NO.

Today, we crossed over.

Not the lovely kind of “let’s cross over,” though, Liz Gilbert-style. There was no “attraversiamo” here, no “let’s.” I had no say in the matter.

No–the crossing over I experienced today landed me right smack dab in uncharted territory. And it has definitely not been lovely.

Today, my two-year-old-in-one-week cherub and I took a parenting turn for the worse.

We boldly entered the Land of NO.

And so farit is terrifying.

Terrifying–because today; in one crazy, irrational display of toddler manipulation, that adorable little cherub figured out that he doesn’t HAVE to do what mama says.

He figured out that he can, in fact, do the exact opposite if he wants to. And all he has to do is say NO.

But here’s what really gets me. He could already say no! And it was so cute–those first few weeks–whenever he used his new word!

Me: Do you want some more strawberries, Hank? 

Hank: (in precious singsong) Umm, no-oh! 

Me: (still in new-parent la-la-land) Awwwww! Isn’t that cute? He said “No!” He is so SMART! Another real WORD! And look how he makes his mouth into that round little “o” shape! Goodness, that’s just adorable!

What happened to THAT no? How did we morph from darling baby no to demon-child banshee-screaming NO!?

Overnight.

Whatever it was, it flipped like a switch in that smart little brain this morning. On the stairs. In “time-out.” (Another relatively new concept.)

It went like this:

Me: Hank, please. Mama needs to go to work, so I need you to be a good boy and let me change your diaper so we can get you dressed.

Hank: NO!

Me: You don’t tell mama NO. We are changing your pants whether you want to or not!

Hank: *rolls eyes*

Me: Don’t you roll your eyes at mama!

Hank: *scrunches both eyes shut. Juts chin out defiantly *

Me: (inner monologue) God, help me. I am clearly not qualified to raise this child. 

Hank: *eyes still closed*

 

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Mischief. Personified.

 

The rest of our day brought more refusals, more time-outs, more counting-down-from-fives and a lot more NO. The demon-child version. I have never heard so much unexplained screaming. I have never done so much daytime praying. Or counting to ten. Or taking deep breaths.

All I could think about, all day, was how right all those people were about the “Terrible Twos.” Apparently, we have entered them. Exactly one week early.

I get it, now–all those toddler tantrum jokes and memes. I get the meltdown over not getting “the blue cup.” We had one today because Hank wanted the BLUE paci.

(But not THAT blue paci.)

I see why cutting the sandwich bread the wrong way can cause a full-on come-apart. Hank came-apart over mandarin oranges because the sections had already, (thanks to mommy) come apart.

(Which HE had wanted to do. Himself.)

Drew Barrymore’s picture of her daughter, sprawled across the Disneyland concrete, in full-on kid-fit, makes so much more sense to me now. Because now, I have seen my own child, spread eagle on the kitchen floor, kicking and screaming, for who-knows-why, exactly.

I tried to channel Drew’s cool, collected calm all day while my toddler’s world crashed down all around us. But it is harder than I thought.

Just ignore it.

Just forge ahead, go on with your day.

He will eventually get over it.

OK–but WHEN?

How on earth, a small, hardly-speaking toddler can out-wit and out-stubborn a grown adult with a Masters in Education is beyond me. (And more than a little embarrassing.)

Today–in all of its glory–left me wishing for my baby back. The baby who didn’t argue; the one who laid there, cooing and smiling as I changed his diapers, whenever I damn well pleased.

The baby who weighed nine manageable pounds, not the thirty-plus of rough-and-tumble I can hardly hold onto, kicking and bucking on the carpet, dirty diaper dangling perilously by one tab.

The baby who never told me NO.

I would do anything to swap him out, for one of those again. Maybe just for a few days, just until I can figure out how to handle this new, scary world we just landed in. I would gladly rock the baby keeping some new tired mama up around the clock. That–I was great at. Those days, I knew what I was doing. Because whatever I did, always seemed to work.

Today–nothing seemed to work–except my smart little boy’s brain as it filed away notes on how to outsmart his mama.

