Category: All Posts

Kids Rooms

Climbing

As I was reading this really adorable kids nursery post this morning from a new blog I stumbled upon called two twenty one through iheart Organizing, I was thinking about how adorable and organized it was.  I was feeling a twinge of jealousy as I looked at her beautiful photography of inanimate objects and adorable baskets holding baby toys and her coordinating closet containers and I found myself wishing my baby’s room looked like that.

JealousNursery

I’m a decorator.  When I say I’m a decorator I mean I love decorating and I’m pretty good at it *horn tooted*. I spend most of my days and often my sleepless nights thinking about decorating and redecorating and renovating.  If I’ve been in your house, I think about decorating and redecorating and renovating your house too. It’s really more of a problem I guess.

So, as I was thinking about this adorable nursery I realized that I have that.  My son’s nursery is painted in the most prefect color of Dust Bunny.  It’s perfect for the bunny theme I’ve held onto for two babies and will reuse one more time for baby no. 3. I hand picked the most perfect neutral baby bunny fabric that has the whimsy for a child but the adult like nature us 21st century moms are looking for. My roman shade, crib bumpers and bed skirt were hand made by my mom so everything is exactly how I wanted it without having to settle on some packaged bed set.  See, that’s me.  I don’t buy it packaged unless it’s curtain panels because it usually comes down to a per yard cost.  Pre-made panels are almost always less expensive and tend to be more interesting (plus they’re already done).  In this instance, the curtain panels were fabric I already had from my previous single-girl apartment shabby chic life. Some kind of cheap gauzy stuff I found somewhere. I added ball trim to make it “baby”. I painted and embellished an old chandelier to use as a mobile because nothing from those big box baby stores would do.  I didn’t want music or bright colors or monkeys.  No offense to the monkey lovers, but it’s past being overdone in a baby’s room.

Mobile

The white furniture is something I purchased at Target long before I even met my husband, but don’t you think for a second that I didn’t plan to put it in my baby’s room ‘someday’. I wonder what my future husband would have thought if he knew the first night he slept in my single-girls bedroom that he was actually taking a glimpse into his future son’s bedroom.  Haha!  He would have ran like a bat outta hell.  No doubt!

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And the final piece to my perfect baby’s bedroom are the three hand cross stitched bunnies that I made myself. I spent many childless hours stitching those in my teen and young adult years in between binge drinking and late nights with fake i.ds.  Apparently it was all part of the plan. 3 bunnies.  3 babies.

CrossStitch

*Record Scratch*

What I realized reading that blog, as I was imagining redecorating my son’s room, is that I do have all of those things, but seriously, you’d never know it because my son’s bedroom is a total mess most of the time.  There are usually storage boxes of clothes coming in or going out because he grows so damn fast. Often there are random belts or watches from my bedroom because the kids can’t keep their mitts off my stuff. And there are always toys that belong to his older brother strewn about.

Even I get caught up in the beautiful moments captured on camera for social media, but just like adorable Facebook and Instagram photos of kids doing things “my kid would never sit still long enough to do”, the photos we see are just clean moments in time produced strictly for the camera. Don’t worry, I used my phone for all of these beauties. For some of them I was holding a wiggly crying child.  I think it gives it a more ‘realistic’ vibe. Haha!

My little guy is 19 months old and knows nothing about putting things away other than to copy me.  Well, I unfortunately throw the books in a pile because I’m seriously not up for stacking them for the 15th time today.

BookPile

The dresser is a collection of things I don’t want him to touch.

Dresser

The crib bumpers are always untied.

Bumper

The furniture is pushed up against the walls to provide space to play and far enough from the crib so when he’s bored of being in there he doesn’t pull the lamp over.  He did once and ripped the feather fringe almost off.  There were feathers Every Where!  The crib had to be moved because he’s tall enough to grab the mobile now and turn the light switch on and off.  He yanked the ball trim off most of the roman shade, and I see no point in fixing it until the new baby comes because he’s just going to do it again now that he knows he can.

RomanShade

The rocking chair is never used for rocking, but mostly lies in an upside down position to act as a tiny slide.

ChairSlide

The organization I currently hold onto is that things in the general closet area should be toys and everything up high and behind closed doors are clothes that are either too big or too small because I don’t want to get them mixed up.

