Weaning and Heartache

12 Sep

Long before my son had a relationship with me, he had a relationship with a part of me that he still is obsessed with and will seemingly never want to breakup with; my boobs. Before he could recognize me with his eyes, before he could ask for them by name, they were his first love, his first familiar place, his first connection point with life as an “outside baby”. His everything.

It’s not rare that in any public place, strangers can hear him say “Booh, booh?” or “Dis? Dis?” while simultaneously watching as he shoves a hand down (or up) my shirt in the hunt for his true best friends. He doesn’t like a blanky, or lovey, or anything else… just mama and her “nursies”.

This is going to make weaning him hard.

The other night, I was researching weaning and learned about this first relationship, in a more detailed way. I learned that this will be his first true loss… His first “breakup” and that the crying involved in the weaning process isn’t so much that he’ll be pissed off that I won’t be offering him to nurse anymore, it’s that he’ll be literally mourning the loss of this relationship; the nursing relationship, and all the type of intimate bonding that has/goes with it.

That broke my heart.

My boy is already a sensitive soul. He’s in tune with his mama and doesn’t much care for independence from me (yet). Am I really ready to throw that dependence for comfort away, in the name of weaning???

What are the benefits? What are the side effects? Someone please share their weaning stories with me. I need encouragement and to know that I can do this and he won’t be scarred as a result. I mean, I know one day he’ll likely vomit if he finds this post, but for now, nursing is both of our down time, bonding time and way to be attuned to each other. After a long day at work and daycare, nursing is where we share intimate reconnection time together, holding each other and staring at each other. I take my time with him seriously, so it’s not a “sit and pay attention to something else, while taking advantage of his quietness” time, but true bonding time.

He’s 18 months old, so I know that he’s not getting his food from my body anymore, and often times, there’s no way he’s actually getting any milk, but he won’t stop anyway. Even if it’s a drop, it seems to be enough for him, and if it’s less than a drop, he’s angry about it, sad, and will beg and beg, until I can produce just one more drop to make him happy again.

Unlike most of our friend’s babies, he only recently started sleeping through the night (most nights anyway), and still wakes up incredibly early (3:00-5:00AM) just to nurse and snuggle. I’m not sure if his sleep patterns are a result of really, truly, hating being alone in his crib, or if it is because we spend so much time apart during the day, that he needs to connect as often as possible at night? Like I said, he’s a sensitive child. Not a bruiser, or a bully. He wants to be near me, even if it’s just to fake nurse… and I don’t mind.

So, if I don’t mind… why wean? Is it a “must do” before baby #2, or is it a “if you want to” thing? It is something he will decide on his own, or are there kids who don’t decide that (i.e. the annoying little prince from GOT???)?

Please share stories! I’d love to know your thoughts on the issue.

Digital Moms Can Be Mean

9 Sep

WARNING: Personal Rant to Follow.

If you’re a mom, it’s likely that you belong to a Facebook group (or 2… or 12) as a community, parenting, and life resource. It’s also likely that you’ve experienced (or at least witnessed) “mom wars” between group members.

Last night, I was on the wrong side of the war… not fun.

While I was driving back to my office after lunch yesterday, I saw something I was really upset by. It was a woman (I’m assuming was the nanny) and two small children running to cross a very busy intersection. They were running, so they wouldn’t miss the walk signal (problem #1… it’s a cross walk. I’m pretty sure it will say “walk” again in 2 minutes). The reason this was concerning, was that the smaller of the two kids (he was MAYBE 2) was sitting on top of the stroller, straddling the handlebars, with nothing under his butt to support his weight (problem #2, but bigger than #1). He was hunched over awkwardly, and if he were smiling, and they were all having a good time, I may have not been as concerned, but the poor little guy looked terrified (problem #3). In addition, they made it across the street and went across the other cross walk, getting closer to where I was waiting to make a left-hand turn, then continued on their walk like this as I made my turn and went back to work. It was not a temporary fix. It was a travel choice (problem #4). We don’t live in a country where families of 6 ride on a single scooter, but we do live in one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country, so this isn’t something I’ve seen before and I’m just not ok with it.

I snapped a picture from the turn lane.