I don’t know if I am cut out for this. I need an emergency crash course in Toddler.

STAT.

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Smile, Hank! (Now doesn’t that just look like the face of an angel?)

The Daily Crazy with Hank–In Pictures

See those knee-highs scattered all over my closet floor? (You have to look hard–they blend in pretty well!) When I walked in to get dressed after my shower this morning, Hank pointed at them proudly and announced, “Poop.”

“Poop?” I asked him. To which he clarified, “Yeah! Co-co poop.”

Ahhhh, Roscoe poop. My knee-highs, once they were pulled out of the box and scattered around by my toddler, look like dog poops. Gotcha.

(And yes, that is a carabiner in Hank’s mouth.  No, I am not sure why there is a carabiner in my closet.)

I call this one: Still Life with Horse, Chocolate Egg, Dump Truck and Diapers

Clearly, we have a digger-obsessed little boy. They ALL have to join him for breakfast, or he will not eat breakfast. So to this, I say: Ok, fine. Line ’em up, digger man.

All the way home from work today, Hank entertained himself (and me) by balancing his goldfish snack cup on his head, then making it fall off. Over and over. (Don’t worry–I took this picture at a red light.)

Hank really REALLY wants to be a baseball player like his big bros. He could not be happier about Little League starting up again!

And what better way is there to end a crazy day than with a lovely bubble bath (with your favorite excavator)?

Tomorrow, we get to do it all over again, and I am sure by the end of it I will have even more pictures that need explanations.

**Good night all, from one crazy toddler and his Tired Mama!**

My Parenting Style? It’s Not What You Might Think

Two words have been bouncing around in my brain a lot over the past year, as my barely-walking 1 year-old baby rounded the corner on toddlerhood and headed towards that looming milestone of horror–the Terrible Twos.

The two words I am referring to are: Parenting Style. While taking Advanced Human Development, I studied the three main types, so I thought I had it all figured out. I was prepared to be an effective parent someday. It was as simple as this:

Be too strict: you’re authoritarian and they’ll resent you. Be too lax: you’re permissive, and they’ll run all over you. Be perfectly balanced–authoritative–and your kids will turn out respectful and responsible. How hard can it be to achieve a balance of being both demanding and responsive? Not that hard, right?

It can’t be! 

I mean–we don’t want to raise complete hooligans, but we don’t necessarily want silent little soldiers, either!

Seriously, how hard can this be?

Well. . . I’ll tell you. Here I sit, a month away from the TERRIBLE TWOS where all hell promises to break loose, and I am pondering just how well my “Parenting Style” is actually fitting in with the above logic. Am I doing a great job of being the perfect Authoritative Parent?

Honest to goodness–I couldn’t even tell you. While I shoot for authoritative, I like to call my current parenting style “A Wing and a Prayer.”

Here’s why!

Parenting, it turns out, is WAY HARDER than I thought it would be when that little plus sign miraculously appeared on the pregnancy test.

I have found, that as hard as you try to do all the mom things just so and devote enough time to all the age-appropriate brain-stimulating activities, life happens. Things get real. Houses get dirty. You still have to figure out how to pay all your (steadily increasing) bills.

And then; just when you think you have finally gotten a handle on the whole baby thing, they turn into toddlers. (I’m convinced toddler must translate into tornado in some language, somewhere!)

All the things I promised myself I’d do or not do, suddenly went out the window. To avoid complete insanity, I evolved into practicing a new Parenting Style centered around one premise: what works. (Hence the wing and DEFINITELY the prayer.)

Here is what that looks like in my house on any given day.

“Ok, so let me get this straight–you absolutely must wear your glow-in-the-dark pajama shirt all day today instead of getting fully dressed?”

“The only way you will let mom take a shower is if you get to watch Bob the Builder on the iPad?”

“You suddenly hate everything I just cut up for you for lunch–which I should point out, are all things you loved yesterday?”

And–“You WILL NOT go to bed unless ALL your diggers are IN your crib with you?”

Sigh.

*Admit defeat.*

Well, ok then! 

