Mom Humor

Ode to The Boy

Here’s a bit of ha-ha from this amateur poet.

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Oh little boy, my love for you is off the charts.

Your smiles melt my heart, and your toots smell like farts.

You tug on that penis, like it might come apart,

And your drawings with my mascara are state of the art.

I love the special treasures that you hide in our laundry cart,

But get a weary feeling when I stick my hand in a moldy tart.

I cherish our special feedings, on the tampon aisle at the mart,

But when you bite me while you’re feeding, I always give a start, (or let out a fart.)

Although I’m unsure that mac and cheese is best served a la carte,

The kale and spinach I’ll sneak into your next meal, will surely provide a dietary restart.

You are quite michevious, but do not yet rival Bart.

Don’t tell other parents I say so, but I know you’re extra smart,

I know so, the doctor has shown me all the ‘smarty’ charts.

In your honor, I won’t end this poem till I use every word that rhymes with fart.

In regards to spreading smiles, laughs, and poop, you really do your part.

Oh my preciously radiant, tugging, and tooting prince, you’ll never lose my heart.

Dear little boy,

I love you.

Mom Humor

Dearest Child (Today was Awesome)

(The following is not a 100% true story, but based on reality, don’t tell anyone.)

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Dearest Child,

This morning, on this day of Not-The-Weekend, 2015, we will stay in our pajamas and eat whatever refined sugar treat we can find in the freezer.

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If you can find it on my tablet thingy, you can watch that episode of that animated show you’ve seen approximately 1,256 times, 15 more times.

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We will not engage in any preplanned physical activity, and say that we did.

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We will close the curtains, turn the rain sound machine on, cozy up under the covers, and pretend we can’t do anything productive because it’s raining.

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We will put two sticks of butter out to soften, in preparation of burning some baked goodness, then lose motivation and make something easy out of the crescent roll dough sitting in the fridge from Thanksgiving.

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I won’t gripe at you for yanking all my “perfectly ironed” clothing down from the closet, creating a pile, and using it as a makeshift mound of leaves; I’ll even join you.

(We were having too much fun to take a photo.) 

If one of our mommy-baby couple friends knocks on the door, stopping by for an impromptu visit, we’ll hide in the bathroom until we’re certain they’re gone, so they won’t see our chocolate stained faces, semi-stinky pajamas, and happily guilt laden faces.

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I’ll hide my phone and only pick it up if Nana calls more than three times.

Because “it’s raining outside” you can use the chalk on that spot of the carpet that was soaked in coffee, or something else, long ago, what’s a little chalk going to hurt?

If we do select to bathe today, we’ll fill the tub with ten times the amount of recommended bubble bath and will summon our impressive fleet of rubber duckies, and have rubber ducky wars. Then, we’ll put our pajamas back on, the dirty ones, if we can’t find any others.

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Above all else, we’ll lie when daddy gets home and tell him we’re only wearing our pajamas because we’ve had such a healthfully productive day we’re going to bed early. Luckily, you cannot yet intelligibly talk, so I’ll do the lying thank you.

Today was awesome, you’re pretty cool, let’s do it again sometime.

Love,

Mom

Mom Humor, Self Love

Finding Courage In Rejection

Rejected?! Noooooo!
Rejected?! Noooooo!

Today I was subtly punched in the gut by rejection. On the off chance that the giver of said metaphorical punch reads this blog, I’ll keep the nature of my rejection description vague; I offered my services in a given area, to someone I know quite well, and received an 100 word, 1 word answer, ‘no.’ I had to read the ‘no’ multiple times before the gut punch fully landed; like I said, it was subtle.

The title of this post, ‘Finding Courage In Rejection,’ is not indicative of how I felt when it first hit me that I was being rejected, I felt the opposite of courageous; I felt deflated. Because I can occasionally be an emotional extremist I also felt foolish, naïve, totally bummed, and dare I say stupid about ever “putting myself out there” in the first place. Mind you, this stupid-bummed-ness only lasted a few moments, because I’m a veteran of rejection.

Back to the rejection at hand, I received my ‘no,’ and commenced my seven stages of rejection grief; shock that my earnest attempt to provide a service had been shut down, denial (‘did they mean to send this rejection to me?’,) bargaining with myself in regards to whether I was going to submit myself to more constructive angst and ask the rejecter why they rejected me, guilt that I was so wrapped up in this rejection when there are much bigger real problems in the world, anger (directed at self,) depression (‘what’s the point, I guess I should just give up,) and acceptance of the fact that I had been rejected, it ‘is what it is,’ and I needed to move on.

But today, something interesting happened, a stage was added to the process that served to inflate my previously mentioned deflated gut, courage. The rejection made me feel courageous! My eventual logic behind this newfound courage was as follows, ‘If I can be brave, reach out, and again, “put myself out there,” with the very real possibility of being rejected, get rejected, and survive (without turning into a pile of binge reality TV watching melted ice cream,) I could likely move through anything, and live to blog about the tale.’

I felt courageous, and still feel courageous. In the past, although I’ve successfully licked my wounds, inflated my gut with some carbs, and climbed back on that bucking proverbial horse, I never felt stronger after rejection, I just felt, ‘eh okay.’ It would take me awhile to risk the chance of rejection again, and although I would stick my heels in the sand to avoid regression, I wasn’t progressing, I was stuck in the sand, and occasionally had my head stuck in it as well.

Because I like lists, and need something somewhat tangible to lean on when I inevitably get socked by rejection again, I’ve made a ‘How to Find Courage in Rejection’ list!

  1. Breathe.

I usually stop breathing for a few minutes after receiving a rejection, and although the dizzy high I experience from lack of oxygen can be fun, I can’t afford to lose those brain cells. Oh, and conscious breathing helps promote relaxation and clarity. Inhale for a count of 10, hold for 5, exhale to a count of 10. Rinse and repeat.

  1. Don’t Take it Personally.
Don't take it personally?! How?!
Don’t take it personally?! How?!

“The wise ones” would tell me “don’t take it personally,” when I experienced rejection in the past. That someone could utter such a preposterous notion that someone wasn’t telling you they thought you were incompetent, stupid, and of course ugly when they rejected you, was beyond me. Of course that’s what they meant, right?

Then one day, a wise woman asked, ‘How do you feel when you reject someone?’ Hmm, how do I feel? I certainly don’t think the person is incompetent, stupid, and ugly, with the exception of that one ex-boyfriend… kidding! She posed a whopper of a question. The times I’ve been on the giving end of the punch of rejection, I’m embarrassed to say I was thinking more of myself than the other person, even when the rejection was personal, versus professional. I wasn’t thinking much of the other person’s worth, capabilities, or appearance, I was thinking about what I needed in the moment, and if what they were offering served those immediate needs. Or maybe there were extenuating circumstances that caused the rejection. Point being, I’ve never rejected someone because of a flaw in who they were, or what they were capable of, I was just thinking of what I needed in my own life, in that instance; not personal.

Keep a ‘Yes’ List. Have you ever had someone spend 30 minutes telling you how amazing you are, and 1 minute telling you what you could do to be even more amazing? Then, you go home and obsess over how they spent 60 seconds giving you constructive criticism that your mind warped into, ‘You totally suck!’?

I have.

Why oh why is it so easy for us to harp on the negative and allow the positive to get sucked out our open window?

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To combat this crazy-making phenomenon in my own life, I created a ‘Yes’ list a few years ago. On this list I record every last tiny-itty-bitty-titty ‘yes’ I’ve ever received. The ‘yes’ could have been a verbal yes, a metaphorical yes in the form of an accomplishment, an internal yes, or any other ‘yes-esque’ occurrence that made me feel great. Now, when I receive a ‘no,’ a rejection, a dose of constructive criticism, I look at my ‘Yes’ list after following my two aforementioned steps. You know what? It works every time, it reminds me that for every ‘no,’ I’ve likely had about 346 ‘Oh Yeahs!’ It’s like taking a yummy prescription perspective pill.

Learn from it. Yeah yeah, it’s trite to say ‘learn from it,’ but what’s the point if you don’t learn from the rejection? If everything was always hunky-dory and we were having a constant stream of smoke blown up our bottom, or incessant smooches to the tush, we wouldn’t really be growing would be? We’d be stuck, and would probably have a sore butt. Rejection, ‘no,’ and bummer-ness happens, and if we’re open to it, it can be the greatest source of growth, insight, and my favorite, courage. When we’re able to find the lesson in rejection it’s transformed from a source of forlorn to positive reform. The thrill we receive from acceptance is wonderful, but short-lived. The growth, insight, and courage we can absorb from rejection can imbed itself within us for a lifetime. The cool thing is, the more rejection we receive, the more we grow, and the more we grow, the more acceptance we attract. And with more acceptance comes the opportunity for much more rejection, isn’t that great?!

What did I gain from the rejection that inspired this post? A desire to increase my qualifications in a given area, do more research, get more practice, and get creative in how I elicit more ‘YES!’

Join with me in simultaneously giving rejection a big middle finger and a squishy bear hug, because yeah it sucks, but can also make us strong like bull.

Don't reject my hug baby!
Don’t reject my hug baby!
Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love

Growing Through Crisis

Crisis: a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.

Yes, there is a set definition in the dictionary for the term ‘crisis,’ but it has varying meaning for each individual. For me, a crisis is when my honey, my partner, my boo, ruptures his spleen snowboarding, spends his birthday in the hospital, and our toddler spikes a 104.1 temperature. Crisis.

Calm before the storm.
Calm before the storm.

If you were to ask me the day before said crisis, how I thought I would react to said crisis, I would have come up with a PG way of saying, “I would lose my s***.” Hypothetically, I didn’t think I would do well during crisis, especially when the lives of my nearest and dearest were in jeopardy. But, I’m shocked and pleasantly surprised to report that I handled the s*** much better than expected, and most certainly did not lose it; the hypothetical s*** that is, there is some very real s*** awaiting me in toddler’s diaper.

Back to the handled crisis at hand, we had traveled to Mammoth to enjoy the barely skiable layer of snow that had accumulated on the mountain. What happens when non-winter temperatures hit minimal snow in a winter-sports recreational hotspot (pun intended)? Ice is formed, dangerous ice. As we were sliding down the ice, Eric hit an especially icy patch of ice and unintentionally performed numerous somersaults. I witnessed this, and being the sympathetic lady I am, sailed past thinking, “Eh, he’s fine, I’ve seen him do worse.” As I waited, and waited, and waited some more, at the bottom of the run, my growing anxiety consistently heightened, until I saw him gliding down the mountain, unassisted. ‘Oh good, he’s fine.’ If those were indeed my last words, I’d label them my ‘famous last words.’

He pulled up in front of me looking a little pale, but “okay,” then collapsed. Not okay.

This is when “hypothetically” I would have lost the poo, but I didn’t, my mind cleared, my legs moved and I found medical assistance. I then filled out paperwork, traveled in an ambulance, filled out paperwork, waited for the results of a CT scan and blood work, filled out paperwork, and waited. All the while, somehow maintaining a calm, cool, and collected demeanor. I held it together, did what needed to be done, went back to our temporary Mammoth home, put the baby to sleep, and cried. And cried.

My being, my collective mind, body, and spirit had held it together until it was okay to let it go.

Always light at the end of the...
Always light at the end of the…

Throughout the following week of more hospital, healing honey, and fever baby, I got through it by attempting to follow the wisdom below, that people much wiser than myself have passed on to me:

-Honor Basic Needs: Eat. Check. Hydrate. Check. Move Around. Check. Shower. Check. Keep baby alive. Check.

-Take Care of It: Don’t dwell on the fact that there is a ruptured organ in Eric, an Eric in the hospital, and a really warm and perturbed baby attached to my chest. Take care of it. Make sure Eric has what he needs, comfort the baby, feed us, and fill out paperwork. Move through it Bailey, move through it.

-Release It: These circumstances were scary and far from ordinary. I’m not just not a robot, but not someone who easily represses emotions, sometimes to my detriment, but that’s for another blog post. I allotted myself a private hour at the end of each evening to cry, journal, or eat some leftover Thanksgiving pie, something cathartic. The catharsis transformed me from a pressure cooker, to a frazzled-hair, fairly stable, ‘let’s take care of it’ doer.

-Grow From It: I’ll be trite, and remind everyone that there is something to be learned from everything, even crisis. I’ve had a hefty dose of ‘life is fragile’ and have soaked in the importance of slowing down and really savoring all the amazing people in my life, Ruptured Spleen Eric and Fever Baby Hudson in particular. Going through crisis reminded me that nothing matters nearly as much as the health and happiness of my big and little honey, and myself. “We” rarely include the word ‘myself’ when writing the previous sentence, but how can we give anything good when we haven’t replenished our own supply of good.

Take Away: Live, love, laugh, eat, breathe, do, smile, cry, release, shower, and take caution when sliding down ice.

