Thursday, December 4, 2014


I lead a very hands-on childhood. The idea of not letting your child experience this-or-that on their own and antibacterial everything is such a foreign concept to me. I ate bugs, played in mud up to my chest, climbed tall trees unsupervised, and caught wild birds out of the air with my bare hands. Never once did any of these activities lead to my demise.

I taught myself to swim, ride a bike, and tie my own shoe laces. Not because my parents were neglectful or not there for me but because they knew I could do these things on my own. I didn't need help. I just needed encouragement.

People really need to relax when it comes to parenting. There is a lot of hovering these days. So long as they aren't actually in danger, let it be. They'll figure out why they should not pick up bees on their own. Kids are smarter than people give credit for. They are also far more capable than we'd like to believe. If you allow them to, they'll overcome almost any obstacle with just a little encouragement from you.

Certainly, some children need a little more help than others and that is fine. But don't just assume your child NEEDS you to intervene on their behalf. Let them try and fail a little. Trial and error is the essence of learning, really learning.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Terrible Twos

Ow. Why, baby? Why?
So, as long as I've been a parent, I've repeatedly been told, "Just wait until the Terrible Twos!" When Jude was born, "Enjoy it while it lasts. The Terrible Twos won't be long!" As Jude grew nearer the twenty-four month mark, I heard it even more frequently. Whenever someone asked his age, "Oh. Here come the Terrible Twos!" they'd reply. I heard it more than I heard people serenade us with The Beatles, "Hey Jude," and that's saying something because we get it every. time. someone. new. learns. his. name.

I'd always smile politely and halfheartedly agree, "Yeah, heh," even though I didn't believe them at all. With my education I knew Two marked a lot of developmental milestones, particularly in the brain, but would those really create such a strong reaction that it could merit everyone everywhere calling them the Terrible Twos? Impossible, I thought. These people just don't adjust well to the changes from infant to toddler, I presumed. They can't process that their completely dependent lump of adorable cooing flesh was now this independent actual functioning human being. That doesn't like stuff and knows how to say so. It's not like a second birthday would just instantly change your child.

I was wrong, and I will freely admit that without shame. The Terrible Twos, turns out, is actually a thing. And yeah, it does happen that fast.

Within a week of Jude's second birthday he began not only pushing boundaries but experiencing full-blown temper tantrums. The boy has always been a happy one and had never, ever had a tantrum before which made the first one all the more shocking. The catalyst was something absurdly minor, too, which made the volatile reaction to it such a surprise. I had no idea what was even happening when suddenly my happily playing toddler went from stacking toys on the table to thrashing about on the floor.

He completely skipped 'mild frustration' for full blown adult-sized rage. Only as a toddler, he does not know how to handle this yet. It's my duty to teach him, of course, but when it happened I was totally unprepared. My brain paused all ongoing thought and I stood there watching. The only word that I managed was a confused, "What?"

Usually when something isn't going according to plan there will be several minutes of frustration while Jude attempts to figure it out himself before he inevitably just comes to me and asks for my help. Once or twice, a very specific thing would genuinely upset him, but never like this. He couldn't get it to do what he wanted it to do so that was it: end of world. Game over.

He knocked all of his toys over and then threw himself onto the floor, yelling. When I tried to offer comfort he shoved himself away from me and began kicking and rolling around slapping the floor and himself with his hands. When I scooped him up into my arms, to try to keep him from hurting himself in his tiny blind rage, he writhed against me, kicked his feet violently and then dug his nails into my flesh, yelling and crying all the while. My mind did it again, blank followed by, "What?"

I did not expect tantrums to begin so suddenly, or explode so quickly. I am in for a hell of a year, looks like. I am so sorry for never believing any of you who tried to warn me! It's a very real thing, and I will be writing more about this subject in the future, you can put money on that. Particularly coping and remaining calm -- because I promise you remaining calm yourself is absolutely paramount to teaching a little person how to act like a responsible big person.

If you're going through this with me: breathe in and breathe out, Mama. You'll be okay.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Two Years Old!

Happy Second Birthday, Jude!
Here are some photos from the celebration.

Birthday morning!

His gifts await.

The leavings of a busy morning.

The young artist himself.

The bracelet I made him.

Jude and Baby Dig.

Crayon box!

Excited hugs!

Grandma made him a homemade Elmo cake!

Tuckered out after all that partying.

Time to do art in the nude.

Who needs a bath? Not him, clearly.

Goodnight, Birthday Boy.