This is why my new Parenting Style is such a beautiful panacea for stressful parenting! I finally figured out that while it may feel like it, these are not mom fails. 

These are simply tornado survival tactics.

Did we still get out the door, fully clothed (in something) and get to grandma’s in time for me to get to work? Check.

Did mama get a shower without a screaming fit? Check. (And he’s learning technology skills, right?)

Did he still eat a healthy lunch? (Even if today’s first lunch all got packed back into tuppers for another attempt at dinner?) Check.

Did he still sleep through the night, (even though he may have rolled over onto a hard plastic toy a few times)? Check.

These days, I consider even a fair amount of cooperation from the little tornado a huge success. I may not be hitting the qualifications for perfect Authoritative Parenting, but you know what? That’s OK. I don’t have a perfectly-behaved soldier, but I also don’t have a complete hooligan. What I do have is a little boy who knows he is loved, loves us back, listens to us (most of the time) and most importantly–gets to love being a kid.

I call that a huge win!

Of course you can walk through the mud puddle, little boy

If you happen to be one of the elite Authoritative Wonder Parents out there, perfectly balancing your demanding with your responsive, I applaud you, and I envy you. (Can you let us in on how you do it?)
And to the rest of you out there, parenting littles the best you can. . .maybe even identifying somewhat with my ‘Wing and a Prayer’ Parenting Style–cheers to us! We may have a little lower bar, but you know what I call it? 

REALISTIC. I say survive first–tune up later. 

We’ve got this!

(I will pray for you if you pray for me!)

Monkey child

Some Days Are, Well, Sh—Shambala

Ahhh, motherhood. Literally there is no aspect of my life that I am more grateful for, than being a mama. 

But oh, does motherhood test our patience.

Toddlerdom, especially. And I have landed right smack dab in the thick of it. 

This morning, I woke up with my uterus HATING me. I would have given anything to stay home on the couch with a heating pad and a cup of coffee, but nope–this mama had a busy work day planned!

As I scrambled to get myself organized for work, I snuck upstairs to use the bathroom without a little helper. (When we have my stepsons home with us, I can’t use the main level bathroom at all, because our darling Hank loses his mind whenever I lock him out. We have a temporary open-door policy right now, simply because I have learned to pick my battles.)

Well. As soon as I got up there, peacefully seated; Hank the wonder toddler runs in, full-speed for the bathtub, and turns on the hot water full blast! Then he starts reaching for the water to splash in! 

So what’s a mama to do? I jumped up immediately and hopped–gunny-sack-race-style–over to the tub and turned the water back off, right as it was getting hot. I then hop-hop-hopped my way back over to the “potty”, so I could actually use it

But now I had a helper again, who was really intrigued by that whole hilarious exchange! I performed all the toilet paper tricks I could think of, to keep my little water-boy away from the tub for another minute or two. Thankfully, it worked.

Hmmm, I should go turn that on

I gave up on the idea of a shower. I threw on some clean clothes, ran a brush through my hair, and pulled a ponytail through a ballcap. 

More toddler craziness ensued. Breakfast went from the fried eggs and toast I wanted to yogurt-in-the-car, but I managed to throw together a lovely, balanced little lunch for the adorable monster.

Let’s just say that by the time I got a road-coffee poured, the monster dropped off and headed to work, I was wound up tighter than a corkscrew. I kept thinking over and over in my head how overwhelming this stage can be–at times–especially how I cannot even sneak away to use a bathroom in peace unless my cherub is dead asleep. 

Seriously. 

And the kicker: No one else in our family has that problem! Not daddy! Not the big brothers! Oh no; to everyone else, a bathroom break or a shower or bath is a lovely, private endeavor. With no time limit.

But for mamas–it turns out–it is a spectator sport!

(With a ticking time bomb that resets itself every time, so you better not dawdle, either, mama! Don’t even think about taking your smart phone in there with you–the one time I tried to catch up on my news feed in the bathroom with my toddler helper nearby, he put an end to that plan. How, you ask? By ninja-sneaking a hot wheels corvette right into the toilet. WHILE I WAS SITTING ON IT. Yep, I’ve replayed and replayed that one in my mind, and still wish I’d have seen that coming!)

