Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Pee Happens

Sometimes you have to let your kid pee on the side of the road. It freaking happens.
 Yesterday we were on our 45 minute drive home, and Tater had to pee. He's 4, so no he can't make it the 28 minutes up the dirt and county roads to the bathroom inside the only gas station on this side of the county. I pulled over, and let him pee out the van. He's peed in parking lots, sides of highways, behind trees in a park, and in Starbucks cup in the back of my Minivan.
  I'm telling you these stories because this last week a woman was given a ticket for also letting her child pee when he had to go. Yep, you read that right. A MOM who is also pregnant was fined for her kid peeing in a gas station parking lot. Yes there were restrooms in the gas station. Yes, she could have taken him inside to pee, but this was a bathroom emergency. If you have a child of any age you know that bathroom emergencies are a big deal. He told his Mom that he was about to pee his pants. She's pregnant, and can't run inside while carrying the child. Had she ran inside he likely would have peed through his pants and onto the gas station floor.
                                  We've all fucking been there. Literally I was there YESTERDAY. 
When I was 38 weeks pregnant with Tot, we were in the Starbucks drive thru line. We were 10 cars deep with 10 behind us. We were newly potty trained. Tater said "MOM! I have to pee!! It's an emergency!" I panicked. I had no fucking clue what to do. So I put my car in park, in line, got out, and let my kid pee the few ounces that his bladder was holding onto the concrete in the line. I barely got his little pants down. He had to go. The lady behind me honked, and threw up her hands in disgust. There was literally nothing else I could have done. The line didn't move in the 34 seconds it took us to do this, by the way. 
 He would have peed his pants, in his car seat causing discomfort and potentially a rash. Had he been able to hold it that also could have let to discomfort, and potential infections. This isn't some drunk, grown man wiping his junk out to pee on a busy street corner. This is a kid. Kids pee. 
 As a Mom of 2 boys, my kids are going to pee in public a lot, because, well shit happens. Or in this case, pee happens. We don't write a ticket if someone barfs in a parking lot, and as an expert in other peoples body fluids, vomit is WAY worse than pee. 

 So Brooke Johns, I stand by you Mama. This fine isn't right, and we all know it.

Here is a link to the news story if you want to see this ridiculousness for yourself.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Letter to Tater

  So many bloggers do birthday letters, and that's never been my thing. But this birthday is also an anniversary of the day my sweet Tater became a brother, so here's a letter, that he likely won't ever read to him.

To my wild child on the first anniversary of you becoming a brother,
 This year has been, something. It's been hard, and magical all at the same time. The first time you saw your baby brother, I knew you were going to be the best brother there is. You walked into that hospital room with a smile on your face. I could feel your joy. You held your brother, and I cried. You smiled, and asked if he was cold. You told me to whisper when he fell asleep. You were the protector.

 When we came home that afternoon you had no idea what was about to happen. You didn't realize how much our dynamic was shifting, or how scared I was to have two children to parent. You didn't care. Your transition to the oldest child was really so easy compared to the nightmares we'd be told to expect. We had some really hard days together, ones where I think back and kick myself for not being more patient, or understanding. I've been tired and worn down. I was hurting, busy or just not myself for so many moments. I'm sorry I wasn't the best Mom, but you never made me feel like I was failing.
  You tested, and still test my patience, and emotions. You get defiant, loud and wild... like every kid, ever. You got jealous, but it was short lived. You shifted into the perfect big brother. You've been helpful, and kind. You've shared toys, even when it was really hard. You've said sweet little things that I won't ever forget. You are such a proud brother, even a year later.
  I can't thank you enough for how you've taken on this roll. You've helped make bottles, grab toys, get snacks, and watch your brother. You sing to him when he cries, and hold his hand. You call him Baby Helton, and I hope that never changes. You've held my hand when I'm overwhelmed, wiped MY tears, and accepted my apology when I was short or snappy. You remind me that when I make a mistake that it's okay. You say it to your brother too.

