A New Mom’s Letter to Her Babysitter

We don’t get date nights often enough, and I semi-blame the whole “finding a babysitter” fiasco.

Now that we are on our second child, our instructions to babysitters have become much more lax. Ultimately, we just want our kids safe and happy. A few years ago, however, my new mom hormones were TURNT UP. WAY UP. Had I written an actual note (a la my mom in 1992), it would have looked exactly like this:

Dear babysitter,

Thanks for coming over! Help yourself to any food (notice we bought the name brand graham crackers this week), and make yourself at home. My kids should be sleeping, so just hang out! Watch TV!

Except, try to avoid turning the TV volume higher than 12, because that will wake up my kids, but it’s okay if you have to because you don’t lip read as well as I’ve been forced to learn. If you would like to actually hear your show, you can just put them back to sleep after they wake up. They’ll lay down for you super easily.

All you have to do is this!

You’ll need to heat up a little milk (roughly between 4-6 oz) for my little one, for 45 seconds. He is particular. Shake the bottle. Test the temperature. He also likes his grey blankie to snuggle with, but make sure it’s not on his face. My other son can just get up and watch TV, but only one show and not for too long, and if you don’t understand what he is saying, try the Dinosaur movie, but fast forward the part where the dad dies. Along those lines, if he says something that sounds like “daddy,” it could mean daddy, Mickey, or blankie (full phonetically spelled translation guide on the side of the fridge).

But whatever! Just have fun! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!!!!

Consult the attached pamphlet for numbers of my–

Pediatrician
Poison Control
My number
Restaurant’s number
Next door neighbor’s number
911’s number
Insurance agent information
Homeland Security
CPR instructions
Animal control
Living trust
Speediest SWAT responders (Don’t hesitate to call!)
Current shot records
Life insurance documentation
Last will and testament

We will be back in forty five minutes! Thanks!

–Ashton

PS Fire extinguisher is under the kitchen sink.

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Justice for All: Creative (Dare I Say Democratic?) Punishment Alternatives for Your Children

Is anyone else TIRED of the political talk?

The last time words like “freedom,” “justice,” and “equality” were this exhaustively used in my vocabulary were during my teenage years, when, like, I was, like, really upset with my parents.

Although my two boys are still just babies, my fear of parenting teens (or fear of bad karma from my own years) is already in effect. Because of this, my husband and I have instead compiled a list of “grounding” alternatives. Our future teenagers’ undesirable behavior will be at a standstill due to Mom’s variation of tactics.

To reinforce the democratic familial governing our teenagers will insist upon, the following list is to be used as a CHOICE in place of a run of the mill, predictable consequence. Instill some fear into their souls, correct behavior, and teach them the meaning of justice, all in one! “You can choose to lose your phone privileges for a week, OR______.” Then, pat yourself on the back for bringing democracy back to the family, and let the good times roll.

Discipline Alternatives for Taming a Teen

1. The Sign and Date: The rule breaker will not be grounded if he or she returns a completed petition with a header statement. “I, _____, have come home 20 minutes past my curfew multiple times this month. I am so disrespectful of my parents’ rules. SHAME. Since I was so inconsiderate of my parents, who are super cool and know Jay Z songs, I need your signature to agree that yes, I am in the wrong. Yes, there are repercussions. No, I will not be late again. This way, you can still see me on weekends. Include your number, because my mom will be calling you to verify your signature’s authenticity.” After 25 signatures and phone numbers from high school friends, call to confirm their signatures and a consequence will be waived. Heart emoji.

(And then, you’ll have a secret stash of their friends’ phone numbers. Well played, me.)

2. Not Stacy’s Mom: Upon continuation of the country’s doughnut and cupcake fanaticism, odds are good you will pack on a few pounds. Hold off on Weight Watchers–this will come in handy. “Happen” to run into your teen and his/her friends, rain or shine, in a bikini. This will have to be more of an ambush rather than an agreed upon punishment, but you can work out the kinks when the scale increases another fifty pounds.

3. Wheely Embarrassing: Should your finances allow, invest in a perfectly safe, yet severely cosmetically damaged, vehicle for offenders to drive for a determined time period. This total piece of crap car will have duct tape, stale fries squished between the seats, and possibly and “I love my mom!” license plate holder. “Time out car!” spray painted on the side is also a consideration. Driving solidarity will be achieved by removing passenger seats.

