Musings About Life... After Birth

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MommyMeritBadges

Posted by Colleen on August 25, 2011

If you read my last post, you know that I traveled to Chicago this past weekend to be the MOH in my cousin’s wedding. Since my husband, being the primary breadwinner in this ensemble we call a family, had to “work” Friday and Monday, that left me to fly with three kids. Alone. Both ways. Gulp.

Now that we’re safely back in Georgia, I can say it: We survived! (In person this is accompanied by Spirit Fingers. Or maybe some Jazz Hands. Which are NOT the same thing.) The trip there was a breeze, so for the return trip I figured I'd used up my good travel luck. I was scared, but was armed with activities and snacks. Neither of these helped, though, after we’d been on the damned plane for 30 minutes due to a maintenance issue and my toddler decided that he no longer wanted to wear his seatbelt. In classic toddler timing, this moment was also the exact time we started moving, thus requiring physical maternal intervention. And toddlers love physical maternal intervention that opposes what they’re trying to do.

I snapped his seatbelt back on.

And he screamed.

This wasn’t a cute little, “Hey, please don’t do that” screams, either. This was one of those “Holy hell, if you weren’t my child I would hate you right now and you just convinced all the single folks not to ever have kids kind of screams.”

At this point one of the ladies across the aisle put her earphones in, and I considered stealing them. I, after all, have to hear the kids ALL the time. She only had to bear it for the hour and a half flight.

Further proving the extent of God’s love for me, however, the two smaller kids instantly fell asleep after that, and the Tween lost herself in Angry Birds. Whew. Crisis averted. After such a rocky start, the rest of the flight was a breeze.

Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

When we landed, the older lady in front of me complimented my parenting and how well behaved my children were. Headphones lady agreed. I just smiled modestly and thanked them, happy to take the compliment I hadn’t really earned.

Then I waited for all the other passengers to leave while I wrestled all three kids and six carryon items (suddenly the $25 checking fee didn’t seem so unreasonable) off the plane.

I have to admit that I lost it a bit when I couldn’t find where my husband had parked the van in the Atlanta airport. I may or may not have introduced my kids to a terrible word that echoed through the cavernous garage. Whoops.

I then drove my exhausted and cranky kids almost two hours home.

My husband was happy to see us, but when we pulled in the driveway, I sort of expected fanfare. I felt as though I’d completed a marathon, implemented world peace, and cured cancer, all in a day’s work. But there wasn’t even confetti, nothing to commemorate what had to be one of my hugest accomplishments as a parent.

I’m not gonna lie. I wanted a trophy. Or at least a foot massage. I got neither. I was disappointed, and I know that I’m not the only mom who’s ever felt the burn of a minor victory go uncelebrated. So here’s what I think we should do. I propose than we implement a merit badge program. Like Scouts parading around with cute little embroidered trophies proclaiming their ability to build shelter (pshaw), I want one for “Flying Solo with a Tween, an Infant, and a Toddler with Only Carry-On Luggage.” Even if the men of the world didn’t know what my badge was for, maybe the other moms would recognize it and silently fist bump me in passing.

I think I’d put my badge on a cute scarf, or just attach it directly to my double stroller. Other badges I’ve earned might include:

· Catching vomit in bare hands
· First aid basics: Racing a child to the hospital for sever allergic reaction, deep cut requiring stitches, and/or a broken bone
· Breaking a toe in front of children without swearing
· Reading “Good Night Moon” 500 times without “accidentally” losing the book
· Learning the words to Justin Bieber songs….you know, because the Tween likes him. (Ahem.)
· And the one I’m really striving for? Raising all children to be non-felons. I’m gonna make it, girls. I can do it.

How about you? You interested in joining my troop? What mommy merit badges have you already earned, or are you working on?

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MondayMomMust-Have(andGiveaway!):TheBritaxFrontierBoosterSeat

Posted by Chelsea on June 30, 2009

When it comes to most things, I am not brand-loyal. I dip my fries in Heinz ketchup as well as the brand from my beloved Trader Joe’s, alternate between Chanel, Prescriptives and Lancome mascaras and wrap my kids in both Pampers and Huggies. For a select few items, however, I will use one brand and one brand only. Car seats are one example of such a product; when I buy a car seat, it’s Britax and Britax only.

