Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Live Tweeting Your Childhood

"Mommy turn that OFF!"

This is something my two year old has started to say to me about my cell phone or laptop. (And right when I decided to start a momblog - thanks kid.)

I've struggled with this since FrenchFry was born as I think most parents do. I remember reading these articles stating that mothers shouldn't be using smartphones while nursing their babies. We are supposed to lovingly stare into their eyes and connect with them or something. 

Um.... Do these people realize how BORING breastfeeding can be?

The little buggers are latched onto you for like 18 hours a day at first. And I'm supposed to just stare into their little haven't-learned-to-make-eye-contact-yet baby eyes all of that time? Okay...

Need to get Google Glass before the next kid!

Actually, when FrenchFry was a baby my preferred medium was Netflix on the iPad. I watched all 6 seasons of West Wing and countless other shows. What else are you going to do to keep yourself from falling asleep at three am?  Plus FrenchFry was always a long nurser.  Straight up until he was one he would nurse for at least 45 minutes every session.  That's the exact time it takes to watch an hour show minus the commercials. That can't be a coincidence. He knew what was up. 

Sometimes though I really worry about being the distracted mom. Or what I'm teaching FrenchFry by spending so much time on these devices in his presence.  Sometimes it's reading Facebook or more recently spending mindless time on Twitter.  Other times it's that I have my phone out to take pictures and video because I want to capture all of these awesome moments with him.  And then feel compelled to live tweet it or post it on Instagram and Facebook immediately.

Sometimes I just wish I had a device where I could take pictures that wasn't connected to the Internet. Hrm....

Oh right.... that thing.

This also goes back to the struggle to be truly present in the moment.   By taking photos and video of all of the amazing moments with him, am I pulling myself out of just being there and being present with him?  It's really hard to say because it doesn't feel that way most of the time. 

This study got some traction last year citing "photo-taking-impairment" which means that people who take photos (in this case of objects in a museum) were less likely to remember what they saw than those that did not take photos.  But even the authors of the study found that if you interacted with the object and added some focus like zooming in on specific details of the object while taking the picture you could counteract the photo-taking-impairment effect.  And I know that when I'm with FrenchFry, even if I'm taking photos or swinging by my Facebook feed when posting them briefly, I'm honed into the details of how hard he laughs when I push the swing higher or how he pronounces "My see a pretty duck."  And I enjoy all of the little details that make him so amazing to me every day.

Lately I've been trying to pay more attention to my usage of all of these devices around FrenchFry, especially since he's clearly been picking up on it and asking me to turn my phone off.  Sometimes I try to force myself to wait until we get home to post the photos I take when we are out doing fun stuff,  and sometimes I still live tweet every moment of the day.  It's a challenge, and I'll keep working at it to make sure that I'm not missing any moments of what is going on right in front of me.

But I'm not going to take less photos... I just can't.  And if I did, I wouldn't have pictures like this to hang up in my cube at work to help get me through the work day until I can come back home to my little family.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Defense of Night Weaning My 2 Year Old

This past week I started night weaning my two year old. Yeah - I'll give you a second to pull your jaw up from the floor on that one.

I'm tempted to say "in my defense" but why do I feel the need to defend myself? I am always feeling like I have to defend my choices as a parent. I feel the need to defend nursing my son past two and then turn right around and feel like I need to defend any effort to wean him before he's ready on his own. Just depends on the audience.  

Instead of defending myself, I'll just say that really this has worked for us up until this point.  FrenchFry was a pretty typical sleeper for a newborn and then from 4 to 8 months he gave us fairly consistent full nights of sleep and then well... it's been up and down since.  Mostly though it's been manageable and while I haven't strung more than 6 or 7 nights together uninterrupted, the past year or so has usually meant him waking up once overnight, nursing back to sleep and then getting up early to nurse and doze back off until the alarm goes off. 

I never really considered a cry it out method - it just wasn't ever going to be for me and I knew that from that start.  I've read a lot about gentle sleep training or night weaning over the past two years and it always sounds good in theory but again, wasn't for me in practice.  I've also read plenty that says that by nursing him to sleep (we've only gotten away from that in the past couple of weeks), nursing him overnight, and letting him sleep in our bed we are making grave mistakes and apparently will have him sleeping in our bed unable to fall asleep without us when he's 15.