So, as I said, I felt jealous when I looked at those pictures.  I see them all the time on Pinterest.  The biggest thrill and also time waster of my life.  I’ve really gotten some fantastic ideas from Pinterest and I really don’t knock it in any way because I’m so obsessed, but it is a little too perfect. Don’t you agree?

Because that’s how it is.  The baby’s room is and can be perfect until they start moving. Once they start moving get used to ripped books on the floor, Sophie perfectly placed in the wrong bin, and questionable baby toys.

QuestionableToys

Vintage Art iPhone 6 Cases That (Better) Last!

Last week I wrote about what happens when you don’t have your phone with you. This week, it’s all about what happens when you do. I was so excited to get an iPhone 6 in October last year right after they came out. I had the 4S for an eternity and the 6’s bigger screen and speed were such comparative luxuries.

Cue today. Bristle. I have dropped that slippery little fsucker so many times it’s now being held together by scotch tape. I’m not kidding. Scotch. Tape. I already replaced the screen about 2 months ago and I’m just waiting for a chance to go back to reattach my now separated screen from the phone body. It’s literally hanging on by a thread. Held together by pathetic tape. Not so luxurious now are we? Nope. This shit show is in real need of some sticky fingers.

I thought it was the sleekness of the phone at first. Blamed it on the thin design. Damn you, Apple! But no. It’s not Apple’s fault. It’s my case’s fault. I, on the other hand, am blameless. Yes, it appears that my case has been coated in a thick layer of Teflon® topped off by a high quality dishwashing soap and maybe throw in some grape seed oil. I cannot keep a hold of that damned phone to save my life. Like a wide receiver who can’t catch a cold, these bear paws juggle that phone as if fresh out of the oven. Piping hot. And the clattering sound of technology shattering crack by tiny crack is now a familiar, almost daily sound.

I loved my hearty iPhone 4S case and was bummed to find out there wasn’t the 6 version just yet, so I stupidly settled for what seemed like a fun and harmless little Redbubble case featuring several water color drawings of whales. Super cute. Super slippery. Super not cool, Redbubble! Put some grip on that shit!

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At least the scotch tape is now adding traction.

So I’ve given up on this, um, whale of a disaster and started to search for an actual shatterproof case with still a bit of personality (no offense, OtterBox). I crossed my fingers and breathed a sigh of relief to find out that Condé Nast finally came out with the iPhone 6 version of my favorite design, their Vanity Fair June 1923 magazine cover. FINALLY.

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Getting.

 

So I thought I’d share some of their other lovely and unique vintage magazine cover designs to define you enhance your smart phone experience. Hopefully, they will stand the test of time yet again and come through for these sorry excuses for hands I call oven mitts. Enyoy!

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Condé Nast’s cases are found here.

 

Child Sitting on Potty

Montessori Inspired Toileting

Child Sitting on Potty

We’ve been “potty training” for about 6 months now.  I’m using quotes because a) I don’t think we’ll be at 100% toilet use for a while and b) I don’t really like that term.  He’s a person learning an essential life skill, not a cat refusing to use the litter box.

No matter how you handle it, toilet learning is a hot mess.  Sometimes literally, like when your kid poops in the potty and immediately puts his hand in it.  Or when your kid gets up and runs down the hall with poop falling out as he runs.  Thank goodness for tile floors!

My toilet learning method is heavily influenced by Montessori Toilet Learning (examples here and here), and Homemade Mothering’s Potty Training Manifesto.  Sure, it’s not for everyone, and every child is different.  You know the drill.  This is what’s working for us, and hopefully this will be helpful for other mamas out there.

I gradually began changing the diapering routine when he was about a year old.  Why?  Because he HATED lying on the changing table.  Every diaper was a wrestling match!  So I changed him standing up in the bathroom.  Then I put a potty in the bathroom, and would have him sit there for a moment before putting a new diaper on him.

The real fun began when he started walking at 14 months.  He was already used to seeing and sitting on the potty on a regular basis, so I started taking him to the bathroom frequently throughout the day, regardless of whether I thought he had a dirty diaper or not.  It was definitely hit or miss for a long time, but it became a mostly successful routine. We would go as soon as he woke up, and before/after we did anything (eating, leaving the house, naps, etc.).  If he didn’t want to sit down, I just changed him and we’d move on.  Lately, if I suspect he does need to go I’ll bribe him into sitting with a chocolate chip, but I try to keep the whole thing pressure-free.

