The Mom Diet

After both kids, I had a few people remark on how good I looked. Not in a “wow, you look so well-rested and you have no gray hair or bags under your eyes” way, but in a “boy, for someone who ate two burritos a week for 40 weeks, you don’t look too bad.” And here I am, sharing the secrets of my success.

Full disclosure: The only exercise I get is chasing a toddler around (which is the equivalent of P90X, to give my childless friends an accurate comparison) and hauling an 18 pound meatloaf of an infant (which is some Crossfit worthy stuff, trust). So just because I fit into my jeans doesn’t mean I have abs. Well, I do have abs, they’re just hibernating for the winter (and all winters to come…

Before we had Grant, my husband worked most Saturdays and it was just Miles and me at until late afternoon. With a day booked with important activities, it was important that I develop a weekend diet that would keep me on track. Here we have…

The Mom Diet

5am – Wake Up Call

FIRST BREAKFAST: Your first mom meal of the day will be four cups of extra bold dark roast Colombian something or other, with a splash of cream (or your toddler’s leftover milk from dinner the night before) and some sugar. Okay, lots of sugar. We need to be firing on all engines here, people.

8am – Did I eat any food yet?

SECOND BREAKFAST: Half of a cinnamon raisin English muffin, with all the raisin picked out. Left over vanilla yogurt from a yellow bowl with a yellow spoon. Orange segments with the juice sucked out. It’s worth noting that this meal coincides with the kid’s breakfast.

10am – Now my blood sugar is getting low.

FIRST SNACK: Six Chips A’hoy cookies eaten while hiding behind the couch. BE SURE TO GET THE CHEWY ONES. Otherwise your kid will know about your secret stash.

11am – Lunchtime!

FIRST LUNCH: Annie’s Homegrown Mac ‘n Cheese, served cold and with blueberries mixed in. You may also enjoy the green beans, pre-chewed for maximum efficiency to ensure you are able to resume playing trains as quickly as possible.

12pm – THE KID IS NAPPING. What happens next?

12:17pm: Eat handful of goldfish crackers. Fold laundry. Try not to get crumbs on the laundry.

12:33pm: Eat an apple. Watch “Golden Girls.”

1:02pm: Wash dishes from first half of the day. Wait, is that hummus? Where is my pita?

1:45pm: Realize that you’ve eaten half a tub of hummus and two pita loaves. Also realize you forgot to finish folding the laundry because you were too busy watching Blanche try to juggle men.

2:07pm: Eat another cookie.

2:12pm: Decide you need to eat something healthy. Eat some salad mix directly from the bag, alternating with squirts of Italian dressing.

2:30pm: Put remainder of unfolded laundry back in the dryer to de-wrinkle.

2:37pm: Eat a cookie. Decide the laundry can be folded tomorrow. Lay down on the couch.

3:07pm: Kid is up. Eat a cookie. Get kid.

3:30pm – Sesame Street

SECOND SNACK: All the mashed/bruised/unacceptable parts of a banana, and some peanut butter.

4:00pm – DAD IS HOME!

THIRD SNACK: Glass of wine while “cooking dinner.”

6:00pm – Knock three times…

DINNER: Pay the pizza guy. Everyone to the table for dinner. Your meal consists of pizza crust, cheese that “looks funny” and a dinosaur chicken nugget.

7:15pm – Bathtime

THIRD SNACK: Glass of pinot grigio and the last dinosaur chicken nugget.

8:00pm – Bedtime

FOURTH SNACK: Cookies. Wine. Hummus. Cheese. Salami. Realize you need something green…decide pistachio ice cream will do the trick.

9:30pm – Snoring on the Couch

During the week, I’m much more organized and cognizant of what I’m putting in my body, because I’m cooking real food for my family at dinner time and because my breakfast and lunch are eaten sans children.  But once the weekend hits, all bets are off, because I’m subject to hostage negotiations and playing trains.  We very much enjoy eating dinner as a family, but I have also found that my husband and I very much enjoy eating hot food.  So, once a week, we get take-out after the kids have gone to bed and I am allowed to sit on the couch in my pajamas with a glorious plate of Thai and an enormous glass of wine and no one is asking me for a bite.  It’s all MINE.

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

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JUST TIRED.

