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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Go-Go Juice and One Million Moms

I am learning a lot in my stint as a stay-at-home-mom. This week I learned my new favorite term. Pageant Crack. Pageant Crack is in reality a pixi stick, which mom's on the pageant circuit give to their kids to enhance their performance. I find this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! What I find even more A-M-A-Z-I-N-G is that for some kids the pageant crack doesn't work, so one mom has resorted to "go-go juice." It's actually a toss up which new word I like better. Pageant Crack or Go-Go juice. Both are pretty unbelievable. Go-Go juice is a unique concoction of Red Bull and Mountain Dew that you give to six year-olds, so they can keep their energy up to win child pageants. It's apparently perfectly safe and the inventor gave it a hearty endorsement, "There are far worse things. I could be giving her alcohol."

The same day I learned about the One Million Mom group who decided to attack Ellen because she's a lesbian and  therefore is unfit to be JC Penny's spokesperson. Now, I have nothing personal against the Kardashians. I find them mildly entertaining, but I wonder why these million mom's took up a campaign against Ellen, who in addition to be a lesbian seems to be a pretty decent person. She is in a committed relationship, she works hard, she has talent, she uses her show to help others, she like animals and she dances. All in all I think she's a pretty stand-up human. In contrast the Kardashians are un-wed mothers, make a mockery of marriage, have no real talent other than their amazing ability to make whining, simpering and fighting entertaining to millions of bored teens and housewives. Why are they not boycotting Sears, who is home the Kardashians clothing line? If we are buying clothes and dryers based on morals, then I have to say, I gotta give the moral high ground to Ellen and JC Penny.

Just my opinion, but if I had to pick. I would rather raise an Ellen than a Kim.

Now, I have a job for these One Million Moms. Why don't you do us all a favor and stop this mom?Pediatricians and physicians who treat Type II diabetes will thank you.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The First Year

 I’m pleased to report that, despite my initial disbelief that anyone in their right mind or otherwise was going to allow us (The Clarks – those irresponsible winos with no 401K) to have a baby, December marked our daughter’s first birthday and our one year anniversary as parents.   I’m a believer in the written word, and from the moment we officially became parents (I count this as the moment I had to officially give up wine, so around week six of pregnancy) we’ve written down wishes for our daughter.

I haven’t documented this year as well as I should have. The baby book is an utter failure, and I never was organized enough to be one of those parents who takes a picture of their child on their month birthday. However, I’ve been thinking about all the things I wish I had known before plunging into parenthood and decided to share.

If I’m honest, and I’ll try to be, no one can really prepare you. You just have to live it, because despite all the books and internet research, that little bugger is smarter than the author of What to Expect the First Year. That being said, here is what I wish I had known and what I’ve learned along the way.

I wish I had been more relaxed. Now, we were definitely those idiots who put their five week old on a boat, the infamous Highland Fling II, and our first of many outings was to Umbrella’s, the local beach bar. In fact, we became such regulars our daughter could often be found in the kitchen perched on the owner’s shoulder supervising. We continued to frequent the boatyard most Friday nights, but despite trying to live our laid back Caribbean existence, I was an inward stress case. I was never quite sure if I was doing it right and I often questioned my competence as a mother. My friend Suzie summed it up best when she said “Of course you are a good mother, you worry about your child. Bad mothers don’t worry.” She’s right, and sometimes the one thing you need to relax is someone to tell you, you are doing it right.

In this vein, let me pass on a piece of advice my friend Shannon gave me, which was never correct your husband. Tell them one too many times they are doing it wrong and you’ll never get another diaper change out of them again. I thought this was good advice. I was terrified, but my husband was infinitely more terrified, so let them do it their way and enjoy the diaper changes even if they use an extraordinary amount of diaper rash cream.

You will love your husband more than you ever thought possible, however on certain days, you will dislike him. Intensely. The same goes for your husband. The smug looks you reserved for those harried looking mothers in the grocery store lines have come back to haunt you. And no matter how many times you privately or publicly vowed never to become one of those mothers, one day you will wake up to find you are that mother, and you’ve even got the shrill, uptight voice to go with the eye bags and unwashed, thinning hair. You’ll fight more in this year, you’ll love better, and on the days of dislike sometimes it helps to look at your little munchkin (preferably while sleeping and not while fishing your engagement ring, bits of crayon and your 1099 out of her mouth) and think together we created the most amazing individual. Think of all the beautiful things we can do if we stick together.