4. Au Natural: A negotiated time period of no makeup for daughters. High school social pressures alongside a bare face will definitely instill a fear of talking back.

5. PDA, PDA, PDA is Not Okay:
If you need to bring out the big guns, pull out the ol’ love card. The teen culprit will have to accompany his or her googly-eyed parents on a date to a pre-determined, popular location. Don’t skimp on lots and lots of public displays of affection with your significant other. Make sure to talk unmistakably to your child, loudly, between kissing. #notmyparents #PDA #eyesburning

Even though my guys are just little, any additional suggestions to our raise-good-kids-sans-grounding arsenal would be appreciated!

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Things I Wish I’d Known Before Becoming a Mother

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I. Had. No. Idea.

An opportunity to share my infinite mothering wisdom from my three years of experience presented itself, and I shared five things I wish I’d known before becoming a mom with Jess Toolson. Check her out for inspiration, or just to look at her because she’s pretty.

A HANDFUL OF THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN BEFORE I HAD BABIES

1. You cannot die from no sleep. Don’t worry, I checked, and there are no records of a coroner citing sleeplessess as a cause of death. Well, okay, there was this ONE guy that went eleven days, but I tried to forget about that as I dragged myself out of bed with my second baby. Rest (or not?) assured that although your brain may feel dysfunctional, you will live to see the sun rise again. Then, a few years later, your heart will hurt realizing how quickly the sun set and rose during that time, and you’ll wish you could hold that newborn all over again (or at least remember it more clearly).

2. You don’t need so much STUFF. Why didn’t anyone tell me to calm down with the purchases? And, was it necessary to research laundry detergent for two hours? All the baby “needs” and colossal registry recommendations are going to be stacked in your garage Jenga-style after a few months. After you’ve survived all those sleepless nights, do you really want to risk your life every time you wander into your garage to pull out Christmas decorations? Worse, I’m not even sure if a fatal avalanche of Mama-Roos and double strollers will qualify you for a Darwin Award…

3. Your husband will probably slip from your radar a bit. Before I had kids, my whole universe revolved around my husband. Now, after a weekend of working, tell me: am I going to put pants back on to go to a movie I don’t care about, or stay home to bathe my teeny baby with the best thigh rolls (and go to bed at 9:30)? Get real. It has taken me a couple of years to realize it’s beneficial to everyone in the family to reinstate your husband’s title as your main guy. My husband now knows that he is the only guy I’ll put my pants ON for, which is a much greater compliment to him than the opposite.

4. Kids are FUN.
I wish someone had said, “Hey, you’re going to LIKE this!” instead of telling me horror stories. Kids come with their own unique personalities, and provide constant laughs. Until I became a mother, I didn’t know what true, pure happiness was. I have the most fun friends and great family, an exciting college life, and a wonderful marriage, but I hadn’t experienced true bliss until I saw my first baby smile at me for the first time. There is no elation that can compare. Sure, I’m exhausted and have a weird ponytail every day, but every SINGLE day, I am surprised, I am laughing, and I am in awe of these little humans that light up my whole life.

5. Motherhood isn’t pretty, but that is what makes it incomprehensibly beautiful. According to social media, motherhood means lounging around in a pristine bed with a sleeping baby and a bouquet of flowers, and maybe running to lunch with friends in an #OOTD (outfit of the day).

I just, I don’t…alrighty, bloggers.

Motherhood is Costco on a Saturday; motherhood is defying the laws of physics and being able to juggle any wiggly child/pacifier/bottle/blanket; motherhood is looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself after two or three days of cleaning up throw up from a sick family; motherhood is innate resourcefulness when you forget to pack wipes; motherhood is never taking a photo when you ARE in bed with a sleeping baby, because you can’t look away from the impossibly perfect face you are studying; motherhood is a million whispered, “I love you”s; motherhood is the most joyous chaos. Motherhood is imperfect and heavenly and messy and teary and hilarious, and just the best.

In my opinion, if motherhood is pretty, it’s wasted.

Besides, pretty is too dainty of a word for a title so strong.

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Several Reasons I don’t Love Halloween: A Therapy Session

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday.