So where are we at 20 months?  He’s recently started wearing training pants at home, and he’s learning to pull pants up and down.  He usually pees in the potty, as long as i take him there frequently.  He knows to tell me if he has to poop, but by the time we get to the bathroom its often already…out.  If we do make it in time, I distract him with books and poorly-sung songs to keep him from getting up and running off mid-poop.

A quick Pinterest search for “potty training” returns tons of advice for fast potty training: “3 days or less!” “Potty trained in 1 week!” “Potty train in 24 hours!”.  Every time I come across pins like these, I start to feel anxious.  Am I doing it all wrong?  Should I be rolling up my rugs and letting him run around naked?

And then I come back to my real life, with my un-Pinteresty house and my not-yet-2 child who actually does use the potty fairly often despite my relative laziness in “potty training” him.  And I think we’re doing just fine.  Maybe the 3-day roll-up-the-rugs method would be better/faster, and I guess that’s still an option.  But for now, the slow and steady method is working for us.

How did you handle potty training?  Let us know in the comments!

What Happens When You Forget Your Phone

What do you do when you don’t have your security blanket smart phone with you? Freak out like me? Or remain calm and carefree?

I accidentally left my phone at my office while on a survey the other day. I had a sat phone and a GPS with me, so I was technically safe for work, but I kinda flipped my shit. The 5 stages of grief washed over me in a matter of minutes, but I eventually accepted my fate. My phone was not with me. And I was forced to let go.

It was pretty freeing, actually…after the panic subsided of course. There was nothing I could do about it. I was forced to spend my time elsewhere. I was forced to listen to the world around me and to my own thoughts. My job is often to listen…for a specific bird…on certain projects…and I am finely tuned to scout it’s lovely song out while I survey a property. But I have the tendency to multi-task in my busy life. I tend to obsessively check email to put out the latest fire. Or I have been known to call the office to plan for the next day. And I miss the little things amidst the distraction (not a golden-cheeked warbler call, obv).

But that day my soul quieted in technology’s absence and I could hear everything. I listed to the wind, the birds, the trees. I frowned at the unnoticed noisy traffic off the highway and sadness pinched me after realizing that this is the new normal for the beautiful old-oak woodland I was surrounded by. And that there would be no beautiful old-oak woodland sometime in the impending future.

I could even smell better. I noted the earthy wild onion and sweetened wildflowers that I was oblivious to a week before. I saw beauty for beauty’s sake, not scrutinized behind some square camera screen. Not for the benefit of social media, but for my own selfish eyes, knowing that no one else in the world is looking at this gloriously huge gray fox right now. I owned those precious moments when he bounded out of a gnarled oak, ran a few paces, and then turned around to glare at me. Because how dare I disturb him while in my thundering commotion of human presumption? I was connected to that annoyed fox and the surrounding indignant oaks, even if they did not want me there.

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Note the glare, not the species.

We talk about kids and technology, but what about adults and technology? No one is there to turn off the TV for us. No one is there to “limit our screen time.” And let’s face it, we are all kinda addicted. Not just to social media, but to all things digitized. We check the weather instead of feeling it. That Google Maps lady navigates for us instead of orienting ourselves to our surroundings or, God forbid, learning how to read a road map. We play mind-numbing games instead of, say, really observing someone for the beautiful person they are. We take our access to Wikipedia for granted. We search Bon Appétit recipes instead of scanning through our grandmother’s water-stained, hand-written recipe cards. And we whip out the phone to calculate our tip on a friendly meal.

Yet we continue to be so concerned about our children. We want to limit screen time, electronics, all things digital. We want them to be free and independent like generations past, right? But we’re not looking at the whole picture. We’re not taking into account that those parents of generations past also weren’t digitized. And I don’t know if we can ever go back to a simpler time like so many of us wish for. Simplicity parenting? Bringing up bébé? Free range kids? Rock on! But how do you really do it? Seriously. For real.

It seems like we need to not just think about our children, but ourselves as well. Because how can you let go of your child to have the freedom they deserve if you don’t value freedom yourself? How can we raise strong, independent individuals if we ourselves are completely dependent on the very things we want our kids to avoid?