The reason why I love Britax car seats are simple: they’re super sturdy, easy to install, comfortable (at least my kids never complain about them) and, most importantly, consistently receive the highest safety ratings from Consumer Reports. Though they’re not the least expensive car seats available, I have no problem justifying spending a little extra on something so important. The rest of The Momtourage, it seems, agrees. Nearly all of our kids ride around in Britax Marathons, Decathlons or Boulevards:

The cutest Britax around: the Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat in “Cowmooflage” $249.99, amazon.com. It comes in other (read: more traditional/sedate) colors, but isn’t this one fun?


Britax’s most recent addition to its fleet is the Frontier Combination Harness-2-Booster, a seat for when your child is ready to make the transition from convertible car seat to a booster. It can be used two ways: if your child is at least two years old and weighs between 25 and 80 pounds, you can use it strapped in as you would a traditional forward-facing car seat. If your child is between 40 and 100 pounds, the combination seat can be used as a vehicle seat belt-positioning booster. All in all, it provides eight harness positions and three buckle strap positions, and includes the Versa-Tether, HUGS and premium LATCH connectors. In terms of what the seat itself offers, it’s got rotating, soft armrests, adjustable head support that also serves as sleep support for the child and retractable cup and snack holders.

Britax Frontier Booster Seat, $249.99, amazon.com.


I’ve seen the product, and it’s fantastic - just like all of Britax’s other products. When it comes time to get a booster, you know which one’s going in my car…...

Want to win a Frontier or a Boulevard of your own? In order to be eligible to win, you must be a member of The Momtourage’s Mailing list, so click on the green “Join Our Mailing List” box at the top, left-hand side of this page for a chance to win. Winners will be chosen on July 15 and notified by email. Good luck!

Tags car seats

Theperfectpresent

Posted by Chelsea on December 10, 2008

The other day, Momtourage member Alison was having lunch with her twin 3 year-old daughters, Lauren and Alexis. They were discussing Alison’s mother’s upcoming birthday, and Alison asked the girls what they thought they should get Grandma for a present.

“Obama,” answered Alexis.

“Obama?” asked Alison.

“Yes, Obama.”

“You want to get Grandma Obama for her birthday?” Alison asked, puzzled.

“Yes, Mommy,” Alexis asserted. “Present Obama!”


A fantastic gift indeed, little one.

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MondayMomMust-Have:OuidadKrlyKidsproducts

Posted by Chelsea on September 29, 2008

The other day, Momtourage members Jen, Alison and I were eating lunch with our kids and we all noticed how curly-headed those four little buggers buggers are. Granted, that’s probably what you get with a group of nice, Jewish kids, but still - it’s pretty remarkable, especially since the corkscrewed gang resembles a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream - one blonde (mine), two brunettes (Alison’s) and one redhead (Jen’s). Curls like theirs are pretty are pretty enviable, and always bring comments; wherever we go, people always make all sorts of “Look at those gorgeous curls!” or “He looks just like a little cherub” remarks. I always thank people when they compliment him like that, and to those who make the angel reference, offer them the opportunity to take him home and discover that’s he’s actually a little devil

just how angelic he truly is.

Don’t let the cherubic ringlets fool you.



To maintain my kid’s curls, I use the Krly Kids products by Ouidad, the New York-based hair stylist who is known as the authority on curly hair. I know, I know - I’m definitely advancing my quest to make my son gay by using all sorts of fancy haircare products on him, but seriously, this stuff keeps his locks from getting all ratty, tangled and ‘fro-esque. If your kids have curls too, you gotta try this stuff - it’s fantastic.

Ouidad’s Krly Kids No Time For Tears Shampoo, No More Knots Conditioner and Pump & Go Spray Gel, $12-$15 each, or $36 for the set, Ouidad.com.



Got a curly kid? Send me an email at chelsea@themomtourage.com - I’ve got four sets of the products to give away!

Briberyiseverything

Posted by Chelsea on September 10, 2008

I’m nearly two weeks into potty training Big Bro, and sadly, it hasn’t been going too well. He’s definitely “ready” (or as “ready” as he’ll ever be), and we’re having decent success at home, but when we’re out, he rarely wants to stop what he’s doing to tell me he’s gotta go. Therefore, we’ve had our fair share of accidents - and a lot of them have been full-on gross, if you catch my drift. Just this week we had one at school today, one at the park the other day and another that same day when Momtourage members Meredith, Jen and I were at Chicken Out eating lunch with our kids. Ugh. I know we just started, but already, I am so over it and so frustrated. Obviously, I can’t communicate this to my kid, as that would only set us back even further, not to mention guarantee his presence on some therapist’s couch 20 years from now.

