How to Survive A Move With Little Kids

Wondering where I’ve been?  This is where I’ve been!

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A girlfriend of mine moved houses when she was eight months pregnant. I thought she was nuts to undertake such a physical project while swollen and exhausted, but now I understand the rush, because the only thing harder than relocating during your third trimester is moving with small children.

I just moved my four-year-old and fast crawling eight-month-old baby from a long-term rental into our first home and, boy, did I get my ass kicked. For weeks, I felt crazed, because with packing and parenting competing for my attention, I wasn’t doing either very well. But you can learn from my mistakes, as well as the few things I actually did right. Here my top tips for a low stress move with little ones:

1. Pack Like You’re Going on a Trip – Gather everything you’d need for a weeklong vacation and stick it in a suitcase that goes in your car, not on the moving truck. That way, you’ll have a laundry cycle’s worth of clothes plus toiletries, medicines, gadgets and their chargers, and your kids’ favorite books, toys and lovies at the ready without having to search through boxes. Make sure to include any baby feeding supplies (bottles, bibs, infant spoons, etc.) I forgot to put sippy cups in my suitcase and even after unpacking six kitchen cartons, they were nowhere to be found. I’m assuming they’ll turn up around the time my kids start drinking from wine glasses.

2. Babyproof First – If you’re making a local move and/or have access to your new home before move-in day, there’s a lot you can do to prep the environment so that it’s safe and comfortable for kids. Before we even moved in, we covered the outlets, put safety locks on the cabinets and installed baby gates. When you’re trying to set up house and mother at the same time, it’s reassuring to know your toddler can’t run away from home while you’re looking the wrong way.

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3. Honor Mixed Feelings – My four-year-old, though initially excited about her new home, turned sullen when our moving date approached. “I’m going to miss our old house,” she moped. I could have responded, “Don’t be silly, the new house is so much bigger!” But she didn’t need me listing its amenities like a realtor—she needed me to acknowledge her real feelings of loss and displacement. We talked openly about the things we would both miss, like the flowering tree decal permanently adhered to her old bedroom wall. Taking some commemorative photos and videos helped.

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I Love the New “Junk in the Trunk” Barbie, But She Doesn’t Solve All My Body Image Issues

Major Barbie news out of Mattel this week–after decades of world domination, the Aryan goddess with the 16 inch waist will finally share her Dream House with buddies who are short, tall, curvy and ethnically diverse.  This is awesome.  Little girls should be able to play with dolls who look like themselves, or at least themselves in 10 years.

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Like many of us, I grew up dressing Barbies in glamorous gowns, cutting Barbie’s non-regrowable hair, and hosting naked orgiastic pool parties between my many Barbies and one Ken doll during bathtime.  What, you didn’t do that?  And though I loved Barbie, I also hated her.  She was perfect in every way, whereas I was a late bloomer with mousy hair.  I thought maybe after puberty I’d get that hourglass figure she promised me.  I’m still waiting.

I can’t blame Barbie for all my body image issues.  There was also a drawing book that scarred me for life.  I was a decent sketch artist growing up and had tons of “how to draw” books, covering everything from cartooning to cats. My favorite figure drawing book had a page that showed three supposedly typical girls, ages 5, 12 and 15, so that an artist could understand how female proportions change during childhood.  This page was my obsession.

See, the 12-year-old example had what they used to call bee sting boobs–little buds on their way to blossoming.  The 15-year-old had a rack like Marilyn Monroe.  And while I know that is true for plenty of girls, it was not true for me.  By the time I left for college, I was a passable 12-year-old, at least according to my drawing book.

Between Barbie and the book, I spent a great deal of time staring into the mirror and moping. If I could send a Barbie back in time to my tween self, I’d design”Built like a boy” Barbie.  Or maybe we could call her “No curves but you can always wear a belt” Barbie?  I think I just needed some reassurance that how I looked was okay.  And it was okay–I just didn’t know it yet.

Because what no one told me is that most girls don’t develop into perfect hourglasses.  That’s why the Playboy centerfold is such an attraction–it’s like a zoo where they keep a rare species.  Or it was (RIP, Playboy centerfold).  The other thing no one told me is that when I grew up, the guys I liked wouldn’t care about my body type.  Guys are really happy to have a woman smiling at them.  Especially a naked one.  Short, tall, curvy or straight up and down.  And besides, from what I hear, a real live Barbie is usually pretty high maintenance.

The irony is that decades later, I’m finally curvy.  That’s what making two babies will do to you.  Seriously, “Middle-aged nursing Barbie” would be a hot seller.  Get on it, Mattel.