As I write this post I am connected again. This time, just artificially plugged back in like an appliance. And yes, it is hypocritical of me to tout the negatives of technology for I am just as addicted as the rest of us. But I also miss that taste of freedom every so often and true connection with myself and the world around me that the social media so desperately lacks.

So I’m going to try it again this weekend. I will leave my phone at home. Shutter. I am going to take my daughter to pick berries at a strawberry farm outside of town and will have absolutely no help from technology in getting there. Poo is liquifying inside. Because I need that Google Maps lady. Bad.

reilingen-109905__180But I am also excited. Exhilarated even. To savor a bucolic day in the Hill Country, to watch my pigtailed daughter pick strawberries for our pancakes (thanks, Daniel Tiger), to eat a picnic lunch and feed grass to goats sans technology seems like the best idea I’ve had in a long time. It’ll be an adventure to share between just us and the moment. To be connected again to ourselves and the world around us.

It will be difficult. There could even be some serious anxiety involved. But once I let go, maybe I’ll start to be that mom who lets go of her children too. Who lets them be free, who trusts them to learn how to navigate, look up and feel the weather, and add up the tip in their independent little heads.

Of course. That’s when I’ll get lost, have a flat tire, or miss capturing the best stinkin’ strawberry-stained moment ever. Because, you know, I’m a hot mess and that’s how I roll.

A Bittersweet Goodbye to Winter

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Well, it looks like winter is finally over in Wisconsin.  We wait for it all winter.  On the first 45 degree day that’s sunny you’re bound to see many people, mostly kids, in shorts like it’s 75.  That’s what it feels like to our bodies though.  After months of -15 windchill forecasts, 5 degree days, and snow that just appears while you sleep, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel.

Saying goodbye to winter is bittersweet because it means it’s time to give up our lazy reclusive ways and venture out into the daylight and physically move our bodies.  It’s not bad spending the first nauseous trimester of pregnancy in the winter because really it’s a pretty good excuse to watch tv all day and never go anywhere anyway. Plus, I think I might be one of those lazy people at heart.  I like to be busy and do projects and stuff, but I also really love spending a whole weekend watching Fools Rush In and Friends.  It’s hard to give up that lazy attitude after months of committing to it.

So, here we are.  It’s finally beautiful outside and I’m dreading it.  It’s change.  It’s getting used to the mud and muck and the in-out-in-out, but at the same time I’m excited to give the kids action and adventure that we miss all winter.  The first days outside brought facial injuries, mud, and pee.  Yes, just like Lisa, a day in the life of a little boy is not complete without mud and pee.

Without further adieu, our first week of spring went a little something like this:

Hudson smacked his face on the windowsill running to look out the window.  The bright spring sunlight blinding his poor little eyes.  There was blood, there was a frantic hot mess mamma, and a lot of crying.  Oh well, we’ve all gotten a fat lip or 7.

Ryter smacked his face on the housekeeping shelf at school.  I got a phone call just to let me know “The bleeding has stopped.  I don’t think he’ll need stitches and his tooth didn’t go all the way through, but he bit his lip pretty good.”

FatLip

I got another phone call from school.  “Everything is fine, but we just wanted you to know Ryter got a small injury on the side of his eye today.  It’ll probably be a black eye.” Yup a good old playground facial smackaroonie from a swing flying too wild and too high.  What would spring playground injuries be without those unwieldy dangerous high flying empty swings?

SwingSmack

A mud bath, that despite my feminine distaste for being dirty and ruining my hot pink maternity pants, was probably the most fun we’ve had in a while. Just the idea that I encouraged it was so fun.

Mud

And pee, lots of pee.

I really hate it when my kids pee outside, but honestly it really is the only option a lot of the time.  Freshly potty trained kids don’t really give themselves very much time.  They have accidents just running from the living room to the bathroom. I really can’t expect my kid to stop what he’s doing, run all the way to the house, remove his muddy boots, run all the way through the house, up the stairs, and to the bathroom before he pees everywhere.  Our house was built in 1930.  Apparently there was no such thing as main floor bathrooms in that time period.  He can’t hold himself just right.  He usually pees all over himself anyway, but some of it gets on the grass.  How am I supposed to teach that?  Daddy!!!

I didn’t take any pictures of Hudson’s injuries or in the mud, so here he is. 1 year old entrepreneur.

