Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Road Trippin'

Before I begin this anecdote let me introduce you to Thing One and Thing Two. I am certain that you are fairly familiar with Dr. Seuss’s famous children’s book “The Cat in the Hat”. Two bored children receive an uninvited visitor, the Cat in the Hat, who has intentions of creating fun but ends up causing only chaos and stress. After a few failed attempts, the Cat brings in a big red box with a hook and introduces it as a game called Fun in a Box. Then he lifts the hook and lets out Thing One and Thing Two. The children shake hands with the Things, warily wondering what kind of fun they will bring.  The Things immediately begin whizzing around the house with a kite, bouncing off walls and furniture, knocking things over, jumping, hopping, and kicking with delight. Thing One and Thing Two are loud, irrational, and focused on causing as much chaos as possible without regard to the impact they have on other people. Macie and my nephew Camden often morph into a less destructive version of Thing One and Thing Two, thus the reference to Dr. Seuss’s classic story.

Imagine yourself nestled in the backseat of a car between Thing One & Thing Two. Now even though this is a roomy Yukon, not a teeny-tiny Honda Civic, the backseat adult passenger is likely to run into difficulty of some sort, even if Thing One and Thing Two sleep half the ride.  When my sisters and I decided to take a road trip to Columbia, MO to visit family they opted to take turns riding in the backseat with the Things. Jessica, the mother of Thing One (a.k.a. Camden), anticipated the ride to our destination would be the easiest for the backseat passenger and graciously offered up the first shift to my twin Amanda, who has no children and, thus, has a low tolerance for dirty diapers, unintelligible demands, and temper tantrums.  It was a nice thought.  It was selfless. It was a disaster. 

The first ten minutes of the road trip went perfectly. Macie and Camden were smiling and charming their Aunt Amanda and she was playing the fun, doting Auntie. That bubble quickly burst as a tired, over stimulated Macie began to fuss and squirm (which continued much of the ride to our destination) and Camden began making unintelligible demands.  Amanda ended up spending most of the ride to Columbia frantically trying to soothe Macie (feeding, talking, crying with her) and simultaneously serving as Camden’s personal assistant- Sippy cup holder, DVD player shelf, and all around servant.

Even my friends with children would feel frazzled after dealing with Thing One and Thing Two on this particular road trip. Poor Amanda has not had prior experience dealing with this type of tribulation and quickly caved under the pressure. Usually she just passes Macie and Camden off to their parents when they transform into Thing One and Thing Two, but this time there was no escape.  After a while of sustained trauma, sweet Aunt Amanda turned into a distressed Manic Mandy on the verge of tears. She just wasn’t cut out to be a personal assistant to two demanding, irrational tyrants. About fifteen minutes outside of Columbia it became evident that Manic Mandy was about to have a meltdown of her own so Jessica generously offered to switch seats and let Amanda sit in front. If you can’t take the heat get out of the fire. Amanda basically somersaulted into to the front seat, thankful for Jessica’s compassion. Thing One and Thing Two slept most of the way home from Columbia….isn’t that nice?

As the driver I did not have to take a turn in the backseat with the Things, but I had an eye opening (or eyeclosing) experience myself on this trip. I learned how to take a two and a half year old boy to the bathroom. Since I was always the one who needed to stop to pee, Jessica asked me to take Camden to the bathroom. Macie is still in diapers so I am inexperienced with toilet training….and little boys have very different equipment than girls. Sure, I can probably figure out how to teach Macie how to pee on the toilet- I’ve been doing it since I was two myself. But I’ve never had to learn how to pee on the toilet with boy parts. Luckily, Camden handled himself like a professional dealing with an incompetent employee- he was firm but gentle, with a slight air of condescension. When we got to the women’s restroom I pulled his pants down, unhooked his training pants, herded him into a stall, placed him on the toilet, and stepped out to give him some privacy. A second later I saw Camden’s feet on the floor. He got off the toilet to take his pants off so that he could scoot to the back of the toilet, then asked me to put him back. I was just thankful that he didn’t take his shoes off, as he often does at home. When he was finished I quickly fumbled to get his clothes back on before someone walked in. I was stressed that someone would enter the women’s restroom to find me dressing a half naked two and a half year old with a look of uncertainty on my face and assume I was a pedophile. They say you are scared of what you don’t know. I am definitely inexperienced with the day-to-day functions of boy parts, which makes me nervous and uncomfortable in all related situations. If I have a boy Josh is in charge of all potty-related training, otherwise my son will be peeing on the toilet until he is thirty.

