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Sensational Christmas morning

I remember being a kid and waiting not so patiently for Christmas morning. I remember my brother and I trying so hard to stay awake to hear Santa and waking up at 4 am and waiting until our parents would allow us to go downstairs. I couldn’t wait for the presents, to see what exciting things Santa left. Christmas morning was awesome.

Naturally when I had kids I couldn’t wait to relive that moment. I was excited to see the reaction of all their new gifts and toys under the tree. This video is a pretty good representation of every Christmas morning, except the fact that no one is crying this year and it didn’t take 20 minutes of coaxing to get the kids even near their gifts. In fact the kids actually opened their gifts this year, so it is a step in the right direction. I have high hopes for Charlie next year that he will actually be excited on Christmas morning. I only assume Molly will be questioning the existence of Santa by then. This year she already wants to know why Santa built her a chalkboard last year on the wall and this year brought her one on an easel. Santa needs to get his stuff together.

On the bright side, we don’t have kids waking us up at 4:30 AM to collect their bounty.

Caught with my hand in the cookie jar

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In my previous life I’ve been known to eat. There was the time I ate an entire apple pie and the time I ate the entire wholesale club size tub of cheese balls and I have yet to live down my order of 10 soft tacos from Taco Bell. In my defense, I was a swimmer and those tacos are so small! Since I’ve aged and started paying for my own groceries, I’ve learned to tone down my appetite a little bit. I’ve also learned to do food math like “I have ten cookies, if I eat two cookies a night that means I can have cookies for five days”. Five days of two cookies sounds much better than one day of ten cookies. (note: this math does not work when married to Stampy who will eat your cookies as a late night snack)

So, Stampy and the kids made cookies Wednesday afternoon. Delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies. On Wednesday and Thursday they were eaten in sane amounts, properly doling out cookies as desserts for everyone. Then last night happened. There were three cookies left. I could eat one cookie and save two so each kid could have one more cookie or I could eat three cookies. I chose the latter. I can’t even remember the last time I ate three cookies in one sitting and now I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. They were delicious! (I do have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe) Of course there is the littlest bit of mommy-guilt kicking in that I didn’t save the kids a cookie, but I try not to let that get to me. I didn’t even eat their Halloween candy!

I forgot one tiny little detail about Molly. She notices EVERYTHING. She is the most observant little girl in the entire world. Her ability to spot patterns and shapes in her environment is part of what could put her on the spectrum. She knows when we move things, she noticed when her OT office changed a painting on the wall, she knows where everything is in the house. She sees all. This is a problem when you eat the last of cookies. I wasn’t prepared to answer this question “where are the cookies?”. 

Me: They are all gone

Molly: Where did they go? There were 3 last night in the container. Who ate them? Who ate ALL the cookies?

Me: I did.

I was then faced with the biggest look of disappointment ever. It was like she was sensing my built-in guilt and was taking full advantage of it. I hate that look. It’s the same look I got when I told her that 679 people finished before me when I ran my race. A look of disgust and disappointment in my actions. 

So, I told her we would bake cupcakes. Problem solved.

It gets better

When I was first pregnant with Molly and had horrible morning all day sickness, people would tell me just wait til your back hurts or your ankles swell. Then those things happened and I wished for pregnancy to be over and people would tell me to enjoy it while I can because my boobs were going to start hurting while I was breastfeeding and on and on. Then Molly came and was colicky and fussy and had difficulty eating and wouldn’t sleep. Ever. I wished for her to be older so it would be easier and I always got the same reply “It doesn’t get easier, just different”. At each stage where there were problems there was an older, wiser mom telling me it was only going to get worse. “Just wait” they would say. And I see it on Facebook now, a mom struggling with a stage their child is in and her status comment box is filled with “just wait” type of replies. I’ll have to admit, I’ve said those things, I’ve replied those things. I didn’t know any different.

Now I do.

