Mom Life

I’m crafty like a fox–not like my mom, who made all of our Halloween costumes from scratch

Halloween is giving me a newfound respect for my mom.  And making me freaking hate Pinterest even more than ever.

Granted, ’80s and ’90s moms had it easier because there was no social media.  So if your kid went out looking like a hot mess for Halloween, it only lasted one night–now the memories can haunt your child for the rest of their natural lives.  

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But my mom went all in for Halloween.  Probably because she was an art teacher and therefore crafty–like a mom, not a fox–by nature.  So our Halloween costumes were elaborate affairs that we spent months planning. And when we looked like hot messes, it was our own stupid faults for choosing an idiotic theme for my mother to execute.

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Like when my brother chose to go as Elmer’s glue.  Or a lawn bag. But my mother, despite working a full-time job and being the only cook in our family, created those costumes in loving detail, painting a sandwich board to match a bottle of glue and bending green pipe cleaners to come out of the top of the lawn bag.

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The year that my brother was a bottle of glue, I chose to be a Hershey’s Kiss.  So my mother crafted a suit out of chicken wire and a hula hoop, which she covered in aluminum foil, then made a pointed hat to match, with a Hershey’s logo affixed to the top, and dressed me in a brown turtleneck and leggings under it.  When I was Raggedy Ann, she made me a wig of yarn. When I wore my grandmother’s 1960s pink, knockoff Chanel suit and pillbox hat, she talked me out of putting brains on it for my Jackie Kennedy costume. And when I was Dorothy, as all brunette female children are at some point or another, they didn’t sell child-sized ruby slippers on Amazon for $11.99 like they do today, so my mother painted a pair of Keds red, then dipped them in a mix of red glitter and sequins.

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Flash forward to me as a mom?  I spent $36 on a baby Cookie Monster costume off Spirit Halloween’s website.  I didn’t even go to the store.

I suck.

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I wanted Jacob to be baby Bruce Springsteen, in a white t shirt, jeans, red bandana, a red baseball cap in his back pocket, and his toy guitar.  Hubby didn’t love the idea. He wanted him to be something cute and kid-like.

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Come on.  The resemblance is uncanny!

I voted for baby Luke Skywalker.  Yes, I’d be buying the costume, but the dogs already have Ewok costumes (which was probably a big waste of money.  They already kind of look like Ewoks. But whatever. Dogs are people too.) Hubby vetoed that one too. Which was totally unfair because Jacob recently demonstrated how awesome he’d be with a light saber when we took him to Home Depot and he found a PVC pipe that he ran through the store screaming and brandishing as a sword.

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Baby Jedi!

At this point, I began pouting because this is probably the last year that we can pick a costume for him before he starts exerting his toddler Jedi-mind tricks (aka throwing a tantrum) if he doesn’t get his own way.  And last year, his first Halloween, we matched his costume to the aviator theme of his helmet (which I had wanted to have wrapped to look like R2D2 and still think would have been a better costume. Yes, I’m a huge Star Wars nerd.  But as an ’80s kid, our only brunette heroines were Dorothy and Leia. So basically I’m obsessed with shoes and Star Wars. Blame society.), so I didn’t get to have fun with that one either.

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And because he’s related to me, next year, he’ll want to be something weird like a Starbucks cup or a stapler.

We finally agreed on Cookie Monster because Jacob loves the number of the day song when we watch Sesame Street.  He prefers the Count’s version (and gets up and stomps his feet along with it), but the Cookie Monster costume was cuter, warmer, and more easily obtained on the internet.

Then I told my neighbor the plan and she said, “That’s easy.  Just buy him a blue sweatsuit and glue some eyes on the hood. Done!”

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I looked shamefacedly toward the ground.  “I kinda ordered it online,” I mumbled.

“Oh,” she said, trying to keep the ’90s mom judgment off her face.  “That’ll be really cute.”

I trudged home, the guilt of my generation’s lack of creativity coming off of me in waves. In my defense, store-bought costumes have come a long way since the horrifying plastic He-Man masks of the ’80s.  But the fact that my mom made all of those costumes from scratch every year impresses me now. Because ours never looked like a pair of sweats with eyes. Ours were handcrafted masterpieces that would have held up even on social media.

Of course, the irony isn’t lost on me that, at the time, all we wanted were those crappy store-bought ’80s nightmares.  But my mom insisted on making ours from scratch every year, probably to save money. Yet, looking back, those handmade costumes were the best and I wish I had the creative energy to do even half of what my mom did.

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The good news is that we Jews get a second chance at Halloween.  So I have time to step my mom game up before Purim rolls around.

Or he’ll be Cookie Monster again.  Or I’ll wear Hubby down about baby Bruce Springsteen.  

We’ll see how guilty I feel by then.

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Mom Life

The baby is supposed to eat what I eat–what food group is coffee in?

At Jacob’s one year doctor’s appointment, his pediatrician told us we can throw out all of the pureed baby food and give Jacob table food exclusively.

“He should eat what you eat,” she said, smiling.

Crap.

