Thursday, May 22, 2008

Boob bottles, talking urinals, and other riduculous baby products

Okay, things are getting just a little too crazy in the baby world. I got a major children's company catalog in the mail today. I won't mention the name of the company because I don't want to piss anyone off, not that there's anyone important reading this (no offense) but you never know. These baby companies may just employ little baby assassins to come after anyone who disses their products online.

Anyway, I was browsing through the catalog, simply for lack of better reading material not because I would ever order something. Children's catalogs are like the SkyMall to me, overpriced and totally pointless (anyone you know have a $200 DaVinci Code Cryptex... or a talking plastic urinal for potty training?). I just couldn't believe the products this catalog (whose motto is "thoughtfully selected products to help with baby...every step of the way") was selling! I had to laugh out loud, and sometimes vomit a little in my mouth, when I saw this stuff. I've compiled a list of the dumbest of the dumb so you can have a nice laugh as well. Just don't eat a big lunch before reading this.

The first three are safety items: Inflatable tub walls, baby knee pads for crawling, and, I am not making this up, a helmet for babies. Seriously, why don't we just wrap them all in bubble wrap? Or even better, keep them in a giant hamster ball? People must think babies are getting dumber by the generation. When I was little we didn't even wear helmets riding our bikes, forget about while learning to walk or crawl. Baby gates? No way! You fell down the stairs once, and you can bet you were more careful next time! In our parents generation the kids rode on the hood of Uncle Johnny's car for fun! Now, God forbid our little angel bump his little noggin while, let's see, learning to roll over! It's disturbing. This is my take on the tub walls....after Mateo fell over a few times in the tub and, gasp, bumped his head, he learned how to sit in the tub without slipping. And luckily for him, I wasn't in the other room catching up on "So You Think You Can Dance", I was right next to the tub ready to give him a pep talk and help him back up. Inflatable tub walls...maybe, if you're kid is an idiot or you're more neurotic than a poodle on speed.

Next, long sleeve swimsuits. Are your kids allergic to the sun? If not, there's no excuse. Are you going for the Marcia Cross look? Do you want your kids to look like their dead? You can't shield your child from everything. Especially not something 1.3 millions times bigger than the earth!

Oh the baby monitors! When I was a baby, I was the monitor. If I screamed, something was wrong. And you can bet if something was wrong you would hear it across the neighborhood. Now we have state-of-the-art high resolution color flat screen baby monitor with night vision. Oh, and it can attach to your TV too. Hmm....can't think of anything better to watch than a sleeping baby. Even West Wing is more exciting.

Memorabilia: it seems we have traded in our bronzed baby shoes for....a delux memory mold infant keepsake, where you can accessorize your living room with a die cast of your babies fist. First of all, I have yet to find a furniture set that matches "baby fist" theme or the God-awful color of bland clay. Second, I love my kid, but his fist (which has pulled my hair, hit me in the face, knocked over plants, and broke my DVD player) does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside when I look at it standing in the middle of my coffee table. Can't we just stick to good old fashioned family pictures?

Baby gates...again. I just have to mention, in this particular catalog, there are 3 full spread pages devoted to baby gates. There is such thing as baby proofing overkill.

Pampering your child: a foot rest for your toddler's car seat. Well, would you like a massage during your travels, sir? Or perhaps a martini?

And my favorite: "The bottle most like Mom's breast!" is a bottle that, literally, looks like a boob, nipple and all. Scary.

You know what all these over-protected, over indulged, pampered children are going to turn into? Either psycho-path serial killers with odd fetishes that still live with their parents or, Paris Hilton. Good luck with that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Amusement Park Mania!

This weekend, we took Mateo to an amusement park for the first time ever. We went to a mini-theme park in CT called Lake Compounce. Keep in mind, this is no Six Flags or Bush Gardens, but it was still pretty cool. We totally rocked out on the Dumbo Ride.

