putting the fast in breakfast

This past week my 2-year-old, L, has decided eating is an option she doesn’t want to do it anymore. This is not written in my usual dramatic hyperbole. The girl doesn’t eat from about 4 pm each night until 7 am the next morning.

She’s making husband’s recent daily 14-hour fasting goal look easy.

I know toddlers are the best judges if they are hungry or not. I know she will not willingly starve herself. Her appetite starts waning after 1pm and apparently ceases once the sun goes down. I also know actual toddler “serving sizes” are microscopically smaller than you’d think: a quarter of a banana is the recommended serving for a 2-year-old, 2 tablespoons of Cheerios is all they are “supposed to” have at a time.

I once went to a ‘Toddler Workshop’ at the library and the childhood nutrition specialist there blew my mind with these facts. At that time E was 2 and would easily eat more than me for at least one meal on the daily.  He’d plow through two full Eggo waffles, two scrambled eggs, a handful of berries and juice and want a snack one hour later.

It’s hard to fight the ‘clean plate club’ idea. It’s driven into me, from somewhere, kids need to eat. Eat something. I can now see how easy it is to fall into the trap of young children skipping dinner but then eating “snacks” an hour later. You don’t want to harm your kids. You don’t want them to starve.

But that’s the thing. I also rationally know, if L is hungry enough, she will eat what we offer her. And it’s not like she is sitting at the table screaming her head off for sweets- she doesn’t even want to sit down in the evening to eat. “L, time to eat!” I call. “No!” she shoots back, and runs away.

So, even though a part of me feels like I’m failing somehow, as I sit down to eat a nutritiously balanced dinner with my older son and she’s in her room playing with dolls, I also know that I’m avoiding a tantrum, tears, and annoyance by just letting her be. She goes to bed without dinner, sleeps 12 hours straight and wakes up hungry and happy so, I guess for now it’s all good.

Living with a toddler is living with an irrational power hungry dictator wanna-be. I know I can not physically force the kid to eat. She’s gonna do it when she wants to do it. But, on the flip side, I control what she eats. I can’t give her options, the knowledge that she maybe could have a choice of not just when to eat but also what– that’s how you end up with kids only eating chicken nuggets or grilled cheeses for three years straight.

So, this power struggle really isn’t a power struggle. It’s all internal with myself. She will eat when hungry, but only what we, the parents, deem healthy for her. And that’s how it is she ends up eating roughly the same calorie intake that Emma Stone dieting to fit into her Oscar gown does each day. And it’s ok.

 

 

never enough

“Chronically Sleep-Deprived” is a label all parents claim. Especially parents of young kids. Especially mothers who breastfeed and co-sleep. When my husband is out of town, my mornings are exercises of me battling a need to “sit” and wake up all while changing diapers, outfits, making breakfasts, breaking up fights between the two older kids. I am a night owl by nature and have raised three early-morning-worm-eaters.

I like a lazy morning. These do not exist at this house.

In turn, I also like a lazy evening. My kids go to bed early, usually by 7:30, so I have a few luxurious hours to myself to binge watch the TV shows of my choosing (just finished season two of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, now onto season two of Mr. Robot). I usually have baby H in my arms, or by my side, and that need of “just one more episode” makes it so I’m not in bed until 10:30 or so….

And then, I have a crazy goal this year of reading 101 books. I know I can do it, I’m currently reading books number 14 and 15, but this goal requires some serious pre-sleep reading. And Husband calls me around this time, so by best estimates, I’m asleep around 11 every night.

Last night H decided to fully wake up, cooing and laughing, around 11:15, and then didn’t settle down until 1 or so. I let him sing to himself as I tried to slumber, but last night he wasn’t having it. We have the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper attached to our bed, and, usually, he’s totally fine in there, but last night the kid wanted to lay in my arms. Now that he’s a pretty solid 5-month old I’m a little more at ease with him actually in my bed, but I don’t want to start each night off that way.

So last night it was a half-asleep parody dance of picking him up out of the co-sleeper, settling him down in my arms, then putting him back down in his own space only to have to repeat it five minutes later. I finally just gave up and H won the battle. The little stinker snuggled into me and I tried to find that happy medium of sleeping next to him with a blanket and pillow all while not having the blanket and pillow anywhere near his face (which is tricky).