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I can’t admit to the pediatrician that I survive on the super healthy mom diet of coffee, a protein bar (breakfast), more coffee, a handful of almonds (snack), coffee, a salad or a yogurt (lunch), some random junk food scavenged from the English office or stolen from another teacher’s candy drawer (I’m the worst.  I’ll literally walk in while he’s teaching, take candy out of his drawer, laugh at the kids when they ask for some, and walk back out) when I’m starving sixth period that I then spend the rest of the day feeling guilty about, Diet Coke (not every day–but when we’re going through a sleep regression, I’m allowed to do whatever I need to in order to survive), a handful of crackers (snack), and then chicken and veggies (dinner).  

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In fact, looking over my daily diet, I’m shocked that I don’t have scurvy.  When did I last eat a piece of fruit? I didn’t even eat a purple donut, so Homer Simpson’s logic that purple is a fruit doesn’t apply.  

purple is a fruit

That is NOT a balanced diet for a baby toddler (he’s not quite a toddler yet.  I can’t call him that. But he IS a baby toddler).

So as I see it, I’ve got two options.  I can either adopt a balanced diet for myself and then feed him bite-sized pieces of what I eat, or I can keep doing what I’m doing and feed HIM a balanced diet.

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In a perfect world, I’d go with option A, but I’m working full time, tired, and trying to keep weight off without having time to exercise.  Judge me if you will, but until the scurvy sets in, I’m sticking with what works.

(Actually, I put low sugar craisins in my salad for today.  That counts as fruit right? If purple is a fruit, red is definitely a fruit!)

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So I need to figure out what to feed Jacob.  His favorite foods so far: grilled cheese, french toast, veggie straws (which, despite clever marketing, are not healthy.  They’re slightly less unhealthy potato chips. They’re basically Baked Lays, but yummy), and freeze-dried yogurt drops.

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He’ll eat almost anything if it’s pureed–the only things he won’t touch with a ten-foot pole are beets (tried a baby food mix that had beets in it and he gagged on it, spit it right out, then looked at me distrustfully and wouldn’t let me feel him again until I made him grilled cheese two meals in a row.  I can’t blame him. Beets are pretty gross) and mangoes.

Whole foods, however, are providing slightly more challenging.  Both because he’s not always a fan of textures (he’ll put something in his mouth, decide he’s not into it, and pull it right back out) and because he’s discovered he has a favorite game. I’m calling it “Hungry, Hungry Doggies.”

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Both schnauzers began camping out under his high chair shortly after we began using it.  At first, they laid next to it, hoping for thrown Cheerios. Then Jacob started dropping toys and sippy cups on their heads, so now they take shelter under him.  But when he throws food, two dog heads pop out and scrabble for it, like it’s a marble in the board game. And he laughs hysterically.

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Meaning that his food has become their food.  (Of course, he’s also gone after their food now.  I’ve pulled three pieces of dog food out of his mouth before he could swallow them so far.  Mangoes he won’t touch, but kibble? Delicious.)

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In other words, it has now become a challenge to get healthy food in him because the only four dishes that he won’t throw to the dogs are grilled cheese, french toast, veggie straws, and freeze-dried yogurt drops.

So I went to the experts: my mom friends. “Help meeeeee,” I begged.  “How do I get Jacob to eat healthy foods?”

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And I got a plethora of things to try, most of which Jacob summarily rejected because all babies are different and Jacob is smart enough to know that if he throws enough green beans to the dogs, I’ll eventually cave and make him something yummy.  

One of my mom friends also tagged me in some Instagram posts from moms who do “kid food-spiration.”  (Yes, that’s a thing. The internet has officially gone too far and I think society has been destroyed.)  And I was like, oh cool, I’ll follow these pages and get great ideas about what to feed Jacob.

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But the more I’m seeing, the more convinced I am that these moms all live in Brooklyn and appear on HGTV shows with multi-million dollar budgets without any discernible source of income. Because no, I’m not making vegan quinoa, tofu and avocado “deconstructed tacos” with gluten-free, homemade bean chips and chickpea and sunflower butter cookies for dessert, all packed in an eco-friendly, BPA free, recycled lunch tin with compartments specifically for their non-GMO, locally sourced, organic pomegranate seeds.  

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WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Dude, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Pepperidge Farm cinnamon raisin swirl bread every day from K-12 for lunch and turned out fine.  Granted, I didn’t grow up to have the healthiest eating habits, and I’m hearing that peanut butter is banned from most elementary schools now because of food allergies so that probably won’t be an option for Jacob, but still.  I never brought anything green for lunch and I’m pretty sure no one ever called social services on my mom.

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With that said, Jacob seems to be a fan of broccoli.  I found “broccoli tots” at the grocery store, which he loves (like tater tots, but broccoli instead of potato).  We’re still using some of the food packets to supplement his fruit and veggie intake on days when the dogs get a feast.  And considering his doctor mentioned that we can give him chicken nuggets (he hasn’t had that particularly delicacy yet), I think we’re doing okay, despite the lack of organic, locally sourced kale and quinoa.

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Of course, now that I’ve admitted to my terrible eating habits, I’m making myself feel guilty about the example that I’m setting and am thinking I should start bringing an apple to school to avoid the sixth period candy run.  It’s probably a good idea to model healthy eating habits.

