Go play outside & try not to die, sweetie

Ah, winter. That beautiful time of year when everything dies and the air hurts your face and your soul turns as gray as week-old snow. It’s such a pity it only lasts four months, a mere one hundred and twenty thousand million days too long.

On the plus side, all this miserable weather makes it damn near impossible to leave your house, which means you and your entire family get to stare at one another’s stupid faces nonstop as the four walls around you slowly close in. They say murder rates spike during a heat wave but I think that’s just because the police are finally finding all the thawed out bodies killed in mid-February over a family Monopoly game gone horribly wrong.

Yes, winter is always an intense time but perhaps even more so for parents of small children. This is because:

  1. All a young child wants to do, besides eat your sandwich even though they have their very own perfectly edible and almost identical sandwich, is play. All day. Every day.
  2. These same young children have absolutely no concept of age. Meaning they truly believe that you have as much fun playing “Put Elmo and Mr. Empty Shampoo Bottle Inside the Empty Tupperware Bowl 679 Times in a Row” as they do.

And this is what makes the winter so hard for parents of toddlers and preschoolers. Because while nature deals with its four-month long case of PMS, there is no longer any way of escaping those dreaded words…

“Mommy, will you come play with me?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love playing with my almost 2-year-old. It’s downright awe-inspiring watching how his little brain works and seeing him laugh and smile at his own creativity and knowing that the greatest joy in his life is having his Mommy sit on the floor with him and play “Loud Truck Runs Repeatedly Over Assorted Teddy Bears and Daddy’s Left Boot.”

Honestly, playing with him gives me a sense of peace and contentment that I’ve never known before. And that beautiful feeling lasts for all of approximately four minutes before I’m checking my watch and mentally calculating the odds of my family staging a coup and overthrowing me if I give them leftover chicken and dumplings for the fourth night in a row.

Seriously, have you ever played with a small child? (And it doesn’t count if you’re getting paid for it). Time literally stops. There you are, four games of Candyland, three puzzles and six rounds of “Smell My Stinky Feet & Humorously Overreact” later, and you check the time to see that no more than 7.5 minutes have passed. And yet you haven’t even BEGUN to quench their thirst for play time. They want more. Oh, how they want more. Always with the more and do it again and one more time and Mommy, why are you crying?

It’s specifically for this reason that the Outside was invented. Because no matter how wonderful of a parent you are, your threshold for the mind-numbing boredom of child’s play will always be reached. It’s nobody’s fault, really. It’s just our brains are wired differently. Child brains find funny noises and repetition and spinning in circles to be the height of entertainment. Parent brains find alcohol makes doing all those things much, much more entertaining.

And so, we tell our beloved offspring to “Go play Outside.” Before we kindly, but firmly, kill them. (Or, being that this is 2016, we actually say “Go play Outside but I have to come with you because you know some muumuu-wearing neighborhood busybody is going to call CPS the second they suspect a child might be unsupervised even for a second but just pretend I’m not here and go play and I’ll sit on this bench and look at my phone and secretly judge people on Facebook.”) Because Outside is a child’s natural habitat. It is endlessly fascinating for children.

Except in the winter. In winter, there is no “go Outside to play.” Hell, there’s not even a “go shovel the driveway” yet in my case, considering my son just figured out what an elbow is yesterday. And if you do make the ill-advised decision to let your children play Outside in winter, you will spend 76 minutes putting outerwear on them only to have them knock on the door 11 minutes later whining “we’re cold!” as they unleash a frozen tsunami of dripping snow throughout your house and leave a pile of wet wool behind that won’t dry out until June.

Anyway, what was my point? Oh yes, that if winter doesn’t end soon I’m pretty sure I’m going to die.

Happy almost-February, everyone!

