Month: July 2015

Opinions Are Like A-Holes; Everyone Has One

Something happens the moment you let the world know you are going to be a parent. Everyone has advise, insights, and cautionary tales to tell you. Even the least likely among us to give a flying fart about what others think are suddenly susceptible to give weight to this unsolicited advise. Maybe it’s the unparalleled hugeness of it all, or maybe it’s just the hormones blocking your ability to form your own objective thoughts. Who knows…

What I do know is that in the beginning of my parenting journey I listened (mostly) to what others had to say about pregnancy, birth, babies, and toddlers. I assumed (falsely) that if my experience was different that I must not be doing something right. What I realize now is there isn’t a “one size fits all” for parenting. Just because someone else finds something to be true for them does not mean that it will ring true for you. And that’s okay. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t still seek advise from others or share our experiences with others. Give advise, take advise; just take it all with a grain of salt.

Here are the top 5 inaccurate (for me anyway) parenting nuggets I was told. Maybe you can relate too.

1.) Breastfeeding comes naturally and it’s so easy. Um, false. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and once you are established it is pretty easy. But it can be very difficult in the beginning, not to mention painful. Did I mention painful? (Ouch!) Just because your body naturally produces milk does not mean you and your baby automatically possess the ability to be instant experts at it. There is a learning curve involved. And, sadly, you might find yourself bleeding from the nipples in the early days.

Good advise, luckily, did come in the form of encouragement from Second Rate Best Friend. In the early days when I was contemplating even continuing to breastfeed she advised that I see it through the first month before making the decision. Glad I listened to her. It did become natural and it did get easier.

*On a side note: Can we please just all agree to stop all of these ridiculously immature and ignorant online mommy wars on breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. Both ways are great and nourish your baby. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you more of a woman any more than formula feeding is going to poison your infant. What happened to respecting and supporting other’s decisions? Enough! Jeez. End rant.*

2.) Sleep when your baby sleeps. What the what?! Okay, maybe this works for some people, but it was not true for me. I love my sleep as much as the next sleep-deprived Mombie (mom-zombie), but this just wasn’t realistic for me. When my newborn was sleeping it was the only time I had to tend to the mountains of poop/pee/spit-up laundry, do dishes, prepare a meal, or take a not frequent enough shower. And when my second baby was born, her napping provided some much-needed one-on-one time with my oldest. This well-meaning advise just didn’t work for me.

photo 2 (14)

3.) Your life is over once they start walking! Could not have been further from the truth for me! I felt so much more freedom once my littles hit the walking stage. That’s not to say that the walking stage didn’t come with a new set of challenges;  just that I felt like it beat the hell out of crawling. Walking gave my poor aching back a break from always having to carry the baby around. It meant no more being grossed out by all the germs on the ground when they were forced to navigate the world on hands and knees. Walking brought with it a whole new world of awe and discovery.

photo 3 (10)

4.) When they drop nap time, it messes up your whole schedule. This one is both true and false. My kids decided to drop nap time within weeks of each other shortly after turning 2 and 4 years old. It was rough at fist. I had grown to cherish the 90 minutes of peace and quiet nap time afforded me every day. Losing it sucked at first. But then I realized there were also benefits and some new freedoms to our napless days. No more stressing about rushing home from a play date or an errand to make it in time for a nap. Plus, once my girls dropped their naps they started going to bed a bit earlier in the evening with less bed time protests. What’s not to like about that?! So overall, this was one for the “tie” column for me.

5.) Going from 1 kid to 2 kids is so much easier than going from no kid to 1 kid. FALSE! At least, it was for us. I’ve heard split reactions to this one among friends. The transition from 1 to 2 kids rocked our world to the core. Me and Second Rate Husband admittedly aren’t the best at multi-tasking, and having multiple children is the ultimate form of multi-tasking. Add that to the feeling of suddenly being pulled in too many directions, and the insecurity I had about being able to equally divide my love and attention. Our first year as a family of 4 was definitely harder on us than our first year as parents. Again, I know that is not the case for everyone, but this was true for us.

photo 1 (13)

Was there any advise you received that didn’t pan out for you? What was the worst advise you ever received?

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The World’s Saddest & Most Expensive Pub Crawl

Second Rate Husband and I are going on a vacation. Without kids. Because of his stellar work performance over the past year, Second Rate Hubs has been awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A whole glorious child-free week! Yippy!! I can hardly wait!