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And to avoid scurvy.  I don’t even know exactly what that is, but if it’s a disease that pirates got, I’m thinking it’s not pretty.  

 

 

Mom Life

Jacob is a year old already–here’s what I’ve learned this year

I must have blinked sometime recently (blinking counts as sleep when you’re a parent, right?) because, suddenly, my little baby is a year old.

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How did THAT happen?  

I swear I was pregnant like last week and he was born yesterday, wasn’t he?

My best friend (and mommy guru, oracle of all things motherhood) told me when I felt like I was drowning in the early days of maternity leave that, when you have kids, “the days are long, but the years are short.” Boy, is that accurate!

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So what have I learned this year?

I’m not going to list everything because I’d be writing that list until he was two, then need to start the list of things I learned in that year.  But there are some big ones worth mentioning.

One of the first things I learned: I don’t know that I could be a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe when kids are a little older, but those first couple months when the hubby went back to work before summer started were ROUGH.  Don’t get me wrong: being a working mom is ridiculously hard.  I miss Jacob all day and wish I were with him, but if I were home with him all day every day with no breaks, I think I’d go insane and start writing “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” on the walls.

stay at home mom crazy

With that said, I have TERRIBLE SAHM FOMO (Stay-at-home mom fear of missing out).  I 100 percent WISH I had the means to be a stay at home mom and I’m DESPERATELY looking forward to my summer home with him. DESPERATELY. I absolutely NEVER want to go back to work when it’s time. But I also recognize that having some adult time is good for me.  (Granted, I’m not sure teaching in a high school counts as “adult time,” but I’ll take what I can get.)

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However, I also could never afford to be a stay-at-home mom either.  So maybe some of this is my brain tricking me so I don’t spend all day crying.  But in one sense I’m a better mom to Jacob when I’m absolutely dying to see him at the end of the work day.  (Like literally.  When they spring a meeting on me at the end of the day, I will cut someone to get home to my baby!)

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I could, however, be a stay-at-home dog mom quite happily. But I’d be able to go to the gym, go shopping, shower, pee with the door closed, etc with just dogs.  Despite what I thought prior to having a child, babies are a different ballgame altogether.

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I learned to try to sweat the small stuff less. I know that everything feels catastrophic in the moment, but the reality is, we’ll get through whatever it is.  Whether it’s the baby not gaining enough weight or a flat head or physical therapy or whatever pain in the ass is coming next. Is it going to suck at the time?  Yes. But we’ll figure it out and come through on the other side.

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I learned that I can’t be perfect.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to give up and stop trying, but it’s okay if people see the flaws. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to hide all of my imperfections from everyone, but that stupid helmet taught me that I can’t do that anymore because I’m no longer just me.  I’m a mom. So there are going to be times when I get to school with scrambled egg in my hair (happened yesterday) or spit-up on my shirt (thank god we’re past that phase!) or other general less than perfectisms. And that’s okay.  And if anyone judges me for that, they’ll understand when they have kids. Or not. Who cares?

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The cool thing is that I DO care a little less about that now.  I laughed about the hair eggs and asked if the kid who pointed them out was hungry.  And on a serious note, I have to admit that the responses that I got when I posted about Jacob’s helmet helped me realize that, despite what you see on social media, no one’s life is perfect. Everyone has all kinds of crap, most more serious than mine, that they’re dealing with. They’re not all broadcasting theirs in a blog, but I’m not broadcasting ALL of mine either. (Yes, dear reader, I keep secrets from you.  #sorrynotsorry.)

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I’ve learned that being a mom is one of the hardest things in the world.  I was NOT sympathetic enough to my friends with kids before Jacob was born.  Like oh my god, this is HARD. I’m feeling a lot of delayed-reaction guilt that I made my best friend drop everything and come to the Jersey shore for my bachelorette party when she had a four month old and an almost three year old at home.  She fell asleep pumping at the kitchen table after we went out one night. Now that I’ve been there and get it, I can’t believe she loves me enough to have dropped everything for me that weekend and I can’t believe I was a big enough jerk to ask her to. I also have NO idea how people do this with two or more kids.  How does that even work? I’m exhausted just THINKING about a second baby!

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I’ve learned that planning doesn’t work.  I’m a big planner. And prior to pregnancy, those plans were beautifully executed because I was good at planning.  Babies, however, are plan kryptonite. Breakfast yesterday? I planned to be on time for work with food-free hair, but I was late with hair eggs instead.  If I plan to go somewhere, I can virtually guarantee that Jacob will poop right when I’m about to leave, or refuse to eat, or find some new way to prevent that from happening.  But I keep making those plans, beating on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the hands of a plan-destroying baby (toddler? I guess he’s not TECHNICALLY a baby anymore.  BRB crying forever).