 The bond you have with your brother will morph over your lifetime. You'll love each other and hate each other. You'll go without talking to talking daily. One day if you two choose to have kids, your kids will play together, and you'll watch wondering what your life has become. I'm so glad I could give you a built in best friend. I'm so proud of the brother that you are.

P.S. I totally high five myself for giving you a brother on National Siblings Day.
 Love, Mom.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tears of Motherhood

   There are so many articles and Facebook posts about what us 'seasoned veterans' have to say to new Moms. What advice do we have? We always have a lot, that's for sure. There is no pack like the one of Motherhood. Within minutes Mom's across the globe comment their best advice. We talk about post birth comforts, and newborn sleep tips. Product after product is recommended, or ripped apart. We talk about visitors and how healing goes. Lately my favorite bit of advice is this;
                                  You're going to cry, a lot and it's okay.
 You're going to cry when you see that little face for the first time. Your first truly sleepless night, you'll sob. You'll cry when you feel happy, overwhelmed, and sad. You'll cry when they grow out of that outfit they came home in. You'll cry if you forget about dinner, or laundry, or something else so small. You'll cry when you're feeling isolated. You'll cry when you aren't sure if you were cut out for this, but I promise you Mama- you were.
 The tears will come when they smile, walk, laugh, speak and sing for the first time. Their first real friendship will melt your heart, and send those tears through. Those tears don't stop as they get bigger, or as the hormones level out, they still find you.
 You'll cry in the car after dropping them off for their first day of school, you'll cry when you think about their last. You'll cry at the art shows, the concerts, the speeches, all of it. As they get older they'll roll their eyes. "Mom's crying AGAIN." It's apart of who you are.
 You'll cry when someone breaks their heart for the first time. You'll cry when they let you in, and when they keep you out. Sometimes you're going to cry for no reason. You'll cry at a movie, or show that never made you cry before.
 It seems crazy. I was never a "crier" until I had my kids, and it's like that for my friends too. Something about being a Mom makes you softer, and it's beautiful. Embrace those tears however, and whenever they flow. Hold onto the moments that are so beautiful that it brings you to tears, and learn from the tears that fall out of hurt.
 You're going to cry Mama, and that's okay.

Monday, March 11, 2019

MHM: Post Therapy Reset

  Happy Monday! I mean that. I'm really trying harder to start my mornings on a positive note. I think it sets the tone for the whole day. If I start off crabby, I stay crabby. Instead I've been waking up and watching the sunrise with my coffee. I take a few moments to throw some positivity and shit into the universe. Sometimes I just stand there silently. It's really made my mornings.
 It's Mental Health Monday, the new series that I'm doing! Last week we talked about little self cares. This week I want to talk about therapy recovery and the power of music. I've recently been doing a new type of therapy on top of the traditional talk therapy. I'm doing EDMR therapy which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. With the use of a board, lights, vibration and sounds I am correctly processing traumas that have had an effect on me my whole life.The science behind it is truly fascinating. I won't go into that because I'm not a scientist, but you can read more HERE. It's pretty exhausting, but so worth it. Since beginning I'm starting to feel whole for the first time in my life. It's like a hardcore boxing class for the brain, but every session I'm getting stronger. 
 The first few weeks of EDMR were really hard to recover from. I felt hungover, almost. I take an hour after therapy every Tuesday to unwind, and truly process what I just processed. I breathe, affirm, and relax. Sometimes this means sitting in my car sobbing, sometimes it means walking around Target, and sometimes it's a fun combination of those things. After about week 3 I decided that I needed a cool down routine, and what better way to start then with a playlist. 
 I have a playlist on my phone for just about every situation in my life. We have the beloved car playlist, the kids list, that includes 804 varieties of Baby Shark... A workout playlist, you know standard fare. So why would I not have a Post Therapy Cool Down Jamz (with a z) playlist?  I very carefully put this together. A lot of thought went into what I needed for this. There is one song that I always listened to post therapy anyways so that was the top of my list. Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves is honestly one of the BEST songs of the century. It's beautiful, and empowering... while also being a great "I need to fucking cry" song. From there I listened to all of my songs, I thought about what I needed after therapy. I have two different types of therapy days, one day I leave feeling refreshed, and others I leave feeling hungover, sad, and lost. I needed a playlist that lifted me up on both of those days. 
 I never knew that song order on a playlist would be so crucial. This was my make or break routine on the line. This wasn't just a one afternoon ordeal. This was some sort of music science experiment. After 3 weeks I finally had the list.  So without any more rambling, here it is. 
Post Therapy Playlist
Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves
Breathe Me by Sia
GIRL by Maren Morris
Oh, What a World by Kacey Musgraves
Don't Panic by Coldplay
Head Above Water by Avril Lavigne
Save Myself by Ed Sheeran
Everything's Not Lost by Coldplay
Fearless by Taylor Swift
Stubborn Love by The Lumineers
Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves
Cup of Tea by Kacey Musgraves
Move On by Mike Posner

