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co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Time to give you the real truth about Co-Sleeping and more importantly, how to safely co-sleep with your baby. Since I scared you all straight with my earlier post and all the good news the world has to offer, I’ve decided to redeem the day. I’m a half full kind of gal and I refuse to let the cold hard reality of the world change that.

When I became too obsessed with scheduling and time, I removed my watch. I’ve not worn one in about 5 years now. I was seriously about to get carpal tunnel from all the twisting of my wrist to check the time. So, I eliminated it from my day.I’m about to do the same for CNN. Anyways, in the spirit of redeeming myself, I have decided to write about something that is very positive in my life…co-sleeping. We have been safely co-sleeping since our first baby was out of the bassinet and I’d love to share with you how to safely co-sleep with your baby.

co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Co-Sleeping makes us Closer

Oh, yeah. I know some of you are rolling your eyes and tsk-tsking me for committing such an unthinkable crime against parenting dogma but the family bed is where it’s at for us. I know, I come off as somewhat snarkilicious on here, at times. It’s OK. You can say it, I’m fully aware.

READ ALSO: Co-Sleeping is not for Sissies

But when it comes to co-sleeping, I must admit I become completely full on granola; share my life, share my bed with my babies. Crunchy even. I did not plan co-sleeping. I planned on 2 weeks in the bassinet and then a seamless transition to the crib shortly thereafter. But like everything else in motherhood thus far, I was thrown a curve ball.

co sleeping, co-sleeping, the truth about co- sleeping, the family bed, parenting styles

Co-Sleeping is safe if done appropriately

When it came down to it, Bella would fall asleep in my arms after nursing and when I tried to put her back into her bassinet, she would wake up…always. Tired Mommy say what? I did what most exhausted, “so in love with her newborn that she can’t stand to miss a second of this creature’s life, doesn’t truly know where she ends and the baby begins” Mommy would do…I laid her in bed with me. Right there, between my husband and I..in a positioner ( I know those things have since become about as taboo as those unsafe walkers of the Hewlett- Packard commercials). If your child isn’t potty-trained yet, you must always be prepared with items, like those Monogrammed diaper bags.

I can say that in those first few months, sleep was not the sleep that people without children experience. No, my sleep was half-awake, hearing every single noise, breath, fart of the night, being uber aware of any motion in the entire house and the yard, pseudo conscious delirium…at best.

I was terrified that I’d roll on top of my sweet co-sleeper and smother her. I know you were all thinking it. So, in those first few months I never really got any sleep of any benefit. But what I did get was a crazy tight bond. You know the bond you get from breastfeeding? When you co-sleep, for me, the bond is that times two.

READ ALSO: Breastfeeding Sucks

There is something magical and reassuring about waking up and looking over and seeing that little face so peaceful in the middle of the night.The smell of a little next to you, the feel of little gangling arms and legs, surprise hugs and kisses, even the occasional head bunt, reassuring karate chop and rogue face punch have become endearing to me.

By bed-sharing, when my little one wakes in the middle of the night, they put a hand out to find me or the Big Guy and they are reassured and go back to sleep. There is something to be said for being within arms reach. It makes me happy. I  never planned to co-sleep but co-sleeping found me. It took hold and it is one of the best parenting decisions that I have ever made up until this point. I’m just exhausted of people making co-sleeping parents feel like it’s some sort of dirty secret. I think it is natural, beautiful and amazing.

Both girls, ages 3 & 5, are currently still co-sleeping with me during the weekdays, while the Big Guy is out of town. On the weekends,  they sleep in their own bed…at least they start out there. I don’t see a problem with it. I think it is every parent’s decision. It’s more about what works for your family. For ours, we’re doing it the Jolie-Pitt style..for now.

My plan is once we are all back in the same house to put the girls in a bed together and me and the Big Guy in one. What are your thoughts? How old is too old to co-sleep? Are you absolutely against co-sleeping? Why? Why not? Do you do co-sleeping? When did you stop co-sleeping? When will you stop co-sleeping? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on co-sleeping?

Co-Sleeping is Natural

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Suavitel. Fragrance pearls, laundry, home, latina

Did you know that co-sleeping was a lifetime sleeping choice? If you are a new parent or parent-to-be thinking of co-sleeping, STOP, collaborate and most importantly, listen!!

Sure, that pink, squishy-faced, little newborn is irresistible. You can’t say no and you just don’t want to miss a giggle, sigh or breath and especially not a cuddle so co-sleeping seems the perfect solution. Be warned those beauties grow into toddlers and then into kids and eventually into tweens.

It’s bad enough we can never pee alone. If you ever want to sleep alone in your bed with your husband again and not end up permanently sleeping in separate rooms, then just say no. Hell, be inhumane and let them cry it out. That is, unless you want them to sleep with you forever. At this point, I’m afraid they’ll be trading in my bed for their husband’s in 20 years. Hey my kid’s have done crazier things. Meanwhile, we’re having to sneak around like teens just to have sex.

co-sleeping, family bed, life choice, cry it out, sleeping apart

Is Co-sleeping really a lifetime commitment?

Because that part wasn’t in any book I read. I thought co-sleeping was temporary, transitional, like lovies and binkies and night lights. Nobody told me that I was committing to it forever and if I tried to stop it was a direct afront to the very bond we had forged as parent and child. Did you know if you tell a 7-year-old that she can’t co-sleep with you, it’s the same as saying you don’t love her? According to her it is!

