Archive for the ‘ Mom Tricks and Tips ’ Category

Time To Say Goodbye

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I feel like I’ve lived a million lives in my one life, though motherhood is hands down my most fulfilling chapter. It’s the chapter that won’t end–it will just expand into more page turns. It’s the chapter that thank god will see me to the end and still leave me wishing for more. Kids are unquenchable and insatiable and while it’s the toughest job, the cliché is true: It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.

I am still amazed that until I turned 39 I didn’t want kids. Hell, even during my pregnancy I spent many a therapy session worried I would love my cat more than my kid. Luckily Mother Nature made that impossible.

But after almost four years of writing here, I am feeling the need for a change.  Now Fia is 4 1/2 and Emmett is 2 1/2 and in terms of the early years, I feel like I am over the biggest hurdles: the dilemmas to circumcise, to take antidepressants, to have or not have a night nurse or a nanny, to sleep train (though I do now admit I love to sleep with Fia, especially when Phil is out of town), to do preschool, to  travel, to work.

As a writer, you want to stop before your well runs dry. My guest blogger, Joe Deprospero stepped in last year when I was nearly on empty. He wrote posts at least once a week that basically helped keep my blog afloat. He’s been a lot of fun to work with and I’m thankful for his energy and passion as a dad in the “mommy” space.  You can continue to find his work under the Parents Perspective banner.

For me, I think it’s time to focus on different writing: I want to finally tackle the memoir of my own childhood. I want to process my own mother’s demons that took her from the most extraordinary mom to the most tragic. I want to explore how I feel about her in relation to my own incredible journey of motherhood. It’s something that at times feels impossible to reconcile. Maybe I can’t. But I need to honor the memories I have and give it the time it deserves to write the book and see where I end up.

What’s been incredible since I began my journey into this unchartered “Mom” territory is that I’ve been able to chronicle so much of it here on my blog. I’ve been able to give a voice to my demons, my dilemmas, and the many revelations that have hit me in the stomach and knocked me to my knees. I’ve also been able to forgive myself for some of my more stupid decisions, simply because you have let me know I’m not alone in my mom-mush brain (I think the worst lapse in judgment was when I bought the $400 of meat from a door-to-door salesman. You all helped me through that since Phil was barely speaking to me).

I have also had to stomach the storm some of my more controversial posts have created. At times my opinions have changed due to what you, my readers, have pointed out. Other times it’s made me angrier for feeling judged and misunderstood. But there’s no denying it helped me realize that when you enter the realm of “mommy blogger” your skin better be thick.

I’ve also realized how amazing this new world is–we all have a voice and have the right to express it. Whether or not I agree with the opinions, it’s clear we are all passionate about our children and the way we are raising them. And that passion comes from a place of deep love and caring.

So thank you readers for pushing me to think beyond my comfort zone, for inspiring me to keep writing, for laughing with me at some of my more ridiculous posts and for being passionate parents who are inevitably raising passionate kids.

You can email me through my website at or on my Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @fearlessmama.


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The Pacifier Is Creating A Terror

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Any parent who has an addict for a child knows the pacifier is like crack. With Fia the crack was also my crutch. It could silence her in crucial moments–like on a 5-hour airplane where no one wants to sit next to a wailing baby. Or occasionally at a restaurant if she was cranky. We didn’t make her get rid of it until she was 3. But she was a rule-follower and knew the only time she could use it was naptime or bedtime, unless I specified otherwise.

Until recently Emmett followed the same protocol. But I could tell he was more attached, or maybe just not as much of a rule follower as Fia. He started to periodically sneak into his room and grab it from the crib and go racing down the hall, looking behind him to see how fast we were on his heels. He laughed and treated it like a game. But the minute we would take it away, he would start to wail. Then hit and throw things.

Then he got a bad cold and I basically let him have it all the time, thinking it was soothing him. Little did I know it was turning him into a beast. When he got better and we went back to the old routine, he would constantly ask for it or try to sneak into his room to get it. When we wouldn’t give in, he began to throw anything he could get his hands on–trains, his sippy cup, a fork, you name it. His pacifier was creating a monster. Still, I was scared to give it up. Looking back, I was just as addicted as he was.

