About a year ago, when I moved from New York to Florida, I had to make some difficult choices. Like what stayed. And what went.
Like my stone washed denim jean jacket from 1984. Obviously it came with us.
And my tea collection from the 90′s despite the fact that I don’t drink tea. (I tossed the tea in this elaborate ceremony replicating the Boston Tea Party.)
And there were the girls’ gigantic art sculptures.
Unbelievably they made the cut and now reside in Florida.
In the garage.
And then there were the Build A Bears. We had a small village of them. But no one ever played with them. So with a heavy, panicked heart, I donated them all, along with their Build A Bear closets and their snazzy bear sized outfits to Goodwill.
Pretty much since that moment, I’ve been dreading the day the girls notice the bears never showed up in Florida.
I mean, I wasn’t an idiot. When their Brownie/Daisy troops did an outing to Build A Bear, we didn’t attend. And I did everything I could to prevent any kind of mention of bears in our house which is obviously difficult because bears are rampant in children’s literature.
But somehow we made it through an entire year. Until this week when we were wandering through some mall (in an effort to escape the satan like temperatures outside) and we passed the BUILD A BEAR STORE.
Dylan: “Heyyyyyyyyyy….. what ever happened to all our Build A Bears?”
Dylan: “Mom, where did our Build A Bears go? I loved all those bears. They were the best. I remember each one. I even had one that smelled like cookies. Mmmm..”
Dylan: “Mom, can you hear me?”
At this point, I was frozen by the Annie’s Pretzel counter hoping that if I stayed very still, Dylan would think I was just a mannequin display. I knew I had 3 options.
1. Go with my original plan to tell my kids the bears got so liquored up at the Laguardia airport bar that Jet Blue wouldn’t let them get on the plane to Florida and we had to leave them at the airport.
2. Come clean and tell them I donated them to charity and face the reality that for the rest of their lives my children would blame me for carelessly discarding their precious bears leading to feelings of loss and abandonment that keeps them from experiencing true connections with other people.
3. Tell them the bears must have gotten lost in the move.
I think it’s really important to be honest with kids. I mean, how else do children learn honesty if we don’t lead by example?
Which is why I told them the moving truck must have lost the bears.
Because maybe the charity decided to give the bears to kids in Miami.
And maybe the bears were loaded on a truck on route to Florida.
And maybe the driver had had enough of this trucking gig and didn’t drive to Miami at all.
And maybe instead, he hightailed it to Nevada where he now lives with a lovely girl named Rita and 15 magnificently dressed Build A Bears.
I’m just saying it’s possible.
My oldest daughter Dylan will soon be 10 (heads up on maternal nervous breakdown and cliche ponderings like “How does time go by so fast? coming your way in September).
Since Dylan is about to reach this momentous age, I figured it was finally time to explain how babies are really made. Like not the, “Mommy and daddy went out one night. They both drank too much Jäger and in the morning there was a baby in mommy’s belly!” version.
I made one attempt at the sex talk about a year and a half ago by purchasing two books, “Where Did I come From?” and “It’s Not the Stork.” While some parents might view these books as a conversation starter, I viewed them as “doing the job for me.”
At the time, Dylan didn’t have a lot of interest and the books got jammed under the bed.
But I pulled them out this week and read “It’s Not the Stork” to Dylan and her younger sister Summer. I had to include 7-year-old Summer because there is no way Dylan would keep this shocking information to herself and I didn’t want the details to be miscommunicated to her sister.
I tried really hard not to laugh when I read things like this… “When grownups want to make a baby, most often a woman and a man have a special kind of loving called ‘making love’ – ‘having sex’ – or ‘sex.’ This kind of loving happens when the woman and the man get so close to each other that the man’s penis goes inside the woman’s vagina.”
And there’s a picture…
Great bedspread for the special kind of loving!
As soon as I finished the book, I said to my girls, “So that’s the scoop. Any follow up questions can be directed at daddy. Good night.” Seeing how Rick was conveniently at work, an avalanche of commentary and questions came my way.
“That is DISGUSTING,” Summer shared immediately.