So. 

I had a good therapeutic stress-cry on the drive in while I guzzled down coffee #2. (The cry was no-doubt related to the hormones that caused the PMS that caused the bathroom incident to make me cry.)

I hammered out a few hours of work, which felt a little bit like a vacation (?) and when I hopped back in the car to head home, my entire perspective suddenly changed at the sound of one strangely familiar guitar riff. 

I cranked the volume up when I recognized the song–Shambala! Three Dog Night. 

I laughed out loud, and immediately thought of my best friend, which put a huge smile on my face for the first time all day! Shambala used to be her ringtone! And it was exactly the uplifting message of love and light I needed to pull myself out of the funk I was in!

Wash away my worries, wash away my pain, with the rain in Shambala. . .

(If you haven’t heard it, listen here. It’s great!)

All afternoon since I heard it, I have been singing the high refrain in my head on repeat (Howwwwwww does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala. . .) and it made me think about my own light. 

Here I was again, letting my light get dimmed by the everyday, totally normal, stress and craziness of motherhood.

I don’t need to run away to some mythical, peaceful paradise (the true meaning of ‘Shambhala’ in sanskrit) for my light to shine. (Even though at times, I would like to!) 

I just need to hum this song in my head, because it is ridiculously joyful and pulls me right back to where I need to be. Smiling and laughing. Right on through, both the sunshine AND the shit-storms.

So even on days that seem (literally!) downright shitty (thank you, toddler bathroom help!), do what I will be doing, and think of Shambala. Hum it in your head, and wear those flowers in your hair–in your mind!–my stressed-out sisters. 

Because this too shall pass. Some day, my husband assures me, toddlers eventually do decide that mama can be in a bathroom with a closed door. Without them in it.

I hope he’s right!

Lastly. If you do have a shit day, you hum that happy, hippy song, but you still aren’t quite feeling that peaceful, mystical paradise? Crack a good wine then, too. Because whenever good music can’t get me out of a funk, a glass of good red can.

You’ve earned it, mama. 

(And some days just call for Shhhh-Shiraz!)

😉

To the moon and back. Even through the shit-storms, little boy 💙

Farewell – Beloved Morning Nap, I Will Miss You

Hank decided last week that he was a big 15-month-old, and he had WAY too many things to do in a day, to waste time napping TWICE.

I, on the other hand, disagreed with him on that sentiment, and tried my heart out to adhere to the morning-and-afternoon-nap schedule.

It didn’t work. He won.

So, here we are, week two of only one nap a day, and we are doing just great! (Well, he is doing just great and I am dragging ass, but thoroughly enjoying my extra cup of coffee in the mornings–the one it takes to get me all the way from wake-up to the almighty afternoon nap.)

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We can sit here as long as you want, Mama, I’m not napping

Here I was thinking that he would make it to eighteen months (at least!), before he kicked the morning nap I loved so much. The nap that allowed me to shower in peace, to eat eggs that were actually WARM, to sneak off to work early, to fold the clothes that just came out of the dryer, etc., without chasing him around like a crazy person trying to accomplish all some of those things while he wrecked havoc all over the house. (And ok, I will admit it; the clothes NEVER get folded right after they come out of the dryer. Maybe they do in my dreams.)

Ahhhhhh, those were lovely mornings.

Nowadays, we just go directly from wake-up (zero) to full-bore playtime (sixty) in about 5.2 seconds, and we now stay there until 12:30 or 1:00, when we crater.

And I mean CRATER. I have never seen a little boy nod off in a highchair, until this week. I have never hauled a sleepy baby in from a car seat, and actually PUT HIM BACK DOWN TO SLEEP, until this week.

But here is the part that makes no sense to me whatsoever: Shouldn’t a one-hour morning nap and a one-hour afternoon nap convert into one TWO-HOUR afternoon nap?

Shouldn’t it?

Well, no. At least not by Hank’s logic. He just graduated himself into one more hour of play time. So mama just earned herself one more cup of stout, sugared-up coffee.