The main reason Mateo had as much fun as he did was because we kept him hopped up on Sierra Mist all day. I know, I know, most of you think I'm a horrible Mom (as if you didn't already). Usually I would say to wait till your kid is at least 3 to start rotting their teeth, but this was an emergency. We had a kid running on no nap, I forgot to pack the juice, and fountain soda was free all day with the purchase of the admission ticket. So, in an act of desperation, we put some watered down Sierra Mist in his sippy cup. I felt so unholy holding that little smiling choo-choo train cup under the fountain of liquid sugar. But, I did what I had to do to get through the day. We spent an un-Godly amount in gas to get there and we were going to have fun, dang it!

Once Mateo got the taste of the stuff, he was like a celebrity on their first day out of rehab. Yes, my not-even-two-year-old went on a 5 hour soda binge. And he was the happiest kid on the planet! And so compliant, all we had to do was keep the fountain flowing. By the end of the day, he looked like he was pregnant with a basketball and my husband and I started wondering if a child could actually pop from drinking too much. Even so, we had to cut him off. He was starting to foam at the mouth every time we walked by a soda machine.

Even scarier than a toddler with the shakes waiting for his next fix was the singing and dancing Safari Show. These two fun-loving explorers used their imagination to take us on a musical adventure that makes Robin Williams look understated. The two performers (one guy, one girl), looking an awful lot like former Idol contestants, were so enthusiastic about jungle animals I thought they would start ripping off their clothes at any moment while singing passionately about the Crocodile Rock. Or that could be from the bottle of caffeine pills I saw them popping in back before the show. Either way, the kids were completely hypnotized by this manic form of children's entertainment. Mateo, who would normally be running up and down the aisles, trying to get on the stage, and showing off his mad dancing skills, was sitting quietly in his stroller watching the pill popping duo belt out a bad imitation of a song from The Lion King. This was not because he was tranfixed with this type of entertainment like the others (please, he is my kid afterall). It was because 1) he literally could not even sit up on his own due to the basketball under his shirt 2) he was starting to come down off the high and 3) he would've sat through a Celine Dion concert if we offered him more soda.

The only melt down happened on the train ride across the park. Mateo loves trains with a passion. "Choo-choo", as he so adorably calls it. I thought this would be the highlight of our day. Turns out I was wrong. After we all got settled (with our stroller folded up and everything) onto the train, the "conductor" apparently lost the keys. So, as we waited for the back-up keys to be brought over by a morose teenager who apparently had better things to do and so walked as slowly as possible, another kid came around to make sure everyone was sitting properly on the ride and to bother the hell out of me. He tells me that Mateo cannot sit on my lap but must sit by himself on the seat...for safety. For safety? Now, I should explain, there are no seat belts, lap systems, or safety gates on this train. The sides are completely open. And it's not like there's a whole lot of room on these is a kiddy train, and my butt ain't so "kiddy" anymore. Here is the conversation that transpired.

"You want me to do what?"

"He has to sit in his own seat for safety."

"So you think it's safer for my squirmy toddler to sit on the edge of this seat, with no gate or seat belt, than on my lap where I can hold him securely?" I was not about to let a pimply 10th grader tell me what's best for my kid. Not to mention, my kid is not the most coordinated tot in playgroup. You could put him in an empty room with no obstacles and he would trip over a piece of fuzz.

"It's what we have to do. It's part of the regulations."

"He can't sit in the seat by himself! He'll jump off!" I was getting a bit snappy. And Mateo was getting hungry, hot, and tired, and as you know, a bad combination for a toddler.

"Please, can you just put him on the seat next to you?"

"This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard." At this point he started reaching for his radio to call for an escort. "Fine, but if he falls off, I'm sueing you!"

So that was my big melt-down. But in my defense, I was hungry, hot, and tired!

Seriously, how cute are they?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Holy Mother!

A few days ago I celebrated my first mother's day. I really don't have much to complain about, but of course I am going to because I have to have something to write about. I must preface this with a little praise for my husband. He did a great job! He cooked all 3 meals for me, making my favorite breakfast and one of my favorite dinners. I didn't change a single diaper all day. And I got to play with my son while he was being cool and hand him off to Dad when he wasn't. It was wonderful.