Believe me, I used to be the biggest co-sleeping advocate around. I guess, deep down, I still am but recently, my 7-year-old has decided that every night around 1 a.m. she “needs” to sleep with me. She climbs in bed, cuddles up to me like a little monkey and then the thrashing and kicking begins.

Oh wait, maybe I’m just bitter because my 7 and 10-year-old fought non-stop for 2 hours last night over who will be “sleeping with mommy” with absolutely no consideration for the Bug Guy. He has been reduced to a bedtime gypsy, an exhausted shell of a man who sleeps among the butterflies and unicorns in a sea of pink. He’s the lucky one.

If you think a toddler hurts when they kick you in the nose or headbutt you with a rogue noggin, can you imagine a tween with feet as big as your own feels like? It hurts. A LOT! Don’t get me wrong; I love the middle of the night cuddles and sweet little girl’s gangly arms wrapped around me first thing in the morning. But when do I ever just get a moment to sit in peaceful quiet? These apron strings are choking me out.

I adore butterfly kisses and the sweet sound of a little voice whispering sweet nothings in my ear. But sometimes, a mom just needs some sleep; uncompromised, more than 7 inches of the bed, straight through the night, no waking and no blows to the head sleep. You know what I mean?

Last night, I woke up in a cold sweat and I swear I heard them chanting from beside me, “Hell no! We won’t go!” Then I realized I was still dreaming. Then I awoke and I swore I heard them chanting from their room, “Co-Sleepers for LIFE!” But when I ran to check on them, they were sound asleep, wrapped around one another like pythons. Adorable.

Why must the price of cuddling with your baby, co-sleeping, be a lifetime sentence of never sleeping alone or in peace ever again? You know I think I’m going to start doing some research (necessity is the mother of al invention and all that jazz) and write a book….how to stop co-sleeping because I think that needs to be disclosed.Stay tuned!

What’s your stance on co-sleeping, love it or hate it?

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baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

Selfies, photos of babies and babies with pets have officially over saturated social media.

I know this post will probably not get me any friends and I am honestly not trying to be an asshole. I am a sucker for a cute baby photo as much as the next person but honestly, is anyone else getting tired of seeing babies (other than their own) sleeping? I currently have over 100,000 photos that I have taken of my girls since they were born. I took them for my own enjoyment. Sure they are adorable but you don’t want to see every photo of my daughters, every moment captured. I mean its babies in baskets, babies with puppies, babies with daddies, babies with other babies and babies as part of art while they sleep. Babies with painted on mustaches, wearing fedoras and roller skates. Gatsby baby sipping an old fashioned and astronaut baby planting a flag on the moon while baby Mike Tyson and baby Evander Holyfield chew on one another’s ears.

When my kids are asleep, especially when they were asleep as babies, there was no way in the world I was going to be using them as props with animals or amidst the backdrop of a cityscape or flying through space or taming a lion or whatever the hell else they are doing these days. Also, where are you guys finding the time?

baby as art, Sioin Queenie Liao, selfie

The more I look at these adorable photos done by Sioin Queenie Liao, I am reconsidering babies as art because OMG, my ovaries are twitching from the cute

Are these only children? Do you have a nanny? Is this your job? When my kids were babies and slept, I let them sleep because an overtired baby or child woken out of a nap before it ran its course was certainly not worth a photo op! My sanity is worth more than a potentially viral photo op. I always let sleeping babies lie.Sure, I think the photos are awesome but I don’t want to see every.single.one. you take. When did this happen? Do we keep nothing for ourselves anymore?

And the selfies? Holy fuck am I sick of the close up, Zoolander faces, #nakedselfies in the shower, at the gym, in the bathroom, in the ER getting stitches, giving birth breastfeeding and ass wiping. Is there nothing sacred anymore? Look I enjoy a good fly on the wall moment as much as everybody else too but suddenly, it’s just too damned much. People, pump your social media brakes. You’re telling us all too much. If a picture’s worth a thousand words than you just told me what a raging douche bag you are, in 15 languages, 67 different ways.

selfies, babies sleeping, babies and pets, photos, social media

Credit: Instagram & Danielle Lloyd

Selfies have their place. We’ve all taken them. Hell, as moms we are the photographers in most cases so, sure, we have to slip a selfie in here and there just to commemorate that we are here. That we lived. That’s fine. I’ve taken selfies. We all need avatar photos for FB and Twitter, etc but for grown ups to be taking selfies every day or in some cases multiple times a day, you might have an addiction. Take as many selfies as you want for your private collection but I don’t think the entire world needs to see you chew your food, kiss your kid’s booboo, your outfit of the hour or how your eye make-up looks and we certainly don’t need to see you in the shower with your baby, your backside or your stomach after eating; those are moments that you should keep and cherish for yourself. Nobody needs to see your post-coital selfie unless you are a hooker for hire.

Looks like just like with food, we all need to learn some social media selfie portion control; everything in moderation my friends. Take as many selfies and kitschy, cute and creative photos of your children and your pets as you like but how about we exercise some self-control and and only upload a chosen few to FB and  Twitter. If you must photo dump to satiate some need to document every image, why not keep it to Instagram?

