I am this kind of mother: Shoes edition

I realised the other day that not writing a lot about motherhood right now feels like I’m not writing about me anymore.

I have left out writing about Baby J on purpose because writing about your kids is a whole thing that I don’t want to get into at the moment.  There’s a lot of judgment to “mommy bloggers” and honestly, I don’t want to have to deal with it.

But being a mother is what I do full on, every day.  It permeates my very being and I can’t write about me without writing about the kind of mother that I am.  I have opened my mind to trying to write more about me this year so, I’ll begin with this.

Back in December I saw this link on twitter, an article titled:

Ways I Have Attempted to Con My Kids Into Putting Their F*cking Shoes On: A Non-Exhaustive List.

It was a couple of days before this happened:

The short translation of that is;  I once left a supermarket twice, back to back, because Baby J took off her shoes while I was shopping.

One of the top rules of my book is:  I follow up.  I never say something I’m not going to do.  If I say I’m going to take a toy if she doesn’t stop playing in a manner that might be harmful, I explain up to three times -depending on the complexity of the situation- and then take the toy.  No amount of screaming, crying, begging or whining will make me give that toy back.

I have done that since forever so she knows when I say I’m gonna do something, I do it.  Period.  I clearly made a mistake when I was shopping groceries (much needed groceries) and she started taking her shoes off.

I was desperate and used the wrong approach – I started threatening her because I thought it would be faster.  MISTAKE.  Very soon the words “if you don’t keep your shoes on I’m gonna go and we are not going to get any groceries”  where escaping my lips and then, because I’m Sergeant Follow Up, I had to you know, follow up.

I left everything back in it’s place, got to the car and went back home.  Except, she said she now understood and to please put on her shoes, that she will keep them on.

And it was probably because I was so hungry, I though everything would go splendidly.  I went back into the store, got everything but one article and then an old lady came up to me and handed me Baby J’s shoes.

And I had to go back home, again.

I ended up going to the supermarket late at night while my mom baby sat.  Because that’s the kind of mom that I am.

 

Impromptu princess castle

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This was  before someone gifted Baby J an actual princess castle (with capacity to expand five rooms, though we barely had room to accommodate it with its actual two).  I found the form in a coloring book and cut it from a diaper box. 

We played with it for two weeks. And by we I mostly mean I.

Have a creative a Wednesday!

Parents: Toxics in baby’s clothing

And family and friends of parents:

I just read this article on toxics present in baby’s articles (clothing! Like the new pretty pyjamas you just bought on sale at Carter’s.  Yes, those) and I am appalled.

I have tried to give Baby J the best in natural and/or organic articles – as our budget has permitted.  I saved money for two months to buy an organic combo of body wash and cream that was twenty dollars, so when I say we’ve made sacrifices to give her the best we can, I MEAN IT.

Manfriend and his family harvested organic food for her when she began eating solids.  I don’t feed her regular strawberries because they have too much pesticides.  A few months ago my aunt wanted to give her a potato chip and I refused because that doesn’t have any nutricional value, I fought my entire family – and fight manfriend’s family on a daily basis – because I want her to eat nutritious and hearty food.  I AM THAT MOTHER.

I don’t know how I didn’t knew about this before but now that I do, not only have I cleared her wardrobe of all offensive materials, I want to share this with you because if you, like me, missed this, I want you to have the choice of doing the same thing.

Please read the article if you have any children in your family and share the info.

Have a great Sunday!

PD  Week elsewhere post coming tomorrow!  Because I crushed my posting schedule like a boss.

A night out

A few weeks ago manfriend invited us to have a pizza after church.

Church itself was a treat for us because we work Sundays and rarely can attend together, but at the mention of pizza Baby J perked up and blurted out her most enthusiastic “YES”.

She loves it not for the food, but because she gets exited to see other people, kids specially.

(Side note:  she seems to get a social trait from her father because even though she doesn’t see kids on her daily basis, she will walk right up to any child, smile and try to get them to play.  People had to harass me when I was young to get me talking, so yeah, not my DNA expressed.)