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I’ve learned nothing is THAT gross.  Okay, maybe that’s not technically true, as lots of things are REALLY FREAKING GROSS when you have a baby.  But you deal with it. My mother loves to tell the story (no really, she LOVES to tell this story. Like in front of my friends, boss, cashier at TJ Maxx, you name it) of the time she took me to the grocery store in a primitive 1980s baby carrier and I pooped down her shirt and she didn’t even notice until she went to put me back in the car.  As Forrest Gump and the shirts say, it happens. And you clean it up and you deal with it. And if you make fake gagging noises when you’re cleaning something super gross, Jacob will laugh hysterically. (My brother and sister-in-law were horrified when we were trying to get Jacob to smile for a picture with his new cousin and we started gagging at him.  It worked though!)

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I’ve learned that I need to find time for myself.  There are three main components to keeping Sara happy and sane.  Reading, writing, and exercise. All three of which are INSANELY difficult to find time to do when you’re a new mom.  The exercise part was fine when it was warm out because I would take long walks with Jacob, but once it got cold out, that got much harder.  I can’t work out at night because I’ll never sleep if I do it that close to bedtime (I’m the world’s worst insomniac). Mornings are out because I already have to get up an hour earlier this year than I did pre-baby to get him ready and I’m not yet getting enough sleep at night to get up at 4am to work out.  So I am HEAVILY (no pun intended when I’m not exercising) anticipating the return of warm weather.

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Reading wasn’t that hard to reinstate because I just added in 20 minutes at bedtime.  I love my Kindle because it tells me how long it’ll take me to read the chapter that I’m on, but it gets hard when I’m reading something that I love because I’m always like, well, I could read ONE more chapter.  And then suddenly it’s midnight and I want to die. But that’s only happened a couple of times so far because the desire to sleep still wins out most nights.

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Writing has been a challenge, but that’s why I started this blog.  I also just signed with a new agent for my new book and she seems awesome, so I need to start revisions ASAP.  That’s going to be tricky because I don’t work well in short chunks of time. I work best when I have a couple of solid weeks of time to sit down and focus.  But it’s important enough to me that I’ll find a way.

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And finally, I’ve learned that motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I love Jacob more than I ever thought possible and I’ve learned that THAT makes all of the rest of it worth it.   

mom worth it

Mom Life

Pinterest is making me feel like a terrible mom

It’s no secret that I love the internet.  Google is my BFF. Siri and I fight sometimes (she pronounces my last name as Con-FIN-o, not Con-FEEN-o.  Like she should really have a feature where you pronounce something for her and she learns it. It’s not rocket science.), and I don’t currently have Alexa running my house, but I do love me some internet.

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Used by permission. Thanks boss!

Except Pinterest.  Screw Pinterest.

I’ll admit, I’ve never truly understood the appeal of Pinterest.  To me, it’s vaguely like the idea of Tumblr (which is NOT a real blog.  This is a blog. It has writing AND stolen pictures. Not just reposted pictures.  Just reposting pictures without the writing does NOT make you a blogger!). You just post other people’s stuff to save it for later.  That’s never done much for me.

pinterest electronic hoarding

Granted, it was helpful when planning my wedding–only because after I had a nightmare dress experience at the first store my mother and I went to, my mother looked at my Pinterest, saw that I’d pinned the same dress three separate times, and called around for a store that carried it.  She found one, we went in, I tried it on, we bought it, the end. (I also watch zero reality tv*, so I had no desire to cry and be like, “Oh my god, I’m saying yes to the dress!” Gag.)

wedding dress stress

*I fully intend to hate watch the hell out of the Jersey Shore reboot.  

So why do I hate Pinterest after it found me my wedding dress?

Easy.  It’s the Disney movie of motherhood.  Yes, I love Disney movies. But realistic expectations of men are not their forte.  Like if a dude comes up to you and starts dancing with you without your consent and tells you he met you in a dream so he already knows you in real life, that’s creepy AF.  I’m sorry, but no one is battling Ursala when he doesn’t even know your real name. Nope. And don’t even get me started on all of those princes kissing unconscious princesses.  But in a Disney movie? Oh my god, it’s so ROMANTIC! No, I’m not being sarcastic there. I don’t care how date rapey Prince Phillip is on paper, in Sleeping Beauty he’s awesome!

singing fixes everything

And that’s how Pinterest is.  You look at all these motherhood posts and you’re like “Wow, motherhood is SO dreamy.”  I’m almost a year in. Motherhood is not dreamy. It’s far from dreamy. In fact, what’s a dream?  Who sleeps anymore? What?

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Pinterest is fine when you’re setting up your nursery (you know, pre-baby.  When you have time to do cutesy stuff). But once that little guy or gal is born?  Especially if you’re working full time, who has time for all of that?

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Which brings me to the real problem with Pinterest (only took me 450 words to get there… oops): I am a surprisingly low maintenance mom.  I know, I know, no one who knows me would ever put the word “LOW” in front of maintenance when describing me as a person. But as a mom, I’m pretty laid back.

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But Jacob is turning one in another week and a half.  Which means I have to plan a birthday party.

And all of these Pinterest moms are making me want to tear my hair out.

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The original plan was to invite close family and a couple of friends who have kids (because why would friends WITHOUT kids want to go to a one year old’s birthday party?  I certainly didn’t pre-kids!), get a couple balloons and a cake from Costco, make a small smash cake for Jacob and call it a day. No fuss, no muss, no problem.

