Monday, June 29, 2009

First Words

There are so many milestones when you're raising a baby. I couldn't even have imagined how proud I'd feel when my baby rolled over for the first time. Bursting with excitement and pride I couldn't wait to tell EVERYONE I knew... or even people I didn't know.

My 7 month old son said his first word this weekend. It was "mama!" My heart melted! Every time I hear him say it I can't help but smile. I love hearing him say "mama." Ma Ma Ma Maaammmaaammmm.... or whatever crazy amalgamation of mommy he prefers.

It's also weird to think that my baby is talking to me. I cherish the days when all he did was squeak. Then it was the constant screaming/grunting sound. That was not a fun two weeks. I felt so guilty for just wanting him to be quiet! There was absolutely nothing wrong with him. He just found his voice and was practicing using it. Glad that didn't last too long.

And now he's saying a word. Like a real person... I mean a bigger person. How did this time go so fast? I don't know what "normal" is for a baby to start talking. I'm sure every mom feels like it's too soon, but at the same time feels so proud that her baby can understand and try to speak language. I don't think you can define "normal." Regardless of the situation, everyone is different. Some babies don't talk until they're a year old, and some skip crawling and go right to walking. I would be lying if I said I never thought to myself "I wonder if that's normal." But then I just have to forget about who defines what normal is...

Messy Mom's Club

I stumbled upon an article about Ohio's messiest mom on the internet today. I was afraid to read it because I thought it might be about me! I had a random burst of energy and purpose yesterday. The house was quiet, my husband and baby were napping so I thought it'd be a good time to clean out my bedroom. Isn't it sad that at 25 years old, I have a family, my own home and still manage to trash my room? I don't know if you would say it's trashed, but I like to have all my daily necessities at my disposal without having to pull them out of a drawer or cabinet every morning and evening. I put away my hair supplies, tidied up my dresser, and finally got around to weeding out all of my old clothes in my closet.

The messiest mom had her home organized by the Style network. After they dove into the closet (how they found it, I have no idea) they pulled out over 200 blazers!! That's 200 suit coats! How could you possibly need more than 5, let alone 200!! This story made my think of myself. I think she had a hoarding habit that got out of control. I call myself a pack rat but this goes above and beyond. While I was searching for a home for my commencement regalia, I didn't know if I should just part with the cap and gown and keep the tassle or just keep everything. After all, you never know when I'll want to look back and wear my regalia again... What am I thinking?

Ok, maybe I don't have a hoarding problem, but I think about every little thing that may mean something to me someday and think "I should hang on to this." Where do you draw the line? I keep clothes that I'll never wear again either because they're too big (I always hold on to the smaller ones with a sliver of hope that they'll fit some day soon) or maybe I'll want to wear it next season. Well we all know that's not going to happen. So I broke down and filled a big garbage bag with the ugly orange button up that I hate wearing but is so good to have around when you run out of options. Wait there's that rationalization again...

Throw it out! I have the commencement tassle, pictures and memories. Tons of other shirts to wear... Isn't that enough? I think it's time to rid my life of all the unnessary junk that I keep around just because "someday I'll want/need it" or you may see the messiest Mad Mom on that list next year!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sad Day: Michael Jackson

There are a mix of emotions I feel when I reflect on the life of Michael Jackson. I think John Mayer put it best by saying "a strand of our cultural DNA has died." It's a profound statement that illustrates exactly what Michael Jackson was to our generation. He transformed popular music the way that Elvis Presley did for the earlier generation. By illustrating the very beat of the music and sculpting a new definition of pop, he became a strand of our cultural DNA. Could you imagine the 80's without Thriller, one sparkly glove and the moon walk?

His choreography and music set the stage and paved the way for nearly every artist in the industry. Think of artists like Justin Timberlake, Usher and Chris Brown. Even alternative bands have covered such tracks as "Smooth Criminal." I think that when we mourn Michael Jackson, we're not only mourning for the person and family for the loss, we're mourning the first time we saw Thriller, perhaps our first concert or audio tape, and the memories that were founded by trying to do the moon walk and the theme of nearly every Halloween party.

It's weird to think that my son will never understand what an impact Michael Jackson had on pop culture. Sure, I say that I see how Elvis transformed music with those gyrating hips, but I don't really know first hand... I couldn't tell you how music was before Elvis first swung his hips on stage but I could tell you how Michael Jackson's music served as a growth chart of sorts. I grew up to his music.

