Dear Jerrod

WritingThis is a total cheater post in which I write a letter to a friend and pretend it’s a blog post.

My super cool friend Jerrod checks in with me from time to time and I was juuuust about to write him back, and I was going to say something like, “I hate that I never have time to blog and…” blah blah, something else, and then my brain said, “Whoa there, little filly,”—apparently my brain is part cowgirl, and thinks I’m a horse. No problems there— “whoa. Why don’t you take all that energy you’d put into writing Jerrod and smack it into a blog post? Two birds, one stone, something about a bush perhaps…point is: It’s a good idea. *tongue click* *tongue click*.” At which point I trotted to my computer and fired up the ol’ WordPress.

BUT (don’t leave sweet reader! I promise you’ll like it too!) I basically sound the same if I’m writing to one person or a hundred (is that a good thing? Be sure to weigh in in the comments. Lord knows I lost track of normal a while ago), so you can pretend I wrote this to you, too. Ahem.

Dear Jerrod,

Greetings from the blow up couch that is currently taking up my entire living room! Yes, it’s true. The baby is still not sleeping. We’re trying to train her to sleep through the night again, but it necessitates a wee bit of crying on her part and, due to the opera-singer-quality pipes she has, we can’t keep her in the room she shares with her sister. So, she goes in our room, we go on the blow up couch in the living room, and everyone is equally miserable. Problem solved.

I’m really hating that I don’t have time to write much anymore. I write half a blog post in my head while I’m making coffee or driving the girls around, but I just can’t seem to make it back to the computer and take the time to actually write the whole thing out. I don’t know what’s worse—not writing, or having all those words rattle around in my head all the time. There’s enough stuff loose up there already.

We’re heading into a new season here. No, not Fall, because that’s not really a thing in San Diego. Instead, we transition from Summer with a season called Lunacy, in which we celebrate a thousand birthdays and our anniversary, craft Halloween costumes for four, chase the brilliant idea of making all of our Christmas presents (hello boiling beeswax, fabric scraps, sewing machine and insanity), and drink a questionable number of Hot Toddies. Every year I enter it with the highest hopes of being magical and lovely and sensible, and I end it with burns from the hot glue gun. It’s quite the spectacle.

So, that’s me. Mostly. I dunno I probably forgot a ton of stuff. Lunacy descends. How are you & the fam? Cough it up, friend. Cough it up.

photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by jeffery james pacres at flickr. 

Sleep deprivation makes me cranky/murderous

exhaustedThe baby won’t sleep you all. Maybe it’s teething, or she developed bad habits when she recently had a cold, or perhaps she’s part werewolf and the moon is calling her to the woods. I really, honestly don’t know.

Whatever the cause, we find ourselves meeting the end of the day—which should be full of fluffy pillows and dancing sugarplums—with a howling dread. The night is when the screaming comes. The night is bad. Bad, bad nighttime.

At some point last night the baby was really going for it. I mean, with gusto. Like there is an olympic event for not sleeping and she was going to qualify if it killed her (and us. Sacrifices must be made for greatness.). The cat then sniffed our weakness and decided it was time to feign starvation and beg for food. This will not do, kitty. Oh no, it will not. The werewolf thing was *definitely* not the problem. It was the cat. For sure.

Me: “Did you feed the cat?”
Stephen: “Yes.”
Me: [irritated pause]
Stephen: “I could…”
Me: “Let’s kill the cat.”
Stephen: “…feed her a little more.”
Me: “Oh, yeah. Sure. Or that.”

One of us tolerates sleep deprivation better than the other.

And that’s my 100th post, friends. An account of my brief flirtation of the idea of murdering our family cat. Hooray?

A Royal Decree from Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III

Crown baby booties

Hear ye! Hear ye! The following is a Royal Decree from her Majesty Princess Chubbila Stinkerton III on her first birthday. Should any deviation from this decree occur, her Majesty’s discontent will be made known with a loud wail.

  1. Toys are no longer accepted in the presence of the princess; only trash, or items of formidable danger, preferably those shaped like the windpipe. Do not attempt to remove items from the hands of the princess at any time.
  2. Anyone who attempts to remove excrement from the princess’ nether regions shall have their murder plotted forthwith.
  3. Tasks of any importance that do not revolve around the pleasure of the princess shall not be tolerated.
  4. If the princess desires what you have, you shall relinquish it.
  5. The princess desires what you have.
  6. The princess shall utilize the magic of a forest troll to detect any sense of relaxation. Such senses will be vanquished.
  7. The princess’ pinky nail shall never be trimmed under any circumstances. The caretaker shall receive the shame of others who do not allow their charges to look as if they have a drug habit.

