Thursday, August 28, 2014

More on veggies

Part of Mommunism is bringing your expertise to the group for the benefit of all. Anytime there's a bee sting or a medication question, Jeanmarie (RN) gets a text. If someone is moving or considering new furniture, Traci (Interior Designer) is called upon to discuss cost/benefit analysis and maybe even draw a diagram. I'm not really the type to wait for people to ask my opinion, I just give it. I have forced all of these mamas (and papa) to attend my boot camp or Spinning classes. I recruit them for nutritional challenges and serve gluten-free crackers and raw milk goat cheese when I host parties.

Which reminds me: sorry, y'all

But I know that we all want our kids to be as healthy as they can, and since I think that eating well helps that along and since I think that eating vegetables is a big component of "eating well," here are some tricks I've recently come up with to get Eliza to continue to try new veggies:
  • I use her love of the color purple. She has happily eaten purple cauliflower (yummy), purple radishes (too spicy) and purple carrots (meh, which echos her feelings about orange carrots)
  • The power of choice. "Would you like to have a yellow bell pepper or a red bell pepper?" "Would you like the peel/skin on or off?"
  • Unexpected delivery shapes. Slicing a pepper horizontally makes hearts and flowers, cucumbers become dipping spears, zucchini and squash get twisted into noodles. 
  • Add butter. Eliza would eat butter with a spoon, so I put thin slivers on top of anything I suspect may be met with resistance. Often she'll pick up the butter and eat it plain first, but when she finds out that's all the butter she's getting, she'll often eat what it was topping. If your kid is a cheese fiend, cheese works well, too

Monday, August 25, 2014

Biking to Urgent Care

Of course, the minute I write about singing Kumbaya with germs, my kid gets sick. Worst cold in a while: hacking cough that prevented her from sleeping anywhere but on me, runny nose leaving her cheeks stained with dirt from where the city grime stuck to her snot, low fever for a few days that left her grouchy and bored. But after a full day of indoor quiet time and another day of low-key playing, I figured she was on the mend and fine. We went to a birthday party and let her drink juice, eat cookies and cake and run around with at least 10 other toddlers. She was happy, we were happy. Cue 8pm bedtime resistance so great that we knew something wasn't right. Plus, every time she put her head on her pillow, she sobbed that something was hurting her ear. We live a mile away from an awesome pediatric urgent care that was open until midnight. My husband and I immediately agreed to go, but hesitated at how to get there.

Ah, NYC, aka Never Never Land. You can be in your mid 30's and think you're 22 because you still walk to the bars and eat pizza standing up. Nevermind that your toddler is in tow at said bar, denial is a powerful force. My husband is pushing 40, I'm not that far behind and we do not own a car. In fact, my licence was expired for a full year before I noticed, and that was only because TSA told me so. I commute by bicycle most of the time.  Our choices at 9pm on a Sunday night were subway, bus, cab or bike. NYC public transportation is notoriously terrible on Sundays, so bus and subway were nixed. Hubs suggested a cab, but the thought of installing our car seat in the dark with an exhausted possibly sick kid and paying $20 to ride for 3 minutes just seemed crazy to me. So we biked.

And while I maintain that biking was the most effective way to get to Urgent Care last night, it still seems a bit irresponsible. The older my kid gets, the more I feel like an ill-equipped idiot teenager, fumbling along. I don't have a car, I don't have a savings account (okay, I have one, it's just mostly empty), I don't have a potty training plan...the only difference from me now and me 15 years ago is now I'm aware of what an ill-equipped idiot I am. Anyone else feel like they're totally making it up as they go along?

She's fine, by the way. This was her first ear infection! Ah, the milestones we reach

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Second child syndrome

I just left my children with the girl next door. She's adorable, sweet...and has never held a baby. Five minutes later I was still out the door. I literally showed her how to give a bottle on Abby Kadabby. As I drove to my dentist appointment I designed the following chart in my head.
babysitter interview questions with one child vs two



So what do the high school kids do around here on the weekends?? (That was actually Craig's question)



Here's my cell lets text and send each other cute smileys. (Thank goodness there's a poop emoticon)💩



What? You don't know how to change a diaper? Ok I'll be home in an hour a little poop won't hurt- if its really big just do your best and try not to get it on our new rug

Poor isaiah. He's such a good little boy I think I take for granted his happiness to sit and watch eliana blow bubbles, eat her lunch, dance in his face and of course literally smother him with kisses

Good luck to any third children out there...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I do not now, nor have I ever, had Purell in my diaper bag. Or anywhere near my home, actually. I don't use antibacterial soap, my kid is no stranger to sharing backwash-filled sippy cups, my house is never clean nor tidy and, as I've mentioned before, baths are infrequent. The "10 second" rule at our house is more like "oh, you're eating food you found on the floor. Hmm, well, ok." (I do try to sweep under our dining table at least once a day.)