P.S. NONE of this applies to newborns. Bring on the newborn photos, I can look at them all day:) Just don’t pair them with the family pet or use them as a prop in an elaborate creative purge every hour on the hour.

What are your thoughts of this time we live in of constant selfies, sleeping babies and their exciting lives with their pets?

 

Photo credit: If you can’t get enough of these cute kid photos, check out Sioin Queenie Liao slideshow on Today Moms bit I’ll never budge on selfies.

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marriage, separate beds, sleeping apart, MAD Life, CafeMom

Do you and your spouse sleep in the same bed every night or do you enjoy sleeping apart? We don’t. In fact, most nights we don’t. Is getting sleep that important? Hell yeah, says the insomniac who works late nights and has two young children. Sleep is the best thing ever, except for Ambien sex. Ambien sex trumps everything. Especially Ambien sex with your husband. But I digress…

The Big Guy gets up for work every day at 4:30 a.m. I am a night owl, a constant insomniac if we are being truthful, so bedtime for me is normally between midnight and 2 a.m. Add to that the fact that I snore during allergy season and our littlest one always seems to end up in our bed and we’ve just conceded to the fact that Monday thru Thursday night, the Big Guy sleeps in the guest room.

At first, I kind of loved it. I’m sure he did too. I had a king size tv bed from TV Bed Store all to myself. I could stay up as late as I wanted, watching television and working. It was awesome. Then, when it was all said and done, I could sprawl out (until my little one found her way to my room) all across the bed. It was awesome. Well, for a little while anyways.

Have we become complacent? Some times, I feel like we are some old married couple like Ethel and Fred Mertz. You know the cantankerous old couple from the building that slept in separate beds and could barely stand one another? But hey, Lucy and Ricky slept in separate beds too and they were madly in love. So what does sleeping in separate beds really mean? We love one another but we’re so comfortable sleeping in our own beds and actually SLEEPING that we just do. Problem is… I miss my husband. I do. I miss turning over in the middle of the night, reaching out and just knowing he is there.

marriage, separate beds, sleeping apart, MAD Life, CafeMom

 

Do you think sleeping apart is indicative of depleting intimacy?

Sure, we’re still intimate (maybe not as often as we might be if we actually slept in the same bed but maybe more so) and our marriage is still rock solid BUT are we on borrowed time? I mean is it all going to go south one day? Are we growing apart and don’t even realize it? Is sleeping in separate beds leaving just enough room between us for someone else to insert themselves? These are all valid concerns, right? Is a good night’s sleep really worth risking your marriage?

Am I fooling myself by thinking that our marriage is strong enough to survive long distance intimacy? We survived 2 years of commuter marriage and that is probably where this all started but am I insane to think that a couple can sleep in separate beds but still be connected intimately?

I think just because you sleep in separate beds doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve lost that “loving feeling” at all.  The Big Guy works from home 2 days a week and those are our “afternoon delight days” and we do sleep in our bed together on weekends, so I’d say our sex life is pretty healthy. In fact, him being in the other room adds a little sauce to the mix. It keeps me on my toes to receive random snapchat pics and sexts from across the hall. Believe me, I will gladly turn off any television show for a romp with the Big Guy any day of the week.

The only thing that suffers is that some times, I  just want to be able to reach over and cuddle ( I sound like such a girl right now) not often because I am not really a cuddler during night time hours. I prefer to cuddle on the couch while watching a movie. I enjoy the spontaneity and flirtation that not knowing if we will be sleeping in the same bed has afforded us. It’s taken the restrictions off of sex. Sex is no longer confined to our bedroom and intimacy is not just sex. It’s talking, texting, emailing. It’s a brush of his hand on mine. It’s like dating after 15 years of marriage. So, maybe this sleeping apart is good for a marriage….or maybe we’re considering buying a queen sized bed to replace our king sized one?

I’m not sure what we will do but I do know that when I want him in my bed, all I need to do is tell him and vice versa.

For topics like this and many more on parenting, relationships and just about anything else under the sun facing today’s parents, check out Mad Life at CafeMom.

What do you think of sleeping apart from your partner?

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Slipping through my fingers~ It won’t be like this for long. I know it seems like I have been dwelling on this topic lately but its just been that kind of a week. My little girls seem to be growing up at lightening speed this summer and, quite honestly, its breaking my heart a little bit. Where did my chubby little newborns crying for me to breastfeed them in the middle of the night go? I may have been terminally exhausted but it was a blissful exhaustion. I wore my exhaustion proudly as some sort of badge, screaming to the world, I am A Mommy! I am AWESOME!

