Bad things can happen to good babies…

It’s been a couple weeks, so I can finally tell this story without hyperventilating, crying, or turning myself in to social services. But y’all, bad bad things can happen to good little babies. Even when they have good mommies and daddies.

Two weeks ago, Zac and Jett were in the tub after dinner, playing and splashing like normal. And now that Jett can sit up independently, I sometimes use this time to wrap up a few chores around the house… reassemble the dry bottles, sweep up behind the cat, switch over the laundry. Bear in mind, I don’t do this when Jett is in the tub alone, but with protective big brother in there with him, I figure it’s kosher. And thank God for big brother…

This particular night, I got the scare of my life. I was in my closet, tidying up shoe-palooza, still within earshot and a quick dash from the bathroom, when I heard Zac screaming. Moms of verbal children know the scream I mean. Not the one that says the dog ate my cookie or my lollipop fell in the dirt. The one that says MOVE NOW, ACT FAST! The one that sends panic chills up the back of your neck and makes you physically capable of professional athletic feats. And I am so grateful to my little boy for scaring the holy shit out of me with this scream…

Jett’s chubby, slippery tushie had slid out from under him and he was on his back in the tub, water up to his cheeks, with the faucet running right on his face. He was unable to cry <or breathe>, or be heard at all. Zac instinctively knew this was not good or safe and screamed <bloody fucking murder> for me. Luckily, I was ten feet away and dashed in, scooped him up, wiped his <still> smiling face, and he resumed playing like he had not almost just drowned. I sat there next to the tub with them and tried to compose, but  hot tears were streaming down my face, and my shoulders were quaking. I thanked Zac many times over for yelling for me. I didn’t want to scare him with the drowning baby possibilities that were running through my mind, and so he, at only three years old, doesn’t quite know the magnitude of his quick reaction, or how thankful I am that I wasn’t all the way in the kitchen. But the truth is, had Zac not been in the tub with Jett, or not screamed out in terror, I might be one less baby. And that thought sickens and terrifies me. I simply cannot fathom it.

And so I stay put during bath time now… chores can wait. There’s nothing all so important worth the risk of leaving my kids alone and open to potential danger. It also allows me to capture some priceless moments…

Sharing...

Sharing…

I haz baby. I protect him.

I haz baby. I protect him.

I share this story to remind parents of little ones that danger lurks in the most regular of places… and to be always mindful, watchful, and downright paranoid. Those horror stories you read in the news? Or the terrible things that happen to “other people’s babies?” They can happen to anyone… even the vigilant, attentive, good mommies and daddies.

Read these related articles when you’re ready… and pray for these families please.

Window blind dangers…This happened to a friend of a friend.

We don’t think about the toilet as a danger… but it is

Because grocery shopping with babies doesn’t suck enough… now this

 

I think this is how I will handle bath time from now on...

I think this is how I will handle bath time from now on…

 

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An open letter to Sophie the Giraffe…

Dear Sophie the Giraffe,

I, Deborah Suzanne, mother of Zachary Newman and Jett Owen, owe you an apology.

For three years, I have doubted your worth. I have called you names, such as useless, overpriced squeaky toy. Glorified dog chew. Elitist synthetic garbage. Sophie the whatever-I’m-Not-Paying-$20-for-a-teether Giraffe.

This "all natural rubber" thing has actually been around over 40 years...

This “all natural rubber” thing has actually been around over 40 years…

I have judged those who shelled out the money to buy you, passing it off as the newest silly trend that my gullible friends had fallen victim to. I have scoffed at every “must-have” list you have appeared on, dismissing it as promotional baby jabber. I have slandered the phony use of the word “organic” to describe your supple, dog-toy’esque construction. I have even advised my other mommy friends and readers not to bother with you or waste their money, because it’s no better than any other teething toy, just more expensive.

And today I sit here behind this computer and humbly, publicly apologize. I was wrong. I was wrong on all accounts. You are magical. You are squeaky, rubber love. You are all that is good about slobbery, gummy smiles and itty bitty teefies trying desperately to emerge. You make happies where there were none. You are baby crack. And you are worth every stupid penny.

