Monday, November 30, 2015

9 ways my toddler acts more dog than human

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

But if that saying is true, I think my toddler is a dog.

1) The dog crate is a place of wonderment. My toddler has dozens of toys. Soft ones, singing ones, standing ones, toys you push, toys you throw, toys you climb on, they blink, they beep, they buzz. He has baskets full of sensory-stimulating objects in every room of our home. Yet his new favorite toy is the dog crate. He climbs in it. He climbs out of it. He opens the door. He giggles uncontrollable as he closes the door. (I, however, cannot close the door. Obviously that evokes tears. Obviously.) There is no place he'd rather be. I think he dreams about the dog crate. 

2) The best way to get food is to beg for it. My dog and son are on a joint mission to acquire food. I think they've had secret meetings to discuss Operation Food. They've probably hidden secret, drop-off notes for each other in the crate! These notes likely share tips for getting food. A plan of action might read as such: "While the bigger humans on two legs are eating, go up to them, make your eyes as big as possible, open your mouth ever-so slightly, and STARE! Not working? Feel free to implement a whimper. It also might help to touch the human."

3) Dog food is delicious. I can turn my back for a second, and my son has his head down and is in bee-line, speed-crawl mode to the dog food dish. Of all the food in the house, he believes this is the food that should be coveted most. Dog food is disgusting! He can't really have such poorly formed taste buds, can he? (Reminder for later: maybe I should start putting vegetables on the floor. I might have more success.)

4) Why walk? My 13-month-old still won't walk. It is quite obvious that he can. He will stand on his own and sometimes we see him shuffle but this is typically accidental and when he notices what he's doing, he falls to the ground and crawls. I think he's observed how we move and how the animal moves, and he's chosen the dog way. 

5) Water bottles are toys. Awesome toys. I can be in another room, and within minutes of picking up a water bottle I have both the dog and toddler cruising toward me. My thumb makes a slight crinkling indent and that's all it takes to summon the critters. They both want it. They want to crush it, they want to chew it, they can't even explain why they want it. They just want it now!

6) Everything is a choking hazard because everything goes in the pie hole. Most humans know that it's simply not pleasant to put things like plastic in our mouths. It's not just plastic though. It's everything. Dogs seem to use their mouths as alternatives to having hands. It's how they feel and assess what something is. Toddlers agree. Why look at something and grasp it with your hands when you can send it straight into the mouth.

7) Toy cleanup is unnecessary. Last night as I was waking up in the middle of the night to tend to a crying toddler I kicked a toy that started blinking and singing at me in the dark hallway. Two steps later I practically tripped and fell on a dog toy. I can clean up dog and toddler toys seven times a day, and yet I'll find them when I least expect it, ready to ruin my route.

8) Sounds work just fine. Both my toddler and dog can't form proper words, but they sure can whimper/cry or bark/scream. They do not seem interested in learning other ways to communicate. They believe these effectively do the trick. And they're right. My husband can be talking and talking and talking, and all I get is blah blah blah NBA blah blah blah South Park blah blah blah. Yet when the little ones (dog and toddler) make their noises, my ears perk, my head tilts, and I am ready to assess the situation and help.

9) Go ahead, poo away. Most humans have to put a little bit of thought, effort, planning, even patience into bathroom stuff. Not the dog or the toddler. Perfect strangers can be walking past and the pup just decides now is a good time and place to let it go. The tot can be in the middle of playing, sleeping, eating and his face scrunches up as he lets out a little grunt. I mean, c'mon. They do their business and then just expect one of the big humans will come clean it up. And we do! There's no effort to be more like us. He is completely comfortable in this dog-like way.

And I gotta say, when I look at the life our dog leads, I start to think, maybe I would choose that too. We'll see if my son heads to the human side, but at this point he seems to have it made as a human puppy. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

6 ways poo will take over your life

"Keep bathroom talk out of your marriage." "There are some things that should always remain private." The people who make these comments must not have kids. The people who say these things likely also believe that any time my husband turns the doorknob I should be awaiting with lipstick freshly applied, dishes done, toys put away, silverware polished and a smile that covers any issue that came my way that day. Yeah right.

