Life Lately

Hi friends. How are we doing? 2021 isn’t much better than 2020 yet, is it? Ah well, I think we all knew that going in. But we must continue on and hope for better days. Let’s hope we can get this vaccine rolling out ASAP because I am ready to get doused in it if it means I can go back to normal.

So let’s see what has been going on around these parts. Charlotte’s school never opened after winter break, because of course it didn’t. Remote learning is an actual nightmare lately, mostly because they added a new remote teacher who has only been doing social studies which consists of the kids writing down holidays such as “Midsummer in Sweden.” Do you know how long it takes 5 year olds to write that? And WHY are they even doing this? I fail to see the educational value in having a kindergarten class copy down holidays they don’t even understand. I am so damn over it all. I pray this kid gets to go back to school next Thursday because everyone is at their wits end.

I will say she has gotten really, really good at playing alone. Yesterday she played with her Barbies for 3 and a half hour, only stopping to eat lunch and have a snack. I don’t know if this is a product of basically being a prisoner in our homes for 10 months and having very little social interaction with children because the DOE can’t get its shit together, but I’ll take it. She is very creative and I enjoy watching her play, especially because she leaves me alone. She is starting an in person art class on Sunday for the next 10 weeks. It is an actual class where she will learn how to paint and sculpt and stuff, and she is so damn excited that she has been counting down the days since we signed her up. It feels good to be able to give her something to look forward to.

And then there is Mackenzie. The traitorous Judas of our home. I don’t know what we did to deserve such two horrible sleepers, yet here we are. She is the cutest, happiest, chillest baby who just refuses to sleep through any part of the night. And just like with Charlotte, I’ve tried it all. It is infuriating and I am exhausted, yet it feels so familiar that I am managing. I’m going to the doctor today for her checkup so I’m going to ask if they make baby ambien yet.

She still won’t roll over. She’s done it a handful of times from her back to her belly and one time from her belly to her back (which I didn’t even see) so I’m starting to get that panicky feeling that she is somehow behind. I’m going to ask the doctor about it but also make sure that she sees how she sits up on her own. Maybe she just doesn’t want to roll? I DON’T KNOW. She is also so particular about food. The only thing she eats with joyful abandon is squash but I can’t give her squash every day because then she will turn orange. Some days she eats her food without giving me an issue and then other days she gags on whatever I put in her mouth and tries to throw herself out of the high chair. She’s so dramatic. So I have two kids who hate sleep and hate food. What a time.

I feel lucky that I’m able to be home with them while all of the hell rages on outside, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need a break. Sometimes I feel like I am teetering on the edge of an epic burnout. I’ve started exercising again to see if it can help my mood and anxiety, “self care” if you will. I guess only time will tell. I can’t wait to be out of the dark days of winter.

The Bank of Charlotte

Charlotte was a very lucky little girl on Christmas. She got all of the toys she asked for, and she was also the recipient of everyone’s favorite gift; cold, hard cash. She opened up a card from my grandma that had $100 in it and kept talking about it over and over and over and I said I would keep it safe.

Fast forward to the other night when she made her own piggy bank out of a wooden box (because the one she already has isn’t good enough) where she was shoving dollar bills into the hole she made when she asked me for her hundred dollars. I told her I put it in the bank. “Which bank? Your piggy bank? Go get it so I can put it in my bank!” So I tried to explain to her what a bank was and she was NOT having it. She started screaming that I threw it away. “Go to the bank building and get it! Go get my hundred dollars!” I said the bank is closed on Sunday and she told me I was the absolute worst mother ever. Cool, cool, cool.

So she calmed herself down and did what any sane person would do. She got paper, scissors and markers and she made her own money. Just like the US Government. She stimulated her own piggy bank. So far, her little wooden box has 6 dollars in regular, government regulated bills and about 500 pieces of paper of her own making. They range from 100 dollars (the money I “threw out”) to 9,000 dollars. I wish I had my own 9,000 dollar bill to be honest. She walked up to me before and asked if she could buy a Frozen area rug for her room and handed me 6,000 dollars. Those bills are hot pink in case you were wondering.

So if anyone needs some extra cash just let Charlotte know. She’s got you covered.

