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What’s Really Scary About Halloween

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This Halloween has been kind of, well, scary.

First, while researching Halloween costumes for little girls, I google-imaged female comic book characters. Oops. Mostly erotic fan art of our beloved princesses, heroines and lady sidekicks. It breaks my heart a little seeing one objectified female character after another online. The geeky art lover in me and the protective, feminist mom in me are torn. OK, there was that one somewhat tasteful, cartoon pinup of April O’Neil, though.

Secondly, that Fargo, N.D., woman and her fat-shaming letter to parents of obese kids? (I’m not even going to link it – google it if you have a burning desire to be angry today.) Mission accomplished. She’s a troll and she won. And even WAY before the actual holiday. People, please stop perpetuating people like her by reposting their stories. She’s literally one in 314 million Americans. Stop making assholes Internet infamous.

Third, if your town is banning teens from trick or treating, that’s super lame and I’m sorry. Slow clap for the people in charge of your town who made that rule. I don’t know the magic age, but 12, 13 and 14 year olds? They are kids. Let them enjoy the day. I was still playing with Barbie dolls at 12. I was certainly trick or treating.

Fourth, let’s talk about news outlets posting sex offender maps this time of year. It’s public information being used as a scare tactic on a slow news day or to boost online content. Pretty sure those losers are not opening their doors to trick or treaters today (by law). How about a useful story about coming up with a game plan for trick-or-treat scenarios like a creep inviting them into the house? Or what to do if they get separated from their group? Oh wait, you can’t simply grab that off of another site, lazy, mediocre journalists? (Yes you can.)

We have a lot of Halloweens ahead of us. I love this holiday and I refuse to let the media, and a very insignificant group of “authorities” and creeps take the fun out of it for my family and me. I hope the same is true for you and yours.

On a lighter note, and speaking of creepy stuff, this year I have been obsessed with vintage Halloween pics. If a gang of shorties showed up at my door tonight in some old-timey masks, I would surrender all of the candy. Enjoy!

And Happy Halloween!

Photo: http://horrorhomework.com

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Babies Are Very Different Animals

Babies are different animals. Delilah is an owl, Ollie is a bunny.

That one time (OK, multiple times)  I used Ollie’s baby book to figure out what to expect from Delilah. HA!

It’s probably cliche, but worth re-mentioning because it has been nine months since Delilah was born and I’m still reminding myself of this: NO TWO BABIES ARE THE SAME. They can have the same DNA, be raised in the same household, have the same family pet, but they are all very different people and there’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t know why I ever bothered looking at Ollie’s baby book (pictured) for hints about what to expect from D. They are very different animals. 

Her teeth came in at three months. His erupted at seven. She began crawling and holding herself up on things at eight months. He started at 10. He slept through the night at three months. She didn’t until seven months (blerg). It goes on and on. That is why, for new parents and those expecting No. 2, I urge you to NEVER, NEVER EVER compare your child to others. You can’t even guarantee siblings hit milestones at the same time, how are you going to hold your baby up to a neighbor’s, relative’s or friend’s child? Just don’t do it. Even books and websites can mislead.

Certainly there is an age range when children should be doing this and that, but don’t get hung up if your kid is late. And don’t be all braggy if your child is early. It does not mean you have some fancy Einstein baby.

So step away from the yardsticks (tempting as they are) and enjoy that baby. Because, let’s be honest, do you want an early crawler? No, no you don’t.

Working Through My Baby & Mama Drama

I’m always pretty guarded about telling my children’s birth stories. Unless you ask. Then I will talk your ear off. First, everyone who has children has a birth story. Everyone thinks their story is pretty spectacular and dramatic. The truth is, birth is pretty miraculous. Saying you had a baby is saying it all.

I’m guarded because of guilt, I guess (what else is new?). We have two healthy, happy, thriving children and they were conceived with no trouble. Some people have a hell of a time conceiving. Some never are able to have babies. Some people have multiple miscarriages. Some people have a baby, but can’t bring baby home right away. Some people have a baby, but the baby doesn’t make it home. It goes on and on. So when I think about the little dramas I encountered in the maternity ward, they appear to be just that: Little. Not worth sitting here talking about. When I think of that, the little dramas fade. Then I feel particularly jerky and guilty for wanting to talk about our birth stories.

BUT, all of us parents can agree that it’s VERY therapeutic to talk about our birth stories. And I am all about talking, writing and working through our traumas to move forward. And I really feel like I’m at a place, seven months postpartum, that’s I’m ready to talk about Delilah’s birth story, get it out of my system and continue moving forward.