 How far we've come.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Last Minute Travel With A Toddler

Are you kidding me?
Late last month we wound up needing to take an impromptu road trip with the baby. There was an unexpected death in the family and we had to be on the other side of California by Friday. It was Wednesday.

Anyone who has children, especially toddlers, know how little long road trips are liked. Road trips with an infant are relatively easy (even easier if aren't breastfeeding or can pump as you don't need to pull over to feed baby). They cannot move on their own yet and generally just stare off into space until they fall asleep and then remain asleep a good deal of the trip.

For a toddler though, or even just a baby who has recently learned to crawl, being restrained in a car seat is like being oppressed and they tend not to enjoy it very much at all. At best they tolerate it. Their understanding is that it'll suck but it'll only be a short trip and then they'll be free again, because that has been their experience. They wind up in the car seat to go to grandma's house, or the pediatrician's office, or the grocery store. All local places. So when you put them into their car seat and drive upwards of an hour, they start to get upset.

They're thoroughly bored, they're restrained, they want to stretch their legs, they want to run, there's nothing they can do but complain. You try to entertain them but in a car there's only so much you can do. So you wind up singing a maddening amount of children's songs, climbing into the back seat to try to feed them or get the juice they've thrown on the floor in protest for the 95th time. You give them books, blocks, rings, musical devices, Sesame Street youtube videos, crackers, cookies, pretty much anything to try to keep them placated for the hours still ahead of you in the vehicle. It's pretty much torture. For everyone.

Lucky parents have toddlers that will still sleep in the car. I am not one of those parents. My child has not slept in the car since he was seven months old. Essentially the moment he was able to move on his own he's done nothing but loathe the car seat. Once grandma became a local person it was a lot better because rather than immediately equate a car ride with the pediatrician and vaccinations or boring grocery shopping, he considered perhaps we'd be headed to grandma's house -- that's fun! However long car rides are still stressful and feats of physical and mental exhaustion.

Our journey would be eight hours minimum, likely ten or more. Thankfully grandma was making the trip down with us, so there was at least an equal distribution of child-distracting, but on the return trip it would just be the three of us and Daddy was driving, so the duty would be all mine.

You can understand then why the thought of finally reaching our destination was such a relief to me. To get out of the car and just let him do whatever he wanted would be such a nice change from the previous ten hours. I knew we had some things to do, make arrangements, attend a family/friends dinner, but I was looking forward to a hotel room like a man lost in the desert looks forward to water.

Finding a hotel room in Los Angeles, so near Hollywood, at 8:00PM on a Friday, however, was almost impossible. Pretty much everywhere was booked solid. Other places had room for one of us but not the rest of us or had rooms for all of us but no cribs for the baby. So when the Extended Stay America said they could get us all in AND had cribs, we booked immediately. Thank goodness!

After a dinner in a not-so-kid-friendly environment with a fussy toddler who had not napped all day nor eaten anything except a handful of cereal and some cookies (read: chasing the toddler around in circles for hours) I was SO ready for bed time. We head to the hotel, the rooms have everything you have in an actual house: full sized refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, cupboards, closets, roomy bathrooms, queen sized beds, very nice. Wait though... no crib?

Yeah, no crib. They had lied to us about that. We'd already prepade for three days though and there was no way to get a refund because as it turns out their website works through so when you call the number on it you don't speak with the hotel itself you . Words cannot do justice just how let down I was. How angry and frustrated this made me. The toddler would have to sleep in the other queen size bed. I knew it would be a problem, and it was.

Normally our night time routine is that Jude gets a change, I brush his teeth, I read him Green Eggs and Ham, then we turn out the lights and marvel at the glow-in-the-dark stars. After this I sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and put him down, awake, in his crib. He plays for 10-30 minutes and then falls asleep.

I could not do this in an adult size bed. There's nothing to keep him in it, first of all. Second if he decides to get down, it's a huge adult sized bed, he might hurt himself. The first night wasn't too much of an issue because he was so exhausted from the trip he fell asleep on the way to the hotel and didn't really stir when I changed him and put him into bed. I didn't sleep at all though. I was up every thirty minutes to check on him. Make sure he wasn't too close to any edges, rearrange him if he was. He climbed out of the bed at 8:00AM, despite having fallen asleep at 12:30AM. I woke up more tired than when I had gone to bed.

After another long, napless day I was physically and emotionally devastated. We got back to the hotel at around 10:30PM and I was hoping for, at least, a repeat of the night before. I didn't get it. He didn't fall asleep on the way back tot he hotel. He didn't want to fall asleep in the hotel either. I tried our 'at home' method and he just hopped out of bed and started running around -- in the pitch dark. I tried rocking him to sleep with a bottle of milk, old school style. He resisted this for hours. Finally, at almost 1:00AM he was asleep. I again slept like crap.

