Old News: Past Blog Posts

Monday, December 30, 2013

Resolution 2014

Typically I am not the 'New Years Resolution' type.  I would say it's because I don't believe in making cliche and unrealistic promises, but mainly it's because I hate letting myself down.  Also, because I fancy myself a Grade A Procrastinator, I usually find myself waking up on January 1st with a vague hangover, an enormously messy house, and zero idea of how I managed to pull off another holiday season without checking into the loony bin.  Who has time to sit down and make a bunch of empty promises to themselves when there are presents to be bought and wrapped and then more presents to be sorted and put away?  All this Christmas consumerism puts a pretty big damper on my ability to dive into self analysis and plot out annual self-improvement strategies.

Most years, I can't even fall back on the typical : 'this year, I will exercise more' resolution because I happen to actually like working out and therefore, there's no need to hop back on a bandwagon that I never fell from in the first place. 

Before I began teaching group fitness classes, I couldn't stand visiting the gym in January.  The 30 minute wait for treadmills that had been gathering dust a week earlier would make my blood simmer.  Once my workouts started making me a modest income, I began to look forward to a room full of sweaty bodies each winter, slightly doughy from their recent pre-resolution holiday binges.  It was nice: lots of re-charged enthusiasm and sparkly new workout clothes.  And because I was the instructor, there was always a spot for me in the class...no wait necessary.

Now I have two kids--one of whom has a serious aversion to sleep--and guess who's looking extra plump and doughy these days?  

It's true.  Six months after bringing another life into this world, I am still proudly displaying the evidence of that tiny guy both in and around my pants.  At four months adjusted, my youngest son tips the scales at a measly 11lbs 1oz.  I on the other hand have about twice that to loose before my clothes finally stop begging for mercy.  

And so, the night before the last day of 2013 I find myself bone-tired after three days of head-spinning holiday festivities, four days of obscene work hours to make up for time off, and six months of sleepless nights.  I am also left without a speaking voice, encumbered by a maddening alternate of sinus pressure and nasal drainage, and stiff and sore in almost every muscle group, right down to my fingers.  

Realizing my self image has plummeted along with my figure and worse, my favorite stress-management tool has taken a backseat to 4am nursing sessions and 10 hour workdays, I have decided that maybe it's time to make myself some of those empty promises.  

Big inhale.

Here goes:

1.  I will love my family.  And I will not confuse love with constant self-sacrifice.  I will remember that loving my boys does not mean that I am responsible for every single nighttime meal or that I should feel guilty when the clean laundry spends a night or two in laundry bins and draped over the back of the couch instead of in our dressers and closets.  

2.  I will respect myself.  I will remember that I am less-than-stellar company when I am neglecting my health and denying myself exercise-induced endorphins.  I will acknowledge that I am a more fitting mother and role model when I am healthy and happy than when I am stressed and sleep-deprived and hostile.  

3.  I will accept help when it is offered.  I am not a super hero.  Or if I am, my superpower is being able to drag my happy ass from bed (or wherever it was I landed after the 4am meal) each morning.  Next to completing the NY Times crossword puzzle, raising children is maybe the most challenging task there is (even after less than two years of experience, I am quite certain of that fact).  It was not meant to be done alone.  That's why God or whoever made it necessary for two parents to be involved in the baby-making process.  Shoot, Mrs. Clinton thinks it takes a whole damn village to raise those little f*ckers right.  

4.  I will stop punishing myself.  I do not need to spend so much time apologizing for all the things I perceive to be (or actually am) doing wrong.  Nobody gets to be perfect at everything and I can realistically expect to fail in at least one aspect of my life on a daily basis.  Instead of dwelling on those failures, I will celebrate my tiny victories and try to spread the failures around a little, so as not to neglect one area entirely.  

It's a start, I guess.  There are probably a thousand other promises I should be making to myself in order to maximize my potential in 2014...but I think I'll set my alarm for a 530 workout and go to bed instead.

Cheers to you, dear reader.  Good luck with your self-improvement projects this year.  

Maybe I'll see you at the gym.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Poem

T'was the night before Christmas Eve and all through the house, 
all the creatures were stirring, 
I think even a mouse.  

