone isn’t in my lap, or pulling my hair, or nudging me because they just can’t get comfortable until they’ve broken at least 6 of my ribs. I need a place where my news feed is actually scrolled by ME. With no fingers “liking” all sorts of random things or scrolling all the way to the top when I’m in the middle of an interesting read halfway down my feed. The bathroom is like my sanctuary. It’s my happy place.

I’ve also become amazing at hiding the fact that I have food in my mouth. And even talking as if I don’t have food in my mouth (when L inevitably has 762 questions as soon as I stuff my face). Because there are so many things in my kitchen that my toddler’s finicky palate just doesn’t appreciate in the way I can. I can love you better than she can, donut. Baby, I can love you better.

 

You see, these secrets are the key to me continuing to stay just a hair above sanity. They give me an out, when toddler hands and baby cries are my whole day. They give me a bit of solace on bad days & add to the vibe on the good ones. If I didn’t have secrets, I can assure you, I would be a wreck. No one person can continue the chaos that is staying home with children without having something all of their own, and with my children’s “what’s yours is mine” attitude, it’s better for everyone if these things stay hidden. If you don’t have some sort of system or happy place established, you’re seriously missing out! And clearly a superhuman.

When kids enter our lives, we give up a lot. This is just my way of grasping at the straws of my previous humanity. It’s still in there somewhere, I think. Maybe. But if the toddler becomes aware of these… all bets are off. So for now, I’ll just be munching on a pop-tart from the kitchen sink while keeping an ear out for toddler/elephant footsteps coming my way.

Got any better ideas? Didn’t think so.

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Tantrums, tantrums, everywhere.

Three nights ago, we transitioned both girls out of our room for the night. They are sleeping together in their shared bedroom, and actually doing it pretty successfully. Everyone seems to be getting a good amount of sleep, and even R only wakes once or twice.

Out of nowhere, probably as part of the adjustment, they have both been SO DAMN CRANKY. It doesn’t help that R is in Leap 6 (look up Wonder Weeks if you have an infant. It will save your freaking life) and teething, and L is the ultimate boundaries tester. But they’re both especially grumpy toward us.

Today, for example, L is losing her mind over the fact that she doesn’t own an umbrella. Because she saw an umbrella in a book this morning. Sorry, kiddo, but we’re not going out in 36 degree weather (remember how pleasant the Buckeye State is) to get you an umbrella.

R isn’t to tantrum age yet, she’s still firmly planted in the lets-whine-all-day stage. Which is equally and separately maddening. She wants to lay down, but certainly doesn’t want to lay down. She wants to be over there, but also be over here. Is it a thing to hire a babysitter just for me to go sit alone in a Starbucks somewhere?

To save some of our sanity, today we’re planning to make muffins. Not just any muffins. Chocolate chip zucchini muffins. They’re delightful. But also a great way to keep small hands busy. The tiny one will likely be thrown on my back in the baby carrier to save her the horror of being put down to play for 10 minutes.

Being a mom sometimes means just finding as many different ways to stay busy as is humanly possible until other adults can come and join the madness. Which will be exactly my parenting style until 5PM when my husband gets off work. Just give me a top hat and call me the Mad Hatter until then. Because life is making just about that much sense at our house today.

If any of you super parents have any pro-tips on keeping the sanity in your house, please feel free to share them with those of us who are struggling.

One for the ladies. And a review.

While my two rugrats are being entertained by Daniel Tiger and his many weird animal/people friends, let’s talk about my newest foray into unconventional things. Mama cloth. Or cloth pads. Whatever you’d like to call it, I’ve been recently sucked in. Several of my crunchy mom friends use cloth pads, and when I first heard about it, I couldn’t believe it was a thing. Despite the fact that I’ve cloth diapered both of our girls from the beginning, it was once again one of those things I just didn’t know existed anymore.

To my conventional readers, you may be thinking I’m insane, but stick with me.

I wasn’t really even sure what to expect until I attended MommyCon Columbus in 2015. There was a stand there for a company called Pink Lemonade. I’d heard of them from my crunchy mom friends, so I went up to check them out. They were SO SOFT. And came in as many shapes and sizes as you can expect in any box in a grocery store. I was rethinking. I’ve never been a pad girl, but this birth hasn’t left me with many comfortable choices. I was intrigued. But we’re a rather low-budget family, especially when it comes to start up costs, so it was put off. Well, I recently began purchasing pads from a variety of places in different sizes. I was feeling confident about my liners, but I wasn’t sure what to expect of the heavier days with cloth pads.