It's sad to think about the brilliant artist he was and how his eccentricities overpowered the illuminate musical genious he once was. I watched a documentary a couple years ago about Michael Jackson. It was very sad. He had been in the spotlight since childhood. No breaks. Never got to grow up. His childlike persona with Neverland Ranch and the slew of accusations against him consumed the man who gave us "Black or White." He's dancing in the stars now. Away from the hurt of fame. Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

10 Years Without Sleep

I have been waiting for this night for 10 years. The night when I sleep at a hotel, all expenses paid, courtesy of my medical insurance. Sounds great, right? Not quite. The reason for this all-inclusive stay-cation is because I've been tired for 10 years.

At first, the doctors said it was sinuses so they gave me a magical spray to spritz up my nose with the hope that my nasal passages would shrink and I'd be able to breathe. That obviously didn't work. Flash forward a couple years and I begin having sever fatigue. So severe that I'd nearly fall asleep in the middle of a conversation with friends at school. "Wow, you really are tired," they'd say as my eyes tried to close and my head jerked back up as if someone yanked me by the ponytail. The fatigue only worsened as my senior year of high school progressed. Where I went to high school, the cool kids got good grades and "overachieved." And there I was falling asleep every chance I got. I almost felt like a narcoleptic but I knew that wasn't the case as there are some different symptoms. It's hard enough to be in high school. It was as if I were falling in with the wrong crowd and partying all night long only to come to school without my homework done and snooze in 7 different rooms a day. That's how I learned the word haggard.

My english teacher called my mom and the questions any concerned teacher would. I wasn't meeting my potential, are there problems at home, is she getting in with a bad crowd? Nope, none of the above. When my mom told me he said I looked haggard, I was SO insulted but only because for some reason this 12 grader taking College Prep English didn't know what the word meant. I was a cheerleader (not the rah-rah type, but a competitive, trophy winning type) and every day I'd come home from school, sleep, go to practice or a game, sleep, go to school the next day and repeat the vicious cycle.

Eventually the falling asleep mid-sentence faded and I just became used to being very tired. I'd sleep for 10-11 hours and have to force myself out of bed. My next shot at getting a diagnosis was a few years ago. I was married, working full time and a full time college student. Even though the problem had been going on for quite some time, they said "you're stressed" and that was that. I was to wait until I graduated from college and had less on my plate to ever feel rested again. This would be understandable if my sleeping pattern had suddenly changed after I took on all these challenges in my life but it didn't. This had been going on far too long to attribute it to stress. Then came the baby... "wait till he's older, then you'll feel better." Again, this would be true if my baby didn't sleep through the night like a little angel since 4 weeks of age.

Now I've graduated from college, make sure I get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, don't have any major stressors in my life to cause me to be so tired. I finally get a sleep study. My mother was diagnosed with sleep apnea a few years ago. I'm convinced that I too suffer from something similar. My family used to tell me that I snore like a freight train.. that was a real confidence booster. Snoring is one of the many symptoms among other things like waking up thinking "why am I holding my breath right now? That's weird..."

Is it bad for me to secretly hope that when my results come back there's something actually wrong with me? I will be so upset if I come back and they say "everything's normal, you're just tired." I'm hoping there's a reason behind my years and years of fatigue so I can get treatment and wake up one day feeling refreshed. A refreshed feeling in the morning is something so rare to me that I can remember the exact date it last happened: December 9, 2007. That was a year and a half ago. Before then, I couldn't even tell you...

Wish me luck tonight. Hopefully in the next 10-15 business days I'll be linking back to this post talking about how I'm so happy to finally have answers!

Good night~

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mocktail Monday! Watermelon Slushie

This is a crowd pleaser! In celebration of the first official day of summer yesterday here's a Watermelon Slushie- great paired with a cookout!

6 ice cubes
2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
Sugar to taste
1 cup 7-Up or other Lemon-Lime soda

Place the ice cubes into a blender. Cover, and pulse until crushed. Add the watermelon and blend for about 1 minute, until slushy. Add the sugar and soda, and blend for about 10 seconds. I use Splenda as a sugar substitute to save on calories, plus I find that I don't need to use as much when I use Splenda since it's so sweet. The soda will add a refreshing fizz :)

I'm not even going to think about making this one Mad Mom adult friendly because it's great on it's own!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things I do for my baby that I won't do for you:

1. Wipe his butt
2. Cup my hands in front of his mouth to avoid getting puke on the couch
3. Forgive him when he pees on me
4. Laugh a little when he spits food at me
5. Let you wake me up in the middle of the night to be fed
6. Let him roll around naked on the floor while I'm trying to change his diaper
7. Kick myself after he pees on the floor when I let him roll around naked
8. Grab a boogie that just popped out with my bare hands
9. Stick a thermometer up his butt
10. A good day means he pooped
11. Forgive him when we're playing airplane and drool drips into my mouth (Ewwww)
12. Let you "play" (tug, pull) with the cat
13. (Added 6/23 at 7:30 am) - Not get mad when your butt literally explodes and gets all over me, you, the crib, your toys, and changing table... what a way to start the day!