Unwrapped presents were piled by the tree without care, 
in hopes that the wrapping fairy soon would appear.  

The children were crying, 
not wanting their beds,
while visions of a beach vacation 
danc'd in my head.

And Pa in his sweatpants, 
opening a Christmas music app, 
it wasn't a secret
we could both use a nap.

When in the next room, 
there arose such a clatter, 
I sprang from the couch, 
fearing tears or blood-spatter.

Away from my wrapping, 
I sprang like a frog, 
and luckily I found 
it was only the dog.  

I settled back to my task, 
with scissors in hand, 
to the tune of Jingle Bells 
sung by some awful rock band.

When what to my worrying 
mind did appear, 
but the fact that two presents 
were absent from the tier.

I searched and I stewed, 
things weren't going my way.  
Where were the damn things?  
...ordered way back on Black Friday!?!?

A glance at the bank account confirmed my fears: 
The presents had *not* been purchased
...commence Christmas tears.  

I scrambled on Google 
to re-direct my fate, 
but alas the gifts are personalized 
and will arrive two weeks too late.  

You've known me for 31 years 
--almost 32 -- 
so Mom and Dad, 
my blunder is not so surprising to you.  

Not long after the New Year and the Epiphany, 
a box will arrive -- 
perhaps down the chimney.  

In the spirit of Christmas, 
I will not place blame.  
But my inattention to detail 
has caused gift-giving shame. 

Maybe next year I'll sing a more uplifting tune, 
but this year I am crabby 
-- not having slept since last June.  

And so I exclaim before you get too miffed, 
Merry Christmas to all

-- oh, and this poem is your gift. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The evolution of the Christmas Shopping List

AGE 5:  
Dump glitter and glue on a piece of construction paper, call it art and excitedly hand it to mom and dad on the last day of Kindergarten before Christmas break.

AGE 10:
Participate in mass holiday ornament crafting task (probably also involving glitter) and distribute to parents, grandparents, siblings, Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.  Feel like a total Christmas hero.

AGE 15:  
Withdraw 40 bucks from the checking account you opened last summer with your lifeguarding money.  Buy six presents for your closest friends at the mall then beg your parents for 40 more dollars because you forgot to buy stuff for your family too.  

AGE 20:  
Arrive at your parent's house after your last final and sleep until 2pm each day, complaining that finals week was exhausting---but not too tiring to spend the hours between 10pm and 3am drinking at some crappy apartment with your high school friends.  Make a mad dash to the mall on December 24th to spend what's left of this semester's student loan money on presents for your immediate family only.  

AGE 25:  
Feeling totally flush and buzzed off a full time professional gig, spend the week before Christmas zipping around town, buying gifts for friends, family, and the dog.  Ignore the fact that roughly 50 percent of each paycheck is split between taxes and student loan repayments (remember those gifts and all that beer you were buying 5 years ago?)

AGE 30:  
Start budgeting for Christmas gifts in January because your husband 'knows how you are' then start making the Christmas list in November (reason: see above).  Spend the six weeks leading up to Christmas combing the Internet for gifts to cover the following people (because who has time for the mall with two kids and a full time job?): your kids, your parents, your husband's parents, your husband's siblings and their spouses, your siblings and their spouses, your babysitter, your babysitter's kids, your sister-in-law's parents (because they always buy you and the kids stuff), your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your housekeeper, your neighbors who are constantly bailing you out in a childcare pinch, and the dogs...Nope. Screw the dogs, they can just have access to their favorite chewable toddler toy without consequence for Christmas.  Merry Christmas, Spot.

And a very Merry Christmas to you, dear reader.  May the holiday be filled with presents, but more importantly...with love.  


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Jammies for the Rest of Us

Unless you've been hiding under a social -- or regular -- media rock (possibly in an effort to ride out the holiday season without blowing a gasket or losing what's left of your mind), you probably saw the 'Christmas Jammies' video that features a (now former) news anchor from Raleigh and his family.  You know the one.  It's a video with impressive production quality that shows a family straight from the pages of J. Crew, clad in the season's snuggliest jammies, dancing like lunatics, and rapping about their enormously impressive lives.

Daughter Lola can dance, sing, play the piano, count to 100 (wait, that's not the impressive part) ... in Chinese, and has already done what most of us will never do; competed in a triathlon.  