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Apparently that’s not an acceptable solution for anyone involved.  Costco cakes, which incidentally, were good enough for my high school and college graduation parties, as well as my engagement party, my father’s 60th birthday party, etc, are apparently not good enough for Jacob’s first birthday because everyone I told that plan to said, “You’re really not going to make the cake yourself?”

Some background: I am an AWESOME baker.  It’s probably the only reason I have friends at school as I am also snarky beyond belief.  And in my younger and more vulnerable years, I used to decorate cakes. My grandma used to make all of our birthday cakes as kids and I eventually started “helping,” then ACTUALLY helping, then started making my own.

Cake ecard

The last time I cared enough to do that was 15 years ago though.  So I turned to Pinterest. And somehow, in the last 15 years, cake decorating went from “cut a monkey head shape out of a sheet cake” to spending eight hours sculpting the perfect cake and using fondant at home.  I’m not doing that. A) Fondant is gross, as I learned from wedding cake testing and B) WHAT MOM HAS TIME FOR ALL THAT?

decorating cake

The problem is, now that I’ve seen all of these fantastical Pinterest creations, I feel like my cute little monkey cake plan will be pathetic and everyone will think I’m a bad mom. And my old cake decorating books from the 90s were no help at all because THIS was what passed for a monkey cake back then.

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That’d be a bigger fail than those “1” penis cookies that made the rounds a few years ago.  (Side note, we went to a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party about a month ago. And the hubby pulls me aside, points in the corner and whispers, “Why do they have a dick balloon?”  I looked and it was supposed to be a pink “1,” but it would have fit in beautifully at a bachelorette party… we may not be emotionally mature enough to be parents after this many years of teaching high school!)

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So I’m compromising.  I ordered a monkey-shaped cake pan.  I’ll decorate that, make a banana-shaped smash cake for Jacob, and call it a day.  

My sanity is more important than looking like a perfect Pinterest mom.  

motherhood sanity    

Programming note: I’ll be in California for spring break next week, so I probably won’t have a new post for you until the week after that.  See you then!

Mom Life

How does a baby say ‘I love you’? By sneezing on your face

Jacob has a cold.  Which, according to the laws of mommydom, means that I also have a cold because the first indication that we had that he wasn’t feeling great was when he sneezed.  On my face.

sick mom

At ten months old (and CRAWLING!  YAY!!!!!!!), this is our second cold, and this one is milder than the first.  No fever, just stuffy with a very runny nose. No biggie and he can still go to daycare.  (Although I feel seriously guilty sending him to daycare, both because I know he doesn’t feel great and because wiping snot is disgusting when it’s my OWN kid. I can’t imagine having to do that to someone else’s kid!  Gross!)

sick child daycare

When he got his first cold, we panicked.  Jacob had a slight fever, so I sent hubby to CVS for infant Tylenol.  He returned 20 minutes later having spent $70 buying EVERYTHING in the baby care section.  He’s not allowed to go to CVS anymore.

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Actual picture of what $70 buys you at CVS

We took turns taking the day off of school to stay home with him and rushed him to the pediatrician twice, only to be told both times that it was a cold, that babies get colds, and that he’d be fine.  (They DID give us antibiotics for his ears the second time we went, although they said they weren’t infected, they just looked like they COULD get infected as the cold continued.  Insane first-time parents like us are probably why everyone is developing antibiotic immunities these days.  Honestly, they ought to just give parents pink, bubblegum-flavored sugar water to give babies and tell us it’s medicine so we can feel like we’re doing something to help.)

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So this time, in the absence of a fever, we didn’t worry.*

*Okay we worried.  But I sent frantic texts to my brother, who is a doctor, instead of rushing Jacob to the pediatrician.  Because instead of giving me antibiotics, he tells me I’m an idiot and to stop it, which actually probably does more good than the antibiotics.

And by now, we’re old pros.  We have an arsenal of infant Tylenol and Motrin (in case he develops a fever), a good baby thermometer, nasal mist, and a battery-powered aspirator (Sorry Nose Frida fans, that thing is gross.  That little blue piece of sponge that they call a filter is NOT enough to convince me that baby snot is not going into my mouth.  It’s disgusting.  Plus, when I’m sick too, I can’t generate enough suction for it to actually do anything other than freak Jacob out that I’m trying to suck his brains out of his nose.)

nose frida

The biggest problem when he’s sick (other than my hypochondriac fear that it’s actually RSV, will turn into pneumonia and require hospitalization) is how to keep him hydrated.