Auld Lang Syne

I think I can speak for everyone on this planet when I say goodbye and good riddance to 2020. A year for the history books, and not in a good way. We’ve been isolated for the better part of it, not seeing anyone at all or seeing people we love only a handful of times. It’s such a shame when you really think about it.

There are, however, a few positives of this pandemic year. For one, Mackenzie came into the world and she is the brightest spot in a dismal time. Not right now, because she is quite literally kicking and screaming in her crib refusing to go to sleep after being awake since 5 AM, but for the most part she’s a dream. I’ve gotten to spend more time with her than I ever did with Charlotte at this age. Although I guess I’m making up for all of that time with Charlotte since we’ve also been together pretty much every waking moment since March 13. Some days it’s been nice to not have to go anywhere or do anything. Other days I want to pack a bag and get the hell out of dodge.

It’s been a positive to spend months upon months in loungewear. I think I’ve worn a mask more than I’ve worn a bra this year. When I have to go back to wearing a bra regularly I’m probably going to have a stroke.

All of the excellent television content has been a positive. We started this pandemic off with the Tiger King and now we’re wrapping it up with Bridgerton. So many excellent binge worthy shows for 2020, so at least we’ve had that.

I really hope we’re back to normal by the summer. Or as normal as we can be. I hope we have at least half a year of fun and joy. I hope you all are safe and healthy and happy and I really hope 2021 brings me some more damn sleep.

Merry Christmas Eve! I can’t believe Christmas is actually here. It feels like we’ve lived several lifetimes in these last 10 months, but we made it to the end! Christmas obviously looks different this year, with no big parties to be had and not having the usual guest list on the Eve and the Day, but there are certain things that stay the same – pandemic or no pandemic – and that’s the kids excitement. Charlotte is so excited she is beside herself. She woke up every morning to move the Christmas counter, eat her Advent calendar chocolate and ask Alexa where Santa is. This morning her eyes lit up when she realized he has already left the North Pole. She is dying for a pink jeep and asked Santa on numerous lists. Santa is going to deliver on that, and it took Santa and Mrs. Claus 3 hours to put together the pink jeep so Charlotte better ride it for a year.

I’m sad Mackenzie’s first Christmas is Covid Christmas, but she won’t remember so I guess I’ll get over it eventually. I just wish people could see her, you know? She’s only this small for such a short period of time and at this rate nobody is going to see her until she’s in pre-k. Oh well.

I was listening to the Hallmark Music Christmas station the other day and one of the actors came on to say that he can’t wait for Christmas because it’s a time to spend with family, and after a year like the one we’ve had we all deserve some time with our family and that’s what he was looking forward to. I laughed out loud because all I could think of is, what the actual f? Dude, all we’ve done this year is spend time with our family. We have not left our family. Being with our family IS ALL WE HAVE DONE. And while it is nice to spend time with our family on Christmas, it’s literally going to be the same exact thing we have done for 10 months except with presents. Hopefully the children leave us alone for a solid week after this though – that would be the Christmas miracle.

I hope you all have a great holiday, no matter how you spend it. I know a lot of us are sad we won’t be seeing each other, so next year I think we should do a Christmas redo. I’m talking like, black tie attire. I’m going to come down Christmas morning in one of those Gone With the Wind robes and spend Christmas Day in a ballgown. Merry, merry, friends!

Design Flaws

I was in the shower last night putting my right boob under scalding hot water trying to get rid of another clogged milk duct when I came to the realization that the Big Man Upstairs made a serious design flaw when it comes to all things baby.

I get why things get a little strange when one is pregnant. I mean you’re growing a baby from scratch so there’s bound to be some wacky things that happen to your body. Now, if I remember correctly, God made childbirth painful to punish Eve for eating the apple in the Garden of Eden. Seems a bit extreme, but OK. I mean, I am not a fan of suffering the punishment of someone else’s screw up, but who am I to argue with God? Do I think it’s fair that it felt like my baby was coming out of my butt surrounded by 650 acid dipped knives because Eve didn’t know how to listen to directions? No, I don’t. But again, this was the punishment doled out so I guess we have to sit back and take it and maybe ask Him if he sent epidurals as a peace offering.

