Wednesday, December 3, 2014

15 things I've learned in 365 days of being a parent

Hey there, bloggers! I'm sorry for the radio silence. It's been kind of crazy around here as of late. As some of you might know, we just opened up a new business. With that comes chaos and zero free time!
But I decided that enough is enough.
I had to write something on my blog, mainly so people didn't start to think I had moved to an island with zero internet access [my worst nightmare].

My sweet baby girl turned one on the 25th. Suddenly I was staring at a crawling, babbling toddler who had grown 8.5 inches and put on 16 pounds in the span of a year. How did time go by so fast? It seems like I was just walking into the hospital to see if my water had broken!

Nothing brings back memories like writing [or typing] them down.

Here are some of the bizarre and not so bizarre things I've learned in my first year as a parent:

1. If you think talking about poop is weird, you're clearly childless.
We've had full on conversations about my daughter's poop schedule at the dinner table. I've talked about poop with random strangers before.  Poop brings us together, people.
2. You basically turn into a ninja.
There is nothing more important than entering or exiting a room quietly when your kid's sleeping in there. I have closed so many doors without making a sound. It's actually something I'm considering adding to my resume.

3. Whenever you hear a crying baby now your heart starts racing automatically.
Even when you realize it's not your kid doing the crying, it doesn't matter. It's a parent thing.

4. Your phone storage is no longer filled with selfies or pictures of food.
It's now pictures of your kid doing the same thing over and over. Or movies that will keep them quiet during a meal out.

5. Speaking of meals out:
Once they're no longer in that beautiful "infant sleeping in their carrier through the entire meal" stage, shit really hits the fan when it comes to dining out. Especially when they start eating solids. There's a reason why parents should tip more when they bring an infant out to eat. Kids are like tiny tornadoes, except they smell worse.

6. Any rules you stated before you had kids are out the window.
I swore that I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION FRICKIN' YEARS let my children sleep in our bed. That stupid statement was made before I had been so sleep deprived I was literally holding my eyelids open. Sometimes you let your kid sleep next to you because you actually cannot survive if you sleep any less. [sidenote: this trend only started when the 9 month sleep regression hit. I wouldn't let her sleep with us when she was little because it was dangerous and scared the crap out of me.]

7. It's not cool to judge other parents.
I know it's annoying when kids start screaming at the table next to you, but just because I have a baby that might potentially have a meltdown at some point in the evening does not mean I'm never going to go out for a meal. Sorry my daughter's crying but I'm trying everything I can to keep her from crying. You being a dick and telling your husband we're ruining your "date night" isn't helping anyone. It just makes you look like an asshole. [Yes, this did happen to us. To be fair, her husband was mortified.]

8. Never, ever wake a sleeping baby.
Remember the episode from Friends when Rachel brings Emma home from the hospital and she's peacefully sleeping in her bassinet but then Rachel wants to pick her up to hold her and Emma cries for the next 6 hours? That's 100% accurate. The 6 hours thing might be a stretch, but as a rule you should NEVER, EVER WAKE UP YOUR CHILD. Just because you read an article online that said your kid is sleeping too much if they take three naps instead of two doesn't mean it's right. Some people are stupid and make shit up. Being a writer on the internet does not make them a doctor.

9. Speaking of Sleep..
In the first year, just plan on not getting any sleep. I'm not kidding. Set the bar low. That way if you do get to sleep more than you had planned, it's like bonus sleep. It always irritated me when people said, "enjoy your sleep now because you won't be getting any when the baby comes!" I'm not sure whether it irritated me because I didn't want to admit I would never sleep, or because people just annoy me sometimes. But those people were right. As much as I hate to admit it, they were spot on. Had our child not suffered from reflux at the beginning the experience might have been different, but if it's not one thing it's another. People gave us tips, I read books, but at the end of the day you just do whatever you can to get through the first year.
I'm happy to report that my daughter is sleeping through the night again! That is until she gets another tooth, or goes through another leap or..she just decides she doesn't want to sleep through the night anymore.

10. Shopping for your child's wardrobe is much more fun than shopping for your own.
I have never been a fan of shopping. It's annoying, I don't like crowds,  and usually by the end of a 'trying on' session I'm sweating. But shopping for my daughter is a blast. I love finding the weirdest/cutest outfits I can for her! Anything on her is cute, so it works out.

11. You learn to weed out any unnecessary baby items.
Facial Tissues? I have a sleeve for that. I don't need a diaper genie because I have a trash can. I don't necessarily need a lot of toys because she prefers to open drawers and empty the contents. It's hard to keep it minimal when people are excited to buy your child stuff, but it could be done. Kids are pretty simple. Diapers, wipes, formula/boob, warm clothes, blankets and you're pretty much good to go.

12. Take the unsolicited advice with a grain of salt.
Because in the end you're going to do what you want anyway. Heed any advice you find useful and throw out the stuff you don't. People really love to share their experiences, so let them. It might be irritating at times, but they're just trying to help.