Prior to having a dog and a baby, I cannot recall conversations I had with my husband regarding bathroom practices. We're pretty immature and overly open so I'm sure they happened, but I can't remember any. Now a day doesn't seem to go by without us talking about bodily fluids. On my list of things I didn't know about parenthood, this is number one: poo will take over your life. Here's how:

1) The progress report. If you are handing the child off to the other parent, you will inevitably ask, "did he poop?" Countless times before my husband even gives me a kiss after work, even before we say hello, I will have relayed our 13-month-old's bowel movement status. The update includes consistency and color. This is disgusting to write about. But I know other moms and dads know: THIS IS LIFE. 

2) Rock, paper, scissors for diaper changes. We've even made sporting event bets with the loser receiving the grand prize of diaper change responsibilities. It doesn't help that our son believes the changing table is a place of torture and likes to squirm and scream through the process. You walk away from a diaper change feeling you conquered the impossible while simultaneously feeling utterly defeated. We often wind up bribing him with candy. We're not proud of it. But a parent's gotta do what a parent's gotta do. 

3) Poogle. That's when you google poo. Yes it often includes an image search. I did it once to make sure my child was healthy. I thought, well I'm never doing that again. But I was no longer a poo-image searching virgin, and there was no turning back. I've lost track of how many times I've looked them up. I sure hope I'm not alone on this one because it sounds quite bizarre. To be clear, I always have a health-related reason.

4) The diaper-less child. They are dangerous. Things you want to keep clean will get pee or poo on them. During a recent diaper change, I decided my toddler could hold my phone. I looked down to grab a diaper, and he was sitting criss-cross applesauce while peeing. No diaper on. My cell phone in his hand. I'm pretty sure it remained pee-free. I've told myself it remained pee-free. You'd think I'd know for sure. I've learned ignorance can indeed be bliss.

5) Diapers have limitations. You will try to remind yourself to check your child before picking the sweet, little peanut up. You won't learn this lesson until you find yourself washing poo off your shirt in the middle of a park bathroom. A small child will ask you what happened. When you tell her your baby had an accident, she will make a I'm-only-7-and-I-feel-sorry-for-you face as she asks, "that's poo?" How did this happen to a college-educated, put-together woman? Simple. I heard my son crying and immediately wanted to help him. The little ball of bodily fluids didn't warn me that he had just had a major blowout that he would transfer to my shirt.

6) Nothing is sacred. Your toilet is not your throne. There is nothing personal about this experience anymore. You are a parent. Instead you will learn that sometimes a child will look up at you the entire time you're doing your business. You'll find yourself in Target holding the child while you're on the toilet, then conduct the oddest movements to try to pull your pants up with one hand as you oddly shake your hips. The whole time your child will be in a football hold that is dangerously close to becoming the Heimlich maneuver. I swear last time I did the baby/pants shuffle, my little one's gaze seemed to say, "mom, get yourself together."

But I am not put together. Despite what my manicures and round-brush blow dried hair will tell you, I am always seconds away from being covered in feces or urine. I know this. When people tell you that parenthood changes you they often are talking about the love you feel. Or the fact that you become selfless in a way you never thought possible. But let's be real, they're also telling you, you will be humbled in ways you can't imagine, and those ways often involve poo. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What complaining parent blogs forget

7 ways babies make life harder. 8 pre-child moments you long to recreate. 9 things you can't change about your post-baby body. 

None of those headlines are real but all of them could be. And I likely would've gotten suckered into clicking any one of them. Give me a headline that points to a list of things and that click-bait has my cheek hooked faster than I can say, but it's 1 a.m. why the hell am I reading this. (Mental note: next blog should be a list of things I love to hate or hate to love about articles that have lists.)

