Saturday, March 21, 2015

Hi, I'm alive!

If you read my last post back in October, you might think that I died on the operating table.  Great news, I didn't!  Only my will to function as a normal, contributing member of society.  And honestly, you might not hear from me again for another 5 months after this.

Michael Ronan McCullough (Mac) was born on October 21, 2014 at 8:30am-ish (I imagine a lot of the details of this poor kid's life will be forgotten from here on out).

Everything went exactly as planned, which was really nice for a change.  If I had to guess, I'd say that not having gone through 40 hours of pointless labor before the c-section definitely helped my physical & emotional state.

I even took the liberty of pushing the nurse's button whenever I felt like it this time.  If I needed help getting the baby out of the bassinet, I pushed it.  If I wanted little Mac to take a trip to the nursery so I could get a whopping 2 hour stretch of sleep, I pushed it.  If I needed a 14th apple juice since I couldn't eat real food for 48 hours, I pushed it.  And when my other 2 boys started wearing out their welcome, I pushed it... turns out, they don't respond to this type of request.

But eventually, all good things must come to an end, and I had to leave the wonderful Shady Grove Maternity Resort & Spa.  So, when I got home, shizzle hit the fizzle.

My theory about when your children outnumber your limbs... spot on.  What used to take me a ridiculous hour and a half to get out of the house with just Niall and B, now takes me almost 2 1/2 hours.  And that is assuming I skip breakfast... which I do.

I've decided it's easier this way, because if I attempt to scarf something down in the 5 minutes before we are running out the door, the older ones like to pretend that they haven't actually eaten breakfast and beg for bites of mine until I eventually give up... OR Mac decides, right at the moment the spoon hits my lips, that he needs to be held at all times and, under no circumstances, may I sit down while holding him.  You know... while we're at it, mom, you better do some serious bouncing while you're holding me.  It's kind of like a sick joke but right when you are about to start crying, you are reminded of how joyful and fleeting this time is.

Yes, I'll admit, I am starting to realize through all of the frustration of babies screaming, toddlers throwing tantrums and big boys not listening... the whole childhood thing is just so quick.  And maybe, just maybe, I think I'm really going to miss all of this one day very soon.

Now that I have a kid who no longer asks for a bedtime song before I leave the room, I have become better at snuggling one seriously fussy baby and doing it with a genuine smile on my face, knowing that he will only be a baby for so long.

It has taken some time to adjust to 3, but all things considered, we are finally getting into a nice groove.  I'd give this time period a solid 72% joyful, which, if I can remember how to do math (no promises), is more joy than misery.  For anyone thinking about a having a third, remember: JOY > MISERY. Yay!


a) don't quote me on that


b) you have to come up with a solid survival plan

Let's call this segment "Things I no longer care about"  (AKA "My Survival Plan")

  • Pajamas that don't match.  Why did I ever care about this?  Seriously.  In fact, let's make that "all things pajamas."  Babies do not need to be changed out of their perfectly comfortable little outfits to be put into a "sleeper outfit."  ALL baby clothes are sleeper outfits.  And if my boys want to wear pajamas instead of real clothes during the day, or real clothes to bed instead of pajamas... have at it, my friend.  I no longer care.  I'm certainly not going to engage in an hour long battle about why you have to wear "hard pants."

  • Potty Training.  Oh potty training.... I hate you so much.  It's becoming apparent that my plague, as a mother, is poop.  Kids in this house either poop in their pants or don't poop for a week, which I would consider to be a pretty serious medical condition.  Both are very annoying to deal with.  Kids in this house also conspire to all poop at the same time right when I'm in the middle of shuffling 3 pots on the stove.  The point is, I will be the one mom who defies the ol' saying "Hey, at least you know he'll be potty trained by kindergarten, right?"  No... no, I don't, but thanks for trying to make me feel better. 
  • The people at the local bakery now know me by name.  Since I have to skip breakfast now, I have found myself wandering into JennyCakes on a semi-daily basis to grab a muffin to hold me over til lunch.  I end up walking out with a BOX, not a bag, of assorted cookies, bars, and cupcakes.  Then, I tell myself that these will be treats for the entire family over the course of that week.  When I get home, I proceed to eat everything in that box and then destroy the evidence, like it never even happened.  But the good news?  I don't care.  
  • I unkowingly joined a seniors' zumba class... and I'm still in it.  FYI, if an exercise class has the word "Gold" in it, that doesn't mean it's really awesome;  that means it is full of old people. Sadly, it is coincidentally right at the level of fitness exertion I can handle right now.  Plus, I made a commitment to my zumba peeps and they are my new best friends.
  • Messes of epic proportions.  Pictures on my wall have been smashed in battles against bad guys; crayons have been smushed into the beige carpet (note: if you have kids, don't get beige carpet), and toys have been put away in the WRONG BINS.  I never thought I would see the day!  And shockingly... I don't care.  It feels kind of good, this not caring thing.  
But then there are the things I do care about....