You see, I was lent a Sophie, by chance, by a neighbor who was expecting her first baby soon, and wouldn’t need you for a while. She was a Sophie-believer. And I laughed on the inside a little at yet another sucker, seeing as how I didn’t think she could possibly know what my baby needed. But as she gently handed you over to Jett, I watched his chubby little fist clutch you with glee, and your foot didn’t leave his mouth for the rest of the evening. He was quiet and content. His upper gums looked like hamburger meat, but he gave zero fucks. Because he had you, dear sweet, phosphate-free Sophie.

Sophie Collage

And now there is a backup Sophie in every diaper bag/purse I carry, and one in my glove compartment. That’s approximately $88 worth of Sophie, not counting the borrowed one. And I’ve come to accept that something is “worth” what other people are willing to pay for it. And $22.99 seems like a lot of dough for a little toy, but I’m certain I’ve spent more than that on dumber shit. So I join the masses! I believe in the power of Sophie!

So yeah…

I love you, Sophie. And I’m sorry.

 

Sophie also makes a nice dinner companion.

Sophie also makes a nice dinner companion.

 

 

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Hide yo carrots, hide yo peas…

It is no secret that eating healthy is hard. But getting your kids to eat healthy can be a nightmare. (Including the large child you’re married to.) So I have devised a few sneaky ways to hide an extra serving of veggies into every day meals your kids already love.

Here are my top 6.

Peel first if you don't want any green to show through!

Peel first if you don’t want any green to show through!

1. Sneak some green onto the pizza– Spread a layer of grated zucchini under the cheese layer on pizza night! If you’re worried your people will call you out on this one, don’t. Grated zucchini looks like mozzarella cheese and is not strong in flavor. But it’s super healthy.

2. Using jarred pasta sauce for lasagne or ravioli or spaghetti? –Steam and puree carrot into your red pasta sauce… it hides well (due to color, of course) and is virtually undetectable. And if you are a cook who adds a dash of sugar to your sauce, now you don’t have to. The natural sugars in steamed carrots do the job!

3. Spaghetti night? Toss some pulled spaghetti squash into your spaghetti noodles and then coat in your favorite sauce. If you combine 2 & 3 you just made spaghetti night into spa-veggie night. (Ok, sorry. That was super lame.) Click HERE to find other wonderful things to do with my BFF, spaghetti squash.

Beechnut & Heinz also make an orange one.

Beechnut & Heinz also make an orange one.

4. Phoning one in? If you’re too tired to cook and planning on dumping out a can of Chef-Boy-Ar-Crap– Don’t feel guilty! Just drain off most of the sauce and stir in a jar of ‘mixed vegetable’ baby food. Yes, even for bigger kids. Most brands have an orange one so it looks exactly the same as it did prior to this ninja-mom maneuver. Your 3 year old wont notice. An 8 year old might notice a difference in taste, but they are old enough for you to say get over it and eat it.

5. Nachos! Steamed broccoli florets in the nacho cheese dip. This one is a stretch for more picky kids, but it’s the same concept as broccoli cheese soup, which is delicious. And the element of chips is sometimes enough of a “snack factor” to hide the fact that there’s broccoli happening. Proceed with caution.

Stock up in the fall when cans are SUPER cheap!

Stock up in the fall when cans are SUPER cheap!

And lastly…

6. Stir a can of pumpkin into your pancake or waffle batter. This isn’t exactly packing in the leafy greens, but pumpkin is rich in fiber and anti-oxidants. Regular pancakes are fried flour. So there’s that.

That’s all for now, my lovelies! Please comment below any other clever veggie hiding ideas you have tried on your kiddos! Large husband-like kiddos included.

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Oven pancakes… Good thinking.

Hey, mamas! Tired of eating cold pancakes all by yourself because by the time you get to sit down to eat, everyone is done eating? Well fret no more, my lovelies!
I present to you a brilliant idea ( that I stole from a friend who stole it from a friend… Etc.)

OVEN PANCAKES–

Simply prepare your batter as you normally would. Pour it into a GREASED baking sheet. And bake at 400 for 10ish minutes. Cut them into squares and serve!
They turn out slightly crispier on the bottom than tradition pancakes, but no one at my table complained. No flipping, no dripping, and best of all, mom gets to eat with the family.
WIN.

20140112-121707.jpg
Yummy!

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Will they know…

When my children are older…

Will they know how I watched them sleep some nights, praying over their sweet little souls? Will they know the sound of their even, heavy breathing through the monitor was all I needed to feel settled and “okay” at the end of my day?