And I don’t even want to think about the day when we will have to go to NO NAP AT ALL. Hopefully, I have years before that happens.

If I don’t, please just don’t tell me.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

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Tired? Do I LOOK Tired? YOU are the one who looks tired, Mama!

5 Things I Learned Today

As a proud boymom of four rough and tumble stud-muffins (counting my three awesome stepsons), I am constantly learning things that take me by surprise.

Today was an especially exciting day full of (mis)adventures, and here are five handy little good-to-knows I took home from all the fun!

  1. A toddler can catch himself–and I mean completely save himself from falling down a row of bleachers by grabbing onto his mama’s ponytail. And surprisingly enough, even if that toddler weighs 25 pounds, it won’t even pull any of mama’s hair out! (She will, though, need a few advil for the headache that comes directly after saving a child’s life via ponytail.)
  2. Once a little boy learns how to run, HE WILL HAVE PERMANENTLY SCRAPED KNEES. Both of them. Especially when it is 90 degrees outside for weeks straight and just way too hot for long pants.
  3. Cherry limeade comes up out of carpet much better than you might think it would. (Sidenote- toddlers can also reach much higher than you think they can. So if you think that your cup is out of reach, just go ahead and put it up somewhere even higher. Your carpet will thank me.)
  4. Yogurt squeeze packets are the worst invention ever. But they are really, really fun for toddlers. If mama is busy doing dishes, and the aforementioned toddler holds one by the bottom with the top unscrewed, and spins in circles all around the kitchen, it will make pretty pink designs all over the sides of the island! And the floor, and the table and chairs, and the barstools. . .
  5. And lastly: Little boys can pretty much get away with murder. Because they are just so damn adorable. This mama is in BIG trouble!!!
Yep, better wash that off before it dries

If I Were My Cell Phone, Where Would I Be?

The day started off spectacularly. Hank only got up once in the night, and he actually slept in. TIL 8:15 A.M. This was unprecedented.

Daddy was already well on his way to Nebraska for work. I scooped Hank up out of his crib, and could instantly tell he was in the most amazing mood! Usually on days when it’s just me at home, Hank is more clingy than normal, but today he was full of playful energy. After pouring him a fresh sippy of milk, I set him down to run around the kitchen. I fired up the Cuisinart, excited to have the luxury of both hands free to make myself a good coffee! No Keurig quickie-coffee for this mama today!

Well, it was a good thing Hank was entertaining himself, because I had phone call after phone call all morning long. The HVAC wasn’t working right at the building. Our electrician was fixing lights in a few suites. A gal inquired about available office space. The flower shop called to say they were having trouble delivering some flowers I had ordered for my best friend. Phone call after phone call came in, and thanks to the freshly-brewed cappuccino in my hand, I managed work from home pretty efficiently while also feeding the hungry one-year-old breakfast.

After I filled his little tummy up, I glanced over at the clock and had a minor freak-out! I still needed to get showered, dressed, makeup on, pack a lunch for baby, and get him down for his nap before I had to leave for a luncheon that started at 11:30! My wonderful dad was planning to watch Hank for me since my also-wonderful mama (his usual babysitter) was attending the luncheon with me. And I was getting picked up in 40 minutes!

I took the world’s fastest shower, threw on some clean clothes, and towel-dried my hair. That was going to have to be good enough! I looked for my phone to check with my folks about letting themselves into the house, since I would be putting Hank down when they arrived.

Hank.

I had just handed it to Hank, three minutes before, as he cruised around the bathroom like a crazy man, obviously mirroring his running-late mama. He was pulling things out of cupboards and drawers, yanking my wet towels off the shower door, and pulling clothes out of our closets. I had handed him my phone to try to keep him entertained, looking at “Hank and Daddy” on my home screen; turning it off and on, like he loves to do.

But now, the phone was nowhere to be found.

“Hank, where’s mama’s phone?” I asked him, well aware that even if he did remember where he put it, odds of him leading me right to it were slim to none.

He smiled and laughed. Clearly, this is a fun new game!