Fresh out of the hospital and on the mend.
Fresh out of the hospital and on the mend.
Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love

Being Present: Learning to Listen, Forgive, and Give Thanks

Indicative of my daily state of being.
Indicative of my daily state of being.

Have you ever felt, at the end of a long, exhausting, and non-stop day that you accomplished nothing? Like you never stopped moving but have nothing to show for it? No sense of accomplishment? No warm and fuzzy ‘I’m such a great parent’ aura? No fat paycheck? Nothing but frazzled hair, brain, and body?

I’m embarrassed to admit, that until recently, I didn’t know that there were people who didn’t end every day feeling that way. Say what? I can end the day feeling happy, accomplished, energized, and only somewhat frazzled-haired? Tell me more.

After examining the pattern of my days I noticed that I rarely finished anything in one go, even diaper changes. Yes, unfinished diaper changes get messy. I would start a project, task, workout, meal, or bathroom visit, and would quickly be interrupted by a lovely baby, phone call, remembrance of another “more important” task, or something of that nature, and would shift gears, leaving the last activity half completed, and leaving half my mind with that activity, while moving on to the next. Starting to get a whiff of why I always ended my days be-frazzled?

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Even though we think we can effectively multi-task, and do two million and five things at once, our mind can really only focus on one thing at a time. So, if the mind is thinking about the directions to the doctor’s office, and the hands are working to wipe poop off a wiggling child’s everything, something has got to give.

One thing my mind was able to hold on to, regardless of what it might be thinking, was guilt. I felt guilty for the task I had left behind, I felt guilty for not being completely present for the task I was currently doing, and I felt guilt for feeling guilty. A fraction of my guilt stemmed from mistakenly labeling myself as a ‘P’ word (a procrastinator.)

During further examination of my patterns, I realized that I was not actually a ‘P’ word, but a ‘W’ word, (a waffler.) I was easily swayed by what others thought I should be doing, and couldn’t make up my own mind regarding what was actually important for me; and because I’m the mother of a small child, I also had to consider what was important for him.

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Solution? Okey dokey; I decided that I needed to start putting my phone on silent, saying ‘no’ when necessary, and forgiving myself for putting off tasks when it was in the name of spending time with my kiddo. In addition to those action steps, I also needed some metaphysical solutions in there, which came in the form of being present. Really really really being present in each activity I was partaking in. If I was writing, I was writing. If I needed to stop writing and shake the sillies out with my son, I was no longer thinking about writing, I was shaking my sillies out. When my son then occupied himself with something else, I could then shift my focus back to writing, because that was the main task of importance I had identified for the day, besides chillin’ with my mini homie of course. Guess what happened at the end of those days? I felt fulfilled! I felt accomplished! I had put aside phone calls, laundry, and other important tasks that I would get to tomorrow (on their set day,) but today I wrote, and played with my run-ddler (a toddler that runs.) Sticking to the tasks that I had identified as important was so empowering, it helped me remember that I am indeed the master of my own universe, regardless of how badly I occasionally want to pass on that responsibility to someone else.

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If you, like myself, have grown tired of un-bedazzled frazzled days, try out these action steps, sprinkled with some metaphysical:

Be Present. In whatever activity you’re engaged in, practice being present, being completely mindful of what you’re doing. I say ‘practice’ because this does not come easily (at least not for me!) it takes conscious intention to make mindfulness and being present a subconscious natural part of your experiences, every last one of them. When you’re in this activity, leave the other one behind; write it down on your special list if you need to, but leave it behind, you’ll come back to it, it will get done, but this is what you’re doing, right now.

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Forgive yourself. If you occasionally find yourself having to start-stop-stop-start something important, that’s okay. You’re not weak, uncommitted, or lazy, you’re human. As long as you can recommit and refocus yourself when the time is right, you’re doing great. It’s never a bad time to tickle your kiddo, kiss your partner, or hug your mom; the laundry can wait.

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Listen. Listen to yourself, your child, the person on the phone, the breeze in the trees, the persistent woodpecker sculpting your yard, listen. I’ve recently learned to listen and it’s been quite wonderful, less pressure on me to come up with something interesting to say, and more connection and respect with the speaker (or sound maker) whom I’m listening to. It’s near impossible to not be present when you’re actively listening, take a load off and listen.

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-Give Thanks. Appropriately, I’m writing this on Thanksgiving! What a perfect day to marinate on the value of giving thanks to and for everything and everyone, yes everything and everyone. Even the perceived muck that we inevitably deal with, usually on a regular basis, has a purpose (and not just the purpose of pissing us off.) Time spent honestly reflecting on past “mucky experiences” usually reveals a valuable lesson, or subsequent amazing outcome from the seemingly mucky muck. Add gratitude to your present moments, say thank you for the poop in your baby diapers, if they weren’t pooing, you’d have problems. Give thanks for the missed job opportunity, a better one is coming. Give thanks for the espresso maker that exploded coffee grounds all over your kitchen (ceiling included,) your kitchen will never be cleaner after the one hour clean up. True story. Adding active thankfulness to your tool belt of conscious turned subconscious daily states of being, you will notice a shift from worry, to being, well happy, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Happy Thanks-for-everything-and-everyone Day!

Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love

Smiling at Strangers: Learning to Connect

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My child has ceased being cool with me doing anything without him. I go to the bathroom, he follows, I walk two feet to pick up the phone, he follows, I walk to the changing table…. He runs the other way. I guess there is an exception to every rule.

Because I have a 2.5 foot shadow my ‘solo exercise’ sessions have become a thing of the past. My weights have become dusty and my ‘too shabby for public display’ comfortable workout garb have grown lonely stuck in the back of their drawer. My shadow and I have taken to the streets. The only way for mama to get her sweat on, without risking stepping on sneaky baby, is to strap baby into a moving harness, that is not located in a moving vehicle, he’s not into that.

Just kidding. Not our stroller.
Just kidding. Not our stroller.

When we first commenced our tandem jogs, I was fascinated by the colorful cast of characters we would pass on the way; fellow runners, pairs of chatty Cathys, recreational bicyclists, ‘I’m going to work’ bicyclists, ‘move out of my way’ bicyclists, solo-talkers, and other ladies with babies.

When you pass someone on foot you have to do something, even if that something is ‘awkwardly look away,’ you do something. In the beginning, I would base my something on the other person’s something. If it looked like they were going to smile, I would smile, if it looked like they were going to avoid eye contact, I would avoid eye contact, if it looked like they were trying to work out a toot, I would start working on my own toot.

He just tooted.
He just tooted.

As our daily (or almost daily) jog-walks continued, my courage to be the leader in the something grew. At first, my something was to smile at the passing people, pets, and critters. Some people returned the smile, some people ignored us, and one day someone actually said something! Now they were courageous, they were actually talking to strangers! I needed to get me some of that stranger-talking courage.

The next morning, equipped with my baby, and experimental courage, I headed to the bike path that was sure to be flush with stranger-talking opportunities. As we neared the first pair of ‘ladies who walk’ I mentally conjured up the novel greeting I would use, ‘Good morning.’ As they passed I smiled and said….’Morning.’ Morning? What happened to the ‘good?’ My morning blessing had transformed into a ‘hey look it’s morning’ statement. The women smiled and mumbled back their own ‘morning.’ Where have all the ‘goods’ gone? I needed to stave off the laziness of my greeting and add some serious blessing in there. My chance was approaching, an older gentleman walking some poodle mix; labri-doodle, mini-doodle, oodle-poodle, something like that. As he neared, I prepped the smile, and willed the ‘good’ to precede the ‘morning.’ Here he comes; (smile) ‘goooood morning!’ Yes, my first ‘good morning’ was a bit exaggerated, but I did it! He was so shocked by the full morning blessing he stopped and talked to us! The adorable toddler, who was likely delivering his full-lipped irresistible smile, may have had something to do with it as well. This kind man and his oodle-doodle stopped and asked how our morning was going. We inquired as to how his morning was shaping up and we learned that he was on his way to his toddler-grandson’s house. We happened to have a few extra toys in our overloaded stroller and were able to impart one on him for his grandson. This exchange took less than 60 seconds but when we were once again on our way, our way was much merrier. Wow! It feels grrrreat to make connections with strangers.

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After that I was a bike trail smiling-talking-greeting-blessing machine. We’ve also given away a few more toys (much to Hudson’s chagrin.) I would return from our runs feeling full, full of love, joy, and usually pee. I also noticed that Hudson had ceased to get pissed off half way through our jogs, it seems that the excitement of the varying interactions had worked to distract him from the fact that he was not able to sit and dig in the mud bordering the trail.

My resolve to be ‘little miss chipper lady with baby’ was occasionally tested when we would pass an ‘ignorer,’ but hey, maybe they were having a bad day. Although my ego would take a little bruising every time someone looked away as I would let out my over annunciated ‘Hi, good morning,’ I finally realized that it wasn’t personal. Or was it? No, I don’t think it was. Even if that person was, for some reason, peeved at me for smiling and speaking to them, knew that I was just sending them some love, and I feel good about that.

One of our first runs! Breastfeeding break.
One of our first runs! Breastfeeding break.

These morning outings became my mediation on the goodness of humankind. I felt so much more connected to myself, my baby, and everyone else after getting over my shy ego, and becoming a connected being. This simple act of acknowledging other people on our runs spilled over into other parts of my life; it now takes me three hours to go grocery shopping because I stop smile, chat, and listen to my fellow shoppers (even if they’re not talking to me, eavesdropping can be highly entertaining.)

My Get Over Myself Checklist (Because every blog post needs a checklist right?)

-Meditate. Set a timer and meditate for 5 minutes every morning, clearing out any gunk of negativity that may prevent me from sending a bit more love out there.

-Smile. Smile at everyone, even that person that gave me the stink eye, smile even bigger at them. Smile at myself in the mirror, smile at my baby, even when he’s griping at me about my inability to properly toast toast (it’s always too crispy!)

-Let it go. If I’m thrown some negative energy, not so nice words, or a non-smile, I need to let it go. I’m still working on this one, but the times I am able to let negativity wick off me, I feel so much lighter. Why take on the weight of the negativity of others? That doesn’t serve them and it most certainly does not serve me. Let it go, because what’s the point of holding on to it?

-Listen. I’ve felt so much more connected to everyone and everything since I’ve begun to practice active listening. I never realized how vocal the crows outside out bedroom window were! I was never really listening. I never realized how interesting my friends and family are. I was always thinking about what was going to say. I never realized how close my little 17-month-old love bug was to being a full-blown ‘talker.’ I was always talking back to him. Until now, I’m listening! Come and talk to me.

-Love. When it doubt, spread the love. When not in doubt, spread the love.

Here’s to making connections! (Even with grumpy people.)

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Mom Humor, Self Love, Uncategorized

Adult Conversation?

This is the image that would pop into my head when I would try to think of conversation topics….
This is the image that would pop into my head when I would try to think of conversation topics….

I was a bit distressed last weekend when I came to the realization that I had seemingly lost the ability to have non-work related adult conversation. If I was not speaking with a fellow parent who was well versed in the art of standing diaper changes, the importance of poo color and consistency or the latest and “greatest” sleep training technique, I was at a loss for words. I would just stand there with the following possible conversation topics popping up in my mom brain:

‘So last night Hudson did the cutest…’ (Nope, that’s parent related.)

‘Hudson learned how to poo outside.’ (Nope, parent related, and gross to most.)

‘My boobs have been leaking SO much lately.’ (Possibly intriguing to some, but TMI.)

So I was stuck with, ‘Wow, this 75 degree weather is really something.’ The weather, I honestly talked about the weather, to more than one person at this ‘adult conversation’ shindig. Luckily, it began to rain for the first time in nine months at said party, so the topic of the weather was surprisingly somewhat interesting. But still, the weather? Really?

I felt lost. I used to thrive at parties, floating around from person to person, dropping a bit of “wit,” and never weather, wherever I went. What happened? My mind had been overtaken with thoughts of baby sign language, what will happen when baby first eats peanuts, and how to refill the baking soda “de-stink-ifier” in the diaper pail.

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As I snuck away to the bathroom to mull over my newfound inability to engage in anything but G-rated talk, the following suggestions dropped in on me.

If in doubt ask them about themselves:

Seems like a no brainer, but I used to be so nervous of the dreaded lull in a conversation that I would consistently try to summon anecdotes from own life, to share with my fellow conversationalist, in the fear that they would stop talking, and I would have to say something interesting.

Now, I ask them about themselves and then fulfill my side of the conversation by saying….

‘Tell me more.’

‘Oh wow that’s really interesting, tell me more.’

‘I didn’t know that, tell me more.’