I hope when they are old enough, my girls go through a Barbie phase, because Barbie is fun.  She likes tennis and fast cars and looks stylish whether she’s a veterinarian or President of the United States.  Maybe with more variety amongst the dolls, my girls won’t fixate on comparing themselves. Or maybe they will get boobs a lot earlier than I did.  And then God help us all.

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The “It” Holiday Present for Little Girls and Other Unicorn-Lovers

Momtastic asked me and my 4-year-old Viv to shoot some videos for Hasbro’s hot new toy, FurReal Friends Starlily My Magical Unicorn.

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Yeah, that’s a mouthful (especially for me to say in the commercial) but Starlily deserves her many names, because she does so many things, like eat sugarberries, whinny and coo, flutter her wings, change the color of her horn, respond to cuddling and even sing back to you.

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Viv loves her, and Baby Chloe does too.  I’m pretty sure Chloe thinks Starlily is our real, live family pet.

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But photos alone don’t do Starlily justice.  You’ve got to see her in action.

Viv and I had an amazing day on set, getting our hair done and feeling fancy.  We also met the other mother/daughter duo, Shauna & Averie, who are so cute togther.  (When you go to the link, Shauna and Averie’s two videos appear first, then ours run.)

Let me know what you think!

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21 Things Every Mom Thinks When Her Kid is Home Sick

I never knew about getting sick until I had two kids. When I was young and unencumbered, if I felt a cold coming on, I’d make a point of ordering a screwdriver at the bar that night. You know, for the vitamin C. And then, by the next day, I was usually fine. (Note to self: Should cold medicine have more vodka in it?)

Then I had my daughter, and at first, she wasn’t the disease-magnet I’d feared. She didn’t get her first fever until 15-months-old, and I bragged that it was my magical breast milk keeping her healthy. Once she started preschool, however, there was definitely more cold catching. I braced myself for the dreaded hand, foot and mouth disease, but it never darkened our door.

Enter baby #2 — aka, Typhoid Baby. My magical breast milk kept her healthy for a grand total of five months. (So much for my holier than thou breast-is-best bragging.) It seems the germs from the petri dish that is preschool travel into our home via the big kid and infect our poor baby, who then smears her runny snot on every human, toy, and surface in the house. The four of us pass her germs around in an unholy circle, reinfecting each other over and over, like the least fun ever game of ring around the rosy. Sneezes, tissues, we all fall down.

So needless to say, I’ve been home with a sick kid more than my share lately. Most recently, the 4-year-old missed a whole week of school on account of the flu. (Our appointment for her flu shot was scheduled for a week after she got sick, naturally.)

When I’m caring for a sick kid, my tone and words are gentle and empathetic as I nurse her back to health. My inner monologue is a whole different story. Here are 21 things I’m guessing a lot of us think when our kids are sick:

1. Please don’t get me sick

2. Please don’t get your sister/brother sick.

3. At least I don’t have to cook three meals, because you’re not going to eat them anyway. Have a popsicle, kid.

4. What kind of idiot gives a child a red popsicle to eat on white sheets? This kind!

5. Come on, sneeze into your elbow. Cover your mouth with anything. For the love of God, just cough away from my face.

6. I get that you’re sick, but how much more energy does it take to drop your used Kleenex into the trash can I provided instead of leaving them right next to it for me to pick up?

7. If you wash your hands with soap, I will give you a pony….(continue at Momtastic) Read More »

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7 Ways I’m a Different Mom With my Second Kid

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Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two kids turn out the same. Is it just their genes, or is it us? I didn’t plan on parenting differently the second time around, yet I feel like I’ve become such a different mom. Here’s how I’ve changed:

1. I’m Smarter – As a second-time mom, there’s a healthy sense of “been there, done that.” It’s not that I don’t appreciate my baby’s unique journey, but I know what to expect, and I’m ready for it. Which is why my second baby hasn’t accidentally rolled off the bed. (Sorry, first kid.)

2. I’m Calmer – I wasted a lot of energy with my first baby just full-on panicking. What’s that noise she made? How come she only scoots backwards? Why is her poop green? This time, I’m not racing to the pediatrician with a perfectly healthy baby unless she suddenly turns into a unicorn.

3. I’m Less Rigid – Baby #1 ate the recommended rice cereal. Baby #2 nibbles on my sandwich and occasionally drinks the bath water. Speaking of which, gone is the infant tub with the protective hammock; I tossed the second babe in the big tub with me. (It saves my back, and I get clean, to boot.) I’m breaking minor parenting rules left and right, and we’re both having more fun.

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