He smiled and laughed even more as I started running around the bathroom frantically, opening all the drawers, peering in all the cupboards, and crawling around our closets on my hands and knees, asking “Where is mama’s phone, Hankers? Where did you hide it?”

The harder I looked, the funnier Hank thought it was. He made sure to get in on the fun by tearing things apart even MORE while “trying to help me find it.”

He thought it was even funnier when I tried my best mama mime and acted out “phone” using both touch-screen and phone-calling charades to him. He obviously understood my charades perfectly well, because he started doing them back at me, laughing, of course! But did he take me to the phone? 

Nope.

You know what’s really helpful when you are looking for something important and you are already running late?

I don’t! But I do know that it is DEFINITELY NOT a one-year-old toddler!

Once our master bath and his-and-hers closets looked like a burglar had ransacked them, I finally got lucky. I happened upon a humidifier I used for Hank back when his crib was in our room. It was tucked under my hanging work clothes in the back of my closet. A little blinking light caught my eye from inside the dark blue plastic water reservoir. (Which thankfully, was empty.) THANK GOD for whoever commented on my Facebook or left me a voicemail or texted me or WHATEVER it was that caused that little light to blink!

MY PHONE!!!!! There it was, stuck down in the tank of the abandoned humidifier. I marveled at the fact that the hole he had shoved it through was hardly wide enough to get the phone pulled back out. That little turkey must have really worked at it, to even get it in there in the first place!
Even in my harried, frustrated state; I had to applaud my mischievous little blonde boy for his ingenuity! He found an absolutely incredible hiding place for my phone in less than three minutes, one I will know to check first the next time something I need goes missing.

What is the moral of this story?

Don’t give your toddler your phone as a toy?

Don’t keep some old humidifier stuffed back in the back of your closet, where your toddler can hide important things?

No. The moral of the story is this:

Don’t take the extra 10 minutes to make yourself a gorgeous, foamy cappuccino by hand, on a day when you have scheduled plans.

Make the 30-second instant Keurig cup of drip coffee. Because you are going to need that extra 10 minutes to FIND YOUR *#%@?!&* CELL PHONE!!!

Taking a Bite Out of Life 

Teething. . .ahhhh teething. I have spent the last nine months of Hank’s life wondering: Why didn’t God design babies to be born with all their teeth in? 

Hank has three different teeth all coming in at once, which is equal parts awful and great. The great is my way of positive thinking. I say knock three more out at once, little boy, and let’s get this misery over!

The ONLY upside to teething is the new and exciting varieties of foods we can feed the little piggy as he gets more and more teeth. He has gotten quite good at crunching, now that he has some molars, and last night we introduced him to his new favorite food – fresh sweet corn – on the cob!

I didn’t intend to introduce it to him on the cob, I was mostly just excited for him to try such a yummy new vegetable. He had never been overly impressed with corn from the freezer or a can. 

He wasn’t convinced that he needed to try this corn at first either; the beautiful pile of yellow and white kernels I cut off for him (like I do my own) did not seem to interest him in the least. He was too busy watching the rest of the table eat their corn. He was fascinated! The lightbulb finally clicked on in my mama-brain and I realized he wanted to eat his corn like a man – like his daddy and big brothers were. With his chompers, right off the cob. 

What could it hurt? I thought, so I grabbed a half ear and held it for him. It took him about one failed bite to realize he needed to really give her hell if he was going to get anywhere on that cob! 

He looked that corn cob over, opened up wide, and bit into it with those 11 sharp little teeth like he was entered in a corn-on-the-cob eating contest. He meant business! I am not sure what part of it delighted him more; the yummy corn, the fact that he was now doing exactly what big brothers and daddy were doing, or the delightful pop, pop, pop the kernels made as he bit through them. I kept turning the cob for him and he kept biting away, loving it more and more as he went. I am not sure he was even stopping to breathe between bites.

All I could see in my mind’s eye while my little man inhaled corn like a big boy, was the bugs bunny cartoon where he eats corn-on-the-cob like a typewriter, complete with the “DING!” when he got to the end of the row! 

