necessary unnecessary baby items

The following is a list of unnecessary baby items that have become staples in this home. Things that technically aren’t “needs,” but that I/Atti/my sanity cannot live without:

Wubs.

 Wubs is a little monkey, attached to a pacifier. He’s a Wubbanub and he makes bedtime, playtime, and travel so much more enjoyable for us all. Atti can easily grab his legs and arms to reposition him, and doesn’t seem to care what part of Wubs goes in his mouth! (Wubbanubs come in a ton of different animals. Due to my debilitating fear that Wubs will get lost and Atti will never sleep again, we recently purchased a 3-pack to have as backup.)

Mirror for Rear-facing Car Seats.

This accessory attaches to the backseat headrest and allows the driver to see the rear-facing baby by looking in the rearview mirror at this mirror. It’s been a great reliever of stress in the car. Baby’s screaming? Check the mirror and see that it’s because he threw Wubs out of reach! Baby’s coughing? Check the mirror and confirm that he’s not choking! (Bonus: the mirror we have also plays music and lights up!)

Swaddle sacks. 

Turns out I can’t swaddle a baby to save my life. Enter this stretchy sack with Velcro closures! Pop the baby in the sack, Velcro him up, and, voilà, happy baby! We also had fleece ones for winter, which Atti loved to be in naked!

This teether.

 Any teether will get the job done, but this ones the cutest. 😁

Baby nail scissors. 

 After the first time I cut a chunk of Atti’s thumb off with regular clippers, we switched to baby scissors and have never looked back.

Dress-up clothes. 

 Because look at this kid.   I mean, seriously.

 Just look at him.

the downside to well-behaved children

“Ok, now you’re just looking for things to complain about.” No, no, hear me out. Let me tell you why having a well-behaved child blows. 

Atticus is a good kid. He doesn’t scream in public. He falls asleep easily in crowded coffee shops, bustling bookstores, and at loud parties. He loves meeting new people. He smiles easily at strangers. He likes having people visit the house and wants to spend lots of time with them. In short, he elicits lots of “oh, what a good baby!” which is nice to hear…until it’s not. 

See, my “good baby” only comes across that way because he does well in social situations. He loves people, he loves going on adventures to the grocery store, he loves walking into town. Those are his best moments. Those are the moments I take photos of, the ones that make people say, “he’s always so happy!” Let me assure you, my baby is NOT that happy all the time. 

For instance, he was not happy last night when he screamed at me for over an hour no matter what I did. Cuddles, swaddling, head rubs, songs, diaper changes, nothing made him happy. And he expressed that discontent loudly and extensively.

  
He’s also not happy when I make him put pants on. If he can’t be pantsless, life isn’t worth living.

  
Sometimes the simple act of not making eye contact with him while he plays by himself sends him into a rage. I don’t know why he feels I need to stare deep into his eyes while he plays with his toes, but he does. 

  
So no, he is not a happy baby all the time. He may not be colicky or psychotic but he’s still a baby, and no baby is easy. Ever. They cry. They scream. They spit up. They demand all your attention. They need snuggles, even happy ones. They poop, like, all the time. Then, when you’re in the middle of changing them, they pee on you. It’s madness. Chaos. Exhausting. 

Yes, my baby is fabulous. We have tons of good, even great, moments. He’s absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t change a thing about him because he’s an incredible little human. What I would change is the assumption that a baby who laughs a lot is somehow a walk in the park.

I guess what it comes down to is this: when people tell me what a good baby he is, it makes me feel like I’m less of a mom than someone who has a fussier baby. I know that’s not true, but even while writing this I’m feeling guilty for complaining when my little guy is so smiley. But I deserve to complain. Because parenthood, even to the happiest baby on earth, is hard. Parenthood is exhilarating and awe-inspiring and beautiful but it is also the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done, with the possible exception of childbirth. 

So cut me some slack when you see me bleary-eyed and delirious, while my baby giggles happily on my hip. I am momming as hard as I can just to survive over here, and it definitely doesn’t feel easy.

  
(It’s totally worth it, though, I mean, have you seen this kid? Awesomesauce.)

an open letter to the teenage girl working at Dunkin Donuts

Dear teenage girl,

I ordered a caramel latte from you and as I pulled out of the parking lot and took a sip, I was deeply, soul-crushingly saddened to find that whatever I was drinking was not the delicious milky, caramel-y treat I had requested, but some bitter awful Satan brew.

I quickly experienced a range of emotions. Denial (“maybe it was just the first sip,”) anger (“how could she do this to me?!”) sadness (“I’m going to pull over right here to cry,”) and despair (“how will I go on?”). “Get over it,” I can hear you say, “it’s just coffee. Don’t you have real problems?” I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you about my real problems.