I am the opposite of a germaphobe, believing that most microbes are our friends. I am also WAY too lazy to invest in all of the gear that germaphobes require: hand sanitizer, extra wipes, travel-sized neosporin, plastic bags for emergencies...and these are only the things that I can think of. I'm sure my germaphobe friends are shaking their heads with pity in my not even knowing what gear I should really have.

DISCLAIMER: I have a healthy child! This is not intended in any way to minimize very real illnesses or any special needs. Obviously those are unique challenges and require unique solutions. 

So here's my thing about germs: they're everywhere. We live in New York City and we ride the subway. We are exposed to who knows what at all times.  Eliza rolls around in the dirt, she pets dogs, she kisses her friends and she shares food with anyone who will tolerate it. And I actually believe that all this stuff is good for her. Yes, her first two years of life were filled with colds, bugs and viruses galore. We actually had to cancel her 2nd birthday party because she was puking all day! But none of them were hospital-worthy. Only a couple were even Tylenol-worthy. She has played in the YMCA mixed age babysitting room since she was 6 months old. Did I shudder every time I dropped her off in a room full of snot-nosed toddlers? YES Are toddlers germ-machines who touch babies? YES Should you put your baby in a room with them? ALSO YES. I mean, I had to put her there as one of my jobs is teaching fitness classes for the YMCA, but I also firmly believe in this type of practice. Other kids, and all of their cooties, are good for kids.

You know how when kids start preschool or kindergarten or a new activity, they always get sick? It's a normal reaction of our immune systems. They're teaching their little bodies to fight all the yuckiness off and getting stronger for it. You know what else they pick up from other kids? Creative and collaborative play, exposure to new ideas, new foods and new music, expanded vocabulary-my daughter says "agua" for water and I have no Spanish-and social learning. The things my daughter has learned from other Mommune members is invaluable. It's totally worth the Roseola amd Coxsackie that they all shared.

The Brooklyn Exodus

The initial exodus started after our kids were close to a year old but it didn't really touch our gang until this past spring. The families who left the city earlier were the exception, not the rule. Most of us were ankle deep in Brooklyn concrete, embracing the lifestyle of raising our children in close proximity to one another. We touted the advantages of city life: convenience! parks! community! culture! Trader Joe's! And don't get us started on our neighborhood's very desirable public elementary schools. All in walking distance. We couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Deb was the first to move. She and her husband bought a beautiful home in Westchester while pregnant with their second child. So ingrained were her city resources, however, that the house stayed empty for the duration of her pregnancy. She wanted to give birth in the city and then transition to her life as a suburban mom so they waited until the spring to move. Next came Lauren. Her husband got his dream job in Hartford in May so they doubled their living space for half the price and moved to Connecticut. Heather followed soon thereafter. It was touch and go for a while as she and her husband debated the advantages of moving close to his family in a tony Long Island town versus staying in Brooklyn. They realized that a move to the 'burbs was the best thing for their family and off they went for more space and a saner life. Yesterday, I watched Jeanmarie and her family pack a giant truck for their cross-country move to Los Angeles. They will live 8 blocks from the beach in a spacious home. Her 13 year old son will go to a great public school which doesn't require an application and an epic subway ride. Her husband will have a bounty of career opportunities.

Then there's me. Since my daughter was born and I decided to work part time in order to raise her (as a single parent, I couldn't imagine being out of the house for the 12 hours a day it would take if I returned to my career track), I have struggled financially. I joked to my father that I should probably move back to Connecticut where I was born, raised, and from where I happily departed 25 years ago. Several hours later, he has a house lined up for me to see, a friend-of-friend's 2 bedroom beach cottage. I went to see it and it was adorable and perfect. And twice the size of my Brooklyn apartment at half the price. As an added bonus, my newly-retired mother lives in the next town (helloooo, free babysitting). Moving became sort of a no-brainer. I now have less than two weeks left in Brooklyn.