13. Ask for help.
My mom, sister, and mother-in-law have been my guidebook for parenting this first year. And I know they will continue to be because they're experts. I am not. It's nice to have them around to ask stupid questions and get a non-judgmental answer. It was hard for me to learn to ask for help, but I've since embraced the idea. Sometimes you need an hour to run errands and go to Target in peace, and that's okay. It doesn't make me a bad mom, it keeps me sane.

14. You don't and can't know what you're doing.
Just ride out the storm. Parenting, like many things, comes with time. You will never be perfect at it, but with time and practice, you can suck a little less. When my daughter was sleeping 30 minutes at a a time at around 6 weeks old, I thought I might actually die from exhaustion. My sister told me this: "It will get better." Which didn't really help much then, but she was totally right. It got better. We took it one sleepless day at a time. Matt and I nearly killed each other [exhaustion will do that to you] but we got through that, too. There was a lot of yelling and crying, but we pushed forward. And we now have a hilarious, allbeit stubborn and independent daughter who we could not live without.

15. Your parents were right.
This fact becomes more and more apparent the older I get. And I tell my parents this a lot in hopes that it will make up for the crap I pulled on them when I was younger. My mom used to say it all the time, and it's absolutely true; "You'll understand when you're a parent." When I was late for curfew or when I didn't wear my seat belt or when I screamed back at them in a moment of rage...I understand now why it drove them so crazy.

Nothing is more important to a parent than keeping their child safe. I have spent 100% of this past year worrying about SIDS and choking hazards and incorrect car seat placement and the list goes on. That worry will never go away [so I've heard], they will just change to different worries. Like boyfriends and bullies and safe driving. And I will tell my daughter one day, "you'll understand when you're a parent." I can see her rolling her eyes now, but she'll get it when she's older. She will understand when she holds her child for the first time what it means to be a parent. There is nothing like it in the world. Nothing compares to that feeling.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will try to be better about updating more regularly, but I can't make any promises. ;)

Tata for now!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9 random facts about me

I've never been one to hold back about things, but we all have our little secrets...

Confession #1: I don't read to my kid every day.
Doctors recommend that you read to your infant from the time they're conceived. That was all good and fine when we were two eager parents to be and our way of preparing was to read to our kid who likely heard us talking like the voice from the lady on the phone in Charlie Brown. "Waa wa wa. WA." But now I have a crawling 9 month old whose attention span rivals that of a squirrel on crack. Not to mention the sixteen loads of laundry, house cleaning, eyebrow plucking, dinner making I have to do. Yeah, I'll read my kid 6 books a day. It's that easy!
We do try to read at least once a day, typically two books at a time because the board books we read have a total of 8 words in them so it doesn't take long.

Confession #2: Sometimes I take home leftovers and then eat them immediately when I get back home.
Because I'm sitting with people who eat like birds or it's a business meeting and I don't want to eat my whole plate and look like a fatty. But when I get home I'm still hungry. I eat those leftovers like it's nobody's business. No shame.

Confession #3: I only wash my hair twice a week.
This totally grosses out my mom and probably 95% of the people reading this, but before you go all "ewwww!" on me, it's for good reason. Technically, people with long hair [or really just hair] shouldn't wash their hair more than once a week. No joke. I've done a lot of research. It's bad for your hair. And it's a waste of shampoo. I just started this twice a week ritual last month in an effort to get my hair to a more healthy state [pregnancy did a number on my locks]. At first it got really greasy after day 2 or 3, so I invested in some ballin' dry shampoo which helped combat the..err...grossness. Now after a few weeks my scalp has adjusted and I no longer look like a homeless person midway through the week. Proof:
Haven't washed my hair since Sunday, yo. Boom!
I've also stopped using a flat iron, curling iron and blow dryer. Basically I'm halfway to being Amish.

Confession #4: I take at least 75 pictures of my child every day.
This probably isn't a huge surprise to you guys, but I take a lot of pictures of my kid. Because she is just so damn cute.
Here are just a few I've taken from the last 60 hours:
Here's Addi being cute in a colorful outfit. 
Here's Addi being cute while holding a giant lego.
Here's Addi being cute before eating.
Here's Addi being cute in an equally cute rocking chair while drinking milk.
Confession #5: My "filter" becomes thinner every day
You know how I say pretty much everything that comes to mind? I haven't always been this frank when it comes to telling it like it is. Don't get me wrong, I've always had what some people call an "attitude" and I've always been pretty blunt when I feel it's necessary, but I've found that my filter gets more loose with every day that passes. I don't know if it's because I get older every day and with age the ability to care about other people's opinions diminish, or just because I'm sick of sitting back and letting things happen around me when I get no say in the matter.
I believe in kindness and the power to change things by speaking up. I also believe that if people are dicks to you, you have the right to be one right back to them. This "get what you give" mentality probably wouldn't fly with like..Ghandi or Mother Theresa, but I'm willing to bet they spoke their minds without regret. I'm working on a happy medium. Preferably before my child starts school so I don't embarrass her horribly by shouting at her teacher for giving her a B in coloring.

