I have entirely too much spaghetti in my hair.

This week, after a hiatus that exceeded two months, one of my fave mom bloggers announced that she was uncertain of her blog’s future.  It gave me a case of the sads, because she’s a mom that I really connect with, and will miss dearly should she decide her writing days have reached an end (for now).  But I also have a deep level of understanding.  Kids get older, and you develop a desire to protect their privacy (teenagers just aren’t as cute and funny as toddlers, right?)  Your adult life begins to reemerge, and maybe you’d like to get out of the house more.  And, at the end of the day, the internet is a crazy, crazy place.

As a writer, you choose to put yourself out there…the good, the bad, the hysterical.  At first you think that just a few friends and family are reading; before you realize it, total strangers are criticizing your parenting abilities, if that’s what you have chosen to publish for the world to judge.

When I started this blog many, many moons ago, it definitely had a different tone.  It was, after all, about cooking.  Becoming parents completely turned our world upside down (in an awesome way) and I realized it also provided me with endless material.  Honesty is of utmost importance to me.  Our life is not a Pinterest board; if you’ve come here looking for 101 ways to crochet doilies for your toddler’s tea party, or 12 easy ways to prepare an organic, seasonally harvested, sustainably grown dinner from scratch while teaching your baby to play Mozart…sorry ’bout your luck.  And while you may find TMI, please know it’s for the humor factor, and not to shock or totally gross you out (although, if you’re a parent, I am positive there is nothing that can ever shock or totally gross you out anymore).

We all parent differently, but we are all on the same team.  I’m doing an awesome job; you’re doing an awesome job, and even Honey Boo Boo’s mom (in her own mind) is doing an awesome job.  There are just varying levels of awesome; some days are more awesome (awesomer?) than others.  Monday you may have an angel of a baby, and Tuesday you may have a fussopotamus (you may use that word, and you’re welcome).  By Thursday, he could be a fussosaurus (that one, too).  And Friday?  Sweet as honey.  It happens: teething, growth spurts, mental and physical development, stuff.  It’s a crap shoot 98% of the time, and the other 2%?  Teething.  But it’s still 100% awesome.

I want you to know enough to make you laugh, but not make you uncomfortable (unless I find humor in your lack of comfort).  Most importantly, I want you to know that I get it.  Life isn’t a Pinterest board, Facebook post or Instagram photo.  Oh, those moments are beautiful and magical, but let’s be real…there’s some shit that goes on in between.

Here are the things I’ve said in the past week that I want to share, because hey, kids!

  1. “I have entirely too much spaghetti in my hair.”
  2. “Miles, please do not eat the cactus.”
  3. “Honey, the kid is stuck behind the couch again.”
  4. “Miles, please do not eat the cat.”
  5. “Honey, the kid is stuck in the cabinet again.”
  6. “Who taught you to pick your nose?”
  7. “If you throw yourself off the changing table, you have to put on your own diaper.”
  8. “Is that poop?” (trick question because the answer is always YES)
  9. “You are not storing food for hibernation; please chew and swallow.” 
  10. “Show mommy how we sit like a big boy in the (insert anything he’s supposed to sit in, because he’s definitely in the act of climbing out while I say this)”
  11. “Did you know you’re allowed to sleep past 6:30am on Saturdays and Sundays?”
  12. “Where did your pants go?”

And things I did in the past week:

  1. Carried my son, all 25lbs of him, football style, through Target while pushing the cart with one hand because he not only figured out how to unbuckle his cart cover, but also climb out of the cart.  One woman told me I had a “cute little Houdini.”  I asked her if she could carry the cat litter for me, because either the Fresh Step or the kid was going to stay at Target if I had to haul this stuff out alone.
  2. Went head to head in two separate dinner battles.  Lost two separate dinner battles.  Bananas and cereal for all!
  3. Refrained from uncontrollable and hysterical laughter as Miles learned how to blow a raspberry with his mouth full of yogurt, successfully covering everyone at the table (and the dog) in banana-pumpkin deliciousness.  Okay, we laughed a little.  Now he does the yogurt-spit face a lot.  Parenting fail?  I don’t know, it’s pretty damn funny.
  4. Got poop on my hands and face.  MORE THAN ONCE.