I needed some major advice, so I consulted my brother-in-law, Michael, a child psychiatrist and the father of two older kids (read: he’s done this before, and actually knows what the heck he’s talking about). He listened intently, and then offered these words:

“I think it’s time to bring out the big guns.”

“The big guns?”

“M&Ms.” 

Really? I had always heard you weren’t supposed to use food as a reward when potty training, despite the fact that one Momtourage member (whose name has been hidden to protect the innocent - and the guilty) bribed her kid with her favorite, blue licorice. It worked like a charm, both in getting her potty trained as well as in turning her poop turquoise.

“Yes, you generally shouldn’t use sugary sweets,” he said, “but in this case, you need a jump start, and I think he’d be motivated by the reward.”

I wasted no time picking some up today - little Halloween snack packs that can easily be thrown into my purse. I picked up some extras for myself, my motivation to endure - literally - more of this crap.

When discussing this plan of attack with another child-development professional, she echoed my brother-in-law’s advice. “Honestly, would you show up to work if you weren’t getting paid?” she said. Point taken. “Don’t worry,” she reassured me. “Really, he won’t be expecting M&Ms when he’s 4.” Let’s hope not.

When I think about Michael’s M&M advice, it makes perfect sense - especially in the case of potty training. I guess kids sometimes need that extra goal - whether it be a piece of blue licorice or the ability to push the real-life vacuum as Momtourage member Sloane offered her son while training him. So, I’m trying the M&M trick, and hoping for the best.

I just hope I don’t reward myself with them too often.

Tags potty training

MondayMomMust-Haves:CarTripEssentials

Posted by Chelsea on August 18, 2008

Long car trips with kids are about as enjoyable as visits from your mother-in-law (well, not if you’re Momtourage member Alison, because hers, Grandmomtourage member Marcia, is awesome). Whether it’s watching four straight hours of Dora, stopping for 15 potty breaks or enduring screams from your baby until you find a rest stop at which you can feed him, car rides with the kids can be so excruciating that you’re tempted to bag family car trips until your kids are in middle school.

There are a few road trip essentials that can make your car trip easier, however. Here are three of my favorites:

1) Munchkin Car Bottle Warmer, $6.39, amazon.com



Store your bottles cold, but when it comes time for a feeding, pop one into this handy warmer, which plugs into any car adapter outlet. Bonus: it also works for baby food jars as well! And don’t worry about leaving it plugged in amidst the chaos - there’s an safety switch that shuts off the warmer when the bottle or jar is removed.

2) Sony DVPFX810/L Portable DVD Player, $129.99, amazon.com


When we got our SUV (I know, I know, I am contributing to the destruction of the planet…. but seriously, it holds so much stuff and so many people!), my husband and I opted to not add the built-in DVD player. Initially, I regretted the decision, but now, I realize that if we had it, each and every car ride with Big Bro would involve begging to watch “Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks”. With a portable DVD player, however, you get to control when the viewing opportunities present themselves. For a total “serenity now” moment, invest in some headphones as well.

3) Toy catalogs

When your kids have had their fill of movies, bust out the reading material. Because books can be a little short (read: not sufficiently attention-holding), I always have a stack of toy catalogs on hand. Nothing keeps big bro occupied more than looking at toy catalogs; honestly, he can leaf through one for a good 45 minutes. To get yourself hooked up, go to some of your favorite toy brands’ websites (try learningcurve.com, step2.com and intplay.com) and request a catalog of their products or hang on to those One Step Aheads that come in your mailbox every week..

What are your car-trip survival tips?

Tags car trips

Thenamegame

Posted by Chelsea on July 24, 2008

Big bro has been going through a period where he prefers that we call him by a name other than his own. The name changes weekly, and most are plucked from things he sees on television. There was a five week-long “Backyardigans” phase where he was “Pablo” for one week, “Austin” for two, “Tasha” for another and then “Pablonator” (from the “Cops and Robots” episode, naturally) for the final week. After that, he wanted to be addressed as “Mr. Diego”, which I am assuming is some sort of Dora/Diego reference, though I have no idea from where the “Mr.” originated (because really, shouldn’t it be Señor ?). Up until last weekend, his name choice was “Pony”, one of the monster trucks in “Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks”. Interestingly, Pony is the only girl truck on the show - and just happens to be purple. As much as I’d like to use this selection as “Maybe my son IS gay!!!” evidence, I actually think he likes her because she’s purple, his favorite color (which, still, is not totally masculine, right?). Anyway…presently, he’s “Remy” from the movie “Ratatoullie”. He’s even gone so far as to dub Little Bro “Emile” (the big brother rat in the movie, but whatever….), my husband “Daddy Rat” and me “Mommy Rat”.