Confession #6: I'm a sucker for chick flicks. And the Hallmark Channel.
As alike as we are, my sister has always loathed my choice in television entertainment. Can't say I blame her. I watch a lot of Rom Com's. Lately I try to stick to comedy, but I still love a good romantic drama once in a while.
When we were kids, it was a whole other form of torture for her; The Disney Channel. [Brink!]. Dun dun dun. 

Confession #7: I have wicked road rage.
I'm talking debilitating, my-husband-has-considered-committing-me type of road rage. I attribute it to all of the people who have HIT MY CARS. Those mother truckers have really done a number on my patience in a vehicle. I'm not a therapist, but I'm pretty sure it's a trust issue. People shouldn't suck so bad at driving.

Confession #8: I have to eat at scheduled times or I get seriously hangry. 
My close family and friends know this about me already because when we're out and the lunch hour approaches, I tend to get quiet and short, depending on the hour. I eat at set times every day. 8 am, for breakfast, between 11:15-12:45 for lunch, and between 6-7 for dinner. None of this "skipping meals" business. I'm a human and therefore require food to continue living. I've done the whole "only eat lunch" thing to try to lose weight when I was younger and that shit is for the birds. Literally. Only a bird could survive on that amount of food.
So yes, I am pretty much the guy in the snickers commercial who becomes a diva when he doesn't eat. I get teased for it, and I've accepted it as a really funny part of who I am. Don't mess with my food, yo.
Speaking of which:

Confession #9: I don't share food.
Seriously. I don't share food. Ever. I don't discriminate. Even if I love you dearly. Even if you're my best friend. Even if you're my husband. Even if you birthed me. I don't share food.
One exception to this rule has surfaced in the past 3 months, and that is my daughter. But that is out of sheer convenience.

So that's that. Random facts about Mallory. Please still be my friend.

Monday, August 25, 2014

4 Ways to Save a Buttload of Money at Target

Target and I have a love/hate relationship in that I love Target but Target hates me. More specifically, Target hates my bank account because it's always taking money out of my bank account. Incidentally Target also loves my bank account because it gets money from it. 
Do you catch my drift? 
No? Fair enough. 

Basically what I'm saying is that I spend a majority of our shopping budget at Target. This is both because I despise Walmart and also because I love Target. 

Since I've become a frequent shopper at this magical retail establishment I've managed to find ways to save as much money as I can so my husband doesn't take my debit card away and never allow me to shop for the "essentials" ever again. (Yeah right, that means he would have to do it and in that case we would never have smelly-good candles and HOW COULD ANYONE LIVE WITHOUT SMELLY-GOOD CANDLES?!) 

Yesterday I was talking to someone about their Target baby registry, suggesting that they add anything and everything to it so they could use the 10% off coupon they get at the end. And they're all, "oh we're getting our diapers from Amazon." Which is awesome, don't get me wrong. But I'm just thinking of all the money I've saved on diapers and wipes at Target and I'm feeling pretty good about my way. 

So I thought that perhaps I would share with my bloggin' buddies how I [easily] save so much mulah at Target! 

[Please note, this is not a paid blog post. I'm just in love with Target. They should pay me, they just don't realize how cool I am yet. Wait for it.]

1.  The Redcard
Okay, if you shop at Target even one time this year, you're an idiot if you don't have a Target Redcard. 
Well, maybe not an idiot...but you're totally missing out. 

Here are the pros of a Target Redcard:
- 5% off of every purchase. EVERY. SINGLE. PURCHASE. Like, just for using the card. So far this year I've saved $119 dollars from my Redcard alone. Please don't calculate how much that means I've spent. My husband will shit a brick.
- Connects to your bank account. Take note - this is a Target debit card. Not a credit card. This baby hooks right up to your regular old bank account, you create a pin, and voila! No terrifying statements at the end of the month that leave you gasping for air. 
- Free Shipping at This is a must for the internet shopper in you. As much as I love going inside Target, our store is...well, it's pathetic by Target's standards. It's very small and very much in need of [ahem] SuperTarget status [watch out, ya'll. If I could grocery shop there, too, I would be the happiest woman alive]. So free shipping is great when I need to purchase something online that I can't find in store.
- Easy Returns. If you thought Walmart had easy returns, pump the brakes my friend. I often buy stuff from Target knowing I will most likely return it. Or with the intention of trying it on at home rather than using their dressing rooms [the lighting in those things? yikes.]. Because their returns with the Redcard are easy as pie! You don't have to have a receipt. Just the card. They swipe. You return. Easy peasy. Oh and did I mention that you get an extra 30 days to return the item? Just let that all sink in.

Now, here are the cons of Redcard:
-You have to fill out an application by hand [the HORROR] and remember to bring a voided check with you. 