Now, for the complaining part. Every Mother's Day in my church, they do a special service where they acknowledge all the Mom's. The past few years while I've been waiting for hubby to get on board with the whole kid thing, I've been dreaming of the day that I, too, can stand up and be counted as a Mommy. So, this was my turn and I was looking forward to it.

BUT, instead of basking in the glory of this wonderful moment that I feel I deserve (if I say so myself), I'm in the back hallway with my kid who's screaming and writhing around on the floor. And not because he was touched by the blood of the lamb. He was having a tantrum because he wanted Daddy's coffee and I said no. He already had one coffee that day and the kid has got to cut down! By the time I finished beating my kid (or at least that's what everyone thought by the sound of his screaming) and brought him to the nursery, my moment was over.

And it only got worse as the service went on. So the pastor then asks for some of the congregation to stand up and give some praises about their wives or mothers. And as the husbands are giving heartfelt speeches about their wives patience, and gentleness, and enduring love, I begin to realize that I don't sound anything like these other mothers. They sound like saints and I sound like a New York City cab driver. This was especially true about one particular woman whose husband raved on and on about for longer than a Baptist preacher on his best Sunday sermon. This woman apparently has 4 kids, one on the way, homeschool's all of them, the house is always clean, she never loses her patience, and doesn't believe in leftovers. Oh, and wears spandex and a cape under her clothes in case someone is in danger. Seriously! How can anyone live up to that?

Things were looking up towards the end of the service when the pastor said these words, "A woman is a person first, and a mother second." Can I get an amen!

A rare picture of me. I usually hide-out behind the camera.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm no Martha Stewart but I can make a mean playdough pizza

So, I went to pick up Mateo from the childcare center at gym that I go to, and imagine my surprise when I saw him coloring with crayons. Crayons! Why didn't I think of that? And it looks like so much fun! You know it's really bad when the only enrichment activity your toddler participates in is at the community center childcare where they pay a few high school girls minimum wage to sit on beanbag chairs watching TV, which I swear was on Jerry Springer before I walked in the door.

Before I had kids, I always thought I would be one of those moms who did really creative activities with her kids everyday. You know, the types who are always paper macheing something, or who have an entire closet devoted to beads. But then I had my son and all that changed. Now, I think I'm freakin' Martha Stewart for breaking out the playdough once every two weeks or so. It's sad, but true. No glitter, pom poms, or tissue paper projects for this family. Not that I haven't tried. He's just not interested. And I'm just not interested in scrubbing glitter glue out of the carpet for an hour. It's a win win situation.

In fact, my son has limited interest in anything that doesn't fall into these 4 categories: toy cars, real cars, pictures of cars, and Shrek. It's incredibly boring. I started taking him to expensive children's museums thinking I would be enhancing his IQ or at least killing time, and all he wanted to do was eat sand or look out the window at the cars pulling in and out of the parking lot. We could be doing that for free down the street at Dairy Queen and be getting Mommy her chocolate fix for the day! Well, on the bright side, he's a cheap date!

Maybe he's teething and other bad parenting advice

If there is one thing I can't stand, it's people without children giving me parenting advice. It's bad enough having other parents breathing down your neck about the dire importance of your kids eating all organic food and only rice cakes for dessert, or that sand isn't in one of the four food groups. But now you have to hear from the other half of the population too!

Well, one day when your phone is ringing off the hook, the dog is sitting at the door with her legs crossed, your child (who has been asking for "juice" non-stop for 10 hours straight) has decided to take matters into his own hands by scooping it out of the dog dish, and you've been trying to eat your already mushy cereal for an hour now, I'll jump in and say something really dumb and completely useless like, "maybe he's teething." And then you'll understand why I have the sudden urge to strangle you with the jump rope I just tripped on for the 14th time today.

When random people that I know do not have kids offer advice, I feel like saying, "I have almost every single parenting book on the market cluttering up my bookcase and you actually think that your words of unexperienced wisdom is the one untapped truth I've been searching for?" I tried this approach once and ended up in an altercation with an older woman holding a huge purse with a surprisingly good arm and ended up getting escorted off the property, which was kind of awkward since it was at my house at a major holiday celebration with in-laws.