Fast-forward to 6 am, the 6-year-old crawling into bed with me, and his every ten minutes or so plead to me to “wake up”. I eventually tell him to “get himself Cheerios” around 7 am and I follow him out of bed around 7:30.

I wish I could bounce out of bed with a halo of birds singing around my head, smiling and calm and cook these impossibly healthy breakfasts for the kids (that they actually eat) but this is not possible, like, ever. I wish I could responsibly turn in for the night at the same time each night, knowing full well the demands of early morning parenting, but apparently, this is not a possibility either.

So I’ll continue this hazy, distracted, grumpy, tired version of ‘mommying’, at least today. Perhaps tonight I’ll turn a page tonight and learn my lesson and go to sleep earlier, but with a full queue of Mr. Robot to watch, I’m sure I’ll skirt responsibility once again. Some lessons are never learned.

 

walks with toddlers

Walk at your toddler’s pace, they said. Notice what they notice, they said. You’ll gain a new appreciation of beauty and life and learn how to slow down and enjoy the world in an entirely new way, they said.

False.

Walking along, behind, and in front of a 2-year-old is akin to going to the dentist. You dread it, it’s mostly unpleasant during the procedure, and maybe after you’re done you feel like it was a good healthy choice, but you never look back at it with wonder or gratitude. It just is what it is: a time-consuming exercise, a battle of wills of you arguing internally between “just-pick-the-damn-kid-up” and “she-really-seems-content-I-can-fake-a-smile-a-little-longer”.

In reality, I DO let L walk. Quite often. The bugger has great stamina and can keep up with myself and the six-year-old pretty well. I love fostering her independence this way and I know it is fun for her.

But I don’t see how on Earth it’s supposed to inspire or help ME at all.

bLAh bLAh Land

It’s the movie everyone is raving about. It’ll win a sh*t ton of Oscars. La La Land came out late last year and everyone, critics to regular people, love it. This movie has many facets that should add up to me loving it: it’s a musical, it stars two celebrities I like, and usually movies with accolades are movies I like too.

But, it just didn’t do it for me.

Two caveats affect my opinion.

First, my husband and I watched it from home, on the internet. You can deduce since it still is in theaters this means the quality of video/sound wasn’t ideal. On a good day, I have issues hearing clearly (so much so I’ve started turning on Closed Captioning for all my shows) so maybe I couldn’t fully understand all the songs. Perhaps this is why I also though Gosling and Stone had such weak singing voices… but doesn’t make up for the lack of spark in the dialogue or plot.

Secondly, I’m deep into season two of Crazy-Ex Girlfriend and La La Land just pales in comparison. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is witty, snarky, the songs are tight and catchy. The acting is incredible. Maybe my “musical” entertainment ability is maxed out and I can’t enjoy anything else right now.

After watching hours of Rachel Bloom dance and sing her heart out, looking healthy and alive, seeing Emma Stone was a shock. “She’s so thin”, I kept commenting to my husband, like an old cranky lady on the subway, “She needs to eat something”.

Ryan Gosling is steely and handsome as always, but he can’t sing. I don’t understand why such a big-budget Hollywood movie felt the need to cast these two actors as leads. There are plenty of people looking to make it in the biz who would have brought life and joy to the screen.

Now, I’m not suggesting all musicals are the same. Just because they are both musicals doesn’t mean it’s a fair comparison. But La La‘s story and execution didn’t capture my attention at all. I felt no sympathy for Stone’s character’s plight of “struggling actress barista” and even less for Gosling’s “struggling jazz player trying to save jazz” character.

People are loving the return to classic “Musical Movie” with this, and it is a good distraction from the mess of current day news. Perhaps I’m an old grump nick-picking on La La. But my honest opinion from the opening number was “underwhelmed”.

But, like I said, maybe the excellent Crazy-Ex is making me judge this movie to0 harshly. My husband certainly loved it. He’s playing the music on repeat on our Amazon Alexa. I do like the elements of jazz with the soundtrack, but once the singing comes on it’s just, blah. Give me a song about “Heavy Boobies” over “City of Stars” any day.

crazy-ex-girlfriend
Seriously. Do yourself a favor and start streaming this show. It’s sooo brilliant.

my valentine day vbac birth story

In celebration of my daughter’s second birthday, I am sharing her birth story. Birth stories are among my favorite blog posts to read, as each birth is unique. I plan to share my other two kid’s birth stories near their birthdays this year as well.