I’m here to tell you it does get better. It’s not fair for us “veteran” moms to warn those coming up the road behind us how bad it’s going to be. That doesn’t make what they are going through any better, it just brings on impending doom. I would think “oh God, I can barely handle this, how am I going to handle it when it gets worse?”. Now, I see that look of desperation in my friends’ eyes. They are dealing with sleepless nights and 2 year olds and we say, “just wait til their 3”. What good does that do? We should warn our friends of things they can prepare for: hemorrhoids, sore nipples, constipation, running out of wipes in public when your child has a blow out, tricks so you aren’t losing the pacifier at 4am, or how best to soothe a cough. These are things they can prepare for. These are the things they should be warned about.

I was scared when I was warned that my crawling baby would become a walker. She did and she got faster, but along with her speed also brought independence. I liked independence.

I was worried when I was going to have to start table food because the kids would throw it every where. They did. It made a mess, but I also could eat a few bites of semi-warm food while they entertained themselves with how far a pea can fly across the room.

I was worried when my ever persistent 2 year old became a 3 year old. Really worried. I had a whole year to learn how to deal with temper tantrums and demanding tempers. Things became easier to deal with because with the extra year came extra patience and confidence. Or at least the ability to know that they will survive if I go into another room and leave them to scream by themselves.

So don’t worry new moms, whatever parenthood problem you are struggling with, that problem will get better. Sure new ones will come along, but that’s life and we can deal with life. Each day and month that goes by, you grow confidence and with confidence comes a much better way to deal with what you are going through. Those first nights of teething will seem horrible, but when the molars come in you will dose with ibuprofen and not even think about it. That first tantrum in the store you will sweat and turn red and be mad, but by the 15th and a year later you will walk out of that store with confidence smiling at people as you go by. Or you will walk out and cry in your car instead of the store. Either way, it gets better. And when you just want privacy in the bathroom, well… I can’t help you there, I only assume at some point that too will get better.

From now on, when your less experienced friend has woes and complaints about a trying stage in her child’s life, instead of filling her head of how it’s going to get 10,000 times worse, try lending an ear and taking her hand and putting a glass of wine in it. I’m sure she would much rather hear “I know what you are going through. Drink up” than “just you wait”.

I am important

I have enjoyed over the past week reading why a bunch of moms can’t find the time to work out or don’t have wash board abs, toned muscles and gorgeous hair. It’s taken me awhile to get to my excuses posted because I have a gazillion reasons why I don’t look like a super-fit mom, but I’ll keep to the short list.

  • I gained 60 lbs with my first pregnancy, 45 with the second
  • Nursing did not lose the baby weight
  • I work full time
  • I balance my work schedule with Molly’s OT and Counseling sessions
  • Charlie had surgery at the age of 1
  • Charlie has been in the ER 4 times for falling off furniture, a blocked urethra, and 2 allergic reactions
  • We have “homework” for both therapies and for Pre-K
  • We have to eat, so I have to make it and shop for it
  • I LOVE to sleep
  • I LOVE to eat cake, ice cream, cookies, pie…
  • I’d rather sit on the couch and eat at the end of the day
  • I want to relax and drink coffee in the morning
  • I have to manage shopping, cooking and planning for Charlie’s allergies

This list could go on and on. Here’s the deal, DESPITE all of these excuses, I eventually lost the baby weight and even just ran 7.3 miles for a race. Because that’s all they are. They are excuses, not reasons. It’s about priorities and I have to make myself a priority. It took almost 18 months after Charlie was born to lose all the weight and I still don’t have wash board abs. Why? Because I don’t need them to be a good mom, but I do need the physical activity to make me a better mom. I can hold Crow in yoga, but my arms aren’t perfectly sculpted. I’m pretty sure at some point someone replaced my armpits with that of a 300 pound person. It’s not about what I look like though it’s because I function better with the physical outlet. It’s just how I relieve stress. I also find that it’s more excusable to wear yoga pants everywhere if at some point I have worn them for yoga. And I do wear them everywhere.