I’m prone to horrible post-nasal drip and know that drinking when I’m sick sucks.  But I do it, because I know I need to to feel better.  While I don’t know yet if Jacob has inherited my sinus problems (and I’m praying he doesn’t!), I do know that he doesn’t feel like taking his bottle and we have not yet mastered this sippy cup situation.  And I can tell him that he needs it to feel better until I’m blue in the face, but I might as well be telling the schnauzers to stop barking at the mail lady for all the good it does.  (She’s their worst enemy.  She attacks our house EVERY DAY and we do nothing to stop it.  They are outraged and do their very best to let her know that they’ll murder her if given half the chance.  Except for the days when she actually comes to the door, because then she gives them treats and they love her.  Seriously, all you’d need to do to rob our house is feed our dogs.)

dog mailman

He normally takes five six-ounce bottles a day and we’re working on trying to add in some water as well on days when he doesn’t finish those.  But when he’s sick, it’s a struggle to get three ounces in him.  And a quick Google search told me that a baby can dehydrate quickly when sick.  (I also found a result that said babies don’t want to eat as much when sick and are fine as long as they’re producing 3-4 wet diapers a day.  But we’ll ignore that because dehydration sounds scarier.  I also sent my brother a video of him playing and my brother told me he’s fine and that I’m an idiot.  We’ll ignore that too.)  

google dispute facts

So Jacob needs fluids.

I know the current advice is to only offer formula or breastmilk from a bottle and water should come only from a sippy cup, but despite our daily efforts, Jacob thinks the sippy cup is a teething toy.  He also enjoys grabbing it by the handles and flinging it off of his high chair onto the poor dogs, who hang out there hoping for Cheerios.  But drinking from it?  That’s a no go.

sippy cup

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And our parents’ generation gave us water and juice in a bottle and all of us eventually learned how to drink from cups.  So Pedialyte in a bottle it is for now.  We had some success with that, and then I used an oral syringe to get a little more in him, which he actually liked.  I guess it’s pretty hard to drink from a bottle when you can’t breathe through your nose.  Poor little guy.  But on the plus side, with me pushing fluids like a psycho, at least he’s pooping well!

Am I being ridiculous?  Absolutely.  And I’m fully aware that when eventual baby #2 gets sick, I’ll probably be like, eh, suck it up, you’re fine.  But I guess there’s a reason that first-time parents have a reputation for being nuts.  

first child third child

Mom Life

No more baby helmet! Just residual mom guilt

And we’re done with the DOC Band!

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Bring on those hats!

It was actually a little anticlimactic, to be honest.  Officially he was supposed to wear it for another week, but we asked for our last adjustment appointment to be our “graduation” appointment so that we wouldn’t have to drive 45 minutes each way again just to get pictures taken. So they adjusted the band, gave us a little certificate, and sent us on our merry way.  We were thrilled to not have to go back and they were thrilled to never see my face again.

But then, just under a week later, Jacob started getting red spots that took about five hours to go away, which meant we’d outgrown the helmet and were done early.

Which we celebrated by…questioning our decision to remove the helmet.

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Well, that’s how I celebrated.  My husband had zero qualms about being done early because either dad guilt isn’t a thing or it’s much milder than mom guilt.

As adamantly opposed as I was to the idea of a second helmet (and yes, I still think that’s a money grab in many cases), Jacob DOES still have a flat spot.  So am I being selfish for wanting to be done?  But on the flip side, it’s a DIFFERENT flat spot than the one the helmet was correcting, so did I cause this new one by helmeting him in the first place?

The reality is that no one but me (and I suppose other moms who have dealt with flat heads and are now hyper alert to them) is ever going to notice that his head is anything but perfect.  While I now have flat-head-dar and look at the shape of everyone’s heads (it’s terrible.  I look at my students and am like, “wow, you should have had a helmet!”), there are people who I looked at every day for years without ever thinking “Wow, your head looks like the east building of the National Gallery!”  

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Gallery_of_Art#/media/File:National_Gallery_of_Art_DC_2007ex.jpg

Pre-helmet, Jacob’s misshapen head was noticeable.  It isn’t anymore unless you’re really TRYING to find imperfections (and looking at him directly top down.  He’s got a tall daddy, so I’m thinking that won’t be the case for most people for the majority of his life).  By all accounts, the helmet was very successful in reshaping Jacob’s head.  And what it didn’t fix will most likely round out by his second birthday on its own.

So I guess what it really boils down to how to live with the mom guilt.

Pre-baby, it was just guilt.  Which I suppose comes with the territory.  I am Jewish after all, and if our people are known for anything, it’s guilt.  You’re welcome.  (See what I did there?  I learned at the knees of the masters!)

jewish guilt

I automatically assume everything is my fault no matter what.  I should have tried harder.  Been better.  Gotten more people out.  Yes, I was born decades after the Holocaust, but damnit, I should have done more!

So now that the helmet is done and his head isn’t a miraculously perfect round orb, I need to find a way to let it go.  I’m trying to tell myself that that’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn here.  A couple of people said to me, after I went public about the situation with Jacob’s head and neck, that we get the baby we NEED, not necessarily the baby we WANT. On the surface, that sounds terrible, because of course I WANT Jacob!  He’s the absolute best part of my life.  

But I get where those people were going because I think I needed to learn that I can’t control everything.  And if I can’t control everything, then not everything can be my fault.  Some things just happen and I need to learn to roll with it.

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That’s really a struggle for me and was part of why the inability to exclusively breastfeed Jacob was so devastating as well.  I had found something that I couldn’t control.  My mother called me arrogant when I expressed that to her, and she’s not wrong.  But up until motherhood, I lived a life where I was largely able to say I was going to do something and then find a way to make it happen, come hell or high water.  Failure simply wasn’t in my vocabulary.