On the way to the airport we encountered some traffic, causing us to arrive later than planned. And then it happened. We got to curb-side check in at 9:36 a.m. Our flight had a scheduled departure time of 10:35. PROBLEM. International flights require that you check your bags a full hour before departure. Missed it by one minute. One. Freaking. Minute.IMG_0585

Another fun bit of international travel trivia: You have to be on the same flight your bag is traveling on. In other words, we couldn’t just hop on our flight and send our luggage on the next flight. SO. Next flight it is. Eight. Hours. Later.

Once we adjusted to our new reality and accepted the fact that we would, in fact, be spending the next eight hours in purgatory the airport, we decided to re-collect ourselves with an adult beverage. Just as I’m getting settled in with my $10 airport TGI Fridays drink (kill me), I noticed that I no longer have my iPhone. A short trip back through security to retrieve it (thank you Mr. Second Rate) and we are back in business.

Yep. Just seven and a half short hours away from boarding our plane…which will then be followed by a  four hour long flight. Oh, and did I mention we are renting a car and driving two hours to Banff when we get there? So, yeah. Thirteen some-odd hours later, and we’ll officially be on vacation… (Can you tell my enthusiasm is suffering a bit at this point?)

And then Second Rate Husband, in all his eternal optimism, decides that we were going to make the most of our time here in airport purgatory. He excitedly proclaims that we are going to use the tram to visit all of the airport terminals and have a beer in each one. Yes folks. This was his way of attempting to win me back over to the sunny side; with the world’s most expensive and depressing pub crawl.

Well, by this point I still have seven hours to kill, so why the hell not? Besides, Second Rate Husband seems pretty pleased with himself for dreaming up his new-found bucket list challenge. Let the sad little pub crawl commence.

Which terminal to start with...decisions, decisions.
Which terminal to start with…decisions, decisions.

We started our journey. First up was Terminal A for a beer and some time on our devices. Because there’s no one in the world I’d rather sit next to and ignore.

Quality time in Terminal A.
Quality time in Terminal A.
Second Rate Husband
Second Rate Husband

In Terminal B we made lots of friends, including a nuclear physicist with a son that plays professional paint ball (seriously, I can’t make this shit up) and this guy headed to Corpus Christi for work.

Good conversations at Cantina Laredo.
Good conversations at Cantina Laredo.

Terminal C was a low-key stop, but we got to check it off the list at a sports bar.

Next stop: Terminal E!
Next stop: Terminal E!

Finally, we made it to Terminal E. Our final beer and some dinner before heading back. Although I started today’s airport pub crawl journey with less than great enthusiasm, I have ended it on a much better note. Maybe it’s all the beer I’ve had, but I’d like to think it’s because I’m thankful for a husband that helps me make the most of things. After all, there are much worse ways to spend eight hours.

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Your Results May Vary

Your results may vary. It was a small warning I noticed while reading directions for a little craft project I was about to attempt with the girls. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at this seemingly innocent warning. Of course my results are going to vary! I’m attempting to complete a craft enlisting the help of a 2 and 4-year-old! I’d have better luck working with a circus monkey and a trained bear!

My circus monkey and trained bear
My circus monkey and trained bear

But the warning got me thinking. It got me thinking about one of the most important lessons I have come to learn since becoming a parent. That no matter your expectations, your results may vary. And that’s okay. It’s a lesson I’ve really struggled with as a mom, and one that has made all the difference once I decided to embrace it.

I always have visions of how things are supposed to go. Vision: Easter with both of my girls dressed in their Sunday best and smiling sweetly for the camera.

Reality: The big one hates her dress (that she picked out!) and the little one hates her shoes so much she can’t. even. walk.

The cheerful duo on Easter
The cheerful duo on Easter

Vision: I wonderful time had by all trick-or-treating as Anna and Elsa.

Reality: The little one losing her sh!t all night because she didn’t like her costume, the Halloween decorations, or having to ring door bells.

A very unhappy
A very unhappy “Anna”

Vision: A picnic at the park sprawled out on a blanket with both of my giggling girls while we pick dandelions and look at the clouds.

Reality: The big one gets mad at me for not allowing her to hit her sister and takes her lunch on the bench while pouting.