Of course these are the tiny moments in a sea of “I love yous” and endless hugs, of first steps and real, actual and intentional first words (KITTY!)  And at the end of the day, these moments may frustrate some, but right now, they fill us with laughter (okay, and wine…sometimes these moments fill me with wine, but only after the kid goes to bed).  Sure, there are frustrating moments, and I am positive that as we creep ever so close to the toddler stage, you’ll get some of that from me, but deep down I (like all parents) know that it’s a passing phase, a fleeting moment, and while there are nights that I feel like Holyfield after 13 rounds when I finally sit on the couch, it’s still the greatest feeling in the history of all time and space, ever.  Ever.

Keeping it real,

K

YES TO ALL:

Face to face time…it’s not the same as Facetime.

Recently, we made what may or may not have been an incredibly terrible decision to switch from our satellite provider to :::gasp::: cable.  And if you’re keeping up with the news and the corporate monopoly that is your cable and internet provider, you probably have an idea of who now has our service.  But, for the sake of my head not exploding with rage and the avoidance of a lawsuit, the service provider shall remain nameless.

We switched because for the next two years (yes, a contract, I am aware of the red flags) we’ll save $120 a month, and after that, we’ll still be saving $80 a month.  Of course I attempted to negotiate a similar savings with our satellite and (separate) internet provider, but they just couldn’t match this.  And so, after an eight year affair with DirecTV, we broke up…I still have a case of the sads.

It’s been 30 days of cable, and after my first “customer service” experience, I can fully understand why we’re saving the money we are…there is no customer service.

Look, I work for Corporate America, so I am familiar with the complaints of clients and consumers when they feel whoever they are trying to call has gotten “too big.”  Our company went through a merger in 2009; some clients thought it was awesome, some thought it was sucky, and some thought it was just another corporate conspiracy.  As an employee, I can tell you that for the most part, bigger is better (TWSS) because it equates to better benefits, a pension plan, and eight weeks of maternity leave, among other things.  But on the client side, I understand that loss of a “personal touch.”  And after dealing with the Cthulhu of customer service, I totally get it.

LET ME ASSIST YOU WITH ONDEMAND!!!

Let me assist you with OnDemand.

Part of the problem with today’s world is the lack of human interaction (hence Cthulhu).  We needed some help with ordering a movie.  I tried to find out what the error code meant (answer: it means there is an error with your system) and with no luck, I thought I’d try giving them a call.  It was 8pm on a Saturday night, meaning the window of time to order and watch a movie was dwindling for those of us who go to bed at a normal time (kids, remember?)  An analyst would be happy to assist me…after the estimated wait time of three hours.  THREE HOURS?  Either there’s a mass outage of service, a million other people who want to watch “Runner Runner”, or you have two people working the Saturday night shift.  Spoiler alert: two is an overestimate.

I decided against having an actual conversation, and opted for the online chat.  The wait time was considerably less at a mere 45 minutes.  The window to watch a movie continued to narrow.

We finally connected with an analyst, who was as helpful as…what’s the phrase…tits on a boar?  Yeah, that helpful.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a sampling of the words of wisdom we received:

Analyst: “We will need to send a reset signal to your device.  There are occasions where this can take additional time for the box to receive the signal.  This is because of the length of time it takes the signal to reach your box.”       (Did your eyes just glaze over reading that?)

Analyst: “May I have your callback number?  I may need to escalate your request to the highest department of escalations, and a network engineer will resolve the matter.”          (I am convinced “Escalations” is a book the in Cable Bible, and it comes right before the book of PLEASE CANCEL MY CONTRACT!)

I was also given helpful advice on how to reset our cable box (answer: unplug it from the wall…that’s a good sign, right?)

I gave up.  I abandoned the chat (still in process).  We watched Food Network and I went to bed.  The next day, we ordered the movie.  Additional spoiler alert: save your $5.99, unless you like seeing Ben Affleck with an insanely awesome spray tan.

The lack of human interaction today has led to these situations.  And it’s most certainly not limited to customer service; when I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see posts from friends and family that I haven’t spoken with (we’re talking actual words) in months, some even years.  These are people who, before social media, I would have connected with on a semi-annual basis.  But it’s so much easier to click “like” or to type “LOL” and move on with your day, right?  I mean, you made an effort, so that counts for something…right?