Junior (named 'Penn' after Daddy) is the youngest and has apparently not yet mastered Chinese.  Still, he's damn cute in his shaggy mini-hipster haircut and Mom and Dad have him signed up for 'hip hop classes,' so I'm confident he'll be pulling his tiny weight by next Christmas. 

Mom, it seems, is an actress who landed a part in Ironman 3 this year and because that's not impressive enough, also completed an Ironman (despite taking a punch to the face in the first leg by someone who seems to have beat me to it...) 

Dad shows up the whole family while good-naturedly poking fun at his recent vasectomy, demonstrating his ability to do the worm, and giving an admittedly shameless plug to his new marketing company.  

I watched the video this morning when it had a mere 800,000 hits.  Just now, I observed that it is rapidly closing in on 5 million.  By the time you read this post, I am confident that number will have doubled. It's the sort of thing you find to be totally amazing but also want to spit on.  As in: hock a major loogy and watch that picture-perfect family beg for mercy as they scramble into their fancy hybrid in a desperate attempt to avoid drowning in your sticky, smelly mucus....inhale.

Why so hostile, Ready or Not?  

Where's your Christmas spirit, Lady Crabby Pants?

Well, let me just say it wasn't all shiny red Prius's and matching striped PJs around the Ready or Not house today.  

So, here is my response to that marvelous viral gem that has everyone grinning and clicking and sharing (and plagued by Will Smith tunes for the remainder of the day).  

***Because I don't have access to professional-grade video equipment, or a desire to shame the Caucasian race with my white-lady rapping routine, our Christmas letter will have to embrace the classic medium of the written word.  Enjoy.***

Merry Christmas from the Ready or Not Crew!

This year has brought loads of surprises; starting last Christmas when Mom discovered that nursing is a highly unreliable form of birth control. 

Despite her and her OB's best efforts, Mom's incompetent mommy-bits failed yet again at carrying a baby to the preferred 37-40 weeks gestation.  

Ready or Not Baby joined us in June, at 31 weeks and 2 days, weighing in at 4lbs 2oz and with a serious hankering to play with the NICU nurses for 25 days.  

He loved those nurses so much, he contracted viral meningitis 10 days after discharging home and ended up back in the ICU, this time with a ventilator and a borderline hysterical mother.  

Thankfully, the little man is home now and showing no lasting effects from his early hospital forays, minus a crooked man-part which will be corrected in the next few months (don't worry kiddo, Mommy will delete this post before any of your classmates learn to read).

He doesn't much care for sleeping, but can roll like a champ and has finally developed a gummy grin and giggle that almost makes up for the extreme sleep deprivation he inflicts...almost. 

Ready or Not Toddler has had quite a year himself.  Not to be outdone by his little brother, he has had his fair share of hospital visits.  Respiratory bugs plagued him last winter and caused delay after delay of his (second) inguinal hernia repair.  

He finally kicked the bugs, had the surgery, and now his scrotum looks totally normal again (Yes! Mommy will delete!  Nobody reads this anyways...)

Ready or Not Toddler also learned to walk at the ripe old age of 17 months (15 corrected) and now knows how to say most food-related words.  He's come a long way from his original 3lbs 10oz and eats enough bananas to warrant a real concern over a possible potassium overdose.  At 18 months, a developmental psychologist told us that cognitively, he was comfortably 'average' and we could not be more proud. 

He loves his Daddy and tolerates his mother.  Maybe someday he will even learn to say 'mama'.

In the last 6 months, Ready or Not Mom has managed to lose 12 of the 30 lbs she gained with #2 and hopes to someday quit turning off her alarm and get her fat ass to the gym on a regular basis again.  Meanwhile, she just has anxiety dreams about it.  She still runs when her friends pester her into it. 

She did medal (last place!) in a triathlon today when she managed to fail miserably in three separate events: Mothering, Career, and Housewife.  

She's managed to unintentionally piss off 80 percent of her immediate family since July and looks a lot like an over-fed homeless person since she hasn't had a proper haircut in over a year and her clothes don't fit right.