That's it. That's literally all the cons. I got my husband a card just for him and he thought it was stupid, but one day he will start going to Target instead of Walmart and realize what he's been missing all of his life. 

2. Cartwheel App

For all of you smartphone users out there, this is something you can't miss. It doesn't require any applications or voided checks or annoying e-mails. Just sign in with your Facebook account or E-mail and you're good to go. 

Basically it's a coupon system for Target only. THIS IS WHY TARGET IS SO AWESOME, PEOPLE. They have their own GD coupons! It's kind of like a Dillon's card, only better. Because the savings are much greater and the prices aren't jacked up to begin with. 
To summarize the app, you get an allotted amount of coupons you can add. You can select from different departments, scan barcodes in store to find coupons, or search by keyword.

 Then when you check out, you just select your barcode in the app and the super-friendly Target employee scans it. Let the savings begin!

3. Online Ways to Save
-Go to

-Go to the bottom of the page where it says "Ways to Save".
-Bask in all of the savings you're about to get.

Here you can select & print off coupons, see online deals and view the weekly ads.

4. Weekly Ads & In-Store Savings
As stated above, you can find weekly savings inside the weekly ad that Target provides in the newspaper as well as online. Here you will see all the delicious deals you can get in-store. I like this for the awesome $5 or $10 gift card options they offer occasionally. I keep an eye out on these for diapers and formula since I can buy them in bulk and know they will get used. Typically you have to get at least two of an item to receive a gift card [depending on the item it will either be a $5 or $10 gift card] so make sure it's something you'll actually use. Otherwise you're just spending money to save money. 

A few extra tips on saving: 
-When you create a registry, put stuff on there you might not think you'll get at a shower. Whatever you don't get, you'll get a 10% off coupon to use when you buy those items that didn't get purchased! You can combine that coupon with others to save even more money!
-Double up Target store coupons with every day coupons from P&G or
-Even if your coupon's expired, they will often take them for a few days after the expiration. This happened to me yesterday, but because I was using so many other saving tactics, the lady thought I was savvy and helped me out! 
-Sometimes if you're nice enough to the checkout person and you've forgotten your cartwheel, they can scan a handy barcode they have hidden away and get you the savings anyway! [This has happened to me before!]
-If you go to the store and didn't expect to buy formula or diapers but they're on sale or have a gift card incentive included, BUY THEM ANYWAY! They don't jack up the prices before they put the sale on them [I've investigated this] so it's worth it to buy it if you're going to use it. 

I spend a lot of money at Target, but I also save a lot thanks to the above mentioned tactics. 

A couple weeks ago, I received baby coupons in the mail from Target [this is something you get automatically when you create a baby registry]. This included diapers, which I was short on. I had a coupon, plus they were offering a $10 gift card and a cartwheel discount. I ended up saving around $15 bucks on two cases of diapers! I felt like I'd struck gold. 

When we bought Addi's first convertible car seat, I had a mobile baby coupon [text "babysale" to 827438] for 20% off any baby item over $100, plus the seat was on sale in store for $20 off the original price, and I had a $10 gift card coupon for spending over $100. I ended up saving about $79 dollars on that stinking car seat! Talk about a deal!!

These are just a few of the awesome deals I've gotten from Target. I think if I can find ways to save money at a more expensive [less trashy] retail establishment, it makes up for it in the long run and I won't have to go to said trashy retail establishment. 

So that's my wisdom, folks. Do with it as you wish, but as I said before; it's EASY. Just a few things you can do to save a few bucks!

the crazy Target lady [Mal]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The List #23: List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them

So I've been in somewhat of a funk, creatively speaking, as of late. I think it's because my entire soul is consumed with my child, and I also think that's okay. But I'd really like to get back on track by writing and taking photos again because it's what makes me happy. 

With that being said, I'm going to finally finish The List that I started a million moons ago! If you missed the last 22, click on the link to see what I've written in the past. If you're up to speed, then join me on the final quest. 

23. List your Top 5 hobbies and why you love them. 
[In no particular order]

5. Singing. 
Oh I love singing. So much. Like, so much. I've been annoying everyone around me since I discovered my ability to belt a tune back in the Disney movie days. I sing in the shower, in the car, in the movie theater, at work, at the gym, on runs...basically all the time. And I often fantasize about winning American Idol when I do it. Because I'm really cool and you can't deny that. It's become more of a hobby than a skill because I basically only sing to the radio or Pandora. Or to the Frozen soundtrack. No shame.

4. Crafting
I love me some DIY projects. If not for Pinterest appearing in the last 3 years, I would just be a plain 'ole mom of 1 who spends her time watching marathon runs of Breaking Bad on Netflix. Er...I guess I do that anyway...
Moving on. 
Here are just a few of my most popular DIY projects from the blog. 