No, it doesn’t.  It’s one thing to keep up with friends and family via social media, but when it becomes your only source of interaction, there’s a problem.  Posting “Happy Birthday” on someone’s wall isn’t the same as sending them a card or – heaven forbid – picking up the phone and calling them.  Are we so busy that we can’t even call each other? We must resort to a text message?  A wall post?  An Instagram photo?  We’re only as busy as we make ourselves; if I have time to watch an hour of HGTV, then I most certainly have time to make a couple phone calls or drop a card in the mail.

As we watch Miles grow and learn new things, we are filled with excitement…and at the same time, I’m sad for the friends and family who aren’t getting to witness this in person.  Not for those who are spread far and wide; where traveling isn’t an option.  For that we have Skype, and I am thankful.  But for those who are within driving distance, watching photos and videos on Facebook, while acceptable, just isn’t enough.  When we were kids, we spent time with aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbors and friends.  We made time.  And we want our children to experience the same joy that comes with spending a Sunday afternoon with loved ones.

Don’t be a Cthulhu.  Get out from behind your screen, laptop, tablet and phone, and make time for each other.  Days are rapidly passing, and I wouldn’t want to look back and have a single regret when it comes to spending time with the ones we love.

DirecTV 4EVA,

Kristin

Monday Miles: The Toddler Olympics

Another Monday.  Boring?  Not when the Winter Olympics are quietly playing in the background  22 hours a day (we’re “anti-TV”, remember?)

These look delicious.

These look delicious.

I understand these games must be a pretty big deal, as evidenced by my mom’s tears while watching Ice Dancing.

Yeah, I'd probably cry, too.

Yeah, I’d probably cry, too.

My dad is talking to competitors that most certainly do not speak English; however, his coaching skills seem to be working.  Since everyone is in the Olympic spirit around here, I thought I’d start my own version: The Toddler Olympics.  Here are the games I’d like to pitch…

Diving  Different from the diving portion of the Summer Olympics, as the Toddler Olympics Diving Competition requires no water.  In fact, extra points are awarded for diving onto hard surfaces.  Preferred platforms include the changing table, mom and dad’s bed, the couch, and toys that I’m not supposed to climb.  Additional points are awarded for creativity and difficulty.  Simply hurling yourself off the changing table in an attempt to inflict great bodily harm will not suffice; you also need style.

Poking  Think of this as toddler-level boxing.  Poking requires skill, precision, and the wily tactics of a fox.  You must poke your finger in one of your opponent’s face holes.  This is achieved by distracting them with your ability to “almost” walk, attempts at self-feeding, and most importantly, your undeniable cuteness.  When your opponent least expects it…BAM!  Finger in the eyeball.  Fishhook their nose.  Thumb jammed into their ear.  And, the coup-de-grace, grabbing their bottom teeth with one hand and bopping them on the forehead with the other.  Additional points awarded if your fingers are covered in food during any portion of the poking.

Cat Chasing  Self-explanatory.  Chase the cat in as many loops as possible around the dining room table.  Additional points awarded if you successfully climb over and under all of the chairs, pull the tablecloth off the table, and scare the cat into climbing on top of the china hutch.  Super extra special points if you touch the cat.  Gold medal if you grab the cat’s tail.  Points deducted if mom catches you trying to poke the cat in one of his face holes.

Milk Dancing  Similar to diving; this event is held at the high chair, and involves a sippy cup full of milk.  You may shake, twirl, bounce and launch the cup into the air, all while wildly flailing your arms, singing loudly and nodding your head in time to the Miss Lori’s Schoolhouse music playing in the background.  Additional points awarded for style.  My personal favorite move is “The Simba”: holding your sippy cup over your head as if presenting The Lion King, then promptly turning it upside down and pouring milk all over yourself.  It’s my mom’s favorite move.

Floor Food Competition  This is a single-competitor event that takes place entirely on the floor.  You must locate and consume all stale Cheerios, dog kibble, dust bunnies, leaves and the things my mom calls “OHNODON’TTOUCHIT!” as quickly as possible.  Additional points awarded for consumption of live floor food (example: bugs).

Wrestling  Oh, you think toddlers are too young for wrestling?  I beg to differ.  This competition could also be called “Avoid Wearing Pants.”  You must flip and flop, tuck and roll, stand up and bounce, and even attempt to Swan Dive off the changing table in an effort to avoid wearing pants while your opponent attempts to dress you.  Additional points awarded if you distract them by laughing adorably.  Gold medal if they give up and just let you run around in a diaper.  My mom says I’m better than Ali when it comes to pants wrestling.