Well, I just finished up my hell week this week, and I was super impressed. All my heavy day pads are from Pink Lemonade. All five of mine are minky (the softest thing in the world and gorgeous), but they offer several other options in fabric, including bamboo velour and cotton jersey. They’re not nearly as bulky as you would expect is necessary for pads specifically labeled for heavy days. I’m a bleeder and a cramper for the first 3-4 days, so I wasn’t really holding high hopes, but I vowed that no matter how much laundry it caused (I have a rather small collection), I was going to stick with cloth pads for the whole cycle. And I did it! These are my pads! Aren’t they beautiful? The picture was taken after being used & washed. Notice how there aren’t any stains.

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During the day, I’d been using the 9in day pads and even on my heaviest day, they held up for 4-5 hours. Which is as much as I can ever expect from the disposables I had been using. I didn’t get the normal cramps that I do in my groin. I didn’t really have any cramps at all, which was a dream. The flaps use a single snap to hold them in place similar to the wings of a disposable pad. The first day, the wings felt a bit bulky, but I quickly got used to the added padding. As a nearly constant wearer of leggings and yoga pants – #momlife – they made no noticeable difference in the way I looked in the booty region, which was a big concern, because if I look like I’m wearing a diaper, it’s a dead no-go. They also don’t feel wet the way you would expect them to, so it isn’t a constant discomfort.

At night, I was concerned. I frequently woke up leaking from an overnight disposable pad from all sides. I had both a 10in “heavy” pad and an 11in labelled specifically for nighttime. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I figured both was a good place to start. Going forward, I will definitely order 11in for nights, because I need the extra front-to-back coverage, but the 10in is great for at the end when I still need decent coverage. In all 7 nights, I never once leaked! I didn’t have to carefully roll from bed to insure that I wasn’t coating everything we own in bright red, and sprint to the bathroom before it exploded. It was so refreshing to wake up without panic, especially when I usually have a baby alarm clock that needs something right away. The nighttime pads were the slightest bit bulky, but since I wouldn’t plan to wear them anywhere, it really wasn’t much of a concern.

I know maybe it’s something you’re thinking of… Being incapable of leaving the house with cloth pads. But it really wasn’t really a concern. I grabbed a small wetbag (Applecheeks mini zip works PERFECTLY for me, but they also offer a collection of a few brands on PL’s site) that fit the day pads almost exactly and was small enough to tuck down into my small purse. It held the fresh one, and when I had to change, I just threw it in there and zipped it up. Wetbags are leak-proof, or should be, so no concerns about messes, and you don’t have to find a nearby trash can to carry a bloody pad to. Big win. I also have a small wetbag hanging in my bathroom for pads to hang out while waiting to be washed. It’s actually really easy.

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Laundry was a breeze, really. I just threw them in with our clothes (but you could throw them in with towels or diapers or whatever else you’re washing), and washed according to the directions… Big plus, the directions are on a tag on the pad itself, so you don’t need to try to remember anything. Another bonus for me, they can be tumble dried, because living in an apartment in the sky, there isn’t much space for a clothes line. When they’re clean, I just toss them in little baskets in the closet in my bathroom.

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Pink Lemonade also offers a points-based reward system, so for every period purchase you make, you get closer to some bonus funds. I don’t know about you, but I love getting discounts and freebies, so this is perfect for us.

My only complaint would be that sometimes it can take a week or two to ship, but from my understanding they’re made when you order, so that’s actually not a bad turnaround at all.

 

Overall, I think cloth pads have exceeded all my expectations for them. They’re comfortable, they’re easy to use, they’re cost effective in the long run, they’re able to provide the absorption I need, and I don’t have to worry about the chemicals I’m putting against my skin the way I do with disposables. I definitely need more pads in order to make sure I’m not washing every day, but I’ll be working on that over the next few months. I mean, I’ll be having a period for the foreseeable future, so no big deal, right?

 

Leaving the house with kids.

I have an errand to run today after naptime. It’s a solid 25-30 minutes away, and we won’t be getting out of the car, so you could say it really won’t be anything but me driving the children around for an hour. I’m dreading it already, and we’re still a solid 2.5 hours from it. But leaving the house with two kids is like being punched in the face with the reality of how much your children want to break you.