Turn please, mama!

The pride was bursting out of me, and I even took a video of the corn-eating machine to send to his Grandpa, a corn-eating legend in our family. 

After Hank finally decided he had had enough, he pushed the (second) empty cob back into my hand and turned around on my lap. 

Oh, now I get a snuggle from my big boy, too! 

What a way to top off a great dinner! I was thrilled, so excited he had mastered a new skill and enjoyed it so much. 

I didn’t get to savor my proud snuggle long. I became much less thrilled with Hank’s new skill about one second later when I felt a sudden burning pain—

“OWWWW!!!!”

I looked down, and there was my little piggy, sinking his corn-cob chompers into his mama’s arm. And he was giving her hell!

In celebrating his corn-cob eating prowess, we had created a monster! He obviously has the biting thing down. What he really needs is more practice with some cut-off corn kernals, his spiderman bowl, and a spoon; like I originally intended. I think that might be a better skill to focus on for now. 

The adorable little teeth marks in my bicep agree with me.

Hank the Tank and his beloved corn-on-the-cob

I Don’t Need A Gym Membership, I Have A Toddler

I love food. Almost as much as I love my baby, my baby’s daddy, and wine. So “eating for two” was one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. I tacked on 50 pounds like it was nothing.

I thought it might be a struggle to get those 41 non-baby pounds off, but nursing was a miracle weight loss plan. The weight fell off surprisingly fast, thanks to the chubby blonde tumor that was permanently attached to my boob. Too fast, in fact.

By the time I hit the 12-month mark, I looked like a skeleton with skin. (And boobs.) I had lost every one of the 50 pounds I gained and about 13 more I didn’t have to spare in the first place. My husband was worried about his waif of a wife, so I kicked off the calf and hopped back on my pregnancy eating-for-two diet to put some weight back on.

Now that the (hyperactive) weaned calf is toddling around, I found that it doesn’t matter how much I eat, I can’t gain a pound! Toddler rearing might just be the new miracle weight loss fad of the decade. It’s a little bit like training for American Ninja Warrior, but with no Mt. Midoriyama. (Or screaming crowd of fans.) My big red button at the end of each obstacle-filled day is a big glass of red WINE. But, it damn sure is keeping me skinny! Here is a sampling of my daily exercise program, which I have lovingly dubbed American Ninja Mommy:

  • The pick-up-the-sippy-without-setting-down-the-baby squat. 14-month-olds, it seems, suddenly develop an attachment disorder, which means I cannot detach mine from my hip and set him down without a screaming, crying fit. But it’s all good! He is just pushing me to feel the burn! The deep squat is far more effective with a 26 pound weight on one arm while you scoop down to grab the milk with the other. And, repeat.
  • The “crib” yoga pose. This pose involves bending at the waist over the side of the crib, holding a hand on the chest of the almost sleeping toddler and keeping perfectly still for up to 10 minutes because he is So. Close. To. Sleep. If you break pose before his breathing changes, you will have to start from scratch. Hold that pose, mamas! Don’t weaken!
  • The stair stepper. Descend and ascend the 6 stairs that lead from the kitchen to the living room repeatedly, to retrieve the milk sippy/ball/paci/cell phone that the toddler has launched over the baby gate. Again.
  • Naked baby wind sprints. Post bath, if you look away for one millisecond to grab the lotion or jammies, the dripping toddler WILL open the nursery room door and run through the rest of the house before you can get the diaper on him. The race is on, mamas. The goal of this exercise is to catch that ticking pee bomb before your kitchen floor does. Diaper! Ready. . .GO!
  • Highchair waist bends. Meal times are all about core strengthening, ladies. Your toddler trainer will be happy to provide you with infinite spoon drops- all you need to do is bend. Pick up spoon, hand spoon to toddler, and repeat.
  • The dead- (asleep) lift. Once you have a sleeping toddler sprawled across your lap in the rocking recliner, you must rise from your seated position with the toddler held perfectly still, carry him over to the crib, and lay him down without waking him. High chair waist bends will come in handy here (see previous exercise).
  • The Time-to-Put-the-Toys-Away burpees. This exercise is a good cool down for the end of the workout, usually best done right before bed after the toddler has crashed for the night. Down to floor, grab a toy, up to your feet, walk it over to toy box/corner of the room/heap of toys behind the couch. And repeat. Repeat until you can actually see your pretty area rug again and you begin to feel somewhat on top of things. (Note: this exercise may be skipped, depending on how intense of a workout you have already had that day. You can always do it tomorrow.)