Picnic pouting
Picnic pouting

Obviously I could go on, but I’m guessing you get the point. So what’s the answer? I’ve had to lower my expectations! Seriously. I’ve had to learn to have realistic visions about what to expect. While this might sound a bit negative or like I’ve thrown in the towel, that is not the case! To the contrary, it has made me a much happier parent. Knowing that there are going to be challenges, but not allowing that to ruin my experience has brought me so much more peace. I have always tried to be in control of all aspects of my life, but being a parent has taught me that I’m not always able to control everything.

It’s a work in progress, this whole parenting thing, but I believe it is making me a better person. Things aren’t always going to go the way you envisioned, and that’s okay. Your results may vary.

This was the craft we were working on. Our results did vary from that of the example on the package. But as you can see, she seems pretty happy with it anyway!
This was the craft we were working on. Our results did vary from that of the example on the package. But as you can see, she seems pretty happy with it anyway!

What has being a parent taught you? Can you relate to my experiences? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

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A Guide to Parenting Small Children, As Told Through Pictures

It’s difficult to put into words exactly what it’s like to parent small children. So I have compiled a photographic guide to better illustrate some of the things you may expect while attempting to shape your little ones into upstanding citizens.

They will have ZERO regard for your personal space.
They will have ZERO regard for your personal space. Peeing alone is pipe-dream. Say “adios” to showers that don’t involve a tiny person staring at you through the shower glass, often crying (Them, not you. Well, maybe you…)
They will not want to wear the clothes you pick out for them. In fact, the very thought of wearing jeans may garner a reaction you previously thought was only reserved for someone being forced to wear a garment made of needles.
They will not want to wear the clothes you pick out for them. In fact, the very thought of wearing jeans may garner a reaction you previously thought was only reserved for someone being forced to wear a garment made of venomous snakes.
Speaking of clothes, they reserve the right to remove any and all clothing at any time. Sometimes that means in the backyard, sometimes in the middle of a church service...
Speaking of clothes, they reserve the right to remove any and all clothing at any time. Sometimes that means in the backyard, sometimes in the middle of a church service…
When they are done with something, OMG, they are DONE! This includes, but is not limited to walking, eating, wearing shoes, and being in the car.
When they are done with something, OMG, they are DONE! This includes, but is not limited to walking, eating, wearing shoes, and being in the car.
They will force you to do ridiculous things such as attend and officiate a pony funeral.
They will force you to do ridiculous things such as attend and officiate a pony funeral.
They will not appreciate taking in the sites as much as you do on family vacations. While we're on the topic; traveling with children is not, in fact, a vacation. It is a trip. There is a difference.
They will not appreciate taking in the sites as much as you do on family vacations. While we’re on the topic; traveling with children is not, in fact, a vacation. It is a trip. There is a difference.
You are their jungle gym and your body and all your possessions are there for their entertainment purposes only.
You are their jungle gym and your body and all your possessions are there for their entertainment purposes only.
Be prepared to receive back any and all dirty looks you my have inadvertantly shot at your child...
Be prepared to receive back any and all dirty looks you my have inadvertently shot at your child…  Also, prepare for them to remember and continually repeat back anything inappropriate you may have said in their presence.
Despite all of this, you will still love them more than you could ever imagine.
Despite all of this, you will still love them more than you could ever imagine.

Feel free to share this with anyone else who can use a good laugh. Also, share this with any smug DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) friends you may have that are considering the journey into parenthood. It’s always fun to scare the crap out of those people.

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Just Your Average Trip to Target: A Photo Story

The Second Rate Kids have a birthday party to go to on Saturday. That means we needed to make a quick trip to Target for a birthday present. Yeah right. Quick. When will I learn?

What better way to dull the pain of shopping with the world’s 2 most enthusiastic Target shoppers than to document it here for you?!