When you become new parents, you enter into a new level of tiredness. Before you have children, you are accustomed to awaking only at your own needs; you sleep until 8am if you’d like, then spend two hours enjoying your coffee while you catch up on celebrity gossip and work the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. You take naps – half an hour, two hours, six hours, any length you choose – on the weekends at any time. If it’s your prerogative to spend seven hours on Saturday reading, you are free to do so. You are rested and refreshed more often than not, and if you’re feeling tired, you can generally do something about it.

But when you become a parent for the first time, you come to terms with the fact that your sleep is no longer your sleep. In the very early months, you exist in a world of naps, and not actual “sleep.”  Life is lived three hours at a time.  As babies grow older, they eventually find their routine, and you do get more consistent(ish) sleep…but it’s never guaranteed. Additionally, you will find that no matter how old your children get, your sleep will never be the same as it was before you became a parent, because now you’ve been given the gift of super sonic hearing. Every little noise, while not always requiring your attention, will surely awaken you.

Then you have your second child. You are so adjusted to the new normal, that you really don’t feel too tired (probably because it’s no longer the “new” normal – it’s just regular normal with a dark roast extra bold kicker at 5am). In fact, you remark at how easy it is to just add a second child to the mix. You wonder why you didn’t do this sooner (although if we had done it any sooner, we would have just had twins…)

And then it happens: THE FOUR MONTH SLEEP REGRESSION.  HISS BOO HISSSSSS.

Newborns sleep a lot. Like, A LOT. Naps all day, and all night. Lots of sleep is to be had. They awaken to eat, burp, poop, take a bath, roll around and look at the ceiling fan and whatever else you’re jingling in their faces, and by then they’re tired again and off to nap.

But infants are a different story. You know your newborn has become an infant when they reach the first sleep regression. This is when babies begin experiencing REM sleep. They are such deep, sound sleepers when they’re newborns because they don’t know how to sleep any other way except deeply. Their worlds are rocked when REM enters the picture, because now they experience light sleep. So light, they wake up thinking, “WHAT THE HELL? WHERE AM I? IS IT TIME TO PLAY? AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT? WHY IS IT SO DARK?”

Friends, we are in the thick of the four month sleep regression, and while I thought my mind and body was well-adjusted to having two children, my children would like to remind me of otherwise.  And isn’t that the thing about these beautiful, spirited, loving little creatures?  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, BOOM: sleep regression, teeth, bad dreams, toilet learning, refusal to sleep in pajamas with sleeves.  If being kept on your toes was an Olympic sport, parents would win all the gold medals forever and always.

But let’s talk about being T-I-R-E-D (something else in which I’d win all the gold medals)

Example of the current level of exhaustion:

Three nights ago, I was awakened in the middle of the night by my oldest cat, Pookie, in the early stages of hacking up a hairball in our bed. Instead of helping him down, getting a paper towel in front of him and cleaning it up when it finally dislodged itself, I just shoved him off the bed with my foot and rolled over, praying that he didn’t cough anything up in bed. I didn’t even bother checking; I just went back to sleep.

Two nights ago, I noticed he had, in fact, coughed up a hairball in our bed. But I noticed it was on Evan’s side of the bed, so I went to sleep.  LOVE YOU HONEY XOXOXOX.

Last night, I noticed the hairball was still in bed, and it was now floating freely as Pookie had spotted it and subsequently began batting it around like a toy. But it was a small hairball, really…no bigger than a dime, and so I rolled over and went to sleep. Exhaustion level classified as: “It’s just a small hairball.”

Other examples:

One morning this week, I made coffee with no coffee – just water. I did not notice until I had actually poured it into my coffee mug.

I called Miles by Grant’s name and vice versa at least once a day. I may have called Grant by Frankie’s name. Frankie is another one of our cats. He and Grant bear no striking resemblance.

I read 50 pages in my current book. I know this, because I dog-eared where I finished reading. When I opened the book the following evening, I remembered nothing I had read, and had to re-read those 50 pages. Does sleep reading exist? If so, I’m doing it.

For dinner one night this week, Miles enjoyed two bananas, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, raisins and an ice cream cone. But he’s always been on the skinnier side, so this seemed like a good idea to me.

The most telling sign of exhaustion: I FELL ASLEEP BEFORE FINISHING A GLASS OF WINE. It’s also worth noting that it was the first glass of wine I’ve had in three weeks.