But NOW. Now is where the good Lord went too far. After everything I’ve already been through – and mind you I had a decent pregnancy and delivery compared to others – but even now 6 months later I am still IN PAIN. It’s like God was making the plans and said, “and you know what? When they breastfeed we’re going to make it hard. We’re going to tell them it’s easy but then we’re going to make it hard, OK? But then, even when they get the hang of it, we’re gonna make their boobs get clogged, like pipes! And it’s going to hurt! And if they can’t get the clog out, WE’RE GONNA INFECT EM!!!”

It’s very unfair. This wasn’t part of the punishment. The punishment was PAINFUL CHILDBIRTH. postpartum depression, not bleeding nipples or clogged milk ducts or mastitis. WE DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS PUNISHMENT LORD. GIVE US A BREAK! This latest clog isn’t as painful than the last one I had that I ended up on antibiotics for, but it hurts just enough to mock me.

Anyway, I am off to pack Charlotte’s lunch for today. She gets to go to school for the second time this month! And she gets to go Monday too! THREE WHOLE DAYS IN DECEMBER OH MY GOD THE LEARNING SHE IS ACCOMPLISHING.

Lol jkjk I fully expect an email from the school tonight saying they’re closed because of covid, see you never.

It’s That Time of Year!

Happy December! I can’t believe it is the last month of 2020. This year has been unlike any other, as we all know. I know things won’t magically get better once the calendar turns to 2021, but I for one cannot wait to put 2020 in the rear view mirror. Anyway, the holiday season is upon us, and even though things look and feel a bit different this year, that doesn’t mean my favorite Christmas tradition has to fall by the wayside. I’m not talking about the Elf (more on that later) or visits with Santa (through plexiglass with masks in malls that are certain to close any day now, hard pass), or the advent calendar. Oh no, I am talking about my favorite Christmas tradition. Fear! Remember, fear is Christmas magic! And in case anyone has forgotten about the Yule Log kids, I am here to remind you.

I have to say my idea of the Yule Log kids may be the best thing I’ve ever come up with as a parent. Combining my legend of the Yule Log kids with the Elf and Santa is a recipe for success. The last two days Charlotte has been apologizing, unprompted, for every terrible thing she’s ever done. It’s magical! In case you forgot, here is the story you can tell you own children to instill the fear:

On Christmas morning, families gather around the tree and the television set to play the Yule Log. The Yule log is a magical fire that is played on TV with Christmas music in the background. The fire of the Yule Log is made possible by the presents of the bad children from around the world that Santa throws into the fire on Christmas Eve night. These kids are called the Yule Log kids, and they are forced to watch their families open up their own gifts as they watch their presents burn. Yay Christmas!

So tell your kids they better behave or else they’ll be a Yule Log kid!

The Mental Load

If there is anything that motherhood teaches you, it’s that the second you become a mother, you also receive the mental load. Moms know what I’m talking about. It is the endless list that runs inside your mind like the credits of a movie. The things to add to the grocery list, what you’re going to make for dinner in the upcoming week, how many loads of laundry there are left to do. Mothers are constantly managing this load, usually without any complaints, and it is exhausting. Now throw a global pandemic into the mix. It is a recipe for a mental health crisis if you ask me.

Even with supportive husbands and fathers, it seems in every relationship, the mental load falls squarely on the mother’s shoulders. Thoughts like, who needs to go to the doctor and when? Do we need more ketchup? Did I already buy ketchup and forget where I put it? Does anyone even need ketchup in the first place? And now it’s lots of; are we in a yellow zone or orange zone yet? Is the red zone happening now? Is the baby’s sneeze the ‘rona finally finding itself on our doorstep? Does my head hurt because I’m infected with covid or is it because I sleep 2 hours at a time? WILL THINGS EVER BE NORMAL AGAIN?