You get the idea. Keep them talking. People like to share. When I first began my ‘tell me more’ing it felt a bit forced, but after awhile, the information that would flow after that simple request was pretty fascinating. I actually began to learn quite a bit about people I thought I knew pretty well. It’s amazing what I learned when I cured myself of the need to babble on.

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My primary fellow conversationalist.

Listen (actually listen):

This piggybacks on what I just said, but were you listening? (wink wink) There’s something so powerful in the “simple” act of listening; you’re fostering encouragement, respect, and camaraderie with the person speaking. Back in the days of desperately needing to know what I was going to say after that person ceased talking, I would only listen to enough of what they were saying to devise my response; I wasn’t actively listening. I would leave conversations feeling like I had achieved a surface level connection, but didn’t have a deeper understanding of that person and what they had been trying to share. When I closed my mouth and opened my ears, a beautifully enriching world opened up; I was able to tune in to the nuances of what was being said, the emotions behind the words, and the information that was being conveyed. My ego used to always say. ‘Yeah yeah I already know what you’re saying, how should I respond?’ But now, I was able to learn all the things I used to think I already knew, and was able to use some of these gems of knowledge to spur on future adult conversation.

Avoid talking in high-pitched Goo-Goo-Gah-Gag voice:

I have honestly found myself, numerous times, since giving birth, slipping in a high pitched, ‘Ohhh how exciting,’ ‘Isn’t that just precious,’ or ‘Gooood job’ to a conversation with an adult. Luckily, none of the adult recipients of my high-pitched cooing threw me a ‘lady you’re crazy’ look, but I witnessed myself (via a home video) delivering an ‘Ohhh you look so cute!’ to a woman at my son’s birthday party, it was not cute. I’ve since been working on keeping the high-pitch on the down low, for adults and my baby, because he does give me a ‘lady you’re crazy look’ when I high-pitch talk him.

There's the look.
There’s the look.

Come equipped with a few adult convo topics:

It’s hard to talk about “big kid” stuff when all you read is from the ‘Parenting’ section, all you watch is from ‘Netflix Kids,’ and all you hear is Raffi. It’s no wonder I had nothing ‘adultlike’ to discuss. I have since begun reading a book on Biocentrism (that is far above my head but gives me enough ammo to get someone other than me talking,) watched a salacious R-rated movie that most childless adults have seen, and went to a concert (that served alcohol! And didn’t have Baby Beluga on the set list!)

Mixing up my interests to include some topics that aren’t discussed in my ‘Mommy and Me’ class has balanced out my brain (at least a little bit,) and renewed my faith in my ability to read non-board books that are longer than ten pages.

Don’t be Afraid to Throw Some ‘Baby’ in the Mix:

Hi, my name is Bailey and I’m a mom. I’m not only a mom, but mommyhood is a huge part of who I am. Preventing any baby-related sentences from exiting my mouth is denying my authentic self to shine through. I’m a parent and I own that. Are you a parent? Go ahead and own it. It doesn’t have to define you, but there’s no denying that it’s a piece of you and likely a very significant piece. Childless friends aren’t as anti-baby talk as we may think; some of them may be considering signing up for a lifetime membership in the ‘with child’ club, be genuinely interested in the foreign ins and outs of raising a tiny human, or may find the story of baby’s latest blowout disgustingly fascinating, maybe.

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I found that there was no need to only let my parenting flag fly while in the presence of real live adults, but I’ll certainly let it fly amongst my variety of other flags.

I’ve been attempting to put the ‘above-mentioned’ to practice, and while I still drop the occasional, ‘Isn’t it nice out,’ or ‘Wow, my baby bit my boob SO hard last night,’ I’ve been feeling more at ease with conversing with people who are able to stay out past midnight, keep breakable items in their home, and don’t have Curious George and Mickey Mouse Playhouse on their Netflix queue (or do they?)

Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Traveling to Costa Rica with a Baby (Part 456, just kidding, Part 6) : Toucans, Tree Frogs, Giant Ants, Oh My!

We “should have” turned back when I almost walked into the spider who was so big he told me we should turn back, but there’s no adventure in turning back.

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We were back at The Hill, or ‘The Slippery Hill of Doom.’ But today, instead of traveling up The Hill we were going to travel up the creek that lay at the base of it, without a paddle.

With my stocky offspring securely strapped to my chest, I began to gingerly wade my way up the creek, attempting to keep up with my fellow creek waders (who weren’t wearing a diaper wearing accessory on their chest.)

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As we meandered our way through the water, up, in, out and through the jungle banks, and across deceivingly slippery boulders, items from my mental bucket list began to slough away:

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  • Earn the ‘I’ve gone on an off-the-beaten-path Costa Rican waterfall hike’ bragging right.
  • Carry twenty-two pounds of boob sucking baby through the jungle, without serious injury to my back, or boobs.

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  • Take 4,567 “artsy” nature photos without dropping my new and case-less flimsy iPhone in the water.

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  • Witness the flight of Toucan Sam, free from the constrains of the cereal box.
  • And five, swim in a Costa Rican waterfall, and explore the surrounding banks without being poisoned by a deceivingly cute frog.

Before I reached number five on the bucket list, number one on my ‘Anti-Bucket-List’ occurred:

  • Lose mom, dad, and aunt in the Costa Rican jungle.

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As our group of travelers trickled into the waterfall oasis, it soon became apparent that the oldest, wisest, and best smelling members of our group were not in the trickle. Oh (not so) great.

After a worrisome amount of hours (just kidding, ‘minutes’) ticked by, I rallied the young strapping men in our group to go back and retrieve the lost travelers. The next sluggish twenty or so minutes I spent developing the nervous habit of nail biting, and perfecting my nervous habit of ‘worst case scenario’ obsessing.

As the search and rescue team returned, their faces showed signs of stress, but not of dread, all was good; our three stray travelers were alive and well, albeit understandably irked that we had accidentally left them behind.

Although ‘The Three’ did not encounter any jaguars, rabid monkeys, or cute frogs, they did have a taste (or should I say ‘give a taste’) of the local flesh-eating ants. As my mom had sat contemplating her state of potential peril, a curious ant had traveled up her leg; when she felt the little prick give her a prick, she reached down to remove said prick and witnessed the little flesh eater latched on to her leg. More effort than would be expected was exerted and the ant was removed, leaving a trail of blood, and a tiny chunk of missing skin in his wake. To my mother this was the epitome of ‘adding insult to injury,’ and she was “over it.” Luckily, the knights in dirty board shorts arrived shortly thereafter, and guided the bloody travelers back to our nomadic tribe.

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As the band of heroic dirty board short wearers returned, they turned their attention back to the waterfall, and commenced determining the most reckless waterfall related activity they could partake in. It didn’t take much time for them to decide that the “best idea” would be to climb up the wet cliff face, and jump off the top of the slippery cliff into the murky waters below. Usually, this activity wouldn’t alarm me, because I usually have cliff jumping ignorance on my side, but this time, we had an experienced guide with us. He looked on nervously as they ascended the cliff and verbally noted the fact that in twenty years of living in this particular region of Costa Rican he had never seen anyone jump off this waterfall. Never. Not even the locals. Never ever. Oh great.

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Besides fretting about the physical safety of the jumpers, I also grew concerned of our group’s ability to cart the injured soldiers the mile back down the creek if/when someone cracked a head open. I could barely handle twenty-two pounds of baby, 160 pounds of sweaty teenager was not going to happen.

The jumpy countenance of our guide was not doing much to mollify my fears.

True to form, ‘father of my child’ Eric decided he would be the first to jump off, “to make sure it was safe.” I held my breathe, closed my eyes, and pleaded with the universe to allow his giddy-with-exhilaration face to pop out of the water, preferably without a gaping head wound. My pleading was answered and pop up he did. The moment he was out of the water and re-scaling the cliff, my brother made the leap. This reckless rotation continued for another thirty minutes or so before I had to put a stop the foolhardiness, in fear that my heart might explode with anxiety. They were not as inclined as the universe was to honor my pleading, but my persistence persisted and they ceased to leap.

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As our group, now high on adrenaline, journeyed back to our vehicles, Mr. Big Spider let out a smug, ‘I told you so.’ Jokes on you spider, we just had an adventure worthy of a blog post.

Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love, Uncategorized

Authentically Inauthentic: Discovering Your Authentic Self

‘Authentic:’ genuine, real, bona fide, true, valid, legitimate.

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I used to loathe the sound of my recorded voice, wait, no, I cringed at the sound of my voice on a voicemail, video, recording, or anything else that delivered me a harsh dose of, ‘Is that what I sound like?’ I was so apt to cringe at my voice replayed to me because I felt like it lacked authenticity. Now, when I was leaving said voicemail, or goofy ‘Hudson’s first outside poo poo!’ video commentary, I felt very authentic, I was being true to my eccentric, imperfect, cheesy self, so why was I interpreting myself as so authentically inauthentic?

Me thinks this stemmed from the identify crisis that comes along with becoming a mamasita; or at least the identity crisis I experienced after giving birth to a human. I went from being that lady, to this mama, who now encompasses that lady. Ahh! Who am I? And who is that high-pitched goo goo gag gag lady on that video? Me. It’s me. Hello, my name is Bailey, and I am a high-pitched baby talk addict, please help me.

As irritating as I found that voice on the recording, I’ve come to terms with the fact that that’s me, at least a part of ‘me.’ The clear and concise (low toned) voice recording I left on my client’s voicemail was also me, at least a version of me. The odd voice I’m using as I type this sentence, (which is a muddled mix of a bad Scottish, Southern, and Baby accent,) to entertain my antsy toddler, is also a version of myself, albeit one I attempt to keep hidden behind closed doors. I’m extremely grateful that I have multiple versions to draw from, because if Scottish-Southern-Baby was my only option, I would probably be unemployed with a very odd (yet likely very entertaining,) group of friends.

I’m starting to come to the realization that we all (more than likely) have many versions of ourselves, and are able to tap in to that elusive ‘authenticity’ when all our versions bloom from our core principles. Okay, well that sounds good, but how do we tap into our authentic core? I’m still working that out, and will likely continue to attempt to work that out for many lifetimes; but, for now, here are a few of the first bricks I’ve laid out in my yellow brick road to authentic-core-self-discovery, that likely ends in a place much more bizarre than Emerald City.

Free-Flow Writing

Free-flow writing is the most effective free-therapy I’ve ever stumbled across. There is something profoundly liberating about scribbling out your wild (and sometimes mundane) thoughts as they meander (and sometimes steamroll) through the mind. Another beautifully messy aspect of free-flow writing is that you’re not turning it in for a grade, or perusal from an editor, so you can write as illegibly as you would like. My free-flow handwriting is frightening, and I love it, no one will be able to decipher the peculiar outward expression of my inner mind, even if they wanted to.

When you’re free to let it all flow, without any judgment, you’re unencumbered, independent, on the loose; you’re capable of tapping into your authentic core. I’ve “received” the answers to some real zingers while free-flow writing, it’s as if the fairly wise creature I (for some reason) keep caged up within me, is able to come out and play, while laying some wisdom on me in the process. My logic was, the more I free-flow write, the more comfortable this wise free-flow creature will feel in venturing forth; I named my creature (who has no gender,) ‘Authentic.’

How To: Grab a notebook, some paper, a free spot on the wall, or any other writable surface, a writing utensil, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now, write. Don’t pause even for a moment to consider what to write, and don’t pause, even for a moment, to look back, analyze, or judge anything that you’ve written. Let it all out; be free. Even if you just write, ‘I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write,’ for the first 5 minutes, you’re doing great, you’re tuning in to you.

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One lovely afternoon, when my lovely toddler, was taking a lovely abnormally long nap, I had time to spare after my 30 minutes of free-flow writing. I was feeling footloose and fancy-free and decided to do something terrifyingly raw, continue writing, but write a ‘self-description’ of myself. Who does my creature ‘Authentic,’ think I am? I dove in, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and cried at little. Because I knew no one else was looking, I told myself what I really thought of myself. Some of it was good, some of it was questionable, and a lot of it was quite crude; but I sensed that it was authentic, and it felt AH-mazing.

How To: Grab your writing surface, utensil, and trusty timer (set for 15 minutes,) and GO! Much like the free-flow writing, you’re not analyzing or judging what you’re writing, you’re just writing; the only difference is that you have a set topic, ‘you.’

Being Naked

(In an attempt to keep this post PG, I left out the photo intended for this paragraph.)