My child no longer sleeps well. He wakes up every hour on the hour, screaming bloody murder and will not be soothed back to sleep for hours. Hours spent screaming.

He’s teething, too, so he’s chewing on everything, but prefers the soft, delicate skin of my inner arm.

He poops constantly. Just huge, monster poops. Ones that escape his diaper and end up all over my pants and kitchen floor.

He saves his spit-up for when I least expect it, like when he’s doing tummy time on my chest, allowing the spit-up to run down my neck towards my ears.

He loves car rides, right up until he throws his pacifier just out of reach and then screams until I pull over on a busy highway to climb into the backseat to retrieve it.

He’s an amazing little boy, don’t get me wrong, but we’re going through a rough patch and that latte was the only thing getting me through the day.

I know this is a minimum wage job. I know you’d probably rather be anywhere else. I know this is not a life and death situation. I know it’s a #firstworldproblem. I know that, and it’s why I didn’t turn the car around to demand you correct it, I just came home. But I’m writing this letter because I had a lot of feelings that I needed to get off my chest (due to my continuing post-childbirth hormonal surges) and because I hope next time a woman comes through your line with weird stains on her shirt, unwashed hair, and purple bags under her eyes, you bring your A-game and deliver the right order because that coffee might be the only thing between her and a padded room complete with straight jacket.

Sincerely,

A woman on the edge (who is drinking your awful coffee anyway because dammit I paid $3 for it and need the caffeine)

3 months of momming makes me an expert, right?

I’ve been a mom for almost 3 months now, and my life is basically a kaleidoscope of change. I’ve learned a lot of little things (like how to artistically tie a scarf so it covers the fact that your breasts leaked milk everywhere while at the grocery store) but I’m pretty much flying blind about all the big stuff. In fact, most days I don’t even feel like a mom. I can count on one hand the number of “I’m a mom” moments I’ve had. Mostly, I just feel like “Kathleen: Version 2.0 (now with permanently-attached baby!)”

That said, here’s a list of advice for new moms anyway. #blindleadingtheblind :D

  1. Ignore everyone who seems a little too excited to tell you how much your life is going to suck. Yes, babies cry and expect to be fed and poop a lot and prevent you from going clubbing on Friday nights (or even enjoying a cup of tea uninterrupted) but it sucks to hear that from somebody else. Especially when they say it in that condescending tone like you hadn’t imagined your life would change at all. So what if I have to heat up my coffee six times before I finish it? I also get baby snuggles. I count that as a win. So when Aunt Greta cackles at you over Easter dinner and reminds you that it only gets worse from here, smile politely and ask her to pass the ham. She’s just hatin’ on your baby snuggles.
  2. Find people who didn’t tell you how much your life was going to suck and complain to them about how much your life sucks. Babies are hard! Sometimes I just want to lay in bed and never wake up because Señor Fussypants is refusing to nap and one of my milk ducts is clogged and I haven’t showered in three days and all I’ve eaten is half a granola bar I found in my desk and a heaping spoonful of cookie butter and the only diapers that are clean are the one that always leak and Atti’s already spat up on four separate outfits and I’m exhausted. Find someone who loves you and complain until you feel better. (Pro-tip: if it’s someone who has met – and subsequently adores – your child, they’ll remind you of how awesome said child is and make you feel like it’s all worth it.)
  3. Delegate chores. I’m awful at this. I just want to do all the things I used to do around the house but it’s impossible now. I don’t know why I have such a problem asking J to switch the laundry over or vacuum the bedroom but I’m working on it. Plus, it feels great to delegate. Like I’m the manager of the house giving orders to my underlings. (Please don’t tell J I said that.)
  4. Be prepared to do things you’ve never done (and never imagined you’d do.) I never once thought motherhood would include scrubbing poop out of carpet and off of crib rails. It just wasn’t something I considered. What’s more, if you’d have suggested that would be part of my life four months ago, I’d have been disgusted. Now I think “meh, it’s just poop.” Loosen up. Realize you probably won’t even be grossed out. Because it’s poop from a human you made and somehow that makes it less revolting (albeit still a terrible chore.)
  5. Take pride in the amazing things you’re accomplishing. Sure, I’ve had to cut back on performing poetry and attending political rallies, but I’m still crushing it. The other week I carried Atti, in his carseat, two blocks in the snow without dropping him or collapsing from fatigue (he’s a big baby and carrying the car seat is all in the forearms.) The week before, I assembled a mobile whose instructions were written in a combination of hieroglyphics and Sanskrit. Oh, did I mention I birthed a human being without any drugs? Yeah, I did. Doesn’t mean I won’t perform poetry or attend rallies again in the future, but for now, if all I’m doing is rocking Atti in my arms for six consecutive hours, I think that’s pretty amazing too.