Hudsons

Guest Post: Emergency at the Target Parking Lot

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Everyone has shitty days.

I am thrilled that one of our readers, one of my dear and unbelievably talented friends, Heather Watson Hardy, sent me one of her hot mess stories to share! This is such a wonderful forum for real, beautiful mamas to share their hard, hilarious, and honest experiences. It helps the rest of us feel like we’re not the only ones having a bad day or a difficult start to motherhood.

Thank you, Heather, for your heartfelt (and funny-in-hindsight) story! I hope it encourages other mamas out there to share their true, beautiful hot mess selves with us. xoxo


I am a recovering know-it-all. I think I will always be in recovery. I’ve spent my whole professional life working with children, and I’ve even been a live-in-nanny. So, when I had my son, I felt totally confident that my transition to parenthood would be fairly simple.  I imagined taking 3 weeks off before returning to work (I love my work) and had several other delusional dreams prior to my son being born.  What I didn’t know, and could never imagine, was that my son was born tongue-tied, with severe acid reflux, and with the inability to process most proteins found in foods.  In other words, from birth, he was having food reactions to my breast milk, and he was in severe pain.  It was 2 months before he slept more than an hour in one stretch.  Eventually, we figured out his food issues because the food was so reactive in his stomach that it created holes in his intestines.  Let me just say, when you see blood in your baby’s diaper, it is time to freak.  It was hell and so difficult.  Flash forward to the present, he has outgrown almost all of his food issues and he is a very healthy 4 year old.

But let me take you back to his newborn days. As soon as we came home, I had family visit. My sister with 3 kids, would gently say, “he really spits up a lot.” My dear mother-in-law, would say other gentle comments about him, pointing out what seemed less normal.  Well, my know-it-all defensive self (not to mention sleep deprived and hormonal) just yelled back that my baby was fine. He was perfect. Some babies are fussy and some are not but mine was fine.

So, my baby is 3 weeks old, my husband is at work. I’m going stir crazy. I’m really not used to being home all the time and I spent my time holding a screaming baby, nursing constantly (it would calm him down), trying to get him to sleep, back to a screaming baby, etc. So I got the brilliant idea to go to Target by myself.  I even planned. I would nurse, then we would go, maybe the car would put him to sleep. I told myself, I can accomplish things still! Watch me, world.  So I set my little plan into action. Nursed my little baby, he seemed calm, We got into the car, and I’m already feeling elated.

What I didn’t yet realize is that his reactions took time to happen. The milk had to get processed in his little system before it started to hurt. Later I could time it; his screaming would begin about 30 min after nursing. Target is 15 min from my house. We get into a cart and he is in his infant carrier, still calm.  So I begin shopping. About 15 min into shopping the screaming begins. Now, I’ve also learned that a newborn baby in pain screaming is way different from the normal quiet, soft little musings I’ve heard from other newborns.  This was a loud, piercing, scream with all my soul kind of crying.  I panic and take my baby out of the car seat. So now I have a cart full of stuff that I can longer push because I’m holding a newborn in my hands. Then people begin to ask me if he’s okay and can they help. That concern just put me over the edge. I tell people he must be hungry. It’s okay- he’s just still hungry. So I leave my cart in an aisle and I have a new plan. I will go to my car, nurse some more and then come back and finish at Target. I’m getting frazzled but I can still do this.

I go to my car and get in the back seat with the tinted windows because I’m still overly modest and unsure about all this breastfeeding (don’t worry- very soon modesty and dignity left me for good). I start to nurse and he calms down. I breathe a sigh of relief. All will be ok. Hallelujah. I’m not a total failure. Then I feel it.

One thing I forgot to mention, when a baby has severe intestinal distress, you also get baby diarrhea. This stuff is like water and there was just SO much.  No diaper could contain it. And that’s what I felt in my hand, in my lap, covering my legs. My clean hand was holding my son’s head as he nursed. The other hand cupped a pool of diarrhea. Pool. In my hand.

It was a moment like no other. I cried. I waited for a true grown-up to come rescue me. And then I realized I’m the mama here (clearly a hot poop-filled mess). So I opened the door, flung the diarrhea onto the parking lot (I still feel a little guilty about that but I had no other idea what to do with it), and then used every single baby wipe in possession. My Target cart was left abandoned and I drove home, still poopy and traumatized. But now it’s like a barometer. Having a bad day? Well, are you covered in poo with a screaming baby? No? Then it’s okay. You’ll make it. And if you are holding a hand-full of poop, just fling it out the door and get the hell outta there.