When he chooses a name, we MUST address him as such. Calling him by his actual name gets you a swift admonishing (“It’s Remy.”). He gets into it by referring to his newly-monikered self in the third person (“Remy wants a cookie!”, “Remy does not want to take a rat bath!”). If you want to get him to do something, the only way to be successful is to call him by his new name. Apparently, this goes on at school too. After requesting that she call him “Pony”, his teacher, who also happens to be Grandmomtourage member Debbie, mother of Momtourage member Jen, assumed this was my pet name for him, and asked Jen to confirm her suspicion. “No, I thought it was Mr. Diego,” she replied. Of course, I had to explain that no, in fact, he’s actually so obsessed with a purple, female monster truck (which part of that is the most objectionable?) from television that he feels compelled to take on her identity. “Ohhhhh…” they replied.

What’s funny about this story is that apparently my husband went through a similar phase. In the first grade, the school called his mother to tell him that he had been writing “Pelé Kaplan” as his name on all of his assignments.

Must I get into the multitude of commonalities between my white, Jewish, lawyer husband and the Brazilian soccer legend?


His teachers were not amused. Neither was my education professor mother-in-law when they called her in for a conference and tried to tell her to make him stop. “Why don’t you just worry about teaching, okay?” she told them. “He can sign his name however he wants.” Oh, snap! Of course, she knew he’d eventually grow out of it, which he has. For the most part.

Of course, just like my mother-in-law, I know this little role-playing thing is a harmless phase. I just hope that when he’s tempted to dye his hair blue or pierce his nose to “express himself” in high school, he just asks to be called “Pony” instead.

Tags big bro

MondayMomMust-Haves(andGiveaway!):twistWatersandBALANCEBarBareSweetandSaltybars

Posted by Chelsea on July 14, 2008

I am so sick of seeing stories about how celebrities lost their baby weight that if I read one more, I think I’ll puke until I lose all of mine. It’s neither original nor all that funny anymore to complain about how unrealistic the rates as which celebrities lose their baby weight are. Obviously, it’s their job to do so, and because they’re multi-millionaires whose job is to look amazing, they literally spend all day and millions of dollars ensuring that within 4 or so months after popping out their kids, they’re lean and mean again.  Certainly, if you and I had Jennifer Lopez’s money, we’d have nannies caring for our kids (b.s. to her and Skeletor’s claims that they don’t employ nannies, by the way) while our personal chef, trainer and nutritionist (according to this week’s US Weekly) literally worked our butts off. And then, of course, we’d be rocking bikinis four months after having twins, just as she was recently seen doing.

Okay, so not totally perfect, but well on her way. I hate you, Jennifer.


For us real gals, the real way to lose weight is the un-fancy “eat less and exercise” program. I’m no health expert, but I know (and, naturally, hate) the simple truth that when you burn more calories than you consume, weight comes off. When I finally decided to lose my weight after Big Bro was born, I lived on BALANCE Bar Bare Sweet & Salty bars. They come in Chocolate Almond and Peanut Butter flavors, but my favorite was Yogurt Nut. What I like about these bars is that unlike other nutrition bars, they actually taste good and not all artificial and cardboard-y. They’re the perfect combo of salty and sweet, and they really do keep you satisfied for hours (note to Weight Watchers devotees: they’re four points each).

$14.49 for 15 bars, drugstore.com. Yum.


This go-‘round, I’m still on the bars, but I’ve added Momtourage member Alicia’s not-so secret secret: drink lots of water. Because I find drinking loads of plain water rather boring and therefore somewhat painful to actually do, I’ve been guzzling this new water beverage called twist. I’m freaked out by most things artificial in my drinks (my food, not so much - see above), so this stuff has none of it. Essentially, it’s an organic, low-calorie (less than 10 per serving), preservative-free water flavored with juice and organic agave nectar for just a touch of sweetness. They come in six fruity flavors: Lemon, Mandarin White Tea, Mango Acai, Pomegranate Blueberry, West Indies Lime and Peach (my favorite, because I’m from Georgia like that).

I kinda bet these would be good with a little vodka, but that would defeat the purpose. Sigh.


Seriously - these drinks are awesome. If you need inspiration to drink yourself come water - you must try them. You can get these waters for around $1.29 for 19-ounces at specialty grocery stores (like Whole Foods) around the country. If you’d like to try them, I’ve got a set of all six flavors to give away to 10 winners each. To be eligible to win, you must be registered for The Momtourage’s mailing list, so if you’re not, click on the green “Join Our Mailing List” box at the top, right-hand corner of this page to register. 