These are all things that we moms do for our little ones. Not the most glamorous and kind of gross but when its your baby that whole thing goes out the window. These are also some of the things that, belive it or not, makes motherhood awesome. You love that little stinker so much you would do anything for him. Even catch his vomit or pull a hanging boogey out all with your bare hands! So what do you do that's less than glamorous for your little one??

Baby Gadget: Steam Sterilizer (for us moms who aren't in this century yet)

As moms in the new millenium we have so many products available to make our lives easier. Since the invention and common ownership of the dishwasher and microwave, companies have shaped their product lines around our needs even further. Dishwasher and microwave safe everything! So what's a mom to do when she doesn't have any of these technological advances in her house?

When we bought our house we knew there was no dishwasher. I was easily swayed by the 1920's charm of the place. The built-in shelves, crown molding, and designed glass windows swept me off my feet so I really could get over the fact that there was no dishwasher... until I had a baby. Bottles, nipples, breastpump parts, spoons, even the highchair tray are all dishwasher safe. Well that's really grand, but I don't have a dishwasher. Instead of reverting to the early 80's and boiling my baby's feeding supplies like my mom did, I registered for a bottle sterilizer. At under $50, this was sure to ease my fear of not getting everything clean enough.

To use the sterilizer simply fill the little metal "dish" on the bottom with tap water (we do actually have running water), place your bottles, nipples, rings, whatever onto the rack and press the button. That simple! The sterilizer works quietly and a beep lets you know when every thing's done. Be careful not to fill the water up too high. We learned this the hard way. We couldn't figure out why only the Playtex drop-in bottles were melting and coming out of the sterilizer in a deformed contorted version of what they were before we put them in there. They must have a lower melting point than the other bottles we used. Eventually they shrank down so much we had to toss them.

So for the Mad Moms out there that are still stuck in the dark ages before the glorious invention of the dishwasher, try out the Especially for Baby steam sterilizer at Babies R Us. This product is sure to ease your nervousness about all the microscopic germies on your bottles waiting to invade your baby.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mad Mom - A College Graduate

Today, I finished college. It hasn't set in yet so that still seems like a dream statement. Off to the real world! Wait.. I'm already in the real world!!

As a twenty-something mother, my education is worth more than the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. I am the first in my family to obtain a bachelor's degree. My son will be there when I walk across the stage (even though he's too young to retain that memory or even know what's going on). Not only am I getting my degree but I'm teaching my son the value of dedication and hard work.

Believe me, I know college isn't for everyone. It is an unfortunately harsh reality that in today's job market you need a degree to even be considered let alone competitive. Now that I'm finally done, I have something that will hopefully keep me with some sort of fragment of a chance at stable employment (but you never know anymore).

My college career lasted 7 long years. Through these 7 years I reflect and think about how much my life has changed. I orginally went to college right out of high school. Then two years later I decided to get a full time job and move out on my own. College became secondary to my new responsibilities. Years went by and suddenly I'm a wife, homeowner, then a mother... and still not done with school. My high school peers are out of college expoloring what the world holds for them. And there I was, still working at it.

Typically, college students go for their degree, it takes four years and they graduate at the ripe old age of 22. Some of them never even hold a full time job, pay rent, or have any form of major responsibility. I was looking at my intern today (yes, I have a staring problem) and thinking about how we're both graduating from college and what different worlds we live in. She is free from real responsibility and has the ability to put full focus on starting her career. I, on the other hand, have already started my career along with piling up a multitude of other responsibilities.

So, as a recent college graduate, am I on the same playing field as the younger twenty-somethings? I have experience, that's a plus. But does my mear three years of experience they don't have elevate me above the competition?

As a mom, wife, and home owner I have more at stake when it gets down to the nitty-gritty. Now that I've FINALLY finished college, I have a credential that I can carry with me for the rest of my career. With that said, I have my education to thank for the AWESOME job I have. I love going to work everyday.

Mad Mom, Class of 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Banana Bonkers

Now that school's out, here's another great mocktail to share with the kiddos!

3 bananas
3 cups fresh grapefruit juice
2 cups lemon sherbet
1 cup crushed ice

Puree bananas in a blender or food processor. In a gallon pitcher combine pureed bananas, grapefruit juice, lemon sherbet and crushed ice. Mix and enjoy!