Dad does everything around the house from cooking all the meals to taking out the garbage to playing Mr Fixit every other day.  He does all this without accepting even an ounce of gratitude.  He is slowly coming to terms with the fact that what he thought was a 'tall forehead' is actually male pattern baldness

Here's hoping that this holiday season finds you and your family happy and healthy.  

Much love,
The Ready or Nots


The Holderness family might be rocking their Christmas Jammies all over the Internet, but today I managed to keep both kids alive and take a shower.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Baby Sleep Tips

Oh, silly me.  I forgot to include the title of this post in it's entirety.  Here it is:

Baby Sleep Tips...for the Terminally Confused and Utterly Exhausted Parent.  

Is that adorable little bundle of love keeping you awake at all hours? Are you at your wit's end?  Are you feeling like exhaustion is kleepijng yo frome performinf Evan tha slimplest of trasks?  (like, I don't know, say...typing?)

Well then Champ, you're in luck.  Because I am about to clue you in on some very simple remedies for your present state of overwhelming fatigue and blazing sense of despair. 

Follow these basic tips and hold into your hat, because your mind is about to be blown.

Tip 1: Feed the baby just before bedtime.  Full bellies help babies sleep longer.

Tip 2: Don't feed the baby just before bedtime.  It will create a situation whereupon the child will become dependent on nursing or a bottle in order to fall asleep.

Tip 3: Swaddle the baby.  Swaddling contains the primitive startle reflex present in newborns that tends to rouse them (because a self smack in the face is no way to wake up), mimics the cozy snugness of the womb, helps regulate temperature, makes baby feel more secure, sleep better, and cry less.  

Tip 4: Don't swaddle the baby.  Swaddling newborns delays initial breast feeding, thus causing less effective sucking and increased post-birth weight loss.  It also causes hip dysplasia, respiratory illness, overheating, developmental delays, and increased risk of SIDS.

Tip 5: Rock the baby to sleep.  Rocking fosters a stronger bond between parent and child, reduces crying in colicky babies, promotes more restful sleep, helps regulate heart and respiratory rates, aides in regulating sleep patterns, assists in developing baby's vestibular system, and also results in heightened neurological and motor development. 

Tip 6: Never rock the baby to sleep.  They will become dependent upon rocking to achieve a sleep state.  Instead, they must learn to self-soothe if you ever expect to sleep more than two hours at a time again.  

Tip 7:  Give baby a pacifier.  The sucking reflex is calming and will help baby wind down for the night. Also, pacifier use has been associated with decreased incidence of SIDS.  

Tip 8:  Don't give baby a pacifier.  Baby will become dependent on the pacifier and you will spend your nights as an under-appreciated pacifier retrieval service.  Pacifiers are associated with middle ear infections and dental problems.  Pacifiers will confuse your poor whiddle baby and create problems with breastfeeding.   

Tip 9:  Bring the baby to bed with you. Co-sleeping promotes better sleep, boosts milk supply, helps baby regulate breathing, results in children with higher self-esteems who engage in more positive behavior, and cures cancer.   

Tip 10: Never (ever) bring baby to bed with you.  He will die if you do.

Tip 11:  Let baby 'cry it out'. The kid needs to learn to self-soothe at some point, right?  Women two generations back will be the first to tell you that you're running a serious risk of 'spoiling' that baby totally rotten if you tend to every whimper.  Perhaps a more rational argument is that not all cries are indicative of a real need and it's best to wait (at least a short period) before rushing to the rescue of a child who may actually be nearing the point of sleep.  

Tip 12:  Never let baby 'cry it out'. Excessive crying elevates stress hormones and floods baby's brain resulting in increased aggression, anxiety, and ADHD.  The cry it out method also results in lower IQs, socially detached babies, clingy and dependent children, poor fine motor skills, and oh, it doesn't work anyways (or at least ends up needing to be repeated multiple times).  

Tip 13: Keep the room dark and quiet. Newborns have a jacked up sense of night and day and use of light can help establish a proper circadian rhythm (keep it bright during the day and blacked out at night).  Lots of lights and sounds at bedtime will only serve to confuse baby even further and stand squarely between you and that elusive eight hours everyone keeps raving about.  