Hurling  No, not that kind of hurling.  This is the kind where you throw things at things.  Another event in which additional points are awarded for creativity.  While I could win some points by throwing my cow across the room, I win big points if I throw my cow and pig – at the same time – at the dog.  The louder the hurling, the better.  Super extra points if you knock a glass off the table.  Gold medal if you knock mom’s coffee cup out of her hand.

And there you have it.  The Toddler Olympics are a work in progress; additional games will be added as skill levels advance.  I have big plans for when I figure out how to run on two legs…

Happy Monday,

Miles

Are you ready to become a parent?

If you read that title and thought, “LOL!” then I can assure you that you’re well on your way to qualifying for parental status.  Aside from the necessary sense of humor, what else helps to make the leap from childless to child…full?

We’ve been asked before how we knew we were “ready” to start a family (and I’m using the term “ready” very loosely here, folks).  Well, to be honest, we thought about it and prayed about it, and we just decided to give it a go.  At first, I planned things and used a calendar and joined mom-to-be blogs and lost my damn mind.  Then, I gave it up and just said to heck with charting and graphing and doodling and diddling, and we went at it with reckless abandon (TMI? I don’t care)  Then, one day, God said: BOOM!  And so we knew we were ready…because if God trusted us to bring a child into this world, it meant we could do it!

Becoming a parent is an incredibly great responsibility, and not one without sacrifice.  Folks are going to tell you that you will have to give up a few things when you bring home the fruit of your loins.  If you’re ready to sacrifice the following, you might be ready to welcome a little bundle of (screaming) joy into the world:

Sleep.  Oh yeah, as soon as you tell the world you’re knocked up, you’re going to get the endless, “SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!” lines.  It’s going to be irritating, and you’re going to wish it would just stop, but you know what?  They are 147% correct.  Those first newborn weeks, man…they are something else.  They’ll make you question your parenting ability, your decision to have a child, and your sanity (and if you think you never did any of that as a parent, you’re a big fat liar).  But in a few weeks, if you’re lucky, your kiddo will hit that magical 10 hours of sleep window…then 11…then 12!  And you’ll think you’ve won the sleepytime jackpot.  Except when you close the nursery door at 7:30p, you’ll probably have laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or a blog to write.  You’ll finally sit down around 8:30p, just in time to catch some TV or read a book before you hit your 9:30p bedtime (because sleep is precious).  Which brings me to…

Entertainment.  No, you aren’t giving up all entertainment, because the greatest entertainment in the history of time and space is sleeping in the nursery across the hall.  I am talking about your TV, reading and computer time, though.  Before we had Miles, I could easily watch six episodes in a row of Toddlers & Tiaras.  Our DVR was so full, I thought it would explode from the overwhelming Honey Boo Boo of it all.  Now?  Well, we still watch TV, but I can promise you that we are way more selective than before Miles.  Not a single episode of Bad Girls Club or Gypsy Sisters has aired in this house since April 21, 2013.  Admittedly, it’s garbage television, but the real reason it doesn’t catch any air time here is because we’re too busy trying to squeeze in Jeopardy, Law & Order, Criminal Minds or New Girl with our precious 60 minutes of couch time.  And when the choice is between seeing Nellie get into another bar fight over her baby daddy, or watching North America on NatGeo, the choice is simple.  Quality over quantity.

Entertainment, part deux.  The same goes for reading material and length of time spent reading.  Before Miles, I would pick up every weekly issue of OK!, Us Weekly, In Touch and *gasp* The National Enquirer.  I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon reading about bad botox, affairs and scandalous behavior.  I don’t have room for the gossip rags any longer; now, if I have some spare reading time, I’m diving into another Stephen King novel, or reading something to enrich my life.  And no more six hours of laying on the couch on Saturdays to finish the entire novel, either.  A half hour before hitting the hay is about all I can spare.