Slipping through my Fingers

It’s true there is a feeling of entitlement that comes with giving birth. Nothing feels quite like it. Sure, I complained about having no sleep, and was constantly questioning the Gods why she never stopped crying. But secretly,(shhhh) I really didn’t mind at all. Much like  I never really minded the unplanned co-sleeping, kissing booboos, or being the only person who could make their world right again. The same way I never minded having to lay down and cuddle them to get them to sleep, or have a lost lovey fed exed in from Grandma ChaCha because my toddler was inconsolable nor did I mind the tears they shed when I left them for the first time with someone else because ,secretly, I loved it all!I love being their everything even if it is a drag sometimes.
It seemed a lifetime before my little babies were capable of doing the simplest of tasks. Then ,it was like I looked away for a moment and suddenly , they were capable. Every milestone filled us with elation and pride. That first word couldn’t come fast enough; hearing their voices for the first time was like hearing the voice of God. Then quickly came rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, etc..it all happened so fast it was like every accomplishment was hurled at me and knocked me onto my ass to sit helplessly and be witness to it all. The thing that no one ever tells you is that with every single new accomplishment, new worries ensue. Of course I wanted them to be more independent. But with each  iota of independence they gained, I had to relinquish a little bit of my heart. I am so proud to be the Mommy of such bright and independent little girls, but the pride is short lived and quickly  heartache takes its place, as I realize soon ….they won’t need me at all!
I can hardly believe how fast these past 5 years have passed and how much my life has changed from having my girls. Having them has certainly given me a greater purpose and increased my quality of life exponentially, in most regards. I can barely stand the thought that one day, in the not so distant future, I won’t be able to see them every day, and worse, they won’t mind.Why doesn’t anyone tell us about this before we get pregnant. The letting go has got to be the hardest part of Motherhood. I used to think they couldn’t live without me, but really, it’s me who will have difficulty surviving without seeing them every day. How do you survive when your heart has left your body? How do you function? They are like oxygen to my soul.Not in some creepy,I’m going to lock them in the basement until they are 40 type of way, I just mean how can you love someone so much and be expected to exist without them in your life at full capacity?
These precious moments that we have the privilege of being part of in our children’s lives pass by far too quickly.My rational self knows this is how this relationship is supposed to play out; my heart, however, has major problems with this whole situation and I am not afraid tell you, I think it is is trying to organize a coup on my good sense.This makes me reexamine my relationship with my own Mother. One day it will be me waiting patiently at home for my girls to call, and  its likely that the calls will never come soon or frequent enough. Soon, I will be the one wanting and needing their attention. Sorry, Mom! Hey, karma..pay attention, none of this coming back around shit! I said I was sorry! Mom already has you working in cahoots with her to give me ” a couple little girls that act just like you (me)!” So, karma, lets stop all the craziness. I don’t want what I gave , I want more from my relationship with my own girls!
I just hope the Mother /Daughter relationship with my girls grows into friendship as they grow up.I want to be a woman who they look up to , want to emulate, and spend time with because of the kind of woman I am not just because they have to because I gave birth to them. I want them to come to me for advice and honesty and value my opinion. This is something that I have to work at now, because it won’t be like this for long.
But for now, I am going to cherish every single moment of co-sleeping snuggling and random “I LOVE YOU”s that I can get my hands on!

I had to share this video because, as some of you know, this is the song that my Bella looked me in the eyes and said ,”Mommy, this is me and your song!” She was dead serious and I was stopped dead in my tracks and brought to tears; as I am every single time I hear this damn song!I’m telling you, these girls of mine…they have got to stop growing up so fast!

 

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Ever wonder how to catch a ghost in a photo? I know some people do. People want proof of the supernatural. I’ve seen some really cool ones of shadowy figures,  legless confederate soldiers floating in a field and orbs but never anything like the one I caught in my photo of my toddler.

It seems like everyone these days have been touched by the supernatural. We live in a world where people enjoy having the piss scared out of them but ghost stories have never much scared me. Zombies are laughable, Vampires are a sexy fetish and werewolves are just big hairy dogs with bad attitudes.

Ghosts are snapshots of the past caught in a loop. Someone dies so suddenly that they don’t realize it and they get stuck but I don’t bother them and they don’t care about me. I know some people would quickly consult some psychics about what to do if they believe there’s a supernatural presence in their homes.

It’s the same way I think about aliens; maybe they’re out there but I don’t care. I’m not afraid. Life’s too short. I have real living breathing people problems to fixate on like Trump or crazed mass shooters. Who has time to look for ghosts?

I myself am a longtime lover of the horror genre. I watched my first horror movie in the theater when I was 7-years-old. My aunt and Uncle took my 5-year-old brother and I to see it with them. It was a baby swap. They swapped their newborn for the two of us. From then on, I got all my horror books and movies from my 16-year-old aunt. I loved it.

Not only did I watch the Exorcist when I was a kid, I even read the book. I devoured Stephen King. I watched every horror movie I could. They didn’t scare me so much as they intrigued me, with the exception of the Exorcist.

I’m Catholic, I was raised to believe in that shit so that one still scares me. The rest of it, it thrills me but no fear here. Hell, I may have even wished and tried to have telekinesis as a child, like Carrie. I’d totally endure pig blood prom to be able to move shit with my mind. But normally, I don’t believe in what’s not real. However, I may have been made into a believer at my last house.

Now, let me preface this by saying that our house was a new build. I’m leery about old houses because…hello, someone has definitely died in almost every old house. It’s inevitable. But this was a new build. Apparently, I clearly forgot about the Poltergeist loophole. Obviously, having children left me vulnerable and not on my haunted game.

When we lived in that house, the girls were really small. We bought the house when Bella was 5 months old; Gabi was born while we lived there. We live there until Bella was 6.

From the time we moved in, we had lights flicker and our ceiling fan light would come on by itself in the middle of the night. In our previous house (also a new build) stereos and lights would come on in the middle of the night too. The Big Guy always rational would make it all make sense to my superstitious mind.