Our drama began when I was doing kangaroo care with Delilah just minutes after I was in recovery after my c-section. She was making some funny breathing sounds – what I thought were cute newborn baby noises. But it alarmed the nurse and she took Delilah away. She was having trouble breathing. Then she stopped breathing and they had to put her on oxygen in the NICU. Honestly, I was not worried. We were in the best possible place for infant care. I trusted what was happening in the NICU. The doctors were very forthcoming with detailed information about what was going on. And as much as I wanted to have our baby room in with us as we did with Ollie, I was kind of looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Is that selfish? Probably. I was on pain meds, recovering from a c-section. I was exhausted and doped up and I just wasn’t too worried. She was healthy for the first nine months, she’d be fine.

When the breathing problem went away, suddenly Delilah wasn’t keeping down her fluids so they gave her an IV to keep her hydrated. In her goddamned forehead. They told us, “It looks barbaric, but it’s the best vein.” Whatever. Whatever. Whatever. They put a little bow near the IV site. OK, just fix her!

I gimped over to the NICU as often as possible to nurse. I pumped like a madwoman filing little vials with colostrum so the nurses could give that to her in between.

Her condition improved and we were able to go home in the standard four days for c-section births. But her interventions didn’t end there. She spit up a lot. I’ve never been a big milk producer, so I felt so defeated when I’d nurse for a half hour and she’d spit up half of the milk. She spit up the formula I was supplementing with. And she wasn’t particularly happy. Then I began finding blood in her stools. After some labs, her pediatrician deducted she had a milk allergy that was straining her and giving her pain. We had to put her on this special formula that is approximately $261 a can. But the blood went away and the colic subsided and she became much happier overall. And so did we.

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Clockwise from top left: Kangaroo time – I had no idea her cute baby sounds were alerting us that she was having trouble breathing. In the NICU. All better and finally able to room in with us. Very proud big brother Ollie meeting Delilah for the first time.

So whatever. You do what you need to do. She’s absolutely doing fine now. I’m a little leery about the transition from this magic formula to regular formula as far as when that’s going to happen and how she’s going to react, and then how the transition to cow’s milk is going to go. I hope the allergy doesn’t stay with her forever. But if it does, we’ll figure it out.

So sitting here with a very happy, healthy, giggly, pink-cheeked redheaded spitfire of a girl, it’s really hard to lament without sounding like an ingrate. But I think the trauma of all of that has weighed on me and I’m now starting to want to get it out so I can move on.

And that’s not all. We had another blow at the hospital.

A NICU nurse pulled a vial of my colostrum from the fridge and gave it to another woman’s baby. The other mom saw my name on the vial’s label and flipped. I don’t blame her. The fuck?

That just made me mad. Mad for me for the embarrassment and inconvenience of having to get blood work done to prove I don’t have HIV/AIDS/hep. Mad for the other mom who found out her baby got some random woman’s milk who, for all she knew, had HIV/AIDS/hep/crack addiction/zombie DNA. Mad for everyone who puts trust in hospitals and their healthcare staffs. And mad at the dingbat nurse who fucked up. Even more mad for her manner of sharing the bad news. I was having a private moment nursing my baby and catching up with my sister when she peeked in looking like someone just died and said she had horrible news, proceeding to tell me how she fucked up. Which, yes, is horrible and needed to be communicated to me pretty immediately, but certainly there was a better way. Like in private without the imminent-end-of-the-world facial expression and tone. I realize to her, fucking up could cost her her job, so maybe it was the end of the world to her, but chill. I was in a delicate state as it was – baby in the NICU, I’m recovering from a major surgery, on meds, not in the best mental state. I basically fell apart. Blubbering like a damn fool.

I would have been royally screwed if a) my husband wasn’t the rock that he is and incredible at dealing with people and b) my best friends weren’t waiting for me in my room to cheer me up. They came unexpectedly and I wasn’t sure I could pull it together for them, but I took a deep breath, wiped away my tears and went in and laughed like nobody’s business for a good half hour. Sometimes a surprise visit is the BEST visit. So thank you Cely and Jaime. 🙂

My reward for having my bloodwork done was $30 worth of hospital cafeteria vouchers. Looks like I came out the big winner, amiright? It was also reassuring to know that I don’t have zombie DNA.

So yeah. It was the roller coaster ride that had a lot of free falls, but also lots of fun parts in between like getting home-baked goodies from my sister’s bakery, ridiculously cute girlie stuff from friends and family, so many flowers it smelled like a garden in my room, plus lots of private, happy moments between my husband and me, and my baby and me. And seeing Ollie with his little sister for the first time was priceless.

I guess as I start closing this post, I just want to say no matter how minor, your drama as a parent is yours. It has value. It has meaning. You might not even know its weight till you’re seven months postpartum. It might hit you all at once. Talk about it and don’t feel guilty. For me, when people ask me if and when we’re having No. 3, I feel like unloading all the stuff we’ve been through physically, emotionally, hormonally and financially. I am not aching to add to my brood. And I’m not sorry for feeling that way. I’m VERY happy with my perfectly messy, chaotic, silly and crazy family. I can’t imagine it getting any better than this, right now. I don’t want to “push” it!