The point of this blog posting is to demonstrate how awful vehicular travel can be with babies. Hopefully this anecdote has been a cautionary tale for people who intend to have children. If you want to see if you can hack it with kids just come on a road trip with Thing One and Thing Two.  This trip made me realize that I cannot have two babies at the same time. There is too much noise- one screaming or talking in gibberish and the other speaking in two-year old-ese, which sounds somewhere between Chinese and Cajun. Also, how do I take two children to the bathroom? How do I feed both children and myself? How do I get one out of the car seat without the other running off? I would definitely be one of those parents with a child leash (heck, I’m almost there now with one). What happens if they both want to be held at the same time? I have a hard enough time with one…life would be ten times crazier with another Thing.

Road Trip Rules (with babies)

1. Must bring Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and a portable DVD player:
I was skeptical at first (remember, no TV until three?), but my next purchase is a DVD player for the road and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVD. It keeps the “Things” entertained and quiet, which means that I can focus on driving.

2. Must bring water, food, and suitable music:
Macie prefers Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Kesha, and anything else with a bouncy beat.

3. When you smell (or hear) a poopy diaper pull over immediately:
If you don’t change the diaper quickly you will deal with a stinky car and an angry, uncomfortable baby.

4. Adults are only allowed two potty breaks each way:
You better learn to hold it if you have to pee more. Babies have a limited car-riding threshold and potty breaks take up precious time. Also, you can only hope for a strap-in changing table in the restroom. If not, you will have to pee with a baby on your lap.

5. Don’t drink half a pot of coffee before you leave:
Which I ALWAYS seem to do, hence the multiple bathroom breaks.

6. No cursing or gesturing inappropriately:
Baby see, baby do.

7. If I swerve get out of my way:
BABY ON BOARD means that I have the right of way. When I swerve it is because I am working to prevent a car meltdown- adjusting temperature, checking on Macie in my mirror, or reaching back and handing her bunny FuFu to calm her down. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Musings on Macie's First Year

Year One A.M.K. (after Macie Kate) is complete- Macie turned one at 2:01 a.m. (July 20, 2011). I have spent a lot of time these past few days reminiscing about her first year- the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were moments of delight, moments of extreme anxiety, and plenty of in-between. The first two months seemed like the hardest at the time, but looking back I wish it was that simple again. I wasn’t sleeping many consecutive hours and I was a nervous, hormonal wreck, but at least Macie slept MOST OF THE DAY. Now I do a happy dance if I can get her to take two naps, totaling three hours, during the day. Sure Macie sleeps great at night, but during the day she is a ball of energy and by the time she goes down for a nap I am begging for a break. Macie is constantly getting into things; her favorite game is to destroy. But when she flashes me the biggest, most mischievous, gap toothed grins I can’t help but join her in creating chaos. The cleanup is worth it when you get to see the satisfaction on her face as she pulls all of her books off the shelf and sits in a heaping pile of the best children’s literature money can buy, the pleasure she experiences as she removes all of her toys from the toy box, and the mischief in her eyes as she heads towards her shoe and bib drawer and extracts them one by one. Basically, the point here is that the enjoyable moments greatly outweigh the unpleasant experiences. Below are some highlights from year one with Ms. Macie Kate. Sprinkled throughout this blog post are a few photos of Macie that I have taken today to commemorate her birthday.

The Good

First Smiles
The first few months with an infant are a lot of work with seemingly little reward. Newborns spend so little time interacting that you would do anything for something as simple as prolonged eye contact. Just when you begin to crumble under the pressure of parenthood, they flash you a hesitant grin and you ooh and aah like the baby just completed her Ph.D in physics.

First Kisses
Macie started giving kisses around month five…and then she stopped. There is nothing sweeter than your child physically pulling your head near hers and planting a big; open mouthed wet one on your cheek. You are so in love that you don’t even mind wiping away the pool of baby drool hanging on your face. Once she even licked the makeup off my face….you could literally see the line she wiped away from my cheekbone. Again, we made a huge deal every time she gave a kiss because we wanted to encourage her to continue. Unfortunately, she stopped giving kisses about a month or two later L. Now I would perform any act of public humiliation just to get one smacker from her- saliva and all. 