It's kinda funny about those so called "parenting experts". The ones that make us new Moms hang on every word thinking it will be our only answer to raising healthy, intelligent children. Well, I've done the research and found out some surprising "facts" about these "experts". Most of them don't have children! And the ones that do, have their kids brains removed and replaced with robot brains that make them act unrealistically sane. Well, it may not be "fact" per say. When I say "research" what I mean is, what I make up while I'm in the bathroom. Do you really think I have time for research? I don't even have time to clip my toenails.

I think what we've lost sight of in our modern there's-a-self-help-book-for-everything culture is pure, God given, intuition. Now I'll admit I've fallen into the "Dr. Sears is God" trap where I read at least 20 books claiming to be the know-all book about toddlers. What I found was a lot of confusion...and a lot of extremes (such as never saying "no" to your child or not letting them watch Shrek 4 times in a row). Okay, want some real advice? Save yourself the time and money by not buying any books. If you really feel you don't know what you're doing, take a couple hours, go the bookstore and skim them. Get a pile of as many books as you want and just skim through them. You will get the general idea, trust me!

But here's the real deal. Trust your intuition. And make it up when you have to. Those experts writing those books don't know your kid! And there is no one-size fits all in parenting. Honestly, after getting frustrated, and a little pissed off that I spent a total probably of $300 on books to learn how to control my son, I finally figured out that, get this, I can't control my son! The best you can do is guide them and teach them, love them and nurture them.....then hope it's enough to not land them in prison. Isn't that what parenting is? Trying to mold these miniature people into semi-functioning adults who don't screw up too badly? Now you'll have to excuse me while I go watch Shrek with my son.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

On the rocks!

So we have all this colorful, fun, outdoor equipment for Mateo to play with out in the yard. You know, the kind that cost $500 and break in a day and a half? And guess what he chooses to do? Pick up rocks and throw them at my car....and at close range! This is his absolute favorite pasttime. Even if I try to entice him with the bright cheery slide, or climby thing, or basketball hoop, he shakes his head "no" and stares at me in complete horror. Probably because Mommy is frolicking around the yard like she's in some tampon commercial and trying to fit down a slide that she clearly has no business being on. Then he promptly picks up more rocks to dent my car with. You may be thinking, why are you letting your toddler throw rocks at your car?

Well, I tell you this, "Shut up. You don’t know my kid."

First of all, it is hard to get him to do anything he doesn’t want to do, and to stop doing something he does want to do. He pretty much does the opposite of what you say AND he enjoys it. Charming, right? Yeah, definitely not a people pleaser. I guess that's good, in a way. He won't have to worry about huge therapy bills and tons of wasted time being in co-dependent relationships. The other reason I don't stop him from using my Pontiac Vibe as pitching practice is because he’s occupied, so a few scratches on my car is worth the peace I can have working in the yard (or sipping wine and reading trashy magazines). Also, he isn’t throwing them at the dog, the neighbors, or me. And that’s all that matters. You can call me a bad mom and say my expectations are to low, but while you are out there wrestling rocks from your toddler's surprisingly strong vice grip, I'm sitting on my lawn chair catching up on the Jolie-Pitts and getting a nice buzz on a Long Island Iced Tea.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The wild animal in the bedroom

So Mateo is out of a crib! I was convinced he would stay in a crib till he was 4, but it seems he was ready much sooner. So he's out of a crib....but not quite in a bed. Allow me to explain.

The reason we got rid of the crib was because Mateo decided to, once again, completely throw us for a loop. My wonderful, glorious sleeper has all of the sudden turned into a screaming banchee. We're not exactly sure why this happened. It might have to do with the stomach flu he had a couple months ago, when he was up 4-5 times a night throwing up and pooping his brains out. If you want to scare an over-eager spouse into not having children, send them to me and I'll give them all the gory details.