I don't shuffle this playlist, this is the order that leaves me feeling energized, and lifted. Regardless of the type of therapy day I have, this playlist helps me regroup and move on.  I know there is a lot of Kacey Musgraves, but she's a badass. This is just an example of what works for me, and it's going to take some time to figure what your perfect post therapy playlist is. For those of you with Apple Music you can get my playlist HERE!
 I'd love to hear what your post therapy rituals are! Share them over on twitter and Instagram! @Lifewithtaters

 Things that make me happy this week!
 Watching the sunrise from my front porch every morning is the best thing.
 Therapy! I'm really thankful for therapy. 
 The show Chuck, and the absolute eyeball delight that is Zachary Levi.

Monday, March 4, 2019

MHM-Self Care

Monday Monday Monday! I'm going to be doing a new Monday thing on here, that I usually do on my Instagram, and that's Mental Health Monday! Hurray! I've made really big strides in taking care of my mental illness that includes a new type of therapy, a new and better diagnosis, and a treatment plan to actually work through the issues that I've struggled with my whole life. I'll do a post on all that later on, because today I want to talk Self Care. It's something I've talked about before, but I'm really prioritizing little movements of self care.
 We finally are starting to live in a world where people are recognizing how vital self care is. Often self care gets mistaken for candle lit baths, and pedicures. Don't get me wrong, those are absolutely self care routines, but they're not my main ones. My self care is often small little victories. Saying no to a dinner with people you don't enjoy being around. Cleaning your bathroom. Throwing away things that make you sad... Little things that cause big emotions, in a good way. Lately I've been focusing on the little tidbits of self care that I've been doing. It's things that so many people overlook, but when you over think everything like I do, you realize that these tiny moments are things that help your mind and soul.
 So here are little self care things that have been more than a little impactful lately.

 1) I bought myself some good ass shampoo. I know this seems like the silliest thing, but I always cheap out on things for me. So instead of buying clearance Dove, I went big and spoiled myself. I bought The Purple One shampoo and the matching conditioner. Let me tell you, this is good shit. My hair looks and feels amazing. It was something that brought me joy, and took care of me.
2) I got a hair cut, and didn't feel guilty In our new town there is two salons. Both run $30 for a haircut, which honestly isn't bad... but again when it comes to myself I cheap out, and when I don't I feel guilty. I walked out of that salon feeling refreshed, and lifted. Plus my hair looked AMAZING.
3) The absolute magic that is the "Ta-Da" List... I'm a list person, so every morning I make a to-do list. I always feel like a failure when I don't finish everything I need to do. As someone with severe self esteem issues this made me drop lower. My therapist suggested making a list of everything I did that day, instead of harping on what I didn't get down. I've been doing that for a few months, but the most recent episode of my favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder talked about doing it too, and they called it a Ta-Da list. The term Ta-Da list comes from writer and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. Let me tell you how much the Ta-Da list has stepped up my self care game. I write them all down in a journal specifically for the Ta-Da list. It's so refreshing to look at all the things that I accomplish on a daily basis. They are big things, either. One of the things that I write the most, that I'm proud of is drinking water and making dinner. It's a victory that validates that I do things throughout the day, and no matter how small it's still an accomplishment. Celebrating our small victories really makes a difference in how we feel about ourselves. (Shout out to the murderinos that follow me)
4) Structured Journaling. What I mean by that is buying a journal that has promotes to promote happiness, or other self help-y things. The one I bought is called "Present not Perfect" and you can buy it HERE. I love the little messages, and promotes that truly make me slow down, and think. It's been a healing ritual for me, truly.