8 Things I’ll do differently with my 2nd baby

I. Accept any and all help

If you would have told me three years ago that I’d be the kind of new mom who felt she had to do everything herself, I would have laughed so hard at you I would’ve farted, laughed even harder, farted even harder and then finished chugging my comically large glass of wine. But let me tell you, the second I heard my first born’s screams, it felt like they were physically tearing into me, causing me to whisk him away from whomever was nice enough to try to give me a much-needed break. I felt like I HAD to be the one to comfort him.

But this time? Good luck getting me to even take him/her back. My immunity to cries is nearly impenetrable.

2. Breastfeed in public

I’ll be honest. I’m probably the biggest breastfeeding in public advocate you will ever meet who has never actually breastfed in public. I always wanted to. I always meant to. But my son and I never quite mastered the smooth and barely perceptible mouth to boob maneuver. It was more like an awkward five minutes of fumbling, the breastfeeding equivalent of a freshman trying to unsnap his first bra. So I always chickened out and brought a bottle with us.

But I refuse to be intimidated this time. It’s just a boob. It’s not like I’m showing off my ankles like some kind of two-bit hussy.

3. Not worry about how fast I can drop the baby weight

I’ll lose it eventually. But there’s a only a small-ish window of time after having a baby that you can get away with still wearing maternity clothes and I plan to stretch that window to the limits of human decency.

4. Remember that crying is not indicative of my skills as a parent

And by crying, I mean both by the baby and by me.

5. Prepare the coffee the night before

The only thing that takes longer than labor and delivery is the amount of time it takes to separate coffee filters at 3:30 in the morning while you’re holding a hungry and screaming newborn against your leaking boobs that have transformed into rock hard (and painful) granite overnight. Life with a newborn would improve a thousand times over if I can only remember to take 90 seconds and set up the coffeemaker before I go to bed.

6. Stop worrying if I’m posting too many photos of my baby online

I am. Of course I am. I one hundred percent am. But who cares!? I created life, jerkwads! Look at it! I SAID LOOK AT IT!

7. Stop apologizing for being moody and hormonal

Am I being irrational? *hurls Diaper Genie at your face* Maybe. But my only job right now is keeping this tiny, demanding infant alive. And I have to do it with 20,000 tons of weapons-grade hormones hurling themselves through my exhausted body. So I can’t always be polite about it. Everyone should just automatically assume I don’t really mean it when I call them a “useless idiotic assface.”

8. Share every single intimate (and disgusting) aspect of my baby’s existence a little less

As a new mom, it’s impossible not to be obsessed with your baby. But it’s important to remember that even though to you, lil’ junior’s poop color and consistency is the most fascinating story you’ve encountered since you finished reading “Infinite Jest,” everyone else doesn’t give a crap (pun COMPLETELY intended). Even your partner and the grandmothers can only take so much. Practice in front of the mirror if you must:

“How is the baby?”

“Well, he’s kind of really mangled my left nipple with his overly vigorous sucking so right now he’s just drinking from the right breast so I’m a little concerned he’s not getting enough to eat although the doctor said as long as his poop is consistent there is no reason to worry but then he got that butt rash…I mean, he’s doing fine. How are you?”

And here are a few things I’ll do exactly the same…

  1. Skip laundry, let the dishes pile up and order pizza for dinner just so I can spend one more hour lounging on the couch while my newborn sleeps on my chest. I just made a human and I’ll be damned if I don’t make time to enjoy it.
  2. Continue to dress my baby in whatever ragtag outfit is the most diaper accessible. Cute, unstained, matching clothes are for creatures that don’t vomit and poop every 26 minutes.
  3. Trust my instincts. Everyone told me this before I became a mother and I thought every single one of them was insane. I barely had enough instinct to keep myself alive. But lo and behold, when I popped that gigantic Viking baby out, those instincts kicked in and they have yet to steer me wrong (introducing him to that little red demon Elmo notwithstanding).

 

Having witch babies & other pregnancy fears

Now that I’m the mother of an almost 2-year-old with another baby on the way, I’m an expert at pretty much everything.