These guys loving on their new baby brother, who became initiated into this clan from the day he came home; no questions asked and no hesitations, whatsoever.

Sometimes, maybe a little too much love.

We like to torture this little cutie with accessories, and I have to say he is a pretty good sport about it.

I remember when Brendan was born, it not only took a little adjusting for Niall, but there was also a lot of hesitation, on my part, letting them be together.  I was so worried that Niall would hurt the baby (not on purpose); just because he wouldn't understand how to act with a baby.  This time around, Mac starts crying and I yell to the boys "Can you jump in the crib with him?"  Seriously, when they do, he immediately stops crying and it's all smiles.  He has also recently taken an interest in archery and rocket launchers from lessons with the big bros.

In the 5 months since this little nugget has graced this earth, I feel like I blinked and he is suddenly not a newborn anymore.  I blinked and my other boys are now playing together like real kids, not needing me to facilitate.  I blinked and my oldest is going to start REAL school this fall. So the main thing I've learned in all this craziness is to say "yes" more to the things that really matter and "no" to the things that I think matter, but really don't.

Yes to playing superheroes when I really need to fold the laundry.
Yes to extra hugs and stories to prolong the dreaded bedtime.
Yes to a dance party while I'm trying to make dinner.
Yes to really, truly listening to a ridiculously long story that makes absolutely no sense instead of tuning it out and thinking about my never-ending to-do lists.
And Yes to cuddling & kissing a sweet little baby in the middle of the night when all I want to do is sleep.

It takes time and patience, the whole surrendering thing-- but I'm getting there, and no matter how much I gripe and groan, I truly love being a mom to these 3 guys.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Big Day

2 more days.  We will meet this little guy in less than 48 hours.  And yet even after saying that over and over again, it still doesn't feel real.  

It's amazing how completely different my temperament and outlook has been during this pregnancy versus the last ones.  With Niall, it was pure excitement; everything was so new, thrilling and untainted (my thoughts of what both birth and raising a child would be like).  Then, with Brendan, I was a girl on a mission: to have that VBAC.  I was practically natural birth certified and nothing was going to stand in my way of avoiding another c-section (except for that 24 hour trial of labor which resulted in... shocker: no progress).  Now, with baby #3, I am fully aware that this little guy is coming at 7:30 am Tuesday, October 21... and I am a ball of nerves.

You would think that I would be relieved I can arrange a babysitter, pack my bag at a leisurely pace, enjoy a delicious meal of my choosing Monday night, and (most importantly) the whole thing will be over in 20 minutes-- unlike the other two labors, which ranged between 1-2 full days of mind-blowing yet uneventful contractions.   Unfortunately, 'relieved' is not quite what you could say I'm feeling.

I wrote a blog post a while back, entitled "If I die tomorrow," which was a complete joke about what would happen if my husband had to take the reigns and wondering if my kids would survive.  He is actually a great dad, but I think every mom knows what it's like to have that uncontrollable urge to to make sure things are done her way (AKA 'the right way').  So imagine if you weren't there to micro-manage this whole child-rearing operation... there is no doubt in my mind that the 2 year old would be dressed in the 4 year old's clothes, the sippy cups wouldn't have their little plastic spill stoppers, and the old "we'll brush teeth tomorrow night" routine would become an every night occurrence.

So, naturally, I've been considering every little complication that could possibly come up on Tuesday morning and I'm tempted to leave a small instruction manual (especially for those tricky baby snap outfits and how to efficiently clean a newborn poop-up-the-neck-blow-out)... and while I'm at it, I should also probably pack away all the 6-12 month stuff in the basement so the poor kid doesn't look like he is drowning in a tent every day.