I sit here, surrounded by half-empty boxes and I am welling with tears. I felt similarly at my college graduation. Life was propelling me forward, and good things were ahead, but I was also mourning this wonderful, adventure-filled phase in my life. I have so loved this time with these people, watching our awesome progeny grow. Today, I recommit to my Mommune and to these friendships. It'll take more work than a quickie "hey, who's up for Carroll Park in 20 minutes" text, but I know that we will all be in one another's lives for the long haul.

I realize that we NYC-types talk about real estate and square footage and rents ad nauseum, and I apologize for that. We know that there are a myriad of reasons for this and we see all of the things which make our community so irresistible that rents keep their steady, painful incline. But once I popped my head above the big Brooklyn bubble, I realized that there are other things out there. There is sanity, financial security, space, family, yards, garages, and yes, fun. I see where my recently departed friends are. Is the transition hard? Heck, yeah. Who wants to schlepp two kids into car seats to go anywhere a la Deb, or have to respond to an evite for a Pinkberry yogurt trip with the kids two weeks from now in order to meet new mom friends like Lauren? But as all of our departees have settled in with their new lives, a common thread has emerged. Happiness. These moves have strengthened families and made life, well, easier. Who knew?

So the real question now is, who's next?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

An abnormal attachment

Today I said farewell to our crib. And it made me strangely wistful.
The crib was fantastic, don't get me wrong. It was a Stokke Sleepi crib, oval shaped which fit just so into the corner of the alcove where my daughter slept. Or should have slept. But more on that later.  The crib was multipurpose: It's a crib! Take out a piece, it's a bassinet! Take out some of the rails, it's a toddler bed! Move a few things around, it's a pair of chairs! Those Scandinavians do not mess around with their funky yet functional design.
I bought it used on the local parents listserv for $300 almost exactly 3 years ago. The crib was my first big baby purchase. In fact, it was probably my only big baby purchase. At the point at which I bought it, I was about to enter my third trimester and I hadn't registered for a single item. I couldn't do the research or get excited about any of the gear. It was all too overwhelming.
My pregnancy was a surprise and the relationship which created "the situation" (which was what my daughter's dad and I adorably referred to the fetus as, tongue-in-cheekily, back when we adorably thought we might end up together) had ended abruptly and painfully. I knew this baby was a miracle and deep down, I was so thrilled to be carrying her but at that point, the terror of single motherhood outweighed any joy which was lurking in my nooks and crannies.
But I knew I wanted that crib and when I found this gently used pile of wood, I was thrilled. And I was able to commit to it.
Taking that step and feeling like it was a big deal seems silly now, but I think my attachment to that crib is tied to the fact that I was able to finally move forward as a parent. Okay, I was going to be a freaked-out single mom but at the very least, I had a place for my baby to sleep.

Fast forward to her birth in November, a month early. On our third night in the hospital together, I put pillows against the side rails and slept curled around this incredible little creature who had just entered my life. The rest was history and I became an accidental co-sleeper.

So why the devotion to a piece of furniture in which my daughter only slept in spurts? I think it's because it reminds me of how vulnerable I felt and in contrast I am able to clearly see the strength I found.

The new owners came to pick it up in the late afternoon. They were a bespectacled, humorous couple two weeks in with their second child. They too are leaving Brooklyn and are headed to D.C. We talked about the high rents and lack of space in Brooklyn. They talked about how their own toddler posse had decamped to the suburbs already, though their older child is barely two. They joked with my daughter about her new big girl bed. I felt like they were friends. I'm relieved our crib is going to another truly happy home.
They paid me $325.

My child is not a good wingman

My child is not a good wingman

My departure from brooklyn felt sudden, rushed and overwhelming. I had an 11 day old son, a needy toddler, sore nipples, and a husband who had no clue how to pack. (though he tried his very best.)  Once the dust settled, I found myself on my own in a new town with no friends, no furniture, and no clue.  So begins the friend wooing process. 

As overtired and exhausted as I was, I simply turned on the charm best I could in my sweatpants and milk stained tees. I scored digits at the library, the park, even a grocery store once (though she never texted me back so thats a sore subject) I was dating again. When do I text? What do I say? Am I coming on too strong? Do I sound desperate? This is when I really needed a wingman. I needed my daughter to turn on her charm to help make me just completely and overwhelmingly irresistible. 