Ha! Kidding. That’s all those other blogs written by smug parents of small children that I can’t stop hate-reading.

I, on the other hand, almost take a kind of perverted pride in just how little I have figured out about life, let alone about parenthood. I mean, I have no less than four light switches in my house that I have no idea what they do and currently my toddler is begging me to throw his giant Mr. Bouncety-Bounce ball directly at his face. Then he laughs hysterically, chases the ball, hands it to me and asks me to throw it directly at his face again.

We’ve been playing this for 45 minutes and I haven’t questioned for a second whether this is a good idea or not.

And it’s only going to get worse. Take this second pregnancy. You’d think by now I’d know what to expect when I’m expecting since I expected not even two years ago. But this pregnancy is different from my first in a lot of ways. For instance, with my first one I was convinced I was pregnant with a ninja-trained dragon. And this pregnancy, I’m convinced I’m pregnant with Satan. (It would definitely explain all the projectile vomiting and all the chasing my husband around the house with a baseball bat because he forgot to get the big wheel of cheese from the super fancy grocery store).

Even my food cravings are different this time. All I wanted with my son, Riker, was cheeseburgers. All day, every day. And with this new baby, all I want are bacon cheeseburgers.

But perhaps the most striking difference is what my biggest fears are this time versus last time. Because now I no longer have the gift of ignorance. I now know what I truly need to be afraid of.

For example, the first time around, I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost over worrying what my son’s nose would look like, all because in his ultrasound it looked like he had the exaggerated nose of a cartoon witch. I had repeated nightmares the doctor would hand me a swaddled bundle and when I moved the blanket off his face, there was Miracle Max’s wife from “The Princess Bride” staring up at me, screaming “Humperdinck!”.

But now I know that having an ugly witch baby is nothing compared to dealing with the witching hour. And let’s be honest, it’s witching HOURS. Hours and hours where nothing else exists except the sun sinking into the horizon, burying your hope with it, and the banshee screaming ceaselessly into your ear.

I also wasted a lot of time the first time worrying about how fragile the baby would be and how likely it was that my giant troll hands would hurt it. And now I know that not only are babies tougher than they look, but they hold all the power. In fact, they’re tiny little dictators and I just pray that this one will be a benevolent ruler, unlike his/her brother who was a ruthless albeit charming despot.

And unlike last time, I’m not wasting any energy being afraid of labor or delivery or even another C-section. Because now I know that no matter how my body is violently ripped open to provide an exit for little junior, the pain pales in comparison to the utter mind-blowing torture that is the first six weeks of breastfeeding. Now, I know I’ve complained about breastfeeding before (here, for example, and here and here). But this time around is so much worse. Because now I know what’s coming. I survived the first time only because I was naïve enough to think “it has to get better” every day. But it doesn’t get better. It doesn’t get better until two weeks past forever. And even then you’re too sleep deprived to notice.

To put it in Hollywood movie terms, it’s like escaping from an angry psychopath’s dungeon and realizing with increasing horror that in less than six months you have to go marching right back in there VOLUNTARILY and undergo the torture all over again. Only this time you can’t scream at the top of your lungs the whole time because your husband says it, quote, “stresses him out.”

Luckily, however, I also know that it will all be worth it. Because no matter how bad things get, no matter how much pain or crying or forgotten wheels of cheese there are, one glance at your sleeping baby’s face makes you forget everything else.

That is, until it’s time to breastfeed again.

The beauty of pregnancy *fart* *burp* *sob*

I made myself a promise, you guys. A promise back months ago when I was lying sleepily in my husband’s arms discussing expanding our little family. A promise that the next time I got pregnant I wouldn’t complain. Not even a little bit. Because creating life is a beautiful thing. And I should be so lucky to get to experience it all again.

Aaaaaaand then I got pregnant again.

Needless to say, now I consider it a good day if I resist the impulse to set everyone and everything on fire.

joy

And we’re only on week 12.

