Our Vacation in Photos

Until I can come up with the words to accurately describe our trip — and recover from it a bit — here are a few pictures from the week:

Is there a moose on my head?

Me: “Only grown-ups can paddle the canoe.” Miles: “I AM a grown-up!”

Let’s see who can make the biggest splash!

This is the only time I’ve slept all week.


Fun With Babies!

So I won’t be kayaking or rock-climbing or even lying on the beach with my kids this week (Please! Like you even get a chance to SIT when you’re at the beach with small children!) But little ones can still be fun. They can! It’s just a different KIND of fun. Not so much the wild ‘n’ crazy, party-till-you-drop kind of fun. More like the G-rated family-friendly kind of fun. Just look at some of the silly things I’ve done to my babies on TheBump.com:


Vacation Trepidation

We’re gearing up for our first vacation as a family of 4. Though, as a wise but jaded friend of mine once put it, “Once you have kids it’s not a vacation. It’s just travel.” It’s true, vacation generally brings to mind sleep, relaxation, and fruity umbrella drinks. If we’re lucky, we might get the drinks. But even those will be limited for me since I’m breastfeeding. Tequila shots and nursing bras just don’t go together, you know?

We’re renting a big house on a lake with my extended family. There will be 16 of us – including a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 5-month-old. My poor relatives don’t know what they’re in for. Especially the single ones. I fear for my cousin and his girlfriend, especially. If they’re even considering marriage and parenthood, I don’t want to be the one to scare them off for good. But I can’t promise anything.

My mother has assured me that there will be plenty of volunteers to help with the kids. But what these well-meaning folks probably don’t realize is that their help may be needed pre-dawn, before COFFEE, even. They may be called upon for potty assistance, they may have to break up squabbles over Play-Doh, they may encounter poop where they never imagined poop could be found (on the baby’s SHOULDER?!). It’s not all butterfly kisses and bedtime stories, people. You’ve gotta be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Nobody better THINK they’re going to ease into the day with a cup of hot coffee and NPR. (I’m talking to you, Dad.) No, sir. Expect to hit the ground running with Dora or Blue’s Clues blaring in the background. Your coffee will go stone cold as you scramble to accommodate the needs of 3 exceptionally vocal short people. This one wants a waffle, that one wants toast, and that one wants to chew on the newspaper. But no, you cut her toast wrong! And he wanted CREAM CHEESE, not butter!! And watch out, the baby’s about to knock over your juice! Relaxed yet?

Then it’s time for a full day of recreational activities: Whitewater rafting! Jet-skis! Biking! Hiking! Right? Wrong! Too dangerous, too strenuous, too hot, too cold, or simply incompatible with the kids’ nap schedules. Sorry! Splashing in the backyard wading pool is about as adventurous as it gets with little ones.

In the evening, everyone might be looking forward to a leisurely happy hour, a late dinner, and some good conversation around the campfire. Wrong again! The kids have to be fed, bathed, and put to bed in a timely fashion unless we want a group meltdown. And since we’re in a strange place, none of them will go down easily. And when they’re FINALLY quiet, everyone else better damn well be, too. Pity the boisterous drunkard who raises their voice and wakes the baby! EVERYONE will suffer for their carelessness!

Oh, yeah, this’ll be a fun vacation. How can it NOT be? Just seeing the look on my mom’s face when I hand her the baby at 5:30 a.m. will be enjoyment enough for me. Maybe I’ll even make my cousin change a dirty diaper by himself.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Know how to make a Bahama Mama Sunrise? How about a Slammin’ Sammy? Find 700+ cocktail recipes here.


Summertime and the Livin’ is Crazy

Not much blogging going on around here this week. Too busy planning daily outings and activities here at Camp Diary of a New Mom. Whoever thinks summer is a time to kick back and relax clearly does not have a 3-year-old used to a regular schedule of preschool and gym classes and playdates. To him, summer is bo-ring. Every morning he asks, “Where are we going, Mom?” The grocery store is not a satisfactory answer.

Now that we’ve got little Riley as well, even the simplest outing is a grueling feat requiring several heavy bags packed with all manner of diapers, wipes, snacks, outfits, hats, sunscreen, and absorbent cloths. Which one of the 4 strollers we take depends on such myriad issues as the weather (full sun or overcast?), nap schedules (fully reclined or sitting up?) and the terrain (paved, gravel, or grass?) It’s exhausting, I tell you. And that’s before we’ve even left the house.