A Bag for All Adventures: BEXAR Goods Co.

I had a chance to talk to a long-time colleague of mine after doing a bird survey the other day. I hadn’t talked to him since he started his incredible San Antonio-based handmade leather goods company in his spare time, BEXAR Goods Co., and it was wonderful to catch up with him and see how it was going. Guy is that visionary kind of person who is passionate about all things, especially his family, his photography, and his designs of these incredible leather products.

I knew our fellow Hot Mess Mama, Lisa, was obsessed with his bags and purchased one of his leather/canvas bags as a diaper bag. FYI, this is pure genius if you ever want your husband to feel completely comfortable and manly while holding your diaper bag (and if you ever want to look, feel, and know you are undeniably cool carrying said diaper bag). Though I could still never look this hip (sigh):

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Adorable pregnant Lisa and her BGC bag.

Another one of my dear friends has been raving about BEXAR Goods Co for years. She even went to a workshop to help make her own bag. How cool is that?

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Photo by L. Acuna

But when I went to look at Guy’s website, I kinda shat myself. I didn’t realize just how awesome these bags were. It’s a very rugged, manly type of look; the kind of Indiana Jones satchel envisioned in the back of an old 1930s prop plane before it’s about to crash or the kind of Brad Pitt satchel used to house his trout while he’s fly fishing in a river…that runs through it.

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I mean, wow.

With it’s undeniably cool leather-covered, cork-topped, copper flasks and its thick, waterproof, waxed-cotton canvas bags, this line screams bellows “all things man.”

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Would this not be the coolest gift ever?
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Horween Outlander
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Porter Satchel

BUT these bags are not just for those with testosterone coursing through their veins. They’re just simply…classic. Timeless. The way people used to make things. With care, precision, and indestructible materials. It’s that kind of leather that gets even better with age. It’s the kind of canvas that proudly wears your hard-earned scars, whether its from that scrape from a slot-canyon hike, those bite-marks from a teething 18-month-old, that singe at Burning Man, or that urine “water” stain from that trip to the beach. It looks, feels, and knows it’s better with time. And THAT is a bag I can stand by. For any type of adventure, with kids or without. Here are a few more of my favorites:

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Cruiser Roll Top
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Market Bag
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Mustang Carry (p.s. I love how they call a tote a “carry.” Much more manly unisex).

Cheers to these versatile, beautifully made, classic bags and the groceries, diapers, fishing gear, and hipster craft tequila they carry. May you forever be enlightened from this leathery experience.

Product photo source here.

Reading a bedtime story

A Goodnight Kiss

Reading a bedtime story
Imagine a night…with a stress free bedtime!

When I was pregnant, people couldn’t wait to tell me that I would “never sleep again”. But I want to tell all future mamas out there that this is NOT TRUE.

What IS true is that you will think about sleep a lot. If you’re getting enough. If your kid is getting enough. Why your kid isn’t sleeping. About bedtime. About how much time you have AFTER bedtime to clean and make lunches and eat ice cream with your husband before YOUR bedtime. About how you should be sleeping, but your brain is full of ideas & useless trivia. You should be sleeping, but you keep admiring your son in the monitor and the way he sleeps with his hand patting his cheek and his blanket balled up under him.

Until last week, I was having trouble getting my kid to go to sleep on his own. He would fall asleep in my arms, but not in his own bed. But everything about parenthood is a phase, isn’t it? Every time I start to think “What am I doing wrong?” or “Is it always going to be like this?”, everything snaps into place.

A little backstory: My little dude has been a great sleeper. Then three molars came in at once, and we are all awake for 2 weeks straight.  Every morning, I would huddle over his toddler table like a shell-shocked refugee, with a cup of coffee and a dirty bathrobe over my shoulders.

I finally caved and tried “Cry It Out” after 2 weeks of pacing the house all night with him and those molars. What made me change my mind? Well, I feel asleep. And sleepwalked into a wall. While I was holding him. We were both fine (just startled), but that was my wake-up call. It took a few days of tears (mine and his), but night wakings were finally over.

