There’s something called muscle memory, where you can teach your muscles to remember to perform a certain motion. It works in dance and a lot of other sports.

I feel like I’m working hard to develop some mom of two muscle memory. I’m lucky that one walks (I was not built to have Irish twins). With Tony, I hardly ever used the snap & go type stroller. This time around, I’m constantly lugging the little one in the carseat and swinging him around into the stroller. I even bought the “rumble seat” attachment for the stroller so two could ride in it. The thing turns on a dime! Just kidding. I’m pushing around 30 lbs of baby (including the car seat), 41 pounds of toddler, and a 20 lb frame – so, yeah, 91 pounds of awesomeness.

The thing is, at first I was really sore. Everything ached, my hips hurt, my back hurt, etc. But now I’m developing some mom-of-two muscles. I definitely noticed in some photos the other day that I had some real arm muscle. At first I was like, oh gee, baby fat on the arms. Then I looked closer and realized, nope, that’s some muscle!

So, pretty awesome. I’m sure I’m going to use my muscles in other ways – and brain power – mothering two boys. I’m already getting outsmarted by one, pretty soon it will be two ganging up on me for cookies.

Sugar detox diets are all the rage now. If you haven’t heard of it, just Google it and come back to me.

See what I mean? 21 day sugar detox, sugar free recipes – everyone’s doing it. It’s like the new gluten free. You too can have a trendy diet! My sister-in-law talked to me about it a few weeks ago and after completely rejecting the idea as another food fad, I then started realizing that it may be something I wanted to try.

Why? BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY. When you’ve got kids and you’re running all about, and you’re trying to squeeze in some semblance of work here and there, and keep the house in order, and get some sort of sleep, it seemed the only solid, not sweet meal I was having each day was dinner – followed of course by dessert. And it was really making me hungry, because I was just trying to get any calories into my system rather than actually eating healthy things. I started to make some changes before I even talked to my sister in law – having a big salad for lunch with some smoked salmon, quinoa or barley or rice, cheese, and olive oil and vinegar, eating oatmeal for breakfast – but I was still hungry. And it was getting to the point where I would come up with excuses to drive by McDonald’s for a milkshake. Plus, I felt like I was always eating, which I just do not have time for.

The problem is, those aren’t good, healthy calories that help keep you full and feeding your baby. So I decided to try this whole quitting sugar thing. I looked on a bunch of websites, but they seemed pretty extreme – kind of like, cut out sugar, gluten, dairy, and just eat like raw things. Um, nope. So I got this book – I Quit Sugar – to see if I could do it.

I really like a lot of what she has in the book, and it’s a more practical approach than cutting out everything right away. The first two weeks (which I’m just finishing up) you just kind of “play with” the idea of quitting sugar, then you do about three weeks of cutting out everything (including fruit, bummer), and then start to add back in – fruit, some sugar alternatives, etc. So far, I’ve been surprised about three things – one, I feel a lot more full when I focus on eating fat and protein, and spend less time eating; two, there is sugar in a lot of things, like cole slaw, sushi, etc; and three, I actually can avoid sweets, although it’s been harder to avoid the sugar in other things but I’m working towards cutting that out too.

The problem with the book is that it’s not really designed for a busy mom of two – there’s a recipe for sprouted nuts where you soak the nuts overnight, then dry them in your oven for 12-24 hours. THAT’S LIKE 36 HOURS FOR ONE RECIPE. And I’m not keeping my oven on for 12-24 hours… that sounds like a toddler burning nightmare waiting to happen. I’m currently trying to figure out how to adapt some of the recipes and ideas to not be so expensive and time-consuming. When you have all the time in the world (i.e. what most moms think of non-moms, sorry) you can sit around and dry out nuts and make your own butter and chicken stock and hunt down haloumi cheese (I couldn’t even find this at Whole Foods). I know, I used to be that person back in my 20s. Now? It’s either do all that or sleep.

So I’ll update you on how it’s going and some adaptations I’ve made to make it actually fit into my life. So far, plain whole milk yogurt (I forgot I like that), nuts, and rice cakes with some plain peanut butter (no sugar added, check the label) have kept me feeling fuller and less “crashy” at certain points in the day.