I contemplated wether or not to post the picture, but being that I’m a mom in the neighborhood where it happened, I would hope someone would alert me to a situation like that, if my son were in danger, and I clearly felt that these kids were.

Strollers aren’t made to hold weight on their handles. A bag sure, but a child? I’ve had my bags at the Famer’s Market give my stroller a run for it’s money, and they weren’t that heavy. This is how law suits happen. People misuse a product, a child is hurt and angry parents take it out on the company who produced said product. It happens all the time. I also wouldn’t trust a 2 year old to keep their legs wrapped around the stroller tightly enough, to RUN with them through a dangerous intersection in the middle of the city. Again, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, as concerned as I was, I posted the picture to a couple of my normal Facebook group pages, along with a concerned message, to help alert the parents, or anyone who knows the parents. I posted in LA Mommies, Mommy2Mommy and Hollywood Mamas. Boy, can you tell the overall personality of the group members by how they respond to a post!

LA Mommies was diplomatic (for the most part), Hollywood Mamas were inquisitive and cautious, but overall caring (I know many of the members personally, so no one was hostile) and Mommy2Mommy SHREDDED me, my character, some people even called me a racist, annoying, and told me that I was a bad person.

Wow. Those of you who know me (and my multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religion and non-religious family) know that “racist” is something I’ve never been accused of, ever in my life! Additionally, calling someone a “nanny” when that’s exactly what they are, doesn’t warrant verbal abuse from other moms. I mean, come on! Aren’t we in this together? Shouldn’t we be helping and supporting one another, while we struggle to keep our kids safe in a pool full of sharks? The world is bad enough, mean enough and ugly enough on it’s own, but name calling and slandering someone for trying to be informative and protective seems contradictory to how we as parents should act, when we’re trying to raise children to be good people, who speak kindly to others and do the right thing… right?? We don’t live in a village here… but don’t we still need the support of one?

I live in a “neighborhood” with 4 million other people, and believe it or not, I don’t know everyone in my “community”. If I knew these kids, I’d have walked to the home of the kids and talked to the parents directly. Since I don’t, I tried the means I knew best to alert someone to this situation, in effort to help change it. But, this is a digital world and no one cares for the person on the other side of the computer/iPad/iPhone/Android/tablet/whatever. People are given the freedom to hide from real relationships behind glowing screens, while they belittle whomever they please, because they can, and when it comes down to it, a lot of people are mean.

There’s a dichotomy in digital mommy-hood though; you’ve got your perfects, your imperfects, and your piranhas. The “perfects” are the people who post beautiful pictures of their lovely lives all day long… kids in the gorgeous backyard pool on a Wednesday morning with their dad, while mom lounges on a chair (all of this, including freshly manicured feet, fit into one Instagram pic, somehow…. even more perfect), and they’re not even on vacation. This is just their perfect and normal life! The “imperfects” post their reality pictures of messy faces covered in mud or food, while another toddler tantrums in the background and amidst the chaos, the mom posts a picture and is super witty about her life (these are my favorite). Lastly, the piranhas; generally, people who aren’t creative enough to blog/post for themselves, and must have time to be bored, so they sit on Facebook waiting for someone to say/post something that they can tear at like a piranha, until the post is removed by a moderator, or the original poster jumps off a cliff. They feast on other moms.

“Mom wars”. They suck.

I’m not posting this because I need anyone to feel bad for me. I stand by my decision to post the picture, even though I’ve since removed the post for my sanity (and so I don’t jump off a cliff), but here’s one of nicer comments I was actually able to take a picture of, before deleting.

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Hooray for nice people in the world! BTW – You’re not one of them.

 

REVIEW: One Last Hug… Bring Tissues

25 Aug
One Last Hug... and Three Smooches

One Last Hug (…and a few smooches)

With tonight being Emmy night, and because I work at the PDC where the post Emmy party-of-all-parties is set to go off, I thought I’d get into HBO-Go’s Emmy Nom category of watchable things over the weekend, and my best choice landed me 10lbs lighter thanks to water elimination by tear ducts.

Seriously.

One Last Hug had me ugly crying less than ONE minute into the 35 minutes of film.