These really aren't big, or expensive things. It's super easy to incorporate these little changes into my day, and into yours. I can't stress how revolutionary the Ta-Da List has been for me, and I'd love to hear from you if you start it up! 

Another thing that I've been focusing on is things that actually have made me happy, so I thought I'd share them with you. This little section will be on all my Mental Health Monday posts from now on! I think it's really important to celebrate little joys.
Things that are bringing me joy this week:
- The podcast Happier by Gretchen Rubin
- Lime essential oil for my water. LOVE it.
- Kacey Musgraves album "Golden Hour"

Share your self care victories with me on Instagram and Twitter! @Lifewithtaters

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bedtime Nightmare


                            We've become the 6pm family, and I don't give a f*ck.
 For Tater's whole life, he's been an early riser. I'm an early riser too, but he's been a 5-6 am kid his whole life. More recently it's been a 4:30 a.m. ordeal, and I'm just not emotionally prepared enough for that. His bedtime his whole life up until recently was 7pm. We started our routine at 6:40 p.m. every night. He was always wired for sound. Naps bit the dust at 2 years old, so that wasn't the issue. The baby naps twice a day, but being awake at 4:30 really was taking it's toll. This was so much bigger then a phase. We bought the Ok to Wake clock, and that didn't really help, because he was still waking up, and being over tired. We tried diet changes, and everything else Google instructed us to do.
 Finally in an act of desperation I reached out for the help of my friends. Really I begged the Moms in my virtual village for help.  I cried out to Facebook, and got so much love, and amazing advice. One that really stuck out to me was "Have you tried an earlier bed time?" This honestly made me roll my eyes a little. I thought to myself, "The kids go to bed at 7, that's earlier than anyone else I know. How much earlier can I put them down!" I feared the judgment that was likely to come from friends and family if we couldn't do things passed 6p.m. Anxiety swelled about what others would think of my parenting. Was I being lazy? Did this come across as not wanting to spend time with the boys?
Also why did I care? I was exhausted all the time. The boys were exhausted, and no one was functioning without being exceptionally crabby.
 Squatch and I sat down and had a talk. We were both at our whits end with not getting enough sleep, and with the insane attitude we got from Tater, and the crabby baby we had in Tot. We read a few articles and decided 6 p.m. was our game time. We had dinner per usual and then started the bed time routine at about 5:45 p.m. Our first night the boys laid down without a fight. Tot fell asleep almost instantly, which wasn't happening before. Tater was a little upset, but fell asleep before 6:15p.m. We were in shock. Before it took about 30 minutes of Tot crying, and Tater would get up to "pee" 68 times. There wasn't any of this. It was silent. As we stood in shock, this was it. We found a solution... Maybe.
 The next morning we had a 5 a.m. wake up... That was an extra 30 minutes of sleep. We weren't prepared for that at all. Both boys actually woke up happy. Our day went smoothly. What was this magic? We kept this trial up for the week. Same result every day. That's when we decided this was the magic cure for our family. We are the 6 p.m. bed time people.

              Our routine on a good night looks like this:
 5 p.m.- Dinner
5:30 p.m. bath time for both boys
5:45 p.m. Brush teeth Pajamas, Story
6:00 p.m. lights out 