3. Photography
This is a controversial issue right now...okay, controversial might be the wrong word; let's go with "up in the air". Mainly because everyone - and I say that relatively - has access to badass cameras now days. But the main theme among us folks who call themselves photographers is that the camera doesn't make the image. You can take a breathtaking photo with your camera phone if you pick the right subject, lighting, and composition. Now, that's not to say I have "the eye" for photography, but I like to think I do. Mainly because people have paid me to take their pictures. Again, does that qualify me as a "photographer"? Up in the air. The main point is that I love taking pictures. Ask anyone close to me and they'll tell you that I've had a camera in my hands since I knew what a camera was. My first amazing camera was a cheap Polaroid that my grandparent's got me for Christmas. Since then I've owned approximately 40 different digital cameras (that estimation is a little high, but not too far off), not to mention the countless "disposable" cameras. I could go on about photography and why I consider myself a photographer, but that's a post for a later date. Here are some of my favorite images I've ever taken. 
 2. Playing Piano
Let me preface this by saying the following: I'm terrible at piano. It's not because I'm not talented or because of a lack of coordination, it's because I'm lazy. And I dropped out of piano lessons when I should have listened to my parents and just pushed through and actually practiced. So now I'm stuck playing the same songs over and over because I don't have enough time to relearn everything there is to know about piano while subsequently regretting not listening to my parents when they told me to not be a quitter. C'est la vie.

1. Being a mom and aunt
I added a new hobby to the list when my nephew was born. And then another when my daughter was born. And then came my second nephew. Being a mom/aunt is similar because my sister and I are really close and we have both agreed that in our absence [like, the other room], the other is totally allowed to go "mom" on the kid if something goes awry. Though my nephews are perfect, as is my daughter, so we don't really have to worry about that silliness.

Some of you who don't have children might be all, "uh, that's not a hobby." But I'll be damned if something that I put so much heart, soul, and time into isn't considered a hobby-slash-full time job. Nothing is more important to me than being a good mom and aunt.

So there you have it, folks. One of these days I might just finish this list! Until then -

Monday, August 4, 2014

a mother's guide to surviving the airport with an infant

We just returned from Florida for a relaxing 7-day vacation and I can safely say that traveling with an infant is...well, it's exhausting. 
"Relaxing" soon became "mommy needs an adult beverage. NOW." 

A mixture of strep throat, teething, sleeping in a pack 'n play and lots of baby spoiling turned my adoring child into a monster by the end of the trip. 

In hindsight, she wasn't really that bad, considering the listed factors, but by the end of the trip I was over it and ready to get home to our normal routine. 

My biggest concern going into this trip was the travel it required to get there. 
The center of disease and bitchy TSA agents. And lest I forget old, cranky passengers. 
"Excuse me, Miss Flight Attendant, can you bring me a barf bag so I can put it over this guy's head that's shooting daggers at me and my daughter?"

It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Addi was good about 98% of the time, but when she was screaming in those few short moments I had about 40 panic attacks at once. Because keeping an 8 month old entertained in a space the size of a lima bean can just isn't easy. It's physically and emotionally draining.

In the end, I got quite a few nice comments about how well-behaved she was, but let's face it that was just pure luck. My parenting skills don't really come into play when she's this young. I took their comments to heart anyway because sometimes you just need to feel good about yourself. You know, to counteract the assholes who like to point out your every flaw as a parent. 

So, as an added bonus, and on behalf of my first trip ever on an airplane with my child, I want to offer the smallest bits of advice I can. If it helps just one mom figure out what to pack and how to handle the situation, then I'll consider it a win.
What to pack:

If you're sailing off on your maiden voyage with your youngster, you're probably am I going to fit all of this crap into one tiny carry on?! The answer is: you're not. You're going to need a big-ass carry on to bring all of the junk it requires to keep an infant quiet for a couple of two-hour long flights. Just start off with the essentials and go from there.

-Birth certificate [if they're sitting in your lap and are under 2]
-Formula/Breast milk
-Baby food pouches. These things are amazeballs. I packed 3, just in case.
-100 extra pacifiers. Okay, 4 would probably do, but it's your call.
-Puffs or some kind of snack. This little trick kept her busy when nothing else would.
-Diapers, 6-8 depending on how old the child is
-Wipes, I recommend packing a brand new package just in case. You do NOT want to run out of wipes
-Burp Cloth
-At least 2 new toys that they've never played with or haven't played with for a while, or a board book.
-Ibuprofen for you & for them [as long as they're 6 mo.+ ]. She was still teething during this trip so I kept her on a every 6 hours regimen during the flight process [her ears are already bugging her with the teething so I knew they could potentially get worse during the flight]. I also brought teething tabs along just in case. And Tylenol. You can never be too prepared.
-Change of clothes for the kiddo, change of shirt for you. I put ours in big zip lock bags and pushed the air out of them so they took up minimal space.
-Antibacterial wipes - planes are freaking DISGUSTING. You'll want to wipe down every surface within arm's reach of your child. Believe me.
-Antibacterial hand sanitizer - the ones from Bath & Body work great and are super portable. Plus they smell delicious.
-Ipad or some form of digital entertainment [if you allow it]. Yes, I let my kid watch baby Einstein on my iPad. I'm not even sorry. This saved us during some seriously potential scream fests on our flights. Our fellow passengers weren't judging me for early screen time when it kept her [and mommy] from losing her shit. After the trip I kept the screen away from her for the most part because it was getting a bit out of hand, but on a plane you've got to break some rules and just go with the flow.