But all things considered, I am sure that everything will be fine and that Tuesday will be all of the wonderful things that I am too afraid to let myself dream it will be-- 2 big brothers doting over the newest addition to their clan, holding him and kissing him and forcefully jamming his paci back in his mouth whenever it falls out, everyone admiring his tiny little fingers and toes, and truly enjoying the quiet time I will have to bond with him when the family goes home and it's just me and my baby. I am so excited, it feels surreal for some reason; even though I've been through it twice before.

It's really strange the way I felt after I had Brendan; there was this guilt that I had left Niall confused and alone; that I had taken something away from him-- that I had taken a bit of me from him.  I was gone for so long (almost a week at the hospital), he wouldn't even talk to me or look at Brendan when we came home.  Those first 2 days were awful.  But this time, I am so happy that Niall and Brendan have each other and I know those feelings will never come up this time around.  Those 2 don't even remember what it was like to be the only kid (Brendan obviously never was).  I just know that they will feel nothing but joy and excitement and happiness toward their new brother; there is no doubt in my mind.  That will be the biggest relief for me this time around;  knowing that I can snuggle my new little guy without ever feeling a tinge of guilt or worry.

And even though I know that everything will be fine in that department, I have really been trying to soak up the last few weeks of having what I like to call 'the limbs-to-kids ratio' (2 hands, 2 kids).  Once your kids outnumber your arms, I imagine you are in trouble when it comes to leaving the house.  At least that's my scientific observation.  We will most likely be hunkered down for a little while until I get this whole 3 kids thing figured out, so I knew that we needed to have a few good excursions before the big day.  And that's just what we did.

I have to say, although I would have been thrilled to welcome a girl into this super hero, pee and football-infested house, I am so happy for this band of brothers.  What Niall and Brendan have is something that I will never be able to fully understand or remotely be a part of.  They are brothers.  When they are in their room laughing and talking at night, I'll never know what it is about or why it is so funny.  When one looks out for the other and says "that's my brother," I will feel a tingle of pride but never really know what their loyalty toward each other feels like.  And that's ok; that's the way it should be.  It makes me happy to think that they have something so special in addition to and completely separate from what I have with them.  

And now there will be 3 of them.  The McCullough clan, my boys, my everything.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Me Time

I have a question for moms of toddlers/babies:  What would you do if you had 24 hours completely to yourself?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven, doesn't it?  Well, I had that glorious opportunity this past weekend and completely squandered it.

I had a bridal shower to attend and my husband took the kids down to his family's bay house for the day/night/following day.  Seriously, why have I not figured out that I should make up some kind of girls-only event that I am obligated to attend more often?  Chalk it up to increasingly multiplied amount of brain cells lost with each pregnancy/ kid.  I will probably let something crop up in a few weeks again-- gotta space it out a little so he doesn't get too suspicious ;)

Well, it appears that, without the never ending to-do list, I am completely lost and helpless.  My life is now a series of completing the tasks listed on a bunch of crumpled up papers in my diaper bag (never did make that transition back to a normal purse; now the massive saddlebag is filled with toys and trash, but equally as heavy and full as when it was filled with actual baby essentials).

So, for once, there was no to-do list this weekend.  I finally hit the major nesting phase and went a little crazy being on top of things in the last 2 weeks or so.  I have been eagerly ticking the tasks off my list until I got to the point where both my closet and the baby's are fully prepared for 10 degree weather if it hits tomorrow.

Which left me a full 24 hours of peace and infinite possibilities... but I forgot just what it is that I like to do for fun when I am by myself.  Could it really have been that long since I have had a little free time to participate in a hobby or two?  Let's see... about 5 years, so yea.  Kinda sad that I hadn't noticed I don't have hobbies anymore, though.  That's when you realize you have been reassuring yourself with: "but I am a good person!"  Sure, that counts as a hobby.

I was certainly not going to start a book since I knew I would get maybe 50 pages into it, only to finish about a year and a half from now.  And I didn't want to waste it on TV or a nap.  I wanted to do something exciting, something that would make this 24 hours worth living for!  Something like doing a really awesome painting or knitting a complete hat & mittens set or going for a 10 mile run-- you know, things that I am not remotely capable of doing.  So what do you think I did?

