Saturday, 26 May 2012

Stupid Mom Tricks

Stupid mom tricks- every mom has them. These are the little systems we invent to make the day to day hassles a little less hassle-y. These tricks aren't actually stupid, they are just simple, but aren’t the simplest solutions usually the best?  So, without further ado, I present to you my stupid (smart) mom tricks.

Problem: You finally get your newborn baby to sleep, and you are dying to get some yourself. You brush your teeth, put on your comfiest pyjamas and curl up in your nice warm bed that you now appreciate more than ever. You are just drifting off into dreamland, and the shrill piercing sound of your baby’s cry startles you awake.

Solution: Once you get your baby to sleep, do not put your pyjamas on; do not brush your teeth. Just get into bed. Assume you are going to be woken up in ten minutes, and next thing you know, it's three hours later and you've actually just SLEPT for three hours straight! Don't ask me why it works, and don't come complaining to me when all your clothes are wrinkled, and you have eight cavities. Just be grateful that you finally got some sleep.

Problem: That perfect, delicious cup of hot coffee that you've been craving all day gets cold because you got interrupted by diaper changes/ feedings/ hair covered in baby poo, OR that same delicious cup of coffee gets spilled everywhere because baby has decided to use it for batting practice.  Either way, goodbye coffee; hello grumpy mama.

Solution: Travel mugs. Not just for traveling. Use your travel mug for drinking coffee at home, and all your problems are solved- well, your coffee-related problems, anyway.  My favourite travel mug is the Contigo Autoseal mug. It has this little button that you push while you are taking a sip, and then it automatically closes again when you let go. I play with my baby on the floor, putting the travel mug down beside me, and have never had any spills, despite having it knocked over numerous times. Plus, my coffee stays hot for hours, which is very important, because cold coffee really pisses me off.

Problem: The Urination Situation: As soon as you put the baby in the tub, she thinks to herself, “What lovely warm water. I think I’ll pee now”.   My daughter used to pee in the bath about 75% of the time I bathed her (the other 25% of the time I probably just didn’t notice). 

Solution: Pee Prevention System designed to put an end to the urination situation:
Step 1: Get bath ready
Step 2: Remove baby’s clothes, leaving diaper on
Step 3: Dip baby’s feet in the water (if you’re ambitious, you may dip baby’s hands in as well) for a few seconds.
Step 4: Remove diaper, hoping that she’s peed in the diaper, thus preventing the dreaded bath pee. (Bonus points if you have the kind of diaper with the pee indicator that changes colour when the baby pees, so you can see immediate evidence of your success. Pampers- I hope you’re reading this, because I think I’ve just given you a new angle for marketing the pee indicator. You can thank me with a lifetime supply of diapers, please.)
Step 5: Bathe your baby, and enjoy every pee-free moment.
Should the pee prevention system not work, I don’t know what to tell you. Sorry, you don’t get your money back. You do, however, have my sympathy, and if I ever do get that lifetime supply of diapers, I’ll send a few your way.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

FWB (Flying With Baby) Part II


I would like to revise my previous statements about FWB (flying with baby). My last post was written from the perspective of having only ever flown with Baby by myself. However, more recently, I had the pleasure of flying with my baby and my husband, which was a completely different experience.

To use a real estate analogy (just because I like real estate), FWB alone is a musty bachelor apartment on the wrong side of the tracks, while FWBWH (Flying With Baby With Husband) is a freaking gold plated palace in Beverly Hills.

In addition to having the help of my husband, a glorious constellation of additional factors came together to produce a magical FWB experience. 

For one, our flight was nowhere near full, and the flight attendants were kind enough to allow us to bring the car seat on board so that our daughter could occupy an empty seat beside us.  I normally ask if I can do this, but I am always denied, even when there are plenty of seats available. We realized, however that even if the worker at the gate says no, the trick is to ask the flight attendant once you get on the plane. FWB with a nice flight attendant is like getting a root canal with a really nice sedative.

Because, Baby was able to relax comfortably in her own seat, she fell asleep almost immediately. “Who is this peaceful child sleeping beside me?”, I wondered. This was certainly not the squirmy seagull-screeching irritable traveler I'm used to. I kind of wished there were some loud, annoying babies on the flight with us so I could finally be the one to give their parents that patronizing, smug So-sorry-you-have-such-an-obnoxious-child look. The tables have turned, suckas!

The flight was so relaxing and brief (we were just going from Toronto to Montreal), that I almost didn’t want it to end.  Then, to top it all off, when we checked into our hotel, they informed us that we had been upgraded to the presidential suite!  Of course, it immediately became a little less presidential once we threw all our crap everywhere, and turned the dining room table into a change table, but that’s just the way we roll.  Our suite (luxury apartment, really) was outfitted with three huge TVs, a full kitchen, a Jacuzzi tub, granite countertops, a dishwasher, and a phone in the bathroom (because presidents make all their important calls from the toilet, obviously).   So what did we do with our one night in this awesome place? We did what anyone else would do- put the baby to bed, loaded a day’s worth of bottles and pumping supplies into the dishwasher, and crashed by 11:00.