I spend the day making sure everyone’s needs are met. From my family to work, I am constantly answering the complaints of others and making them better. I would count on Stampy to make me feel important but this is the same guy who took costume jewelry out of his pocket and said “I got you something” to propose. Seriously. So, I make the choice to say “I am important”. I make the choice to take care of myself and occasionally put my needs first. I take care of myself so I can take care of others effectively. And if nothing else, it gives me an hour to myself. When I can’t even take a shower or pee by myself at least I can get on the road and run by myself. And as much as I can (and will) complain about Stampy, he gives me the opportunity to better myself week after week.

That being said, maybe yoga and running isn’t your thing. Maybe physical activity isn’t your thing at all. What the activity is isn’t important, what is important that you do what makes you happy. That you give yourself some time to be healthy and to praise yourself (Look what I can do!). Make yourself a priority, take time to take part in your hobbies, just get a breath of fresh air with some friends that doesn’t include a playground. I think if we can put ourselves first once in awhile, we can find happiness and the ever important message that “I am important”.

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It also helps to surround yourself with people who love what you do…. whether we are running, doing yoga or drinking wine we always have a great time.

Bedtime or Bust

I’m sure every family has a time of day that just seems to cause stress. Maybe it’s the breakfast and out the door to school/work rush, maybe it’s the afternoon when a toddler has stopped napping but still needs one, or maybe you are like our family and it’s the time between dinner and bedtime.

From 6-7 pm every night I’m pretty sure someone has taken my children and replaced them with caged monkeys that look like my children. They are wound up, their listening ears have long since shut off and I seriously find myself wondering how I haven’t downed an entire bottle of pinot in this hour. 

I get it. Other than school in the mornings, the kids don’t really leave our house. So from 12-7 they have the same toys either inside or outside to play with and see the same faces. I get a little stir crazy too and I have stuff I should be doing. It’s also the time where we don’t really have enough time to get involved with anything (especially anything that makes a mess) but they are bored and dying for stimulation. Only, I’m at my witching hour too. I’ve been at work all day and have come home to make dinner and am brain dead or I’ve already been entertaining them all day long and am fresh out of ideas. And fresh out of patience. 

I try to keep it to a simplified routine, but Charlie somehow thinks that alligator wrestling pajamas on him is part of his routine and Molly thinks draining our entire city of water by playing in the sink for 10 minutes is part of her routine. Just once I would love to brush everyone’s teeth without someone biting down on the toothbrush or sealing their lips like they’ve been super glued. And I’m not sure exactly but I’m pretty sure that there is a game of “hide the lovey” that the kids have created in order to extend bedtime by another 10 minutes as we search high and low for someone’s favorite stuffed animal. I think Charlie’s beige puppy dog shoved into my Ugg boot wins the prize of the longest search. Tonight like a crazed maniac I forced the kids on a death march to search for said puppy dog then realized that a 4 and 2 year old are probably the worst searchers ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, these kids can’t find me hiding under the dining room table while we play hide and seek, how are the going to find a stuffed dog the size of my hand? (and why can’t their favorite stuffed animal be those ginormous ones you win at carnivals???)

We finally make it to the bedrooms only to not be able to agree on 1 story to read, so we read 2. Or 3. Or I put my foot down at 4. Technically I could do it earlier but I hope if I give them lots of attention before leaving they will be less inclined to exit their rooms looking for more. I’m usually wrong. With Molly, she was content with us kissing her goodnight and leaving, we had that part in the bag. We were home free once that door shut. Then Charlie decided that he wanted to sleep in a double bed and needs us to lay down with him, lest he cry like we have broken his heart. So we lay with him for a couple minutes. BIG MISTAKE. That leads to Molly wanting to cuddle and why not? We cuddle with Charlie, it’s only fair. Bust, we let that good thing fly out the window and added an extra 10 minutes to bedtime. When we finally do get to evacuate, we are only at a 50/50 chance that Molly won’t wander from her room and whine for me at the top of the steps to tell me that one last pressing item before going to bed.

