Parents Find Freedom, Then Screw It All Up

Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

My little human turned 22 months yesterday.  I’m kind of in love with this stage.

Happy Baby

I don’t even recall when it happened.  But I can now leave the room and not have anxiety about what she is doing, and how many seconds I have before she notices I am gone and starts crying.

She self entertains while I make dinner.  Not every night, but it still feels magical when it works.

She can watch Elmo on the iPad for fifteen minutes at a time, without even noticing me.

When we have dinner with friends and their kids, there is an actual kid table.  This one blows my mind.  But it has happened twice now, so I think it’s an actual thing.  On NYE three toddlers sat at our mini princess table, while the adults sat in big chairs around a grown-up table and conversed about things other than kids, mostly.  Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

Best friends, 22 months

This is the first time I have actually sat down to write while my daughter is awake, EVER.  Mind you, I’ve had to stop three times now to read her a book, wipe her snotty nose, and stop her from shoving a half eaten Lara bar in to my notebook.  But, it is happening.

Coincidently, this also happened yesterday.

Halo bassient for newborn

We set up the bassinet in our bedroom because this month is the birth month of baby number two.  It’s almost funny that the same month we enter a land of freedom with our first child, it’s also the birth month of our second child.  What were we thinking?

I’m about to enter the newborn stage again any day now, and I’m forced to remember how poorly I dealt with that stage the first time.

I hate not being able to be productive, make decisions for myself, and not have someone hanging on me 24/7.

The silver lining of round two is that I know it is a finite moment in time.  I’m ready to try to enjoy it better the second time around.  Not perfectly,  I’m sure, but better.

Twenty Two Meals and a Bottle of Rum

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities. 

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

My husband had the week between Christmas and New Years off.  The younger versions of us would have never let this week pass us by without making some amazing travel plans.  The current versions of us let finances, toddlers, and the third trimester of pregnancy get in the way.  Lame excuses. I know.

So instead of European vacations or a trip home for the holidays, I scheduled some other fun activities.

Various doctors appointments.  Finally sitting down to write our Will.  Cooking over twenty freezer meals before Baby Two disrupts our routine.

I clearly know how to keep a marriage hot.

22 freezer mealsWe did the freezer meals before Wynn was born and it turned out to be a life saver for us.   There was already going to be plenty of chaos in our house as first time parents of a newborn, and typically we cook a hot breakfast daily, and 5-6 dinners a week.

There was no way that was going to happen those first few months, so being able to pull out a meal from the freezer was one very appreciated amenity.  Between a tired mama, and a crying newborn, nothing good happens in the kitchen.  We would have ended up eating Chipotle or Pizza Hut every night, which contrary to what some of you believe, probably isn’t the best idea.

Actually, it could have been even worse than that.

We could have reverted back to our early marriage days where lean pockets and ramen noodles were considered full meals.  You can read about the entire ridiculous year we spent learning to cook here. Expect to read lots of embarrassing stories and many, many typos.  You’ve been warned.

You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from stocking your freezer with meals.  This is great for all of us with a busy life.

Stocked with freezer meals

Here is the game plan we used to stock our freezer with 22 meals (88 servings).  I recommend spreading the tasks over three days so that you don’t overwhelm yourself:

  1.  Day One (30 min/1 person):  Gather recipes on Pinterest for freezer meals.  I actually had these saved on my computer from last time we stocked the freezer.  We chose 11 different recipes and planned to make two batches of each recipe.
  2. Day One Cont. (30 min/1 person):  Create a master shopping list, organized by the section of the store the ingredients would be found in:  meat, produce, canned goods, etc.  Make sure to double ingredients if you plan to make multiple of the same meal.
  3. Day Two (1 hr/1 person):  Go grocery shopping. I went to two stores, Grocery Outlet and Ralphs, and spent $230 ($2.61 per serving).  The most expensive part was that we chose to buy organic meat and ingredients when possible.  It adds up, but organic meat is important to us, especially when I will be nursing and passing everything along to my young baby.
  4. Day Three (3 hrs/2 ppl. steps 4-7):  Label all the freezer bags with date/recipe name/servings/and cooking day instructions.
  5. Put all the meat in the bags so that you only have to touch meat once before moving on to other ingredients.
  6. Recipe by recipe add remaining ingredients.  It’s great to have one person reading the recipe and adding the dry ingredients while the other person is chopping the fresh ingredients.  Lay each bag flat in the freezer, and stack them on top of each other to save space.
  7. Clean up.