Tip 14Don't obsess over keeping the room dark and quiet.  Assuming you don't have the luxury of living in a sound-proof bubble, there will be all sorts of noises erupting past baby's bedtime; phones ringing, dogs barking, neighbors banging on the door complaining about barking dogs...Junior is just gonna have to learn to deal with all that and the sooner, the better.  As far as light is concerned, even Mr Sun (...Sun, Mr Golden Sun...) is plotting against you come springtime.  

So there you have it folks.  It's all so very simple!  And the best part is, once you get one kiddo all figured out, the second one will be a total breeze (sarcastic font).

You can all thank me later.  Meanwhile, I'll be the one catching a much needed 10 second nap at a stoplight on my way to work. 

Bonus Tip: Take a picture, it'll last longer.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Weekend: Trolleys, Two-Year-Olds, and Trauma

Friday night, my friend and I crashed a gay holiday party.  No, not 'gay' as in happy (though it was); and certainly not 'gay' as in 'lame' (I take serious issue with that word usage, by the way); it was 'gay' as in 40 fabulous homosexual men drinking fabulous cocktails in an extremely fabulous house, looking...well, fabulous.  

Technically speaking, we weren't crashing, because we were invited. But it felt like crashing to me almost immediately -- mainly because my outfit was from Marshall's and in total (shoes and home hair dye included) probably cost less than what other partygoers spent on tailoring their designer jeans.  

I had known some of these men for years.  We'd met working out (because according to cliches and actual fact, these guys love the gym) long before I was a totally out of touch mom...you know, back when I was a totally out of touch single chick.  

This fact however, did not stop me from feeling completely out of place among the lively buzz of cheek-kissing and animated conversations. 

My friend (also female, also straight) knew more faces than I did and consequently spent much of the first part of the night introducing me to various collared shirts and wool sweaters. By the time we were dashing for the two heated trolleys parked on the tree-lined street, primed to taxi us into a nearby park adorned in Christmas lights, I am fairly certain we'd been pegged as the token lesbians.  

Don't get me wrong.  I had a ball.  It was probably some of the most holiday fun I've seen in ages.  I was generally forgiven for my thrift shop winter coat and bad dye job (at least to my face) and spent the evening laughing until my face hurt.  

I also got to partake in some serious real-estate voyeurism and basked in the beauty of a bronze pasta arm set against a stone backsplash, a kitchen sink large enough to bathe a ten-year-old, sleek refurbished hardwood floors, tall ceilings lined in gorgeous crown moulding, stained glass and Tudor windows, pristine glass-encased walk-in showers, and the sort of breathtaking oversized sofa I have only seen in magazines and television.  I found myself wondering how quickly it would take my one-year-old to destroy this seemingly untouched perfection.  When I joked with our host about moving in, his face turned white at the mere thought of a toddler invading his palace.  I quickly assured him it would just be me.

Because my lesbian-lover was driving, I decided to also bask in the impressive assortment of cocktails available.  I sampled the cranberry and lime infused vodka, the rumchata, a dirty martini (garnished with blue cheese stuffed olives), a half glass of champagne, two pulls off a bottle that tasted like cinnamon and lighter fluid, and two Bud Lights on the bus--because I think that's what lesbians drink and I didn't want to disappoint anyone.

I wasn't really drunk, but eventually feeling self-confident enough to finally eat something (dinner was passed on earlier in the night in favor of applying mascara and giving bedtime instructions to my FIL who was manning the ship for the night).  I giggled merrily as I hovered over the dining room table, fawning over an array of cheeses and cheese dips -- and a couple of broccoli florets to save face -- laughing at the fact that my friend and I (now found binging on party food) had met our host when he started taking our spin classes a little over a year ago. 

Shortly after that act of debauchery, it was time to part ways with this untouchable fantasy world and return to my modest home and my sweatpants and my insatiable infant. I wasn't feeling too buzzed and felt confident we weren't looking at another Mommy Has a Hangover situation.  
When I woke the next morning, I felt a little headachy, but nothing a couple glasses of water couldn't take care of.  The morning progressed and soon I found myself at another party: a two-year-old's birthday party at Build-a-Bear in the mall.  It was pretty much the same type of event as the trolley party.  Just replace the trolley with a brightly lit mall, the cocktails with tea, coffee, and juice, and the well-dressed partygoers with screaming babies, unrulely toddlers, and small children.  