An hour later, everyone is maybe asleep and I flop on the couch only to realize that it’s only 7:30 and the night is still young for this mama in need of doing dishes and cleaning up and all that other fun household work that doesn’t get done while I’m at work. But what I really want is some cake and a glass of wine so I compromise and drink while I fold laundry then eat cake. Which reminds me, I’m out of cake.

So, what is your stressful time of day? Are you a morning, afternoon, or like us, a bedtime monkey show?

Calling Nabisco

The more I learn about food allergies the more I realize how little I knew when this process started. I called most major food brands over a year ago to ask questions and at the time were satisfied with their answers. Now and then I tend to call back regarding specific items, especially of the “snack pack” variety because they are often made on shared lines that aren’t cleaned and since a may contain is a voluntary label, I feel better calling to double check and while I’m on the phone I now ask more specific questions about products in general. Today I called Nabisco because I bought their new Angry Birds Snack Pack graham crackers and I was less than pleased with my phone conversation. When I asked about reducing cross contamination through employees I was told “yeah, sure, we do that”. Hmmmm. “yeah, sure”? “Yeah, sure” is what my 4 year old says when she has no clue what to say. It’s also what people say when they aren’t paying attention. I informed the man that “yeah, sure” is never an acceptable answer when fielding questions regarding life or death. He still didn’t seem to concerned. So I asked to speak to someone else, but at the time anyone that could answer my questions was busy. I said that was fine and I could wait on hold or if he wouldn’t mind taking my name and number and submitting it to whoever could answer my questions. Well, I learned it is not their policy to take people’s names and numbers for questions to be answered by someone who may have the answer and was told to just try and call back later. Oh, right in ALL my free time, I’ll just call back and hope someone is available. Obviously, this person doesn’t have children and doesn’t schedule his day around naptime and Leapster time. I decided to go the email route first. Here is the email I sent to Nabisco today:

Dear Customer Service,
I just ended a phone call with your customer service regarding allergen precautions in your facilities. I am writing to tell you that I was very disappointed in the answers I received. Not because they weren’t what I wanted to hear, but because the person answering your customer service didn’t speak well enough English to answer my direct questions. To almost every question I received the stock answer of “if it does or could contain the allergen it would be labeled on the box” and when I asked a specific question of cross contamination I received the answer of “yeah, sure”. I’m going to tell you that when a parent calls with questions or concerns regarding a life threatening condition for their child “yeah, sure” is not an answer. You will lose customers with that answer. It makes the person answering the phone and your company seem like they don’t take these concerns seriously. I was then told that “I answer these calls all day long, you believe the answer I’m giving you”. Again, when you aren’t answering my specific question, I do not believe you. After being placed on hold I was told that no one was available to answer my specific questions and that I would have to call back. I asked to wait on hold or have my name and number taken for a phone call back (which many companies do) and was told that was not your policy and I would just have to try again later. Since I am a busy mom of 2 kids and took 5 minutes of quiet to call, I opted this route to have my questions answered for now.
1. Since you share lines, what methods are taken to clean equipment between producing allergen ingredients and non-allergen ingredients?
2. Are your workers decontaminated as well? Will a person working a line with an allergen change their coat, gloves, hat, etc before working a line that is allergen free?
3. Do you test raw ingredients coming into your facility?
4. How often do you test your product for allergen to ensure that your sanitation methods are working?
I would like to thank you for your time and I hope in the future if I have to call your company for information, the person answering the phone is more informed. You may also contact me via phone at 410-XXX-XXXX.
Sincerely,
Jamie Meteer

I am looking forward to their response. I will share with you, my readers, when I get it.