Kids + parents dying + grief camp = SADDEST THING EVER. Of course, there were a few happy moments of resolve at the end, but from start to almost finish was a tear-fest in between.

On a very serious note, however, I’m in love with Camp Erin. Talk about life-changing, honorable and amazing work. The people of Camp Erin all have a special seat reserved for them in the sky for the work they do to help these kid’s grow and thrive amidst the heaviest challenges of their little lives. Kids who’ve lost parents to cancer, suicide and murder (!!!) are all unified through their grieving experience, being encouraged to share their hurt with other kids their own age. Through the comfort of knowing they’re not alone, they find healing and a way to move forward from their individual tragedies, with forgiveness, acceptance and the camaraderie of other kids in their same age group, enduring the same unfair situations.

Camp Erin, created and funded by The Moyer Foundation, is the largest nationwide network of free bereavement camps for children and teens ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them.

A truly brilliant film, this exposure to the healing available to kids suffering from loss, was both enlightening, endearing, and heart wrenching. It made me want to give them all of my money, time and resources. It also educated me on the process of grief for children. And, as a mama, I would want this experience for my own child, should something ever happened to me (or my husband). The thought of a young mind in the process of being shaped by their experiences, having to deal with this type of tragedy before they’re even able to understand the word “death” is crippling, but Camp Erin gives them hope.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who’s looking for something to have their heart moved by. Then, do something to help keep this organization alive and thriving, so kids for years to come can have the same opportunity to have a bright future, regardless of their unfortunate and dark past.

Donate to Camp Erin.

Watch the Camp Erin trailer.

Get involved with Camp Erin.

10 Tips for Flying with a Toddler

19 Aug

Last month, I nervously researched “flying with a toddler” in about every Facebook group, Insta-hashtag and mommy blog I could find. What I found was that everyone prepares like mad, and just hopes to survive the few hours – or way too many hours – they’ll be mid-air with a squirmy-wormy, little monster on their lap.

I was the same.

Instead of making official “busy bags”, I packed a special backpack full of fun stuff for the flight, then a separate diaper bag, with all of the diapering essentials, sani-wipes, essential oils (who knows why), and medicines (Tylenol, Advil, Hyland’s Baby Vitamin C and Teething Tablets – again, who knows why). We were lucky enough to have only pee diapers on the plane, thank goodness, but we were prepared, just in case shit hit the fan… literally.

Anyway, we had a GREAT flight both directions and though that might be because I have an awesome kid, here’s my recommendation for flying with a toddler:

1. Get seats next to your partner (I recommend aisle and middle). This also means GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY!!!

We didn’t want to splurge on the ‘extra 4″ of room’ fees, or bulkhead seats, and got to the airport for both flights way too late to be too choosey, but having seats next to your partner is really great. That way, you can have more room on your laps, lift the arm rest between you, and just kinda share the wiggle. I also felt like having a window (which I typically prefer) would have made us feel too trapped and when little mister needed to walk the aisles for a few, or I needed to grab something from the overhead, and it would have just been a giant bummer for the person in the aisle.

If you’re flying solo, it’s probably best to try to get the aisle, so they can hang their legs off the side and squirm as much as needed too. Plus, kids seem to think that the rolling carts are pretty cool and flight attendants really like chatting with good babies. Any second that passes time in a positive way, means any time without tears.

2. Bring a stroller, but wear your baby! 

We almost opted to rent a stroller in Hawaii, but had recently purchased a BOB from our neighbors who were no longer using theirs. We paid $80 for it (what we would have paid renting) and it was a LIFESAVER in the airport, plus, we got to use it all over the place on our trip, and even more so at home. Best $80 ever.

I wore Remy in the Ergo, and put all of our carryon’s in the stroller, which was great, because we spent most of the time in the airport running to catch our flight (we’re TERRIBLE at getting to airports early). When you wear your baby, they basically pass you through security, and just check your hands for chemicals… which, duh. Why would a mom with a baby have bomb chemicals on her? I guess there are still bad people in the world.

IMG_7723.JPG

Baby/backpack wearing, travel fam.