Nothing like the naked body to give you a solid dose of authenticity. With the exception of my forgotten naked streak, during my toddler years, I used to have the desire to wear a bathing suit while showering (I didn’t, but I wanted to,) because I was so uncomfortable with my true self; mind, body, and spirit. My naked body didn’t have any protection; it was raw, exposed, and scared. As I slowly peeled back the layers (literally and figuratively,) on my journey to authenticity, I found it to be quite liberating to just be naked every once in awhile. People at the grocery store looked at me differently, but at least I was being authentic, just kidding 😉 When you’re naked, you’re no one but ‘you,’ you’re not wearing the ‘hippie’ skirt, ‘girl next door’ cut offs, ‘professional’ blazer, ‘stoner’ hemp stuff, or ‘sex kitten’ strip of uncomfortable lace, you’re just ‘you.’ When you partake in enough nakedness, besides the benefit of honing in on your authenticity, you also begin to develop a true reverence for your body; cellulite, full thighs, stretch marks and all; which is like a thick layer of cream cheese icing on your authentic cake.

How To: Take off your clothes. And no, you can’t leave your socks and underwear on. Hair ties are okay. Oh, and don’t forgot to put on your invisible cloak of self-love.

Watching and/or Listening to Your Recorded Self

SO HARD FOR ME TO DO. As you may have gathered from my opening paragraphs, I don’t like listening to my own voice. So, I figured the best way for me to get over this was to lock myself in a dark room, and play my most irritating voicemail on loop. Because I’m not always one to choose the “best way,” I instead opted for sitting in my living room, and spending 10 minutes, once a week, listening to these voicemails, watching home videos, or recording myself while I talked to Hudson, and then playing it back. My ego took quite a beating the first few times I subjected myself to this torture, but then, the proverbial light at the end of the voicemail began to shine through, and I actually developed a kind-of-sort-of healthy respect for my voice. My ego also shrunk a considerable amount, which was quite nice, as it had been growing fairly weighty and unmanageable. Be gone heavy ego. This self-torture helped me realize that that voice, along with its’ various versions, was me, authentically. It may still be a bit irritating to me, and maybe a few other people, but hey, that’s okay.

How-To: Gather up some home videos, and/or other items that have the honor of containing your voice, countenance, or both, and then listen and/or watch them, multiple times if possible. Go into the experience with an open mind and heart, and above all, compassion. You may love what you hear/see, or you may get a bit queasy, but move through it, you can do it.

Meditating

I’m still trying to figure how to meditate; our society doesn’t quite foster an environment of stillness. Yet every meditation attempt I’ve made has been deliciously fruitful, even if I’m not always doing it “right.” For me, the main purpose of meditation has been to connect with my consciousness, and the universal now. The Earth does not shift every time I meditate, but my awareness, and appreciation for, well, everything, does shift every time I meditate. Meditation forces me to stop being ‘mom,’ or ‘dishwasher,’ or ‘daughter,’ or ‘short order cook,’ or even ‘female,’ and throws me into being me, just me. It’s scary, and amazing.

How To: Take care of your basic needs (make sure you’re fed, watered, free of a full bladder, and not running from a lion,) and sit in a quiet and comfortable space. I prefer to mediate in a cool environment, with low lighting, and loose comfortable clothing, but a deep state of meditation is possible anywhere, all you need is your mind. Once you’ve made it to your special physical space, close your eyes and allow yourself to travel to your special internal space. In the beginning, to avoid looking at the clock every 27 seconds, I found it helpful to set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. As you become more comfortable in your practice, try upping your time. May the internal peace be with you!

Staring Contest with Yourself

If I look at myself in the mirror long enough, I start to hallucinate, really. Sometimes my nose grows, my hair gets fuzzy, my eyes bug out, my skin pales, or darkens; weird stuff happens. Who am I? And who is that strange lady staring back at me? It is wonderfully disconcerting to have a staring contest with yourself. Ever heard that ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul?’ You’ll believe it after losing a staring contest with yourself. Looking into your own eyes can be so uncomfortable because you’re exposing your soul; your soul becomes naked when it’s being examined by itself, and it prefers to wear a bathing suit in the shower. Staring at, and into, yourself, is a sure way to feel uncomfortably authentic, until you don’t feel uncomfortable anymore. I usually experience the passing of the ‘uncomfortable’ like a warm wave of acceptance and love washing over me. I’m standing there, feeling odd staring at myself, wondering who is going to blink first, wanting to look away, and then suddenly the wave hits, and it’s all good.

How To: If you have some makeup on, wash your face. If you don’t have any makeup on, wash your face, it’s refreshing. Now, find a clean mirror, turn on the light, find your eyes, and stare into them until you no longer feel uncomfortable.

To have a cosmically cool moment with a loved them, engage them in a staring contest; and you can’t laugh 😉

Free-Flow Writing

Yes, I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s so great it’s worth repeating. Go do some free flow writing.

I’m currently in the process of discovering and rediscovering my authentic self and would love to hear how you learned (or are learning) to love your voice emanating from the speakerphone. At this moment, I have an authentic desire for my son to fall asleep so I can enjoy the pint of vegan mint chip “ice cream” waiting for me in the freezer. Here’s wishing you an abundance of happy authentic-core-self-discovery!

Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love

Releasing Mother’s (and Other) Guilt with Forgiveness

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I feel emotions physically. If I’m verbally insulted, I feel like I’ve been shoved in the chest. When I fail, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the butt. If I make a mistake (and I make many,) I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. But, the worst of them all, is walking away from my screaming child as I go to do any “grown up” activity that is too difficult to accomplish with a toddler in tow; when this occurs I literally feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. As I frantically text the babysitter, moments after I say my farewell, as my guilt laden tears plop on my phone, I quickly receive a photo of my smiling tot, who was shrieking those heart wrenching wails just thirty seconds prior. He’s fine; but me?I’m a teary guilt laden mess, with an aching heart.

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The more I subjected myself to the above mentioned scenario, the easier it became to ‘cut the cord’ for a few hours, and the wails were downgraded from ‘Code Red Heart Wrenchers,’ to ‘Code Yellow Heart Tuggers.’ A tug is much less painful than a wrench.

Regardless of the severity of my emotionally charged physical pangs of guilt, I always questioned whether or not I was making a mistake, partaking in whatever “grown up” activity required I leave my offspring behind that day. The addition of the possible ‘mistake’ served to add a gut punch to my heart wrench.

Because I’m a modern day mama who has loaded way too many awesome goodies on my plate, I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes; parenting mistakes, occupational mistakes, relationship mistakes, birth control mistakes (kidding! hopefully.) The mistakes are bountiful, and they too come with wrenching and tugging.

In the past, when these mistakes have occurred, I’ve either a) Frantically acted to do anything possible to rectify the mistake as soon as possible, ASAP, go go go, now now now. Or, b) Stuck my head in the sand and willed myself to forget about the problem until “tomorrow.” This usually consisted of a big brownie and a dose of too much television after I had coaxed my mistake-distracting-small-diaper-wearing-human to sleep; only because we had not yet set up our sand box.

 

The problem with “solution” a) was that so many stress hormones were released in my body as I panicked through my hurried problem solving, that it took hours after the problem was resolved for me to recover my equilibrium.

The problem with “solution” b) was that my butt would get sunburned, and my guilt and need to rectify my mistake would still be there tomorrow.

These were not solutions. Because I’m as far from perfect as polar bears are from Texas (with the exception of zoos,) all my non-perfect mistakes cast me into an almost constant state of sunburned butt panic. Because the aloe vera and chill pills began to get expensive, I had to find a better answer.

Enter, c) Forgiveness and reconciliation.

When a big ole perfectly un-perfect mistake would make itself known, I began to methodically go through the following steps:

1.) Take a deep breathe. Set an alarm for three minutes and focus on nothing but breathing. This quick yet effective meditation would balance me, and prevent me from getting sucked into a nauseating tailspin. Finding this state of calm would allow me to logically analyze my mistake, and resulting problem, without convincing myself that the world would surely end because I accidentally sent that photo of my naked baby with a diaper on his head to a client.

2.) Ask, ‘Is there a logical action I can take to resolve this problem?’ ‘When is an appropriate time to act to resolve this problem?’ Are there steps that can be done to resolve the problem? If so, is this an appropriate time to act? For example, in the case of my accidental email to a client, I noticed my snafu at 1am, not an appropriate time to call or email a client. Because I wasn’t in a glazed-eye crazy ‘I must act now’ state, I wrote myself a note to call the client in the morning, and went to sleep.

Mistakes and resulting problems have varying degrees of complexity, so my advice to myself (and you, if you’re looking for advice,) is to write out a plan, which covers the steps that need to be taken to resolve your problem, and when these steps should be completed. Make a commitment to yourself to act on these steps when planned. The gut wrench of a mistake is child’s play compared to the severity of a delayed-mistake-resolution gut wrench. Center yourself, create a logical plan for resolving the mistake (if one is possible,) and do it. I’ll be trite and say, ‘Just do it.’ 

3.) If there are no steps that can be taken to resolve the mistake, what can I do to release the problem, and move on? Sometimes I/we make mistakes that only screw over one person, me/ourselves. Or, sometimes we make mistakes that have no problem-solving steps that can be taken. In these situations, we definitely want to take stock of where we went wrong, determine what we could have done differently, and file it in our mental ‘Next Time, I’ll do a, b, and f Differently’ section. Beyond “learning our lesson,” in the case of the solo-screw-up, or no problem-solving-steps-slip-up, where there is no one to apologize to, or take to the hospital, we just have to make peace with ourselves, which leads me to…..

4.) Forgive. Whether or not I had to take action to resolve a mistake, or just had to learn my lesson from my solo-screw-over, I often had lingering guilt and personal resentment about my (usually not so massive) MASSIVE mistake. Even after filing away my ‘lesson,’ or receiving the ‘It’s no big deal! You’re baby is adorable and REALLY chubby’ email from the client, I would still feel guilt for not being ‘on top of it,’ ‘ahead of the game,’ or dare I say it, “perfect.” Something had to give, so I decided to forgive.

The non-naked version.
The non-naked version.

When I first set out on learning how to forgive myself, I was convinced it would be a long tough trail of peaks and valleys, taking months of dedication to learn the ‘art of forgiveness.’ But, what I learned, after a good run, and a ‘jolt-from-the-universe Ah-ha! moment,’ was that the ability to forgive was just a choice, just like the choice to me happy. I can be happy or not be happy; I can forgive myself or not forgive myself. It’s all my choice; no one else will make the decision for me. I choose to forgive. I make this decision on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis; it’s not always easy, but it’s always liberating. Oh, and if you have the inclination to blame someone else for the mistake, forgive them too.

When I first began this practice, I had this list typed up (or down) in my phone, and I would immediately pull it up before acting on an impulse, crying, or allowing my inner-voice to tongue lash me. At this point, after making 134,789 plus mistakes, I pretty much have it memorized, but still keep it handy. If it strikes a chord with you, write it down, try it out, and let me know how it works for you.

If you have your own tips, tricks, and techniques for working through mistakes, and forgiveness, please share them with them, I need all the help I can get.

can be taken to resolve the mistake, what can I do        to release the problem, and move on? 4.) Forgive. Forgive. Just do it.

Mom Humor, Self Love, Uncategorized

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 5: Slap in the Face from the Mother of Nature

“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

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We were not awakened by the lapping waves from the nearby ocean, no; we were awakened by a vicious parrot brawl at 5:30am. “If you wake up my baby you stupid f***in parrots, I will f*** **** **** *****, shut the heck up!” Yes, they’re beautiful, but beauty does not excuse pure obnoxiousness. When the screeching was reduced to mild chirping, I was able to soak in the ‘oh yeah, this is awesome.’ Most of the walls in the rooms of our new jungle house were composed of wooden lattice and screens, to prevent the local diverse creatures from making themselves our bedfellows. These “walls” allowed us to see the vegetation surrounding us and feel the “cool” breeze.

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Because Hudson was able to sleep through the bird riots I decided to sneak out and check out our new digs, without the need to walk hunched over to prevent a curious toddler from eating a crab. The house and surrounding landscape had an intense ‘Jurassic Park-esque’ feel. The huge lizards ran like tiny raptors and the howling monkeys in the distance made me half expect long-neck-riding demons to come tromping through the jungle.

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After capturing an over abundance of still-life photos, I wandered back to the house to find Luis and his team laying out a table of lush fresh fruit, homemade toast, eggs, Gallo Pinto, and coffee; coffee, give me coffee, por favor. I sat for a moment enjoying the coffee and “jungle silence,” and pondered the miraculous fact that Hudson was still asleep. Oh wait, is that a shrieking monkey or my ‘not asleep’ baby, right on cue Hudson.

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After our eleven person troop of travelers cleared all food from the table, the intrepid surfers rallied for a surf excursion. Apparently, the three-foot shore break in front of our house wasn’t enough for them. We donned our Costa Rican uniforms, composed of brightly hued bathing suits, and loaded in our rental cars. The first half hour on the heavily pot-holed road went “smoothly,” until we came to The Hill. The Hill rose up from a “criver” (a river/ creek,) and was not only incredibly steep but muddy, and strewn with some serious rifts. Could our flimsy non-four-wheel-drive sedan make it? The SUV rental car went first, created some cringe worthy spinning tire clamoring, but made it.