Could it be because my childhood was scarred after a clown showed up at my preschool Halloween party? Clowns were a concerning species of human when I was 5, and judging by current news, they still are. They disturbed me even more than ET. My mom dropped my terrified self off, and encouraged me to stay. She kept telling me it was just a man, which was even more chilling, because why would a grown man dress like that? Does anyone know him? Doesn’t he have a job to be at?

Could it be that I associate Halloween with accidentally locking myself in a single user bathroom at a church Halloween party when I was fifteen? No one could hear my shouts because the industrial sized church vacuum was being used. I oathed to never hog the handicap individual bathroom again, even if it did have the best mirror to admire my Bath and Body Works eye glitter. At that moment, all I saw in the mirror was tear stained Cleopatra makeup. Bless the seven year old that finally wandered in to throw away the Werther’s from her trick or treat bucket.

OR, could it be that Halloween meant getting asked on scary dates to haunted houses, suspenseful movies, and freaky corn mazes? The scary part was less the activity, and more running from the guy you were with. Hoping he wouldn’t grab my hand or try to cuddle always got my adrenaline flowing. (I’m crinkling my nose because TRUE DAT every year.)

Thank goodness for my kids making Halloween a million times more enjoyable.

Can kids borrow Trump’s slogan? “Make holidays great again.”

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Thank you to my neighbors who dropped full size candy bars into the bag of my seven toothed child! I appreciate this contribution to my depleted mom-emergency chocolate stash. It’s a real upgrade from stale chocolate chips.

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I Hid in the Bathroom for a While When Brian Came Home…

More and more often, I find myself trading in my beloved bedtime internet surfing/checking weather in Fiji for looking at photos from the day.

More and more often, those pictures are reminders of how many times I said, “No.”

“Hey, don’t climb on that (everything)!”
“Quit wiping your hands on the wall!”
“Don’t squeeze your brother that hard!”
“Stop poking that dead bird with a stick!”

Okay, they’re all valid “no” situations, and said with love (usually), but tonight, I came across this picture from the other day:

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I wondered what my sweet boys’ perspectives of me were that day as we grocery shopped. I wondered what their little minds absorbed as they ate their doughnuts in the cart and quietly observed me.

How odd it must seem that I say hello only to the people I am acquainted with and ignore everyone else (unlike Gus).

Hold cold I must look not waving to every person we pass in every aisle (unlike Gus).

And how demeaning it must be for me to apologize to the man whose arm Gus was tapping to tell him his hat is “very very neat.”

Amongst other concerns, what kind of person am I going to turn into one day without innocent, perfect little children in my home teaching me? It’s taken me 30 years to understand what being childlike really means, and I am in awe at the near perfection that word truly implies.

These past few weeks, I discovered I’m not learning patience because they’re testing it; I’m learning patience because of their examples of endless patience with ME! I’m so thankful that these babies are quick to forgive and forget as I figure out this mom thing. I’m still in training, but I’m deciding lists, titled:

BARE PRIORITIES
WHO CARES
THINGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY DANGEROUS VS THINGS YOU CAN’T KEEP LITTLE BOYS AWAY FROM
CAFFEINATED DRINKS TO KEEP STOCKED

I’m looking forward to a bright, new morning to cuddle them tomorrow. If they want to sleep in a little bit, that would be okay, but my mom guilty makes me so excited to pull their faces away from Paw Patrol to kiss them.

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Summer Slipped My Mind

Toodles, summer. I only say, “Toodles,” because we watch so much Mickey around here. What I really want to say is:

NOOOO. DON’T LEAVE ME. MY LOVE.

But, Ashton, you say. It’s almost boot weather, and nothing tickles you like seasonal shoe rotations!

I know. Is this an identity crisis? I am usually itching for fall, but because I have no one in school to keep me on a schedule, September snuck up on me. I am panicking. (Just pencil me in as “yes” on that identity crisis.)

I LOVED this summer so much more than usual. That could be due to this being my first “normal-ish” summer experience in a long time. (Summer is so much more pleasant and carefree when I’m not nursing or pregnant.) However, after really thinking about it, I think the problem in years past was that I’d forgotten how to do it.

I forgot how to summer.

Thankfully, my little guys jogged my memory. This year:

I rememberered how water from the hose tasted.
I remembered how welcoming and warm cement feels after running in sprinklers.
I remembered the melody of creaky swing chains.
I remembered how Otterpop juice is July’s liquid gold.