We where in church and one of our favorite pizza places was only a block away so we decided to walk.  At the moment we didn’t realised that walking a block with a toddler was like walking three miles.  To put the cherry on top, Baby J refused her stroller (having already tasted the freedom of roaming around the church building she was not having any of that stroller thing) and when we saw the door of the place we felt like we had walked a 10k.

Manfriend was carrying Baby J and I was pushing the stroller with the baby bag and my purse inside when we got there.

That’s when this …  “woman” came out  rushing from behind me, almost running really, cut in front of me and entered the pizza place before me.  She immediately sat down in the first and only empty seating in the first floor of the place.

This would be nothing if it didn’t mean that we had to go up a floor through the tiniest flight of stairs you’ve ever seen in your life, towards the second floor which is crowded with tables so close to each other you can barely walk among them.  With a toddler and a stroller.

Manfriend’s face fell when we reached the service counter and, looking back realised that we had been left without a place to sit.  He turned towards the “woman” and a companion that seemed to walk in after her and basically fulminated her with his eyes.  She knew she had left us without a table because we heard her say to her partner “what?! There’s more tables upstairs.”

There’s more tables upstairs.

I’m going to assume she has no kids and has never had to care for one because parents know right?  We share the struggle.  It was one of those moments when I wished I could’ve made her feel all we were feeling and let her know why.

It wasn’t the weariness of that night alone;   we almost never eat out because it’s not on our budget.  In fact when Baby J eats out she thinks she went to Disney, she gets THAT exited.

We deserved that night out.

 

Have a great day!

River of love

I believe love can not be measured.

You either truly love someone or you don’t, but how can you love someone a little bit or a lot?  In Spanish we have other words for different types of affection that make it easier to describe the kind of love that you have for someone, but for the one and only love (amar) I believe it’s either a yes or no.

So the other day I’m at my parents with my mom (I usually stay at my parents once a month because otherwise I’d have no opportunity to you know, breathe.  Or do my nails) and she receives baby J with crayons and a coloring book.  I know where that is headed from the moment she gave her that box of crayons because I’ve been there.  I know they won’t last five minutes and they are going to end up in her mouth and also everywhere.

It all happens.  Crayons flew places, the floor had a new palette that included blue and yellow, there was partial ingestion of the things and it takes my every ounce of will power to contain myself from stopping everything to prevent further damages.

I’m that mother who won’t let baby J go to town with her messes.   I can’t deal with food on the floor, or crayon madness:  the other day she poured juice all over herself in her high chair and I contemplated taking away her glasses forever.  Who needs more liquids anyway?

My uncle asked me why last weekend and for the first time I gave an honest, straight-up answer;  I think it’s because I’m in someone else’s house.  Because I’m in manfriend’s territory even.  I feel a tremendous amount of pressure about having everything neat at all times, maybe because every time someone comes in they point out everything that needs to be clean or organised (and even do it themselves).  It makes me feel like I never do enough.  But I’m working on it, there was a brief intervention and I feel I now have the tools to modify this.

Anyway, it’s all going far away from coloring and more towards silliness and the only reason why I can stay sitting down and not make the crayons disappear is because my mother is sitting there laughing about the whole thing, having fun and encouraging baby J to continue her art which at some point consists of breaking the crayons in very small parts.

Her immense river of patience was flowing all over the room and I was breathing it in like a medicine.  I felt peace and I don’t know how it happened exactly, but I knew then that as much as I have always loved my mother – adored her, cherish her;  heck she is the best woman I know – I now love her more.  

New Parents: Tips for the home of a crawler

My first tip is that you should barricade the house.

My second one is to double the amount of wine available for both parents and/or caretakers.

Always have an emergency toy.   It doesn’t have to be fancy (in fact, you can tell others to save the kid meal toy if they eat in fast foods.  Life savers!) but try to always save a new toy for that emergency moment when you need something to grab their attention or calm down.  That moment when they don’t want to stay in the play yard or don’t want to sit in the car seat.  I don’t recommend this for EVERY time they get difficult, but we all have that one day when we just need ten minutes of cooperation and a new toy, even a one dollar animal key chain, can give it to you.

For the friends of the new parents: if you want to gift them something, please consider assorted batteries instead of more toys.  Nobody needs more toys, not even that really cool one.  Seriously.  But if you must buy more toys then go for small toys.  The smallest one you can find that toddlers can not swallow.   They take up less space and babies can handle them easily.  I promise they will love it as much as the really cool one, after all babies can be impressed with pretty much anything.