“I’ve never seen you and daddy go to bed naked. Are you naked in bed? When are you naked?”
“How do lesbians have a baby?”
“Do you have to be married to have a baby?”
I tried to answer these questions the best I could in the simplest of ways – letting them lead the discussion because I read that’s how the qualified parents do it.
Since that night, there haven’t been any more questions but I told the girls they can ask me anything, anytime.
And I figured if my girls can wrap their heads around the fact that Mommy and Daddy really did this, then maybe for a few more years they’ll keep believing that Santa Claus flies around the whole world delivering gifts. Because both scenarios seem pretty crazy.
I just got back from a family vacation to Naples, Italy!
Oh wait, I mean Naples, FL.
Which is less in Europe.
But it’s super pretty with these killer sunsets.
If you go on the old Naples Pier, you can buy very expensive ice cream and then watch it melts at a rate never before witnessed on this planet while your 4 year old throws a tantrum like a madman because he just realized he doesn’t like ice cream, especially not the melt all over your arm kind.
But you might also see this…
Both my parents were on the vacation too and by the way, if you ever really want to irritate my dad, run to the grocery store, buy him Hazelnut coffee instead of regular and also forget to buy his half and half.
Then say something like, “I thought half and half was the same thing as milk.” Then just enjoy the expression on his face. It’s a fun vacation activity.
We did a lot of cool stuff in Naples – like the beach, the water park and the children’s museum. Here’s Rick at the children’s museum doing what every parent wanted to do…
And we even planned one of those alligator airboat tours. At which point, I had the following conversation with my mother…
My mother: “If we are going on an alligator boat tour, I want to be fully lubricated.”
Me: “Mom, you aren’t going to make love to the alligator. I think you meant to say fully hydrated.”
I mean, OMG.
(At this point in this post, I think both my parents are wishing I had just gotten that law degree and skipped becoming a writer.)
Due to storms, we had to skip the Everglades airboat tour, so instead we drank beer and ate fried alligator. Which is delicious and tastes exactly like alligator.
We were vacationing with my sister and her family and of course, needed to take part in a little Naples, Florida nightlife.
(Rick should totally unbutton one more button on that shirt, don’t you think?)
We found this great bar for dancing (and I mean great because there were people older than Rick and me which is my new criteria for a perfect dancing place). We partied our asses off (AKA danced for 25 minutes) until we went home.
And finally it was time to go home for real.
I always hate saying goodbye to my sister and her family. Because they are awesome and I never stop laughing and because it really seems like they should be living right next door.
I want to start off by showing you some photos of my breasts after nursing 5 kids.
Oh wait, no. This post is about encouraging and supporting your breastfeeding efforts so scrap that. Trust me, my breasts are awesome. Okay, a little stretchy.
If breastfeeding is not for you, don’t worry. Your baby will grow up and be amazing (guaranteed). But if you do want to try breastfeeding, read on! In the beginning, it seems like breastfeeding should be a lot easier than it is. (It gets very easy.)
It takes a village to breastfeed:
You need experts. Probably not your well meaning noisy neighbor whose dog just had puppies so now she’s sure she knows all about nursing. You need people in your life that know stuff.
I had no natural instinct when it came to breastfeeding. I didn’t magically know how to properly get my baby to latch on. I didn’t know what to do when my breasts became the size of two gigantic honeydew melons. And you probably won’t either.
So utilize the lactation nurse at the hospital who can help you position yourself and your baby correctly. A doula can help once you return from the hospital. There are breastfeeding groups. Your OBGYN can assist you with problems that can develop like engorged breasts, sores from a bad latch and a breast infection called mastitis. (Aren’t I making this sound fun?)
Find an experienced mom you can contact day or night with breastfeeding questions or general encouragement. You can email me for gosh sakes. Seriously.
When it comes to pumping (AKA the moment you will feel the most like an actual cow), you also want to have a good posse to turn to with questions and feedback.
Don’t ever be embarrassed to breastfeed in public:
Don’t be ashamed to breastfeed anywhere. Your breasts are powerful. They are gorgeous. They make milk. They feed an infant. You are nourishing your baby and that is an insanely beautiful thing.