The next day we tried to find a crib or pack n' play for cheap at thrift stores, no luck. We went about our busy day. The service was on this day and while he was well behaved it was still a lot of running around (out door service) and carrying. I'd gotten very little sleep. It was really, really, really difficult for me to keep up. There was no nap this day, either because like all the rest there was no time for one. It took another two hours to get him to sleep that night. I was wrecked. We had the option of renewing our stay at Extended Stay America or trying to find a room elsewhere. I refused to stay there another night. I didn't care where we wound up, so long as it had a crib. I literally could not go fourth night without one. We found a place that, allegedly, had a crib. We booked with them the following night and the night after that.

I woke up at 7:00AM to a room-shaking THUD followed by Jude crying. The worst had happened. Jude rolled out of the bed the very last time he'd ever had to sleep in it. I was immediately awake, I flew out of bed over to him. I checked to make sure he was physically alright: he was. I finally remembered to breathe. Relief. I comforted him, cuddled him close, and laid beside him in the bed. He was still sleepy, scared, and his little noggin undoubtedly hurt despite there being no lump or mark from the fall. We snuggled a while longer until he sat up and wanted breakfast.

We took my mother-in-law to the airport to fly back home. Check-in at our new hotel wasn't until 2:30PM, so we had a lot of time to kill. We drove around a while and then stopped for lunch with family. Afterward we finally got to our new room and the first thing I see is the crib. I have never, ever been happier about a piece of fucking furniture. You don't even understand. I almost wept tears of joy.

For the first time all week, Jude got to take an actual nap. The poor dear. Then we all took one. The remainder of the trip was far, far less stressful and exhausting. Amazing what one simple piece of furniture can do to improve things.

tl;dr: The Three Cardinal Rules for Traveling With Baby
  1. Never ever stay in a hotel with a toddler without a crib. It would have been easier to sleep in the car tbh.
  2. Always bring one bag filled with nothing but your child's favorite toys.
  3. Bring another bag with foods you know your child will for sure eat -- because they will often boycott eating other things in unfamiliar or overly stimulating places.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

RE: Breasts

I've had a few conversations lately about why women should be able to breastfeed freely in public without dirty looks, lewd staring, or rude comments... and about how if men can go topless because it's 106 degrees outside women should be able to as well and they've all brought me to the same realization: people actually have no idea what their sex organs are. Even though they have them and they should know this stuff about themselves because it's basic and important. School has failed them so, so hard.

List of actual Sex Organs in Humans:

In Biological Females
  •     Bartholin’s glands
  •     Cervix
  •     Clitoris (and all its parts)
  •     Fallopian tubes
  •     labium (majora/minora)
  •     Ovaries
  •     Skene’s gland
  •     Uterus
  •     Vagina
  •     Vulva

In Biological Males
  •     Bulbourethral glands
  •     Epididymis
  •     Penis (and all its parts)
  •     Prostate
  •     Scrotum
  •     Seminal vesicles
  •     Testicles

Things that are commonly misinterpreted as Sex Organs even though they actually aren’t:

In Biological Females
  • Breasts

In Biological Males
  • ???

Just because they turn you on doesn’t mean they are sexual. People get turned on by necks, feet, feces, and eyes too and none of those are considered innately sexual. Because they aren’t; neither are breasts.

The male and female breast contain all of the same things, including milk ducts. That’s right, gentlemen, you can lactate. Fat allocation alone should not be such a big deal. Why is it such a big deal?

"But touching boobs feels nice!"

Nipple stimulation is intended to be between parent and offspring, not lovers. It triggers milk production (postpartum) and releases a hormone related to breastfeeding that promotes feelings of relaxation, closeness, and love — to bond parent to child. That it’s also used for funsies is a bonus, not the base feature.
Saying the human breast is a Sex Organ is like saying chocolate syrup is a Sex Food because, hey, people use it for that too.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Updated Registry

I've overhauled Jude's Registry again to be size and age appropriate. He's getting so big, so fast. He's almost three feet tall! It seems like he just got here yesterday, but there he is walking and running and dancing and talking. Crazy. The first six months seemed to last forever, but then every month after that has just flown by. I'll wake up tomorrow and he'll be applying to colleges.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Toddler's Diet Plan

Diet like a toddler, because they always know what's best (sarcasm detected). AKA, entertaining yourself with a picky eater.