Us next.

Eric: “I got it, no problem, piece of cake.” (Infamous last words.)

Me:” I will not be in this car, with our baby, when this car goes up, then down, the hill of slippery peril.”

Conveniently, there was a footbridge over the criver for nervous mothers. As I walked sideways across the bridge, making sure my back was turned to Eric’s brazen ascent up the hill, in the rental car we weren’t “supposed to” wreck, or leave evidence of off-roading on, I heard clanging, banging, rock crunching, and then a car successfully moving up the hill. It was a miracle, but oh wait, we would have to go down the hill on the trip back.

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We pot-holed our way the remaining distance to the surfer’s paradise of Pan Dulce; unfortunately for me, there was no sweet bread hanging from the palms, as the name so inaccurately implies. As our surfers waxed on and waxed, and drank the obligatory pre-surf beer, (at least those over 21,) I perused the beach for a “baby safe” hangout. I use the term ‘beach’ loosely and place quotation marks around ‘baby safe’ because the waves were not lapping/crashing onto a sandy shore, no; it was more like a giant-bruise-producing slab of rock. But, that of course did not stop us, and we picked our way into the ocean, baby and all.

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It looks deceivingly sandy. Under that water is pure rock.

Have you ever heard the term ‘renegade wave?’ I have. Therefore, I should have known better than to take my baby into a seemingly calm shore break I was wholly unfamiliar with. As soon as we reached under-boob level in the deceivingly tranquil waters, I spotted it, the renegade wave forming. I quickly calculated my chances of reaching the shore before the looming mass of water crashed atop us, but determined the effort would be futile. I then quickly calculated my chances of being able to dive under the wave while holding my 12 month old. He would hold his breathe, but the strong force of the rushing water could likely prove to be too much for his little body. Last ditch option, rush towards the wave in an attempt to jump over it before it began its foreboding crest. I rushed towards the wave gripping my child with every last iota of strength and lunged up and out of the water. We were too late, the wave had begun its crest and Mother Nature harshly slapped us in the face. But, we made it through, and were met with another renegade wave! Just kidding. After our harrowing adventure, I was water logged, and baby was stunned into silence. We high-tailed it out of the unpredictable surf and found some sandy turf, well out of reach of the grasping waves.

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After licking our wounds, my mom decided she would like to go for a dip, and because Hudson had long forgotten about our five-minutes-ago trauma, he of course decided that he must go with her. The surf had mellowed considerably and we were sure there was no further chance of a slap-stunner wave….

As soon as they made it to the exact same spot I had met my aquatic match, another rebel wave popped up. Not kidding. Before I had the chance to warn my never-gets-her-hair-wet mother they were receiving another fully submerged slap in the face. Baby wasn’t stunned into silence this time, he was pissed, and he let it be known. That was the last time mom got her hair wet in Costa Rica.

To make use of these bitchy waves, I decided to grab a boogey board, and the baby, and attempt to make the waves work for me. Just kidding, about the baby part. I dove out into the tepid abyss, and floated, and floated, and floated. The car rental Gods must have been pissed that we took the cars up The Hill because the waves knew what we wanted, and were consistently providing us with the opposite; hopefully the surfers were having better luck around the bend.

I decided to make a coconut cocktail out of the salty lemons being served up, and became one with the tranquil float. Our pre-teen travel companion then joined me in the watery float and we commenced to have a beautifully spiritual discussion about past lives, hypnotherapy, the power of the mind, and iPads; that’s right, we’re deep.

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As the menacing thunder-heads rolled towards us, and the howler monkeys (right on cue) began wailing, we spied our luckily-not-too-intrepid group of surfers picking their way along the rocky coast back to the awaiting muddy vehicles. We all had the same unspoken thought in the back of our minds; ‘Get to The Hill, before it becomes a wall of sliding sludge.’

We piled into the mildew mired vehicles and slogged our way back to the The Hill. Our luck had fortuitously shifted and the clouds had not yet unleashed their watery fury on The Hill. We “gracefully” slid down hill, through the criver, and up the much less daunting other side of the hill, and continued our meander down the pot-holed path. Soon after, as we stopped so I could tinkle/urinate on the side of the road, an echoing cacophony of monkey moans reached my ears, as the fat drops of downpour soaked my exposed tushy. Apparently, the car rental Gods don’t appreciate “indecent” exposure.

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Coming Soon: ‘The Tale of the I-Thought-You-Were-Right-Behind-Us Waterfall Hike’

Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Part 2 of… To Let the Baby Eat Cake, Or Not to Let the Baby Eat Cake, That is the Question

You made it to Part 2, go you! If you have not yet had the “pleasure” of devouring Part 1 of this scintillating parenting dilemma saga, here is the link, pop on over.

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Are other (*ahem* sometimes judgmental) folks watching?

I would love to say I live by the credo, ‘What other people think of me, is none of my business,’ but I do find myself adjusting my parenting tactics just a smidge, depending on who is watching. Is this something I am working on? Yes. Do I someday wish to be a card carrying member of the, ‘What other people think of me, is none of my business’ Club? Absolutely. But, for today, my reality is that I still somewhat care what other people think about my parenting abilities. Well, maybe not all people, but at least those nearest and dearest.

Am I divulging this tiddy bit about myself so you’ll follow my lead? No. But, if you happen to be one of my fellow parents who secretly cares a smidge, or a smatter more than a smidge, about what others think of your parenting, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

Luckily for me, I have a pretty supportive village that is helping me raise my child, and a partner who I feel comfortable engaging in sometimes exhaustingly honest conversation with, about everything, but especially our varying parenting philosophies, methods, and tricks.

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Okay, so we care, maybe we don’t want to care so much about those opinions being delivered via a sideways glance, sigh, tensing of facial muscles, uncomfortable body shudder, or outright, “Do you really think that is the best choice for your child?” but we do, we care. What do we do about this? How can we remove all the external (and corresponding internal) chatter from our head and learn to follow the lead of our ‘more wise than we give it credit for’ intuition? We can start by actually listening to our intuition, and not the “sage” advice of great aunt Know-it-All. Many times, our body has a physiological response when our actions are contrary to what our intuition is telling us. My physiological response occurs in my stomach. I experience an ‘I have to poo’ and ‘I feel a tad nauseous’ combo when my actions contradict my intuition, especially if my little sweet noisy angel is involved. Now, every time I feel that pang in my stomach, I head to the bathroom, or I make a conscious decision to listen to my intuition, even if it elicits a sideways eye twitch from an on-looker.

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Am I saying ‘No’ just for the sake of saying No?

Even when we are a self proclaimed ‘yes person,’ we sometimes fall into the habit of saying ‘no’ to everything, especially when it’s related to our precocious baby wanting to flex their newly developed skills, or draw on the wall with paint pens.

One day, when I was home alone with Hudson, I suddenly noticed, to my horror, that the only word I had muttered all day was ‘no;’ horrified. Most of my ‘no’s were justified, but it didn’t matter. I was in the process of creating a ‘no baby,’ and he most certainly was born a ‘yes baby,’ who am I to suck the ‘yes’ out of him? I needed to change my tune, or at least my language.

First off, I made the commitment to myself to actually process what Hudson was requesting before shooting off a ‘No.’ Am I saying no just because what he is asking for is an inconvenience to me, or am I saying no to protect the body or property of another living being? If, my ‘no’ originated from my desire to not be inconvenienced, I needed to seriously reconsider that ‘no.’ I want my child to learn, grow, and experiment; if that means I need to clean up the occasional/’all the time’ mess, so be it, my baby is in his lab doing extremely important experiments with his new world, and I spend a few minutes cleaning up the aftermath, no biggie.

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If the purpose of the ‘no’ I was about to spit out was to protect another, or their stuff, it was justified, but I needed to rephrase my ‘thall shall not pass’ response. What was my baby learning from the word ‘no?’ To say ‘no?’ That needed to change. I needed to become a participant, not just an observer, in my child’s development. Instead of saying, ‘No, you can not throw your uncle’s keys in the ocean,’ I rephrased it to, ‘I can see that you have the desire to throw something in the ocean. I need to take these keys from you because your uncle uses them to drive his car. If they’re in the ocean, he no drive no car. If you would like to throw something in the ocean, here is a nice big sea shell that is too big for you to choke on.’ Okay, my ‘no’ replacement usually isn’t so wordy, but you get the idea. Instead of saying my robotic ‘no,’ I started to tell little one why I needed him to not do that, and redirect his attention over here, to the sand castle that is waiting to be squashed.

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Is the ‘Yes’ I’m giving more for my benefit or his?

On the flip side of the previous few paragraphs, it’s easier to just say yes, well, at least in the short term. In my desire to go from being the ‘no mom’ to ‘yes mom,’ my consents to baby requests began to get out of hand. I started to become addicted to the ease of saying ‘yes’ to questionable requests.

Baby: (Point point point, frustrated grunts.) While trying to reach the remote control that was sitting just out of his chubby handed reach.

Me: (After baby’s eleventh grunt-turned-high-pitch-wail) “Okay fine, here’s the remote.” (Hand him the remote, after removing the batteries.)

Baby: (Grin, and waddle away with his newly acquired precious.)

Me: (Peace and quiet, happy sigh.)

A moment later, the vibrations of a watery kerplunk reach my inner ear and I remember the small tub on the porch that is filled with the perfect ‘remote killing’ elixir, water. It was a goner. I rushed outside and immediately regretted my decision to say ‘yes’ to the ‘I want that thing with buttons’ request from baby, and ‘yes’ to the lazy voice within me that said, ‘Just dump out the tub of water tomorrow.’ Although the yes’ seemed easy at the time. I now had to find time to drive forty five minutes to the ‘Dead Remote Replacement Center,’ so I could watch my ‘so bad it’s good’ TV shows on the rare nights baby is asleep and Eric is working. (He only likes good TV, and baby only likes no TV.)

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As this ‘remote in water,’ and similar occurrences, began popping up in direct relation to a ‘yes’ I had dolled out absentmindedly, I realized I needed to put a reign on my use of the ‘y’ word. I was giving an affirmative response to requests my intuition knew I should decline, which would then cause me to turn around and deliver a big fat, ‘NO, don’t do the natural thing a toddler would want to do with that object I just let you have.’ I was confusing my child and myself. Solution? I still say ‘yes’ way too much, and get myself into tricky ‘take backsies’ situations, but not as often. I now attempt to take a pause, and mentally run through the most likely scenario my ‘yes’ will elicit, before spitting out a, ‘Sure, do whatever you want, eat that piece of chocolate cake on the white carpet.’ If my logic and intuition throw back a, ‘Duh, no,’ I muster up the brain power and creativity to find some other fabulously awesome activity my son, and my intuition, will love.

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Is it healthy?

Back to the cheesy chocolate cake mentioned in Part 1; should I let the baby try some of the cake he so obviously desires? As I attempted to ponder this question, through the cacophony of baby wails, I spotted a bushel of broccoli sitting on the countertop. Hmmm…. I further pondered, ‘Is it the cake that he wants, or the something new that he wants? He’s never had broccoli before…it’s a long shot, but I’ll try it.’ I sauntered over to the tiny uncooked green trees on the counter and did my best ‘ohh look at this yummy morsel’ performance, and slowly passed over a small batch of the broccoli to my now quizzical baby. He hesitantly reached out and grasped the broccoli, thoroughly examined it, and gave me the most satisfying grin I’ve ever received. He commenced to take a small bite, spit it all over the floor, and walked out of the kitchen leaving a trail of pulverized broccoli behind him. Was I upset? Absolutely not; my child no longer wanted cake and I had the ‘Mommy Aha Moment’ (that I’m sure all you smart parents had long ago,) that if my baby had the unrelenting desire for a new object or activity, that I had no desire to grant him, I could just offer him something else “new”, that was healthy and/or (somewhat) safe; or I could still revert to simply say a firm, ‘NO.’

This parenting thing is hard. But, I’m smiling right at this moment, as I hear my baby opening and escaping through the bedroom door he learned to open this morning, because this is the best non-job job I’ll ever have.

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Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

To Let the Baby Eat Cake, Or Not to Let the Baby Eat Cake, That is the Question

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Today:

“Outide, outIDE, OUTIDE!”

Translation, “Mother if you do not take me out into that 106 degree Fahrenheit heat, I WILL wear you down by shoving my tiny Crocs in your lap every seven seconds. And NO, that book you’re trying to distract me with does not amuse me. Outide.”

Yesterday:

Baby: (Purposeful finger point.)

Me: “Do you want a strawberry?”

Baby: (Forceful head shake, and more punctuated finger points.)

Me: “Do you want some water?”

Baby: “No, no, no!” (Bordering on hazardous finger points.)

Me: (Internal Dialogue) “Oh, you want that piece of chocolate cheese cake you’ve never had a bite of, therefore you should not know that you should greatly desire it, and I don’t even know where it came from. Did I sleep shop again?”