Saying “Momma” and “Dadda”
Macie first started saying what sounded like “momma” around month four. Even though I know that she did not associate me with the word at the time, I still got a huge high from hearing her accidentally put the syllables together. Her first real parental shout out was to her father….of course. Josh will never forget the first time she called him “dada”- when she was seven months old and he was changing a dirty diaper. After she started saying “dada: I worked my tail off to try to get her to say “momma” to no avail. After about a month she started calling me “momma”, but by that point I was old news. Still, it is pretty heart-warming when she calls out for me…except when she is being difficult- then she can call for daddy. 

Until two months ago Macie was the most social butterfly you could meet. She had little to no stranger awareness and seemed to enjoy other people almost as much as her parents. At times I would get upset because she would lunge out of my arms into the babysitters…like she couldn’t wait to get away from me. Because she is so busy wreaking havoc each day, there is little time for cuddles. So judge if you must, but I kind of like the fact that the stranger awareness has set in and she snuggles up against me when we are around people. Baby affection is like crack- you get your fix wherever/whenever you can.

Baby Talk
Macie has always been a vocal baby, but these past few months it seems like she is constantly “talking”. Sometimes it sounds like she is speaking in one long, run on sentence (like those really bad Facebook status updates without punctuation). She just wants to speak as quickly and loudly as possible- and don’t you dare interrupt her or she will have to repeat it again. Other times she deliberately fluctuates her tone and sentence flow, like she is trying to have an intelligent two-way conversation with me. Macie’s facial expressions are priceless- she raises her eyebrows, makes eye contact, shakes her head, and furrows her brow to accentuate her point (as if I can understand what she is saying). When I respond appropriately she continues on in the same vein. Recently she has started opening a book and appears to be “reading” the story…upside down.

Developmental Milestones
Watching Macie grow and develop has been one of the best parts of this past year. I will never forget the first time she rolled over, her first giggles and coos, crawling, and furniture cruising. Naturally, I am invested in ensuring that Macie meets age appropriate developmental milestones. Each time Macie learns a new “trick” I again resort to the kind of applause and enthusiasm that is usually reserved for much more significant achievements (like graduating from Harvard at the age of 13).


The Bad

First Day of Work
Macie’s first day of daycare was around six weeks after her birth and I was a nervous wreck. I was still in a hyped up hormonal mother bear state, so to say that I was overprotective is an understatement. I remember wondering how our babysitter could handle a tiny newborn and a handful of other children three and under at the same time when I had difficulty with just one. Dropping her off that first day was like ripping off a Band- Aid. I made it as short and sweet as possible, knowing that the longer I lingered the harder it would be to leave. Driving away I admittedly shed a few tears, but quickly pulled it together by reminding myself that Macie would only be in daycare two days a week. The world was not ending…even though it felt like it. Motherhood is full of guilt, but one of the most omnipresent is the worry that you are not giving your child enough of you. Sending your child to daycare for any amount of time only compounds that guilt.

Sick Macie
There is nothing worse than a sick baby. We have been through a year of illness, mostly in the winter and early spring, which kept us on our toes. Each time Macie came down with something, especially when she was six months and under, I was continually fearful that she was going to die (crazy, I know). Probably the worst side affect of many of Macie’s viruses and colds was the diarrhea. I don’t want to gross you out too much, but let me just say that cleaning up sick poo is not my idea of fun. Even worse was when I had to scrape/squeeze specimens from Macie’s diaper….not sure I will ever forget that.

Sleep Training
When our Parents as Teachers educator first mentioned sleep training to me at Macie’s three-month visit I was highly skeptical. Seriously, who wants to leave their fragile infant in the crib to cry themselves to sleep? Not me- no way. Tina, our PAT educator, could see the skepticism written all over my face and asked me just to give it a try. Reluctantly I caved in (I’m a yes person), one hundred percent sure that this attempt would fail and dreading the next few nights.
Here’s how it works:
1) Go through the bedtime routine and place Macie in the crib, leave the room even if she is crying
2) Set the timer for 3 minutes and enter the room if she is still crying, pat her back, leave in less than thirty seconds- DO NOT PICK UP
3) Repeat the next two times (every three minutes)
4) For the remaining bedroom visits reset the timer for 5 minutes
5) Repeat until she falls asleep and when/if she wakes up the middle of the night

Josh was on midnights so I was on my own. It was miserable and after the first night of limited sleep I almost gave up. Fortunately, by the end of the third night Macie was “sleep trained” and we haven’t had sleep problems since.