But no. No, there I go being all negative again. I mean, I’m building a life, cell by cell! If you think about it, the way pregnancy changes your entire body, mind and soul really is an amazing expression of love. Some might say the ultimate expression of love.

I mean, pffft. Who can complain in the face of something that powerful?

It’s just these constant headaches, you know? And the puking. Oi, so much puking. Not just nausea but full-on “The Exorcist” re-enactments (complete with the colorful language). I never had that with my first born. They say that every pregnancy is different. But my suspicion is that they say this because they’re too polite to say the truth (that truth, of course, being that every pregnancy sucks, but each one sucks in its own unique way).

And this one sucks in that “I wake up every morning feeling like I have the flu AND a hangover” way.

But no, no. The whole process really is miraculous. I need to remember that. A mere nine months of some discomfort in exchange for a perfect tiny creature with your eyes and his mouth and tootsies so cute you just have to stuff ‘em in your mouth or else die? Sounds like some pretty good math to me.

Then again, I always did get C’s in algebra. I mean, do you know what it’s like to have to pretend to be human when in actuality all you are at this point is a bloated walking ball of raging hormones and ginger ale? What it’s like to have to interact with other humans when every time you sit down it’s like you got hit by a tranquilizer dart? Like, people expect me to care about ridiculous things like deadlines and bills and basic hygiene when it’s taking all my self-control not to curl up and fall asleep at their feet like some sad, hairless, always slightly sweaty dog.

Not to mention, when you say hello to me now, I can instantly tell you everything you ate and drank that day. It’s the worst superpower ever.

But there I go again. Complaining. I mean, I got my wish. I’m pregnant! I wanted this with all my heart! Or at the very least, three-quarters of my heart! (The other quarter is still mourning the loss of my post-night-night time cocktail).

And just think of all the wonderful upsides to pregnancy. The gigantic boobs that spring up out of nowhere seemingly overnight. Eating steak for breakfast. The knowledge that you have a tiny tadpole/gummy bear hybrid growing inside you. The…um…well, I know I already mentioned the boobs, but seriously, they just become a work of art.

In fact, it almost makes up for all the bosom area soreness and tenderness you also experience. And the industrial strength farting. And the craving for half a gallon of milk even though your doctor told you to slow down with the first trimester weight gain because in all her years as an OB-GYN, your weight gain is, quote, “unprecedented.”

And then there’s the constipation.

And the sausage fingers.

And the having to pee every 11 minutes.

And the uncontrollable sobbing because there’s only one donut left in the box and it looks so lonely and you just wish it had a friend and so you know you have to eat it so it’s no longer alone but you’re already a fatty fat mcfatty face.

So, obviously, as you can tell, this pregnancy is something I plan to treasure. Especially since this one is likely to be my last due to me and the mister being firmly entrenched in the “two and through” baby making camp.

And I look forward to sharing this amazing journey with all of you. Especially those of you who can help chip in for my bail when I finally do lose it and light someone on fire.

 

Christmas through the ages

I don’t know about you, but this year I want to celebrate Christmas the way it was always meant to be celebrated: opening presents and then getting day drunk and then eating a huge dinner I did NOT prepare and then dozing off on the couch to the sounds of “A Christmas Story” as someone else does the dishes.

Sounds perfect, no? Except I can’t. I can’t because I’m an adult. And I mean an adult-y adult. None of that “I’m 23 and totally independent even though my parents still pay for my cell phone!” level of grown-up-ness. No. We’re talking “I watched the debates and didn’t even turn it into a drinking game” level of adulthood.

Which means I’m no longer allowed to be the one sitting on the couch wondering how that piece of pie and hot chocolate magically got on my lap. No. Now, I’m the invisible, sweaty, exhausted woman handing the lucky son of bitches sitting on the couch that damn pie that I made from scratch straight out of the box.