Two years ago, I found myself on my back with many strangers staring at my naked bottom. This scene, with the bright lights shining on my nether regions, was my dream. I wanted and ached for that moment for the entire previous forty-one weeks of my pregnancy, bordering on obsession. It was in my second hour of pushing and feeling like all I worked for, dreamed for, was out of reach.

Having everyone yell encouragement at me kept me up, but things were not seeming to work in my favor …

But let’s backtrack, go to to the beginning.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew two things. The baby’s gender would remain a mystery until birth, and I wanted to birth this baby the old-fashioned way, out of my cooch: a Vaginal-Birth-After-Caesarian, or VBAC for short. Most of my peers and even some family members thought I was insane. People questioned the safety, the legality of it. But determined, I pressed on.

[if you have any questions about VBACs I suggest you look into vbacfacts.com or join a VBAC support group on FB. I could go into a tirade here about why VBACs are safe and reasonable but this is a birth story post]

To achieve this goal I chose a midwife group with a high VBAC success rate (anywhere between 85-90%!) and focused on my goal. I read VBAC stories from Facebook feeds whenever I logged on, I listened to hypnobirthing nightly, I saw a chiropractor. My husband’s cousin, who is a dear friend to me, offered her skills as a motivated natural birth advocate / doula-in-training for the birth.

I lived and breathed and stressed and prayed and worried about it. Probably more than was needed.

The motivation behind this stemmed from my first son’s birth. When I had him by c-section in 2010, I didn’t really question his arrival. Much. I was overwhelmed in general: a new mom, a new wife, living in a new city, trying to breastfeed and figure out what I wanted my life to look like as a new mom and wife – I didn’t have time to process or really think about what happened at his birth.

But, four years later, with fresh eyes, looking back I realized how plum wrong his entire birth was. I’ll share the entire story on his upcoming 7th birthday, but it’s fair to say I was never given a fair chance at a vaginal birth with him. Even my post-op report didn’t list a concrete reason for the section.

So, I just wanted a chance. I wanted a do-over of the entire “birthing experience”.

My parents flew in a few days before the baby’s due date of 2/7. They were with us, walking throughout NYC, walking the mall, trying to walk the darn baby out. Baby still hadn’t come after about a week, and my parents were planning on flying home when they came down with the flu, which grounded them even longer. I had the guilt of them spending a ton of money on a hotel room and food and airfare, waiting for a baby who apparently wanted to stay in my womb forever. I questioned why I didn’t just schedule a section. Surely that would have been easier.

A testament to them is they never once questioned my desire for the VBAC, never pressured me to just “schedule a surgery” for their sake.

Anyway, while my parents were absolutely miserable with the flu in their hotel room, I went to my 41-week check up on 2/13 at 8:30 am. I had been timing contractions since the previous night, and they felt legitimate. I didn’t really know what “legitimate” meant because with my son I never felt a single, real, natural contraction. I was giddy with excitement: I’d get checked there, and an ultrasound. I was confidant I’d be at a 3 or 4 when they checked me.

We did the ultrasound first, and the technician was very quiet. When I finally asked what was going on, she told me I had no amniotic fluid. I inquired how much I had, and she said, “Zero”. The OB on duty and midwife conversed and told me to get undressed for a cervix check.

She checked me and I was a “barely one” with a “floppy cervix” (whatever that means!). Crestfallen, I asked what was going to happen. She told me I’d have the baby that day, and to make my way to the hospital. I wouldn’t need to go to triage, I’d be admitted right away.

Thus began the rollercoaster.

My spirits dropped. Going to the hospital and getting admitted and induced was never my plan. I knew, statistically, my chances of a RCS (repeat c-section) rose with each medical intervention. The so-called contractions I was feeling obviously were false contractions.

We went home, got stuff together, figured out childcare arrangements for our son, called Alex (the cousin/doula) and I had one last big meal at Burger King. We were admitted around noon. The nurses were in good moods, praising and cheering for my upcoming TOLAC (Trial of Labor after Cesarean). That was nice.