Will they know the guilt I felt for feeding them macaroni and hot dogs three nights in one week near the end of that long month?

Or that I felt like a pushover for letting them eat lollipops in the car so they’d be quiet?

Will they know how it made me just as sad to take away story time when they misbehaved? That it was my favorite part of the day too?

Will they know how excruciatingly hard it was to be patient when nice things got broken or dinners got wasted? Or how I cried in the shower and beat myself up for days when I had failed to be so patient?

Will they understand that I always took so many pictures of them, for fear I would forget their sweet little smiles when they got older and their mouths less sweet?

Will they know that I needed that extra kiss goodnight just as much as they did, even though I fussed and sent them swiftly back to bed?

Will they know how hard it was some mornings to go to work instead of stay home and play? But that some Monday mornings I thanked God I got to walk out the door… and then felt guilty for feeling that way once I was at work?

Will they know that I told stories about them and looked at pictures of them just to get through a work day sometimes?

Will they know that I was so annoyed at letting them “help” with the chores, because it inevitably took so much longer and made a bigger mess? But that I did it (and all sorts of other stuff) just to see them smile or teach them something new?

Will they ever fully understand how proud I am to be their mommy when I see them being kind to each other or to others?

Will they know I think they are smart and handsome even when they aren’t acting like it? And that I have their back even when they’re wrong? That if someone tried to hurt one of them I’d go Lohan psycho in a millisecond?

Will they know I always tried, even when it wasn’t such a great day?

Will they know that I feel like the most important person in the world just because I’m their mommy, but at the same time not good enough?

Will they know how much they are ingrained in my every thought and action? That when their lives began, so did mine?

Will they know how the tears fell as I wrote this, just because?

Will they know?

...the very reasons my heart beats.

…the very reasons my heart beats.

–perfect sweetness–

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.  ~Sophia Loren
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My confession.

I owe you guys an apology. I’m a total fake. I’m not sure if I have just realized this or if I have known all along and just hidden it away. But I’m a fake and a phony. I’ve been calling myself the “dramafreemama” all this time… and it’s just simply not accurate or true. Because I’m a mom. And all you other moms out there know– if you’re a mama, (or you have one), you’ve got drama. Kids are little, life-sucking, purveyors of drama. You’ve got drama at every turn, every meal, every bedtime… life as a parent is pretty much a continuous theatrical production.

And there’s all sorts…

“You threw away my favorite crayon- you’re so mean” drama. –Never mind the fact that it was broken in two places and the only thing you have colored in three months is my picture window.

“I’m huuungrrrryyy…. except I don’t want any of the 19 things you’ve just offered me to eat” drama. This one is best reciprocated with “You don’t have to like it, you just have to eat it” drama. Or my personal favorite… “Just take 3 more bites” drama.

“He/she took my stickers/truck/barbie/fruit snacks/marker/soul” drama. –Anything and everything was always the property of a toddler first and fairly. Any second possessor is a damned thief. Thems the rules.– Employing the “If you can’t share it, nobody can have it” method will ultimately just increase the decibel level of the drama rather than squash it. Tread carefully.

Furthermore– I cried yesterday because my laundry hamper is heaped up taller than my three year old. Like a lot taller. And then, said three year old let the dog in the house caked with mud. And then I dropped a jar of minced garlic in the kitchen floor. And then I sneezed twice (cleaning up the garlic) and peed my pants. And so I cried again. Dramatic enough for you?

And so you see… the “dramafreemama” has got drama. Every day. So by “dramafree,” I guess what I mean is I don’t need YOUR drama. Because I have plenty of my own.

This is my confession. Submitted in all seriousness.

-the (nothardly)dramaFREEmama

No, seriously.

No, seriously.

The lead players in my awesome little drama...

The lead players in my awesome little drama…

 

 

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I don’t know how you do it…

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear these words more often than you might imagine for someone who has it pretty good. The truth is, I’ve got it really good, actually. I’m healthy. I’m educated and gainfully employed. My debt is manageable. I’m married to a hard-working (and hot) man who likes me a lot. We have three healthy and bright children. –Well I don’t know yet if the baby is bright, but he’s cute as hell.– We have plenty of room in our home that we are proud mortgage-holders on; and our cars, though not fancy, reliably get us from point A to point B each day. We don’t have vacation money or really all that much extra to spend (more month at the end of our money sometimes!)… but we are afloat.  And that’s more than what some folks can say and a lot to be thankful for.