3. Bring a packed lunch, and if you have time, buy more food at the airport. 

Airline food sucks and it’s not toddler friendly, unless your kid likes nasty roast beef and mayo sandwiches, or can chew almonds and stuff like that. Like I said, we are TERRIBLE at getting to airports when we should, so we weren’t able to buy food in advance of the flight, which meant that the snacks I packed were all we had… and the nasty roast beef and mayo sandwich that we all tried to stomach, but struggled with. My best friend had said “bring snacks, snacks, snacks, and more snacks” and she was dead on. We didn’t bring sugary snacks (god forbid it create a sugar high monster on the flight), but we brought all his favorites and didn’t limit how much he ate of them. Gold fish (organic, of course), organic peanut butter sandwich/cookies, fruit shreds, teensy fruit, and Plum Organic baby bars. All of his favorite treats, all healthy, and all we had for a very long time.

4. Talk to your baby about the adventure you’re going on and (try to) show them the plane before you board.

Remy was mesmerized by it. It was really cute.

5. Tylenol… My hero.

I know a lot of moms don’t give their kids Tylenol unless their kid is SUPER sick with a fever, but this is an important one to understand. Your baby can’t adjust the pressure in their ears yet by elongating their eustachian tubes, the way grown ups/big kids can. Chewing gum, popping your ears, all of that is a learned skill and baby’s don’t get it yet. I gave Remy some Tylenol about 30 minutes before take off, and 45 minutes before landing, so that his ears wouldn’t hurt too terribly… especially because he was sick with a double ear infection on our way home.

6. Nurse or Bottle your baby during takeoff and BEFORE landing. 

To piggy back on the Tylenol, if you’ve flown with a head-cold before, you know that the first decrease in altitude is the worst. On our 5 hour flight to Hawaii, we coasted at an easy 35,000 feet. When we first started to decline down to 10,000 feet, my head felt like it was going to explode. I was sick when we left for our trip, and I actually cried like a baby in pain during our decent. Not my finest moment, but I learned something important; the initial decent is the worst part and if you take care of your baby’s potential for pain or discomfort prior to then, you’ll have a much happier munchkin when your feet are on the ground again.  Nursing your baby on the way up, and again on the way down, in combo with Tylenol, will save your sanity, and your sweet little babe some unnecessary pain.

7. Book your flight during a nap or bed time.

Who knew I would have hit the nail on the head with this one, but it worked! My little guy was so tired just from the time of day, and so beat from all of the stimulation of getting onto the flight, that he slept for over an hour and a half each way on our flights to and from Hawaii. I booked the flights at nap-time in Los Angeles (1:00PM) on the way out, and 4:30PM on the way back, which also helped transition back to nap-time in the PST time zone (he, of course, also napped in the car on the way to the airport).

Nursed and Sleepy

Nursed and Sleepy

8. Pack toys your baby is not used to playing with.

For us, it was stickers and Play Dough. My guy is only 17 months old, so he’s just learning how to play with Play Dough, instead of eating it. It was a really fun part of our flight. We made bracelets and snakes… he loved it. Stickers were the other hit. We found these great “reusable sticker books” where you can actually peel the stickers off the page, and re-stick them somewhere else. The Despicable Me Minions were a lot of fun to move around from page to page, but I wish I’d have seen these Melissa & Doug ones too! So cute!!

9. Don’t be afraid of screens.

We all know that the recommendations for toddlers and using iPads/iPhones/sitting in front of the TV is “no screens until 2″, but that doesn’t include air travel. Sorry. DO NOT GUILT YOURSELF for doing what’s necessary to get where you need to go, if your babe is “under age”. We loaded up our favorite family movie “Turtle Tales” on the iPad and brought it along, just in case… Turns out, I like to sleep on flights, and that’s dumb when you’re holding a baby, so I needed a break from the busyness of play time, and “tur-lurs” were just the thing I needed. Remy had never worn headphones before either. Having them on his cute little head, monkey in arm, was just the sweetest thing to me, and most interesting (read “TIME CONSUMING”) thing I could have hoped for. Also, just pay attention to your kid and try to keep the amount of time you spend distracted from their needs (ie. on your airplane mode phone playing solitaire, or reading the latest tween novel).

Turtle Tales, Monkey, headphones and my Babe.

Turtle Tales, Monkey, headphones and my Babe.