I was exhausted from babies and the Big Guy would tell me that it was just probably some neighbor who had the same remote and it flipped our lights on. It never dawned on me to question why the hell the neighbor was waking up at 3 a.m. flipping on all the damn lights. I’d snuggle back into my co-sleeping baby and forget about it.

When the girls were about 2 and 4-years-old, the Big Guy had to go live in another state to work so that left me alone with the girls. No coincidence, this is also when I started my blog.

I’d stay up late at night writing and I’d always turn to the hallway where our bedrooms were because I kept catching glimpses of a little girl standing in the hall. I thought it was my girls. And every time, I would walk to the hallway and then enter the bedrooms and my girls were sleeping. They were never in the hallway. NEVER.

I remember having 2 am writing sessions where all the hair would stand up on my neck and I’d get the chills. I just assumed that my body was boycotting my insomniac self. You know how that happens sometimes. Your body gives you a big F you because it needs sleep.

Then there was the time my brothers and the Big Guy were in our media room in the basement late one-night playing video games. When it came time to shut it all down and all the lights were off, all 3 of them saw a red light moving around the room. There was no source. They checked. Again, the Big Guy reasoned it away. My little brother would never spend the night at my house after that.

When Gabs was old enough to stand, we’d catch her in her room sometimes standing in her crib jibber jabbing to the corner. Looking directly up into the corner like someone was there. It creeped me out, a lot but nothing really had happened. Maybe I was just being my usual superstitious Latina self. So, I crossed myself and pretended it wasn’t happening and it was all in my mind.

I’d bring it up to the Big Guy but every single time, his rational engineering mind would say it wasn’t so. In retrospect, I think he was just trying to stop me from becoming all out, balls to the wall drama queen hysterical.

Then after about a year of this happening, one day Gabs comes running into the living room and tells me, “Mommy, Bella just told me…..” and I looked at her and said, “Gabs, Bella’s not here. Remember, Bella is at Kindergarten?”

She looked at me dead serious and said, “No, mommy. I was just playing with her in my room.”

There.was.no.one.in.the.room. I don’t know who the hell she was playing with, but it wasn’t my 5-year-old who was not in the building.

That one freaked me out. Still, nothing tangible. Maybe a toddler with an overactive imagination. That’s good, right?

My husband was still living out of state 5-6 days a week. I was still alone. I had two little girls. I didn’t have time to be ghostbusting or looking for shit that wasn’t there. Plus, I believe that ghosts are snapshots. I’m not scared of some poor sucker that died so suddenly that they don’t realize that they’re gone and they can’t move on. I feel sorry for them. They don’t bother me. I don’t bother me. In case you were wondering about my policy on such things.

However, Exorcist scared the shit out of me. I still haven’t been able to watch The Conjuring again since the first time, when I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks.

Then, one day my sweet toddler who was between 2-3 years old walked up to me while I was sitting in my kitchen chair. She was tiny, so I shot the photo at a down angle. No one else was in the room with us (that we could see).

When I saw the photo, a photo that she has still not seen and probably never will, I literally almost passed out. I legit freaked out like nothing before. My first instinct was that OMG, my husband was in an accident and died or something and this was his spirit…on a loop.

I frantically called my husband, in another state, but no answer which only intensified my belief that something terrible had happened to him. 5 hours later when I finally reached him ( he had been in meetings all day) I sent him the picture, to which he replied, “Gabs looks adorable!”

To which I responded, “Look next to her at.the.disembodied.head!!!!!!!”

Luckily, he was on his way home. I didn’t know what to do. You know that instinct you have set the house on fire and burn it down when you find a monster spider? Well, times that times a million and that’s how I felt. I felt invaded and vulnerable and scared. Was it trying to make contact? Had it already made contact with my baby? Was that who she was talking to?

And then, I learned to live with it. Many people have asked me why didn’t you leave the house. My answer is this, because I couldn’t. My husband lived in a tiny apartment in Iowa at a contracted job. The kids had school and commitments. I had commitments. We had friends and a life. I couldn’t let it all be toppled by a head that photobombed my baby. Right?

It was always in the back of my head. I got used to knowing that something that I couldn’t see but could feel was there. All those “probably nothing” moments became something but I had to choose to not live my life afraid. I had to put my money where my mouth was and not be afraid of ghosts.

I still don’t know who or what was in my house. I never tried to make contact. I’ve watched enough horror movies in my life to know better than to open a gateway of communication. It never bothered us, other than lights coming on and photobombing us this once.

I also stopped watching all of those paranormal investigation shows because, honestly, activity seemed to pick up around Halloween when we’d watch those shows. Maybe it was a coincidence but the first time the radio came on by itself blaring at 3 a.m., it was Halloween night.

We lived there for 2 more years, just me, the girls and our ghost. Yep, I was scared. Nope, I didn’t sleep but we survived. And hell yeah, capturing a ghost in a picture is a lot scarier and a lot less cool than one might think, especially when it is in your own house.

What would you have done if you snapped that photo in your house? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do? Please don’t share your opinion that spirits can attach to people, I’m trying to ignore the sound of someone walking around upstairs. I choose to believe it’s my old house settling.

 

P.S. If you know my Gabs, never speak of this photo to her. She doesn’t know it exists and it would probably freak her out.