15 (okay, 20) pounds to go…...

MondayMomMust-Have:MelissaandDougHappyHandleStampingSet

Posted by Chelsea on July 07, 2008

Here in DC, my Momtourage and I are in full-on potty training mode. Some of us have all but accomplished fully potty training our kids (Dana), some are well on their way (Alicia), and some are just beginning to introduce the idea (the rest of us). Regardless of where we actually are in the process, it’s all on our minds, as most of us have kids who will be 3 between August and December.

I fall into the “just beginning to introduce the idea” category, as Big Bro is no where near being fully ready. He is, however, interested in the subject, which is promising. He loves sitting on his little potty before he takes a bath at at other times during the day, and occasionally, as luck would have it, he pees in it. My husband and I make a huge deal of it when he does, he feels happy, and all is good in the world. Now he’s fixated on pooping in it, which I consider a sign of progress. He’ll sit and sit and grunt, hoping to make things happen, confused as to why “the poop’s not coming out!” each time he wants it to. Despite this frustration, a few days ago, he actually was successful. My husband and I were freaking out, we were so excited (never thought we’d be those parents, but, of course, we are), not to mention proud of him. It hasn’t happened again since then, but he keeps on trying, and that’s all we can ask for at this point.

To maintain a child’s potty training momentum, a lot of professionals and books recommend instituting some kind of reward system - you know, a sticker a star or some sort of treat each time they go, as incentive. My kid’s not into stickers, but he does love hand stamps, so I’m using Melissa & Doug’s Happy Handle Stamping Set as his bathroom bonus. Each time he goes, he gets to pick one stamp (current favorite: the paw print, which he says is a “clue” as in a “Blue’s Clue’s” clue). They’re easy, convenient and economical, and, best of all, he really feels like getting one is some special sort of treat. Therefore, in my opinion, they’re the perfect potty reward. And if you’re one of those folks who gets all concerned about the psychological ramifications of rewarding your kid each time he poops or pees on the potty, chill. Do you honestly think he’ll be 13 and still expecting a sticker each he poops? Glad we’re clear.

You can get a stamping set of your own for $9.95 at divasanddrooligans.com. For 15% off your purchase of the stamping set and anything else you find on there that you must have, enter code MOMTOURAGE15. The site is also running a cool promotion where if you spend $35 or more on merchandise, you can purchase any of their screen tees or onesies for $1 when you enter the code DOLLARTSHIRT.

Now go forth and potty train!

...andwhilewe’reonthesubjectofteensdoingmoronicthings

Posted by Chelsea on June 27, 2008

Momtourage member Amy recently sent me this article from the New York Times, which once again makes me thank God that I have two boys. Here’s the deal:

Jamie Lynn Spears, the TV actress and sister of the singer Britney Spears, sent the celebrity gossip machinery into a lather last December when, at the age of 16, she confirmed to the world that “I’m pregnant.” Today, she’s rocketing to the top of Google’s search charts with the arrival, reported initially by People magazine, of Maddie Briann, weighing in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces. (The child presumably has a surname, but it isn’t mentioned in the report.)

In the intervening months, Ms. Spears has tried to chip away at what seemed like a scandal to most people. While avoiding the paparazzi, she passed a few important milestones to adulthood: she got engaged to the young man who is reportedly the baby’s father, she passed her G.E.D. exams, she bought a home in Liberty, Miss., and she turned 17, the legal age of consent in Louisiana, where she and her family had been living.

Just when it was starting to look safe to embrace that all’s-well-that-ends-well feeling, though, a disturbing new blast of teenage pregnancy news has surfaced: a sudden baby boom among students at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, which Time Magazine says is apparently no coincidence:

  As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies — more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. […] All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. “We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy,” the principal says, shaking his head.

Once again, the news has touched off a round of soul-searching and finger-pointing. According to the Time article, adults in Gloucester variously blame a depressed local economy, broken families, adrift children, difficult access to birth control and hit movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up” that they say glamorize pregnancy to young audiences. Bad examples set by celebrities off-screen did not come up, though, and no one Time talked to in Gloucester seems to have mentioned the most famous teen mother of the moment.

Oh. My. God. Kinda makes me yearn for the days that the most idiotic thing American teens were doing was getting Botox and facelifts.

Tags teen pregnancy

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