Spent a truly humiliating amount of time thinking about "van configuration."  I can only hope that most of you are saying "Oh, yea!  Van configuration! I  have thought about that a lot in my spare time."  But my better judgement tells me that most of you are thinking "I'm sorry, van what?"  The sad part is that I really enjoyed pondering the different ways I could move the van seats around to make the most space for 3 kids, myself and my 98 pounds of junk that goes with me every time we need to go for a 10 minute car ride.  I was also really proud of myself that I took into consideration keeping the baby in his own separate row so he wouldn't get his eyes poked out by a big brother who likes to point out that the white part is separate from the colored and black parts of the eye ball.

By that time, I was just so exhausted from all of that intellectual stimulation, I ended up taking that dreaded nap I had been avoiding all day.  And you know what?  It was wonderful-- and pretty much everything I could have wanted or expected out of a little quiet time to myself.  Sometimes you just can't teach an old dog new tricks... and I'm pretty ok with that ;)

Plus, I had to get my beauty rest for when these little hooligans busted back through the door. Honestly, I really missed them, even if it was for just a day.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cruel Mommy Myths

I can still remember when Niall turned 13 months old-- it was like this slow morphing of a perfect angel into some kind of monster over the course of 30 days or so.  I could see that sweet little baby slipping out of my hands and didn't understand what was happening.  Well, I'll tell you what was happening-- Christmas "the terrible twos" came early at my house, and I had no forewarning whatsoever.

It lasted until he was almost 2, but by his second birthday, everything was pretty much back to normal.  Those 9 months were not fun.  But I can tell you what's even more not fun: when you amplify those tantrums by about 75% and stretch out the time frame another year or so.  That would be my Brendan.

For me, babies are easy.  They eat, sleep, poop, smile and snuggle-- I relish every minute of those months 3-12 (as soon as they can mostly sleep through the night).  Ahh, these were the days...

And this was probably my last vivid memory before it all started to take a turn for the worse:

It's once they start walking and getting that first taste of independence that I think the whole parenting thing gets REALLY HARD.  Nobody tells you that the terrible twos might not actually start around age 2 when you are expecting it; at least in my house, they start the month after the baby turns 1 and don't end until... well, it's been a year and a half so far with Brendan and the attitude now is pretty much the same as it was then...

Let's see... in this one, he was mad that I was trying to take a picture
In this one, I think he was upset that I gave him the wrong water cup
Pretty sure he was angry at the wind
That cow was very offensive

It's a cruel joke, the whole phases thing.  Everyone has an end date to throw at you for all things baby/kid related.  Oh, breastfeeding will only hurt for [1 week...2 weeks... 1 month] until you realize after 2 months of agony that you might just be one of those people that it never gets better for.  Same thing with terrible twos, kids pooping their pants for a year, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The terrible twos are not just some thing that every kid does the same way.  It has taken me 4 years to figure out that it's 100% the kid's personality.  Brendan is a diva and there is no changing that.  For Niall, it was just a phase of growing into his independence and dealing with those limitations and frustrations; it had a concrete start and finish.  For Brendan, there isn't an interaction in the world that isn't worth crying, whining, exploding, or causing some kind of scene over... except when we are around the people who I like to do my venting to; he loves to act like a perfect angel in front of them to make me look crazy :)

Some of my favorite reasons that Brendan has completely freaked out on me lately:

-we are going the wrong way (driving in the car)
-he doesn't like the song I've selected on the radio
-he had to put shoes on to go outside
-he doesn't want his water (putting a sippy cup in the cup holder is unacceptable unless he asks for it)
-he tells me the same story 8 times in a row and each time, my reaction of "Oh really?  Cool!" isn't enthusiastic enough
-I tried to help him with getting his clothes on... 10 minutes later, he still can't get his clothes on and is now mad that I'm not helping
-He asked for waffles for breakfast... I made them... but he actually wanted cereal (I still have a lot of work to do on my telepathy skills)

So what really scares me is how many people have told me that the 3rd kid is just SO EASY.  So go-with-the-flow, so happy to just be included and tag along, so everything-you-dream-about-a-kid-being-before-you-actually-have-kids.  Why does this scare me?  Because I BELIEVE THEM!  It just occurred to me the other day that I could be banking on something that is just another terrible myth.  I have been envisioning this barely noticeable kid just boppin around with us, smiling and cooing... and I suddenly realized that this might not be the way it is.  I think it's time to start mentally and emotionally preparing myself for a different version of reality.