Last week we went on a family vacation to Colorado (crying picture while making a snow-ant). We took the paci on the plane and he was great. But once again, as soon as we landed, he began wailing for it. Every hike we went on or family adventure, he was begging for it, eventually crying and screaming. I know realize this is the point as a parent where you give in all the time because you think it will make your life saner–or, you decide to take charge and set boundaries. We literally watched our funny, sweet boy become a complete terror over the paci. We gave in, thinking it would make it easier. But instead, I think it just made him more headstrong. He became bratty–verging on a nightmare child who was constantly tantruming.

As soon as we landed back home, we put on the Sesame Street episode, Bye Bye Binky. We also cued up the song on YouTube and he watched it over and over. Then we explained that in 3 days we were sending the paci to TT (his grandma) so she could give it to another baby. That’s the same thing we did with Fia. This week, on day 3, we will have him help us wrap it up and take it to the post office to bid farewell. Leading up to day 3, we have only let him have it in his crib.

Just putting up these parameters has already made a huge difference in his personality.  Literally in 36 hours I already feel–and can see–we are getting our boy back. It’s also been incredibly eye opening to realize what a difference it makes when you take back control and set boundaries for your kids. He doesn’t want to be fussy, but a 2 1/2-year old has no impulse control or emotional range to understand how to regulate his moods. The only person who can really regulate them is you: the parent. Basically everything I’ve read about this in regard to 2-year behavior is true: they want, and more importantly, NEED boundaries. Leaving them unregulated or with false threats not only makes your life incredibly difficult and frustrating, but theirs too.

Tomorrow we will happily say bye bye binky and at least until the next curve ball is thrown, have our good boy back.


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Paranoia, Plastic And Paint=Possible Helicopter Parent

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

If Santa can’t pay a visit to my kids this year it’s because I went obsessive and over the top in buying Fia a new lunchbox along with an air-quality test for our house. I’m on a toxic roll. Maybe I’m becoming–or always have been—a helicopter parent. But I think how we define “helicopter parent” might be changing. If it means being reasonably obsessive and paranoid about the world we live in, then I’m okay with that title. Of course “reasonably” is the key here.

Ever since I’ve been grinding on the Mother Jones article about BPA–and how all plastic is basically toxic–Fia’s lunchbox has been haunting me. I pack all of her food in BPA-free plastic containers. But now that I know it’s not only BPA that is the problem, I have been contemplating buying what I think is the most eco-friendly lunch box on the planet: Planet Box.

Then yesterday, serendipity. She was on a playdate at a playground. When I picked her up, she carried her lunchbox to the car. Her friend was beside her. They started giving each other massive hugs, arms wrapped tight around each other. While they did this, I put Emmett back in his carseat. Then Fia came around to the other side and I put her in. We drove home. It was then I realized the cursed-soft plastic lunchbox with poisonous plastic containers was missing. Fia and I figured it out: when she went to compulsively hug, she must have set it on the ground. I was on the other side strapping in Emmett and never saw it sitting on the curb before driving off. Finally my opportunity had arrived to be really neurotic and purchase a $70 lunchbox. Actually it’s only $60, but add in shipping and tax. I don’t care. For me, it’s worth my peace of mind–and maybe a few less presents under the tree.

However, like most things that a person with a compulsive personality will do, my expensive paranoia didn’t end there. I’ve also been grinding on a smell in Emmett’s room. We renovated our house and moved in 6 months ago. In California, all the paints sold are low VOC’s. However, I swear I smell an oil-based stain–perhaps even formaldehyde??–every night in his room. That’s because at night we shut all his windows to keep the boogeyman out, thus trapping the air. I’ve done everything from vanilla on cotton balls, to the Bad Air Sponge to an air purifier that runs 24/7. Yet still, I smell it.