But CIO didn’t work at bedtime. That was my fault. The crying and 5-10-15 minute checks were cutting into my cleaning/laundry/prepping time. It was just faster to let him fall asleep in my arms. So, that’s how he got to be almost 20 months old and still not falling asleep in his bed.

Last week, something changed. Instead of clinging to me, he wanted to lay down in his crib. I rubbed his back, said goodnight, and walked out. Cue screaming and tears. I waited 5 minutes. I gave him a hug. More tears. I planned to check in after 10 minutes, but he was quiet and lying down in 5. What? It’s a Christmas miracle!!

Last night, I brought him to bed after his bedtime story. He laid down and hugged his “Toto” (Totoro). I rubbed his tiny shoulders.

“Goodnight sweetheart.”

It was dark, but I saw him sit up. Uh oh. Was he going to cry?

“Kiss, mama.”

He stood at the end of the crib for a goodnight kiss. Then he laid back down. As I left the room, I turned and blew a kiss. I couldn’t see him, but I didn’t need to.

“Mmmah! Mmmah!”

It was so adorable I almost picked him up and squeezed him. But I’m pretty sure if I had done that bedtime would have taken another 45 minutes (you know how it goes).

If you’re a mom, you know that feeling. When your heart swells up with love and awesome and cuteness and ahhh-this-is-the-best-child-ever.

Even if I “never sleep again”, that feeling is worth it.

Bodily Fluids-These Things Happen

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My alarm went off at 2 a.m. this morning. The 18-month old sleep regression alarm. I didn’t really believe that sleep regression was a thing, but I’m totally a believer now. Our little guy has been doing everything on that list.  Refusing naps, refusing to go to bed at night, screaming in the middle of the night, fussy, clingy, no appetite.  It’s very similar to an ear infection actually.  Since his brother is prone to ear infections, I figured that was his problem.  I had him at the doctor-nothing. I gave him Tylenol-nothing. I tried essential oils-nothing. So, I looked it up. If the internet is correct, as it almost always is, he has what they call The 18 Month Sleep Regression *echo *echo *echo. Apparently it can last from 2 up to 8 weeks.

8 weeks?  F*@k! Well, the oldest is getting up to pee at least once every night so it’s not like I sleep anyway.  Finally something the two of them can synchronize.

Well, this little sleep regression alarm is what got me up last night.  When I saw that it was 2 a.m. I was concerned because my 3 1/2 year old had not yet gotten up to go potty.  Uh oh!  He always gets up around 1 so I expected the worst.  After soothing the screamer, I went to check on the big boy, sound asleep, sprawled out on top of his blankets, SOAKED.  It’s such a sad sorry thing to find your little baby sleeping in a puddle.  I had to wake him, change him, and change his bed.  Needless to say, he was less than thrilled and probably would have preferred I just leave him alone in his puddle.  He had an accident the night before so I had gambled last night and quickly threw on a couple layers thinking “he’s not going to pee again tonight”.  Well, I should know Vegas isn’t my thing.  I’m a penny slots kind’a gal.  My gambling skills are zilch! Of course he peed-a gallon!  He had a tiny 1/4C of milk before bed. How does it multiply in their system to equal an entire gallon of pee?

Before I got him back in bed I decided a quick trip to the bathroom wouldn’t hurt.  There can’t possibly be any more pee in that tiny body, but lets do it anyway. It’s more about the habit I guess.  He was pretty much asleep so I propped him up on the potty in the dark, his little booty so far down in that potty it was probably dipping, elbows rested on his knees, cheeks rested on his hands, asleep. He started to go, alot.  I could hear it…and then I could feel it.  There was one little matter I forgot about, or more never thought about. That little guy wasn’t pointed down.  Actually, it was stuck straight up in the air.   It was dark.  He was curled up in a tight sleeping peeing ball.

“Wait, I don’t get it. It’s going everywhere!” I started to shout. “Stop! Stop!” I said.  I tried to push my hand in, just to assist in getting some of it into the potty.  I was unsuccessful.  It was EVERYWHERE.  I was up to my elbows in pee, dripping everywhere. I stood there in my husband’s perfectly comfy, most favorite, worn to a thread, pre-pregnancy t-shirt that I refuse to put away for 9 months and my underwear.  I was soaked!  His nice clean jammies were soaked.  The tile was soaked.  There was no rug to catch a drop because the little guy peed all over it before bath time earlier that evening.  I just started at the top and started to clean, in the dark.  I got everything cleaned up, got him off the potty, stood him up, and he just looked at me.