Scene 1: at the park
spotted: brunette mother of two. slim, attractive, also checking her iPhone while talking to her kids. all sounds good to me
the approach: (I got lucky this time because her daughter approached me. note to others: babies are milf magnets!) 
 (boring baby talk ensues)
Mom:" My daughter Jordyn is 2. Jordyn come say hi"
Jordyn: Hi!!
Jordyn ran away


Scene 2: at the bookstore for story hour
spotted: petite cutesy mom coloring with her toddler daughter
Eliana sat down to color as well. 
the approach: "Oh look how beautifully you two are coloring."
Eliana: "no, i don't like her."


(I did end up scoring those digits which was huge because she was a pediatrician and I totally want a pediatrician friend. current friendship status: I texted her last, haven't heard back and refuse to text again)

Its been about 5 months now since we moved and I do feel I am slowly making friends. I am about to say something that might sound weird. I feel like I am searching for something that I never got to fully experience firsthand. I love all of you dearly and when I had Eliana, I went back to work after 3 months. I saw friends for whine and wine of course and got wonderful help from some moms with last minute babysitting, but I feel sad that now that I am home with the kids, I feel so alone. Even though I have met a few people, I feel like the dynamic is just different in the burbs. A new "friend" of mine had a sick baby and I was more than willing to take her daughter for the day. She looked at me like I had 3 heads.  Another mom practically washed her son's mouth out with soap after he accidentally drank from Eliana's sippy cup. I can vividly remember cracking up with Aynsley one day when Eliza and Eliana thought it was a riot to switch sippy cups after every sip. I dont mean to say one way of parenting is better than the other. It is just different and hard to adjust. Don't even get me started on the fact that I receive google reminders for hour long playdates. I am not sure I understand yet what kind of friendships I am even trying to make here.  I truly miss talking with all of you but I know that no matter how long it may have been, we'll always pick up right where we left off.

P.S. While Eliana may be a terrible wingman, Isaiah ROCKS! Now that Eliana was at camp for a few hours a day this summer, I had more alone time with Isaiah. He woos big time, especially while facing outward in his bjorn, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Potty Training

I’m just not good at it.  With my first it was a non-issue.  He fell asleep on a trip home from the beach naked and didn't urinate or defecate on himself and when he woke up I said hey lets go on the potty.  That was it end of story.  
But oh lord this time around it's been a hot mess!!! I get emails every so often discussing what's going on in the 2014 toddler world and many parents are in the midst of potty training or have successfully done it and I’m all like no my kid shits her pants and pisses on my floors. Don’t get me wrong we have had successful potty days but they are few and far between and usually involve trying to avoid going to bed. But because everyone else is doing it I feel like my kid should too.  What can I say I’m sometimes competitive.  

Anyway, I've tried to let her run around naked, or in fancy panties or with pull ups but I to date have failed miserably.  She thinks its funny to urinate on the floor and dance in it if she’s naked or pee through her panties and say “I just need new one’s now” or wet her pull up like its a diaper and those things are fucking expensive. So I think I’m going to give up and hope one day before she goes to college she wakes up from a nap after a day at the beach and I’ll say hey lets go on the potty and that will be the end of it.  You could say I’m super lazy(I wouldn't argue with you) or she’s just not ready.  