Managing the mental load is hard and asking for help is important. I’m guilty of never asking for help because I am a stubborn ass mule. I notice things that need to be done and just start doing them. Since I’m home all the time thanks to the health crisis we all find ourselves in, most of that time is spent thinking of things that have to be done. Worrying if people are going to start hoarding baby wipes again. Ordering everything for Christmas weeks in advance because it’s only a matter of time until it will be prohibited from entering a store. Hiding all of those packages so the magic of Christmas isn’t ruined for Charlotte. Trying to make the least normal time in our lives seem normal. Managing remote learning and taking care of a baby and working myself. The one or two days that Charlotte went to school were a life saver for my mind. Now that’s gone again, and in its place are her constant heartbreaking questions of when she will get to go again. She’s worried that Santa won’t be able to come because of the coronavirus. She’s planning a birthday party in her head that probably will not even be allowed to happen. So now I worry about her mental state on top of everything. Sometimes I think I’d like to scream as loud as I can for as long as I can just to feel something other than stress and dread. I know my friends and family feel the same. All of my mom group chats follow the same pattern. One of us has a meltdown per day, we talk each other through the meltdown and then repeat the cycle. We send memes to distract ourselves from what our lives have become. Thank God we have each other.

But, because we are moms, we carry on. We decorate for the holidays, we make plans to bake cookies and drink hot cocoa while listening to Christmas music. I told Charlotte Santa Claus can never get sick because he is made of magic, and he will park his sleigh on our pool cover as his landing space to deliver presents to our block. She decorated a tiny hot pink tree in her room that makes her smile every day. She writes her Christmas list over and over and over again, and I hope when all of this is over and she is older she remembers only the good parts of this mess. That’s the mental load too – worrying about shit that hasn’t even happened yet. I try to give myself some grace, to allow myself to ask for help and realize not everything has to be done the way I would do it. I’m a work in progress. But to all the moms carrying their own mental load, I see you. I’m always here to listen, to send a meme, to cry or scream with you. I also highly recommend a glass of red wine in the evenings, or even a blood mary at breakfast. Parenting is hard enough, but parenting in a pandemic is a whole other ballgame, so we do what we have to do to make it through the days. If there was ever a time to get rid of any judgment of others, it is now. Moms are in this together and everyone has their own version of hard. The good thing is, there is a meme for every situation.

2020, year of the mental load meltdown and the meme.

Five Months

When I go through the years of posts on this blog (how has it been years?) I noticed that I wrote a monthly recap of Charlotte’s first year. Poor Mackenzie. She’s lucky she gets the monthly photo at this point. And it’s not because I don’t want to recap her life, it’s just because there is never any time. BUT! She has fixed that problem for me. You see, today she woke up at 5:30 (which is better than yesterday’s 3:30!) and her sister is still asleep and online school doesn’t start for another 2 hours so I am able to recap her five months with us.

Her new name is Judas since she’s turning on sleep. It figures I would have both kids that hate it, but I was really hoping we’d get through the four month sleep regression unscathed. WOMP WOMP. I’m returning the SNOO soon with a note that says “THANKS BUT NO THANKS!” I set her crib up yesterday so this should be fun. I see a lot of Starbucks in my future. She’s miles ahead of her sister, but I am really not a fan of waking up at 5:30 AM and also waking up twice in the middle of the night to feed her. Sometimes I wonder if formula would make her sleep better and I’m tempted to try it. But breast is best for me because it burns calories and helps me fill out a bra.

Mackenzie rolled over from her back to her belly on Halloween. Nobody saw it. Eric was in the shower and Charlotte and I went downstairs in the basement to get something and when we came back up she was on her stomach looking at us. She has not rolled since. She refuses. She is lazy.

She still hates tummy time, which I force her to do every day because she won’t roll and she is getting a flat head. Her favorite thing in the world is to lay on her back and kick her feet violently. I don’t understand how her heels aren’t bruised from how hard she kicks. At least she gets a workout in.

Her favorite person in the world is her sister. Charlotte TORTURES her with love. Char has a thing for ear lobes and she squeezes Mackenzie’s so hard while screaming “YOU’RE SO FRIGGIN’ CUTE!” and Mackenzie just cracks the hell up. Whenever she sees Charlotte her face just lights up and she smiles and laughs for her like no one else. It’s adorable and I can’t wait until they fight.

Her favorite show is Scientology and the Aftermath. We’re on Season 3. I let her watch it with me to show her that even though Charlotte tells me I am the worst mother in the world for not giving her a lollipop for breakfast, at least I’m not making them sign a billion year contract to join hard labor camps for children in the Sea Org.