1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of cereal, 1 granola bar, 1 cup 100% juice
- Eat raisins 1 at a time over the course of 60 minutes. Crush cereal into fine powder and sprinkle on floor from table. Ignore granola bar. Drink juice like your life depended on it.

1 piece of whole grain toast with butter and blueberry jam, 1/2 a banana, 100% juice smoothie made with veggies and greek yogurt.
- Maybe eat toast, if you feel like it. Otherwise sit and complain about how you don't want to be at the table for thirty minutes. Then complain that you're hungry while continuing to ignore the food. Drink your smoothie then throw the cup on the floor like you're Thor.

A warm meat and cheese sandwich on whole wheat, 1 cup of peas, a cup of whole milk.
- On a good day eat all of it. On a bad day take one bite of the sandwich, smash up the peas and play with the mush. Drink your milk.


Cookies x2
- Try as hard as you can to fit both cookies in mouth at once. When you fail, stick one whole cookie in your mouth and clutch the other until you're finished with the first like you're afraid a dingo might steal it. Immediately eat the second as soon as you're finishing drooling all over yourself because you can't close your lips and chewing the first.

Snacks 2x daily
1/4 cup almonds.
- Eat all of the almonds at once. Maybe throw-up as a result of almond chunks hitting your uvula.

1 package of fruit snacks.
- Devour these like your life depends on it.

Fruit of any kind.
- If banana: eat or stick in hair.
- If apple: eat or poke holes in with fingertip.
- If blueberries: PAINT THE WORLD PURPLE
- If grapes: eat like your life depends on it or ignore completely then mash into carpet later.

Taking this advice you are sure to maintain an adorable toddler physique, and drive women (namely mothers) crazy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Coping With a Picky Eater

Disclaimer: I know a lot of you have offered advice and I'm not saying any of your advice is bad. All advice is always appreciated, even if it doesn't work for us. Taking the time to offer your insight and help is always, always something I am thankful for. Also, this is a long blog, you may want to grab a beverage.

When Jude was first starting solids (purees) he would eat anything and everything. Sweet potatoes? Sure thing. Peas? You betcha! Oatmeal, carrots, meat, you name it -- this boy would eat it. As he graduated from strictly purees to mashes, he was still a fantastic eater. Very brave with new flavors, colors, and consistencies. After about a year though, when mashes became more whole foods, he began to hesitate with new things. For no real reason.

He was becoming increasingly impatient with the spoon and wanted finger foods exclusively. Then he gave up on spoons entirely, to the point that he'd break down to hysterics if you insisted he eat from a spoon. Boycotting meals entirely. So I made a lot of the foods he would usually eat from a spoon before all this started in pick-up form. Peas were easy, they came that way naturally. For other things, like bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots I'd just cut them up. He'd eat anything this way... except meat. He suddenly would NOT eat meat under any circumstance. Didn't matter which meat, didn't matter how you prepared it, if meat touched his tongue he would start making gagging sounds, dramatically dry heave, and then stop eating. For the remainder of the day.

That's a problem.

He loved whole grain cracker sandwiches though, either with peanut butter or cheese. So I came up with the rather sneaky idea to make him meat sandwiches. Or rather, protein sandwiches, because it wasn't always meat. I'd make him several sandwiches and slip turkey or ham between the melty cheddar, or some extra firm tofu in either Swiss or even peanut butter. This became the only way to get him to reliably consume meat. I offered him meat on the side, but every time he'd refuse it. I even offered him chicken nuggets -- most picky eaters' favorite, and he was totally appalled.

Sometimes if you snuck a piece of food into his mouth he'd realize it was good and then go about eating it on his own, but no such luck with meat or tofu. Putting either into his mouth always engages a strong reaction of disgust. Like I was making him eat his own poop or something. Insistence lead to tears and boycotts. Boycotts lead to going to bed hungry (because he wold literally refuse everything offered to him post-meat experience), which lead to poor sleep, and so on.

I scoured the internet for advice. No one really had any. I asked the pediatrician for advice, they didn't really have any either. By and large advice about a toddler's picky eating boils down to two options: a big cheesy smiley face that just says, "Keep trying! They'll usually refuse a new food 5 or 6 times before accepting it!" and a cross face saying, "Make them just one thing and if they don't eat it, starve 'em out! They'll eat eventually!"

We'll start with Captain Optimism and the "Just Keep Trying!" advice and why it's completely unhelpful.