My New Gadget: The Mighty Handle

A little secret about me: I love to grocery shop. I could (and do) spend way too much time and money in the grocery store. Lord help me if I ever venture into one of those high-end stores like Whole Foods or Wegmans because it never ends well for my check book… or waistline. One of the things that keeps me in check is the walk from the car to the house with the bags. For one, I have a gate to go through which requires needing a free hand that I can lift over 4 feet in the air to unhook the latch and therefore I can’t make it from the car to kitchen in less than like 6 trips. It really becomes the brain teaser of how to get the fox, chicken and corn across the river. Add in a 2 year old and 4 year old and I’m frazzled before I’ve even unloaded anything. So, when the good people at Mighty Handle asked if I would like to try out their product, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve actually used it twice before commenting on it. Really because I just couldn’t believe I carried 3 gallons of milk and a gallon of juice plus all my other groceries into my house in 1 trip, so I had to use it again. And it worked. Again. It claims it can carry 50 pounds, and I believe it. I also love the fact that I easily kept 4 tiny hands from pawing through my groceries thanks to it’s ability to twist and close all the bags. I will say that this blogger was curious why everything was still so heavy on my first usage, until my husband pointed out that I was carrying close to 40 pounds in one hand and that it wasn’t an “anti-gravity magic handle”, just a mighty one. Then I felt mighty for being able to carry 40 pounds in one hand. I don’t think ego-booster is on it’s list of merits, but maybe it should be! (I may or may not be flexing after typing that). In the short 2 weeks that we have had the handle here, it has already become a household friend. The kids like to pretend it’s an anchor, a Captain Hook hand, a tennis racket, a clothes hanger and a pterodactyl. They’ve been pretty rough on it and it’s still looking brand new. Now that I’ve said my piece, I thought I would let the handle speak for itself.
ImageTo get one yourself, you can go to Amazon (it’s a 2 pack!) or if you want it in the stores go here to vote for WalMart to put it on the shelf.

Baking Bread

This year our garden had a plethora of squash (read: Why I shouldn’t Garden) that my family won’t eat. I can’t really blame them. As I don’t mind squash, it also isn’t my favorite vegetable and I’m certainly not going to eat 5 squash plants worth of squash. So, what to do? Head to Pinterest of course! (you can find me here). And since Pinterest does not disappoint, I got a wonderful Bread Recipe from The Virtuous Wife. The kids were so excited to help bake and scampered up to our dining room table and waited while I got out the ingredients. I made the mistake of bringing the flour to the table first.
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So instead of helping, the kids decided that antiquing each other would be much more fun
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Followed by flour angels
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Thank goodness the recipe was super simple to make, pour everything into a bowl and stir. I would hate to see the mess they would’ve made if it took me longer than 5 minutes to get it in the oven! The bread was worth every messy second though, it is delicious!

Why Breaks Are Good

Yesterday I got a “mommy break”. I got to run under, over and through muddy obstacles with some of my best friends followed by some lunch at a restaurant where I didn’t have to inquire about cooking procedures (still managed to see the “allergen” warning on the menu) or hope someone doesn’t need to pee and freak out about using a public potty or just get antsy and decide that they want to leave.

I am extremely fortunate that I have the ability to say “Bye Honey! I’m going to have fun for the day and I’ll be home later” and then not worry. I have been blessed with a completely capable husband. I don’t need to call and check in, I don’t get texts asking where the first aid kit is and I know that all routines, schedules and diapers will be kept in check. Plus, I’ll probably return home to a cleaner-than-what-I-left-it-house and all laundry washed, dried and well… not put away, but no one’s perfect. I’m also blessed with wonderful friends who also have wonderful husbands that can do the same. This means everyone is texting pictures of finishing the race and not “Did you remember to feed the kids breakfast??”