But… (you had to know there was a but coming…) my husband works second shift at the shipyard. And since I am a teacher, my daytime schedule means I see him [awake] only on Saturdays and Sundays. He handles the kiddos in the morning. With nowhere to be till afternoon, they have a slow and snugly start to their morning. But he gets them fed, dressed and off to the sitter by 11, does some chores and/or errands, then on the road to work by 2. That means I am pick-up. After a long day in the classroom with eleventh graders, I handle our household solo at night. That means I have my two boys (the oldest is with his mom and stepdad during the school week) all to myself during the “witching hours.” Anyone who has ever had little ones knows that 4pm to 8pm can be a little dicey, at best. Especially now, as the daylight gets shorter and shorter…

But how do I do it?

Chores, grocery shopping, (library? park?) “homework,” dinner, bath, stories, bedtime… It is a lot to do on my own. Telemarketers and politicians calling at the dinner hour, beware. But we have so little time together as a family, that I’d rather not save grocery shopping or 834 loads of laundry for the already too short weekend. I’d rather not have gritty house chores to do in the only 48 hours we are all together, though sometimes we have no choice. And so yes, I have a lot on my plate during the week. Heaven forbid we be invited to a playdate or want to visit a grandparent! But how do I do it? It just seems like a silly question.

Multi-tasking at its cutest...

Multi-tasking at its cutest…

I do it as best I can. Sometimes I do it looking like hammered damnit. Sometimes I do it one-handed. I do it with a captive audience with a (thankfully) limited vocabulary. And there are times I’m doing 4 things at once, none of which all that wholly well. And well, sometimes there’s stuff I just don’t do. Leftovers again never killed anyone and little people can share a bath towel. (They have the same icky boy cooties anyway.) I don’t always do it with a smile. At least not a real one. Actually, sometimes I feel like I might break down in the Food Lion. Haven’t you ever wanted to cry for an icecream sandwich and wipe the snot up your face the way your child is doing publicly and loudly? No? Just me?

I'm pretty sure this is the 2nd time Sweet Brown has graced my blog... I just love her!

I’m pretty sure this is the 2nd time Sweet Brown has graced my blog… I just love her!

But “How do I do it?” you ask… Tell me what my other choices are? Not doing it? Pitching a grand hissy and staying in bed instead? Believe me– Sometimes, I really wanna. But in the wise words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” And besides– there are a lot of moms out there making it happen on their own seven days a week. Single moms, miltary wives, etc. You wanna know how they do it? With grace and dignity on the good days. With sweat and tears on other days. But they do it. Because it needs done.

So mamas, when you hear someone ask you “How do you do it all?” Smile and respond… “As best I can.” Because that’s all that is going to matter to your kids in the long run. And who gives a shit what anyone else thinks.

These beautiful people are why I'm crazy.

These beautiful people are why I’m crazy.

It doesn't matter HOW I do it... This is WHY I do it.

It doesn’t matter HOW I do it… This is WHY I do it.

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BONES drinking game!

bones1I am a big fan of the crime drama, “Bones.” It’s smart and it’s entertaining. It focuses more on the science and on the relationships between the cast members than the other crime shows do, which I like. But it’s got enough of the shoot-em-up stuff to entertain hubby. Thus, it’s one of the few TV shows we agree on and enjoy together. We have VERY different tastes. In everything. So “Bones” is our neutral territory. So with new season coming up, I have devised a way to make it drunky time!

Here are the rules:

20130730-162559.jpg

If you can still walk after a full episode, put down the wine cooler and try again, pansy.

 

If this were 1990, he'd be the page I'd pull out of TeenBeat and tape in my locker.

If this were 1990, he’d be the page I’d pull out of TeenBeat and tape in my locker. #NOTSORRY

 

P.S. I’d be lying if I said this guy wasn’t at least partly motivating my devoted fanship. —>

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Shotz Portrait Studio Review…

I woke up Friday morning to a 6 week old. [WHOA--that happened fast!] Right away I cussed myself for not making an appointment for baby portraits this week like I had planned to. I didn’t know who I would use since the Sears portrait studio I used for Zac had closed, and didn’t want to drive too far. I turned to the most trusted source I know… Facebook. I got a lot of negative feedback, but no helpful suggestions or reviews. Except one friend mentioned a studio in Northern Suffolk called Shotz Portrait Studio. I picked up the phone and hoped for the best.