Sometimes I’ll occasionally get a whiff in the afternoon, which causes me to march into Phil’s office and interrupt his workday.

“Phil, go in and smell Emmett’s room!”

But I swear every time he gets in there, the smell is gone. It’s like a formaldehyde-farting ghost is haunting me.

So along with Fia’s gourmet lunchbox, I ordered a do-it-yourself-air-test-kit off Amazon for $160.00. Luckily shipping was free. I hope the price includes the test lab.

I’m becoming the ultimate consumer, the ultimate sucker, both, or just another paranoid–maybe helicopter?–parent. But I don’t care. Like this “helicopter parent,” wrote so eloquently, we are living in a different time. She didn’t focus on plastic and poisons, but I share her perspective in its entirety as to why we “hover.” Joe Deprospero, my guest blogger, had similar thoughts this week from a dad’s perspective, with a hilarious video that follows. Hell, he hovered so much he locked his kid in the car.

I will sleep better for having done something to remedy my neurosis. The added bonus of course, is I no longer have to glare at Fia’s lunchbox or sniff for my farting ghost. The bad part is I have a larger credit card bill to pay.

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My New Hobby–It’s A Good One–Even Though I Suck

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

I’ve never liked inefficiency. I don’t usually enjoying failing either. But I’m doing both in my newfound hobby and digging it: Gardening.

What’s weird is the worse I get, the more I like it. Instead of being my usual overachiever self, I’ve embarked on this in a completely haphazard way.  I buy plants that I like, knowing very little about how they are grown. The kids and I go into the garden store and do eeny-meeny-minny-moe. We plant them in places where we think they would look good, not necessarily where they should be. We dig. We find worms. We get dirty. Some thrive. Some wilt. Until now I’ve been packing them in my crappy clay-like soil. I now know that certain plants that aren’t as hearty need better soil with drainage. So now I’m starting over. And I don’t care.

This weekend I dug up an entire trench where I had planted two Butterfly Bushes and three Hydrangeas.  I replaced it with the right kind of soil, sorted out the rocks, and did it the correct way after 2 failed tries.

But it’s still a mess. Hydrangeas don’t like direct sun. Butterfly Bushes do. So I now have makeshift tarps over the flowers so they won’t get so much light. I figure since Butterfly Bushes grow fast, they will soon grow taller than the Hydrangeas and give them some cover. Sounds logical right?

Luckily I haven’t actually lost a plant yet, so while I’m horrendous at this, I’m not a complete failure.  But diving in is making me learn the hard way: from the ground up. For me, that is quite literal. And the experimentation makes me happy.

I’m usually organized. I’m a pro at putting together family vacations and planning it to maximize efficiency and enjoyment. I’m like Joe–my guest blogger’s–wife, who just organized what sounds like a brilliantly planned trip to the center of hell: Disneyland. (If you have any plans to go there, read his post because he gives some great tips).

Phil seems totally confused by my change in personality on this. He sees me hauling bags of mulch and soil and dumping them randomly in the yard. He shakes his head. Then he goes back to his writing– which is probably best.

So why am I finding that acting like the opposite of my usual self is fun? I’m not sure. Maybe because it takes the pressure off not feeling like a job? Maybe that’s what a hobby is? (i.e.: enjoying something for the sake of it, not always for the end result) Though with gardening, you still get an end result. Even if you f-ck it up and your plants die, you still get to enjoy them for a time.  You also get instant gratification and long-term enjoyment. It’s a hobby you can do until you’re practically in a wheelchair and you’ll never run out of things to dig and plant. Plus you get grounded–from the ground.

It’s also something I can do with my kids that doesn’t require task completion. If Fia and I want to water a few plants one day and a few the next, we can. We can plant seeds all at once, or spread it out. Basically, there are no rules. It’s just playing in dirt and hoping for the best.

So far our efforts at planting a vegetable garden have been pretty sad. We created this entire site you see from a mound of dirt. The setting and planters are perfect:

Phil’s dad came in town and built the planters (with Fia’s help, of course).

The kids made their mark in cement.

