Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Checklist for Moms

Well, if you live anywhere in the northeast U.S., it looks like Sandy is on her way. She may already be here for some of you.

If you've managed to beat the grocery store crowds to snag some water, milk and bread, you might think you're prepared for whatever Sandy has to bring. But if you're a mom, especially a mom of young children, you might not be as prepared as you think.

Here are a few extra things you might need to get you through Mother Nature's latest challenge:

1. A babysitter. If the power goes out, your typical live-in babysitter will not work. (And yes, mother who claims your child never watches TV just so you can get something done or catch a few minutes of peace and quiet... I'm talking to you, too.) But don't panic. The schools are all closed, so the local teenagers are just looking for something to do. Go ahead and give them a call. What high school kid in their right mind would turn down money and entertainment when the alternative is sitting at home having quality time with their parents?

2. Towels. You know all that water that you just stocked up on? Whether it's in bottles, gallons or bathtubs, kids will surely find a way to spill it. All over the place. So make sure you have plenty of towels for the real flood that will happen when a 3-year-old discovers a bathtub full of water.

3. Earplugs. At some point during a day at home with no power and young children looking for ways to release their pent up energy, you will want these. You may think that you would never use earplugs to drown out your children. But I have news for you. You will be stuck inside your house all day with no power, bored children and a teenager. It is bound to get loud and crazy at some point. Probably most points. Trust me... It will be a worthwhile investment. Plus, the babysitter will come get you if there is a true emergency.

4. Peanut butter and jelly. With all that bread you're now stocked up on, your kids will surely need something to put on it. Since you shouldn't risk opening the fridge in a power outage, you'll need something that can be kept at room temperature. And don't forget extra since you have the babysitter to feed too.

5. A bottle of wine. Or two. Once the kids and babysitter are all tucked in for the night, you'll be ready for some. Red wine would be optimal because it doesn't need to be refrigerated. But if all you have is a bottle of white chilling in the fridge, this is the one time it is advised to go ahead and open the fridge.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Feel free to pass along any other suggestions that might help other moms survive Sandy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1 + 1 = 15

Over the weekend, Alec went over to a grandparent's house to play and spend the night. Immediately after he left our house, something very strange happened. My day became amazingly easier.

Now before you start thinking, well duh!, let me continue.

Obviously it's easier to take care of one child than it is to take care of two. But the strange part was that it felt like a whole bus-load of kids had left the house, not just one.

I had time to do laundry; I had time to play with Chase (like actually play with him - for more than 30 seconds); I had time to clean and do dishes; and when that glorious time called "nap time" came for Chase, I even had time to skim a few pages of a magazine and relax for a while.

I felt like in just a few hours with one child I had accomplished what normally takes me at least a few weeks to accomplish with two children.

I don't know about other moms with more than one child, but in my house I feel like I have about 15 kids, not just two. I mean, I know I'm outnumbered if Chad isn't home (and even when he is home we still feel outnumbered). But I'm only outnumbered by one tiny person. And sure, Alec and Chase each have their challenging moments, but overall they're both really good kids. So how can it really be that much harder to take care of two kids than it is to take care of one?

One sweet little boy

One more sweet little boy

Seriously? I left the room for a minute. ONE MINUTE! The only toy that we keep in the dining room has been scattered all over the floor. Chase has found and is playing with something he shouldn't be (a mute to Chad's trombone). Alec has located and turned on the central vac and is attempting to suck up his little brother. And where did Chase's pants go? There HAVE to be about 13 other little boys hiding somewhere. That is the only explanation as to how all this could happen in just ONE MINUTE.

Take laundry, for example. Doing a load of laundry with one boy is easy. He helps me sort the lights and darks into piles and then helps me put the laundry in the washer. When I'm folding, he plays nicely with his train table.

But add my other boy to the mix and it's a whole different story. I have laundry of all colors flying everywhere while the boys fight over who gets to put the clothes in the washer; then I have Alec pushing buttons on the washer while Chase runs around sporting Alec's (dirty) underwear on his head proclaiming he is Captain Hook. By the time I'm ready to fold the laundry, I realize that a red bathing suit has managed to find its way into the load of Chad's white dress shirts that are coming out of the dryer.

And how about those toys? When I actually take the time to straighten up the basement playroom, it takes my two boys all of 30 seconds to have every single toy out and thrown on the floor. Forget playing with the toys... The mission is simply to destroy the basement as quickly as possible. But with only one child around, the basement actually looked fairly neat for a whole ten minutes!

Bedtime was another time where I really noticed a significant difference.With Alec gone for one night, I was amazed at how easy bedtime seemed. Even with an extra ten minutes of snuggling Chase, I was still downstairs in time to catch the final round of Jeopardy. I think Alex Trebek was probably in his 40s the last time I saw this game show.