It was magical. Thank you, my little guys. Having young children truly makes every season so much more vibrant. So exciting. So beautiful.

As the sun sets on this season, I want to savor every last bit of extended warmth we get in Las Vegas, as well as every minute of precious, unscheduled, “no one is in school yet so I’m not wearing pants” time. IMG_4087

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Sunday evening "Ca-sickles."
Sunday evening “Ca-sickles.”

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Summer, it hurts me to have let you you slip my mind for a few years while I was adulting. I’ll try my best to cut that out.

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How Your Family Vacation Will Give You an Olympian Workout (But You Already Knew That)

You want to train like an Olympic athlete?

It doesn’t involve much gym time, but I can promise this: you will be sore, and you will be tired.

It is called “family vacation.”

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Total body workout includes:

1. Great cardio. Your cardio routine will begin as soon as your car is put in reverse backing out of the driveway. Run back into the house at least five times for forgotten items. Did you adjust the thermostat? Did you remember the iPad charger? Are you sure you locked the front door? Really sure? Way to go the extra mile and hurdle over the garage door sensor on your way back out the third time. I am convinced that traveling with a large family is how Bruce Jenner stayed in decathlon shape, back when his family was young, and back when he was a he.

2. When you’ve got ninos in the backseat, upper body is what your car’s co-pilot seat is all about. You’ll have the opportunity to stretch unused muscles and contort yourself while fishing for dropped items. It would be unfathomable to wait another 20 minutes until you stop at Jack in the Box to rescue that Paw Patrol figurine wedged in the seat crack between Graham crackers. It’s just like having Jillian Michaels yelling at you…for free!

You may have a seat belt rash on your neck from being nearly decapitated, but did I not promise you soreness?

Don't worryyyy, I didn't take this while driving.
Don’t worryyyy, I didn’t take this while driving.
Suction cup therapy, or front seat upper body workout on a roadtrip to Rio? I’ve seen his baby.
Suction cup therapy, or front seat upper body workout on a roadtrip to Rio? I’ve seen his baby.

3. Lower body. Unloading the car will provide you with ample squatting/ bending/lifting opportunities. If you’ve got a great workout support team like I do, they’ll hide necessities all over the car and keep you running back to get them, individually. Oh, wait. The wipes. Oh, and where’s his other shoe? Oh…the stinky diaper. Did we leave that in the trunk? Good looking out, team. At least when you arrive up the elevator for the third time, your family will switch up the USA chant for, “M-O-M! D-A-D!”

Just kidding, they won’t care, but they will point out that you dropped the iPhone charger in the parking lot, and they’re wondering when it’s time to eat.

4. Upper body, again. If there is a pool, and you have little kids, it will be assumed that you are a shot-put Olympian. You will launch all of your posterity, one at a time, “one mo’ time,” over and over. And one more time for a picture. It was blurry, though, so one more. Your arms may be on fire, but when it comes down to it, you’ll toss your kids a million times over for those laughs.
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5. Don’t overlook carbloading.

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Mama D's pink sauce in exchange for a one piece swimsuit.
Mama D’s pink sauce in exchange for a one piece swimsuit.
(Best we got.)
(Best we got.)

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“A clean house is a boring house.” -Ashton. Can we make that a real saying?

Yesterday, as I reclined during my spa morning, I had a lot on my mind.

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(Dental work’s price tag makes it as close to an actual spa as I’m getting, but if I’m forced to lie here with my eyes closed, I am thrilled and will continue to refer to it as a spa.)

I thought of my sweet babies at home, which inevitably led to me thinking how much cleaning I need to do, the ever growing pile of laundry, and the missing Desitin tube. That missing Desitin concerns me. It also made circle back to cleaning the house.

My feelings these messy days are always sandwiched. I do like food analogies.

Those little bits of frustration are sandwiched between feelings of overwhelming adoration and motherly wonder. Like a real life filter, the pure innocence of the little perpetrators always blurs the irritation of the crime out of focus.

Let me give you a tour of my emotions (the sandwiches, which I am envisioning as PB& homemade raspberry jelly).

Sweet little Roscoe just climbing all over me as he tried to share his drink. Why would I even own white pants? Will this stain? I love that he just wants his mommy.
Sweet little Roscoe just climbing all over me as he tried to share his drink. Why would I even own white pants? Will this stain? I love that he just wants his mommy.