After packing the above-mentioned supplies, plus my camera [I wasn't going to check my super-expensive camera and leave it in the hands of the ever-vigilant airport baggage folk], I was left with a bag heavier than my child. But, to be honest, I didn't regret bringing one thing. I used pretty much all of it.

Getting through security
This is the part of traveling by air that really gets my goat. I mean, I get that everyone's really tense after the 9/11 thing [thanks a lot, Bin Laden.], but I don't think that gives TSA agents the right to be total dicks to everyone who goes through their security line. Leaving from KC, they were total jerks and NO ONE would help me. So I'm stuck getting our stroller, baby, big-ass carry on, shoes, and anything else that might piss them off onto this conveyor belt, meanwhile 40 passengers are tapping their shoeless feet behind me, waiting to get their stuff through. Thank God for the people I was traveling with. My mom took Addi and walked her through while I got all of our crap onto the belt. Here are the keys to surviving this process:

-Getting huffy with the asshat TSA agents does you no good. Believe me I tried. If anything, it fuels their hate-fire. Just get your shit on there, get through, and get out. If you're sweating by the end of it you're doing it right.
-If you put water in the baby bottle and the agents are wearing their particularly large ego-infested hats, they're going to want to check it for...actually, I don't know what they checked it for. Bomb juice? Whatever. Just let them do their thing, otherwise you'll probably end up getting detained and questioned for 12 hours.
-Wear flip flops or shoes that are easy to get on and off during security. This is kind of "air travel 101", but it's worth noting.
-Bring a buddy. Don't be a hero, mom. If you can avoid it at all costs please do. Don't travel alone with your child. I honestly don't know how people do it.
-Wear your baby. We brought a lightweight stroller to keep her in on our way to Orlando. This became even more of a pain in the arse because we had to get her out of it, then carry her through the security line and then put her back in it - it was a small nightmare. On the way back home we used the stroller as a luggage carrier and loaded it with our carry ons. I wore her through security and it was the most magical of experiences. They ushered me to the shortest security line, let me walk through the metal detector, swabbed my hands for more bomb juice and let me be on my merry way. You do NOT have to take your baby out of the carrier to go through security. I repeat: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE THEM OUT. It's on the TSA website, so if you get any lip from the agents just direct them there. [Note: You will have to take them out of the carrier for the flight, so be prepared for that.]
-If you had to take stuff out of your carry on, just throw it all back in there and neatly arrange it when you get seated and situated. No use irritating any more grumpy passengers.

Getting ready to board
If you're anything like me and are fearing for the worst on this flight, you're anxiety level at this point in the trip has probably topped out at "I'm dying from the excessive amount of adrenaline pumping through my veins right now." No worries, it will get worse once you actually get on the plane.
But focus. The important thing now is to prepare for the flight.

-Get a tag if you're gate-checking your stroller. Do this early. I would also recommend having it available at your next destination if you've got a layover. It's simple to wait for and it's great for either carrying your luggage or your baby. I also can't stress enough about how important it is to kill them with kindness. Just act like you're so friggin' happy to be traveling by air that you can't imagine doing anything else. This may or may not frighten them, but it will more than likely make them more willing to help you. And when you're traveling with a kid, you need all the help you can get.
-Make sure they know you are traveling with a lap infant. If you're extra with it, you've already done this by mailing in a copy of the child's birth certificate to the airline at least 2 weeks before the flight. But I didn't do that. And it was easy enough to just do it at the gate. They will print you out new boarding passes and you'll be good to go.
-If you need to change seats: My mom and I didn't have seats together on the flight home, so when we went to gate check and take care of the lap infant thing, I asked in the sweetest voice I could muster "could you check to see if there are seats available for us to sit together?" Not only did he get us seated together, he got us some rockin' seats on both legs of our trip. The first leg was behind first class so we had ample leg room [score!] and the second leg, we had an extra seat between us [double score!]. Again, kindness is key.
-Make a bottle (or prepare to nurse on flight). And go over the top with it. Our formula lasts two hours refrigerated from the time you mix it with water. Buy a ridiculously overpriced bottle of water from the vendors inside the gate and keep the excess in your bag. You might need it again. Addi's drinking around 4 ounces at each formula feeding right now [since we started solids she's cut back], so I made 8 ounces to have a little bit of extra. Obviously this does not apply if you're pumping & giving breast milk. I know that shiz is more valuable than gold, so use your own discretion.
-Organize your bag. Make sure everything is going to be where you need it. Give them medicine if you need to. Do whatever you can before the flight, because once you board that aircraft your home is about 1 cubic foot of space for the next two hours.
-Change the diaper. Even if it's only a little wet, change it anyway. Even if you just changed it an hour ago, CHANGE IT ANYWAY. You want to avoid the possibility of blow outs or having to change them in that pathetic excuse for a lavatory.