So what gives? Obviously one plus one does not equal fifteen. So why does my life get fifteen times harder when both kids are around? Why does having two children around make me feel like I'm responsible for caring for an entire football team of toddlers?

I suppose I can only hope that the pink dress shirts, destroyed basements and sacrificed game shows will all pay off in a few years when my two boys will be making my life fifteen times easier by helping around the house. Apparently Alec already has a passion for vacuuming, so that's at least a start. Hey, I can dream, right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great Flu Shot Debate Solved

No, I'm not talking about the heated discussion you get into with the other mom at the playground over whether or not you are getting flu shots for your kid(s). I'm talking about the debate that goes on in my head that also happens to be pretty heated.

Every year at this time, I am forced to make a decision that I just can't seem to ever feel good about. Do I get the flu shot for my kids?

Normally I am very pro-vaccine. I have followed the vaccine recommendations set by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I have no doubt that I am doing the right thing by having my children receive most of the vaccines that are available and recommended for them. Whooping cough, polio, Hepatitis, tetanus, etc. In fact, the only one that bothers me even a little is the chicken pox vaccine, but that's a blog for another day.

But back to the debate in my head... Here is what happens in my head every year at this time:

I should get the flu shot for my boys because my pediatrician recommends it. But...

It doesn't protect against all strains of the flu, so they could still get the flu anyway. But...

They've gotten the flu shot before and have never had a problem with it. But...

You've gone your whole life without getting a flu shot and you've never gotten the flu. But...

Wouldn't you rather get it for them and know you did what you could to protect them than end up with a child who gets hospitalized with serious complications from the flu when you could have done something about it? But...

Alec and Chase have pretty good immune systems, so why inject them with something that you aren't 100% sure about? But...

I think you get the idea. This goes on and on, day after day, night after sleepless night. And when I finally do decide whether to get or not get the shot for my boys I am still not sure of my decision. I feel like I'm back in high school taking a multiple choice test, and I'm stuck on a question where A and C could both be the answer. I might as well just flip a coin and let the coin decide.

I thought maybe blogging about it would help me come to a decision, but it seems all I've done is put my debate in writing, which is possibly even more confusing. I did, however, realize that there actually is a way to avoid the whole debate. If only I could figure out a way to become a bear, I could hibernate and avoid the whole flu season altogether.

I'm a super big "what if" person, which is why I think I have such a hard time with this decision. I knew being a parent would be hard, but it's these kinds of decisions that I feel are one of the hardest parts about being a parent. It seems like whichever choice I make will be wrong. Both choices have risks, and both choices have benefits. Usually I can easily justify the risks for the benefits, but this is one of the few times that I can't. Or can I? See what I mean? I literally drive myself crazy over this same decision every year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Since blogging about it didn't help me come to a realistic decision, maybe your input will inspire me (though I have a feeling the responses will be just as opposite as the thoughts in my head!). Maybe I better seriously consider this becoming a bear thing...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where Have I Been?

Well, if you've visited my blog in the past few weeks, you've probably been less than impressed. The same old post on motherhood-induced insomnia has been sitting there staring at readers for almost a month now.

I really thought that once school started for the boys I would be overwhelmed with time to write (without distractions). I mean, with those five glorious hours, I should have at least enough time to crank out two posts for the week, right? Ha - I guess the joke was on me!

Those five glorious hours have turned into a mad dash to catch up on things that I have let slip because I've been chauffeuring two boys to school, soccer practice, piano lessons, gym play time and fall activities.

We also squeezed in another trip to see my mom, which fortunately went nothing like the last trip to her house.

And over the past month I've learned a very valuable lesson about preschool. When your child gets "homework" in preschool, it's really homework for mom and dad. So evenings (and occasionally a rushed morning when I forget about the "homework" the night before) are now spent cutting, coloring, coming up with words that start with the letter C, and planning themed preschool snacks that look like circles, puppies, fire engines and more. Sure this is the same stuff we do even when the boys aren't in school. But now I actually have to do it on some kind of a schedule since the boys are in school during the time we would usually do this kind of thing. Let me let you in on a little secret... Preschool is really practice for parents.

On top of all the chauffeuring, road trips and homework, I am still trying to keep up with the other important things that need to get done, like checking facebook and watching all the season premiers on TV.

Needless to say, I haven't had much time to focus on writing since school started. So my apologies for the lack of posts over the past month. But I have plenty of posts ready to write, so stay tuned! New posts should be popping up very soon... just not tonight because I will be busy coming up with more "C" words and planning a dinosaur snack (ok, and watching Grey's Anatomy).