Toddlers do their best toddlering when their parents are trying to accomplish something. Mine, for instance, LOVES to “need” to pee every 4.5 minutes for the entire time we’re out of our house, despite the fact that she only goes every 2ish hours while we’re home. The delight of using any disgusting public restroom we can find within the required 47 seconds before she pees herself is just too much for her to contain. She lives for peeing in nasty bathrooms. Her only mission is to touch as much of a foreign toilet seat as possible. It’s her lifeblood.

I’ll also need to pack 37 snacks, because the only time to eat is in the car. Because where else can you create that level of crumbage with no access to a vacuum that doesn’t cost $17 in all quarters? It’s just not to be beat. Also, don’t forget to pack the juice that makes your toddler pee every 4.5 minutes. We should invent a carseat with a bedpan. That’d be great for us.

We’re also going to need various toys to keep them from losing their ever-loving minds, and since I’m that obnoxious mother who doesn’t like noisy toys (don’t judge me until you’ve had to live with them), most of them are heavy and wooden, and pro-tip, WILL poke you in the back because you carelessly stuffed them into the backpack diaper bag that is bigger than your body because you signed up to be a Sherpa. Ahem, mother of two.

Let’s not forget that we live in a third floor walk-up. Also a walk-down. Which doesn’t seem so bad. Except for two small children who really don’t have a lot of bodily control are trying to thrust us to our demise at the bottom of the all-concrete staircase. Also, because our neighbors are THE WORST and decide they need a solid 5 cars per person, we usually have to park a mile from the house, so… make everything work in ONE TRIP. Oh, wait. The toddler has to pee. As soon as we’re to the bottom. Of the 41 steps. Yes, I’ve counted.

At this point, I’ll be completely ready to just tell her all the cool kids pee their pants, just so I don’t have to make the trip back up the stairs. But that would be super irresponsible parenting. So up we’ll trek. Because I have to do something right today.

Can we just talk about an hour in the car with two kids with no benefit to them? Because it’s not a pretty picture. I recently learned that if you lie and say you’ll take a trip to the carwash if they stop howling at the moon (in the daylight, yeah), the toddler WILL remember. For all of eternity. And will remind you of your betrayal in as many ways as possible. And punish you for it every time. So just don’t do it. It’s the greatest show of karma I’ve ever encountered. And you know what they say about karma.

Can we just forget about the errand? I’m ready to have a breakdown just thinking about it. I’ll just take a nap instead. Oh wait, I have children. Naps are no longer on the menu. Wine it is!

Sunshine in Ohio… with small kids

My phone tells me it’s 66 degrees outside (because I need my phone to tell me whether or not it’s nice outside). It’s sunny with just the perfect amount of cottonball clouds. Our windows are open. We’re donning shorts and tshirts. It’s March in Ohio. It shouldn’t be quite this nice, but it is. You know what they say about March. In like a lion, out like a lamb, blah blah blah, who cares.

It’s so incredibly nice out, but we’re sitting here watching Tangled. R is not a super napper, but requires a pretty strict naptime schedule or she becomes something akin to a baby ax murderer. Daylight Savings Time has ruined that. She isn’t happy, but she’s sleeping a ton today to make up for the fact that she slept a total approximate 47 minutes all night.

So here we are, waiting for the moment she wakes up so we can walk down to our neighborhood playground, and the girls can officially both throw a fit in public. My favorite… Whatever. We just need some fresh air. I can only open the windows in any given room about 2in, because we live on the 3rd floor, and if there’s a way to be found, my 2 year old WILL find a way to dislodge the screens and toss herself to the ground three stories below (that’s what my mom brain has convinced me, anyway). This air is not fresh enough.

L is convinced I’m lying about going outside when R wakes up, so to keep me honest, she’s decided to ask me about it every 3.7 seconds. In the loudest speaking voice I’ve ever heard. It’s all I can do to keep from losing my s&!t right now. Kid, I get it, I don’t want to stay in this cramped apartment that somehow has the perfect acoustics for amplifying your shrieks to a decibel above death. But mommy’s brain melting won’t get us to that playground any quicker.

I should be using this naptime to get this morning’s dishes into the dishwasher, but sitting somewhat clean in the sink is the best I’m willing to manage right now. So instead, I’ll just listen to Disney recount Eugene & Rapunzel’s love story for the umpteenth time and wait for the “I’m awake, come get me RIGHT THIS MINUTE” wail from the monitor.