When she was 4 weeks old we flew with our daughter from Virginia back to Grenada. It was mind boggling stressful for us. She never made a peep. I was a nervous wreck thinking of all the things that could go wrong. After a twelve hour day with a baby strapped to my chest, we landed in Grenada and the Dutch guy in front of me said “you’re lucky they are easy at that age.” I wanted to punch him. Partly because he was Dutch and their efficiency has always irritated me, and partly because did he not realize I had a 4 week old baby on a plane? What I later had to admit was that he was right. Babies who are not mobile and in that sleepy phase are very easy to do anything with and you should get out and do things, because it does get a lot harder. However, if you are a first time parent you don’t know this, and your stress and anxiety over your child crying, getting sick etc…is so high nothing seems easy. He may have been right that a one month old is much easier than a two year old on a plane, but  there is nothing more irritating than a parent saying to you “just wait til you get to this age,” while nodding in the direction of their out -of- control, manic child. Nothing seems easy when you are experiencing it for the first time., but at the risk of sounding like the Dutch guy take that sleepy newborn baby out to dinner if you feel up to it, because in a few months it’s a whole new ballgame.

When traveling, going to the grocery or just out for a walk you will bring enough supplies to feed and outfit a small developing nation’s army. The amount of stuff you have defies reason. Gone are the days when all you needed to travel from one end of the island to the other were your sunglasses and a case of carib. I don’t know when this ends. I imagine when they are thirty and you just house all their junk in your attic. At least you don’t have to haul it around any longer.

There are many theories on sleep. You have the “cry it out” camp, the sleep in the bed til you are 12 school of thought and everything in between. I confess I couldn’t cry it out. I visibly shook after twenty minutes of wailing. I just couldn’t do it. We fell somewhere in between a certain amount of cry it out and a certain amount of rocking, shushing etc… We found what works for us and have a baby who sleeps through the night most nights. I don’t really know how we did it. The only advice I can offer is do what you are comfortable with, and you’ll work it out.

I made a hard and fast rule that there would be no babies in the bed. EVER! I had yet to have a sick, child, company or extreme sleep deprivation. There will be nights when they’ll weasel their way into bed, especially when sick. As with most things in the first year, remember tomorrow is a new day and try again. Also every hard and fast rule you made while pregnant is null and void once baby appears on the scene.

It does not matter who gives you advice, your doctor, parent, friend or minister, you will not believe them. You will go home and look up whatever your question was in a book or on the internet. I don’t know why. You just will.

There is a certain amount of judgment that comes with parenting and I do try and keep myself from being judgmental, but we’re all guilty of comparing, judging parenting styles that are different to our own. I can keep a pretty open mind with regard to pretty much anything except vaccinations. If you don’t vaccinate your child I won’t let mine play with yours.

No one told me about RSV. I seriously may have reconsidered my choice to have children had I known about this hideous virus.

Frozen blueberries are good for teething. Reportedly so is whisky, I’ve not figured out if it’s good for mom or baby. Maybe both?

You will never really get a full night’s sleep. The minute they start sleeping through the night you’ll be up checking if they are breathing.

Everyone wants to hold a baby til it cries. As a result of this you’ll spend 99% of your time holding a baby that someone else has made cry.

Nothing last forever, if you are in a trying phase take a deep breath and know it will pass. Sadly, the fun, easy phases pass just as quickly. Sometimes they pass a lot more quickly than you would like.

Food is infinitely more interesting when it is on the floor.  If your child refuses to eat I suggest you dump the meal on the floor. Problem solved.

The other day someone told me you need two things to raise a child. Calpol (the U.S. equivalent is Tylenol) and Grandparents. He may be right, and if so I can stop the list here. 

It doesn’t matter how much you prepare, how much you read, how many classes you go to, you will in no way, shape or form be prepared for how much you’ll love your child. Some days you’ll love them more than others, but the love you feel seems to grow exponentially throughout the year, and I imagine over their lifetime.

I’ll steal a line from Elizabeth Stone as she said it better than I ever could.