Emergency Room Visits
It’s hard to remember the exact number of ER visits we had, but I think it was around four- all within Macie’s first seven months of life. Of course Macie had to get scary sick in the middle of the night or on weekends….when it costs $200 to go the doctor instead of $20. The most memorable ER visit was right before the huge ice storm that the weather forecasters were predicting would shut down the city. Josh was on midnights again (how convenient) and I was alone with a baby that was having difficulty breathing. I started to panic, fearing that Macie was going to stop breathing and die. The phone nurse suggested I get her straight to the hospital….by myself. Fortunately, my mother-in-law was able to go with me. She was pretty surprised to get a panicked phone call from me in the middle of the night asking her to come to the ER with me, but she was a trooper and made the experience so much less stressful. 


The Downright Ugly

Tantrums  (see Macie Meltdowns 101 blog for more information)
The onset of temper tantrums is a fairly recent development. The frequency has certainly increased in the past month from a few times a week to a few times a day….I’m not exaggerating.  Now I consider it a good day if we have multiple stage one meltdowns (as opposed to multiple stage two or three meltdowns). Again, you take the good with the bad, but sometimes she is like a person with bipolar disorder- one minute she is laughing and smiling and the next she is on the floor crying and convulsing.

New parents live in constant dread of diaper blowouts, assuming that they are bound to happen. When they occur less frequently you start to relax, so when a blowout does happen you are completely caught off guard and even more repulsed. Macie’s two most memorable blowouts happened in the car. The first was on our first trip to Bourbon with Macie when we stopped at St. Clair to feed her. While she was nestled on my lap I heard the worst sound ever- a baby fart- and felt her pants fill up. Luckily, she was wearing pants over her onesie, otherwise I would have had baby fecal matter all over my lap. The most recent blowout was in the carseat on the way to a friend’s house. We heard the telltale sounds and the foul smell of baby poo filled the car. We didn’t realize that it had gone completely up her back and front (like above her waist) until we got her out of the car. We literally had to cut her onesie off because there was no way we could take it off her without smearing poo all over her head. You don’t realize what your vomit threshold is until you have experienced baby blowouts.

Teething is the devil’s way of punishing parents for procreating. I blame teething for many of Macie’s stage three meltdown days, which I have described in ample detail. Enough said.


Cupcake Cheers

This concludes my blog of musings about Macie Kate’s first year of life. If you have a child I’m sure you have similar stories and can relate. Hopefully this has inspired you to recollect the good, bad, and ugly moments in your child’s life. If you don’t have a child just image what you have to look forward to, but remember- when in doubt don’t procreate. Actually, that’s not necessarily true….I took the pregnancy plunge because my husband was all about it (I wasn’t so sure I was ready, or that I even wanted children). It turned out to be the most rewarding and joyful decision in my life to date.

So please join me in raising your cupcakes (or chocolate milk) in honor of Macie’s 1st birthday.  May she continue to grow and develop, remain healthy, and get out of this “terrible one” period. She has been the most delightful baby I never thought I wanted (sappy, I know, but that’s what happens when you become a mother….it messes with your hormones).

Here’s to Ms. Macie Kate! CHEERS!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Macie Meltdowns 101

Prepare to be schooled in Macie Meltdowns....lucky you!

 In order to truly understand the magnitude of Macie Meltdowns you need to understand the process leading up to a Macie Meltdown, what a Macie Meltdown looks like, and how to halt a Macie Meltdown.


Causes of Macie Meltdowns

-Sleep deprivation
-Being told “no” in a stern voice
-Hearing someone else being told “no” in a stern voice
-Having something taken away from her
-When the baby gate is closed before she can break free
-You look at her “wrong”
-Being put in the pack n’ play
-Taking her food tray away before she is finished eating
-Taking bunny fufu away when she is eating
-Taking her pacifier away
-Getting bullied/hit by other children
-Having a bad hair day
-Being taken away from something she enjoys doing- swinging, wreaking havoc/destroying her room, etc.
-Hurting herself/falling
-Being in the same room with Papa Tim, Uncle Zack, Uncle Craig, and Uncle Randy
-Dropping her off at the gym daycare

**When she is in a certain mood EVERYTHING leads to a meltdown….this most often happens when she is teething or extremely tired.


Macie Meltdown Prevention

Macie is like a high maintenance plant- you have to feed and water her every few hours, keep her in the shade a certain number of hours, and basically work your tail off to ensure that she doesn’t expire.