Anyway, we think he started a habit of waking up during the middle night screaming and crying and now he just can't stop without us having us to help him. First of all, he is very particular (and by that I mean, OCD) about the placement of his blanket and "Cowie" (his stuffed cow. I know, not a very creative name. You try thinking creative on a mixture of fear, adrenaline, and 2 hours of sleep. Where do you think we got the name, Mateo?) But when we go in his room when he cries, his blanket and "Cowie" are thrown "overboard". And he can not sleep without them, especially "Cowie".

So, for a while we thought we would try the "cry it out" technique. For those of you non-parents or co-sleeping parents, "cry it out" is when you do, literally, nothing. Or in my case, turn off the monitor. Not because I can't stand the sound of my kid crying, but because my son has turned the "cry it out" technique into the "scream-so-loud-that-your-parents-want-to-rip-their-eardrums-out" technique.

While I attempted to let my son learn to self-soothe by not going to him at every wail, I couldn't help but worry about one thing. That he accidently threw his "Cowie" overboard while he was still sleeping and when he woke up needing comfort, it wasn't there. Which wouldn't be his fault because he can't help what he does in his sleep. (And I should know, ask my husband.) I couldn't live with myself wondering whether I was further traumatizing my child by letting him "cry it out" without his dear "Cowie". I know I couldn't sleep without my duckie blanket....uh....did I say that outloud?

But, we also didn't want to keep getting up 12 times a night to hand Mateo his Cowie either. So I thought of the brilliant idea (they all sound brilliant at 2 in the morning) to move him out of the crib. Here's the catch. The goal was for Mateo to be able to reach his blanket and Cowie himself if it should happen to fall. But we didn't think we was ready for a toddler bed because he sleeps like some kind of cirque de solei performer in training. I was worried he would fall off a toddler bed, even with a guard rail on.

So these concerns led us to transition him from his crib to a brand new big boy bed consisting of.... his crib mattress on the floor. Most parents plan a lengthy transition of allowing the child to pick out the new bed, sleep next to the new bed for several nights, and sometimes even repaint and furnish the entire room. Who has time for such details? We went for a much simpler approach. One day the crib was there, the next day it wasn't. And of course, with taking away the crib comes a lot of freedom for Mateo during the night to roam about his bedroom, playing with toys, rearranging furniture, lighting things on fire, etc. So for that reason we took out everything in his room except for the bare essentials and the mattress (which lies in a corner on the floor). So his room now resembles that of a POW prison.

Here's what went down the first night in his new "bed". We decided earlier we would go in the room one time per night to lay him back down and reassure him, but after that, he was on his own. I felt better about the "cry it out" technique if I know Mateo has access to his "Cowie". But soon into the night, Mateo wakes up for the second time, and we don't intervene. It was awful!

I should mention, when Mateo is upset and angry, he is upset and angry with his whole body! So, he didn't just cry until he felt tired and went back to sleep. He screamed, cried, kicked the wall and mattress and floor, ran around the room stomping his feet, banged on the door, and I swear, he picked up the rocking chair and threw it at one point. I so wish I had a video monitor that night because I heard some noises I've never heard coming from a kid's room before. It sounded like we let a wild animal loose in his room....with him in it! And he was winning. After about 10 minutes of feeling like we were listening to a predator special on animal planet, we hear the stomping of feet moving closer and closer and closer to our bedroom door. This is the conversation that transpired. I swear I am not making this up.

Honey! I think he got out. I think he's loose!

Shh! He might hear you!
(long pause)

Quick! Get the dart gun.

Okay, that last part is made up. But it's really funny to imagine two grown adults afraid of a midget toddler stumbling around the house in the dark in a wild rampage. Of course we got up to hug him and lovingly put him back to bed. And thankfully, that was the worst of it.

Now it hasn't been perfect, but he wakes up crying much less often. And when he does wake up, he cries for a few minutes, then settles back down to sleep. Although I do get concerned about the random banging noises I hear throughout the night. His mattress is right next to a wall and several times a night we hear a loud bang coming from his room and then silence. That's probably the reason he's sleeping so well. Numerous concussions. But I always turn the monitor up to make sure he's still breathing. See, I'm a good mom!