Every time I write something like this, something where I have less than pleasant things to say about parenthood, I come across a heart-wrenching article that makes me want to slap myself and pretend I never had any of those feelings.  But the truth is, no matter how great someone else's loss or how lucky I realize that I am, I did/do still have these feelings sometimes, and pretending or hiding that doesn't make any of it go away...

What I will say is that for every 1 negative experience I have with my kids, I have at least 10 great ones that make it all worth it.  For every time I want to scream at the top of my lungs or lock a kid in their room for wayyy longer than the recommended 2-4 minutes-- all it takes is one "I love you mom!", 1 hug, 1 smile, 1 giggle, 1 funny anecdote; it all makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am every single day.  Life is so much more rich and fulfilling and *interesting*, to say the least, with these guys in it.

And the next time my head is about to explode, I will try... really hard... to remember that ;)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Note(s) to self

I've learned a lot in the last month-- about both parenting and life in general.  Most of it, I probably already knew, but didn't want to/ choose to acknowledge it until recently.  The thing is, when you have to tend to a couple of small children while carrying around a bowling ball in your abdomen, you really have to adjust your standards/ expectations/ perception of reality... whether you want to or not.

So I'm forcing myself to take a little mental note; things that I really need to accept as truths-- at least for the next year or so (but more likely for the next 10-20 years... and then probably the rest of my life, because at that point, I'll just be old and exhausted).

1) I am always going to be tired and never have enough time in the day.

Why I keep setting my alarm for 5:45 am every day expecting to pop up and cheerfully get my to-do list done while everyone else is still sleeping, I will never know.  Morning after morning, I consistently hit the snooze button 12 times or so, until my kids come in and wake me up themselves. So tonight, maybe, could I just be honest with myself for once and not set the alarm and feel ok about the fact that my bulging leg veins might just need a little bit more rest?

2) Everything is a phase-- both good and bad.

You know when your kid is hitting you in the face because you had the audacity to make him get in his car seat and your friend tries to make you feel better by reminding you that it's just a phase? Well, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you; that goes for the good parts, too, my friend.  When your kids are finally both in a good stretch where they are sleeping through the night and not giving you a hard time going to bed-- it's only a matter of time before someone starts having nightmares or they realize that they can throw books at each other once you leave the room or slurp all the water out of their sippy cups to use as super soakers on each other.  And they will wait until you have, or are about to have, a brand spankin new baby before they enter this new phase... just to keep things interesting.

On another note, Brendan entered the "terrible twos" phase at exactly age 13 months and still hasn't come out of it (over a year and a half later).  Not a fan of "phases."

3)  Pre-assembled furniture is worth its weight in gold.

With new babies and new bedroom arrangements comes a torturous amount of work for the hubby-- assembling new furniture, hanging curtain rods, swapping out cribs for toddler beds and toddler beds for twins... I don't know about anyone else, but when Matt sees one of those massive cardboard box shipments leaned up against our house, he kind of looks like his head might explode. After 6 years of marriage, I've finally learned that it is worth a truck ride to go pick up a piece of furniture that doesn't require 4 hours of your time and 12 pages of instructions to put together.

4)   Painting is for school and this is why God didn't give me girls.

We have a special crafts box that sits on the very top shelf of our playroom-- so high that I need a step stool to get to it.  We pull it out maybe once a year.  Yesterday, I was gently reminded of why it sits on that top shelf, untouched for so long.  Niall asked me if they could paint outside after Brendan woke up from his nap, and it actually, for one second, sounded like a pretty good idea to me.  Until they started painting the deck and the chairs and the bricks that are part of MY HOUSE and everything except the 47 feet of paper that I put in front of them.  I just hope my neighbors didn't see/ hear me when I threw a stage 5 temper tantrum and started chucking their paints into the garbage can while screaming "NEVER AGAIN!!! YOU CAN PAINT AT SCHOOL AND THAT'S IT... FOREVER!!!"