So, yes, it’s always possible to grow more tired. We eagerly await the day that Grant will officially sleep completely through the night, and not wake up at 2am to eat. Then 2:30am to play. Then 3:30am to burp. Then 4:00am to tell me he’s awake. Then 5:00am because ISN’T THIS WHEN WE NORMALLY GET UP ANYWAY, MOM?!

While admiring my face in the mirror today, I noticed some nice, summery blond streaks in my hair. Upon closer inspection, I found they were actually gray, but they’re scattered enough so that from far away, they give the illusion of blond.

Gray is the new blond anyway, you know.

Most frequently used image on this blog, BTW.

Most frequently used image on this blog, BTW.

Life Lessons from City Dog and Country Frog

In our house, reading is a big deal. We visit the library once a week, and it’s not unusual for us to have 25 books checked out at one time (20 of which will of course belong to Miles). My absolute favorite part of the day is our story time together; after Miles is in his PJs, we snuggle up just the two of us and read half a dozen or so books of his choosing. Story time lasts 30-45 minutes, and even then, time seems to pass with lightning speed. I am beyond happy and proud to see that Miles has an inherent love of reading, just as I do.

Because we are such avid readers, we have a well-established list of favorite children’s authors and books (Pete the Cat, all day). We do pick up new things from the library every week, and I pre-read them all before we decide to take them home – not only to ensure they are age appropriate, but also to see that they are challenging and encourage Miles to think creatively and ask questions (also: not lame). We checked out a book about Dumpy the Dump Truck once, in which the school bus broke down and in all her infinite wisdom, the schoolteacher thought it would be a good idea for all the kids to be taken home in the back of a dump truck. But don’t worry; Dumpy’s owner convinced her it would be perfectly safe because they would only drive 10mph, and avoid potholes. This is on our “never again” list, and it’s exactly why pre-reading is crucial.

When it comes to our favorite authors, however, I never feel a need to pre-read as we are familiar with their writing style and content of the stories. So when Miles picked up “City Dog, Country Frog” by Mo Willems, I dropped it in our bag without a second thought. Who doesn’t love Mo?

We've  never met a Pigeon we didn't like.

We’ve never met a Pigeon we didn’t like.

The book is truly a beautiful story, about the different seasons of life and the changes we experience, the valleys and the peaks. It’s told through the actual seasons of the year: City Dog meets Country Frog in the spring, and they learn frog games. In the summer, they learn dog games.

dog-meet-frog

Sweetest thing ever, right?

Then fall rolls around and all of a sudden Country Frog is “tired” and wants to play “remembering games.” Uh-oh. Cue the tears…

Adults, hear me now: the best time to find out that one of the main characters in your child’s book will die is not while you are reading it to your child for the first time.

I muddled through fall, as both dog and frog remembered the joys of spring and summer. I sniffled a bit, but did a superb job of hiding this from Miles. Toddlers have no acquaintance with death; this is not a concept my son will learn about now, and if I can help it, not for quite a while.

Me: *sniffle sniffle* I am a very tired frog. Let’s play remembering games. Country Frog and City Dog remembered jumping, splashing and croaking in spring…they remembered chasing, fetching and barking in summer. And that was fall. *sniffle sniffle* And then came winter…

And here came the tears. Because City Dog goes to their usual meeting spot and he waits – but Country Frog is nowhere to be found. So City Dog waits and waits and waits; all alone, in the cold snow, with big, blank wintery pages of no text and an incredibly sad face.

Me: *sniffle snort gurgle snot* But Country Frog did not come…and that was winter.

(Dear Mo Willems: THANK YOU FOR THE WARNING.)

Miles: Mama! Are you sad?

Me: A little bit, because City Dog is sad. You see it’s very cold outside, and frogs do not enjoy the cold, so Country Frog did not come to play with him.

Miles: Mama, will you be okay? I will give you a hug!

Me: *sniffle snot snort gurgle sniffle honk boohoohooohooooooo* Thank you, baby. I love you.

And then – THEN – spring arrives again, and very sad City Dog meets very happy Country Chipmunk. And all is right in the world. And I cried even more.

Miles: Mama, are you sad AGAIN?

Me: Yes, baby…sometimes when things make me very happy, I will have tears of joy. Mamas are really silly sometimes.