If you succeed in holding up these tenants, you will be rewarded with signs of affection. They will be hug-like and kiss-like in nature, and they will be coated in thick slobber and food remnants. Do not offend the princess by wiping said slobber from your face in her presence.

 p.s. Happy birthday Princess Stinkerton. We’re exceedingly blessed by your ridiculous self. Love you to bits.  

Photo credit Funky Shapes on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Buy these booties & other cute stuff at the Funky Shapes Etsy Store

 

Mother of a Broken Heart

Yesterday, my 4-year-old and I went to an appointment with her cardiologist.

Now, if a 4-year-old has a cardiologist, then you know something rather craptastic happened at some point. For reference, here’s a summary of our crapisode:

Heart EKG painting photo by Leo Reynold

When our first daughter was 2 weeks old, she screamed all the time. She had a hard time eating, and then she started breathing really rapidly. She also looked pretty pale, but we are very white, Casper-esque people ourselves so maybe it was normal…? Being first-time parents, it was impossible to know which things were normal crazy baby things, and which things we should flip out about. Being the judicious people we are, we went ahead and had a tiny bit of panic about most everything.

When the breathing thing started though, we asked ourselves, “Is this crazy crazy, or normal crazy?” Having received no answers from each other’s blank, sleep-deprived stares, we called the advice nurse.

After a couple of “it’s probably fine,” phone conversations, we still weren’t totally convinced and my husband decided he would feel better about going back to work if we had someone look at her again. So in we went.

Enter the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus, starring our 15-day-old baby.

Nurses and doctors and EMTs materialized in the exam room. I heard a call to the ambulance. A nurse prodded my daughter’s head with a gigantic needle, commenting, “This looks scary, but it’s okay.” Then they smothered her face with a bag of ice noting again that it looked scary, but it was okay. Somewhere between that, the crash cart, the intubation, the swollen liver, and the blood transfusion I got the distinct feeling that things were not, in fact, okay. We had left the realm of normal crazy, and landed squarely in the vast terrain of crazy crazy.

The next few days were spent with nurses monitoring and logging our daughter’s frequent episodes of tachycardia, while a bunch of doctors tried to figure out why the heck she was having them in the first place. About the fourth day, they figured out that she has an accessory pathway in her heart, which was throwing it off, and rocketing her heart rate to 230+. The fifth and sixth days were spent finding the right cocktail of medications to help her heart regulate and regain strength, and help her body get rid of the extra fluid that had built up under all that stress.

On the eighth of some of the longest days of my life, we were sent home with three bottles of medicinal magic, thus ending the tour of the Life-Threatening Holy Moses Circus. We were not sad to see it go. We administered a slightly complicated schedule of elixirs for six months, and then it was like it never even happened. No medication. No heart beating straight out of a tiny chest. No Significantly less panic.

What do I want to say about all of this anyway?

As I read “Normal,” on the EKG printout, and heard her doctor say to himself, “Perfect,” and, “Strong,” as he listened to her heart, I knew I wanted to write something about this whole wild thing we experienced. But what?

I could talk about how the NICU is strangely frightening and comforting and lonely and communal all at the same time. About how all the parents share fears and hopes and unspoken sadness. How you see parents go home with their babies and you feel such happiness for them, along with a deep pang of jealousy. How you scrub your arms, up to the elbows, for the full three minutes every time you enter the room because each baby feels like the thinnest glass, and you don’t want whatever germs you carry to be the thing that shatters them. How NICU nurses are pure gifts. How when you hear those NICU nurses held your baby in the middle of the night, you want to weep because it wasn’t you.

I could talk about exactly how devastating it is to get a rejection letter from an insurance company while your baby is intubated and unconscious from the morphine, because she—at 15 freaking days old—has a “pre-existing condition.” About how pre-existing conditions are absolute bullshit, and if eliminating their use by insurance companies is all the Affordable Care Act does successfully, it’s still a huge win for all of us. How insurance premiums, and co-pays, and exorbitant charges feel like ransoms when you realize you’ll pay any amount of money to see your kid live another day. And how that—that is just plain immoral.

I could talk about how the gratitude that lives in my bones, in my heart, and in my soul doesn’t keep me—on those normal crazy days that are unbelievably hard—from wanting to run from my family and live in a small wooden cabin in Canada.

I think what I really want to say, though, is that I love her. I love her, I love her, I love her. And her perfect, strong, normal heart brings me to my knees with joy. She is precious, and sacred, and funny, and crazy, and I love her.

Holy Moses.

 

Photo credit Leo Reynold at FlickrCC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Keepin’ it Real for Mother’s Day Again

Every year around Mother’s Day, I wonder why I don’t see any cards that I relate to. Cards that speak to me. Cards that praise the everyday accomplishments of mothers everywhere.