My first blog ever

I have never done this before and I am very self conscious about sharing any of my thoughts in writing because it means they are there forever!.  But here goes YOLO right :).  
As I plan my move to the West Coast I am spending a lot of time reminiscing about my time here with my tribe or GANG.  I have cried almost daily and can’t imagine my life without the ladies who have helped me through all the trials and tribulations you experience as a new mom.  
But to backtrack for a moment.  I am not a new mom.  I am a seasoned mom with a 13yr old.  I was a very young mom and enjoyed every second with my oldest but something was missing.  I had the family support and the great friends don’t get me wrong but no one was experiencing what I was experiencing when I was experiencing it.  I went through life different.  I didn't have the college years or the crazy one night stands (Ok I had one but it doesn't really count because that's now my husband). I would go out but always came home to my baby boy and never had the carefree 20’s in order to find myself like so many others had. So I set a goal and went for it hoping it was right for me.
Fast forward 10 years and my second angel comes along.  This time I’m ready (right?).  I have a career, a husband, baby knowledge!!! Then she’s born and FUCK everything has changed. I’m breastfeeding for the first time, my husband is a newbie and thinks I know everything, I’m living in my own home without my family right there to help me when she won’t shut up.  I don’t remember ANYTHING.  Luckily I realized I needed support and went in search of it. Now it didn't happen over night. It started with a music class and a walk for coffee after.  Then I went to the park and started talking vaccines. I joined a baby boot camp and met a few more moms.  Over the course of 2 ½ yrs I became friends with a group of women who were so very different and so very the same.  For the first time in my life I wasn't the “young mom”.  I was with a group of women going through the same thing I was going through at the same time I was going through it.  We were all educated women who had goals and careers, then our babies arrived and our goals and aspirations changed.  We wanted to be with our kids but not lose our independence. We were sleep deprived. We went un-showered for days at a time (its a fact new moms never get to shower).  Some were breastfeeding, others pumping, and others formula fed. Some worked full time, some part-time/per Diem, some not at all. We would meet for drinks at 1pm or a walk or at the park. Our kids were all going through changes daily.  It was a joy to laugh and cry and scream with people experiencing the same challenges as me.
Now as many of us charter new territory including new jobs, new homes, new states, I feel so incredibly sad to be losing my crew. I’m sure I will meet new amazing people who will teach me new things but I’m afraid I will never experience the non judgmental,  supportive, unconditional love I had received from these beautiful ladies and a gentleman.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Child Swapping, or Raising Kids in the Village Style

My kid is The Smelly Kid. She's 2.5 years old  and gets about a bath a week. Sometimes up to three, but that's usually the result of being stuck indoors due to weather and needing an activity, not because I've suddenly turned into a responsible mother.  Her most recent bath was given by a fellow mommune member and the whole situation left me so grateful that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

I have a standing appointment every Thursday evening. One of my friends always takes my daughter so I can go without having to arrange for paid childcare. For three (ish) hours every Thursday night, my kid plays with another kid whom she dearly loves. I pick her up 15 minutes before bedtime clean, fed, PJ-clad, and happy. This arrangement has been in place for over a year now and I take the other kid once a week, too. Those days I have three (ish) hours of my daughter basically laughing her ass off because she is so delighted by her friend.  My regular arrangement didn't work this past week, so another mommune mommy happily stepped in. Again, I picked up a happy, clean toddler who was reluctant to leave and again, I was floored with gratitude. It seems that babysitting really shouldn't leave me teary-eyed, but here's a list of reasons, in no particular order, why child swapping is The Best Thing Ever:

1. My kid gets a fight-free bath. Evening baths are a struggle in our house, it always seems to be a race to make and eat dinner, get teeth brushed and get to bed. Bath just doesn't fit in most nights. Daytime baths/showers only happen when she's been in the sandbox/at the beach/in the pool and they're usually rushed because I want to play as long as possible and wait to leave until we really should already be home for naptime. But buddy baths are awesome! They are a fun activity into themselves and the last much longer (and therefore kiddo gets cleaner, right?) than a solo bath.

2. My kid interacts with other kids on a long term basis. Three hours to a toddler is an eternity: they go through every possible emotion at least twice. Instead of a play date that I would just leave during a meltdown, we all work through powerful emotions and see each other in all moods.

3. My kid tries new foods, new routines, new books and new activities, she sees what it's like have older or younger siblings, she plays with pets (she has neither siblings nor pets), she gets to see other ways of family dynamics that are different than ours.

4. I am a better parent when I have 2 (or more). If I'm at home with kiddo alone, I will check email between stories, I'll follow up with clients as soon as they text, I'll drag kiddo to the big park that I want to go to. When I have more kids, I'll play with them both. I'll engage them in helping make dinner, I'll bring them to the cute kid-friendly bakery to watch cake get made, I'll put on Toddler Pandora and dance. I get out a rut.

5. The kids play together. YES! It's true more and more every week. They invent their own games, their own lyrics to songs, their own version of sharing. They talk to each other and negotiate on their own terms. It's actually amazing.

6.. The love. When my daughter was first starting to sleep in her own bed at about age 2, she invented a soothing bedtime ritual where she listed to people who loved her. She would start with Mama and Daddy, then branch off. Always in her top 10 were the Mommune family members (including dads, siblings and sometimes pets). And she's right. They do love her. What a gift.