We excitedly put the plants and seeds in. Then one night something ransacked the whole thing. It was either a raccoon or skunk–we have both in our yard. But rather than getting too bummed out or uptight, we laughed about it and started again. This time with netting around. It doesn’t look pretty and it’s totally jerry-rigged but who cares?

If I even get one pepper out of this thing I’ll feel more accomplished than my 4-times weekly run to the dreaded grocery store. I’d take this hobby any day over that task.

What about you? What’s your favorite hobby? And why? Do you find you’re a different person with your hobbies versus your profession? Just curious.

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Here Goes: My Dirty Diaper Confession

Friday, May 16th, 2014

I have a confession: I threw one of Emmett’s poop diapers in someone else’s trash. It wasn’t exactly intentional, but now I don’t know what to do. Ack. Here’s how it went down:

I don’t put poop diapers in the Diaper Dekor. Instead, I tie them up in little plastic baggies and dispose of them in our outside garbage. Otherwise I feel like I can smell the odor.

However, it’s a heat wave right now. Today’s high is 102-degrees. So even outside, our garbage is starting to smell. Everyone’s does. We live in the hills in Los Angeles, so the garbage bins are all curbside, in the direct sun. It’s really disgusting. The garbage trucks only come once a week, so you can imagine after a few day how it smells. The lids are kept down and it’s bearable, but as soon as you lift the lid up to toss something in, you have to hold your breath, throw, and run.

Not only do we have diapers, but we also have Wayne’s fecal matter to deal with. Even coated in scoopable liter, it’s still so gross I can barely write this without gagging. None of this helps my cleaning obsession.

This morning, Emmett had a particularly bad diaper.  I did my usual baggie system and we got ready to leave the house. But when I went to put the diaper in the outside bin, I realized the garbage truck had already come. I can’t stand the idea of this awful diaper being in there for a whole week, especially during this heat wave. So instead, I took the bagged diaper in my car, held my breath, cranked the a/c, and drove down the hill looking to see who had a closed lid. That usually indicates the garbage truck hasn’t hit that block yet (after they dump the garbage out of the bins, the lids stay open until you manually close them).

Soon enough, I saw a row of closed bins. I stopped the car, lifted the lid of one, and looked in. There was a little bit of trash at the bottom and since the lid was closed, as were the 3 bins at the houses nearby, I decided it hadn’t been picked up. I put the diaper in the bin, knowing since it’s garbage day, a truck would come around soon.

I hopped back in the car and continued on down the hill. I started noticing that a lot of the garbage cans had their lids open. I began to doubt that I made the right call. Maybe the truck had already come and just hadn’t hoisted it up high enough to get all the trash at the bottom out. And maybe the owner went out right after and closed his/her lid. And maybe the same thing happened to the 3 houses surrounding it. And maybe now, that diaper is going to sit in their trash for a week.

Does anyone have a solution for stinky garbage cans for the time between garbage day?

I’m sitting here obsessing about what to do. Do I drive back and root through the garbage and pull it out? The bins are huge so I don’t know if I could reach the bottom without putting the bin on its side. Then I would have to crawl in–as of now it’s already 97-degrees. This could get ugly fast. Should I buy a box of baking soda and dump it in their trash? Or Clorox? Or does that seem like a violation even though I’m doing it to remedy a situation? What if they see me? How would I explain myself? Maybe I just let it go and hope that this bad bit of karma doesn’t come back to bite me. Maybe I do something really nice for someone today to make up for it. Maybe I have too much time on my hands…

Three days ago I wrote about my latest obsession with the toxicity of plastic. My plan today was to channel some Zen and write about my new garden. Clearly I threw that idea out the window when I threw a bag of sh-t in my nearby neighbor’s garbage. Even if I didn’t mean for it to stay.

Who else has done something small, but significant, that looks stupid in retrospect? Anyone care to confess? If nothing else, to make me feel less like a crumb?

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How to Change a Diaper
How to Change a Diaper
How to Change a Diaper

Diaper pic via shutterstock

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