Feed every 2-3 hours
Sleep every 3-5 hours
Keep the pacifier on hand


How to Spot a Meltdown (as if you wouldn’t know)

Stage One: Mildly Miffed
-Pouty face
-A few moments of crying/yelling (with or without tears)

Stage Two: Maul Mode
-Wind up to the cry (gasp before the crying begins)
-A few minutes of crying/yelling (with or without tears)
-Body convulsions, hitting, kicking

Stage Three: Michelin Man Macie
-Wind up to the cry (LONG gasp before the crying begins)
-Many minutes of LOUD crying/yelling (usually with tears)
-Head thrown back
-Body convulsions, hitting, kicking, throwing things

Imagine a really enraged Michelin Man destroying 
a tiny town or forest of baby animals. Macie is basically a mini Michelin Man (pale, rolly Polly) in a rage when she has a Stage Three Meltdown. She becomes a babyzilla, taking out her anger on her surroundings and causing a huge scene.


How to Talk Macie Off the Ledge

-Give Macie the pacifier and Bunny FuFu
-Soothe her by bouncing, rocking, and speaking softly to her
-Resort to panic mode and join her (this catches Macie off guard and makes her laugh)
-Let her cry it out….which is painful and exhausting
-When all else fails turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
My co-workers (I work for the School of Education at a local University and they are very down on TV for children under three) and Parents as Teachers Educator would scold me for this, but I swear, sometimes it’s the only thing that calms her down. I know that I am probably damaging and rewiring Macie’s brain by letting her watch TV (or so I’ve been told), but a Stage 3 Macie Meltdown= a desperate mother. In these moments you do what you have to do and deal with the consequences later. I’ve been told that allowing your child under three to watch TV can cause them to have a short attention span….maybe that’s a good thing if it means Macie will get over her meltdowns sooner? ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Macie Manual

As mentioned on my webpage, the purpose of this blog is to share memorable moments from life as a mommy. Before I begin my tales of hilarity, I think it is appropriate to introduce you to the main character- Macie.

Basic Information

D.O.B.:            July 20, 2010
Gender:            Female
Hair:                 Strawberry Blonde (??) **How did that happen?**
Eyes:                Light Blue
Body Type:      Chubbs! You can’t help but squeeze her cheeks and tickle her round belly.


Toys:               Baby dolls, bouncy balls, and bunny fufu (of course)!
                        Stuffed Animals: cuddle puppy, Khloe the Clydesdale, “Abby Caddaby”
                        Interactive Toys: Violet the puppy, V-tech laptop, blocks
                        BOOKS- she even pretends to read them!

Food:              EVERYTHING!! Food=Happiness

Person:            Daddy  (L)
                        Runner- up: Mommy (J)


Macie is usually a happy, smiley, giggly, lovable baby. She spends most of her days speaking in gibberish, cruising furniture, and destroying everything she touches. Of course I think she is a beautiful baby girl, and her gap toothed grin is infectious. Like most babies, Macie likes to get her way and is very unhappy when something is taken away from her or she is told “no”. Lately it seems that Macie’s attitude has gotten much more pronounced, as not getting what she wants often results in crying, head thrown back tantrums (with no tears)….I think we are going through the “terrible ones”.

Inside Joke

My family teases me because I write a “Macie Manual” each time Macie stays overnight with my mother or mother-in-law. This manual is a detailed timeline of Macie’s daily schedule (which is fairly flexible) and information about Macie’s preferences. Although initially skeptical, my mother now swears by the manual because following it almost guarantees that Macie will be a happy baby. Tease me all you want, but I quickly learned that happy baby= happy mommy.


Hopefully this Macie Manual has been more informative than boring (maybe both). I promise that my future posts will be much more entertaining. My goal is to blog an anecdote or observation at least once a week. While most of the blogs will be individual and unrelated, there will be a few recurring themes/titles. Future blog entries include:

-Parents as Teachers= Parenting for Dummies                        -Road Trippin’
-Moves Like Jagger                                                                 - Memorable Meltdowns
-Human Drum=Not So Much Fun                                          - Bootcamp for Babies
-Daddy Dress Up                                                                    - Baby b’ Trippin’
-Daycare Disasters                                                                  - Toy Central
-Hurricane Macie                                                                    - Please Don’t Judge
-Mommy’s Little “Helper” (hindrance?)                                 - Drive it Like it’s Hot
-Herding Babies is Like Herding Cats                                    -Show Me the Money
-“You’re not one of those pageant moms, are you?”              -Tales of Public Humiliation

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