I know that not everyone agrees in “needing time away”, but let me tell you, it’s important. Getting a mommy break for a day makes me miss my kids. I’m excited to see them when I get home and I love the fact that they can now tell me about their day. When you spend day in and day out wiping noses and hands, answering the whys and why nots, cooking, cleaning and making sure two little people aren’t killing each other, sometimes you need a couple hours of fun to remember that they are the reason you love your life so much to begin with. There are days when we are on temper tantrum #7 before noon and I wonder if I’m completely failing but then I come home from a day away and the kids show that they truly missed me and I think “oh, they don’t think I’m failing” and my mommy confidence soars. Then there is a break from Stampy. I tend to think I’m a great catch, but my opinion is probably a little skewed. I also usually think Stampy is a great catch but there are times when I just think “wow, I may stab him while he sleeps tonight”. It’s not because I really want him dead, it’s just that he forgot to do the one thing I asked him to do, it’s been a long day and he just won’t stop talking. Then he spends the better part of our evening time looking at random golf courses in Iowa and all I can think is “I just spent an hour reading up on sensory activities and how to make home made granola bars that are peanut free and you pick 10:00 at night to put your moves on????”. These are things that can make me want to scream irrational things, BUT I know they are irrational so I keep them to myself and let them fester instead. That being said, he never blinks an eye when I tell him that I’m going out gallivanting for the day and I don’t know when I’ll be home. I come home and realize that even though he didn’t let me go and prance around in the mud, he did let me go because he has no difficulty running a home and I love him and the stabby feelings are suppressed for another month or so. Then there is just the benefit of talking to your friends. Sure we communicate via Facebook or text messaging but 90% of our conversing under those circumstances are about the kids. We are moms talking about mom things because that’s what we are doing. Occasionally we might want to point out a creepy kid pic that some other mom has been posted to Facebook, but mostly it’s all about our own kids. Then we get to go out WITHOUT our kids and that 90% drops down to 50%. Ok, 75%. Which means there is 15% more conversation than normal that is not about our kids. It’s usually about our husbands or peeing our pants, but not about kids who pee their pants. And I am grateful that you have these people that know you in some other manner than mom or wife. Because, let’s face it neither your husband or your kids care when you find the best new comfortable pair of underwear or BB cream or eyebrow waxer. They just don’t. So it’s these moments where I can spend the day laughing away the tears and I know it’s exactly what I need to come home and have a child decide that bath time is 2 minutes before the oven dinner timer goes off and another that believes the dining room chair can double as a toilet and know that I’m doing a great job.

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Seamus wearing Charlie so he can do the dishes… I told you he was a catch!

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We did it!!

All About The Wild Card

From here on out, my goal is to devote a day of the week to telling you about each kid. Whether it be about the ailments that afflict them or the antics they’ve cooked up recently. I’ve decided to be clever and alliterate and make Wednesday = Wild Card Wednesday. 

So let’s start with why he is the “Wild Card”. The nickname really comes from the fact that Stampy and I are big It’s Always Sunny fans. Love that show. That Charlie is known as the Wild Card in his antics and it just seemed to fit our Charlie as well. The boy who is always smiley and even tempered, well just wait until we go to a preschool Christmas recital and he will scream his head off. The boy who loves to sit and the table and eat, eat, eat, well just wait until a holiday or special occasion dinner and he will scream his head off. Do you have an old piece of peanut butter toast lying around?? He’ll eat that just to add some excitement to our day. Is there a 1/100 chance your urethra will close up after hypospadias surgery? (note: not a real statistic) Charlie will have that going on too so you have to trek to Johns Hopkins Hospital at 11pm ON YOUR BIRTHDAY. He is just all about the unexpected, the element of surprise, and the surprises just keep on coming.

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Photo by Jenna Main Photography

That’s ok, I don’t mind putting up with his antics because look at that face! or this one
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You really just can’t help but to smile.

Somehow he makes waking up at 5:30am seem pleasant. He’s just that guy. I’m guessing he’ll either be voted most likely to end up in the ER or Class Clown in high school. I’m really hoping for the latter because I’m tired of going to the ER. I think 4 times in one’s life is enough. But, he’s our wild card so I’m sure there will be more in his future.