See, depending on your age, the holiday season can mean many different things.

As a kid, it’s all shiny, shiny lights and cookies and presents and big, fat men with beards whom you’ve only briefly met but nonetheless are guaranteeing to do everything within their vast magical powers to make sure YOU personally have a very merry Christmas.

As a teenager, it means three weeks off school, the anticipation of your mom finally buying you those “ridiculously over-priced” (her words) pants with the vaguely suggestive word on the rear that you’ll just die without and hanging out with your cool, older cousin with the tattoo at grandma’s.

In your early 20’s, it means one month of never-ending rounds of eggnog and wine and seasonal beer and reddish-looking cocktails with cutesy names like North Poletini and Santa’s Sleigh Bomb at hip holiday parties and festively decorated bars. And then going to your parent’s house where they feed you and give you lots of presents and do your laundry if you ask nicely enough and then give you all the leftovers to boot because you “look too skinny.”

But then, one day you’re married and 30 and BOOM! You realize it’s December but you wouldn’t know it from YOUR house, which still has up an odd mixture of Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. And it’s all because YOU are suddenly in charge of MAKING Christmas happen. And that’s when you cross the threshold from “this is most wonderful time of year” to “no wonder there are so many suicides this time of year.”

Because now when that massive ball of Christmas lights roughly the size of Utah needs untangled, that angry, throbbing vein is appearing on YOUR forehead, and not humorously on your father’s face. And now when you hear “Silver Bells” for the fourth time before you’ve even had breakfast, it is no longer “festive” but some sort of sadistic audio torture.

Now suddenly you’re Googling how much the going rate for a semi-decent kidney is on the black market in order to afford real presents for your husband, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, in-laws and even your stupid dog because your husband thinks it’s mean if Buffy doesn’t get at least one chew toy with a bow on it. Because apparently after a certain age, giving out coupon books for “One Free Hug!” is just sad. Not to mention, now it’s a social faux pas to not buy gifts for your mailman, hairdresser, neighbor, boss, co-workers, cousin’s baby, brother-in-law’s dog and the barista who serves you your Peppermint Mocha every morning (even though the barista keeps writing down your name as “Angeilla”).

And while before you always insisted that artificial Christmas trees were just so “bourgeois” and that when you had your OWN home, you wouldn’t be caught dead without a real pine tree, this year your corner is inhabited by a $19.99 three-foot tall fake tree that looks like it died of some horrible fake tree disease in 1974. And then you stuffed it with some pine-scented air-fresheners from your car. Because whatever.

And even though you swore you were going to make gingerbread cookies from scratch this year, two minutes inside the store made you grab the closest pre-packaged desert-like item and SPRINT back to your car out of a not-entirely-unreasonable fear of being attacked by a stressed-out soccer mom with an Elf on the Shelf wearing brass knuckles.

But then, just when you’re about to throw in the towel, just when you are about to stab the shopping mall Santa with a candy cave shiv because you simply can’t take it anymore, BOOM! You have kids. And suddenly the Christmas magic is back. Only better. Because now it’s in technicolor.

Because now you get to watch the tiny people you love most in the world experience all the holiday memories you still hold close in your heart.

And that makes standing in line for 45 minutes just to buy three freaking stocking stuffers completely worth it.

Well…almost.

pollyanna 2pollyanna 3

If my life were a movie, it would be called…

“Parenthood 2: The NeverEnding Awakening”

Sorry I haven’t been writing a lot lately, gang. I’ve been too busy working on my family’s new Christmas portrait:

xmaspix

Oh, and the puking. Been SUPER busy with the puking.

Yes, dear friends, we are having another demon spawn. Because when your life is picture perfect and everyone is finally sleeping through the night and peace and harmony has descended upon your house, it only makes sense to destroy all that with eight pounds of squishy, angry human dynamite.