But even though the jury is still out on him falling asleep on his own and staying in his own bed all night consistently, it seems like we are (mostly) naturally moving in that direction.  I've waited until I have felt FrenchFry was truly ready for a step before taking it and (aside from that one week that I tried to push not nursing him to sleep against my own instincts and almost got myself a divorce in the process) the transitions have gone well.  I think in most cases FrenchFry has been ready for each of these well before I was.

Like the night weaning.  It's actually been going surprisingly well. He comes into our bed and says "momma milk" and I tell him that mommy milk is not for night time anymore and then he'll say "Nooo.... I want momma milk! Mommy milk...."  <yawn... zonked> 

For our next sleep evolution I ordered him a "toddler clock" to help him learn to sleep in his own bedroom all night.  It's a choo choo train (do I say "choo choo train" now instead of just saying train??) that has a red, yellow and green light to teach him to stay in his bed until the light turns green at an appropriate wake up time.  Once I'm comfortable that he's fully transitioned from nursing overnight we'll try out the clock and see how it goes.  I'm sure I've ruined him already by letting him come into our bed on his own (I think I read that somewhere) but who knows, maybe things will continue to progress as they have been and uninterrupted sleep is in my future.

All aboard!  To sleeping in your own dang bed.
Now that we are moving away from nursing overnight we are just down to nursing first thing in the morning, before bed and at nap-time on the weekends.  I'm feeling some internal pressure to start the full weaning process but I'm not sure exactly why.   Before I was even pregnant my worry was always that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed or that I wouldn't be able to nurse long enough to meet my goals - aloud I would say six months, to myself I would say a year, and truly I wanted to make it until he was two to meet the WHO recommendations but was afraid to admit that to myself.  Now 2 has come and gone and I wonder when and how this breastfeeding journey will end.

Hopefully once we are BOTH ready.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Language of Love is Ice Cream

My Language of Love is Ice Cream

Okay... It's actually Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch. Yes I have 3 and noooo... That does not make me hard to please and high maintenance. Ahem. I rank pretty high on all three (out of 5 Love Languages) and guess which are the Languages of The Husband?  You guessed it- the other two. His are Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts. Actually I'm probably pretty high on that last one too. I love presents. Lots and lots of presents in shiny wrapping paper.

But I digress... 

We have an interesting situation in our house and marriage where the ways that I express and show love pretty much don't even register for The Husband and vice versa.

I'm really glad we took the quiz though because it really helps us recognize the differences and understand the small ways that we can reach out to each other  that means a lot more to the other person. For my husband the act of unloading and loading the dishwasher is an expression of love (Acts of Service).  And by being the one who does the bulk of the housework I see that is his way of showing his love. (Plus I don't think he wants to live in filth and if he didn't do the housework.....)  So on Valentine's Day (and at least a handful of other days throughout the year- ahem) I make a point to do the dishes and clean the kitchen and it really does mean a lot to him. 

I've recently seen that they have a quiz for kids and a book to help you recognize the love language of your child. I want to explore that with FrenchFry to see what are they ways that he might better respond to or feel our love. What are your Love Languages? Do they line up with your partner? What about childrens' Love Languages?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dogs in Carseats

You know you've been spending too much time on the carseat blogs when you watch the Subaru Dog commercial and your first thought is "that puppy really should be rearfacing."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Focusing on the Good Stuff

Yesterday I went to a Mardi Gras parade with a few friends and our two toddlers.  It was a gorgeous New Orleans day (75 degrees in February?!?  I'll take it!) and we went down to the French Quarter with a wagon and the two tots to get our Barkus on.  The Krewe of Barkus is the Mardi Gras parade with marching bands, floats, beads, and all the fun you would expect at any New Orleans Mardi Gras parade - just with dogs (in costume of course).

Green Barkus dog.  Hopefully it washes out?

 It also required trudging through stop and go traffic, dealing with Mardi Gras parking, walking 12 blocks pulling a wagon and trying to navigate through the crowd to get a good spot - which we never really did.  We were late and weren't able to cross the parade route to meet up with friends we had planned to meet and it was hard to see anything (why are those dogs so short?!?).   I tried to bring FrenchFry up to the front a few times but he couldn't see in the Ergo on my back and he would cry if I tried to put him on my shoulders.  Frankly, he seemed a lot more interested in sitting in the wagon with his friend eating goldfish crackers than checking out the parade at all.

Mommy (Red) and Max on the parade route.