Like calling poison control and discovering that the thing your kid ate is non-toxic. Or answering 204 questions in the span of an hour and a half without giving yourself a concussion just for the peace and quiet. Or getting anything—really, even one. single. thing—done while children are in your care.

So, because I’m a giver, I’ve whipped up some e-cards that really capture the spirit of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Here’s hoping there’s a mimosa coming your way.

someecards.com - The swears in your frustration rants are barely even audible. Mom, you're just the classiest. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Your voice is always so calm—even when you get that look in your eyes. Thanks for thinly veiling your cracking spirit, Mom. - Read more amazing things at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - Mom, remember that one time I snuggled sweetly on your shoulder? Sorry I threw up on you after that.

someecards.com - We're taking a family vacation for Mother's Day! LOL. Just kidding. We bought you a real present. - Read more amazingness at www.MelanieCrutchfield.com

someecards.com - I don't love you THAT much, Mom, but I AM afraid of that stranger. Thanks for being better than that stranger.

 

Can’t get enough? Check out Keepin’ It Real for Mother’s Day (2012) and Happy Motherhood Survival Day (2013). And while you’re at it, go ahead and share your favorite everyday accomplishment. Kid didn’t eat an eraser today? Brag on that business, mama. 

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

The Parent Olympics Storified (& Stanley Broke the Internet)

First things first; The Parent Olympics were awesome. I think most of you were out having Pho and planning your gubernatorial campaigns, so live viewing was a touch on the skim side. Not to worry though, folks; I storified it. Now that you have a full belly and a clear campaign strategy, hop over to Storify.com and check it out.

ParentOlympicsStorifiedScreenCap

My favorite moment? This one:

FavoritePOMoment

Plus all of this awesome stuff:

Seriously, go see the whole shebang. Good times. Jerrod was an amazing co-host, and made the event that much better. Really that’s a compliment for me—I make awesome decisions. High five, me.

Less awesome were the antics of Stanley, the horribly obnoxious internet drunk. Oh, Stanley, I could just punch you in the mouth.

See, what happened readers—and you may have noticed this last night—is that Stanley hopped on my computer while I was participating in my own Parent Olympics. And wow—can that dumb guy screw stuff up. In the process of posting and unposting the Storify version, posts were pushed to the blog, and then pushed to Facebook, AND Twitter, AND LinkedIn, AND (I assume) Barack Obama got copies of them. Because the internet is tricky, drunken Stanley published a couple of posts with just a link, some with some jibberish-looking code, and one with a selfie of him after he abandoned his pants. (Gross, Stanley.)

The lesson? Don’t let a drunk/angry/possibly imaginary old man get his hands on the internet. You know he’s just gonna break it.

So sorry for that, you all. Stanley is terrible and we should ALL punch him in the mouth. I may have bore the tiniest bit of responsibility in the whole debacle, so please accept my apologies as well. But mostly let’s get really angry at Stanley.

p.s. When I was all stressed about the social media cacophony emanating from my blog, I did what any reasonable person would do: watched internet videos of cats. It was almost worth the stress and frustration to come across these gems. (ht Cute Overload)

The Parent Olympics

Two weeks ago the winter Olympics opened with great fanfare, and athletes from all over the globe gathered to have their skills tested and their hard work put on display. They squinted their eyes as their grit and determination pushed them toward medal podium. They held their breath, wondering if it was worth sacrificing so much for the love of the games.

Simultaneously, another Olympics carried on, the opening ceremonies for which are held daily as tiny feet march down the hall, ready to break even the strongest competitor. The competitions are held in living rooms, bedrooms, family vans, and playgrounds. These games have no end, and no real winner—only survivors. They are…

The Parent Olympics

Tonight at 5 PST/7 Central, Jerrod from Never Had One Lesson (@jerrodkc) and I (@HelloMelanieC) will bring you live coverage of the games on Twitter. So stay tuned for such events as:

• The Bedtime Sneak-and-Crawl

• The Get Anywhere on Time, and

• The 30-minute Clean Shirt Event

Are you a parent warming up for your next event? A relative watching a brutal tumble? An innocent bystander now covered in ice cream after a mini mall meltdown? Join us: #ParentOlympics

See you in the arena.

background image in graphic by John Keogn via Flickr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Good Morning, Snuggles

I have about eight—drat, no, seven—minutes to pound this out. Seven minutes to cobble some words together and jam them onto this screen here, and hope they make some kind of sense. Tick tock. No pressure.