First order of business; talking the 4-year-old out of a tantrum because she  reeaaalllyyy needed a butterfly pinata, just because.
First order of business; talking the 4-year-old down from an impending tantrum because she reeaaalllyyy needed a butterfly pinata. You know, just your typical impulse buy. 
Here’s the 2-year-old belting out Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” at the top of her little lungs. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve heard a toddler sing the phrase, “Movin’ my hips like yeah”.
Yeah. I always feel like dancing in the dairy aisle too. Dairy brings out the inner dancing queen.
Yeah. I always feel like dancing in the dairy aisle too. Who doesn’t?!
Sometimes you've just gotta take a breather to gather your strength.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta take a breather to gather your strength.
Hiding in clothing racks is always a good time. I bet you can't even tell where she is...
Hiding in clothing racks is always a good time. I bet you can’t even tell where she is…
She fell in love in menswear. Her 2 new boyfriends were quite handsome but they really lacked a personality.
She fell in love in menswear. Her 2 new boyfriends were quite handsome, but I felt that they were lacking a personality.
And, of course, there’s always this. “Mom! Look at us! We are mannequins! Take our picture!”.

In the end, we survived the trip, got the birthday gift, and even picked up a pair of swim trunks for Second Rate Dad. Bonus; they made a few people laugh and probably reminded a few others to pick up their birth control refill at the pharmacy.

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Banana-gate 2015: Proof That Toddlers are the Biggest Jerks You Know

My oldest daughter started her “Terrible Twos” at about a year & a half old. Right about that time I was already significantly pregnant with her little sister, thus providing me with a great deal of “Holy shit! What have I gotten myself into?!” kind of thoughts. The “Terrible Twos” had a firm grip on my girl until almost the age of 4. (Seriously, why do we call them the Terrible Twos anyway?!)

When we reached 2 and a half with little sister and she still hadn’t succumbed to the “Terrible Twos” I thought maybe I was going to get lucky this time and skip it altogether. Maybe the tantrum gods were smiling down on me, figuring that I had already paid my share of dues with big sister. I was wrong. Turns out she’s just a late bloomer.

Here's my precious angel at work. Isn't she a doll?
Here’s my precious angel at work. Isn’t she a doll?

As I find myself spiraling once again into the fantastic world of irrational toddler emotion, I feel much more at ease the second time around. With my oldest I worried that she was going to be a terrible person prone to anger management issues. Now I know that it’s a phase. Toddlers are jerks. They just are. They lack impulse control and the ability to effectively interpret and communicate their emotions. Sometimes it’s like hanging out with a PMS-ing bipolar manic depressive detoxing from a heroin addiction. Or so I imagine.

Toddlers are jerks. They just are.

What I understand now that I didn’t quite grasp the first time around is that tantrums aren’t that big of a deal. The less I react to them, the shorter and less intense they are. Keep your cool, stand your ground, and allow your kid to deal with the consequences. It will pass and eventually they will learn how to behave like a human. Mostly.

Enter, the banana.

She requested a banana with breakfast. Second Rate Dad hands her a banana. It’s broken. Broken food is the #1 known cause of toddler tantrums worldwide. (I have no scientific evidence to back that statement up, but I’m pretty sure it’s 100% true.) She loses it and refuses to eat the broken banana. Second Rate Dad, feeling quite authoritarian on this morning, draws a line in the sand. He dictates that she do nothing until she finishes the banana. Bribery and threats work wonders for big sister. Not so much with little sister. Seeing the line drawn in the sand, she decides she must take a stand. She throws the banana in the trash can. Second Rate Dad takes away a few prized and beloved possessions which now must be earned back through good behavior.

Lunchtime rolls around, and what does tiny Toddlerzilla request? A banana, of course. She did it with a smirk on her face too. So without thinking I hand her half a banana. Bad move, mom. Half a banana?! How dare I insult her majesty with half a banana! Once again, we find ourselves in a banana standoff. Banana-gate 2015, if you will.

She refuses to eat the inferior banana. Fine. As a result, I tell her she isn’t allowed to play on the iPad until she eats the banana. (P.S. I’m not in the least bit interested in hearing anyone’s thoughts on the evils of bribery and why I’m a terrible mother for letting my almost 3-year-old play on the iPad.) She sees the line in the sand again. So she begins to taunt me with the plastic banana from her play kitchen. See. Told ya toddlers are jerks.

Smug little ankle biter taunting me with her plastic banana.
Smug little ankle biter taunting me with her plastic banana.

Finally, after about an hour long standoff involving her repeatedly being turned down for her iPad time, she agreed to eat the “broken” banana!

Bribery and threats for the win!
Bribery and threats for the win! (On a side note, I’d like to tell you how awkward it is to pose for a sefie with a banana peel. You know it took me more than one shot too. I’m ridiculous and might actually be insane.)