Sometimes it's hard for me to find a way to be truly present and just enjoy things like this.  I focus on all of the things that aren't going right and the expectations I had going in that are hard to live up to.  And now that I have FrenchFry, there is an added expectation that he have (unadulterated) fun as well.  That's not to say that we didn't have fun.  There were the great NOLA Mardi Gras moments in there like FrenchFry and his toddler friend rocking out to the marching band and us all getting our boogie on.  We got (much needed) sunshine and exercise and time in the beautiful French Quarter.  It's just so easy to focus on the things that didn't work out as planned sometimes as opposed to the brighter moments.  Or perhaps to focus on the epic toddler-who-missed-his-nap meltdown that resulted in me carrying a kicking and screaming kid 10 blocks back to our car.  (I really do feel bad for the strangers who came up to us hoping to distract him with their shiny beads because he was just NOT having it.)

Long after we were home (and the meltdown of all meltdowns had subsided) I was putting FrenchFry to bed.  He was playing with his multi-colored nightlight and I asked him:

Me: "Do you have a favorite color, FrenchFry?"

Max: "Uh, yeah!"

Me: "What is it?"

Max:  "Doggie parade!"

And it hit me.  We remember the Good Stuff.  He'll remember the Good Stuff.  And I need to continue to work on being present in the moment and just enjoy the it - not worry so much about the expectations I put on myself or the world around me.

Rockin' out.
If there is any place to really embody that philosophy it is New Orleans during Mardi Gras time.  And I thank my two year old for reminding me of that.  Next weekend is the big weekend of Mardi Gras and we will be hitting more parades and there will be more boogieing to be done. And we will get through the (inevitable) meltdowns and we will all remember the Good Stuff.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ketchup counts, right?

A few years ago, Michelle Obama championed the passing of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act which requires school lunch programs to incorporate more fruits and vegetables; less trans fats and sugars in school lunches.  Sounds good, right? At the time there was a big deal made in the media when certain groups wanted to count the tomato sauce in pizza and even ketchup as a vegetable.  Single, pre-mom me was all over that.  I am pretty sure I shared a few snarky Facebook posts about how ridiculous it was that anyone would even try to pretend that tomato sauce and ketchup could count as a vegetable.  RIDICULOUS!  <waves fist in the air>

Flash forward a few (very awesome) years and I'm married and have an adorable and typically picky-eating toddler, FrenchFry.  Now ketchup HAS to be a vegetable!  Not only is ketchup considered a veggie in our house, it is also the vehicle by which we can actually get FrenchFry to eat any food some days (or weeks).  And pizza?  PIZZA?  Tomato sauce is clearly enough of a vegetable to help me sleep at night.  I mean - that is if there wasn't that toddler climbing into my bed in the wee hours, but that's a whole other issue for me to worry, fret and lie to myself about. 

See?  It says TOMATO right on it!

I'm one of those moms (is there a different type these days?) that has spent countless hours on my iPhone reading up on virtually every aspect of fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and taking care of the little buggers once they are on the outside.

Before FrenchFry was born I spent a lot of time reading articles about how making your own organic baby food is really the only smart thing to do (who would spend all that money on something you can make yourself?!).  I was going to be a cloth diapering, breastfeeding, makin' my own organic baby food, no TV, and no processed food for MY kid kind of mom.  Some of those things stuck (still nursing FrenchFry at 25 months and we did pretty good with the TV thing) but plenty of my pre-baby ideas have gone by the wayside.  (Who freaking has time to make your own baby food when they sell it in those convenient little pouches?!)

And I'm okay with that.  It took some time but the guilt - of being a new mom, a working mom, a sending my kid to daycare mom, a my kid eats non-organic fruit that I mostly remember to wash mom... an IMPERFECT MOM (who loves her kid with all of her heart) - that guilt has mostly quieted these days.  It's still there, but it's no longer in the foreground.  These days I skip clicking on the "you're a terrible parent if you rock your kid to sleep" posts and revel in the ones that say organic food is over-rated.  I'm not saying it's over-rated.  I really have no clue, but to keep the scared, guilty mom voice quiet I've decided to focus on the fact that I do the best I can and make the best decisions I know how.  And so far - the kid seems pretty alright.  

These days if my kid is crying for a snack in the car and I find a bag of stale pretzel sticks under the seat I feel like I'm Super Mom.

Mmmm.... FrenchFry loves his ketchup.

Oh and ketchup - ketchup is a life saver.

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