 We usually let Tater lay down with a book to look at, or if he's had a good day he can have 15-30 minutes of quiet tablet time. They are both asleep by 6:15-6:30 but there is no screaming or fighting. Sure, we give him a little leeway when we have something going on, but I'm not going to compromise the schedule that works for the boys to make other people happy. I get that 6 p.m. is "so early." I've heard it all. I've gotten the stares, the glares, and the rude remarks. Here's the thing, these are my kids. This is our life. No one but my husband or myself wake up with these babies every morning.
  Here's what has truly changed here:
  The boys were over tired at night, which made bed time a dreadful hour. It was like this switch 6:30 pm switch was flipped that turned these kids into complete beasts. No amount of naps changed that. With an earlier bed time we avoid the witching hour completely. There isn't a period of absolute madness, and screaming. The boys both go down so much easier. The power struggle isn't there.
 Our whole routine has shifted as well. There is significantly less screaming, and whining. Now, don't get me wrong here. There is currently a baby screaming at me because I won't let him play with the curtains, but this isn't a fit fueled by sheer exhaustion. After school isn't a disaster. We are listening, learning and loving better.
  I'm no longer staying away until 11pm getting things done. The earlier bed time has allowed for my to do my writing alone, and quietly. I can clean up dinner in peace, and end up in bed before 9. This isn't just a shift in the boys, but in me too. This is the balanced chaos we needed.

 If you're on the bedtime power struggle ship that you AREN'T the captain of, I can't recommend reevaluating your families bed time enough. Don't look at those stupid Pinterest charts about when your kid should be in bed. This is a "roll with the punches" while also going with your gut kind of thing. Like all of parenthood, you just have to wing it. You'll either fall flat on your face, or find something that works.
Here's my crotch spawn, well because they're really cute when they actually are sleeping.

 I am so fucking excited to share this with you all, the mega website themighty.com shared a store that I wrote. I'm honored, humbled, excited, horrified, and feeling ALL the feels. You can read it HERE
 Without your support my career as a writer wouldn't exist. You are all fucking amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my coffee filled heart.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Empty Cup

As I stare out my big front window at the sunrise, my focus is elsewhere. I hear the whining of one child in the background, and the attitude of another. The dogs are hungry, and the Keurig is grumbling. Some people day dream about sitting on a beach, or laying on the deck of a luxurious cruise. Don't get me wrong, my mind goes there too... but today is different. Today I'm fantasizing about going to work.
After waking up, hours after the kids I would get a long, hot shower. I'd get dressed in peace, and curl my hair without having to move both kids 500 times. I'd fill up my travel mug and walk out the door, leaving the chaos behind me. In this fantasy my husband is the one doing the laundry, dishes and planning meals. I'd enjoy a quiet car ride while I listen to my Podcasts in peace. No screaming,  no seat kicking. I'd get to my job, in real clothing (not just leggings and an oversized V-Neck.) I'd say hello to adults, and then we'd get to have a conversation about anything we wanted without the interruption of little voices and hands pulling me away. I'd sit at my computer without the sound of screaming kids. Maybe I'd get to crank out a few blog posts in my down time. Someone would ask if I wanted to go to lunch. I'd eat a hot meal, and not share it. My water glass would be my own, and lack the usual floating goobers that I've become accustom to. When I needed to really focus on my work, I'd put in my head phones, powering away, uninterrupted. At the end of the day I'd have the freedom to stop wherever. Maybe squeeze in a happy hour with coworkers.
 When I got home there would be a hot meal ready for me, and the kids would be ready for bed. I could kick up my feet, and relax.
 Later I'd go into a room with a made bed. Laundry would be put away, and I'd get to fall asleep effortlessly and sleep a full night.

  I know this fantasy is so wildly unrealistic. I know there are parents on the other side of the coin who so desperately would love to stay home. The grass is greener, right?  The Mom burn out is so real, and frustrating.When I'm feeling overworked, I can't just request a week off. My work here is endless, and exhausting. Today I'm feeling the burn out, hard. I can self care all I want but I'm just going to have to ride the wave of this burn out. No amount of journaling, face masks, or crying in my car will fix the way I feel today. Tomorrow, or maybe the day after I'll wake up feeling better, and thankful that I get to stay home with my kids. Today is not that day, and that's okay.
 I messaged my group of friends, and told them how I felt. I was met with love, and understanding. There are ways to "prevent" this burn out, but I'm not going to get into that today. Today this was the way to air my grievances. I will admit that writing this all out made me feel at least 80 times better then I did. I remember a time where I would feel so ashamed to share these feelings, but now I say "Fuck it."
                                  My feelings, and yours too are so valid. 

bonus photo of the sunrise from my front window.