The midwife-on-duty told me we could try a few tactics since I was still feeling contractions. She offered a foley balloon or bulb, or Pitocin. Pitocin is what lead to my c-section with E, so I was adamant to avoid it at all costs, especially early on. I chose the balloon.

The hospital is a training hospital so I let a student midwife try to put it in. They all told me I was so tough during it- she didn’t know what she was doing at all and I kept thinking her botching it was helping me dilate more.With the foley balloon in place, I started to pace and sway through the contractions.

Because of hospital policy, I had to stay connected to a monitor the entire labor. There was a long wire that reached about 6-8 feet and they provided a fitness ball to labor with. My movements were only slightly restricted. I felt like I handled the contractions best by rocking through them, leaning against my husband. The contractions were getting very strong, and after a couple of hours the balloon fell out and I was at a 4.

Progress!

The staff left us alone most of the time. We played relaxing music, the lights were low, and the three of us had our own little bubble of birthing going on.

A few hours later they checked me and I hadn’t progressed. My spirits sunk low. Being a VBAC I knew the OB’s scrutinized every hour that passed without progress. I knew the time bomb ticked away, bringing me closer to the operating room. The midwife offered Pitocin again or told me to try nipple stimulation. I opted for the nipple stimulation.

This kicked up the contractions. Every contraction lasted about 2 minutes, and between them, I’d squeeze my nipples. I ended up with sore thumbs and gnarly red patches from the hours of repeated squeezing. We’d see the new contraction coming on in the monitor, and I’d grab onto my husband and start slow dancing through it. Both of us had achey hips for days after the birth from so much pacing and swaying.

My pain increased and with every new contraction, I felt confident the baby was that much closer to birth. I focused on positivity and good vibes. Several hours passed, and in the dead hours of the night, they checked me again. I’d made it to a 6. It was Valentine’s Day, around 3am, over 16 hours since admittance. But, still, positive progress.

We went on.

Around 6am they checked and I hadn’t progressed. Mentally and physically exhausted with chapped nipples, we decided to rest. I laid down, Alex left to take care of her baby at home, my husband napped too. My contractions slowed down to barely anything and I tried sleeping.

Around 8am on the 14th I started nipple stimulation again. 2 hours later, no progress.

They gave me two choices: Pitocin or section. I agreed to Pitocin only with an epidural, so we had to wait for the anesthesiologist to come in. They kicked everyone out of the room and I can say without a doubt I’d never felt so terrified. The entire previous 24 hours weighed down on me at that moment, the highs and lows of wanting something so bad and feeling like nothing I did helped at all. The Doctor was not friendly, he had zero compassion administrating the epidural, but there was a saint of a nurse who held my hands and then eventually all my weight as I sobbed into her. I gave up at this moment and thought there was no way the day would end the way I dreamed.

Between the pitocin and epidural, around 9am I slept. They woke me up around 1030 and I still hadn’t progressed. Alex was still gone, and my husband and I decided to watch TV. I checked out, completely. They told me I had until noon to progress and since I’d been stuck at a 6 for hours, I just didn’t care anymore.I cried and tried to accept all my hard work was gone. I imagined telling everyone I didn’t do it, the VBAC, and the smug knowing looks they’d give me. I thought of my poor sick parents, stuck here and unable to see the baby because of my selfish desire.

This was the low point.

Alex arrived in the room around 11 and immediately turned the TV off. I argued with her, telling her the induction wasn’t working, and I was just waiting to see what would happen. I told her I had to admit the section was coming.

She slapped some sense into me. She told me it wasn’t over yet. She asked me to give it just one more hour, with concentration, just one more hour to see what would happen. She wanted me to listen to more hypnobirthing tracks, these insanely slow vocalizations with elevator music in the background. I’d listened to them for hours and I think I laughed at her suggesting it again.

But I consented.

Because of the epidural,  I could feel the contractions coming on, a dull pain, but obviously, they were nothing compared to what I’d endured over the previous 24 hours. So I really, really focused on the birthing tracks, on visualizing my body opening up. As each contraction lasted for 1-2 minutes, I would spend every second “in the moment”.

Around 11:30 a nurse in scrubs, with a hairnet covering came in to check my wristband. I could tell she worked in the OR. They were prepping for a section. But I was so in the zone I didn’t let it rattle me. I kept focus.