5)  A work out is a work out.  Tomato / Tomaato.

I truly believe that pushing a stroller with a 2 1/2 yr old and 4 1/2 year old in it, while carrying a human being in your stomach has to count as the full hour strenuous work outs I used to participate in--  even if that walk is only 15 minutes and I am drinking a pumpkin spice latte while doing it. Well maybe I don't believe that, but I am just going to keep telling myself that.

6)  There is no shame in candy bribing.

I try to use real consequences and reasonable privileges whenever possible... but there are times when you could hand a kid 1 hershey kiss to get some cooperation and it would save you 30 minutes of headaches and crying (for both you and the kid).  In those times, I say give the kid a hershey kiss and call it a day.  And then pat yourself on the back for taking the opportunity to make your life just a little bit easier.

7)  If you are pregnant and have other small children, you really HAVE to put your feet up.

I know everyone hates when people say this to them-- How are you supposed to put your feet up when you have to cook, clean and raise a bunch of kids at the same time?  I have no idea, but I do know that by 7pm, my legs feel like they are going to fall off and if I have to chase 1 more person to get them in the bath tub, I am going to turn into redneck beat-down mom who threatens to give her kiddos a good whoopin at the count of 3.  This is why I have decided (as of 10 minutes ago) to retreat to the couch for a good 15 minute feet-up break after dinner... which will probably end up being 2 minutes of peace and 13 minutes of being jumped on and hit in the face with pillows.  But hey, it's worth a shot.

8)  I will never stop being freaked out by a baby fist or foot jutting out of my stomach.  

You would think by the third time around, I would barely notice the little guy swimming around in there... but I still wince and squirm like someone catching a glimpse of a centipede sitting on their pillow every time this baby suddenly rams his appendages out of my belly.  And for some reason, I keep thinking that if I gently pat my stomach and tell him to calm down a little, that he will be willing and/or capable of listening. Really, what would make me think that this kid would follow my instructions anyway-- don't I have 2 other kids who completely debunk that theory?

9)  Worrying doesn't solve anything.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am completely freaked out about having a third c-section.  My first 2 births didn't go so well, despite my best efforts to have them naturally.  So this time I am scheduled to have a c-section, which is completely new and scary to me.  Naturally, I've been researching all of the risks and things that can go wrong with the third c-section because that's the best thing you can do for yourself when you have to have a procedure that is completely out of your control-- scare yourself to death.  But today, I woke up for the first time feeling really excited that meeting this baby is really just around the corner.  I want to focus on how nice it will be to know that I will only have to wait 15 minutes until I can see and hold this baby, as opposed to 40 hours of wasted labor the first time (and 24 hours the second time).  From now on, I am going to really try to commit to only thinking happy thoughts about this new little guy who we will get to meet so soon!

10)  For all of the times I've lost my patience and wanted to pull my hair out recently, being lucky enough to hang with these little hooligans all day is totally worth it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why I DO teach my son to share

There is an article that has been going around the interwebs over the last couple weeks that has been quite the buzz among the mommy world.  The woman grabs your attention with the headline "Why I don't make my son share" and then hooks you with a few seemingly valid points about preparing your kids for the disappointment and reality of life.  What really concerns me is how many parents are actually jumping on board with this philosophy after reading her blog post.

Like I said, she makes some good arguments; namely, that you can't just have everything you want in life simply because you showed up (or simply because you want it).  However, doesn't it seem like teaching your kids that they don't have to do anything if they don't want to is a far more dangerous lesson?

When you give your kid a time limit with a certain toy, because you see that other children are waiting for it, both kids are learning that important lesson of "disappointment in life"-- the kid who is playing with the toy knows that there is an end to his fun in the very near future, and the kid who wants the toy is learning that he is going to have to wait a few minutes until the other person's turn is up, even though he wants it right now.  More importantly, both kids are learning what it means to be a good friend and a good person.  Isn't that the most crucial thing that we can teach young children?

Kids are inherently selfish.  It's not their fault, or anyone's; it's just the way they see the world for a little while.  It's your job, as a parent, to teach them that they are NOT the most important person in the world; that it is important to take other people's feelings into consideration and that being kind to others is what makes us the special human beings that we are.  Otherwise, they will quickly learn that in real life, if you don't play fair, you are either going to get your butt kicked or not have any friends.