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For example, I said I was going to dance on stage at a Bruce show. And I did.

It’s been humbling to have to change that without seeing it as failure. In my mind, Jacob was supposed to be the Galahad to my Lancelot (yes, I know only like three people got that. But I took an Arthurian legends class in college and it was cool.  And I’m a nerd. Get over it).  He was supposed to be perfect in all of the areas that I wasn’t.  He would have no flaws.  And while my mother will tell you he’s the most perfect baby ever, I’m still freaking out that he isn’t crawling yet.  And still blaming myself, because if I’d caught the torticollis earlier, wouldn’t he be?

Back to everything being my fault.

my fault

But I’m learning.  If eventual baby number two* isn’t gaining weight with breastfeeding alone, I’m not going to stress about supplementation because I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t control that.  And that, as much as it felt like it was the first time around, it’s neither the end of the world, nor my fault.

*I am not pregnant.  I am not planning on becoming pregnant any time soon.  I have a nine month old.  I’m tired.  I do want a second child in the future, but if you read into this to assume that that’s coming soon, I may slap you.

I definitely know more now about keeping baby number two’s head round as well.  I know the signs of torticollis, but the reality is that that may be unavoidable too.  I had low amniotic fluid the first time around, which is again out of my control.  But an earlier diagnosis, if that is an issue again, could be key in the flat head battle.  I know to reposition, I know more about tummy time, I know to wear the baby more.

I also know that if future baby number two needs a helmet, we’ll do it. And I’ll do my best not to beat myself up about it too much.

dont-beat-yourself-up-for-making-the-same-mistakes-instead-just-start-calling-them-traditions-2ba1b

 

Mom Life

What to expect when you’re expecting… a baby helmet

Hi, I’m Sara, and I’m a Google addict.

My baby also wears a DOC band for positional plagiocephaly (a word I learned in my frantic googling when my pediatrician first told us that our baby had a flat spot) that was the result of undiagnosed torticollis (which I caught, thanks to Google).  

when in doubt, google it

But there was a lot of stuff that Google wasn’t so helpful with when Jacob first got his helmet and I had questions, so now that we’re almost finished (THANK FREAKING GOD! We officially have two weeks left of him wearing it, but we had our “graduation” appointment already, so we’re pretty much there!), I figured a blog post (aka adding to the world of Google for other paranoid mamas) outlining all that stuff could help anyone who just got a baby helmet and was frantically trying to figure out if everything was okay or not.

learned more from google than school

Let’s start with how it all works at the very beginning.  In case you haven’t gotten your helmet yet, Cranial Technologies will go over most of this part with you.

Days one and two, you’ll leave the helmet on for three-to-four hour intervals, then check for red spots.  If the red spots go away in an hour or less, cool, put the helmet back on.  (They give you a paper to write down timing on.  Use it.  It helps.  Especially if you’re like me and spending the early days weeping about the helmet and can easily lose track of time.)  If the red spots take more than an hour to go away, call Cranial Technologies.  

Warning: probably not in those first couple days, but you WILL eventually get red spots that don’t go away immediately.  Try not to panic (I’ll get to that in a minute).

panic attacks online

IF your baby’s red spots all go away within an hour after like three of those checks, your baby can sleep in the helmet.

I figured that would be the worst part, but honestly, Jacob adjusted just fine.  He never even seemed to notice it was on.  We did freak out the first couple of nights when we heard loud thuds on the baby monitor, only to find he’d banged his helmet into the side of the crib.  Which also made me wonder how often he’d banged his unprotected head against the crib and it hadn’t made a loud enough thud for me to notice.  But at least he’s protected now when he does it, right?

no clue what we're doing

The first couple of weeks, you’ll need to take off the helmet and wipe your baby’s head down at diaper changes/any time he or she seems hot.  THIS IS A BIG ONE.  That sucker is an inferno!  It’s like wearing a Russian fur hat indoors at all times.  Your baby is going to get sweaty and gross.  So dressing him or her in ridiculously inappropriately cool clothes is important.  (Learned this the hard way.  We had our guy in a warmish car with a hoodie on and he got super fussy.  Turns out his whole back was drenched with sweat. Baby is going to be a little fireball with that helmet on.  Keep him or her cool!)

george sable hat

We did great the first week once we started dressing him cooler.  Then, Friday afternoon, Jacob got a red spot that didn’t go away in an hour.  And it was right after Cranial Technologies closed for the weekend (of course).  

So I did what any rational person would do: I panicked.  

Actually, I took the helmet off, because I Googled “DOC band red spots” and saw that red spots can lead to skin breakdown and I FREAKED that he was going to get a bloody head and we wouldn’t be able to wear the helmet until it healed and by then he would have grown out of it and then we’d have to spend another $2,500 that we don’t have out of pocket for a new helmet.

freak out and panic

But the take-the-helmet-off plan sucked too because we paid $2,500 for this hunk of junk and, damnit, it wasn’t going to fix Jacob’s head sitting on the counter!