I then set baby down, because his persistent wiggles are becoming hard to manage, and he plops his squishy-diapered bottom on the floor below the devilish cake and persists to hold an ‘I want that mystery food’ vigil, while screaming of course.

No, this isn't the cake, this is a baby "cake" I made for his birthday, complete with no sugar, no butter, and no eggs. It's pretty much made of applesauce. It's the only cake photo I had, and you can't really see the cake.
No, this isn’t the cake, this is a baby “cake” I made for his birthday, complete with no sugar, no butter, and no eggs. It’s pretty much made of applesauce. It’s the only cake photo I had, and you can’t really see the cake.

Being a parent is hard; it’s also greatly fulfilling, enriching, smile inducing, humorous, etcetera, etcetera, but it’s also really hard.

Where do we draw the line between setting healthy boundaries and just giving the little bugger what he wants, to gain a moment of peace?

I am not the perfect parent, shocking right? But, I do actually think, mull, and ponder the decisions I make regarding my diapered offspring, likely to the point of mild obsession.

These are a few of the questions that zoom through my mind in between my son’s insistent inferred (or sometimes incredibly direct) request (aka demand,) and my decision to grant my assistance in said request, or practice the art of gently redirecting him to a more appropriate activity (I’m still in the finger painting stage of this ‘art.’)

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Is it safe?

Good question right? If I grant baby’s request will his health and/or safety be in jeopardy? Seems like this would be a no brainer; but my brain won’t let it be so. If I never let my child partake in activities that may potentially harm him, how will he ever learn how to climb a tree, make paper snowflakes, or blend a smoothie? Yet, on the other hand, handing the 14 month old the knife he’s ‘mine, mine, mine’ing at, and letting him chop up his own apple, probably isn’t the best idea. I usually find myself weighing the potential of the request to be mortal, or just band-aid worthy. Band-aids I can handle; but what if he then develops an intense attachment to the dinosaur band-aids and “they” one day run out of stock? Geesh.

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Moral of my dilemma, don’t let baby do anything that could easily lead to an ambulance ride, and consider facilitating his persistent request if I’m able to provide my rapt supervision, while he boldly explores this beautifully challenging world, and learns to expand his own physical and mental capabilities.

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Is this a slippery slope?

Letting your bay go diaperless on the sandy, deserted, (and carpetless) shores of Costa Rica is one thing, while allowing a diaperless bottom to roam above our very much carpeted living room at home, is something entirely different. Yes, yes, I know “they” say that you’re supposed to set the same boundaries for baby no matter where you are, to learn consistence, and a lot of other really great developmental stuff. I absolutely get the logic and agree with this philosophy, but I’m also a real live mom who can’t always set consistent boundaries, everywhere. Some moms can, and they are awesome, they’re rockstars, I consider myself a groupie, and I’m okay with that, less pressure.

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So yes, I do bend certain boundaries for baby depending on the who, what, where, when, and why. But, when the answer to the following question is ‘yes,’…. ‘Are we at home in an environment where this particular situation will likely arise again, and again, and again?’…… I better stand my ground. For example, the bare bottom poo poo carpet situation; I had to nip that in the butt (pun intended.) How to keep baby from removing his own diaper? Stick some difficult to remove pants on him, now no one can get that diaper off.

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Aren’t we blessed that every single one of us is beautifully unique? Even when this means we can’t just do exactly as our best friend, or that mom blog, says to do and have it work perfectly with our custom personality our remarkable one-of-a-kind kiddo? We get to soak in other people’s ideas, opinions, and suggestions, process it all, then do whatever we think is best for our unique families, in the moment, depending on the who, what, where, when, and ‘why did you cover your entire body with purple permanent marker?!’

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post (that I considered too long for one post,) that I will be posting tomorrow. If you’re reading this the day after tomorrow, then Part 2 is already posted. Yay! You’re a rockstar for reading this.

Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 4: Collective Bliss

“I’m awake, rested, in Costa Rica, and a giant lizard didn’t eat me in my sleep.”

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Let’s celebrate with coffee, maybe mixed with some alcohol, maybe some Baileys.

Celebrate we did, but no Baileys….yet.

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Our large group dined half naked, clad in our bathing suits, sporting fresh Farmer’s Tans, or Wetsuit Tans, depending on what part of the world you reside in. Luckily, most restaurants in Costa Rica have a ‘No shorts, no shirts, eh whatever’ mentality, but you better have money hidden somewhere in that bikini top. We feasted on piles, yes piles of moist (don’t you just love that word?) fruit, various forms of eggs, and a delicious mystery sauce contained in a nondescript plastic bottle. One of our teen travelers made the difficult breakfast order of, “Mango.” This simply stumped our server who was likely accustomed to difficult Americans ordering a, “Double and a half shot espresso mixed with soy creamer, a sprinkling of fresh cocoa flakes, a squirt of caramel sauce, and a pinch of fairy dust. Three eggs, one, sunny side down, one, lightly scrambled with a dash of cow’s milk, and one, egg broken but still slightly runny. Got that?” No, he just ordered “Mango.”

Server: “Mango smoothie?”

Us: “No, just one whole Mango.”

Server: “Mango slices?”

Us: “No, just one whole Mango.”

Server: “Cooked mango?”

Us: “No, just one whole Mango.”

Because our kindly confused server could not seem to comprehend this American anomaly, we picked up a whole mango from the barrel of fruit residing by our table and asked for a knife. Now he got it, but refused to allow said teen to devour said mango without some form of assistance. The mango was whisked away and returned a perfectly diced version of its’ former self. Mango good.

The sun was out, the waves were…waving, our bellies were full, and our cell phones didn’t work, life was good.

As I waded through the moist air, observing my fellow waders, I came to the realization that I could have just brought bathing suits, diapers, and bug spray/sunscreen and been just fine. I had no need, or desire, for clothes, and naked babies (big and little) were everywhere.

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We covered up our bits and pieces with small pieces of waterproof material and boogied to the beach to let the ocean do what it wanted with us. The water was so warm I had no need to do my shiver shuffle into the waves (first the feet, then the legs, then a few minutes later the bottom half of my torso, and a few minutes after that the breath hold, and a chilly dive into the water.) I just dove in without a single shiver-me-tata. There aren’t many things as spiritually rejuvenating as floating in warm salty water, with the exception of floating in warm salty water with a cup of spiritually infused chilled alcohol.

As I looked back from my new-found briny oasis I observed Hudson having an equal dose of ‘yes’ rolling in the dark wet sand on the beach, with his Nana, who was definitely not rolling in the sand. Eric too, was enjoying a huge dose of ‘stoke,’ surfing in the ‘way too big for my comfort level’ surf further out. Our little family was living in collective bliss. Don’t be surprised to eventually see a ‘We’re Packin’ up the Wagon, and Moving to Costa Rica!’ blog post in the future.

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Our final stop was a bamboo jungle house near Puerto Jimenez, in the Osa Peninsula, about three hours South of Dominical, aka, ‘Collective Bliss.’ After we slowly extracted ourselves from the yummy surf and undertook the futile task of rinsing the sticky wet sand off us, and the ‘I want to be dirty’ baby (while battling Pterodactyl mosquitoes,) we piled back in the vehicles and started our caravan deeper into the jungle.

The further we drove, the deeper we fell into total Zen; so deep, Eric almost fell asleep while driving. The passing green jungle excited us, the occasional rain cleansed us, and the visual hunt for wildlife entertained us.

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On this particular day, the final game of the 2014 World Cup happened to be taking place, and the two teenage boys, three grown men, one pre-teen boy, and one restless baby boy, traveling with us, were Jones-ing to witness the outcome. When my bladder required a release, we found a little “why are these Americans stopping here?” local hangout in the middle of “somewhere,” that obviously had a huge flat screen television, that was broadcasting the game of Argentina versus Germany. As the boys got their futbol fix, Huddy and the ladies wandered back to the little pool at the back of the establishment. As we wandered, a kind little boy brought an innocent looking pool floatie over to my son, a plastic floatie, not a brown one. My son proceeded to howl like he had seen an aquatic demon. Little did I know my little guy had a serious fear of colorful pool floaties. Who knew? The ironic thing was, that exact same floatie was waiting in my bag to be used by Hudson at the pool of our vacation house. Great.

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After Germany was named the victor, we made the final trek to Puerto Jimenez and met up with the cosmopolitan local who would be our chef, comedian, caretaker, and guide for the next week. His name was Luis and he was a jovial, sarcastically humorous, Teddy Bear. He was full of jokes, smiles, and excellent cooking prowess. (He regularly made fresh bread and brownies, enough said.) After stocking up on food at the overpriced grocery store, we followed Luis on the dark road to our awaiting jungle house. It only took 15 minutes, but the potholes and ominously dark jungle made it feel like we had traveled an hour into the arcane abyss. Our primitive minds are instinctually fearful of the unknown, and my primitive mind was on fire the further we drove. “Where the heck are we going?!” When we finally made it, my fear of the unknown subsided and I felt as though I had stumbled across a secluded and humid slice of paradise. The house was an architectural masterpiece. Constructed out of bamboo, our new habitation resembled a luxury tree fortress. Well, maybe not a fortress… All the common rooms were open-air so we truly felt like we were living in, and with, the natural elements, mosquitoes and sneaky monkeys included. If were facing a zombie apocalypse, I would not want to live in that house. Well, maybe the mosquitoes would hold them off. No one likes to be itchy, not even zombies.

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As we’re examining the house I immediately pulled the “Baby Card” to score us the downstairs master bedroom with the king-sized bed. Sleeping with a huge baby in a full-bed is less than ideal. And there were no “real” railings upstairs, so there was that.

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"Railings"
“Railings”

As we settled in, our welcoming committee of a giant ‘maybe a Tarantula’ spider made himself known, and garnered rapt attention from us terrified, yet mesmerized city slickers. He was much more friendly than the flying bloodsuckers.

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After stuffing our faces with Luis’ specialty, slightly mysterious, nachos (that definitely went against my “trying to not eat dairy and meat” diet,) and not having to do dishes, I realized that after two days of traveling, I had landed in heaven. Delicious meal + no cooking + no dishes = Heaven.

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Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 3: Don’t Drop the Baby in Croc Creek

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The smells of perfectly seasoned Gallo Pinto, tiny monkeys, juicy coconuts, overpriced groceries, and salt-coated humidity hit my mind’s nose before I stepped out of the airport. We had arrived, and we had survived. First step of international travel with baby complete, and I didn’t even look like a frazzled sleep-deprived lunatic, not entirely.

We snaked through the peace of cake, stamp-and-go, immigration line, and found our luggage carousel. Miraculously, our heaping pile of luggage made it, complete with three unbroken and un-stolen surfboards.

We put some minutes on an old smart phone, because Heaven forbid we should spend a moment unconnected from ‘digi-world,’ and we really needed a GPS. Apparently Costa Rica has an aversion to road signs, and road names, and I’m ‘old school map’ inept.

We were escorted to our car rental shuttle and our luggage was loaded by a super-human, super-friendly, driver who was able to fit our two months supply of stuff into the available nooks and crannies of the van; and we were off!

Life was good, traveling was easy, and nothing could go wrong…. And then, the car rental debacle of 2014 occurred. We entered the car rental office with the “Beware of car rental scams” warning, from my cousin’s Costa-Rican-Expert wife, quietly echoing in the back of my mind. The jovial staff were happy to quickly compile the necessary paperwork and signatures, and would answer, “Yes, yes, yes, sure, sure, sure,” to every question.

Me: “Where is your bathroom?”

Them: “Yes, yes, yes, sure, sure, sure.”

All was going well, a little too well. Then, they asked the question, ‘how will you be insuring your two rentals?’

Me: “Well sir, if you look right here, on my handy rental agreement confirmation email, we’ve already purchased the $100 liability insurance for each vehicle.”

The Annoying Guy: (With infuriating smirk) “No, no, no, ma’am, you need much more protection than that for the vehicles.”

The gist was, we would need “much more,” insurance if we wanted to avoid purchasing the vehicles, if they received so much as a nasty glance from an oncoming vehicle.

The Annoying Guy: “We can offer you a very fair and thorough insurance package. $100 each day for full-insurance.”

Me (and my ultra-annoyed father): “What?! $100 per day to insurance the cars?!”

The Annoying Guy: “No, no, no, $100 per car, per day.”

Us: (On the floor, floored by this absurdity) “No f-ing way are we paying you $2,000 to insure these cars for ten days, we’d rather walk the trip.”

But, we had a baby, and a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff. A bus? We have a baby, and a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff.