**And for the Mad Mom adult version: Switch out a cup of the juice for a bit of rum. Captain Morgan will do the trick! The grapefruit juice adds a refreshing burst of citrus but the rum will add a refreshing burst of something else! ;)

Mad Mom's Guide to Teething

Well, 4 teeth down, how many more to go? That's right... baby's teething! It's funny, you here the horror stories about how babies constantly scream and cry when they're cutting teeth, but it's actually before the teeth are cutting my baby is fussy.

It seems like it takes weeks for these tricky little teeth to rear their cute pearly goodness. It's hard to tell at first if the baby's teething. The first thing I noticed was he was drooling so much! We had to keep a bib on him and contemplated attaching some sort of drool catching contraption to his chin to collect all the "strings" of drool that incessantly hung from his lips. If you wanted to hold my kid you had better get on your rain coat and rubber gloves!

This started a few weeks before it even looked like any teeth were going to come in. After the constant drool calmed down, his gums got red and puffy. This was the sure sign of teething. Anything and everything went into his mouth. We did invest in teething rings, but he doesn't like them. I think they're too hard. He really loves to chew on his bottles' nipples. This is a bad habit to get into though because once those four front teeth are all the way in, he'll bite right through that nipple and milk will be everywhere... Speaking of, I gotta hand it to those moms who are still breastfeeding at this point! OUCH!!!

Anyway, my baby was at his fussiest when his gums were inflamed. I'd seriously have to hold him all day until he'd just fuss himself to sleep. We'd try everything... bottles, Oral Gel, teething rings, change of scenery... nothing worked. He just wanted his mommy to hold him. That's really cute and all and someday I'm sure I'll wish I were right back there, but Mommy needs a break! There's only so much whining and crying a person can take. My hubby is now working in the evenings so that leaves Mom up for baby time all night. That's wonderful and I really enjoy the time we get to play together. But... after a long day at work, I just want to relax. Can your teeth wait until tomorrow?

One time my husband and I were so desperate he actually did the whiskey trick. I cringed when I saw him reaching his finger in the bottle of Crown Royal (secretly wanting to rip the bottle from his hands and take a big long gulp!). He stuck his finger in the baby's mouth and more cries to the tune of What-in-God's-Name-is-That-Nasty-Stuff!? I hate to say it, but it worked. That was the first and last time that's happening. I felt so guilty getting my 6 month old liquored up so we could have some peace. Hey if our parents and our parents' parents did it, what's the worst that could happen? We didn't turn out so bad... except for the occasional binge on the weekends. Kidding!

So all of you Mad Moms who have teething babies, here are some great tips I got from my Twitter Tweeps: (I have omitted the obvious Baby OraGel and teething ring tips-you already know those!)
  • Make ice cubes of formula or breast milk and let the baby suck and chew on them.
  • Clean and peel a carrot for the baby to chew on. (My baby LOVES this -and it works!)
  • Make a slushy nipple: Use an old bottle nipple, fill it with juice, water or milk, seal it up as you wish, and freeze it till it's slushy- my little guy would prefer this one since the teethers are too hard.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Outing... Oops!

It was a cold, snowy December day when we made our first venture out of the house with our new baby. The bag was packed, diapers, extra blankets, formula... check, check, check. Our big excursion to the ever-exciting Wal-Mart was underway!

I was so happy to be out of the house. I had decided early in my maternity leave that I just couldn't be a stay at home mom. I'm sure I'll feel differently at some point, but my baby was so easy. All he did all day was sit there and look at me... Anyway, we were out shopping during the busiest season of course. Wal-Mart is always a zoo at Christmas time. I don't know why we decided we had to go there, but it was a small enough trip for our first outing. My baby already looked like a 3 month old from birth, due to his macrosomia and freakishly-large-for-age appearance. I'd get "oh, how cute" and "how old" left and right. Then you have those people who think you should lock yourself in your house for nine months until your baby can fight off germs.

I think the opposite. We took our baby out when he was just under a month old. I think this is perfectly acceptable. Just bundled him up and off we went. Of course I didn't let him touch the public toilet seat or lick the floor of the fitting rooms, but yes, we went out in public. (gasp!)

During our little excursion the baby started getting a little fussy and I did't think much of it. Then came the tears... then the sob... My heart melted. He was hungry....

WHAT?! We didn't pack the formula?! I have clothes, extra blankets, diaper rash cream (you know, because he'll get a rash and need ointment in that whole hour we were out) and no formula?!