The other day, our babysitter told me that she had taken care of children for many progressive families on Capitol Hill, but that we were the first to use cloth diapers. Of course my reaction was, Yes! We win. I could spend a whole post on my perfectionist tendencies when it comes to motherhood, but I won’t.

I do seem to be the go-to person among my friends for cloth diaper questions, so I thought I would write a new post to answer the question, “Are you still doing that?” Why, yes, we are!

We used Gdiapers with Tony, and I started out with those with Gus but had also worked in a bunch of FuzziBunz. As time wore on it became apparent that the FuzziBunz were working out better – they were easier to explain to grandmothers, babysitters, etc, and made for a quicker change (no swapping out inserts the way we did with Gdiapers). I want to try the medium size of Gdiapers with Gus, but once we get to the large, which Tony wore forever, we won’t be able to use them since the velcro on them got plain worn out.

It seems that the one-size option is the way to go rather than having to buy new diapers every time they grow. I’m happier with the FuzziBunz, although the BumGenius diapers are a great option as well. I found a cheaper version, Alva Baby, that has some cute designs and seems to work just as well as the pricier ones (we’ll see how well they hold up over time).

I’ll be honest, too – Tony is in regular diapers, as we’re “working” on potty training (does guilting him count?) but is really too big for the diapers which top out at about 35lbs. He’s over 40 and a tall kid, so they just weren’t working anymore. The good news is that a 3yo uses a lot fewer diapers than a newborn, so it’s not like we’re trashing the world as much.

So if you want to use cloth diapers, you completely can. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • It works best if both parents are committed to cloth diapers (i.e. willing to wash them)
  • It may be unreasonable to expect a set of cloth diapers to last through more than one child, especially if they wear a particular size a lot
  • Velco-type diapers wear out quicker, but snap diapers don’t get as close of a fit. Choose your poison. I’m OK with changing diapers (and outfits) more often with a few leaks
  • Don’t make a big deal out of the cloth diapers – keep disposables on hand for when getting to the laundry is too tough
  • There’s a bit of trial and error – we discovered you have to be very careful to tuck in all of the cloth into the outside elastic band, or else you have some soaking through. But remember that disposables aren’t perfect either and have leaks & blowouts!
  • If you don’t want to use cloth, it’s not a big deal and I’m not judging you. I actually feel like I get judged more for using them – “That’s crazy,” “You’re really committed, aren’t you?” “Someone told me it wastes water,” blah blah blah. I never understand why people feel judged when others make choices different than they do. We started with cloth, we use disposables at daycare and occasionally at home, and it’s just what we know. It’s not really a big deal either way. I’m sure all of our children will grow up to be just fine. I think I used them initially because babies look really, really cute in cloth diapers – way more so than disposables. Now Gus has ones with dinosaurs and cars. It’s adorbs.

Oh, and that whole business about children who use cloth diapers potty training faster? Forget it. Children potty train when they’re ready (or, if you’re really focused & Type A, when you decide to make them ready). As my friend Ann said, forcing another human being to go to the bathroom in a certain way is nearly impossible. There has to be some modicum of willingness on said human being’s part. Don’t use cloth if you think it’s going to be a magic trip to potty training – I can assure you it is not.

Have you used cloth? What made you stick with it or move on from it?

I don’t have anything much to say today, so I’m going to post a picture of Gus, whom we call “Fidge.” Well, Tony calls him Mr. Frumble Gus after a character in Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. I’m Sally Cat and daddy is Lowly Worm. He was upset about being a worm for awhile, but he got over it. Tony is Huckle Cat. It’s fun being a family of miscellaneous animals.

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April 14, 2014

Meeting Notes from RFK Stakeholders Meeting 

Theresa DuBois, External Affairs Manager with Events DC, called the meeting to order.

Meeting attendees introduced themselves which included Kingman Park and Hill East neighborhood residents, ANC commissions, Council Member Yvette Alexander, and other interested parties.  

Erik Moses, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Events DC, gave an update on both the children’s playground  located on the RFK green space, and the RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study.  

Children’s Playground

The children’s playground will undergo regular maintenance such as mowing of grass, mulching, and correction of egregious safety hazards.  DC Events’ stated goal is to bring the playground into compliance with published industry standards.  Only the bare minimum is planned.  No other upgrades will be considered due to the on-going RFK Stadium Development Study. 

RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study: 

It is currently on-going.  Further updates will be provided to the community when more information is obtained. 

Volkswagen Rallycross Presentation:

Kevin Healy, Managing Director with Andretti Sports Marketing, made his presentation regarding the Volkswagen Rallycross event scheduled for June 21-22, 2014.

Mr. Healy said that he has been working closely with Events DC to insure that neighborhood concerns are address.  He stated that this race will be nothing like the race back in 2002 and that noise levels will be much less due to, among other factors:

1.   The race location which will be on Lot 7 located behind DC General Hospital;

2.   Race car engines are fine tuned;

3.   Individual races are short in actual time spent on the racetrack.

Andretti Sports is reaching out the local middle and high schools to involve students in the motercross event, as this event is a good hands-on learning experience incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). 

Residents suggested that students at both Eastern High School and students living at DC General Shelter be invited to participate.  Mr. Healy said he would follow up on those suggestions.  

Despite reassurances to the contrary from Mr. Healy and DC Events, residents voiced concerns over noise levels and quality of life issues. 

Residents also voiced concerns over the environmental impact of the race on both the river and wildlife. 

Mr. Healy assured there will be no impact.  All sand used for construction of the race tract will be removed.  Any oil spills would be a hazard to the race cars and those would be immediately cleaned up.  Trash will be picked up, and the area will be left in the same, if not better, condition.

DC Events agreed to have a follow-up meeting after the event is held to hear community feedback before deciding on whether another contract will be signed for future racecar RFK events.   

 

The next scheduled meeting is July 14, 2014.

 

Don’t you love Ani DiFranco?

Oh, what? You weren’t in college in the late 90s/early 2000s too? Sorry. Anyway, in one of her songs, which I don’t remember the title and I’m not going to Google, the gist is “Shut up and be nice.” She says that “Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. Well, nobody likes their job, and nobody got enough sleep.”

This is especially true for new parents. Parents in general have a hard time being sympathetic when non-parents say things like, “I’m so busy!” because usually we are up at 6:15am cleaning up poopy and feeding small people who then demand three alternate breakfasts (this morning, it was peanut butter & jelly sandwich, pancakes with LOTS OF SYRUP AND BUTTER, and then mama’s oatmeal with BROWN SUGAR AND I CAN’T SEE THE BROWN SUGAR SO I NEED MORE MAMA.) Forget going to the gym early to fit in a workout. I’d have to get up at 4:30am to do that. Do gyms even open at that time? Is there a 4am hot yoga class somewhere in the DC area I can attend? I actually might consider it. BUT THERE’S NOT. Also, I was up every two hours feeding a baby last night (and have been for the past ELEVEN WEEKS OF MY LIFE) so don’t TELL ME YOU’RE BUSY.

Yes, you can see that we parents are not rational when it comes to telling us that you are busy or tired when you do not have children. Most people get this, but some do not. And they get kind of offended if you go off on them as I’ve done above.

And you know what? They should. Because SHUT UP. It’s not like anyone promised you that you would have children and then immediately afterwards have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and never be disturbed. And everyone with a newborn can be forgiven a few weeks of grumpiness, but at a certain point, you have to suck it up and learn how to be nice while sleep deprived.

This post is not directed at any of you out there – rather, it’s directed at MYSELF. I realized I was complaining A LOT and being VERY grumpy, and using being “tired” as an excuse to lose my temper with my toddler, to grouch at my husband, or to shirk the work that I need to being doing for my job. In my Lenten attempt to perform a more thorough examination of conscience and go to confession, I realized that behind a lot of my actions was the excuse of “well, I’m tired.”

Not good enough!!! Whether or not you’re religious, it’s the special task of parents to learn how to be gracious and kind even while tired. Some forgetfulness and fog is to be expected, but grumpiness – try to catch yourself and think about the person on the receiving end. My toddler is just being a toddler by demanding 14 different breakfasts. It’s certainly not his fault the baby nurses every two hours. And all those students I teach, or childless friends I talk to – for them, their lives are busy in their own way. When I was single I didn’t know how hard it was to have children (or how great), and I’m sure I annoyed more than my fair share of people by complaining. They were gracious, and I can be too.

Now go out there and be nice. ;)

There’s a few posts out there about how hard or great it is to be a mom of three. And I’ve watched several moms of three to know that it’s certainly not easy.

