Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ 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 www.jillcordes.com or on my Facebook page. Follow me on twitter @fearlessmama.

 

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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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Have You Ever Come Down With Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

I did. And not because I ate my poop. Or my kids’. Or even Wayne’s for that matter (though I am the one who scoops his box).

It began with Fia. She had a semi-mild fever, ranging from 100-102 degrees off and on for a few days. She would break out in splotches of hives as well, which is how her body sometimes reacts to a virus. Other than that, she was totally fine. She wasn’t tired or cranky and she wanted to play and do all her usual things. I was puzzled.

Going on day 4, I took her to the doctor. As soon as they looked in her throat they discovered the mystery cause. She never had the sores that often form on your hands and feet, thus giving this disease its name. This is the second time she’s had it though and I hear there are something like 54 strains. Each time you get one, you don’t get that strain again. So now she only has 52 or so to go (not to worry. This isn’t a contest to get them all. Most of us only get a couple). That’s one reason why adults don’t usually get it. We’ve all had a strain–or 5–when we were communing with other Petri dishes in our own preschool days, so typically that immunity pays off.

Before she was diagnosed I probably wasn’t as careful as I should have been in not eating or drinking after her, though I stand by my non-poop eating statement. After the doctor I became diligent. But it was too late. Whatever strain Fia had, I apparently wasn’t privy to in my childhood (and there is a new one that came out in 2012). I woke up 2 days after Fia was diagnosed feeling like I had razor blades in the back of my throat. The telltale sign is little red spots on your hard pallet. Check.  Fia was almost 100% better by then. I was down for the count. It hurt to eat or drink anything and the only thing I could do was take ibuprofen and wait it out.

Thank god my in-laws were in town. It was Fia’s spring break and my lucky one. They played with her while I rested. I wasn’t sick all the time. I would wake up with a decent amount of energy, run an errand and get suddenly wiped out.

But the real problem is the name of this virus itself suggests you should be confined to a leper colony: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Imagine if the common cold was called the “Common Mucus Disease.” We’d all be walking around with a rubber bubble duct-taped around our body.

It can be transmitted a few ways: Oral contact with poop–which we’ve covered. It can be from trading blister fluids, which sounds like a blast, though we are a blister-free household.  And then there’s snot, which we do have a lot of. Emmett is to snot what Mt. Vesuvius and it’s spewing lava was to Pompeii. There seems to be a constant flow. So I suspect he probably picked it up from his 2 days a week at preschool and passed it along to Fia and we never knew he had it.

According to the CDC, this virus is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. However, the two diseases are caused by different viruses and are not related. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease. I guess that takes the possibility of me eating Wayne’s poop out of the equation. So at least that’s a relief.

 

pic of sick child via shutterstock

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Part 2: Can You Top This Sleep Training Saga?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

We left off yesterday with my friend Jennifer’s saga to sleep train her daughter. Eleanor is 2 1/2-years old and Cece is 4-years old. Both have been good sleepers. They share a room. But a few months ago Eleanor began to fuss. And Jennifer began to go in. Before she knew it, they were playing musical beds in the night, no one was sleeping, she and her husband were fighting, and everyone was miserable. Something had to give.

So they hired a sleep consultant, Renee Wasserman, from SleepHeadSolutions, to give them a plan that would work. For more on all this, and all the drama it entailed to reach this point, you can refer to Part 1.

Now it’s the second night and Jennifer is hoping it will be better than last night’s fiasco. So here she is again, with the play-by-play:

NIGHT 2:

We get a late start to bedtime.

As usual, Cece falls asleep right away.

As usual, Eleanor starts screaming under the door immediately.

Crap.

I realize we forgot to give Eleanor her antibiotics. Yes – we’re sleep training this poor child while she’s on antibiotics for an ear infection. In our defense, we’re halfway through the prescription and she hasn’t complained about her ear in a week. And we’ve found that there’s always, always a good reason to put off sleep training…

I bring in the pink medicine (this kid loves taking it) and then since I’m in there, I give in to her screaming potty request. She pees in the big potty in the bathroom, which is probably one less pee I’ll have to clean up off the floor in the morning.

We return to the girls’ bedroom and Eleanor wants to get into her sister’s bed. I let her sleep with Cece since I figure she’ll most likely end up there during the night anyway. Night two is around the same as night one but Eleanor cries for shorter periods of time. And she keeps her pajamas and diaper on all night. Huge progress!

We celebrate in the morning.

NIGHT 3:

Eleanor is up twice during the night but not for long. Again she keeps her pajamas and diaper on. She sleeps in her big sister’s bed all night. It feels like we’ve moved a mountain! I know it’s not ideal for the girls to be sleeping together in a twin bed. Cece complains about Eleanor sleeping on her hair and rolling on top of her, and, as our sleep consultant points out, she might just be replacing me with her sister.

In a perfect world Eleanor would be capable of sleeping through the night in her own bed but I gave up on a perfect world a long time ago. And I know we’re headed in the right direction.

NIGHT 4:

Eleanor sleeps through the night without waking up! She snuggles with her sister but now they both seem pretty comfortable together.

NIGHT 5:

Eleanor has another successful night. This is changing our life. We realize we didn’t have evenings before this – I used to tip toe out of the girls’ room at 11pm, trying not to wake them and then it would be musical beds all night. Having kids that sleep feels amazing! The next day after school/work we go for a celebratory dinner and then to Pinkberry for dessert.

NIGHT 6:

We have a bit of a relapse tonight. Maybe from the Pinkberry sugar? Eleanor is up a few times crying in the night. It’s still a whole new world though. I just look at her on the monitor and don’t go in. Now I can say with confidence she will figure it out. And sure enough, just a few tired tears and then right back to sleep.

Now the question is: do we allow them to keep sleeping together in one twin bed or do we try to nip that in the bud too?

Per our sleep consultant’s advice we talk to the girls about having more space for their bodies to stretch and grow if they stay in their own beds. Eleanor is going to try to sleep on her own tonight. Their snuggling is so damn cute though. And I’m very proud of Eleanor’s progress and I feel bad enforcing another difficult challenge so quickly.

NIGHT 7:

In an effort to get Eleanor to stay in her own bed, we decide to push the girls’ two twin beds together. This way the girls can be in their own beds and also beside each other. So far so good - 10pm and not a peep. Maybe pushing the beds together is the answer?  Nope – Eleanor ends up in her sister’s bed again. We think about it and decide we’re ok with this arrangement for now. Hopefully they’ll outgrow sleeping together when they’re ready and if they don’t, we now have the tools to make another change when we’re ready.

It’s been less than a week of sleep training and life has already changed so much! The improved sleeping has made a huge impact on all of our lives. The girls seem more rested, we’re all happier people, my marriage feels easier, I’m more productive at work… I can’t believe It took us this long to finally fix the problem. We should have done this many, many months ago. Getting outside help was key for us – we were too tired to think straight and our repeated attempts weren’t working. I realize now that Eleanor’s job was to test us and she was doing great. We just needed to set the limits for her. When I think about it, Renee really sleep trained us.

If anyone wants to contact Renee her info is:

Renee Wasserman, P.T., M.P.H.

SleepyHead Solutions

Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant

www.sleepyheadsolutions.com

www.facebook.com/sleepyheadsolutions

 

Pic of girl sleeping via Shutterstock

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