10. Have Some FUN! Wear Matching Family Outfits! Be THAT Family!

This has nothing to do with the success of the flight, other than that it may help you keep a jovial perspective if/when things get rocky. :)

Once upon an unmarried time, my future husband made a jokey reference to wanting to “always match when we travel, like the Royal Tenenbaums”. So, for one of his wedding-day presents, I had matching black Adidas warmups made, with silly nicknames and the date on each of our jackets, and our initials on the pant fronts, for us to wear on our honeymoon.We looked like we were from the Jersey Shore. Hilarious. That started the family trend, silly as it was.

Thanks to so many modern brands realizing how fun it is to match your family, without looking like a moron, there are so many options for looking good while matching. My current favorite is Sly Fox Threads. Their designs are awesome, and they have mom, dad and baby clothes that are all awesome. Here’s a pic of my dudes in Maui, matching as my men should.

Happy matching in Maui!

My Boys in Sly Fox, matching in Maui!

The point is, be prepared, but relax and have fun with it. Traveling is stressful with or without a kiddo on your hip, so make the most of it by creating your experience as you go.

If you have any additions to my little list, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Happy trails!

Lions, and Tigers and No Parabens??? Oh My!!

30 Jul

Do you remember the first time you saw an Herbal Essences commercial back in 8th grade? The somewhat hippie-ish, super sun-soaked, beautiful models running freely through the tall grassy prairies… well, maybe I just dated myself because this was PRE fake orgasms in the shower while covered in shampoo, but I remember those early ads. Then again, the company was formed in the early 70’s, so I’m sure there were a lot of campaigns I missed along the way, but the ones I remember made me want to be beautiful too.

I also remember my mom buying the shampoo and conditioner at the store, and I remember feeling oh, so beautiful, even though I’d never been to a real prairie and the closest thing to running freely in my neighborhood, was watching stray cats run looking for food, and neighborhood kids chasing cars down the street. But, in my mind, I was one of THEM. One of the pretty ones, frolicking in nature (not trapped in the city)… all because my hair looked and felt like a dream.

Fast forward 15-20 years (dating myself again), and I learned about parabens in cosmetics, primarily in shampoo, conditioner, deodorants and lotions. I learned that parabens cause cancer, or are at least present in cancerous tissue. Breast cancer specifically. So many (cosmetically related) things in my life changed once I had that realization. I started to look for more natural products (that still worked and didn’t make me smell like a hippie), and started weeding out products that contained “bad for you” ingredients, like parabens, silicon and sulfites.

Now, I’m a mom. I work, I mommy and I write as much as I can. I became a member of Influenster and signed up for their VoxBox program to review products for them.

My first box was for an old memory…. Herbal Essences… Naked?

My first thought was “Crap. I have to write a review about a product I wouldn’t ever buy.”

Well, then I saw something beautiful on the label:

No Parabens! No Dyes!

No Parabens! No Dyes! No Silicone!

 NO PARABENS. FREE. OF. PARABENS. WHAT?!

Ok, I’ll give this stuff a try.

The thing is, I have heavily treated hair (duh, blonde is NOT my natural color), so I typically use specialty shampoos and conditioners, but I always have some less expensive (and available at Target, not at a specialty shop) product for myself on days I don’t need blue shampoo, and for my husband, now that his luscious, long, locks are gone.

So, I compared ingredients with my “normal” shampoo and that of the Herbal Essences Naked collection.

MY STUFF HAD PARABENS!!! LOTS OF THEM!!! How did I miss this????

I’m mad at myself for not looking at the label on this one, but no matter how much I love it, it’s being replaced.

Regardless of how the HE product ended up in my hands, I’m glad it did. It actually works quite well too. The dry shampoo is probably my least favorite of the collection, but really, that’s because it’s meant for people with longer hair than me, who need a traditional dry shampoo. I only use dry shampoos to pump up my hair volume, not control grease, since I have the kind of short, overly treated hair that mandates a daily washing.

The shampoo and conditioner are every bit as good as what I use (the crappy paraben loaded stuff from my past… we totally broke up) and my fried blonde hair actually feels like hair after I use it.

The Herbal Essences Naked Collection

The Herbal Essences Naked Collection

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

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