That piece of plastic and foam was going back on his head, no matter how much I hated it.  So I slathered Aquaphor on Jacob’s head and the red spot was better by morning.  I also ordered some British “nappy rash” cream that the helmet mamas across the pond rave about for red spots off of eBay, just in case–which is currently sitting in a drawer because the Aquaphor worked beautifully. Cranial Technologies said to use a little cortisone cream, but the Aquaphor did much better for an irritation spot.  Just make sure you wipe the excess off before you put the helmet back on because it can *supposedly* damage the foam.  (I kind of think that’s like the airplane rule of shutting off electronics for takeoff and landing.  There’s a zero percent chance they’d let you have electronics on a flight at all if there was even the most remote possibility of them interfering with the plane’s equipment.  TOTAL BS.  But whatever.)

airplane mode

We got Jacob in for his appointment and they shaved down the spot that had been rubbing (by the velcro opening of the band), and the red spot there got better.  It did come back closer to adjustment number two, but the tech said that red spots tend to get worse when the band needs adjusting and that’s “good” because it means there’s been growth.

Their method of determining where to shave for red spots is… well… interesting.  They put lipstick on your baby.  Not on his mouth, but on the red spots, then put the helmet back on, wiggle it around, and shave where the lipstick rubbed off on the helmet.  Which seems legit.  I mean, nothing screams “medical professionals” like lipstick on a baby.

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All was well.

Then I went back two days later for another adjustment because we got red spots that wouldn’t go away again.

That was by far the most frustrating stretch of wear in the helmet so far.  And by then, I was pretty disillusioned with Cranial Technologies because A) they didn’t do any measurements at his official adjustment, just told us “oh, wow, it looks great,” and B) I had to take off work TWICE in the same week to get Jacob up to Columbia for adjustments.  Like, I do have a job other than shuttling him to the helmet store! (Yes, I’m calling it the helmet store.  Because they’re not doctors.  They sell helmets.)

And I got even more disillusioned when they shaved a little more foam out and then told me Jacob had heat rash.  It was 40 degrees out, which yes, was better than last week’s polar vortex-nado thing, but it was still cold.  How do you get heat rash when it’s 40 degrees out?  

things-that-are-dangerous-when-left-out-in-the-heat-RAa

In my frustration, I spent a while reading everything I could find on that 2014 study that claims the helmets don’t do anything and was thinking I’d just wasted 16.6 Springsteen tickets worth of money on this thing that was hurting my baby.  (Who am I kidding?  I don’t go to concerts right now.  I have a baby!  But that’s still my unit of measurement, soooo… maybe someday I’ll be going to shows again.)

springsteen-tickets

They told us to keep it off until everything was totally skin-colored and to put a little cortisone on the “heat rash.”  They also said that in areas where babies have “stork bite” birthmarks (which I totally didn’t think was a thing when our pediatrician said it at first… I had to Google!), heat rash is more common.  And Jacob has a tiny stork bite under his hairline, right next to the helmet-induced red spot.  So we went home and followed directions.

I will say this–Cranial Technologies deals exclusively in baby helmets, so they do know their stuff.  The spot that they shaved out stayed skin-colored and the other spot WAS heat rash.  It went away in a day, but started creeping back if we let him get too hot in the helmet.  We were out of it for about 30 hours that weekend before I realized (thanks Google) that baby powder helped.

baby powder lost freedom

Now I know baby powder is the current baby antichrist, but if your DOC Band baby has heat rash, it’s a miracle cure.  The Johnsons and Johnsons kind is cornstarch now, not talc (meaning don’t use the old bottle from the 80s that’s under your sink!), so it’s less bad. Just make sure you shake it away from the baby and just use it in his or her hair where baby gets sweaty/heat rash.  And if your mom guilt won’t let you use it for that, just remember, all of our moms used the bad talc kind of baby powder on us and liberally shook it right from the bottle onto us and none of us have powder-related breathing problems.  

good mother.jpg

Heat rash crisis averted.

Last, but DEFINITELY not least, the smell.  I Googled HARD to figure out the best way to combat the smell before we even got the helmet because my lovely pregnancy sense of smell decided to stick around postpartum and I do NOT want a baby who smells like a foot.  And not a cute little baby foot, I mean a stinky husband foot!

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Google didn’t disappoint.  One random mama on BabyCenter’s messageboards posted that she used wintergreen rubbing alcohol.  So I ordered some from Amazon (then later discovered that Safeway carries it for much cheaper.  Oh well).  And that stuff WORKS. Granted, he now smells like a stick of gum when he goes to bed, but his head is mercifully stink-free the rest of the day.  

face smells like peppermint

So my method is to put the wintergreen rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle (it’s like absinthe green, which definitely leaves a green tinge on the foam over time, but… well… who cares?), spray it in the helmet, scrub with a toothbrush, then wipe out with a towel. Let it dry for the full hour the helmet is off, then back on it goes.  Between the wintergreen alcohol and the baby powder, we’ve had zero smell issues, and we definitely have a sweaty baby, so I can attest to this stuff working.

Happy helmeting!

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