I once breastfed my son Cash in a baby carrier while I grocery shopped. I don’t know how I did it exactly. But somehow it worked. You can do this. Anywhere.
Babies know when they are hungry:
Don’t be concerned with whether your baby is getting enough milk (unless your doctor is). Because babies know when they are hungry and when they aren’t. Sometimes they will feed for longer. Sometime it will be shorter. Sometimes they will be hungry right after you just fed them (usually when you are trying to head out the door). I found with all my babies that they were generally hungry two hours after the BEGINNING of the last feeding.
Yes, you are going to spend a lot of time nursing. Thank goodness for iPhones. Don’t feel guilty that you’re not gazing at your baby lovingly the entire time he is nursing. Just be content that your baby is being fed while you read Perez Hilton. That is a win win mama.
Even breasts like it spicy and different:
Your breasts need some variety so make sure you change your feeding positions. You’re going to like one breastfeeding position more than another but it is really important to mix it up because that will keep your milk ducts flowing properly and prevent you from potentially getting very sore nipples.
Your husband and your breasts:
Your husband will stare at you a lot. First of all, because he is in awe of the mother you have become. And second of all, because your breasts are always exposed. He will wonder how your boobs can be so present, yet so unavailable to him. Tell him, “It’s going to be awhile buddy.”
He will also wish that he had breasts himself when you run to the store alone for a quick shopping trip and the baby starts howling like mad at home. I know a man who resorted to seeing if the baby would temporarily suck on his nipple until his wife got home. It didn’t work. But gotta hand it to him for some creative thinking.
Read this when you want to give up:
Breastfeeding can be such a sweet, wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s convenient and it makes you feel like a lactating superhero.
And remember, if I can nurse twins on the side of the road than I promise… you got this.
I remember when my oldest daughter was 4 years old, she asked me, “Can I go play in the backyard?”
She was referring to our balcony. In downtown Manhattan. A place where it’s actually illegal to climb trees.
And that’s when I sort of had an epiphany. I adore New York City but I wanted my kids to be able to play outside. You know, without bumping into our illegal balcony grill.
So we forged ahead to the suburbs where food is much less desirable but climbing trees is aplenty. As long as we give our kids time to actually do it. The truth is – it’s easy to get sucked into an array of organized activities like Mandarin Basketball and Knitting Hats for Polar Bears with Recycled Materials. (I think those are real activities.)
But children can’t just knit hats for polar bears. Obviously. They need time to just play.
Like the ole days when hair was feathered, we all drank Tab and thick gold chains were super hot. (That’s the 70′s in case you’re still super young with smooth, porcelain skin.)
Studies show play is an essential part of early childhood development. But the average amount of time that kids spend outside is down. Way down. Our recesses have been shortened (my own daughters’ have a 15 minute school recess!) and fewer kids have access to outdoor play spaces.
And summer is the perfect time to get children off the iTechnology, send them outside and let them explore their world. They can move, climb, build, skip, laugh, make up games, play in the mud, insist they are bored, realize you don’t care and then do more climbing, building and laughing.
Even if you aren’t comfortable sending them off on their bikes for 6 hours like the Lewis & Clark of the suburbs, you can still let them do this in your backyard or neighborhood playground.
Kids are ridiculously creative if we just let them… be.
I mean, I left my daughters upstairs for 6 minutes the other day and they had rearranged the furniture, gathered every doll and stuffed animal they could find and set up an entire imaginary school. My gosh, can you imagine if I left them for 7 minutes?
So here are some super great reasons to let your children get out and play…
– You don’t have to yell — “FOR THE LAST TIME, PUT ON YOUR CLEATS. WE ARE LATE FOR SOCCER TO SALSA MUSIC CLASS AGAIN!!!!!”
– Not nearly as messy as playing indoors (like no heavy furniture rearranging).
– When you tell them to go outside and play, you can crack open a Fresca, kick your feet up and feel confident that you are a parenting rock star.
Still not convinced? Well, take a look at this compelling video put together by Playworld Systems about the importance of unstructured play…
This post is sponsored by Playworld Systems. All ideas are my own. See you outside.