So am I crazy for wanting to have a third child, when my second is only 10 weeks?

Let’s take the “yes, you’re nuts” argument first. I’m 35, which we all know is doomsday for having kids (or is it?). I have a demanding job – flexible in some ways, not flexible in others. Yes, I’m pretty much expected to “just” be there to teach class, but when your child has explosive diarrhea and you have an exam to give, see how flexible things are then. Hub also has a much more demanding job now than he did with Tony, and is really involved in the community. And I like to write and have ambitions to do research. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to navigate that right now with two, much less three. Plus we don’t have any family around, we don’t make quite enough money to pay for the kind of help we need, and we’re stretched a little thin at the moment as it is trying to juggle everything.

Then there’s the, “No, you’re not completely crazy” argument. First, there’s, well, let’s say “biology.” I have a few women I’m friends with in my neighborhood that don’t have children and have asked for some honest advice on if they should (look, people with kids are almost always going to say yes, if only because we’ve completely deluded ourselves). I can’t imagine being the person I am today without Tony and Gus. In some far off land when I get more sleep and am less hormonal (ha ha, when will that be) I’m sure that I will be able to tell you exactly how my children made me smarter, less selfish, more wise, blah blah blah. But for right now, I know that I wouldn’t have as much love in my life without them. And I want to keep going if I can. Plus, my body tells me to. SO THERE.

I think the biggest influencer was a woman I met who runs a local business with her husband. She’s got two sons who have graduated from the university and we got to talking (I was pregnant with Gus at the time). She said her one regret was not having a third. Partly because she wanted to see if it would be a girl, and partly because she just loved kids. You’re always going to have regrets in life, but being 50 and not having had that third child when I know that I really could have made space isn’t one of them that I want to experience. I know I’ll be more tired and stretched thin, but… it seems that in the long run, it will be worth it.

Oh, and Catholicism and stuff.

But stay tuned.

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When I was pregnant with Gus, I had a lot of comments on what it was like the second time around. The comments were evenly divided between, “it’s the hardest thing ever” and “once you have one, it’s much easier with the second.”

I have found that oddly, both of these statements are true. It is harder with the second. I have found that I have to swear off reading any sort of baby advice, because it just annoys me (and usually comes from first-time moms who think they’ve discovered a new planet. I know, I was one of them). I receive emails from a woman who does “life coaching” online, and she just had a baby and sent out her words of wisdom. They included, don’t circumcise your son and get an Ayurvedic post-partum doula. Oh, and the extremely useful advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Besides some of these things being private decisions that each parent has to make for him or herself, the “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice is pretty useless when you’ve got a toddler. With Tony, I’d go to bed at 6pm when he did and catch the six hour stretch that he started doing… well, whenever it was he started doing it. Now, if I went to bed when Gus goes to bed, I’d have a 3 year old banging on my door screaming, “MAMMA! Come and help me build Busytown!!! MAMMMAAAA!!!” (and yes, that’s Richard Scarry’s Busytown). I’d also be sleeping instead of picking up my toddler from daycare.

 

I find I have more confidence this time around, and that makes it easier to shrug off what is sometimes bad advice, or advice that only works if you’re super rich (an Ayurvedic doula? Sure, let me just drop my student loan payments for a couple months to cover that!), or advice that just doesn’t work for your family. My older son isn’t potty-trained yet. He’s just not, and he won’t be until he’s ready. As my friend Ann said, “It’s pretty much impossible to force another human being to go to the bathroom.” And Tony is nothing if not independent. So when people make suggestions about how I can get Gus to sleep, or how often I should be nursing, or what he should be wearing or doing or whatevering, I usually just react by saying, “Sorry, I can’t hear you over a screaming baby and yelling toddler.” Also, go away and shush.

Bottom line, you don’t know what it’s going to be like with one, two, or five because each child is an individual. They each require their own set of care, their own types of discipline, and their own understanding. Tony and Gus both needed food, sleep, and cuddles – beyond that, they’re different little boys and each has his own special requirements. It’s harder jugging two from a schedule perspective, but easier in that I’m confident that I’m a good enough mom for them, and fun in that there’s more life and love in our house.

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We very recently welcomed this little one into the world! He’s so very sweet. Life with two boys begins!

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