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Second baby syndrome is real and anyone who says it isn’t is a damn liar. Fast forward to two years after the birth of baby Bella. We were blissfully happy with a gorgeous, though demanding toddler (whom I was completely in love with) who wanted all of my time, every single waking moment. She had decided long ago that co-sleeping was the thing for her, and was still in our bed, with no end in sight. Not that I minded, it was comforting to see her tiny cherubesque face in the middle of the night as she head butted me when I awoke for the 100th time to pee because I was 9+ months pregnant. It made it hard to bask in the glory of the pregnancy of baby number 2, when baby number 1 was still a baby.

The second time, I only gained 18, ok 20, lbs. But for some reason I seemed a lot larger. It was pregnancy 2.0 and I was like Godzilla. The first pregnancy was nothing like the second pregnancy. I didn’t start showing until I was 8-months pregnant. I looked a little thicker in the waist but at my baby shower (2 months before my daughter was born) people were teasing me that I didn’t look pregnant. And I really didn’t, well, only in my ass.

There I was, bigger than before  ever, chasing a sprinting toddler who had the energy of a boxer puppy on crack cocaine, I was absolutely drained. I had all day sickness for 4 months. It was so bad that I had to wear sea sick bands! I looked pretty ridiculous. Motherhood is hard, y’all.

No one was quite as impressed that I was pregnant the second time around. Don’t get me wrong, we were all ecstatic. We planned for baby #2, and got pregnant right away, it was just different because the time that I used to bask in all of my procreating glory last time, was now being used to shuttle a 2-year-old to classes, play dates, and constantly trying to explain and prepare her for her coming soon baby sister. I had to prepare myself to go through labor again and come out the other end the mother of two kids.

I was obsessed with making baby # 1 not feel left out or abandoned by the pending arrival of baby #2 so much so that when I actually did go into labor, I only stayed at the hospital long enough to give birth, spend the night and then I went home. I was there about 32 hours total. I blame it on the screen saver on my cell phone. It was my 2-year-old smiling like she was the center of my universe and the guilt that she had to make room for someone else, gutted me completely. The betrayal.

Second baby syndrome was in full force in our home.

I loaded up my brand spanking new baby girl, all the mega maxi pads with wings, mesh panties and Dermoplast they would give me and I went home. But bringing home baby was different than the first time. There was no 15-mile an hour drive home. Step on it, Jeeves, I’ve got a baby at home that needs me. There was no time to recoup as a family. The Big Guy took a week of paternity leave and we took turns staying up with a colicky, jaundiced newborn and quelling the fear of lemurs under beds, singing Wiggles songs and dealing with regression. Second babies are exhausting.

What once was a mandatory 6-weeks before we went out into the world was a day. I had a newborn who needed to be checked. I had a 2-year-old who had classes to attend and play dates. I couldn’t punish her plus, I didn’t want this to be the beginning of years of therapy and sibling rivalry. What used to be packing the equivalent of luggage to leave the house became keys, diapers, wipes, a bottle, snacks and a stroller. Believe me, it was twice the babies and 1/2 the stuff. Baby wrangling is hard, folks.

I spent a lot of those first few weeks reevaluating what motherhood should look like. You know it’s so easy to be a great parent when you don’t have children but once you add real life, breathing, children who you love more than life itself to the mix, things get a little less black and white. I broke all of my own rules. Wiggles in the middle of the night? Sure. Co-sleeping? Absolutely. 5-second rule for the binky, hell yeah! Bottle when needed if the breasts don’t provide enough. Yes, a thousand times yes. Don’t sweat the things that you can’t change. Love your children and do what works for your family. That’s the good stuff; all the love.

Second baby syndrome is awesome.

It means you have a second baby to love and twice the love to receive in return. Who gives a shit if your house looks like it’s been hit by a Tornado? Who cares if your legs haven’t been shaved in 3 weeks. Look at their faces. That is unconditional love and it’s priceless. They grow up. Way too fast. Your house won’t be dirty forever. Before you know it, they won’t need you for everything and soon after that they will need you for even less. Enjoy every minute of it now.

 

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lying, What to do when you catch a child lying, tween, mom, how to talk to your tween about sex, mother/daughter

Have you been struggling with how to talk to your tween about sex? Me, too. At what age did you have “the talk”? I mean we’ve talked about puberty. In fact, we’ve talked puberty to death. It’s old news. They both know so much about the inner workings of the female reproductive system that they could probably teach a class. But we’ve not quite made the leap to …you put the penis in the vagina and do that thang. I’ve been mulling this idea over for years, waiting for the right moment. I just haven’t been ready to see the innocence disappear from her eyes.

I told my tween that she and I would have “the talk” before she turns 12. In a culture where Teen Mom is a show that makes celebrities, I want my daughter to know babies are a lot or work and where those babies come from. She wants nothing to do with that conversation. Boys are not even on her radar yet. She is still pretty happy with unicorns, slumber parties and playing with dolls but I don’t want her getting misinformation about sex from other kids. I promised myself I’d talk to my tween about sex before she was 12 and now, I have less than a month, people.

Fool that I am, I made plans. The universe laughed at me and then life intervened. Now, I’m binge-reading all the articles on how to talk to your tween about sex because a teachable moment has arisen. No, before any of you have a stroke, it has nothing to do with her and sex. It’s more of a collateral damage situation.

But how to talk to your tween about sex is not an easy thing to figure out. It has to be the perfect balance of honesty, openness and availability.