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Days 19 - 30 (Yikes)

I really am a hopeless failure at keeping up this blog. I started the month (eight days late) with the best of intentions to post what I was thankful for every day. That didn't happen and it's the last day of the month and I've got 12 days to account for. So here goes...

19. The Brilli's. My bestest friend and her husband who trekked down to not watch an SEC game, drink too much red wine and leave again in less than 48 hours. I love them and I miss her everyday.
20. Not getting a job. At the time I wasn't thankful, in fact, it plunged me into a bit of a funk. but I've got a few more precious, hours, weeks, maybe months (double yikes) to spend with my sweet girl so that's a bonus.
21. Wildlife rotation. John had a relatively easy research rotation, and it was so nice to have him home at a normal hour for a few weeks. It's over. And its back to an unpredictable schedule, but I enjoyed having my husband home while it lasted.
22.  Motrin. I've got a teething baby. I'm a fan.
23. BB Guns. They kept the men in my family entertained for hours on end over Thanksgiving weekend. Brought out some serious male bonding!
24. Thanksgiving. Turkey and all that jazz.
25. Tacky Sweaters. My brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law had a tacky sweater engagement party. Was a hoot!
26. Momma. Thankful for mine. She's a tough act to follow!
27. Thankful that the 13 hour car journey from Virginia to Georgia is OVER! I now know what hell must be like. Think interstate 81 for eternity....
28. Home again. I surprised myself when I woke up Monday and Athens felt good.
29. The gym. Thankful I've got one and even use it some days.
30. University Towns. I met one of my favorite authors today, Peter Godwin. He gave a talk at UGA. What a treat.

So, that does it. Lots to be thankful for in this month of thankfulness. I was a bit of a failure at this exercise and may have even said at one point during this month "what am I supposed to say when I don't feel thankful for anything." I may have said it teary and a tad bit dramatic...I'm glad I have a family who's supportive and amazing and reminds me that "when I don't feel thankful" well, really I'm just being a brat. Lots to be thankful for and my family tops the list.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18: Helping Hands

Thankful for little hands and all they can accomplish!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17: Baby Blues

I'm struggling today, to be thankful for anything. I think some days you just have those days. Where you just have a bit of a pity party and feel sorry for yourself. Party is in full swing and I actually don't want it to end. It's just easier to feel sorry for myself than buck up and get on with it. Where is my stiff upper lip British/Malawian husband when I need him? Sadly for myself, I do have to come up with something to be thankful for because I committed to a month of thankfulness. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I'm worried it's gonna end my party...

I'll be thankful for what I am thankful for everyday of my life since she arrived. My sweet daughter.

It's not been easy since we arrived in Athens. I don't love it, some days I don't even like it. On those days I feel like throwing in the towel. I don't because I have this.

And this face makes everything seem better.

I also have this face.

And every year I am married to him gets better. Even the hard ones, like this one, are better in their own unique way. So, that's it. Pity Party over. Back on track for a month of thankfulness. Thanks to these two faces.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 12, 13 and 14: Thankfullness X 3

Thankful for a busy weekend where I was too busy to blog. Busy with good friends, football and drinks in front of the fire. That's all I've got for the moment. The cold I've come down with has left me blah....but thankful it's only a cold.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11: 11.11.11. Make a Wish

Thoughts of wishes conjure up images of birthday candles, circles of children tightly packed against one another as they sing and dance with excitement and tightly squeezed eyes as the birthday boy or girl inhales then exhales to make their wish. Why do we only wish on birthdays, or when the clock strikes 11.11 or on days that come around once a century? What is it about these occasions that give us permission to dream,  to wish and hope it will come true. They say don't tell anyone or your wish won't come true. I think say, write, shout and do it and anything you want will come true.

My daughter is about to have her first birthday, and we'll all pack tightly around her and watch with anticipation, while she likely stares overwhelmed at her first taste of chocolate, and we'll wonder, what, if anything is she wishing. Probably for us to get out of her face....the precursor to the teen years...

What I wish for her, for me and for us all on this day that only comes around once a century is that we remember to wish, dream and do every day. To let our birthday candles burn year round rather than snuff them out with just one wish. I love this quote and wish I remembered to apply it to my own life more often.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”   Marianne Williamson

Happy wishing on  11.11.11 and the rest of the year!