As we fumed outside the office, trying the figure out what we were going to do, a kind fellow traveler, obviously well traveled and well versed in the ways of the ‘scam laden Costa Rican car rental agencies,’ quietly gave us the golden nugget travel tip that our credit card company would cover any damage done to the vehicles. The gist, the exhorbinantly scammy insurance offered by The Annoying Guy was unnecessary. My father’s ears perked up, but his need to ‘hear it straight from the horse’s mouth,’ (or the credit card rep’s mouth,) caused him to spend an hour, (and half of our cell phone minutes,) calling various branches of his credit card company, until he was 175% certain that our tushies were covered, in the event of our vehicle’s tushy being tapped.

After much effort, some expletives, and a few tears (from the baby…and myself,) he received his confirmation, marched back into the rental office, and triumphantly turned down their scam-surance.

After preventing them from gutting us of all our cash-ola before the trip even began, we were on our way.

After a whopping ten minutes of driving (we had about 180 minutes to go,) we made our first stop, a huge box store of course. Purchases? Beer, wine, coffee, and fabric softener (that was supposed to be laundry detergent; it had a picture of a clean clothed happy baby on the front, and there were bubbles!) Yes, there were stores in the Timbuktu of Costa Rica we were traveling to, but the tales of large and looming price tags frightened us. After painstakingly preventing the car rental agency from emptying out pocket book, we had no desire to break the bank in our pursuit of a light caffeine and/or alcohol buzz.

We wiggled our way through the lush Costa Rican countryside, eyes peeled for monkeys, or other brag worthy tropical creatures. Hudson hung in there for about an hour and an half before he was thoroughly fed up with being strapped into his cushioned seat.

We pulled up to a bridge that had a gaggle of tourists excitingly pointing over the edge; this has to be good, perfect timing Hudson. We parked the cars, removed the wailing baby, and walked the quarter of a mile back to the excited pointers. I looked down and immediately wished my baby, hanging on my hip, was securely fastened onto my chest with the Ergs-a-Baby; there were about 40 human eating crocodiles lounging on the sandy river banks below us. They were humongous, and likely hungry. The guardrail only went up to my waist; we weren’t in the paranoid, highly regulated, United States of ‘Oh Be Careful’ anymore. My grip on Hudson immediately tightened to the point of discomfort, and I stared in awe at these powerful creatures. A local, let us in on the fact that other locals, regularly lowered chickens down on a rope for the awaiting chompers, to ensure they’re never tempted to roam away.

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Dead Ducks Walking

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I’m fairly sure I saw the croc that gobbled up Captain Hook. After staring in terrified fascination for half an hour we made the tedious walk back to the cars, eyes peeled for any crocs that dared wander away from their murky flowing home.

Next stop Dominical? Yes, after about 15 pee stops. My bladder was never the same after it shared its’ space with a baby.

Pulling into Dominical allowed us to finally feel like “we had arrived,” we were officially on vacation. We bee-lined it to the beach, and the awaiting sunset, and stepped into Eden. The long glistening beach was glowing with the bright pink light the sunset was projecting. The warm waves also glowed pink as we dipped our bodies into pure ‘yes.’ The sunset didn’t take my breath away, it gave me my breath back.

‘I would like to float in this cotton-candy water forever, please’; well, at least until my grumbling belly pulled me out and over to the beachside cantina. You can only go so long on tiny bags of nuts, power bars, and mystery food scraps found in baby’s car seat.

After stuffing our faces full of fish, mashed up carbs, and a margarita, or two, we moseyed back to our ‘cabina’ and fell into a deep real sleep, with the sounds of vacation reverberating around us.

 

Airplane Travel, Mom Humor

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 2: Airport Maze Maneuvering

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The parking shuttle spared our lives and we made it to LAX International check-in, expecting to fly through the process, seeing as how we had just wracked up so much good airport karma from not rioting against the bucking bus. But no, there was a seemingly endless line of weary travelers who had organized themselves, and their conglomeration of stuff, in between the moveable rollout partitions mischievous children love to move, when their frazzled parents are looking elsewhere.

I shuddered thinking of our group of eight (a baby counts as two people,) and our baggage of eighteen (the lumbering surfboard bag counts as five hunks of luggage,) maneuvering through those tight turns. My mother, an inspired genius sent from above, noticed an official looking lady sending a family to the gloriously empty line to her right, which I naturally assumed was reserved for people who had shelled out twice the amount for their ticket to have the luxury of fast lines, a jumbo seat, and a free glass of champagne; at that moment I could see their logic. My mom nudged her slim figure through the masses of confused travelers and inquired as to why that family got to go in that line?

Official Lady: “Well ma’am, they checked in online.”

Mom: “What?! We checked in online! We get to bypass that line for this line?!”

My mind did the happy dance my external body was too wiped-out to perform.

This bit of good karma was not the bad bus’ doing, no, I had stayed up until 2am the night before, with two computers simultaneously logged in to our airline’s website so I could frantically try to wrangle us a gaggle of seats together, our flock had to stick together. My early morning, bleary-eyed stay-up had paid off and we were flying in the fast lane, or at least lugging our mountain of stuff through a much shorter line. Why hadn’t all those people in that line embraced the power of the invisible forces of the Internet and checked in ahead of time?

We pulled to the front and started pulling out our heaps of travel paperwork we had spent the last few weeks frantically compiling; expedited passports, original copies of birth certificates, notarized parental permission forms, death certificates, pleas of insanity, and more. The only thing the silently efficient man looked at was the passports, and our credit card to charge for the board bag of course. “But, what about the tree that had to die to supply all these other documents?! At least look at them.” Nope, Murphy’s Law at it again.

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We got the boarding passes, carted the checked bags over to the piles of other checked bags, and made our way to security. My premature sense of ease should have been my signal I was bound for impending doom.

We arrived at the front of the security line and the uniform wearing woman was nice, she was actually nice, and she smiled. “Where am I?!” We passed Go, and started to pull our electronics out of our bags, remove our shoes from our feet, and attempt to wiggle out of the underwire containing bra I was afraid would set off the alarms. As the normally stern faced officials cooed at my thankfully smiling baby, I breezed through the metal detector. “Now we’ve made it.” But no, I was then escorted over to the Level Two security check, that I was certain was just a random “lottery.”

Security Guard: “Ma’am do you have weapons in this bag.”

Me: “Only some baby nail clippers.” (Yes, I actually said that, no, he was not amused.)

I continued to watch him weed through my meticulously packed bag, certain the most scintillating item he would find was a liquid-less breast pump. His hand then slid over a back pocket I had ceased to notice while packing. This was not my backpack, this was the back pack Eric usually took camping; I was not familiar enough with this backpack, not at all. The security guard swiped his hand through the “hidden” pocket and pulled out a pocketknife. A knife, there was a knife in my carry on. A knife. He held it out and just looked at me.

Yours Truly at Warp Speed: “It’s his bag, that guy over there, yes we’re together and it’s technically my bag today, but he usually takes this bag camping, and just went camping last weekend and he must have put it in the bag to take camping because he uses the can opener in the pocket knife to open cans, and beers, wait no, he doesn’t drink beers, and I had no idea it was there. I swear I checked the bag and I had no idea the knife was in there, no idea. I have a baby, so I’m always so distracted. Did I say I have a baby? I do, he’s right here, isn’t he cute? I’m so sorry; I promise I had no idea. Did I say I’m sorry? So sorry?”

Internal Dialogue: “Please don’t arrest me and take my baby, please don’t arrest me and take my baby, please don’t arrest me and take my baby.”

Security Guard: “Ma’am, we can either throw it away, or you can go back to checked baggage, check it, and re-enter the security line.”

Me: “You can throw it away, thank you.”

Internal Dialogue: “What?! I’m not going to be arrested for attempted international espionage. My baby isn’t going to be turned over to the government?” (Enter biggest sigh of relief that has ever left my mouth.)

When I recounted my harrowing tale to Eric, after we were far and away from security, he said, “What? You let them throw my pocket knife away?”

Yes, that was his response, really it was.

We made it to the gate without any more brushes with the law and had to wait an un-painful amount of time before they made the call for passengers with babies to pre-board. ‘What? I didn’t even know they did that anymore. I thought courtesy to the tuckered out souls traveling with ‘heavy non-speaking boob suckers’ was a thing of the past?’

It took some time, and some “baby coming through” name dropping, but we were able to squeeze through the masses of the child-less Tom, Dick, Harry, (and their significant others,) piled in line, making it near impossible for us with child and with piles of bulky baby bags peeps to pass.

By the grace of the Greek God Atlas, we made it to our seats unscathed, and Hudson promptly decided to get pissed, likely because he prophesized that he was about to be trapped in a confined space for 8 straight hours. When I was able to refocus his gaze on to the full-mom-boobs by his face, he was quickly consoled.

Hudson began to nurse, and I immediately yearned for water. I had purposely dehydrated myself before the flight so I would not be stuck in the torturous position of holding a ‘thank God he’s sleeping’ baby, and having an ‘I’m about to wet myself’ full bladder. As soon as we took off Hudson effortlessly fell into a milky real sleep, while I crawled my way into a less than ideal dehydrated, kind of sleep; but it was much better than wrestling with an abnormally strong baby in a tiny seat for eight hours.

Part one of flight one passed fairly quickly and we descended into the lush hills of Guatemala. We didn’t have to deplane, but we did have to spend an hour listening to a chronic cuss-er, as a fresh load of passengers were ushered on to the plane.

Chronic Cuss-er: “You should have f***in been there that one f***in time I did that totally f***In awesome thing. You f***in remember dude, I know you f***in remember, I’m so f***in dope.”

He was cool, and so were his huge gold-rimmed sunglasses and ‘fad-tabulous’ headphones. The eventual sound of the plane drowned out his stream of consciousness cussing.

Oh yeah, Hudson slept through Guatemala and was stuck in slumber until we landed in San Jose, Costa Rica. Verbal happy dance!

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Airplane Travel, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Taking a Baby to Costa Rica- Part 1: The Hydraulic Parking Shuttle From Hell

Them: “You’re taking a baby to the middle of the Costa Rican jungle?!”

Us: “Yes.”

Them: “Are you crazy?!”

Us: “Ummm, maybe?”

Yes, we did it, and lived to tell the tale. We booked the tickets, reserved the house, bought a bag full of expensive sunscreen, and coaxed a bunch of other family members into going with us, before we could change our minds.

Tropical plants, cheeky monkeys, warm water, magenta pink sunsets, no need for pants, shirts, or shoes; sign me up.

But, first things first, we needed to get there.

Packing, driving the two hours to the airport, and finding a parking spot at the long-term parking concrete-jungle was fairly easy, but the easy ended there. We were shocked when a shuttle appeared mere moments after we schlepped all our shtuff over to the nondescript shuttle stop. Usually, we have to wait an hour, then frantically run after the passing shuttle that “didn’t see us.”

We entered the miracle shuttle, parked our traveling tushies in the back, and rolled along on our merry way, for about 50 yards. At this 50-yard mark a woman-with-wheelchair needed to make her departure from said shuttle, and the necessary ramps were lowered to accommodate her safe descent. Part of this ‘ramp lowering’ consisted of special hydraulics, which caused the right side of the bus to tilt towards the asphalt below; very disconcerting, but at least this guy “knew what he was doing.”

She was able to exit without much fanfare, and the shuttle driver attempted to balance out the listing bus. We slowly raised back to “right,” had a fleeting moment of ‘yay here we go!’ then persisted to tilt down on the other side. We were the only people on the bus now, and there was no one waiting in the wings to enter; “why the heck are we now sloping so far to the left I need to hang on to a stability pole to stay in my grafittied blue plastic seat?”

As I attempted to steel my nerves against the unease I felt at being a passenger on the ‘Unintentional Carnival Ride Shuttle,’ he started to drive! “You can’t drive a tilting bus! My baby is on board! Do you have a liscense to drive a shuttle, or any car?! Who are you?! Are you trying to kill us?! Let me off!” Before I could verbalize any of my neurotic internal dialogue, the shuttle bug Gods smiled upon us, and he STOPPED THE BUS. Good idea.

He then persisted to right the tilt…. and tilted it back to the other side. This ‘up, down, down, up, errrgg, crunch, and ‘other unsettling noises’’ carried on until my nervous mama asked the question on everyone’s mind, “Should we get off the bus?” That sentence is an anomaly in the world of airport shuttle buses, you NEVER get off the bus until you reach your final destination, out of fear that you’ll be forever trapped in the airport parking abyss, because another bus will never come; well, at least not until you’ve already missed your flight.

We attempted to ponder her inconceivable question as our non-traveling carnival ride continued, and flowed into the nervous shuttle driver moving to his last ditch idea of revving the engine of the non-moving bus for an inordinate amount of time. A mental image of the bus bursting into flames flashed through my mind as we all simultaneously made the silent declaration, “Okay, that’s it, we’re breaking the cardinal rule of airport shuttle etiquette, and we’re getting the F off this bus.”