Oh man, my sliding glass door. Look at these hands! Oh, the fingers are so teeny! I literally just wiped these down yesterday. How freaking much Windex are we going through? Buuut before they wiped their Popsicles on the window, they were so sweet eating them together.
Oh man, my sliding glass door. Look at these hands! Oh, the fingers are so teeny! I literally just wiped these down yesterday. How freaking much Windex are we going through? Buuut before they wiped their Popsicles on the window, they were so sweet eating them together.

Ohhh, a golf club in the freezer. I always have surprises! Were they into the ice cream? What were they doing in here? Is my bathroom cabinet a mess now, too? Let me take a picture really quickly to send to Brian. He will love it. I’ll have to stick this in Chatbooks.
Ohhh, a golf club in the freezer. I always have surprises! Were they into the ice cream? What were they doing in here? Is my bathroom cabinet a mess now, too? Let me take a picture really quickly to send to Brian. He will love it. I’ll have to stick this in Chatbooks.

These teeny hands. I hate stainless steel so much. I love these fingers so much.
These teeny hands. I hate stainless steel so much. I love these fingers so much.

Emotional sandwiches. Or, bipolar. Hard to differentiate.

These small annoyances have become the crowning jewels of my home.

My house verges on disastrous sometimes, but I know having clean pants and floors one day will prick my heart.

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My Thesis for a Future Dissertation on Fast Food, or My Babies’ Thesis for a Case Study on Mom

Have you ever stopped to listen how people order food?

I’ve noticed that men are generally more the statement making, demanding type, and to the point. “Gimme uhhh…Let me get the #1.” “Double double, no onions.“ They look the cashier in the eye while they speak, unlike most women, whose eyes are darting all over the menu even as they order. (I think I’m one of them. Can’t commit.)

Women seem inclined to let their demure nature shine through during the moment of ordering truth. “I would like a cheeseburger. Oh, and fries. Do the fries have sizes? Oh, a small. No, a large. Hehe. Thanks!” “Can I please have a #2? With grilled onions?”

That’s the worst one. The questioner. The vocal inflection is a higher pitch at the end of every sentence, making the last words dangle so every statement sounds like there is a question mark at the end. “I’d like a #2? Animal style? And a lemonade?”

That’s what I do. I’m pretty annoying.

I continued burger order auditing while I was sitting on a bench at In n Out, waiting for Brian and the little guys to meet me for dinner. I eavesdropped on people’s orders while I watched this guy mop.

Unbeknown to me, this was my child’s throw up.

My current standings of 1 year olds throwing up while ordering: 2 for 2.
My current standings of 1 year olds throwing up while ordering: 2 for 2.

Part of me felt bad, and part of me was guiltily relieved I had been spared clean up duty.

My guys were in the bathroom cleaning up the entire time I was situated on the bench, and although Roscoe was smiling and perfectly thrilled to be there in his sopping clothes, Brian took him home while I stayed with Gus to eat his “cheeburber.” Within 5 minutes, Gus knocked over our lemonade, so I had to go do my question ordering again to alert that blessed cleaning guy. “Hi? My son spilled lemonade? Oops, sorry?”
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Let’s give a slow clap for these guys, In n Out’s sacrificial lambs of the night.

We're taking our In n Out burbers to go for a couple of weeks.
We’re taking our In n Out burbers to go for a couple of weeks.
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PS Easter was Nice, Though.

We celebrated Easter this weekend, but the holiday was overshadowed by a life changing, gut wrenching milestone in our family’s life.

Gus realized he can escape his crib/room during sleeptimes.

Lest you think I’m an adaptable, “I’ve got this under control” mom, take a moment to mourn with me.

It’s currently naptime, yet, as I write this, I’m feeling some eyes on me through the railing.

I don’t feel like I can even get footing to cross this bridge, because this little man is still up in the night. mamaandcoecoe
He has had two teefies, or TEETH, as you may pronounce them, so I’m opting to point fingers at teething rather than babies conspiring against me.

The nonconformist in question has moved down a few stairs and is letting me know quietly, with a proud grin, “Heyyy mama! I ‘wake!” But really, how could that hesitant enthusiasm not melt a mommy?

Let me get my Red Bull. Cheers!

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