The return flight was equally uneventful, and when it comes to FWB, uneventful is divine. It figures that the one time I had my husband's help while traveling was the one time the stars aligned such that I didn't need it.  Not that I’m complaining.  In fact I am celebrating the fact that I didn’t get pooed on, my daughter is happy, and I didn’t even need to eat my emergency crackers.

PS. If this post kind of sucks, I blame my husband, who was constantly trying to talk to me about random things as I typed. Then, when I asked him to stop distracting me, he placed this sign on the table beside me:


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Come Fly With Me (And My Baby, And My Dog, And My Seven Pieces of Luggage)

If you enjoy being stuck in a tiny uncomfortable chair for hours with an irritable, restless, tired little creature squirming around your lap and possibly pooing on you, then you will love flying with a baby. If not, please read on.

The first time I experienced FWB (Flying With Baby), my daughter was two months old and I was taking a three hour flight to visit my family.  My husband was unable to go with me, but I figured I should probably bring my new baby because, you know, people might want to meet her.   I also got stuck taking my dog too (long story).   My flight was at 6:00 am, and since that was usually the time when my nocturnal baby finally decided it was bedtime, I had not gotten a wink of sleep.  So here I am, at the airport, in a sleep-deprived daze, standing in line with my massive overweight suitcase, two carry-on bags, the stroller, the car seat, the car seat base, my 70 pound Labrador retriever, his kennel, and the baby.  By the time I got to my destination, my patience was tried, my arm muscles were exhausted, and my hair looked like a rotting vomit-filled bird’s nest. As I pushed the luggage cart in front of me while dragging the stroller behind me, I came to the conclusion that although I love my daughter, I hate FWB.  I hate it so much, that each time I do it, I need to purposely forget how bad it was, so that I’ll actually manage to get back on the plane to fly home.

Should you decide to take your little one on a plane, I really hope that you don’t have to do it by yourself.  I’ve actually only ever flown with the baby when I was by myself (unless you count the dog who is most unhelpful), and I can tell you that it is do-able. Here are some tips to bring the flight experience from horrible to slightly sub-horrible.

First of all, be prepared- for anything and everything.  My husband accuses me of having “contingency plans for my contingency plans”. Okay, so maybe it’s a little excessive to bring a two day supply of formula on a three hour flight, but hey you never know when you’re going to get stuck in a random airport somewhere in the middle of the night.  Also, don’t forget to bring food for yourself. I have always traveled with a full box of emergency crackers, a practice for which my husband teases me mercilessly.  Well, let me tell you, FWB can really work up an appetite, and I have been very grateful to have my emergency crackers on numerous occasions.

Aside from food, which is the cornerstone of any good flying plan (or any good plan in general, as far as I’m concerned), you will also need supplies to prevent you from becoming a poo/vomit-covered hot mess, or at least to minimize the damage.  Obviously, you should bring a lifetime supply decent amount of diapers, wipes, and tissues, and you should make them readily accessible at the top of your diaper bag. Remember, your diaper bag is on the floor, you are holding a baby on your lap, and you have to unzip and rummage through your diaper bag with one hand. Pack accordingly. Also, to store soiled clothes, you will need a few plastic bags or Ziploc bags, or for those who are kinder to the environment than I am, cloth reusable bags. In the same vein, you’ll need changes of clothes for the baby, and if you have room in your carryon, pack some for yourself as well. Although, I have no idea how you’d change into them with a baby in your arms.   

Speaking of arms, you will need more than you have. To maximize their potential, I suggest wearing your baby in a front carrier (eg. Bjorn, Ergo etc).   This comes in very handy when trying to get baggage in the overhead bins, going to the bathroom etc. The flight attendants will make you take the baby out of the carrier for take-off and landing, so make sure the one you have is easy to get your baby in and out of.

Here’s another practical tip: If coffee makes you pee like a pregnant racehorse, then you’re really better off saying no to the joe. Navigating the miniscule airplane bathrooms with a baby in your arms (or even in a carrier) is a real pain in the arse- a pain that is made worse when you accidentally slip, slamming your butt onto the toilet seat, because trying to do the hover while carrying a baby may be too much weight for your legs to bear and then- smash!  Your ass lands on that disgusting piss covered toilet seat that you were so diligently trying to avoid. Not that this has ever happened to me or anything.

For the times when your baby cries and disrupts everyone on the plane, practice your I’m-So-Sorry-I-Really-Didn’t-Expect-This-To-Happen-Please-Have-Pity-On-Me-Frazzled-Mom face so that you don’t get verbally attacked by the Not-A-Hair-Out-Of-Place-Angry-Lipped-Judgemental-Childless woman next to you who thinks that surely you must be doing something wrong for your baby to be behaving like that. Maybe I am doing something wrong. After all, it seems that all the other babies on the plane are always peacefully asleep on their parents’ laps, while my precious bundle of joy is practicing seagull screeches at the top of her lungs.  