Segregate toys.   This hack has worked really well in our house:  I have toys segregated by place.  Toys that are used in the play yard are not used in the car, daily/room toys are not mixed with those.  Travel toys that mainly go in the car are only in the car.  That means baby J has something to look forward to when she’s in each place and she doesn’t get bored of her toys.

Sometimes the good photo is the bad photo:   We all want perfect photos all the time.   Big smiles and joy in each moment captured are the ideal fillers of the scrapbook, but sometimes that’s just not possible.  Maybe the baby is too tired, maybe they just want to play with the camera that you are using and thus, denying them;  for one reason or the other sometimes it’s impossible to get the baby smiling and then, my humble suggestion is:  don’t sweat it and just take the picture as it is.   Sooner than you think they won’t be that tiny and you will want photos of them bawling, grabbing someone’s nose, looking away, putting the toy in front of them… you’ll want to remember that too!  Plus, you will need those pictures to bribe them with when they are in high school.

For babies over four/six months old it begins to make a bigger difference to invest in more expensive diapers.  They do last longer and nights are a time for all the super awesome magical protection that the better brands promise.  Personally, for a newborn, I saw no difference;  the changing is so frequent anyway that it was pretty much the same thing, but now I have validated the twelve hour protection and I think it’s worth it to invest in it.

I read in a design web page that having a basket (or similar object) in each room of the house would help you keep organised easier and:  yes, baskets.  You throw all toys and things that got moved from one room to the other in there and suddenly everything looks better and you didn’t spend four years tidying up.

Enjoy every minute.  Be patient.  Remember there’s an opportunity to teach them something in everything and that no moment is ever coming back.

Other parts of the New Parents series:

Have a great day!  And if you have more tips for crawlers, share them in the comments 🙂

New Parent: Some tips to survive on faster, healthy meals

Eating healthy, complete meals with a crawler/toddler around the house becomes a challenge.

 

I can not count the times I completely skip a meal or just gobble down whatever’s on the table (bread, bananas, cookies… yum, cookies) instead of eating something decent because I have no time, but, there are a few tricks I’ve validated that I want to share to help you avoid this by making meals a bit easier and faster.

 

Most of it it’s prep time:  try to pre-prep as much as you can and store it in one-time portions.  In our case the biggest life saver has been storing meats prepped.  We go to the grocery store and when we come back we portion and season every meat we bought.  And by we I mostly mean manfriend because he’s the meat expert around here.

We use vinegar, olive oil, coriander, onion, oregano, culantro, ready to use complete seasoning (I love Badia), pepper and tons of garlic.  There can never be enough garlic.

But sometimes I have do the meat prepping alone and I’m not as fond of the task so I admit I cut it short by like, most of it.  If you can’t season the meat before storing it (I understand you, it’s ok, it’s all ok) at least put the correct portions in ziploc bags and drizzle them with vinegar before freezing.  It might be that my grandmother has drilled it in my head but vinegar makes all meat better;  it cleans it killing all the nasties in it and it also serves as a tenderiser.

 

Also:

  • Cut peppers and store them in portions.
  • Store garlic grounded or minced in the freezer.
  • Puerto Ricans use sofrito  which is basically the win of cooking.  You can try making one with your favorite ingredients.  We store portions in the freezer and thaw them to always have some handy.

 

Another huge life saver is good food choices.  You can’t eat the bad food that you don’t buy, so even though it’s tempting, stay away from frozen fried or to be fried foods.   Substitute those for healthier (and who are we kidding, they are still frozen foods but!  It’s better than eating the bowl of ice cream) choices.

I found bags of frozen fajita beef that are cut and seasoned that have saved my life.  I throw them in the skillet with some (pre-cut!) colourful peppers, drizzle  some honey-garlic BBQ sauce over the whole thing, cover it and ten minutes later it’s done.  I can serve it with rice, potatoes or *gasp* fajitas!   There’s also chicken strips and so on.