At noon the midwife came in- the third midwife on duty since we’d been admitted. I felt like she was checking me only out of courtesy, I could tell she had a pre-planned speech about “not enough progress” to give me to soften the c-section blow. She put her fingers in me and looked surprised.

“You are at a 9!”

Those three centimeters I’d progressed felt like miles. I couldn’t belive it. Once again the labor swung in a new direction. Suddenly, it was a real possibility again – I had another chance.

They gave me a few more hours to fully dilate, and I started “practice pushing” at 3 pm.

I pushed for two hours.

I started to doubt myself again.

It had been so long. And I’d read many TOLAC stories in which the mom made it to pushing, only to be brought in for a section after hours of pushing. I worked so hard that I developed a fever -which I knew meant the baby would be in the NICU for 48 hours. But I kept on.

I could hardly believe it when they turned those bright lights on – when they had me feel down to feel the babies slimy, slippery head. The midwife told me the baby was bald, which let me know I’d nearly done it. I had allowed a student midwife, and two nursing students in the room to watch the birth, and all the NICU staff there as well.

But, I did it. I pushed the baby out, to an audience of well over ten people. My husband yelled out, “It’s a girl!” and they whisked her way immediately – she aspirated meconium. I remember crying, throwing myself back in victory, just repeating over and over, “I did it!”. I could hardly believe it. I’d done the VBAC, and it was a girl!

I heard L’s weak first cry and they let me hold her for the briefest few seconds, for a photo, before her transfer to the NICU. The room emptied out and the midwife stitched me up.

I was frustrated at the wait between the delivery and when I was allowed to move from my room, it probably only took 2 hours, but I wanted my baby. I felt great, physically, and because of breastfeeding issues I had had with my oldest son I wanted to feed L asap. But I had to wait for the epidural to fade so I could walk.

I rode on a euphoric high for the next several days. The midwife on duty my second day at the hospital told me my notes said they thought for sure I’d be a post-op paitent, but I’d somehow pulled through. This news just added to my pride. I felt amazing, couldn’t believe how much easier the recovery from a vaginal birth was compared with that of a c-section.  My 41-week gestation baby was eight-and-a-half pounds and stuck out in the NICU, and we were discharged after 48 hours.

Looking back, I know the success of my VBAC is mainly due to the support system I had. The midwives were amazing. They gave me every chance to succeed. Having my husband and cousin there supporting me helped push me through the long difficult emotional toll the labor caused. I also have to thank my daughter. Had her heart rate dropped, or had she shown any signs of distress, they would have called for the section. It’s like she was a major supporter of me too throughout it all, even without any amniotic fluid and all those hours of labor.

So, that is the story of my Valentine’s VBAC. I know it is long, but I remember devouring posts just as long in my preparation for birth so I hope it helps someone out there. I had every card stacked against me at one point: no amniotic fluid and no progression for something like 7 hours, but because of the awesome staff, I was able to continue. Planning for my daughters birth taught me why birth matters, aspects of our broken medical system, and also taught me a lot about myself.

If you are even questioning whether or not you want to try for a VBAC, I highly suggest you do. Each c-section is progressively more risky, yet each successive VBAC is slightly safer. My experience was well worth the stress, pressure and drama of the delivery. image3image4

pink exploding

We celebrated L’s second birthday yesterday. L is the only female of her cousins here on Long Island, she’s the one girl among six boy cousins. Because of this, she is automatically gifted all the frilly, girly, pinky stuff* my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law can find. Which is understandable and all, but I still scrunch my nose up at it all.

I’m the same way with my boys. I am a believer of not pushing gender norms onto kids, and in addition to this ideal, I also don’t like the amount of commercialism we surround our kids with. The character tie-ins just make me sick. It’s everywhere. Try going to Target and buying a non-commercial character Halloween outfit. Or getting your kids a nice, plain backpack or folder for school without some flashy cartoon character on it. You have to dig and search for the non-branded items.

I did, possibly, too good of a job of steering my oldest away from the trends. Unlike most little boys, he could care less about superheroes. It’s not that I’ve actively avoided exposure to them, but I’ve never encouraged it. Now he is six-years-old and refuses any character-branded clothing or items unless it’s Elsa from  Frozen but that’s a totally separate topic. It is almost annoying just because when he is gifted said “boy” items he won’t use them.