Capture

nat’l pregnancy & infant loss remembrance day

“A miscarriage is a natural and common event. All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t. Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had. But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she’ll know.”

– Barbara Kingsolver

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and this is my story of loss. My hope is that if you’ve had a miscarriage, it reminds you that you’re not alone, and that if you haven’t, it reminds you that whether or not you’re aware of it, there are women in your life who have, and who carry that loss with them every day.

On February 3rd, forty-three days before I found out I was pregnant with Baby Pihl, I got a positive test for what would have been our first baby. I was thrilled, exhilarated, and filled with huge, uncontainable dreams for my sesame seed-sized fetus. Five short days later, I watched all of my dreams crumble and fall away in the emergency room when a doctor confirmed that the bleeding was, indeed, coming from my uterus and that my pregnancy had come to an end.

I remember three things very clearly from that night. I remember the doctor laying his hand on my knee, looking me in the eye, and saying “I am so, so sorry this is happening to you;” I remember the way Jordan and I sat in silence under the bright fluorescent lights, without words strong enough to fill the space within us; and I remember the nurse who sat beside me on my tissue-paper covered cot and shared the story of her three consecutive losses, followed by the birth of her healthy son.

Once the miscarriage was established, it wasn’t long before I was sent home with a shot to aid my body in clearing out all foreign substances, and details on what was going to happen, physically, over the next few days. What no one could prepare me for was the barrage of emotions that would crash over me, like the breaking of a dam.

First, there was the guilt that my body had betrayed me and rejected the very thing it had created, that I had made something less than perfect, and that my body was forced to flush it out. Then, helplessness that there was nothing I could do to turn back the clock, to remedy the loss, no way to make everything okay again. Finally, there was a debilitating sense of grief.

Here is the difference between sadness and grief: Sadness is a heaviness in your heart, a great weight on your shoulders, and tears that flow like rivers. Grief is an explosion wherein every shard slices through your heart and brings you to your knees, tears exchanged for physical pain that leaves you lying in bed, broken.

I hoped that sharing my loss with family would help ease my pain, that it would lighten the load I was carrying, and at times it did. Laying out all of my hurt for someone to see was cathartic; it was soothing to call my mom multiple days in a row with nothing new to say, to cry on someone’s shoulder, to mourn with a friend, but sharing was two-sided. As much as it helped to explain how I felt, the minute someone told me they “understood,” I wanted to shout “No, you don’t!” I wanted to scream and cry and stomp my feet that this was my loss, my grief. This was not something we went through together; in fact, no one, not even Jordan, felt what I felt because no one, not even Jordan, carried that fetus for 6 weeks before it was gone. I was tired of hearing that “everything happens for a reason,” that this was “God’s plan,” and that I “could always try again.” None of that was comforting. In fact, most of it was incredibly hurtful. Soon, I began to feel like sharing my grief cheapened it, like it minimized the value of what I lost.

So I stayed inside, I cancelled plans, I made excuses, I forgot to get out of bed. And within a few days, a few weeks, it felt like people forgot what I lost. They invited me out, and I said no, and they shrugged and went on. I couldn’t tell them that I was still crying in bed, because a few weeks had passed and my loss was no longer on their minds. Their lives went on, and I was left behind, lying in bed, remembering.

There is no way to win. Either you grieve and grieve and people whisper that “shouldn’t she be over it by now,” or you draw yourself up and laugh and smile and pretend you are as you always were and they never know that you are still breaking, still falling apart, still waking up with tears dried on your face. Whatever you do, there is no winning in grief. There is only surviving, maintaining, existing.

Eventually, I became pregnant again, and that makes me one of the lucky ones. I’m now 34 weeks into a viable pregnancy that came only a month after my loss. I’ve heard a strong heartbeat, I’ve watched my baby suck his fist in ultrasounds. I know that I am lucky. Unfortunately, joy doesn’t erase pain; they aren’t two sides of the same coin. Rather, they lay side-by-side in our hearts: the joy smoothing out pain’s jagged edges and the pain casting shadows on the joy. The shadow this loss cast will hover over the remainder of my pregnancy: with every flutter, twitch, and cramp, there’s a tangible fear that wasn’t there before. I know what it is to lose a pregnancy, and I can’t unknow it. All I can do is keep moving forward.

Ten weeks into my current pregnancy, when my grandfather died, my mom reminded me that this is all part of the circle of life; that lives begin and end in their own time, whether or not we’re ready for them. Some circles are the size of a sesame seed, and some grow bigger every day. Some are joyful, and some are tempered with grief before they ever begin. But in the end, all we can do is hope that our circles mean something to somebody, that we live our lives with kindness, compassion, and love.

And, Baby Pihl, we’ve got love for you in spades.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.04.31 AM

it’s that time…

Time for my annual birthday list!