First, if you have a picky eater the way you know they're a picky eater is because you're already trying. You're trying everything, consistently, constantly. You've gone days/weeks/months trying. The reason you're seeking advice is because obviously simply TRYING isn't working out for you. So telling a parent to try is extremely frustrating. They already are. Trust me. Don't be a twat about it when they tell you that they have tried. If they weren't trying they would not have a toddler anymore. C'mon.

Then there's Commander Pessimism giving the "Starve Them Out!" advice, which has a few issues wrong with it despite being well-meaning.

I know when dealing with an extremely picky eater reacting extremely to their extremism seems legit... but it really isn't. I'm not even saying that this advice is inherently mean or something and that is why you shouldn't take it. Sure, if you starved the kid out for days, that'd be cruel and pretty negligent -- but no one in their right mind is telling you to literally starve your offspring. What they mean is more along the lines of, "If they don't eat lunch, screw it, let them go hungry until dinner time."

Now that seems remarkably more reasonable, except what about sleep? Do you remember the first several months of your child's existence in this world? How they would wake up every 1-3 hours without fail due to hunger? How they wouldn't go back to sleep until their hunger was satiated? How you were completely exhausted and sleep deprived all at once, a zombie shambling from day to day? That is the big issue I have with starving them out.

Sure, some toddlers are like little drunk people who will be playing one second and passed out the next, and you can hoist 'em up and flop them into their crib without disturbing them in the slightest. Those tiny drunks could probably sleep through hunger, even if they had trouble falling asleep because they were hungry, once they got there they'd probably be fine. That however is not everyone's toddler. Mine, for example, has a hard time falling asleep to begin with. Particularly during the day. He is also an absurdly light sleeper. And yes, I tried the "Just get him used to loud sounds while he sleeps so they don't wake him up!" approach and that created nothing but an extremely sleep deprived, miserable household. For a month. It was also advice that did not work for us no matter how strongly people tried to assure us it worked for them. Like their assurance would magically make it work for us too.

Which I suppose is the problem with a lot of advice you get when you have a baby. When it doesn't work for you the people who suggested it act like you're doing it wrong. You're giving advice to a grown adult, though. With offspring of their own. If your advice doesn't work the first time, don't keep shoving it in their face like "but maybe you forgot ____!" No. They didn't forget. It just didn't work for them. It's not personal, it has nothing to do with you at all. Your advice wasn't bad, it just isn't for them. But I digress.

In short: if I try to starve him out, I'd effectively be forcing him to give up daytime naps entirely, ruining the quality of his night time sleep, and destroying a good routine all so they'll eat meatballs. Which seems silly. It's not an assumption, it's a fact of life I've dealt with on days he'd boycott eating on his own and essentially starve himself out: no sleep. As an aside, albeit a relevant one, not only would he sleep terribly but the next day he wouldn't eat new foods any better either.

So while a valid tactic for many, not a valid tactic for us -- or anyone with a light sleeper.

My current method before lunch is to offer him one thing I know he will eat and one new thing that I'd like him to eat. That way he at least isn't totally hungry at nap time. After lunch my method is to make him a single meal. If he refuses it for hours until bedtime, I give him something else just to fill him up for a good night's sleep. Because ultimately sleep is equally important to a growing baby (it is, after all, the only time they grow).

The only advice that has a 100% success rate is patience. It may just be a phase they're going through. It may be related to teething (maybe a certain texture or temperature hurts their gums). Eventually, failing all else, you will be able to reason with them.

In the meanwhile, if you are struggling to get your toddler to eat as many veggies, fruits, or proteins as they should, you can puree them and make them a smoothie to drink. Just for peace of mind. If that seems like too much work or you do not own a blender, you can use up jars of baby food you have left over, or buy new ones, and just stir them together with a spoon. It's really easy.

I know a big concern is probably that they aren't getting enough calories or nutrients. That's where the smoothies come in. It goes down like a yummy drink and doesn't fill them up too much so they'll still feel hungry enough to eat something real. I find if you mix fruit and veggies with a little juice and yogurt, they'll drink up a serving or two of any veggie no fuss. This way you know they are getting what they need, but not discouraging them from trying new things also.

For what it's worth, for those of you who also have picky eaters and haven't been able to find any advice that works, just know: I feel your pain. And as ever: it won't always be this way.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Motherhood Summed Up In Three Photos

Before pregnancy.
1 month of being a new mother.
1 year of being a new mother.

If you've just begun this journey, don't worry. The complete and utter exhaustion will end. You will be yourself again. You just have to survive The Gauntlet. I promise you will find the strength. After that, it's a walk through the clovers.

"A new parent will lose about 1055.6 hours of sleep in the first year of their child's life – Almost 44 days."