Needless to say, we are thrilled. Well, my husband is thrilled. Our dog is horrified. Our toddler is oblivious (although he does he keep pointing to my stomach and asking “poop?” so take that however you need to). And I’ll be thrilled as soon as I don’t need a ginger ale IV to function.

And no worries. My writing will be back on schedule here shortly. The first trimester can’t last forever, can it? Ha! Ha! Right!? RIGHT!?!?

*hysterical laughter mixed with sobbing*

Seriously though, it can’t, right?

My grown-up Christmas list

Dear Santa,

Hey there, big guy. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written to you and for that I apologize. I just figured I should probably lay low for about a decade or so after that infamous “incident” in 1989. But you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve finally learned my lesson and my probation, which forbids me from going within 1,000 feet of any and all reindeer, ends in just a few days. So, considering that Johnny Law has now forgiven me, I can only hope that I will finally be taken down from the “Hopelessly and Perpetually Naughty List” (along with my wanted poster in the stable).

Well, now that we can let bygones be bygones (which reminds me, please send my regards to Prancer…I’m assuming most of his fur has grown back by now), on with the real reason for this letter.

As I’m sure you’ve assumed, I’m writing to you about my Christmas list. But unlike most letters you get this time of year, I won’t be asking for jewelry or high tech gadgets or that pair of purple high-heeled knee high boots in size eight and a half (which just happens to be my size) I saw in the window of that store the other day. Nope. This year I’ve been truly blessed and can honestly say that I have everything I need and ever wanted (even without that pair of purple high-heeled knee high boots in size eight and a half, which just happens to be my size, I saw in the window of that store the other day).

And so this year, Santa, I’m asking not for material things but rather gifts that come from the heart and make the world a better place (and mind you, this isn’t just some ploy to make you think I’m an exceedingly good person and, as such, end up receiving even more gifts, like, say, a pair of purple high-heeled knee-high boots AND a matching leather jacket, because of my selflessness).

Of course, the No. 1 thing on my list this year would be peace on Earth and all that junk. I think we can all agree this world needs a healthy dose of goodwill toward men right now (and women…and if he exists, Bigfoot).

But everyone always asks for that kind of stuff so let’s move onto the important wishes.

Please, please, PLEASE use your magical powers to get “Charles in Charge” back on TV. This alone will bring Christmas joy to even the most Bah-humbug members of society.

Also, if it’s not too much to ask, please make Katherine Heigl stop. Just stop.

I think the world could also majorly benefit from the creation of a calorie-free cheesecake. Better yet, get rid of calories all together. They’re obviously bad for our health.

Could you also please destroy every copy of Christmas songs being sung by dogs or cats? I can guarantee you that 23 percent of all cases of Christmas violence stems from having to hear “Jingle Bells” being barked by a chorus of Golden Retrievers.

I know it’s too late for this year, but it would be great if you could get rid of Black Friday all together next year. Or, if you can’t, could you at least make it more interesting for us spectators sitting at home watching the chaos on the news? Maybe make the shoppers battle some lions before they make it to the electronics department. Or make all the stores install a “Hunger Games”-esque arena, where with the touch of a button, you can create a tornado in cosmetics and start a fire in the petite department.

Now, with this next one I hope I’m not being too forward. But I’d really love it if you changed the criteria for the naughty list to include anyone who texts or talks on their cell phone while at dinner or on a date or during a movie and instead of giving them a lump of coal, destroy their stupid iPhone with a bolt of lightning (perhaps you could partner up with God on that one).

And lastly, while I don’t know how much influence you have over the liquor industry, could you please try to make eggnog available year-round? Or at least available through March. Expecting us mere humans to get our fill of this seasonal golden nectar in only a month is unrealistic. We need at least four, possibly five months to properly get sick of puking up this beverage.

Love,

Aprill

P.S. Tell that good-for-nothing Tooth Fairy she still owes me $1 from 1987. Oh, and that I apologize for drawing that dirty picture in permanent marker on her wing.