Here’s 26 reasons I’m happy right now:

1. Jordan’s taking me to the zoo on Saturday!

2. We own our own house!

3. Sora’s belly isn’t bald anymore!

4. I work from home and love it!

5. I’m only 9 years (and a few millions dollars) away from being able to run for president!

6. I’m 25 weeks pregnant!

7. Sisko only wakes me up once a night for snacks now! (It used to be three times!)

8. We finally finished the library downstairs and it’s the most relaxing room ever!

9. There’s a creek in the woods lining our backyard!

10. I’m going to get to share all my favorite children’s books with Cletus!

11. My best friend is visiting me in two weeks!

12. And we’re going to Build A Bear to build Cletus a bear!

13. Jordan’s commute is only 10 minutes so he gets home earlier than before and I get to see more of him!

14. I’m almost done reading Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets aloud to Cletus!

15. Someday I’ll get to take Cletus to the Harry Potter theme park at Universal!

16. J and I have an anniversary coming up next week!

17. It’s watermelon season!

18. And soon it will be pumpkin latte season!

19. We’ll be able to have a live tree this Christmas!

20. I got good news about my blood work last week!

21. Cletus celebrated by kicking me all day long (and has been doing so for the past 8 weeks)!

22. Sisko is a great catch-and-release mouser!

23. There’s a bunny that likes to eat the grass next to my car and we hang out on the regular!

24. We’ve settled on a name for Cletus!

25. I have a really great family (nuclear, extended, and in-laws included!)

26. It’s my birthday!!

 

I’ve Opened an Etsy Shop! For Charity!

Hey, friends!

Just a quick heads up that my cousin and I are the proud owners of an Etsy store, featuring (for the time being) winter scarves and accessories! We are donating all profits to two charities (One Girl & Heifer International) so we hope you check us out and spread the word!

Our store is called HandmaidInMA and can be found right here.

From our profile:

“HandmaidInMA is the work of two cousins in Massachusetts who want to use their crafty skills to help girls in developing countries. All profits go to either One Girl (www.onegirl.org) or Heifer International (www.heifer.org), two organizations devoted to helping girls thrive. One Girl is “a non-profit organization that gives women and girls access to education” because when it comes to education, girls are, too often, drawing the short straw. Likewise, Heifer International’s “Empower Women” mission aims to give girls a better shot at life by fighting hunger and poverty. “Women produce 80 percent of the developing world’s food while owning only two percent of the land. [Heifer International] aim[s] to change that.”

Help us help others by supporting HandmaidInMA!”

Thanks!

kbp

christmas part two

All my homemade gifts have been received now, so here’s the two remaining crafts! (Part one is here.)

This is a set of scrabble magnets I made for Emilee featuring our favorite Harry Potter spell. (“It’s wingardium leviOsa, not wingardium levioSA!”) I also made sets for my parents and my in-laws featuring their last names.

image-2

And last but not least, I made five bracelets. I used blank pendants and diamond glaze to make the charms, and then assembled the chains and clasps to finish it off. As I told everyone who got one, these had a secret feminist twist to them: the clasps I chose are the ring/toggle type that can be easily hooked using one hand. Because no woman should have to depend on a man to help her put on her jewelry. :D

image-7Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

christmas part one

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Here’s a quick round-up of the gifts I made this Christmas! (There will be a part 2 since some of the gifts I made haven’t been received yet and I don’t want to ruin the surprise!)

The first gift I made this year was a pencil/paintbrush roll-up for Hani. (I was so pleased with it, I made another one for Lee later!)

ImageNext, I made two hollowed-out books for Hani and Nathan. (Nathan later told me he’d been wanting one since he saw The Matrix; win!)

ImageAfter that, I busted out my paintbrush and wood glue and made these dinosaur bookends (also for Nathan.)

ImageFinally, I made a big batch of candles for my parents, friends, and coworkers. I’d never made candles before but it was really fun! These are made with beeswax pellets melted in a double burner, scented with brown sugar oil, and poured into teacups to set. I went to the thrift store (four or five times!) with a list of people I’d be making candles for and picked out teacups that reminded me of them; it was really fun! (The first set of pictures is the process, the second is a few of the finished products.)

Image

ImageA few more gifts with follow shortly! Hope everyone had a great year!

kbp

christmas in…september?

Hi, friends! It’s time for good news, bad news!

Good news: my sewing machine is finally set up and ready for crafts. In fact, I even did a craft today!

Bad news: most of my upcoming crafts (including the one from today) are Christmas gifts so they won’t actually hit the blog until late December. (Which isn’t as far away as you’d think!! So for everyone who’s silently making fun of me for starting so early, you can shove it. :P )

Anyway, I just wanted to poke my head out and say, “Yes, I will return to crafting!” Hopefully with non-Christmas crafts, too. :)

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