If you're flying Southwest, hopefully you checked in the MINUTE you were able to [24 hours in advance] otherwise you're going to be boarding with the dogs in crates [aka - the end of the line]. Check in as early as possible to ensure good seats. By this I mean seats near the front of the plane, preferably with the people you're traveling with. The good news is people don't want to sit by babies, so they'll avoid your row until the plane fills up and there are no other options. If you're flying every other airline, you'll have assigned seats so you won't have to flip out about what group you're boarding with. When you get on the plane:

-Get everything you'll need immediately out of your bag and put it in the seat pocket. I got her bottle, lovey, extra paci's and the iPad. Also, I wiped down everything I could with antibacterial wipes. Basically, just get everything you'll need to avoid a tantrum. This is futile during take-off and landing because that's when their ears hurt the most.
-Put your bag underneath the seat in front of you. Hopefully it fits. If not, put it in the overhead bin and pray you won't need one of the 40 toys you brought.
-Take some pictures of their first flight before the potential scream-fest that's about to ensue.
-Buckle up. Shit's about to get real.

Take-off, landing and everything in between
-I'm sure you've heard this one a million times, but always give them a bottle or pacifier during take-off and landing. It's hard on their ears and they don't know how to pop them like adults do. The sucking motion helps their ears pop. Plus, it might put them to sleep which would be a major bonus:
I win all the things.
-Do whatever you can to keep them busy or entertained. For Addi, naps are a completely necessary part of her day. If she doesn't get naps in it's a miserable day for everyone involved. You can try to schedule the flights around naps but it's not a guarantee. She was really tired on our second leg during the trip to Orlando but she just wouldn't fall asleep. So I was doing everything in my power to keep her from screaming. Finally on the descent [while I was feeding her a bottle], she fell asleep and proceeded to sleep through the airport on my shoulder while we waited for our luggage. She slept through the entire first leg so I had it pretty easy.
-Make buddies with the passengers around you. Some of them won't want anything to do with you, but others are more than happy to try to entertain your kid, too. It helps pass the time. Luckily we weren't surrounded by any rude people who didn't want to sit by a baby [it helped that we were flying to/from Orlando and kids were just a part of the experience], but it's still a possibility. Let them talk and play with your little one. They are your ally. They will help you pick up toys that land in the aisle and sympathize when your kid lets out a shrill scream. If they do those things, they're good people. They realize how stressed you are and don't want to make you feel worse by giving you dirty looks.

Overall our first experience on a flight with Addi went much better than expected. Was it a lot of work? Hell yes. I needed a 12 hour nap when we got to our final destination. But we had a blast and that's all that matters. Most importantly, I survived the ordeal mostly unscathed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

a day in the life of a not-so-stay-at-home mom

I've always wanted to document a day in the life of a work day for Addi and I, because it's not something that people typically do. And surprisingly enough, people don't usually ask me any questions when I tell them I get to bring her to work, they just respond with, "oh, you're SO lucky!" Which I totally am, don't get me wrong. I am super fortunate that I can bring her to work, for many reasons. Mainly because I don't have to worry about day care, but also because that means I don't have to miss any of her "growing up."
But that doesn't mean it isn't hard. Some days I get home from work so utterly exhausted that I walk around from room to room, forgetting why I walked into it in the first place. Yeah, I work a desk job, which is a generous term for sitting on my ass in front of a computer all day, but it pays the bills and I don't have to worry about finding some weirdo stranger to watch my kid. But add a child to the equation and all hell breaks loose. Having my little one in the office creates a whole new realm of challenges. I will say that it definitely makes time zoom by! 

So, here's a typical day in the life of a working mom who also brings her kid to work.

I've tweaked her schedule to pretty much time our mornings perfectly, but as nothing in life is perfect [particularly when it comes to getting anywhere on time when a child is involved], neither is our schedule. For example, this morning she slept until 7:30. Which was pure magic. Because that meant I, too, got to sleep until 7:30. Because of this, and because I set my alarm for 7:30 to remind myself to give her reflux medication, I slept soundly until she woke up. Which put us quite a bit behind.

Typically, she's my alarm at about 6:30. Matt has been getting her bottle and medicine ready for me before he leaves for work at 7, which is incredibly helpful because I'm the furthest thing from a morning person a human can be. Him preparing these things saves me time and effort, both of which I'm lacking substantially before 9 am. 
Once I've got her fed and medicated, I get ready while she plays on our bed. 
And then we're finally out the door. This process is usually the hardest part of my day. Though I do get frustrated throughout my work day balancing calls, cries, hunger, and everything in between, it's nothing compared to getting me and my child prepared for a work day. 
I also make a stop on the way to work at Kwik Shop to get my mountain dew fix. Because I like to add insult to injury.