 

Maybe I can at least convince the angry toddler that they won’t let us into the playground unless I go cash in my free Starbucks first. That’s a thing, right? Yep, it is. I decided.

We don’t know what we’re doing.

My husband and I have had a short journey together, and are just now coming up on 4 years since we began dating. Yeah, your math is right. We suck.

You see, we got pregnant a whopping 6 months into our relationship. Talk about awkward. We fumbled along and were both fortunate that the other was in this for the long haul. We got married when I was 6.5 months pregnant with L. At the courthouse. With no one present. An awkwardly old officiant insisted on taking pictures of us, which are painfully embarrassing to look at, even now. We went out for a pizza lunch afterward, and that was the extent of celebrating our decision to spend the rest of our lives tangled up in each other’s lives.

Skip forward a few months, we now have a baby together. Yikes. We were sleep deprived. He was working nights. I was falling pretty hard into some wicked postpartum depression. Things weren’t fun at our house.

Time passed & we fell into a nice groove. Until L’s first birthday. I like to think it didn’t really send me into an existential crisis, but part of me would be lying. Three months later, I was pregnant with R, so clearly I handled it really well.

When I’m pregnant, I’m essentially useless. I’m that person in the first trimester that could sleep for 6 days straight, wake up, throw up, and go back to sleep. With R, we decided not to tell anyone until Christmas, which means that when I bailed on Thanksgiving, I was basically no one’s friend. But I was busy, barely being able to sit in one position without nausea crashing down on me. Whatever.

Then comes our homebirth. No one was overly confident in the whole thing, but it all turned out fine (that story may come later). I went into labor at L’s second birthday party. R was born without complication, just 6 days shy of L’s birthday. Helloooooo, shared birthday parties. Calling that a big win.

Now that we’re safely nestled in chaos, it’s easy to see that we’re clearly just fumbling through this whole thing. We didn’t purposely choose this life, we just kind of fell into it accidentally. We never had a plan in place before we signed the parenthood dotted line, so we’re finding our way as best we can. We’ve never been any single type of parent, we don’t follow any of the “rules”. I find myself in mommy groups that are labeled for one type of parent or another, but honestly, I don’t feel like we’re any type of parent.

We just don’t know what we’re doing, that’s all. But we’ll get there. Maybe. Someday.

“Don’t you want to try for a boy?”

This question comes up for us fairly often. We’re done having babies (because… that’s our business), so the short answer is NO. But the long one is… well… long.

I dislike this question for a great many reasons, but I’ll give you my top two.

One, this implies that when we found out R was going to be our second girl, it was anything less than we wanted. You see, when we tried for R, we were trying for a BABY. Not a boy or a girl. Just a baby. She was the perfect addition to our family from the very start. She is the utter and complete opposite of L in almost every way. She’s given us a lot of learning moments that we never had with L. She’s been a challenging baby, but she’s perfect just as herself. As a parent, I can’t understand the idea that someone should find one or the other anything less than perfect. They’re your child, and that’s it.

Two, and this is more of a social conscience issue, is that essentially, you’re saying that my girls are only here to eventually fall into the gender role of a girl, and therefore, I’m missing out on things like t-ball, playing in the mud, playing with toy cars and tractors and other “boy” activities. I can assure you, we are not that household. Should my girls choose to play football or race dirt bikes, I will encourage them to the greatest of my abilities. Conversely, if I’d had two boys, they’d be equally welcome to play with dolls, wear pink & enjoy Disney Princesses. It also implies that a second girl is inferior to a boy, which sits horribly for me. My girls are just as capable of being engineers or athletes or rocket scientists. They’re capable of enjoying any number of things that don’t fit into their “traditional” gender role. The only thing I would say that they’re incapable of is contributing to the amount of pee that misses the toilet, if you catch my drift.

I’m also perfectly cool with hand-me-downs & having a built-in friend to rely on. Having two girls has some decided benefits.

So how am I missing out by not adding a boy to the mix?

I know that most aren’t saying this to be rude, but it still comes across as very odd to me that anyone should care. Our perfect family is different from other families. That’s cool with us and should be cool with other people.

Our girls will always be the perfect amount of children (and chaos) for me, and our family feels complete. To me, that’s more than enough reason not to want to try for a boy. This feels right for us. And so it must be.