And to make things even more hectic, I took on a couple of writing assignments involving — gasp! — PHONE INTERVIEWS. Phone interviews are the bane of my work-at-home-mom existence. They are harder to pull off than a triple axel. Ideally, I schedule them only when I can be certain that both children will be out of the house and/or unconscious. Since that happens rarely-to-never, that means I’ve had to do some interviews at odd hours, like 7 p.m.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but after a full day of running after kids, enforcing rules, wiping butts, preparing meals, giving baths, etc., etc. I am FRIED. All I want to do at 7 p.m. is flop onto the couch with a big glass of wine and the remote.

To make matters worse, when I dropped the kids off at the sitter this week, she casually said, “So you’re on vacation next week, right? I’m going out of town.” No, I’m not on vacation next week, it’s the week after. Next week I’m on DEADLINE. Crap, crap, crappity-crap. What now? Like always, I’ll figure it out. Because that’s what I do. Says so right on my business card: In Charge of Figuring Out EVERYTHING.

Honestly, some days I feel like I barely have time to come up for air. I go from breakfast to getting everyone dressed to putting the baby down for a nap to returning phone calls to running errands to making lunch to doing laundry to reading stories to putting the toddler down for a nap which he may or may not take to checking e-mail to researching an article to going to the park to planning for vacation to giving everyone their medicine to making dinner to the next thing and the next and the next.

The balancing act was tough for me with one kid. Add in a baby plus freelance work, subtract school and the sitter and the equation just doesn’t work. Except that it has to. So, now that I’m back from today’s outing to the nature center and before we go on vacation, I’ll get back to figuring it out. Plenty of time to breathe later.

RECIPE O’ THE WEEK: This is a super-tasty, fairly easy, and pretty healthy summer meal, especially if you make it with soy crumbles instead of ground beef like I did: Second-Chance Taco Salad. Whether or not you prepare it while you have a wiggly baby strapped to your chest and a whining toddler at your feet is up to you.


Arguments No One Wins

So C. and I were flipping channels the other night and stopped on “The Breakup.” We were quickly reminded why we don’t have fond memories of the first time we saw it. Because it caused an argument.

It started when I hinted – OK, flat-out said – that Vince Vaughn’s character reminded me of him. Specifically, the scene where his girlfriend, played by Jennifer Aniston, asks him to help with dishes. She’d been running around all day cleaning and cooking for a dinner party – in HEELS. He flops onto the couch and says, “I just need to relax for a minute. Let’s do them tomorrow.” Then SHE says she hates waking up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, so can they just do them real quick. This launches a big fight.

I guess it’s meant to be funny, but it hits too close to home for me. What IS funny is that I saw V.V. as a typical guy and C. saw him as a thoughtless jerk and hence, was insulted when I pointed out their similarities. Meanwhile, I thought J.A. was being perfectly reasonable, and C. saw her as a nagging shrew. Hmm… what’s that thing about Mars and Venus again?

This got me thinking about those Arguments No One Ever Wins. For instance:

Who Works Harder
Me (coming into the room with a basket of unfolded laundry after nursing the baby & seeing C. on the couch): “Hey, hon, do you think you could clean up the kitchen before you start watching TV? I’ve been on my feet all day.”

C (heaving a sigh): “Well, I’VE been going all day, too. Can’t I just relax for a minute?”

Me: “You can, but then you’re going to fall asleep on the couch & you’ll be too rushed in the morning & I’LL have to clean up the kitchen. I NEVER get to relax! At least you get to sit down during the day.”

C: “You mean sitting in traffic during my 2-hr commute & then being on the phone all day? You think that’s relaxing?”

Me: “I would LOVE to sit quietly in a car by myself instead of having 2 people constantly yelling & pulling on me! When do *I* get a break? I never get to clock out!”

C: “Well, I come home & immediately take the kids. I don’t get a break either!”

Me: “They go to bed an hour after you get home! And it IS a break from what you’ve been doing all day.”

C: “Oh, so now you’re saying I don’t do anything? You don’t think my job is stressful?”