For a price, there are sites out there that will email you a monthly menu, shopping list, prep instructions, and bag labels.  Once a Month Cooking is one that I have used a free sample menu from in the past.  But I also enjoy finding recipes of my own that I know my family will eat.

If you looked in our freezer on a typical day, it’s freakishly barren.  To the point you might feel bad for us.  A few mini bottles of airplane booze and an ice pack.  But now it is completely stocked.  We look like a real American family, with the status symbol of abundance, the ‘overflowing freezer’.

 

 

If You Want to Comment on A Baby Bump, Here are the Rules

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever. I just left shaking my head.

FullSizeRender (1)
Photo Cred:  @hegehost1

 

 

Sure, I’m emotional.  I’m 33 weeks pregnant with baby two.  I’m at the point where my tears have few limits while scrolling through social media.  Puppies – blub.  Babies – Blub. Blub.  Inspirational stories – Blub, blub, blub.

So it’s no surprise I was extra annoyed by the Ralphs cashier yesterday.  But some people really are so clueless when it comes to how to talk to a pregnant woman.  That, or they like to compare everything about their birth experience to the experience you must be having, because you know, every pregnancy is the same.

As the cashier was ringing up my bounty, she asked, “So when are you due?”

I smiled and replied, “January.”

“Oh wow, you look like you are ready to go now.  That’s what I looked like when I gave birth!”

Seriously –  Are some people just unaware of the  vomit they are about to spew when they open their mouth?!  I’ve gained a total of 22 lbs., which mind you is already more than I gained in total with my first pregnancy (so I’m a bit self concise), but honestly, I didn’t think it was totally out of control…until now.

The grocery store train wreck didn’t end there.  She declared, “Early January, I hope!”

“Actually January 23rd,” I mumbled.

She didn’t even pause, as if she had noticed how awkward the conversation had become.   Biggest eye roll ever.

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever.  I just left shaking my head.

I’m not suggesting you walk on pins and needles around every obviously pregnant woman.  Just please stop to think of something positive and uplifting to say before you open your mouth.

Pregnant mamas have a lot on their mind.  They probably haven’t had comfortable sleep in awhile, they may feel like they are running out of acceptable clothes that fit, and they’re probably starting to think about this gigantic watermelon that soon has to exit their perfect peach.

After two pregnancies, the grocery store conversation was obviously not the only clueless run in I had.  Here are a few things I’ve heard that I wouldn’t recommend using as your one liner:

“Is it really safe to be running while you are pregnant?”

“You wanted that decaf right?”

A coworker who said, “Your pregnancy has been way to easy, something bad has got to happen.”

A cousin who said, “Why would you want a natural birth?  You wouldn’t get your tooth removed without pain meds.  Why would you do it with a baby?”

“You look like you’re ready to Pop!”

Obviously none of these made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Thankfully, I’ve had some positive interactions that have taught me what can really make a pregnant woman’s day.  Here are a few:

“Wow, that’s awesome that you are still working out!”

“From behind you don’t even look pregnant.”

A coworker that wished me a quick and easy delivery.

An aunt who said, “I honestly believe you are strong enough to achieve a natural birth.”

A guy who simply clapped for me when I ran by him on the trail.

Strangers that held the door open, or offered to carry things for me.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a real mind f*ck for a woman.  Please don’t traumatize her with negativity.  Heed the old advice:  If you can’t say something nice, please don’t say anything at all.  We really don’t want to hear it.

10 Best Books for Toddlers (That They Don’t Already Have)

We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together. No gift receipt needed!

Toddler Book ShelfReading books to a toddler can create a magical time of routine and connection, but most children have the classics.  They really only need one copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though it’s a great read.

For a new title that they don’t already have on their bookshelf, try adding one of the following books to their collection.  We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together.  No gift receipt needed!

All are available online, so you can finish that to-do task right now.

Here are The Top Ten Toddler Books (They Don’t Already Have), plus a bonus #11, just because we can!