The very best part of this workout system is the $40/month you will save from gym membership fees. It can now be spent on Riesling, Malbecs, and Starbucks; the only dietary supplements recommended with this plan. Get ready to lose, mamas! (Pounds, that is!) And your happy little toddler trainer? While he may not celebrate your efforts like a paid personal trainer should, he will be the reason you wake up each new day, ready to do it all over again. And that is a huge WIN.

A Missing Fear of Heights

We Wilsons live in a house with many, many stairs. We decided baby gates were really only needed on the tops of two of our staircases – at least at first – so we put those in and called it good. After many months of both his Daddy and me trying to keep our determined little Hankster from figuring out how to go UP the stairs, he finally got his chance. And he mastered it in about one minute. By the time I got over to him he was already halfway up, and nailing it, so I let him keep going against my better judgement! When he got to the top he did a little victory dance with an adorable squeal, as if he knew he had just accomplished something against great odds. I was equal parts proud for him and terrified for me.

As he danced around at the top of the landing, I had a scary revelation. With this new accomplishment came a new challenge: going back down the stairs. Why oh why did we build the split level house with three long flights of stairs? And why oh why does he think if he just runs straight at the stairs faster he will get down them easier? This adorable monster of ours obviously does not understand the concepts of heights, inertia, or danger

Just crawl down them backwards and show him, they said. He will pick it right up, they said.

Well, he still hasn’t figured out the whole “down” thing yet, so I’m praying he does soon! It takes so much willpower to not just scoop him up and carry him down myself!

My other terrifying Hank adventure this week also involved great heights, but this one included a near-death experience! He decided that in addition to not being afraid of heights, he would also try to be a stunt baby!

Why not?

Our back deck is one of Hank’s favorite places. I love letting him play out there while I do dishes, because it is hooked right to the kitchen. Daddy built us a hell-for-stout baby gate on the stairway down, and a big sunshade overhead as well, so we both thought our deck was one big wonderful outdoor playpen where he couldn’t really get into too much trouble.

Keep the monster caged!

That is, until I saw him try to get himself OUT of the playpen!

I made the mistake of taking a work call while I was cleaning up the kitchen a few mornings ago, and after the minute-or-so phone call I peeked out the door to check on Hank and I almost fainted. There he was – laying on his back, wriggling his chubby little bod underneath the bottom railing of the deck! And he must have channeled his inner Flat Stanley, because he was already up to his waist!

I panicked, rushed over to him and yanked him out, and frantically yelled for his Daddy while Hank looked at me with disdain, like I had foiled his plan. I never in a million years would have thought A) that he would be able to fit under there and B) that he would have any desire to find out whether or not he did!

Well, he sure did. And once I explained the whole emergency to Daddy, he tried to ease my mind with some good old Daddy logic.

“You know honey, his head definitely wouldn’t have fit through anyways, if he could have even gotten that far.”

Oh, ok! I feel much better now!

Seriously? So what you are saying, Daddy, is that his 25 pound body could get through and dangle from his 81st percentile-sized head, and you would be ok with that?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And I was just not ok with risking it, either, on account of “we didn’t think he would fit through there.” Simply “watching him closer” didn’t seem like the right solution either, as fast as he had gotten himself into his little predicament in the first place!

So off to Home Depot we went, and the 1-by-2s quickly went up around the bottom railing so I can sleep at night and Hank can still continue to enjoy his lovely alfresco redwood playpen. Crisis averted. For now, anyways. Probably just until the monkey realizes he can climb the rails!

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Just try to get through there now, you adorable little Houdini!