It’s been a while. Things in my life are basically freaking bananas all the time. I had another kid last year, (hence the pregnancy post) and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just suck all time and energy right out of your life. I mean, sucking like a vacuum in a cartoon where all the forest animals and leaves and pine needles and newspapers and old people get sucked into it. Like that.

When this new lil’ babe was born, beneath the torrential avalanche of need, I extended myself a little rope, tied to the boat of sanity. That rope was this: you can’t do much more than this, Melanie. You just can’t. You’ve got two people that need you all the freaking time, the idea of “me time” is laughable, and parenting is about as easy as threading a needle with an invisible worm. So to make it I had to let go of my dream to-do list, and pare it down to something simpler. It turned out about like this:

• Get out of bed

• Survive 10 hours until Stephen comes home

• Do not slap strangers as a result of exhaustion and anxiety

• Hug the girls really and truly at least once a day

• Don’t stress-eat all the food in San Diego

It’s a pretty limited list, but I know it’s within my capabilities, though just barely.

(Crap, I’m out of time, you all.)

So, good morning, Snuggles. I’m still here and alive and I still want to write and I want to hug your blessed little faces with my thought pukes. Even if it’s only seven minutes at a time.

Five and a Half Tips for Surviving Your New Baby

So you’re having a baby! Huzzah! Soon you will have the minor task of being solely responsible for the health and well-being of an entirely helpless, dependent human. Don’t freak! I’ve got five and a half top-shelf tips to get you on your way. Like so:

Clean That Thing Off

If you’ve grown your baby in your very own uterus, have someone clean it off before they thrust it on you for the first time. Newly minted babies are gross (truth), and your affection for them is what keeps you from abandoning them in the forest like a spooked mama fox. Don’t let your first remark about your little rascal be, “Ick.” Give yourself the upper hand and have someone give that kid a good once-over with a towel.

The Puke Luge™

Baby Puke on the Couch

The night before this happened we were like, “Hey, should we scotch guard the couch?” and then we were like, “Nah, that’s a lot of work and the can says we’ll probably blow up our house.” Then I didn’t use the Puke Luge™.

Babies like to puke up a lot of the food you so carefully funnel into their little gullets. Prime targets for said puke are the third shirt you’ve put on that day, and your newly cleaned couch.

To avoid both scenarios, use my patented 2-step Puke Luge™ solution. First, don’t burp the baby over your shoulder rather, hold the baby upright on your lap, holding a burp cloth beneath her little chinny-chin-chin (fig. A). Then, place the other end of the burp cloth on a pillow next to you (fig. B). This creates the luge track on which your baby’s puke will be safely corralled, shirts and furniture left unsoiled.Puke Luge

The Baby Straightjacket

Babies like to claw the crap out of their faces, making you look like the Freddy Kruger of parents. Not great. Your options for resolving this are: those baby mittens that stay on for roughly the amount of time it takes a mouse to sneeze; cutting your baby’s nails, which will definitely result in lopping off some of your baby’s finger; or the baby straightjacket (also known as swaddling).

The baby straightjacket is the clear winner, in my opinion. If you can get a nurse to teach you, that’s best (those people do not mess), if not, the Mayo Clinic has some pretty pictures to show you.

Hold on to Those Maternity Clothes

Again, if your baby is grown in your very own body, immediately following birth you’ll be like, “Ohmigosh I’m so skinny!” Then you’ll see a mirror and you’ll be like, “Sixth month of pregnancy redux? What the heck?”

Yes, that’s the dill, Pickle. You’re just gonna have to be okay with it.

If It Seems Weird, Maybe it IS Weird

Babies do all kinds of weird crap, but some of it is normal weird, and some is weird weird. As a new parent, you totally won’t know the difference. (Awesome!)

If something seems weird, check it out. Don’t worry about seeming like an ignorant, overprotective wacko of a parent. You probably are, but don’t worry about it. Most doctor’s offices have a nurse that you can talk to on the phone before racing to the emergency room. Also, Google is pretty good at giving you a little pre-info.

Embracing the I-don’t-know-but-it-seems-weird mantra probably saved my kid’s life, so I’m a fan. (All the credit for that goes to my husband. He’s a better person than I am. (Why am I left alone with the kids again?))

Sub-point: Watch out for Internet Weirdos

Google is great for doing a quick WTF check on lots of stuff. The Mayo Clinic and WebMD are pretty solid resources. However, the internet is chock-full of weirdos because there’s no test you have to pass to spew opinions all over our shared info web. So when you search for “gassy baby,” you’ll inevitably find the person that says, “I gave my baby an enema with a straw and a diet coke.” No thanks, moonbeamdaddy43. We’re gonna pass on that.

Have I left something unaddressed? Well ask away! I’m an internet weirdo with an entire website all to myself, so clearly I’m qualified.

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