The driver opened the doors without a word, and we stumbled out to the relief of fresh air, and non-tilting solid ground. AND, there was another shuttle pulling into the stop in front of us! HALLELUJAH! We are saved! We ran to Shuttle Number Deux, and sighed a breath of ‘thank goodness we didn’t get catapulted out of the Plexiglas windows of Shuttle Number ‘Oh Heck No.’’ As we recounted our harrowing tale to our fellow Shuttle Number Deux passengers, the new driver transported us to the end of the sea of cars, and announced he was done for the night, and we would need to transfer to another shuttle before continuing our journey on to the port of planes.

We dragged our gear out of the ‘Seemingly Savior Shuttle’ and trudged over the “new shuttle.” As I tilted my head up from fumbling with my straight jacket of a baby carrier, my mouth went dry as my gaze landed upon the new driver of our “new shuttle;” but he wasn’t new at all, oh no, he was the driver of the Hydraulic Parking Shuttle From Hell we had just escaped from. We were stuck in the Twilight Zone of parking lots, and I couldn’t change the channel.

In an unnaturally high-pitched panicky tone I exclaimed to the ‘I wish you were driving us’ shuttle driver, “You don’t understand, I have a baby, I CAN NOT get back on this man’s bus, I CAN NOT, did I say I have a baby?’ In an attempt to console me, he pointed at the menacing concrete ramp leading to the ‘LAX Departures,’ and explained, “You just have a two minute ride up that ramp to your terminal.” Hey buddy, it only takes a second for a bus to tilt and go careening off a steeply pitched ramp. He smiled, shrugged, and walked away; leaving me with a nervous looking ‘I’m quitting after tonight,’ shuttle driver. I felt just as bad for this poor guy as I did myself.

I held my breath, boarded the shuttle, closed my eyes, and envisioned a bottle of anti-anxiety-anything pouring into my body. We had a few wobbles on the ramp, but made it to the terminal catastrophe-free.

As the shuttle pulled away, the back tire flew off and left the shuttle incapacitated, with an angry stream of now-stranded “very important people” full limos in its wake. Just kidding.

Mom Humor, Self Love

Bashfulness Be Gone

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I used to bathe with a bathing suit on, well, at least in public. You’re welcome public. I would be the bashful bather at the gym, standing to the side, waiting for a private shower stall to open up, while courageous ladies stripped down and had a rinse off. No way, not me; if I was desperate I would just shower with my bathing suit on.

That was me then, pre-baby.

This is me now; stripping off my bathing suit before the locker room door latches, because I only have 30 seconds to shower before my baby starts demanding boob from his milk-less caretaker. Modesty be damned.

I never thought I would ever be in a bathroom with onlookers urging my bowels to make moves. Okay, well maybe I realized this would be a possibility someday, but certainly not before my nineties. These onlookers were a stark reality of my birth experience. They wanted me to have a bowel movement really bad; but unfortunately, the stage fright, and resulting nerves, did not have the usual outcome of gurgling bowels.

After the no-go pooping debacle, all remaining traces of my modesty were wiped away, as my body pushed out a human, as four humans and one camera, looked on. Oh yes, someone also removed my shirt during this deposit of human, to prepare for the first public feeding of said human.

No one told me that my modesty would be drained out as my internal floodgate of baby love opened and poured in. As I began to feed my baby, my newfound boob boldness was put to the test as my brother-in-law entered the room. My initial reaction was to cover up, but this instinct was quickly overthrown by the ‘whatever’ echoing in my mind. It’s easier to have my boobs out while I’m feeding this hungry infant, whatever.

Since birthing a baby, I have undergone the following, quite liberating, metamorphoses.

Bras Shmas

The first few weeks postpartum, I not only vetoed the bra, but the shirt as well. My boobs were sore and the effort of pulling my shirt down or up every few minutes was just too much. Any Peeping Toms gazing through my bedroom window would have been treated to the vision of a drooling topless-women, with a man and a baby standing over her, repeating the mantra, ‘I think the baby is hungry again.’ The no-bra thing caught on, and I only wear one when I have to go to a wedding or a funeral.

Flatulence is a Fact and it’s Fun

People fart, I don’t care how proper you are; you fart. If you hold it in too much, you may be really cranky, because your stomach is likely in a constant state of turmoil; I should know, I used to be a chronic fart-holder-inner. Having a baby loosens everything up, which kind of forces you into adopting the motto, ‘if you gotta go, let it flow’; for pretty much all meanings you can attach to that saying. I now have a new understanding, and respect, for the older folks in my life who will boldly lift the side of their tush up during dinner and let one rip; who wants to eat dinner with a belly full of hot air? I have not yet reached the ‘bold brass balls’ level of toots touting, but I’m getting there.

‘There’s a chunk of food on my shirt?’ Pass it to me, I haven’t eaten in hours.

I’ve had everything from baby poop, boogers, green mush, and unidentified liquid on me since having a baby. Pre-baby Bailey would have changed her entire outfit after a miniscule drop of anything trickled onto the edge of her shirt, not anymore. It would take a waterfall like flow of spit up being issued from baby’s mouth, to my already dirty shirt, for me to hassle with changing.

Modesty can be such a nuisance if allowed to get out of control. It holds you back from just living, from just being, by distracting you with thoughts of, ‘how does this make me look?’ Who cares if some snooty pants scoff at your boldness if you’re happy and feel free to just be.

Camping, Mom Humor, Uncategorized

Camping in a Thunder Storm….. with a Baby

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Flash! Pop! Crackle! Rumble! Downpour! Oh greeeat. We are in the woods, with a hypothetical tornado raging towards our flimsy tent; I win Worst Mother of the Year award. This all runs through my head as I sit on a hot sunny Texas porch, gazing at the weekend’s weather report on my phone. We will be camping over the weekend; real tent camping, away from running water, and storm shelters.

A tornado transporting baby and myself to the Land of Oz would not be ideal, but I could also be a candidate for Worst Mother of the Year if I tried to shield my child from all literal and figurative nasty weather. I decide to go for it, and hope for cool gentle showers when I’m hot, and blazing sun when I’m ready to dip into the chilly water. Wishful thinking.

Day One:

We drove out to the river with the sun blazing through the car windows and that precious AC blasting. All seemed good, but the weather report was not shifting, and there was a sheet of darkly ominous gray glaring at me on the horizon.

We arrived at our stomping grounds for the weekend and settled in. As dusk descended, the storm was upon us. Not the storm you’re expecting, oh no, something much worse, a storm of mosquitoes. I think I would prefer a tornado. They came in clouds and were the highly evolved skeeters that found the most poisonous of bug spray to be simply scrumptious. They also loved baby blood, specifically blood drawn from the head. Because I am adamantly against smacking my baby on the head, regardless of any honorable intentions, I rugged up my sweaty baby from head to toe; and the mosquitoes penetrated his clothing, they were insatiable. After an hour or so of being the helpless victims of flying vampires, the little devils dragged their full bellies back to wherever mosquitoes live; I suspect the bowels of hell. We were itchy but alive, and the baby seemed to care less about his quickly rising red welts.

This proved to be the only storm of the night and we spent the next few hours zoning out on the fire, brilliantly vibrant shooting stars, and live fiddle music; the calm before the real storm.

Day Two:

The clouds had settled in and there was menacing thunder in the distant, taunting us with occasional rumblings. Well, we in the Gaddis clan are no fair weather campers; so we brewed the coffee, popped the top on some champagne, and donned our river bikinis, even the men, just kidding. We were in it to win it, rain or shine.

We reached the river and went about optimistically setting up our sunshades, chairs, and various colorful floating objects. Hudson and I stuffed his baby chub into an ultra sun proof body suit, covered his noggin with an adorably blue sunhat, complete with earflaps, and smothered his remaining skin with absurdly expensive organic baby sunscreen. Yes, it was sprinkling by this point, but the sunrays are most intense when it’s cloudy, right? With Hudson in his full sunny summertime getup, I plopped him down on the edge of the shallow sandy bank and handed him a bucket full of exciting new beach toys. Happy as a baby with a boob in his mouth!

We have snakes in Texas. Rattlesnakes are usually the biggest concern, but on a Texas river we have an even more unnerving slithering creature to contend with, water moccasins. Rattlesnakes have no desire to go head to head, or mouth to foot, with humans, but will strike when startled. Water moccasins are nasty brown territorial serpents that will spot you from across a river and swiftly come over to not so kindly tell you you’re on their turf. Because of my rational, but paranoid fear of snakes, the brown swimmers in particular, I consider myself truly blessed to have not seen one of these slimy devils at this river in over ten years. My blessed luck was about to change.

The first sighting was made by my father while walking through the young vegetation that had popped up along the river’s edge, since the last time we had dipped our toes in this slow moving water. Dad was in search of rocks to pelt over to the thickly forested other side of the river, where our rope swing and the snakes hung out. As he was slogging along, a brown biter wriggled in front of him and slipped into the water, to alert his buddies on the other side; ‘the people have arrived.’ WTF, why is there a snake on our side?! This is not good. They now had a source of shelter on our usually sandy side, which had never before existed, at least not in the past 30 years.

I tried to eradicate the panicked hormones coursing through every inch of my being and focus again on splashing around on the edge of the water with my little man. But, because I’m now a mother, I could not shift out of high alert. Sure enough, after 20 minutes of obsessively scanning the dark green water, I spotted a thick and ugly golf ball size head traveling across the water, about 15 yards from my baby, and traveling in the wrong direction. My voice then adopted a foreign shrill tone as I asked my impeccable rock throwing abilities brother, to do something. He quickly gathered a few warning rocks; not big enough for a kill, but big enough for a ‘holy s*** these walking creatures mean business’ reaction. He got in a few good shots and just to show us that he, or she, was no sissy, Mr. or Mrs. Snake would go under water for a frightening amount of time, and would pop up a few feet closer to us. As this horrifying dance was playing out I spotted another moccasin crossing the river. They’re closing in for battle, save the baby! Brother continued his rock blitz, getting just close enough to threaten them, but not close enough to thoroughly piss them off. Then, a miracle happened, they turned, and swan back to their side of the river. Thank the river gods, there was no second act to the snarling snake dance.

As my panicked hormones slowly seeped out of me, probably through all the water I was peeing out, a traditional storm rolled in. As a large group of us huddled under the non-waterproof sunshades, being thankful that the storm was not accompanied by lighting, a terrifying bolt of lighting struck, accompanied by an even more terrifying immediate crack of ear splitting thunder. I was not holding my baby at this time. I assumed he was in safe arms, but I was quickly re-saturated with panic. I waited for a shrill baby wail to closely follow the BOOM, but was met with something even worse, silence. I then looked three feet to my right and saw my dad holding my smiling baby. In that moment, I swear he gave me a ‘What? Chill out mom’ look. My baby was braver than I was; don’t tell anyone.

This ominous snap, crackle, pop rattled us all enough to cause a mass scamper up to the higher and “safer” ground of our campsite.

After battening down the hatches we waited, and waited, and nothing came. Murphy’s Law wins again. We all emerged from our caves, I gave my muddy baby a freezing solar shower hose down, that he was unfazed by, and commenced to stuff myself with sinfully creamy potluck food. Goodnight.

Day Three:

I awoke to a jump-evoking clap of thunder. Here it comes, duh duh dunnnn. The wind quickly picked up, the temperature dropped 5 degrees, and we scurried about, building a makeshift “water proof” fort we could breakfast under; because by golly we are going to feed our faces. Again, baby Hudson proved to be more of a trooper than his mama. As I huddled in the leaking corner of the fort, he giggled as the rain spattered his fuzzy head.

As quickly as it came, the rain whizzed away, and left gloriously sparkling sunshine in its wake. Quick! Dry everything out and smash in every non-card playing activity we can before the next wave of rain surges in. Spring pool hike, check. Canoe rides full of snake mimicking turtles bobbing their heads up and down in the water, check. Snake free rope swing flips, check check. Laying solar shower out, praying it gets warmer than ‘frigid,’ check. We did it, and made it all the way to dinner, downpour free!

As we sat around the campfire, receiving our karmic revenge from the mosquitoes for throwing rocks at the snakes, I felt the sense that everything was too calm. Then it happened, the burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five……eighteen. The storm is eighteen miles away. Another burst of light on the horizon. One, two, three, four, five….ten. Oh great. Here it comes. Save the coconut cream pie, and the baby.

It was not a drill, the storm descended upon us and rained down with the fury of a den of water moccasins stirred up by a raging flash flood. Cold solar shower clean baby snored through it as I lay in wait for the railroad train roar of a tornado that never came, go figure.

Day Four:

Torrential downpour, Cards Against Humanity, chocolate, and beer; in our rain fort.

Moral of this story; watch for snakes and rinse your baby in a solar shower every evening, when camping.