Grooming.  You know those gals you see at Publix wearing yoga pants with bananas smeared on them, hair in a ponytail, no make-up, dazed and confused look on their faces?  The ones you swore you’d never become?  Well, guess what…you will.  No, not right away, but it will happen.  It creeps up on you like the Freshman Fifteen.  First, you wear the yoga pants to the post office.  Then to Dunkin’ Donuts.  The overwhelming comfort of their heavenly elasticity will take control of your mind, and block things like blue jeans from your view when you peer into your closet.  And shaving your legs?  If you’re a night showerer like me, you’ll spend five minutes contemplating whether or not you have the energy and time to spare (60 minutes people!  Wine or razors, you make the call) and if you’re a morning showerer, your head is probably too foggy for decisions involving sharp instruments.  As a mom, you will embrace the “natural” look, welcome your inner hippie, and know that not a single soul really notices because your kid will always look incredible and, bonus points, the kid is also an amazingly adorable attention hog.  Trust me, no one knows you’ve worn that t-shirt three days in a row because LOOK AT THE BABY!!!

Diet.  Here’s what I’m going to tell you about post-baby weight: you’ll lose it.  Without even realizing it happened, you’ll lose it.  Well, if you’re sensible while your pregnant, anyway.  Don’t worry about dieting after you have the kid; you will naturally shed the pounds through your ability to forget to eat when they’re very tiny, and, when they get older, from sharing everything on your plate.  You will try new foods like cereal puffs and purees, and realize that this is why you’ve lost 10 pounds.  Gone are the nights of eating half a pizza and drinking an entire bottle of wine (again, if you say “not me” then you’re a big fat liar).  But don’t think you’re necessarily bikini ready because…

Your body.  Of course you know you’ll sacrifice your body; if you’re the mom-to-be, you’re going to be hauling that watermelon around for a few months.  You may be blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, or (if you’re lucky like me) a few spider veins.  Here’s what you need to know about these battle scars: you won’t give a shit.  Maybe at first I was super self-conscious about the spider veins.  Okay, very self-conscious.  I would stare at them in harsh fluorescent lighting, stretching and squeezing my skin, trying to decide whether I should see a vein specialist.  And then, I’d see Miles.  I realized that these tiny little blue veins, something no one has ever noticed, were such an incredibly small sacrifice to have this tiny person sitting in front of me.  It’s not about me; it’s not about how I look.  All that matters is this sweet, big boy.  And, since he’s a big boy…

Your body, part deux.  Working out and exercise will fall to the wayside (sort of).  But, after a few months, you will realize that hauling your giant meatloaf son around, chasing him across the living room a dozen times an hour and having endless dance parties will give you an entirely new work out routine that those damn Crossfitters have yet to learn.  Sure, my stomach may resemble biscuit dough, but have you seen my triceps?  P90X couldn’t do that.

Sleep (again).  Did you think your sacrifice of sleep ended with the newborn days?  Spoiler alert: NOPE.  Because just as your sweet babe starts sleeping through the night, you’ll get hit with the first cold.  Then, your kiddo will grow to an age where he starts to make friends, and you’ll worry if he’s making the right friends, or if he’s being bullied, or if the other kids like him.  He’ll become a teenager and holy cow if you thought you had sleepless nights before, well just you wait…because here comes dating and driving.  Your kids will grow up and leave the nest, and you’ll still stay up worrying.  And one day, your kids will have their own kids, and guess what?  Yep, you’ll still spend waking hours praying, thinking, hoping and worrying some more.  Welcome to the mental illness known as “parenting.”  This brings me to our final sacrifice…

Sanity.  You think I’m kidding?  Ha.  Get ready to look at a tiny little person and feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of ferocious love.  A love so strong and powerful, you realize you would bench press a Buick if that’s what they asked you to do.  You will cry tears of joy and fear, all at the same time, because this teeny tiny person is yours.  Yes, you will go absolutely positively cuckoo bananas with love for this person.  Then you’ll look at your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, the one you’re journeying with through this adventure, and you will feel crazy love all over again at the thought of “we did this!”  If you thought Publix commercials made you cry, just wait…

Still with me?  Good.  Here’s what you should take with you, if nothing else from these 1,655+ (!!!) words: you are ready.  You will think you aren’t; you will be frightened, and you will question your judgement, but God knows that you are ready.  You will learn as you go, just like millions of parents before you.  You will make new parent friends, or reconnect with old parent friends, and you will have a support system unlike any other.  And, when doubt is overwhelming, you will peek in that nursery at 8:30p, look down at your sweet, sleeping, meatloaf of a baby, and feel the ferocious love.  And you will know  that you were born to do this job.

Get busy,

Kristin