The moral of the story (if there actually is one) is that toddlers are kinda jerks. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep on doing your best to mold them into good people. Keep calm, stand your ground, and try to model positive behavior for them while teaching them about inappropriate behavior. It gets easier. Well, I’m not sure if it gets easier or if you just develop a higher tolerance for dealing with crap. That, and wine helps too.

What’s your “Banana-gate”? How do/did you deal with a wayward Toddlerzilla?

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A Photographic Guide to Shopping with Small Children

I remember when I was a smug childless twit and I used to judge parents and kids I saw while shopping at the store. “I am NEVER going to let my kids behave like some of those brats”, I thought as I effortlessly perused the aisles of Target. Well, never say never my friends. Here I am, many years and battles later, with those kids at the store. You know those kids. The ones that are loud, run around hiding in clothing racks, need to touch every item on the shelves, and just generally make your uterus quiver in horror with their mere noisy presence.

I have compiled some of my own personal photos to give all of my newbie and non-parent friends an idea of things you might also experience while shopping with small children.

Enjoy the stage where your child can be contained in an infant seat or cart. This blissful stage passes all too quickly. At the time you’ll probably think shopping with kids is difficult, but you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, sister. As you can see in the picture, the main issue in this stage is that by the time you get the kids in the cart you have nowhere to put any actual items. I’m pretty sure I’ve wedged a bottle of wine into the infant carrier before because, priorities. Don’t judge.

Waving to her adoring
Waving to her adoring “fans” as we glide down the aisles. On this particular trip to Target I made it all the way to the check outs before realizing I left my wallet at home. And, yes, this was after she had opened and eaten the goldfish. Oops.

The carts with seating options for multiple children help free up some valuable cart space. But be advised that this is also not a perfect solution. The cart space is usually smaller than a standard cart, yet the size of the cart is humongous and has the turning radius of a stretched limousine. I have knocked over my share of grocery store displays (clean-up on aisle 7!) and, sadly, I have rear-ended a few people with these giant metal monstrosities. Proceed with caution.

My youngest was so pleased with herself for sitting in the
My youngest was so pleased with herself for sitting in the “big girl” seat. My oldest was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to actually sit next to her sister.

Also, there is an inherent danger in having your children so close in proximity to one another. In other words, expect fighting. There always seems to be some kind of an altercation brewing in this little car. Trouble I tell ya. Trouble.

Car carts are adorable. But be prepared for fights. Moments after this pic was taken my oldest bit my youngest.
Car carts are adorable. But be prepared for fights. Moments after this pic was taken my oldest bit my youngest. Bit her. Like a dog.

Kids have a limited window of time at the store before they lose their ever-loving minds. Budget your time accordingly. Pick up essentials at the beginning of your shopping trip. Nobody needs a meltdown before you’ve even made it to the dairy aisle.

She's just done. Totally and utterly done.
She’s just done. Totally and utterly done.

They want to touch EVERYTHING. Seriously. Just, like, anything they can get their sticky little hands on. This hazard emerges when you are no longer able to hold them hostage, err, I mean secure them in the cart. They are particularly drawn to breakable and fragile items.

You know, just checking out some stuff at Target.
You know, just checking out some stuff at Target.

They want you to buy them everything under the sun. Every toy, gadget, and gizmo they see they need to have! A detour down the toy aisle easily adds an extra 30-45 minutes to our trip. Luckily, my kids (usually) understand that I’m not going to buy them everything they want, so we have been able to avoid the whole screaming in the aisles for a toy spectacle. (And now, because I have said that, I am fully prepared for them to throw the mother of all tantrums on our next shopping trip.)

“Put the ponies in the shopping cart and nobody gets hurt. Kapeesh?”

All the world’s a stage… And I just never know when my dynamic duo is going to bust out into a song and dance routine. I swear, it’s like living in a demented Disney musical. Middle of the aisle dance party? Sure. Why not.

Dance party at the corner of hygiene and boy's clothing. Shoes optional.
Dance party at the corner of hygiene and boy’s clothing. Shoes optional.
“Mommy! We’re mannequins! Take our picture!

I hope you enjoyed my visual guide to shopping with children. It helped me realize that I might spend too much time at Target. Nah. Who am I kidding? There is no such thing as too much time at Target.

What are some of the challenges you face while shopping with your kiddos?

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