Now, back to little L.

I guess I have only myself to blame. A few months ago she needed new socks, and Aldi was selling some Disney ones super cheap so I picked them up. She was drawn to the princess socks. Like, obsessed instantly. It made putting her socks and shoes on much easier, but I sensed this kid is gonna be a totally different beast when it comes to fighting the gender norms.

Which is fine. Even though I look at the plastic, gaudy princess gear she opened yesterday with distaste, I also know this is a losing battle. I can’t keep it away from her. The more I fight, the more she’ll desire it.

I’m torn because I know it doesn’t really matter for her future as a woman, but another part of me believes it does. I know that when I was 2,3,4 I would have LOVED princess dresses and crowns. Absolutely I would have. But there wasn’t nearly the amount of merchandise to buy back then. And it certainly wasn’t as readily available and cheap as it is now.

I was aware of the princesses and I loved them, but my exposure was mostly through movies and books. I had this large classic Snow White book and I would stare and stare at pretty Snow White and play pretend I was her but, at the risk of sounding like a major Grinch about it all, I used my imagination when I played Snow White but my daughter will never have to pretend to have a crown and a big fluffy dress. She’ll have an entire closet full of them.

Today she hasn’t taken a tutu off or her wings off. It’s cute. It is. Maybe I can adjust my scowl and spin it all in a positive way. She is expressing herself and so so happy playing dress up. I can always tell her Princess’s wear their gloves and eat all their vegetables and share with their brothers. I can let her “play princess” without actually calling her “princess” all the time. Little things like that. Who am I to turn all femi-nazi on a toddler’s natural attraction to all things frill and pink? Like I said above, resisting this will make her desire for it worst, so for now I’ll try and smile at the pink explosion that’s taken over our tiny little home.

 

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attack of the chiffon

 

 

*I would say crap but our friends and relatives spent a lot of time and money buying her these gifts and it isn’t crap, really.

 

#pilotwife

The joys of a pilot wife. Everyone new person I meet, when I say what the husband does, they look misty and romantical and wax poetic on “how cool” a pilot husband is.

This isn’t the 1960’s, people. Unfortunately, we live in the aviation era of sweatpants and charging for water and “bare fare” pricing. Plus, with him gone two thirds of the month, I am the practicing single parent to the kids and the sole innkeeper of our little suburban castle.

A little of the glamour still sticks to the aviation lifestyle, though, and I know this because I was a flight attendant for nearly eight years and I’d get the same glazed over admiration when I told said new person my profession: little did they know of passenger fights over overhead spaces, torn pantyhose ‘glued’ together with sticky hairspray to stay up to dress code, and snarfing down on cup o’ noodles in the back galley between flights….

Anyway, my husband has the uncanny ability to schedule his trips a month in advance to overlap every major snowstorm the Northeast has. Seriously. If it’s going to snow a foot or more, he’s out of town. Maybe all his time out of town he’s practicing his psychic skills, but being his logical pilot-al mind I seriously doubt it. It’s either his good luck or my bad luck.

This week I was #blessed to dig out of another Northeast blizzard alone, but I’m not pregnant and the kids were occupied inside so it was the least cumbersome shoveling I’ve done in a while. I did have plenty internal Cinderella-inspired dialogues going on in my head with every scoop, so don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m sorry enough for myself.

Another skill my husband possesses: he’s ALWAYS gone with something breaks in the house. Like, major breakings of essential household equipment. If it’s gonna happen, he’s beaching it up in Southern Florida.

This morning I woke up and felt cold. Like, really, abnormally cold, which means it’s cold because I have good Norwegian DNA that loves the cold — look at the thermostat and it’s 55 degrees. Oh great, I thought, the boiler’s out?

I texted a very non-dramatic “Heat’s not working” to the hubs and he called me immediately. “What? Go downstairs!”

Now, I’m a weenie. A weird weenie with a juvenile fear of certain corners of our basement. I know, I know, I’m a 33-year-old woman, and I go into the same basement multiple times a day to do laundry, but I actively avoid the ‘boiler’ section. I can’t explain why, it’s just me. And so I made my 6-year-old and the dog join me downstairs as I approached the boiler in the ‘bad’ section.