She is happy 95% of the time. She is the light of 2020. My pandemic baby. When I look back on this year and all the terrible things that have happened and are still happening, I will always be grateful that I have her. She really completes our family in the best way. I just wish she’d sleep, you know?

The Betrayal

Mackenzie is four months old, so it is time for the good old four month sleep regression. It is not a fun time. My baby is betraying me.

Mackenzie has been a better sleeper than Charlotte ever was, though that isn’t saying much. People who are being tortured with sleep deprivation probably sleep more than Charlotte did as a baby. But this could be because Eric and I rented the SNOO this time around because I wasn’t playing any games. It’s the bassinet that you strap your kid into and it puts them to sleep for you and it is magical and worth every penny. From the get go Mackenzie has been sleeping in it and she goes down SO easy. I can actually do the “awake but drowsy” nonsense that gets posted on every baby blog and she goes to bed. It’s wonderful! And then she would sleep 6 or 7 hours! WHAT A TIME IT WAS!

And now the regression has reared its ugly head and the 6-7 hours are 4-5 hours. Or sometimes 2-3 hours. And we are waking up more frequently and it is not fun and the SNOO isn’t doing WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO!! I can still put her down at 7:30 with no problems but then she’s waking up by 10:30/11 and screaming at me like an angry dinosaur. She eats and goes back, except for last night she was up for 45 minutes talking to herself like she was practicing lines for a soap opera and lifting her legs in the air and slamming them down like she was a diva on WWE. I read this is a way that babies can self soothe themselves and I can’t understand why she won’t choose the pacifier and instead chooses violent rockettes training instead. Then there are the days she is just awake at 5 AM because WHY NOT.

This regression is when they have a permanent change in their sleep and they sleep more like adults or something. I don’t know. I’m too tired to figure it out. But they say it can last anywhere from 4-6 weeks and I want this to end and my sleeper to come back. I don’t want to send the SNOO back until she is out of this phase because I’m not weaning her for a crib until she cuts it out. No way am I walking down my bedroom steps 3 times a night. They say not to start any habits now that will become a sleep crutch later on. I’m not sure if my cursing her to go the F back to bed is a crutch. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

What’s in a Name?

I don’t believe I’ve told this story yet, and since I’m sick to death of my own voice talking about remote learning (it sucks), the few days in school (she loves it), and the general quarantine fatigue, it feels like the right time.

If any of you know me and Eric, you know that we never agreed on baby names. He’d throw out a couple and I’d say they sucked, I’d throw out a couple and he’d tell me I make terrible choices. We settled on Charlotte early on in that pregnancy, which was literally the only name we both liked. When I got pregnant the second time, there was not a single name, male or female, that we both liked. I liked old fashioned names and he liked trendy. We would argue over everything. He said we should just name the baby Charlotte 2.

Before I found out I was pregnant, like a week or two before, I remember talking to Charlotte about throwing out this gross toy bottle when she told me I had to save it for the baby in my belly. Then, when I found out I was pregnant and told her, she said she knew it was a girl. If any of you have seen the video of our gender reveal, you’ll see her screaming “SORRY DAD” because she was so happy to have a little sister on the way. Once we knew it was a girl, we really ramped up the name game and we were at a stalemate. But then my best friend Lisa sent Charlotte a big sister book and a big sister doll to celebrate, and when Charlotte was playing with the doll she looked up at me and said “this baby is Mackenzie, like my baby sister is Mackenzie.” She said it so matter of fact, like she had always known and the decision was made. Mackenzie was never on our radar. We never said it out loud, we never thought it, we literally never considered it. But when Charlotte said it, that was it. She named her sister.

Eric chose her middle name, but we spelled it Mae because Mackenzie’s godmother is LisaRae (the same Lisa who bought the doll that inspired the name to begin with), so it was a nod to her. May is also the month Eric and I met, so Mackenzie’s name is special all around. I also like the way Charlotte Shea and Mackenzie Mae flows, because I’m a sucker for rhyming and alliteration.

And that’s that. The story of Mackenzie Mae, our little chubba love.