I also like Velveeta skillets, which yes, boxed food, but oh THE TASTE.  And you use your own chicken (or meat) too so you can avoid the fake protein.   These are extremely satisfying so I highly recommend them for those long days when you get home in a hurry, starved and have to fix something ASAP or you risk fainting.

Pastas are a great, fast choice on their own too.  You can basically use any leftover meat and combine it with pasta and ta da!  Meal.

Which brings me to:  invest in good sauces.  Seriously, it will save your life.  You don’t need ten different choices, but a couple of great sauces can be the ticket to a delicious, EASY (and in most cases cheaper!) meal.  My choices are Worcestershire sauce (and I buy the cheapest one I can find -it’s not even a dollar- because I’ve never been to Europe, I don’t know what the good one is supposed to taste like), a good Teriyaki sauce (I like one with roasted garlic) and a good BBQ sauce (manfriend loves one with honey in it).  And then I try to always have a good, classic spaghetti sauce and a nice white sauce.

Two of those are enough to make your life easier and tastier.   Season anything as you would and then drizzle it with the sauce.  I like to add a little touch right before finishing too for an extra boom.

 

If possible always have some fish standing by in the freezer.  Fish thaws fast, gets seasoned with practically nothing (salt, pepper.  That can be it) and gets cooked in a few minutes.  It’s also healthy, does not pack bad calories and you can pair it with a huge salad and feel happily satisfied.

Last but so very not least, you need greens!  A strong variety of lettuce (roman, french) in good condition can last a couple of weeks in the fridge, so when you can, pack up on some fresh greens so you can always have some go-to main salad ingredient.  Salads are the win because you can add virtually everything to it and it will still taste right;  fruits, almonds, croutons… look around and toss it in there, then gobble up.

 

That’s it.  As you can see, I didn’t invent anything new, in fact it is all about using common sense.  Then again when you have to run with a few hours of sleep for over a year the practice of common sense gets reserved for the parenting part of the brain and it’s harder to use it on food.

 

Bon appetite!

 

Happy pink birthday

I missed rebloggin’ Monday 😦

I’ll continue with the programmed scheduled next week, God willing, because it was just that this happened:

It was baby J’s first birthday and everyone was running around all crazy while I sat and contemplated my daughter in awe. I had her yesterday, maybe a week ago, and now she’s ONE.

The theme of the party was Coco Chanel. It IS possible to make a fun party for a girl and not include Dora, or princesses can I get an amen? AMEN! I didn’t do a thing because manfriend’s brother is a party designer and decorator, so it was like going to someone else’s party. I can’t have that conversation about how crazy it is to throw the first birthday party because I have no idea.   But I chose the theme!  I can talk about choosing a theme.

So my weekend was all pink with white dots. I hope you have a great week!

Her momma

The second day of baby J’s life the nurses took her away very early in the morning for her daily bath.

 

I used that time to put myself together; have a warm shower, fix my hair and makeup, tidy up the room. Then I waited anxiously for the nurses to bring her back while I talked to my mother. I was trying to be cool but failing miserably.

 

When I heard the knocks on the door I tele transported myself to it and opened with a huge smile on my face only to be shocked by a weird scene. The bassinet had been prepared with formula bottles and I had requested to breastfeed. That made me pause and look at the baby, and my heart flipped. Her hair was weird, sticking all up, which made me observe her face only to confirm my fear; that baby was definitely not my baby J.

 

My mother, scatterbrained as she is, was already on top of that baby removing the spit up napkin, ready to pick her up. I took a step back and told the nurses. Their faces melted. The supervisor of the floor visited me daily because one of my in-laws worked at the hospital, they thought I was going to make a scene or something. I remained calm while they clarified the situation among themselves and went back to the nursery, taking back the wrong baby with them.

 

I joked with my mother that she didn’t recognised her own granddaughter, she was amazed that I sorted it out so fast, the whole thing took me all of two seconds. I told her “she’s my daughter. I would recognise her from a forty feet distance without wearing my glasses. I just feel it.”

 

Baby J is eight months old now and has conquered many milestones, one of them being that now she can fully express her recognition for me too. In a room full of people, she has no doubt which one is the one responsible of changing her diapers and giving her food and she’ll let everyone know that the one with the crazy hair, that’s the her one.

 

She knows momma.