I also have trouble grasping this woman's version of "reality."  In my reality, you can't reserve the monkey bars or a swing at a park, the way you can in her reality.  In my reality, if I told another mom: "I'm sorry, these monkey bars are being saved for my son who just jumped off for a second; he is using the bathroom right now and he wants to swing on them when he gets back", I'm guessing she would either burst out laughing or fight the urge to punch me in the face.

In the blogger's reality, this no-sharing philosophy is preparing kids for the fact that they aren't going to get a promotion just because they go to work on time every day...  great, but that reality is about 18 years down the road for her son.  How about preparing him for a reality that he might face in the next six months?  Like when he goes on a carousel ride and has decided that he isn't ready to get off once it's over.  Her philosophy won't work out so well when it is required that everyone exit the ride and let the people waiting in line have a turn.  I imagine that her son will also have a hard time understanding why he is allowed to stay on in certain places but not in others.

There were two specific examples she gave, to defend her point, that really bothered me.  She first tells the story of her friend's toddler son bringing a toy car to the park and another mom insisting that the little boy share it with her son.  Ok, well I think we can all agree that the other mom, in that instance, was completely out of line.  That is certainly the exception and not the norm of how most moms would act, so I hope that I am not thrown into that same category of crazy simply because I make my son share.

The other example was a time that her son was at a public kids gym and wanted to play on a particular ride-on toy for the entire hour and a half of open play.  She watched another mom approach the boy after he had been on it for a while and ask if her son could have a turn; the boy ignored her and continued to ignore her every subsequent time she asked (blogger mom never stepped in).  The real problem here, aside from the fact that her son thinks it is perfectly ok to highjack a toy in a public place for over an hour, is that this woman seems to relish in the fact that her son is completely ignoring an adult who is asking him to do something.

Teaching your kids respect for authority is something that I would consider very important for real life in both the educational and working worlds that lie ahead.  Ignoring your teachers/ bosses when you don't want to do what they've asked is certainly not going to get you very far in life.  Of course, it is important to teach children to stand up for themselves when an adult is asking them to do something inappropriate, but that was clearly not the case here.

I just have to believe that in the long run, which is what this woman seems to be concerned about, the person who learned to share, think of others, and exhibit kindness often as a child is going to get so much more out of life than the child who was taught that other people don't matter and that he doesn't ever have to compromise his own happiness.

Please teach your children to share.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Warming up to summer

Despite being uncomfortably pregnant, this summer has actually been the best I can remember in the last several years.  Unlike almost everyone I know, I'm not really a huge summer person; a) because I don't enjoy feeling like I'm living in an oven every day for 3 months, b) because Irish girls like me might actually become cooked much like something you would put in the oven, and c) take the 'Irish' skin and add the curly hair in 90% humidity and... well, it's just not pretty.

There was a time when I dreamed that maybe-- just maybe-- by the last day of the summer, I would have some mild version of that beautiful tan glow that all of my friends seemed to have by some time around June 15... but then I realized that I could only lay on a towel in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes before I would plunge full speed into the ocean/pool for relief.   That's when I threw in the towel and started lathering on the SPF 50, sitting under umbrellas, and calling myself "fair-skinned" instead of "pale" (like it might become some kind of sought-after fashion trend).

So I have to say: THANK YOU GOD for keeping the 100 + degree heat index days to a bare minimum this year.  I vividly remember locking myself in my house almost every day last summer, promptly by noon and not coming back out until after 8pm (if at all).  This morning, I went for a walk at 9am in yoga pants and a light long sleeved shirt.  It was glorious, and I hear that the rest of this week will be just like today.  I seriously can't stop smiling.  I'm actually writing this blog post on my back porch sipping on a glass of homemade lemonade (and by homemade, I mean one of those all-natural ones that doesn't have a lot of sugar in it, so it feels kind of like I made it myself... maybe).

I would also like to give God a shout-out for the relatively low incident rate of bodily harm/ assaults by mosquitos.  If you could possibly take care of the gnats while you're at it, I would love you even more, but I'm not going to get greedy.

Finally, the most crucial contributor to my summer of happiness:  let's talk about this age...  Oh, this age.  It has been like the light at the end of the tunnel.  As much as Brendan drives me crazy with his struggle for independence these days, this summer with Niall and Brendan has been SO MUCH FUN.