“I’m so sorry mommy”

“Oh, hunny, don’t be sorry.  It’s ok.  These things happen.”

*yeah! you shouldn’t be the sorry one.  Somebody many generations before you should have thought twice before giving a potty training child control, or lack thereof, over such an important piece of equipment.

I have two boys, I’m no stranger to stray pee.  Usually it’s on my hands, or maybe I’ve stepped in it.  But NEVER have I been showered in pee.

I got him snuggled back in bed, changed my clothes and got back into bed.  It was 2:30. I couldn’t expect to sleep much more.  I dozed maybe and then around 5:30 the alarm went off again.  This time it was the foster cat lurching, heaving, please don’t puke on my stuff alarm. I didn’t have my phone as a flashlight. I didn’t have a magazine to slip under his mouth. I couldn’t see a damn thing anyway.

I just waited for it to be over.

I lay there awake, trapped, wondering where he did it, how bad it was.

Preparing myself for yet another form of bodily fluid to find me.

It did.

Sugar + Toddler + Restaurant = Fail

So my well-intentioned, but highly cocky “respect” discipline philosophy first mentioned here ran head first into a brick wall last night. And it died a slow and gurgly death. Because I am a shit show. And disciplining a toddler in public is difficult. Because they own you. They’ve got you right by your short-hairs. They know it. And you know it.

Cue yesterday afternoon. We had a lovely day. Ryan’s parents came in town. We played outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We put up some vintage outdoor lights and did some landscaping. And Nina had way too many fun sweets. But that’s okay–we bend the rules when the grandparents are here.

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Pre-crack. Note the calm, organized sweetness.
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Post-crack. Notice the boundless energy and that hint of mischief in her eyes. I should have seen this coming.

SOOO we decided to go to one of our go-to places for homey food and amazing atmosphere: The County Line on Bull Creek, where you can feed the abundant turtles and fish and ducks after stuffing your face full of yummy BBQ. Love this place for kiddos and would highly recommend it for families in the Austin area. Watching those turtles is hypnotizing!

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Beautiful Bull Creek

The thing is, Nina was not only completely full from the overindulgence in goodies, but completely wired. Like on crack. And so she proceeded flip out and hit me, as a game, non stop, throughout dinner. This is not a violent child. Every time I gave her a warning to not hit me again or it’s a timeout, she grinned and hit me again. And you gotta go through with a threat. So crap. Time out. Yet again. Away from everyone. Outside.

AAAAAND it backfired on me. That beautiful spring air was essentially a REWARD for bad behavior. So by the third timeout, it finally dawned on me to find a quiet room and have her face the wall in a chair for 2 minutes. Nope. That didn’t work either. She played me like a fiddle the whole time. Her muffled giggles while she shimmied in her chair to the head-shoulders-knees-and-toes tune were like sirens of defiance. And then she asked for more timeout time. Because what’s more fun than a party of one when you’re the star? C.R.A.P.

If it was just us, we would have packed up and left. But we were stuck there at dinner. I was getting increasingly upset because she NEVER acts like this. My husband wanted me to ignore her or switch places with him to break the cycle. But I had had enough. I told them I’d wait for them in the truck and left with her. When everyone joined us I broke down in sobs on my mother-in-law’s shoulder and she said, “motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever love.” This is just one kid. I am such a wimp! And I hold any mama with more than one kid in such high regard–don’t know how you do it.

But then this morning, Nina asked me as I was helping her get dressed, “you okay, mom? I hit you. I sorry.” And my normal sweet girl returned. Those glittery, mischevious little devil horns must have broken off in her sleep last night. Lesson learned: Over-stimulated, over-exhausted, and over-sugared shit happens.

So how do you do it, mamas? During those times of meltdown crises, what do you do? Remove the child from the situation? Ignore it? Talk sternly? Threaten? Give ’em the stink-eye? For real. I would love to hear your honest, solid advice. I am in need of some tried-and-true ideas that don’t require a 100 pages of book reading. And I’ll take a mama’s advice over a book any day anyway.

Photos by ChicEtChoc and Austin Wedding Day.