Back to the task at hand. Whiny blogs. I get it, being a parent isn't easy. Andy was out of town this weekend partying with buddies at a college football game four hours away. And Jack decided it would be a good night to wake up three times. While feeding him during wake up number two, I realized I started feeling warm. I thought, oh he's sweating. Okay, I didn't think that, but I tried to convince myself. Truth: he'd peed through a nighttime diaper, through his pajamas and in turn through mine. I somehow managed to keep him attached to my breast (I don't think he even gets any milk anymore, it's just the only thing I could do to comfort him) while changing his diaper and clothes. See, I know how to complain with the best of 'em. Being a parent isn't easy. 

But guess what, it's awesome!!! Sure, a lot of the blogs eventually come to that conclusion but some don't, and that ticks me off.

I was recently reading a list of why it's impossible to get things done with a 1-year-old. The writer had incredibly valid points that I had lived and understood. It went something like: tell child not to dump contents of drawer, clean up contents of drawer, tell child not to put object in mouth, take object out of mouth, etc. etc. etc. It was spot on. (Below picture shows Jack deciding my shoes should not go on shelves.)


But after reading the list I went and played with Jack. I realized we were doing things on the list, but in between those things I was stopping and smiling. Then I was laughing. Then I was taking a picture to send to my husband. Then I was picking Jack up to hug him. 

The complaints sometimes leave out the joys. And that's sad. Because the highs are incredible.

Yes, it's tough. Yes, we need an outlet. Yes, we need to know we're not alone thinking it's difficult. But we also need to remember that we're unbelievably lucky to have a little person who thinks we're the sun and the moon. Community and reassurance are incredibly comforting. We need that to get through the sleepless, pee-soaked nights. 

But when I grow up and look back on these early parenting days, I want Jack's squealing, innocent laughter and cuddly hugs to come to mind faster than the days I changed a record number of diapers. So those are the moments I'm going to focus on most. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My home is open for candy

Disclaimer first: I'm not the most positive, optimistic person on the planet. I'm a news person, and we can be a different breed of sarcastic skeptics. That said, I constantly make an effort to see the rose-colored version of things. I believe it makes life more enjoyable. And I'm married to one of the most optimistic people on the planet. Disclaimer over. Now I ask, when did some people get so angry, so negative, so cynical?

Here's where my question stems from - Halloween. Growing up, the holiday was quite simple. You put on a costume (typically covered that costume with a winter jacket - I grew up in Wisconsin) and then went house to house getting as much candy as humanly possible. At some point your parents told you, "you're too old." Or you decided, "I'm too cool for this and too old." Then Halloween traditions eventually change, and you pinterest things like "candy-corn Jell-O shots." FYI: #pinterestwin

Well this year I heard an adult complaining about the quality of trick-or-treaters. She was crowd-sourcing thoughts on how to deal with parents who come with kids who are too young to be trick-or-treating. She suggested the adults are using the babies to get candy. She also questioned teens who are too old to be trick-or-treating.

How to deal with them? The answer seemed obvious to me - Give 'em some candy. I don't think there should be fun-size chocolate police.

I have no problem if you put a time limit on trick-or-treating. I get that. People knocking on your door super late at night asking for candy can be creepy. Go ahead, shut them out. And really, shut out whomever you feel like shutting out. It's up to you, but own it. And just know some of us will think you need to lighten up.

I guess this is my problem. I was one of those "parents with babies" trick-or-treaters. I dressed in costume because I'm a nerd, and I would like Jack to look back on pictures when he's older and know that I've always been like this. And I took him out trick-or-treating because we went with friends, (who have slightly older kids) and because I love traditions like this. I did not take him trick-or-treating because I was trying to take a disproportionate amount of candy. If I knew people felt that way I would have carried my little Yoda around the house and knocked on the doors of different rooms. Husband Darth could've handed out the candy. We had treats to spare, and I took the excess into work anyway. And by the way, we only took a few pieces of candy and against my wishes Andy fed some of it to Jack so we completed the proper trick-or-treating etiquette.