Miles: Mama, you are silly all the time. (then he gave me a hug and a kiss and he honked my nose – affection and comfort from a toddler at its finest)

Truthfully, the book is wonderful because it speaks the same message to both children and adults, but just at a deeper level for those of us who understand that Country Frog has gone on to the great Froggie Beyond. We do have different seasons in life, and nothing teaches you that in a greater fashion than becoming a parent.

When you have children, you enter into many seasons all at once in those first few years. You are in a season of joy and thankfulness, with the blessing of these tiny, tiny people who love you truly and unconditionally with every ounce of themselves. You are in a season of overwhelming love, as you feel your heart explode each time you sit back and take in what is now your life. You are also in a season of challenges, as you learn how to parent; how to take care of these tiny people, how to ease their pain, how to calm their fears, and how to not pull out your hair when you see all of the produce in your refrigerator has tiny, toddler bites taken out of it (side note: this is when we make vegetable soup). Life will be so much fun that you could write your own Dr. Seuss dictionary of new words that still couldn’t fully express the fun and love and joy you feel inside.

And that will be summer.

Your life outside of your children enters a new season as well. You will find friends and family with whom you are instantly closer, a bond that is renewed and strengthened. And you will find friends and family who disappear – sometimes temporarily, and sometimes permanently. You will adapt to this season of newness and change as well, in all its bittersweet moments.

And that will be spring.

You will settle in to the “new normal” of naps and early bedtimes, family-friendly dinners, ice cream parties on Saturday afternoons, finger paint and crayons everywhere. You will feel at ease; you will feel peace, you will recognize the pleasure of an unhurried existence during these young years.

And that will be fall.

Sometimes, things will throw you for a loop. A child will have croup, and you’ll spend the entire night rocking your baby under a humidifier, praying for healing, knowing that you would give anything to take the sickness away. A bully at school will come into the picture, and you’ll have a conversation about being brave, doing what is right, and loving people even when they are difficult, because we could all use a little extra caring at times. You will enter seasons of tough questions from young, inquiring minds. You will learn to navigate these as well as a Sherpa on Mt. Everest (and you will still pray for NO AVALANCHES, PLEASE).

And that will be winter.

I know my seasons seem out of order; the reality is that these seasons occur at any time, of their own accord, and sometimes coinciding with one another. The point is this: they are brief (sometimes only in retrospect, but trust me, the brevity is there) and we arrive at the next season sometimes with a smile, and sometimes with a frown, but always with a love and determination to carry on.

What was winter for City Dog quickly turned into a new spring with Country Chipmunk. My son learned that sometimes friends will move away, transfer schools, or start attending a different church, but that there will always be a new friend right around the corner. And I learned that things can be tough, they can be really difficult and sad and trying and dirty and messy, but soon, spring will arrive.  There is a season, turn, turn, turn…

Thank you, Mo.

four-seasons

SAHMcation Recap

Working titles included, “The Longest HappySad Cry of My Life” and “How long has that banana been underneath the china hutch?”  But, for efficient reading, I kept it short.

This past week, I was home on vacation with Miles (hence the term “SAHMcation”)  When we had Miles, I knew that I wanted to utilize some of my vacation time to just hang out with him, and soak up his awesomeness.  This is my second SAHMcation; the first occurred the week after Thanksgiving, when Miles was about 7 months old.

Man, a lot changes in six months.

I remember my first SAHMcation, during the two naps a day phase, when I accomplished both an abundance of quality time with my tiny and an abundance of household drudgery (organizing the linen closet, washing the kitchen cabinets, cleaning the garage) that had loomed over our heads since I hit about 37 weeks pregnant and solidified my spot on the sofa, counting the days until I could see my toes and not belch or urinate every five minutes.  When your child takes two naps that are two hours each, shit gets done.

We are on one nap a day now; granted, that nap can top out at three hours, but it’s still just one nap.  And this isn’t new; we’ve been on this schedule for three months now.  Also, most Saturdays are just me and the kiddo, so it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with how things work when it comes to chores.  It’s simple: the chores that absolutely, positively, must get done are the ones checked off the list.  Well, most of them.  I’ll admit that for the past six days I’ve been drying off with two hand towels after showering because no one has done the towel laundry yet (all of our cats are freeloaders, and I’ve also learned that being home with your toddler full-time causes you to lose sense of all time and space…I asked my husband on multiple occasions not only the date, but also the day of the week, and possibly even what month it was).