The conversation has to be had with every child and no nervous giggling or embarrassment is allowed on the parents part. We have to be a source of information and comfort. They have to believe we know what we’re talking about and not be afraid to ask questions.

Last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you know where this is going, and let’s just say the Big Guy and I were feeling particularly amorous. Him and all his damn romantic gestures. Anyways, apparently, we actually made some noise. We usually use our inside voices because, you know, KIDS! (TMI, I’m sorry.)

My 11-year-old had the misfortune of getting up to pee at the wrong time and now, we all need therapy. It’s all giving me flashbacks to the time when she was a toddler and she caught us “wrestling”. If these kids would JUST STAY IN THEIR BEDS. (Sidebar, just say no to co-sleeping this is what got us to where we are today. I jest, sorta.)

The thing is the tween is very mature in many ways but very immature in other ways. She’s at that age where she’s beginning to look like a young woman but her brain is not quite there yet. She’s caught somewhere between working her eye roll and still coming in for snuggles and mama cuddles on the regular.

Either way, you’ve got to figure out how to talk to your tween about sex sooner or later.

Anyways, to be clear, I was not howling at the moon or anything like that but when you are a kid and you hear anything coming from your parents’ bedroom other than snoring, you are instantly disgusted. We had no idea any of this took place until the following morning. We thought they were asleep.

All I know was that she got up on Wednesday morning particularly annoyed for no particular reason, as far as I was aware. I just took it for regular tween behavior. Honestly, one minute she’s being all tweeny and the next she is playing American Girl dolls with her little sister. I can’t keep up. She is a fantastic kid. She’s just a bit moody these days. I get it. I’ve been there. I am sympathetic.

But after school, I asked her point blank how her day was. Her answer was,

“It would have been fine if I had gotten more than 3 hours of sleep last night!”

I volleyed back with my standard,

“Well if you went to sleep at your bedtime instead of staying up messing around on your tablet or playing Barbies, you wouldn’t be so exhausted and grouchy.”

Big mistake.

To which she responded,

“No, mom I only got 3-hours of sleep because of you and dad!”

And with that, her lip curled and I could see the disgust. Suddenly, I felt like I was in that commercial back in the 70’s where the kid does the really shitty behavior, I think it was drugs or something, and says, “I learned it from you, dad!” It was that bam! You are to blame.

My next question, the one I wish I had never asked, “What is that supposed to mean? How is this our fault?” I was a little annoyed because I am not, in fact, to blame for everything.

The answer I didn’t want to hear,

“Well, I had to pee and when I got up I heard your “weird noises” coming from the bedroom AND my sleep pillow and FIFI were held hostage in there! How am I supposed to sleep without them and after hearing THAT!!!!!”

There it was. Firstly, I was a little embarrassed that she heard anything so I did what any sane mom would do, I told her that it was her dad. My second thought was, “Oh no, we traumatized her!” I finally did it. I irrevocably damaged my kid. I have to start saving for the therapy.

Then, I thought to myself, this “tween” who pushes me and pulls me back so much on a daily basis that I don’t know if I’m coming or going had purposely left her snuggle pillow and lovey in my room so that she could sneak in there in the middle of the night to sleep. Oh yeah, she still does that occasionally. I’m not complaining but she does bear some responsibility in all of this.I’m not going to lie. I was pretty embarrassed. I don’t get embarrassed but we were both red in the face. Then I sucked it up and said,

“Hey, I know it was uncomfortable to hear whatever you heard but we’re married and we love each other. This is what people who are married and in love do to share physical intimacy. It’s completely natural!”

Then I decided to add, “Besides, isn’t it better to hear “that” than your father and I screaming how much we hate each other behind those doors?”

To which she agreed. Then she looked at her little sister, her voice went down near a whisper and she said,

“But I didn’t want to hear you DOING.IT!”

Then, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

My response, “Firstly, we never saying “doing it” ever again. It’s called “making love.””

Because hearing my 11-year-old say “doing it” in reference to her father and I, skeeved me out. Of course, hearing myself say, “making love” out loud was nearly as creepy. So we decided to just agree that when the bedroom door is shut, we’re probably together not sleeping. I told her if it really bothered her, I could buy her ear plugs. She was mortified but swiftly answered,

“Yes, please!”

Boundaries were set.

If the bedroom door is shut, stay out. I considered getting one of those old license plates that said, “If the bedroom’s a rockin, don’t bother knockin” and hanging it on our door but I thought it was probably still too soon for that joke.

We still have to have “the talk” but I’m pretty sure she knows what’s going on. I also feel like I need to add a disclaimer to our talk that when she has sex for the first time, what she heard will probably not be what will be happening because, you know, teenage boys are bumbling idiots.

But what am I going to do, tell her to sleep with older men if she wants it to be worth her time? Nope, I’ll just let her suffer through crappy first-time sex like the rest of us besides, after all that eye rolling shade she’s been throwing my way lately, an awkward first time when she’s at college is just what the doctor ordered. Shhh, don’t tell me otherwise. College is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyways, I’ve still got to have this talk but now, it feels super weird because I feel like she’s going to relate the entire thing to her father and me. And EWWWW!

What would you do? What’s your best advice on how to talk to your tween about sex?