Now, tell me about your birth story! (Oh no, I just opened the flood gates, didn’t I?! Bring it!)

Rockin’ Gift Guide Part 5: All the Rest …

Okideoke Sing-Along Mic: Psychobabyonline.com

Yellow Owl Workshop City Stamp Set: Buyolympia.com

Retro Pedal Cars: Myretrobaby.com

Wind-up and Pull-back toys: Zwindups.com

Melissa & Doug Band in a Box: Psychobabyonline.com

Portable Electric Guitar: Firstactdiscovery.com

My First Music Science Kit: Shopwonder.com

Baby Corn: Etsy.com/shop/SteffBomb

Teddy Bear Parade: Holgatetoy.com

Chalkboard Matryoshkas: Spoonsisters.com

DIY Recorder: Uncommongoods.com

Er’body Get Random: Twisters, Loteria, Lolz & Comic Sans

And this is the part where I get random …

Do you have a font? Mine is Arial. Point size 14. My friend and former editor-colleague Staci inspired my decision to kick Times New Roman as my default font for writing. Also, it irks me when people say “Can you make the font smaller?” You mean “point size.” They are not the same. This reminds me, someone should make a “What Font Are You?” quiz online. If you’re comic sans, I’m very, very sorry.

How is Kmart still around? I went there on pure intrigue the other day and ended up scratching my head as to why it can still exist when we have clean department stores like Target that don’t smell like sadness and the last thing you see when you leave isn’t a big red stain by the slushee machine. That said, I bought something there that smells like the opposite of sadness and is worth going back for.

Does “being a mom” count as exercise on my “Lose It” app? If so, how many calories do I burn an hour? The boy is keeping us BUSY. He’s tumbling, climbing, sliding, shimmying, repeating words, reciting the alphabet, saying “no” to everything, sipping out of a straw, dancing like a fool, hugging, kissing, jumping, jiving and wailing.

What is your biggest pet peeve when you’re out to dinner? Mine is a three-way tie between a server telling me they “don’t eat the food” when I ask what they recommend; how servers pour on the sugar when they drop off the check; and any place that charges over $5 for a kids meal. On the other hand, I’ve found kindness in the most unlikely of places. Take Dantes, this no-frills fast food joint on Rt. 31 in Algonquin, Ill. Most people do drive-thru. Its gyros, Italian beef, subs and fries are to die for, but it’s kind of a dive. Still, we dined in once and I was blown away by the sunny personalities of the high school girls working there. They gave Ollie a cookie before we left. Being nice to my kid is the direct way to my heart.

When’s the last time  you laughed so hard, whatever you were drinking came back up through your nose? I can’t even say I was drunk, although I was enjoying warm rum and cider, when J got me not once, but twice on Saturday night. I am pretty sure he waits until I have taken a sip of whatever to deliver the punch line. And by the way, cider kind of burns coming out the wrong way.

Are you celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month? You have a week or so left! A fun way to celebrate with your kids is to play loteria. If they’re old enough to play bingo, they’re old enough to play loteria, which is essentially the same thing, but with Spanish words and pictures instead of numbers and letters. My boy is too little to play, so I put a paper punch hole in the left corner of all of the loteria cards in the deck and used a binder ring to keep them together. We go through the deck together in Spanish and English during story time.

What’s your take on storm chasing? I’m a weather nut. A former future meteorologist. I’d be the president of the Twister Fanclub if there was one. I’m going to see star of “Storm Chasers” Reed Timmer tonight at Harper College in Palatine, Ill., present some never-before-seen chase footage and talk about the new season! In the event that The Dominator is there, I will for sure be mugging for a pic next to it!

You had me at “boogers”

“The anti-Barney…the Wiggles’ worst nightmare…the Ramones meet Mother Goose…the BOOGERS! Conceived by a punk rocker with a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, the Boogers are all about bringing chord-driven rock to the kids (ages 1-9).

Their debut album, “Road to Rock”, was awarded the National Parenting Publications (NAPPA) GOLD Award for Children’s Audio as well as a Family Friendly honors.”

“Oh No She Di’in’t!”

(oh yes she did) Self-censorship goes against everything I stand for, but I had to take down the rainbow pancake blog. I was bullied as a kid and when I stepped away from my post and read it again, it looked a lot like bullying. I’m rethinking the things I want to accomplish with this blog and picking on people who offend me is not one of them (still, public figures and big corporations, watch your backs!). It’s a waste of my time and unhealthy for my spirit. It doesn’t bring anything new or interesting to the table. And in the end, we both walk away, unchanged in our opinions and beliefs (perhaps even more extreme in them) and likely more cynical than before. No progress results from it. Moving on …


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