This bag has become the Mary Poppins of all bags. It seemingly has no bottom. 
This type of organization is called "throw shit in there randomly and hope milk doesn't get all over everything." It's quite a popular method among mothers everywhere. 
I carry it everywhere and if I forget it, I have to go back home and get it. I don't keep bottles at the office anymore because it just became a pain in the ass to wash them there, so I bring one and reuse it throughout the day, rinsing it out between feedings. [And in case you are new to the blog, no, I do not breastfeed. We've formula-fed from the beginning.]

When we finally get to the office, it takes me about 10 minutes to get all of my crap together. I'm usually sweating by the end of it. Adelaide stays in her car seat by my desk while I do this, until she starts screaming, signaling her irritation with me leaving her in there. After her wave of annoyance hits, I stop what I'm doing and tend to her. 
This is a crucial part of my day because it happens...oh, every 10 minutes. That's about how long her attention span is. Every time she starts crying, I have no choice but to tend to her. Because I'm her mother and it's kind of my job. And I'll tell you right now, no matter if I'm in the middle of a call with a pissed of customer or one of our stores is burning down and they for some reason called me to assist them, my kid always comes first. No exceptions. 
That said, she is really into fake crying right now and she knows how to manipulate me into picking her up. We're working on that one. I work in a very small office, my father in law as my boss. The other two people who work in here only use it as a hub for their stuff; they're typically out and about at the stores all day, so usually it's just me and Addi in here. Most of the time I will let her fuss a little bit if I know she's faking it or just trying to get her way. But if someone's in here, that isn't really a possibility. The last thing I want to do is annoy people with a crying child I'm trying to "teach a lesson." It's rude. 

My desk area is much like my life in general; a hot mess. 
A true example of starting your day in "fight or flight" mode. Yikes.
At any given time during the day, my desk becomes littered with bottles, sippy cups, sleepers and bibs. Plus all of the actual work stuff that accumulates. 

In the corner where my desk is sits Addi's play area, something that will soon need expanded when she becomes mobile [I'm thinking a gated area, but I'm not sure yet]. 
 This is where we spend most of our time. She eats, plays, and gets changed here. It's multi-purpose. 
The foam puzzle pieces get disgusting so they get an almost daily cleaning with anti-bacterial products. 

In addition to my desk being surrounded with baby crap, the drawers get a little piece of action as well. 
I keep the important stuff [boogie wipes, paci wipes, pacifiers, bibs, burp cloths, etc.] in these drawers for easy access. I have backups of everything in another room.

On the other side of my desk are more toys to keep her entertained throughout the day. We also have a bin filled with extra toys and books; we read several a day. 
I bought the stand-up play center for super cheap second hand. It's been a life-saver.
I can watch her while I'm sitting at my desk -

The bathroom isn't left alone, either. 
I fill up bottles and clean toys, spoons and medical equipment in here as well. Multi-purpose once again.

Napping was probably my biggest concern when I was first trying to figure out this venture of ours. I originally had her pack 'n play set up as a changing area, but when she grew out of her rock 'n play, I was forced to move that to the play area and use the pack 'n play solely for sleeping. 
I also have fabric drawers filled with extra blankets, spare clothes, bibs, socks, diapers, medicine, and diaper wipes. Anytime I run out of something, I have to make a note in my Mary Poppins bag so I remember to replenish from extra stocks at the house. In the event that I forget to do this [which is pretty much every time], I run across the street to Dollar General and pay a lot more money than I should to stock the supply temporarily. It does help to have it right across the street, though. 

Nap times are tricky; sometimes she sleeps two hours, sometimes only 45 minutes. The other day she slept for 3 hours and I had to go check in on her to make sure she was okay. It really just depends on the noise level and how many times I have to go into her room to get uniforms for new employees. 
There are also times when the conference room is being used for actual meetings. In these situations we just improvise. Sometimes it ends with a really fussy baby, but you just have to adjust and anticipate change. 
I once got really creative and made a blanket fort under one of our tables during a meeting. Gotta work with what you've got. 

It's sometimes really difficult to keep her happy. Usually she's up a couple hours between naps [she typically naps from 9-11 and 2-4 if I'm lucky. I'll put her down for naps in between if she doesn't sleep long during either one of those] so keeping her busy can be tricky. When I get to the point where nothing is working, I put her in her carrier and hope she takes a cat nap. 

And when even that doesn't work, I break out the big guns; 
Baby Einstein videos on the iPad
This whole process has taught me a lot about stay-at-home moms and how much work it is. Being able to be around my child all day is a blessing, but it's exhausting. Add in my day job and by the end of the day I'm ready for a glass of wine and bed at an incredibly early hour. 

So that's it, ya'll. Hope you enjoyed a look into our typical day at the office!