That brings me to my next point- entertainment. Bring as many toys as you can fit in your diaper bag.  Are you starting to feel like you’re going to need a Mary Poppins bag? You probably shouldn’t bring any expensive toys, though, because by the end of the flight, they’ll all be strewn across the floor, and you’re extremely likely to lose at least one of them. That being said, what are you doing with expensive baby toys in the first place? Unless you have money to burn, in which case, you should be buying your kid his own seat, and laughing at the rest of us who are getting pooed on.

On a more serious note, it’s also important to read up on laws and policies with regard to FWB.  Depending on where you live, where you’re going, and which airline you are flying with, there may be different rules for things like your luggage allotment, stroller size, travel documentation etc.  Reading your airline’s website is a good place to start.  I only have experience with FWB in Canada, but I can tell you that I’ve never had to show I.D. for my baby on a domestic flight, although I always bring her birth certificate with me.  I also pack a photocopy of her birth certificate in case the original gets lost and keep an extra copy at home (yes, I’m anal. Get over it). In Canada, babies do require a passport to travel out of the country, and if you’re taking them out of the country alone, it’s recommended that you get a consent letter from the other parent.

If you think this is going to be a civilized trip you can forget about it, but you will survive. Make a thorough packing list, put your vanity aside, have a sense of humour, and keep things in perspective.  No matter how aggravating it can be, FWB is only a few hours of your life. Bon voyage, and next time, maybe try a staycation.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

10 Reasons Why I Couldn't Be A Crunchy Granola Momma

I first heard the term “granola” (in reference to something other than food) when I was about thirteen years old in Junior High School.  The word was used to describe my sense of style (or lack thereof, I suppose), and I was a little disappointed as it certainly wasn’t the look I was going for. The popular clothes at that time at my school were those excessively girlie, Clueless-inspired outfits. Think: short skirts, knee high socks, feather boas, and pastel coloured Mary Janes.  Being called “granola” in a sea of glammed up, lipstick-wearing pre-adolescent girls was an unequivocal insult, but I probably was a little crunchy (both in dress and in personality), and looking back, it kind of makes me proud.

Since those accidental granola days, I have grown up to become decidedly mainstream, but I like to think that I still have a little crunch in my cardigan. After all, I was a vegetarian for most of my life (I’m now an almost-vegetarian, as I started eating chicken) and I do make my own (mostly organic) baby food, but it pretty much stops there.   

Growing up in downtown Toronto, I’ve always been quite familiar with the “bohemian”/ “hippie” subculture- if you can even call it a subculture- but since becoming a mom, I have realized that there is a whole other manifestation of this culture in the world of motherhood, and I am just now starting to learn about it.
I must say, I really respect the true crunchy mommas.  Okay, well some of the really radical crunchsters are a bit kooky, but for the most part, the so-called granola moms are just regular, good people who care about the environment, promote equality and free-thinking, and work hard to raise their children in a natural and healthy manner that reflects these values. Unfortunately, I realize that I’m just not cut out to be one of them. Here’s why:

1. I'm way too lazy to do cloth diapers. Plus, I'm addicted to Pampers reward points, and if I ditched the disposables now, I'd never get enough points for that $10 Starbucks gift card I've been saving up for- which leads me to Reason #2.

2.  I love Starbucks. Big bad corporate Starbucks with their delicious overpriced lattes that smell like shopping malls at Christmas time. Mmmm.

3.  And speaking of smell, what’s patchouli, anyway?

4.  Pregnancy did not make me feel beautiful. Waddling around with fat ankles, puking in public bathrooms, and stuffing my fat face with fried chicken just didn’t make me feel like some kind of radiant fertility goddess- but that’s just me.

5.  I suck at breastfeeding. No pun intended.

6.  I kill insects, and by “kill insects”, I mean I jump three feet in the air, scream, and get someone to kill them for me.  I really hope my daughter isn’t afraid of insects, so that as soon as she is old enough, she can kill them for me. And yes, I will be teaching her to kill them, not to just set them free outside where they can break in to my house again.

7.  I let my baby watch TV. You know, just a little bit, when I’m watching. It’s educational, I swear! ADHD isn’t real, right?

8.  I believe that triple chocolate cheesecake is a food group, and is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you eat it with your hands, there aren’t any calories in it. Baby-led weaning types, take heed!

9.  My baby has toys. Lots of toys. Not some assortment of items that she strung together while frolicking through a field of dandelions, but actual plastic, Made In China, bought at Toys R Us toys. And I like them.

10.  Epidural- enough said

All kidding aside, there are times when I feel like maybe I should be just a little bit crunchier because most of the ideas of natural parenting really do fit with my value system, but I also realize that I’m just a cake-for- breakfast, insect-killing, Starbucks-drinking kind of girl, and I’m okay with that.



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