I didn’t have a big list of things to get done this week, other than hang with Miles.  I did have a few minor things I wanted to accomplish, and I did successfully complete those tasks:

  1. Clean the microwave.  The sloppy joe explosion seemed to be flavoring other foods I was reheating.
  2. Organize the bathroom cabinet, more appropriately known as “where all the q-tips go to fall out of their boxes and die beneath piles of loose bandaids and half empty bottles of lotion.”

Other things that happened on SAHMcation that I was not prepared to handle…we dropped bottles.  If you have children, you know what I mean.  If you don’t have children, please know that dropping bottles doesn’t involve champagne (ALTHOUGH IT SHOULD).  We went off bottles, for good.  Do you know how much Miles cared about this transition?  Not one single bit.  Do you know how much cared about this?  Enough to cry for 45 minutes while I packed his bottles up during his nap on Monday.

Yes, part of me thought, “Yippee!  No more 4,873 piece bottles to scrub with our three varied-in-size brushes!”  But the larger part of me, and my entire heart, thought “Oh my gosh, there goes my baby…”

And now, I understand why so many moms always wanted to hold Miles and feed him his bottle…he was still little, still tiny, and still still.  The bottle dropping happened by chance, and had I known that the bottle I gave Miles at 6:30am on Monday would be his very last, ever, I would have probably cried…so it’s a good thing I didn’t know.

In addition to happysad crying while packing bottles, I also happysad cried every day after putting Miles down for his nap.  Each day, I’d rock him and sing, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay”, the song that I’ve sung to him since he arrived in our world.  Each day, he’d fall asleep in my arms, and I’d hold him just a few minutes longer than usual, and I’d just marvel at this tiny, perfect, precious boy, and I’d remember the days of teeny-tiny onesies and burps and that sweet baby smell.  Each day, I’d grow more and more aware of the amazing and incredible growth that has occurred in just 13 short months.

SAHMcation was void of chores, and had its happysad moments, but I also found a new appreciation for my fellow SAHPs of toddlers because holy cow, it’s the Indy 500 around here all day, every day.  I remember on my first SAHMcation, marveling at my ability to get so many things done during nap one, that I could actually nap myself – for two hours – during nap two.  And I remember a girlfriend of mine telling me that she never ever got to nap (her daughter is two years older than Miles).  Sister, I feel you.  These kids are whirlwinds of squeals and smiles and screams and beating you in the head with wooden blocks because it’s fun.  Right?  RIGHT.

Our days were filled with swimming in the pool, playing at the water table, coloring (and eating crayons), fingerpainting (and eating paint), swinging, walking, running, cat chasing, dancing, singing, reading, stop and take a breath and do it all over again after naptime because MOM THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!  Oh yes, it was a blast – an exhausting blast, but a blast nonetheless.  I marveled each evening at the fingerpaint smeared across the floor, and the toys strewn from here to kingdom come.  But you SAHPs who do it day in and day out, kudos to you, because it’s the most exhausting fun I’ve ever had (Spring Break has nothing on toddlercation, people).

I found that our house is much messier when we’re home full-time.  Laundry, while folded, piled up on the couch.  Bert and Ernie somehow found their way into the freezer, while my bag of frozen mixed vegetables wound up in the laundry basket under three stuffed bears and a mound of wooden blocks.

With no more b-o-t-t-l-e-s in the house, mealtime became even more important.  We did pretty good most days, but there were plenty that ended with me wearing spaghetti, or zucchini being thrown at the cat (this is why I wore the same yoga pants for six days straight – why bother?)  I learned that Miles takes great joy in watching me flinch as he picks up his fork, which encourages the flinging/hurling/throwing of utensils and food.  That’s something they don’t tell you in birthing class: as a parent of a toddler, you’ll flinch a lot.  Every time they pick up a hard toy, or a book, or their food.  I also found half a banana under the china hutch tonight.  I have no idea how long it was there.

Miles also cut his 7th tooth this week, and I finished a 900 page book.  Yes, SAHMcation was awesome.  It was beautifully, wonderfully, messily exhausting in the best ways possible.  And I can’t wait to do it again.

XX,

K

Kitty Love.

Pool Fun.

Picasso.

Time, slow down.

Time, slow down.