Nothing to it, the boiler was clicking so I reset the breaker and guess what, it worked and the heat is working again. My husband heaped some praise on me for fixing it but my dependence on a child and a dog just to creep into the boiler section of the basement sort of diminishes any independent woman pride I could have at this moment.

Sigh.

It seems the boiler is fixed, husband is home tonight for a good long stretch and before I know it he will fly off again living that #pilotlife and I’ll stay home as the devoted #pilotwife.

(not sure why I’m overusing hashtags this morning, it’s a mood so stick with me here…probably just an annoying phase don’t worry )

 

not this week, satan

Something in this universe is conspiring against me working out this week. Be it Mother Nature via a massive snowstorm nobody saw coming until the day before it came, or my kids misbehaving in ways I’ve never seen, it’s pretty clear I’ve had to fight this week just to make it to the gym.

Finding motivation is hard enough, but throw in all these other distractions and it’s downright nearly impossible.

On Wednesday morning I barely got the kids out of the door in time to drop my son off at school. I drove nearly to the gym (a ten-minute drive) and realized my phone was at home. I have to have the phone for babysitting so we raced home, I sprinted inside, and once we got back to the gym parking lot at 925 for my 930 class, my daughter started screaming, “NO GYM!”

“Yes gym!” I cheerily shot back.

Getting inside the gym with 2 under 2 is an ordeal. I look absolutely ridiculous on good days. But on this day, I walked in with a yoga mat and L under one arm, and H in his carseat hooked under my other. I put L down to check in and she promptly turned around and ran out the door. “NO GYM!!!”

Everyone laughed at the check-in counter. I scooped her up again and asked them if they could sign me in. We made it to the elevator, and once we got into babysitting she was in full-on tantrum mode. This is not normal behavior for her. She usually loves the gym. The sitter and I looked at each other, I shrugged, and booked it for the class.

Yesterday it snowed 12 inches in 4 hours and the gym closed. I sort of got my workout in by shoveling, but it wasn’t the same.

Today I knew I would need serious discipline to make it to my 930 class, taught by the best instructor at the gym. The car still had a blanket of snow on it. So, at 840 I turned Daniel Tiger on the TV, bundled up, turned the car on and scraped and shoveled. It took much longer than anticipated but at 910 I still had enough time. I put the babies in the car one at at time, and then my oldest son.

Before I pulled out I did the mental checklist: purse, wallet with cash for babysitting, water, yoga mat …. shoot my phone! My son was playing with it. He didn’t know where it was. It was 915. I spent 10 minutes pacing through the living room/ kitchen in that manic fashion only someone who has misplaced something essential can. I went to the car and yelled at E (I feel bad about that now, but at the time I was so angry). I look around more, it’s 925 now so the class is in the crapper, and thankfully someone sent me a text message because I heard it ding from his bookbag. Why he put MY phone in his backpack is beyond me, but I grabbed it, walked as quickly as I could down our ice-covered front steps, and we went on our way.

L pulled another gym resistance move but I was beyond the pale. I scooped her up again, I dropped the kids off at exactly 945 and I went down to the treadmills to do run intervals. I had seen Amanda and the class-that-could-have-been doing their thing, so I was peeved on the way down the stairs.

Curse these kids, curse this weather, curse it all!

But, the run was awesome. Nothing like a good sweat to revamp my mood. I got a good 45 minutes in, returned upstairs to a crying L (apparently she had been stealing toys from other kids and needed to hear ‘no’ from someone other than me). I didn’t even blink. I had a high and squeezed her tight and we went downstairs and I treated them to McDonalds for lunch and all is well.

I never thought I’d take up the “gym” as my church, but it seems like it’s the only space and time of my day that’s just mine. Especially now that I’ve returned to work, I really have to commit to finding the time to go in. Especially when the entire universe and possibly Satan himself is conspiring against me getting a good workout in. Not this week!

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how I cloth diaper 2 under 2

(without losing my mind)

If there is one aspect of parenting I excel at, I’d say this whole cloth-diapering-thing is my mic-drop-worthy task. Generally speaking, when I tell someone (crossing guard, gym babysitter, rando grandma-like lady in the grocery store line) I cloth diaper my two babies, I get a dropped jaw and shaken head in sympathy as a response.