We immediately hauled-ass to Babies R Us (seeing as we just left Wal Mart). We didn't have any bottles either. How could I forget that? What do babies do- sleep, poop and EAT! So my husband hurridly ran into the store as I tried to comfort my startving little piggy. Not only did I feel like the worst mother in the world, but I was embarrassed. I was positive you could hear my baby's screams of starvation all the way to China. Five minutes goes by... Where's my husband? He knows the baby's hungry, why isn't he here yet? I start blaming him because I'm sick of blaming myself-- even though I'm the one who packed his bag... Ten minutes went by and still no food! I picked up the phone and tried to calmly ask what's taking so long. I figured the sounds of the baby's cries over the phone would be sufficient. Wouldn't you know he got stuck behind some lady arguing about the price of a toy... My baby's STARVING and you don't want to pay $6.99 for a darn toy!

Sooner or later my husband finally got through the line and out to the car. We broke open the little pre-bottled formula and slapped on a nipple. My kid already eats fast, but this bottle was gone in what felt like 30 seconds.

Needless to say that from all the crying, he really slept good that night!

Sleeping Like a Baby?

I don't know how that saying came about. Further more, I don't know how that saying came to meant "sleeping well." Babies don't sleep well. They're awake crying for more food every two hours or so... So, how can that be even classified as rest?

Lack of sleep is one of the hardest things to get used to as a new parent. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a husband who takes turns with me getting up with the little guy. I was also very fortunate that my baby slept through the night at 4 weeks (one of the perks to pushing an 11 pound watermelon out of your tiny vag hole).

I suppose that saying came from the fact that when a baby falls asleep (or at least mine anyway) it would take a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant to wake them up. I could do anything but put an ice cold wipe on my baby's butt and he still wouldn't wake up. And there were times when that was necessary. What a wake up call!

Sleep deprivation is a common cause in feelings of depression and moodiness. Imagine that... Among the other pressures of being a new mom, sleeping for just two hours at a time only adds to those feelings. Here's a great resource for sleep cycles and being a new mom. I'm sure you'll read this with the same "No sh*t!" attitude that I did. Did they really need to do a study to tell us that we are more irritable and not as nice to our families when we're tired? Really?

Here are my little tips to dealing with your sleep deprivation:
  • Swaddle! This saved our lives when it came to bed time! We couldn't figure out why the baby would fall asleep and sleep well (through the night) only in his car seat. Turns out, he just wanted the close and secure feeling of being swaddled. The instant we started doing this, he would go right to sleep and not wake up until the morning.
  • Get into a routine. One of our biggest downfalls was the lack of any kind of routine. We'd just let him fall asleep whenever. This makes it very difficult for the baby to get used to going to bed and knowing that it's time to sleep. For your sanity and the baby's wellbeing, make a routine for bedtime. A bath, ba ba, then rocking him for a few minutes before putting him into the crib was just enough of a routine for him to get used to the idea that bedtime means sleep time.
  • Make sure the last bottle is right before bed. If not, be prepared to get up at 4 a.m. (that is if your baby normally sleeps through).
  • Night time feedings are a great time to bond. So for all of those months of 3 a.m. feedings ahead you, just get over it and be happy. This should be routine too. The HARDEST part is trying not to play! My baby would just want to play and be happy, but 3 a.m. was not play time. I'd get him up, change his diaper, give him his bottle and rock him. Even when he wanted to play. I had to resist!
  • Take turns with your partner. If you're married or living with a great supporter (boyfriend, mom, friend, whatever) try taking turns everyother night when your little one wants to eat. This will allow you to at least try to get a full nights' sleep. It's hard to get used to at first. You'll hear his cry and want to see what's wrong and comfort him. But once you get used to it, you'll appreciate every minute of sleep you can get!

These tips are just from an experienced mom. So please don't think I'm Dr. Mom Health PhD. Use these as friendly advice. If something doesn't work for your baby, try something new. What I've learned about parenting thus far is that it's all trial and error...

Happy Sleeping!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mocktail Monday!

Ok everyone since summer is just about here I think it's time for some fun, fruity drinks! Given the weekend is usually adult fruity drink fun, I've reserved Mondays as our official Mad Mom Mocktail Mondays! I'll post some great recipes to try with the kids. They'll have fun helping you make these concoctions and will love helping you drink them! This is also a great way to sneak in some extra fruit or vegetable juice!

Sunny Citrus Cooler!

1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
2 (12 oz) cans frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed for easy mixing)
3/4 cup lemonade concentrate (also thawed)
6 cups ginger ale - better if chilled
Orange slices

In a 1-gal. pitcher, combine pineapple juice, orange juice concentrate and lemonade concentrate. Add ginger ale and mix well. Serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices if desired.

Have your kids help mix while you're preparing they orange slices. And for weekend revisions, add a little Parrot Bay rum - any flavor will do, but the coconut flavor will add an exotic flavor and a little kick for the mad mom!