I hardly know what to do with myself now that I can plop down in a chair and just watch them play.  Last summer, Brendan was 1 1/2, so he was walking but in a super NOT FUN kind of way.  The kind of walking where the kid can only get himself into trouble and the mom just wants to strap the kid into a stroller while the older one plays, but the kid is too smart for those kinds of tricks at that stage, and so you end up crawling through playground tunnels that are wayyy too small for you, just to make sure your little guy doesn't skydive off the platform on the other side.

I was helicopter-ing him everywhere he went and never had a second to relax or even remotely pay attention when other moms would try to talk to me.  In fact, every time we got in the car to go to a pool or park or other outdoor excursion where the kids couldn't be contained in one area, I did a quick mental assessment of how miserable the excursion we were about to attend would be (for me) and then force myself to snap out of it and go anyway.

This summer has been like heaven compared to that.  Brendan and Niall not only play together, but I can somewhat trust that Brendan is going to be ok as long as I keep an eye on him (from a comfortable sitting distance).  It also helps that nothing makes a better summer combo than boys and dads...

Ice cream, crabs, water slides and turtle discoveries come in at a close second ;)

Ok, maybe I'm changing my mind about summer... I guess it is kind of awesome :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rules Are Rules

I am a big time rule-follower; always have been, always will be.  I am the girl who tries to sign in under a friend's name at the pool and my face turns so bright red that I can't meet eyes with the people at the front desk.  These days, I will take a bite of an Italian sub, chew it up just to enjoy that one second of flavor, and then spit it out because I am told that you are not allowed to eat lunchmeat when pregnant.  I am also far more intimidated by my kid's pre-school teacher than I'm sure any of those 4-year-olds are.  The point is: I just don't feel comfortable messing with the rule book, regardless of who makes those rules.

So I would really appreciate it if, each time I get pregnant with another kid, the mysterious "THEY" could stop adding 15 new regulations and guidelines to make my life so thoroughly miserable for 9 solid months.

What's this about how I'm not allowed to sleep on my right side this go-around??  It was hard enough for me to adjust to not sleeping on my back with the first two; now I'm not even allowed to roll over?  I'm not sure if it's just the fact that I have been told I can't, or if I am really this tortured by the way I wake up 4 times a night with the urge to flop onto my other side and suddenly remember that I am undoubtedly going to rupture some crucial artery by doing that.

My better judgement keeps telling me that the thousands of generations of women in the past did just fine without the right side artery crushing sleep rule, but I am not one to test those waters-- after all, rules are rules.

And now that I'm at a point in my pregnancy where I can't comfortably bend over or squat for more than 5 seconds, they have conveniently decided to come out with a study on the dangers of kids' spray-on sunscreen.  Of course they did!  Why would I be able to apply sunscreen in an easy, no-fuss- kind-of-way that kept my varicose veins from bursting out of my legs?  That would be absurd.

The drop side crib I used just 2 years ago?  It's in the trash.  Not allowed.

Bug spray?  Don't you preggo ladies dare.  You can sit inside or be eaten by the West Nile spreading monsters of the back porch.

Oh, and apparently, even after what I thought was some pretty thorough research on which fish I needed to stay away from (swordfish, shark, tuna only allowed in moderation), I just found out that I shouldn't have eaten those crabs over the weekend or the shrimp I've been serving for dinner just about every other week for the last six months.

And I certainly hope you don't get a sore throat.  Because after I popped about 6 of those Ricola herbal throat drops, I found out that they will most certainly cause me to miscarry.  Thankfully, that was about 4 months ago, so I must have been one of the lucky ones.  

Is there a certain point where I am allowed to say "no" to all of the so-called expert advice?  Where I get to say "If I can't have a beer at a BBQ, I'm going to savor every last sip of an ice-cold coke and not feel guilty about it."

Well, if there is, who am I kidding?  I'm too much of a worry wart to torture myself wondering what terrible fate awaits every time I defy the pregnancy commandments.  So I will stick it out and play it safe for these last 3 months-- but someone had better bring me a knock-your-socks-off cold cut and a thoroughly chilled Blue Moon right up to my hospital bed on this little guy's birthday ;)