  1. The Watermelon Seed: A short and funny read about an Alligator that is obsessed with watermelon. His obsession takes him to a point of trouble…but it’s hard to stay away from the things we love most!
  2. My Mom is the Worst: A story (from a toddler’s perspective) about how parents often try to ruin their kids fun. Parents make them wear clothes, clean up messes, learn and try new things! They really are the worst sometimes. FrontCoverJKCEditedFontThere’s also a hidden story, within the story, for parents to enjoy along the way.
  3. Don’t Push the Button: Larry is a Monster with just one rule for your toddler,]: don’t push the button. Alas, someone does, and silly antics ensue. Children love playing along with the instructions in the book: press the button, shake the book, tickle the belly. Sometimes it’s funny when things don’t go as expected.
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face: A mother’s job is to make their child feel loved, even when others might shy away. The mama is this story is top notch. She finds ways to love on her little one even if they were a one-eyed monster or a stinky skunk. A mother’s love really has no limits.
  5. Moo, Baa, La La La: A quick bedtime read that children can easily start to memorize and read along.   All of the animals enjoy making their classic sounds, except the three silly pigs!  JK Coy
  6. Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster:   Who is more emotional, the mama or the monster? This baby monster is amazing at driving her mama bonkers. But at the end of the day, snuggles heal all. A fun and honest read for an exhausted parent that can’t help but love their little monster to pieces.
  7. Hello – Highlights Magazine : These mini books are full of short songs, rhymes, and stories for little hands. Enjoy a year subscription of coated, mini magazines from Highlights (bendable and easy to wipe down). They’ve been teaching and entertaining children for years, and they have it down! Bonus, the Hello magazines are light-weight and compact which makes them easy to throw in the car or a diaper bag.
  8. Dragons Love Tacos: Did you know that Dragons can’t stand spicy salsa?! This may be the longest book on the list, but it’s also one of the most hilarious for kids and adults to enjoy together. Even from a young age, children can enjoy the humor and creative illustrations. It’s one that will be in their collection long after their toddler years.
  9. Everything is Mama: Most toddlers hit the “Mama” stage at some point. While it can drive a parent absolutely mad that their child can now only accept a banana from their Mama and no one else, it helps (a little) to find humor in it. This is Jimmy Fallon’s second book, and is the follow-up to: Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA. Now, if only parents had that kind of power!kids read
  10. Potty: Poo-Poo, tinkle, and toot – whatever you call bathroom business in your house, toddlers can’t help but giggle. A simple read about the art of going potty, perfect for those that will begin potty training soon. It’s never too early to get them excited about UNDIES!
  11. BONUS BOOK: Bathtime for Little Rabbit: This cuddly bunny needs a bath, but he’s not very excited to play along. The author makes this an interactive bathtime for readers by having them scrub, blow-dry, and lotion bunny. This tale will prep the little ones to play along with their own bathtime routine.

Failing and Laughing, Learning to be a New Parent

It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!” or “Not good enough Mama.”

 

bmpicFrom the moment I came home from the hospital, I felt like something was missing.

I was given a perfect little human, but no extra set of hands. And my perfect little human wanted to be held ALL THE TIME.

It didn’t take long before the resentment crept in. All I wanted was to take a shower, clean-up, cook something, rest.  But now I wasn’t even capable of brushing my teeth without getting screamed at.  It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!”  or “Not good enough Mama.”

Just a few weeks prior I was a highly functioning adult in the corporate world, making things happen. Now remedial tasks were crippling.

This drove my sleep deprived self in to a crazy self-loathing state. I like to say I wasn’t fully depressed because I didn’t take drugs to heal it, but that was a lie I used to try to feel better about myself.  I felt bad for not getting anything done.  And I felt incapable of managing things I used to do with ease.

Very slowly I did adjust to my new world and I started to enjoy Motherhood more. I still didn’t love myself, and all my new glaring inabilities, but the never-ending love I felt for my baby was there.

And one day, when my perfect human was about three months old, I got the blessing of her falling asleep in the car at the gas station. I finally had two hands free.  I was instantly inspired.  My brain felt so clear and focused for the first time in forever.

I began to jot down the parental tale that had been swarming around in my head since my human arrived.

“Every day you make me crazy. I love you to pieces Beautiful Monster.”

The rest of the story just flowed from there.

She even slept long enough for me to sketch out a picture of a little monster.

That night I shared the story with my husband. He lovingly said I should publish it.  It could have been an encouraging yet fleeting comment, but I decided he was right.

How many other new parents were feeling like we were? How many people were sharing social media posts of their perfect little humans and secretly feeling inadequate and confused behind the scenes?  How many new parents were feeling bad because they thought they must be strange for feeling completely frustrated by their perfect little human?

JK Coy

Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster is an inclusive tale for new parents (or soon to be parents).  No one should feel alone as they adjust to parenthood.  The book is full of truth, humor, and adorable illustrations to entertain those little monsters.  Get it for yourself, gift it to a friend.

We are all in this together. Figuring it out, minute by minute.  Failing, and trying again.

See all the books by author J.K. Coy here.