So back to my original question, when did some people get so angry, so negative, so cynical? Does it stem from a fear of not being safe? I get that, bad things happen. But bad things happening to innocent people handing out trick-or-treat candy are rare. Like really rare. Maybe we fail to see where people are coming from. Maybe that kid isn't wearing a costume because his parents couldn't afford one. I still think he should get some candy. Or maybe we allow negative people to perpetuate their negativity far too often.

Instead, why don't we see Halloween as a great time for kids to be out and having fun together. Hopefully their parents know where they are and, if so, it seems they could be doing worse things. It's a great, happy tradition, let's try to keep it positive.

I realize I kinda just ranted about people being too negative. Sorry about that. I just want my kid to grow up in a land of costumes and candy. I'm a realist so I understand we can't have it everyday but once a year doesn't seem like too much to ask for.

Oh, and in the future, my home is open to all on Halloween if you'd like some candy.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The fur is worth it

Two years ago my husband told me my three-year campaign to convince him to get a dog had worked. He grew up dogless. I can't imagine my childhood without them.

Reggie is a member of our family. I mean look at that face:

Before we got Reggie, I remember non-dog owners warning me that I might regret having a dog when we had children. They told me things like, "they get in the way, and their fur is everywhere which no new mother wants to deal with." I can honestly say there hasn't been a single day that I've wondered if getting Reggie was a bad choice. It was one of the very best decisions. And yet the fur issue is a real concern.

Reggie is a golden retriever. He covers every square inch of our home with fur. Once it's clean he seems to be able to repeat the fur invasion within a half hour. I have lint rollers strategically placed because we're always covered.

When Jack gets up after a crawling session he resembles a Maltese. The amount of fur Reggie churns out is actually quite impressive. Sure some times of the year are worse than others, but he's rarely not purging the pet fur.

Jack now likes to carry his sippy cups. He also likes to drop them. And pet fur sticks to their siliconeness like velcro. I tell myself it's kinda gross. The truth is, it's absolutely disgusting. Still, all this is worth it.

I wouldn't be giving the complete story if I failed to mention that we have a cleaning person who comes into our home. It's a luxury that we decided is important to us. I know not everyone can rationalize the cost, but if you find you and your spouse disagreeing on house cleanliness, it might be worth checking the budget to see if you can swing it. We are both busy people and being able to spend our time enjoying each other instead of being stressed and bitter about cleaning is incredibly good for our marriage. Again, I realize not everyone can do this.

So why is the fur worth it? I smile every time I walk in my house. Work can be stressful. Marriage sometimes involves disagreements. Children aren't always easy. But when I walk in the door, I smile. Every time. His ears perk up, his tail wags aggressively (sometimes knocking over things its path) and his deep chocolate brown eyes look up at me as if to say, wow I missed you, you make the world better, I love you, I'm so glad you're home, you should stay here forever. It's quite nice.

That loyalty never fades. If you're a loving, good dog owner, you will be rewarded for that affection every single day of your life. A dog's world is quite simple, and you are the center of it. Their love is 100 percent.

And one of the main reasons I embrace the fur: my son has a best friend. That 100 percent love extends to the entire pack. And Andy, Jack and I are Reggie's pack. Jack said the word dog (or his baby version of dog) before mama or daddy. He smiles every morning when he sees Reggie. He points and laughs when he sees him running outside. He gives him hugs. He climbs over him. He pets him and squeals with laughter. Jack is rarely bored when his doggy is there. Seeing that pure love and happiness exuding from them is priceless. And I know Jack will look back at his childhood with fond memories of his Reggie. And that touches this mama's heart. Now excuse me, I need to clean the fur off my keyboard while you enjoy more adorable pictures of the two beautiful buddies!