Which is totally unneeded.

Here’s a little secret: the diaper laundry is my favorite household chore.

How is this possible, you may wonder. Maybe I’m just a masochist in the homemaking sense. The reality is no other task is as satisfying as seeing and smelling the sloppy mess that is a wet bag go into the wash, and taking it out of the dryer a few hours later clean, white, and fresh smelling. Nothing compares.

I’m not an expert by any means, and my wash routine came from fluffloveuniversity.com, but I’ll share with you how a typical diaper wash day goes at my house.

The wetbag  is stored at the top of our basement stairs, on a nail. I usually have a smaller wetbag in the bathroom with the diapers our daughter has pooped in too (poops from food, not just milk, must be rinsed off in the toilet before going in the wash). I take them down to the wash, dump all of it in our top-loading HE machine. The first several months of cloth diapering I would have to go through the mess to pull the inserts out of the pocket diapers I use, but I finally learned to extract the inserts the second I change a diaper. That way I don’t have to touch a single soiled diaper.

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oh beware the yuckiness this preppy bag conceals

 

I use the “Quick-Wash” setting, set all the buttons to ‘hot’ ‘heavy’ and ‘high-spin’ (oddly sexual seeing those settings all typed out). I put it a full cap of detergent (usually Kirkland Ultra, but sometimes Tide). That’s another thing; I am dealing with literal sh*t and piss, so using “gentle chemical free detergent” is not happening in this house. Give me the chemicals, the science please. I totally am in sync with keeping unneeded chemicals out of things I ingest, but I trust the folks over at Kirkland Signature as experts on what works to get my clothes actually clean and I say to them; “more chemicals, please!’

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diaper soup – do your magic Samsung HE machine -do your magic Kirkland Ultra

 

After about an hour of the quick wash, I go back downstairs, add another capful of the evil-chemical-filled detergent and do a “Heavy Duty” wash. This wash takes about an hour and a half. Then, depending on the weather and usually my motivation level, I dry the diapers. Hanging them on the line to dry outside is ideal. I know I was just bragging on science but the Sun does wonders on cloth diapers. It bleaches them and makes all those annoying little poop stains fade out. It’s been awhile since I’ve sunned diapers, though, so usually, I just put them in the dryer and in an hour or so I bring them upstairs to fold.

Folding the diapers is tedious. It’s the hardest, thus easiest to blow off task. I try to avoid procrastinating on it by allowing myself the most ultimate of guilty pleasures while stuffing the diapers: Real Housewives of (insert whichever city is in season here).

It never fails, as I shove microfibers and cotton into the pockets of the diapers, I smell them deeply and marvel. I pretend I’m in a Tide Commerical. That dad who’s daughter wears a princess dress everyday? HA! I put the diapers through the wringer every other day, covered in so much nasty and since I don’t want to put off the readers here, I won’t attempt to describe them, but anyway they come out smelling and looking like new! (usually. I’d say there’s a 95% success rate. The odd diaper or two has a stain. I’m okay with that)

Once diapers are folded and on display on the bookcase I use to store them, I channel Marie Kondo and thank them. The bulk of my stash is Kawaii brand, and I’ve used them practically every day for two years straight. They now cover both my daughter and my sons butts over and over again and they do an incredibly good job at it. Every diaper washed represents up to 25 cents saved of a disposable diaper I didn’t use. Every diaper washed and dried and folded up represents a full circle, deeply satisfying.

How do I cloth diaper 2 under 2? I just do it. It’s just laundry, after all. A double-wash every 2-3 days. Anyone can do laundry, and this does increase the load, but like I said before, there is something rewarding about this ritual of wash-dry-fold that hasn’t faded over the years.

My daughter is going to turn two next week and I’ve planned on toilet training her very soon. Going down to just one fluff butt to cover means less diapers and until H is six months old or so, I won’t need to worry about rinsing poop off, which will be awesome. But, all in all, the cloth diaper ‘lifestyle’ (haha what a lifestyle, I just have to giggle at that) is one that works great and I’m a naturally messy, disorganized scatterbrained lady so if I can do it, I know you can too.

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