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gift guide, tech for parents, girl's gift guide, Christmas, tech, travel, fashion, chooze, xdoria, kid's fit, American Girl, MaryEllen Larkin

Do you love tech? I’ve been a tech junkie since I can remember. Ever since they put me in front of that first Mac. It was love at first sight. These days, there is so much tech out there and so many new gadgets coming out every day, that it’s hard to keep up and know which of these things is really capable of making your life easier and which are an overhyped waste of time and money. However, there are plenty of tech options you can take advantage of that can make your life both easier and better for you. And those things shouldn’t be ignored.

READ ALSO: Gift Guide for Smart Women who Love Tech

We all lead hectic, busy lives and it makes sense to take advantage of the things that make our lives easier. Those little things that save you time and effort are the things you’ll appreciate most when it comes to spending time with those people in your life who mean the most, especially this time of the year.

I did some research and I’ve got a full list of examples that you should consider using in your home and when you’re out and about to make life easier. Some are simple tech upgrades while others are entirely new gadgets.

Use Smart Lighting in Your Home

Smart technology is starting to become a big thing in the home. If you haven’t yet installed a smart lighting system, now is the time to do it. It’s one of those little things that make a difference.

For example, when you’re lying in bed reading a book and then you want to go to sleep, with a smart light system, you can simply command your lights to turn off with your voice. You don’t have to get up and physically turn them off.

A Smart Thermostat for Your Heating System

As well as smart lights, you also think about using a smart thermostat. This allows you to remotely control your heating system and the temperature of your home using your smartphone or other devices.

It means you can turn the heating on before you get home so it’s nice and warm for when you get there. It’s a luxury that you’ll soon come to wonder how you ever lived without. And that’s no exaggeration.

Maximize Your Data

If you’re still using an old plan and an old smartphone, you’re making your day to day life harder than it needs to be. If you choose something like one of the SMARTY SIM-only deals, you’ll have so much more data at your disposal and that can only be a good thing.

By maximizing your data, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re always able to fire off that email or make a quick edit to a shared work document, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Install a Doorbell Camera

For enhanced home security and safety, you should think about having a doorbell camera installed. That way, you can see exactly who is outside your home and at your door before you open it up. And the great thing about these cameras is that they can connect directly to your phone.

You can even speak through your phone to the person by your door. And you can do this remotely, so if there’s someone delivering a package and you’re not home, you can just tell them where to leave it. It makes things so much easier in a wide range of scenarios.

Consider Self-Watering Plant Pots

Everyone loves the idea of having plant life in their homes. But the actual process of keeping your plants healthy and hydrated often falls down your list of priorities pretty quickly. Your home looks great with luscious plants around the place, but not so much when they’re dead and dying.

READ ALSO: Best Tech to Get Your Healthy 

Self-watering plant pots are now a thing that exists, even if you thought you’d never hear that sentence. It might not be a hoverboard but they feel kind of futuristic nonetheless. It certainly makes your life easier because you won’t have to worry about remembering to water the plants.

Use a Robotic Vacuum

Of all the tasks you need to do around the house to keep it clean and functional, the one people seem to hate most of all is vacuum cleaning. It’s noisy, cumbersome and time-consuming, especially if you haven’t got a high spec vacuum cleaner at your disposal.

That’s why you should consider using a robotic vacuum cleaner with hoover vacuum parts. They do exactly what the name suggests. They do the basics of vacuum cleaning for you and they move around the floor by themselves. There’s no real input from you, so you can sit back and put your feet up.

Buy a Universal Remote

These days, it can seem like your collection of remotes for all the many devices you have is too much to handle. It’s not sustainable to have 5 or 6 remotes lying around and in use all the time. That’s why you should simply buy a universal remote and make it the only remote you use.

They work like magic. You simply sync it with all the different devices you want to control and then start using it like normal. It really couldn’t be much simpler; you’ll wonder why you didn’t invest in one sooner.

Use an Automatic Pet Feeder

When you’re always on the go and out of the house, it can be hard to ensure your pet gets everything they need when they need it. No responsible pet owner will let their pets go hungry or without all the things they need, so they end up disrupting their day in order to accommodate their pets.

But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore because you can simply make use of an automatic pet feeder. These devices release the food for your pet as and when they need it. You simply need to load it up and program the timer to make sure the food releases at the right time.

Fix Your Sleeping Problems with a White Noise Machine

If you’re someone who has always had problems sleeping, it might help to invest in a white noise machine. Having a machine making noises might not sound like the best way to get you off to sleep, but it really does work and many people rely on these devices to get a good night’s sleep.

If nothing else has worked and you haven’t tried this solution yet, it’s definitely a good idea to give it a try and see how it goes for you. The white noise encourages you to sleep and the consistent sound keeps you sleeping for longer. There’s a lot of science behind it.

Invest in a Simple Portable Charger

This is another small thing that makes life so much easier and can get you out of all kinds of frustrating situations. Investing in a small and simple portable charger will enable you to charge your phone when it unexpectedly runs out of battery life, no matter where you are.

These portable chargers come in all shapes sizes. Some of them have less battery power, but they’re much smaller, making them great for that extra little boost of power you need when you’re on the go. But there are bigger ones available that you can rely on for the power you need too.

Why make your day to day life any harder than it already is? With these tech advances and options out there at your fingertips, it doesn’t make sense not to use them. By using these tech gadgets, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on the really important things in your life like family, your health and happiness and that’s what matters most.

What is your favorite piece of tech that makes your life easier?

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