By the middle of the party, I was starting to feel the first pangs of nausea.  The nausea followed me home and then to work.  I pulled myself together just enough to handle almost five hours of patient care, but couldn't muster the energy to sweet talk one of my last patients into a full treatment (this is typically my specialty) and uncharacteristically allowed her to bail after only 15 minutes.  

When I arrived home, it was late and dark and I wondered if I shouldn't try to eat something, since I had yet again blown through more than one mealtime.  

That proved to be a terrible plan.

The rest of my night and into the early morning, I was darting back and forth between the bathroom and my bed, alternating between shivering under a pile of blankets and kicking sweaty sheets back.  I also had the pleasure of expelling my dinner out both ends...not to put to fine a point on it.  

Convinced I was probably being struck down by a deadly virus, I decided to call in some parenting backup (i.e. the hubs) and quarantine myself from the baby until I could get to a medical professional who would verify my impending death.  

At one point, I found myself seated on the toilet, hovering over a trash can, pumping breast milk and blowing my nose.  When the hubs popped his head in and asked if I needed anything my first thought was that I needed him to wipe the present image of me from his memory completely.  What I actually said was 'sexy,' waving a hand dramatically in front of myself, then I let my head collapse back down into the trash can.  

Amazingly, I managed to live through the night.  There were points where I prayed for death, but luckily it never came.  

Things are better now.  I have managed a couple of meals, some laundry, and even a visit with Santa and my inlaws.  Whatever was responsible for my brush with death by way of GI complications seems to have passed and I am beyond grateful for my returning health.  

I may not be fabulous enough to hang strong with an army of gay men or have enough stamina to fully function at a two-year-old's birthday while battling the beginnings of a stomach bug, but I lived through this weekend ... and that's good enough.

Friday, December 6, 2013

How This Rock Landed on My Finger

Next weekend, the hubs and I will strap the rugrats into their respective rear-facing car seats and aim our humble chariot north on I-55, stopping only long enough to unload said rugrats into the eager arms of their Gammy and Nonno.  This will be our seventh Christmastime trip to the Windy City.  It is a tradition that started the year we met and I was living there with two roommates, an air mattress, and mounting student loans.

The following was originally posted during one such visit, four years ago today.  I can still remember the giddy sense of excitement that fueled these words:

It seems a little insane to plan a December trip to downtown Chicago and not pack a scarf. My friend's husband and co-host to our venture called it a 'rookie mistake,' a statement to which I took only minor offense because I have in fact been a (very temporary) resident of this great city; and should have known better. Still, my concern for being scarf-less was trumped only by my boyfriend's apparent concern for our being camera-less. This struck me as a little odd, mainly because he normally seems less than interested in my obsessive photo-snapping. But I let it slide, because stranger things have happened.

This is the third trip my boyfriend and I have taken to see the big city christmas lights, and thus I will now call it an 'annual tradition.' To complete the tradition, we have three main stops: 

1) The Christkindle market in Daly Plaza: an excuse to drink spiced wine and collect the cheesy tourist mugs in which the wine is served 

2) Macys: to enjoy the crowds and consumerism of the season without making any actual purchases. 

3) Millennium Park: to watch ice skaters fall down and snap silly pictures of ourselves in the giant mirrored 'Bean.'

When we'd tired of giggling at uncoordinated skaters and got to the Bean portion of the night, the subject of my uncharacteristic camera-free state arose only long enough to decide we could substitute with my (inferior) phone camera.  I was dragged my to the outer ridge of the bean and positioned in front of my travel companion, presumably to allow my smartphone photography skills to take shape. As I fumbled to create the appropriate angle with the viewfinder, I happened to notice something glimmering on my right shoulder.

What happened next is a bit of a blur, because I tend to stop listening when I see something shiny. But the gist of it is, my best friend and roommate suddenly got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. At least, I hope that's what I agreed to....

...and THAT is how this rock landed on my finger.

Seven months later, we dragged almost 300 of our dearest friends and family out into the smothering St Louis heat to attend the greatest wedding in recorded history (this is fact).  And thus, our amazing little family was established.