I always close with this line because really, how can he argue with that?

The Who Works Harder argument is closely related to Who Slept Worse and Who Does More Around the House. (This involves complex chore math, such as 1 lawn-mowing = 3 dishwasher empties.) When I was pregnant a popular argument was Who’s More Uncomfortable. Personally, I feel that I was the winner there, because the worst flu or tooth pain in the world IN NO WAY compares to growing a person inside your body and squeezing him out of it!

Every time I broach this subject, childless people and my mom get all up in arms. They point out that C. is a Good Guy. (He is.) They point out that he is a great dad who changes diapers and sometimes cooks. (He does.) They point out that throughout history, men have never done an equal share of the childrearing or housework. (True, but so what? As Obama has proven, change is possible!)


LINK O’ THE WEEK: Should you trade sex for housework? My personal feeling is HELL NO. Especially not when you have a 4 mo. old who’s breastfeeding around the clock. But feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.


Why Milestones Don’t Matter

Sometimes it can seem like new moms are competing in the childrearing Olympics. HER baby’s already crawling! MY baby can’t even roll over yet! And look at THAT baby, he’s practically walking! Now, I’m as guilty of this as anyone, especially when it came to potty training — I would sneak a peek at the back of Miles’ playmates’ pants to see if they were wearing Pull-ups or underwear. It made me feel better if I spotted training pants. “Thank goodness we’re not the ONLY ones,” I’d think.

But I’ve been on the other side of things, too. An acquaintance with a boy the same age as mine stopped calling us after one playdate where my son chattered away while hers grunted and pointed at toys. I heard through the grapevine that she was terribly insecure about what she perceived as her son’s delayed verbal skills. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with her kid’s speech now. All babies develop differently. Unless you have real cause for concern, get over it! Read more about why milestones don’t matter at TheBump.com:


New Baby, New Stuff

Somehow I thought because this is our second baby and he’s also a boy, we’d have all the stuff we need already. I mean, it’s not like we had to go out and replace a pink stroller or anything. But instead, I’m finding that we’re buying or borrowing all the stuff we WISH we had the first time.

Case in point: by the time I decided I could’ve used a Bumbo seat for Miles, he was too old for it. So this time, I got one for Riley. Actually, I got him a like-new BebePod at a consignment store for 50%. Score!! It’s great because he was getting sick of the bouncy seat – swing – floor mat rotation. Now he can mix it up in the BebePod! And I love that it has a seat belt. This baby would hurl himself off any surface if given half a chance. Just today he nearly took a header off the changing table.

My brother and SIL lent us an Exersaucer they weren’t using. It even comes with a handy-dandy “moat.” Perfect timing, since Riley has decided he is no longer content to sit for long and must be “standing” on his own two feet at all times. Unless he’s doing log rolls and pushups on the floor, that is. I should’ve known by the way he practiced kung fu in utero that he would be an active guy. So much for Baby #2 being the mellow one. This baby’s apparently training for the Olympics. God help me if he starts walking at 10 mos. like his older brother.

You’d think all this activity would tucker the little fella out, wouldn’t you? And that he’d have been sleeping through the night for months now? Well, you’d be wrong. All the exercise seems to be stimulating his appetite because he still eats EVERY 3 HOURS. That’s right, EVERY 3 HOURS. It’s brutal, people. I’m up 3-4 times a night. That’s 4 consecutive MONTHS of interrupted sleep, not even counting the last several weeks of pregnancy, which were by no means restful. It’s amazing I can tie my shoes and string two sentences together.

Wondering if Riley’s outgrown his prolific puking? Again, that’s a big fat no. He regularly empties the contents of his stomach all over himself and anything within a two-foot radius. He goes through more bibs and burp cloths than diapers. I’m afraid the nickname “Spewie” might just stick for good. That’ll be a nice anecdote for the rehearsal dinner, huh?

The lesson here is, being a second-time mom does not give you a leg up in any way. New kid, new rules, new stuff. It’s like I’m a brand-new mom all over again. And I’ve got the under-eye circles to prove it.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: I needed a refresher on what age babies should be for certain apparatus:

BebePod/Bumbo seat: 3-12 mos.

Exersaucer: 4-12 mos.

Doorway jumper: 4 mos.-walking

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