The lady who answered the phone, Terry, the studio owner, was friendly and pleasant and booked us for a little later that day. I hadn’t failed after all! I dressed my little angel, packed a monogrammed blanket, a spare outfit, and a nursing cover– and Jett and I hit the road. Terry greeted us warmly and introduced me to her two sons who operate the business with her. The oldest of them, Kenny, would be our photographer.

We got started right away. Kenny was interested in my ideas and very accommodating throughout the entire process, helping to create a similar style shot as I did at Zac’s 6 week shoot, as well as plenty of original ideas, capturing every precious expression Jett made. Little guy was astoundingly cooperative for a first-timer! We did two outfits, tons of “poses,” and worked for just under an hour. Including the break I took to nurse! How nice they were to offer me privacy (and a cozy chair!) to take care of my baby. There was also a nursery style changing table (not one of those icky plastic foldout kinds) with wipes and disposal bags in the restroom. So baby friendly! I swear it’s the little things. When I asked Terry for “something yellow” to use as a background to compliment Jett’s second outfit, she retrieved from a stack of clean and ready-to-use linens a crisp, pastel yellow blanket which was absolutely perfect. The studio also contained numerous other fantastic props that I hope to use during other sessions.

We wound up with roughly 40 shots to work with. Kenny used his software program to help me narrow down the lot to my favorites, using side by side comparison technique. He also performed some subtle edits to complement Jett’s eyes and complexion just right. The hardest part was choosing shotzwhich poses I wanted to purchase! At only $15 a sheet, and numerous combinations of sizes per sheet, I was feeling great about it, but a little overwhelmed. They did not rush me at all and were more than happy to let me view shots over and over again while I was in full-on mommy deliberation mode. I wound up choosing one of the package deals, although I could have gone way overboard. I think I STILL have wallet sizes of Zac’s first portrait session sitting in a sleeve somewhere because I ordered twenty sheets! Ha! Rookie mom!

[A full list of Shotz products available and prices HERE]

Overall, I couldn’t have been more pleased with our experience at Shotz. The people were as kind as could be and the studio very clean and inviting. They have great hours, seven days a week. The photographer worked fast, but not shotz2rushed… understanding a mommy’s window of time! I was more than pleased with the technology they work with and the price list they offer for a variety of options. And I walked out the door with my pictures THAT DAY! A major bonus! Plus, a traditional studio session does not depend on the weather– and at 92 degrees that day, I was glad I wasn’t in a grassy field trying to capture the moment before we spontaneously combusted. Lastly, I love that I am supporting a family owned and operated business right in my home town. So give them a try… Angie’s List gives them an “A,” they are featured on Groupon, and the Dramafreemama thinks they are top notch!

Here are some of my favorite portraits from our session… not that this little nugget could take a bad picture! Or is that just a proud mommy talkin? Ha!

I am so in love with this little monkey!

I am so in love with this little monkey!

 

His wings are tucked gently behind him...

His wings are tucked gently behind him…

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Super DELISH pasta salad

I’m not usually the “I’ll bring the pasta salad” girl…. I’m more like the “I’ll bring the plates and napkins” girl. It’s not that I’m a lousy cook. I’m a really good one actually. I’m just lazy on weekends. I also don’t like keeping up with my bowl and serving spoon once I’m in cookout mode. [Read: drunk.] True story.

But the other night we had some folks over to our house and I threw together a quick pasta salad that was really awesome, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

You will need:

-a box of pasta (I used penne), a cucumber, a small container of grape tomatoes, a can of black olives, a bottle of Italian dressing, and a packet of ranch mix

Directions:

 

-cook pasta to al dente, drain and chill

-halve the olives and tomatoes, peel & chop the cuke to small (bite-size) pieces

-wisk together the italian dressing and ranch powder

-toss together chilled noodles and veggies, pour on the dressing

-mix everything until coated, chill until ready to serve

En processe...

En processe…

DELISH! PROMISE!

DELISH! PROMISE!

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