Friday, September 19, 2008

MomCheck Blog Goes On Hiatus

There comes a time in all moms' lives that we must re-prioritize. This is also true of entrepreneurs launching a company. Combine the two, as we are doing here at MomCheck, and, sometimes feels like we must reprioritize on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

We are getting ready to launch subscription service on MomCheck, which means we are finally entering the stage we've wanted to be at for a year now. It is very, very exciting (and just a teensy bit scary). Communicating on a personal level through this blog has been something we've always wanted to have as a component to our company. And we figured, there are four of us, surely we can manage! We've done okay, but we haven't done stellar, like we intended. And now, the launching of the subscriptions, coupled with 2 of us being currently pregnant...we're re-prioritizing again, and the MomCheck Blog has not made the cut.

We will be back, though! With new stories to tell! Should you find your way to our blog here, and find yourself disappointed we're on a break and you are filled with the urge to continue this blog while we're on hiatus - email us at - we'd love nothing more than to find a few moms who'd like to contribute.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crawling and cruising and pulling up, oh my!

I knew this time was coming. I've been watching Emily get up on all fours for a few weeks now, so I figured crawling was getting close. And while I eagerly anticipated it in some ways (they seem so much happier when they're mobile), it's also scary in others. What toys are choking hazards? What have we left within reach of an infant that maybe shouldn't be? We never un-babyproofed anything, but it seems like most of the second children I know are much more mischievous than the first, so I fear the babyproofing we did for Megan won't cut it this time around.

Anyway, last week, Emily got up on all fours, then gingerly moved one knee forward, and then another. And then she came crashing down on her belly. And then she got up for more. 3 days later, I was sitting on the couch, and she crawled over to me and pulled herself up on the couch so she was standing. And yesterday, she pulled herself up on my sister's fireplace (covered in fireplace bumpers, thank goodness!), and shuffled herself over a few feet to get to a blue plastic pitcher that was on the fireplace. That's right, she cruised. Cruised, people! At 8 months. I know, it's far from unheard of. It's probably right on track. But, since my girls' birthdays are 9 days apart, it's easy for me to compare them, and I know for a fact that Megan didn't do this until a good 6 weeks from now, so I wasn't exactly prepared. I'm just hoping I can count on a few months of crawling before I have to think about walking. Ay yi yi!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One of my favorite milestones.

Emily is sitting up unassisted now. I can put her in a sitting position, and unless she wants to fall over, she doesn't. I love it. Love it! It's really one of my favorite milestones ever. It's not that it gives her any independence, really, but it allows her to sit up with us and see the world, and I think to feel like she's more a part of what's going on. I mean, it's got to be hard just laying there all of the time. Sure, it sounds nice for a few hours, but for weeks on end? No thanks! So, she's sitting, and I'm thrilled. She's such a happy kid, and this just seems to make her happier.

I have to be honest. I love my kids, and I really like kids in general, but I prefer them to be a little older. Babies are tough for me. I couldn't love Emily more, but I do sort of look forward to her being able to walk and talk like Megan can now. It's just so fun. But, I'm doing my best to really savor this time with Emily, this babyness, because I know I'll never have it again (we're done having kids). That said, I'm finding it tough to witness some of these milestones. I'm so glad she's sitting up - that milestone was fine. But you know what got me? When she outgrew the swing. The swing that both of my girls used from the time they were itty bitty newborns. That comfy, cozy, wonderful, couldn't-have-lived-without-it Pappasan swing. I just sold it, and while it's nice to reclaim the space it took, I'm also sad to see it go. It's one of the first big baby things she's outgrown, and it's just sad to think that my baby isn't as much of a baby as she used to be. It's exciting, sure, but it's sad, too.

Motherhood. It's such a mixed bag of emotions!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Fear of the Public Toilet

Ah, the joys of potty training. Megan wasn’t the youngest child to potty train. We tried when she was about 29 months, and she got so upset about accidents, it was clearly not in our best interest to keep up with her. We tried again at 31 months, at daycare’s request, but after a bad accident there, she wasn’t eager to keep going. Finally, at 33 months, she turned a corner. I sent her to daycare in underwear at their request, and she held it all day. 9 hours. That’s clearly not a good thing, so as soon as we got home, I sat with her until she went. And when she went, boy was she excited! Ever since, she’s been potty trained, and has had just a few accidents in several months. Poop training is an entirely different story altogether, but the good news is, she waits to go until bedtime when she’s wearing a pull-up, thus saving Mommy and Daddy from ever having to deal with the vileness that is poop in underwear.

Obviously, she can hold it for awhile. Which is nice for the most part, but not so much when she holds it because she refuses to go in a public toilet. I would take her in any restroom outside of home, daycare, or her grandparents’ house, and she’d refuse to go, scrunching her face into this awfully sad look that said, “I just can’t, Mommy! Public toilets are bad!” But, we were about to go on vacation. An 8-hour plane ride to Hawaii, followed by 10 days there, and she sure as heck couldn’t hold it for 10 days. I asked her pediatrician if there was anything I could do to help her along, and in all of his helpfulness, he said, “Some people just don’t like public toilets, so I have no suggestions.” Gee, thanks. So, we bribed Megan to use public restrooms. We told her she couldn’t go to Hawaii if she wouldn’t use a public restroom. Finally, she used it. That’s not to say she’s happy about public restrooms, but I can get her to use one when it’s a necessity.

Now, I’m thankful that she’s not all that excited about public restrooms, because it means I don’t have to make a mad dash for them at the grocery store or while shopping, and I haven’t had to see the most unsavory of them and try to convince my child it’s okay to use them. But, it was a bit of a problem on the airplane. Have you seen the cleanliness studies on airplane bathrooms? Not pretty. And I don’t care how much of that blue water you suck down an airplane toilet – it’s still a dirty, dirty place. So trying to convince my child otherwise was less than simple. I’m sure it would have been fun to watch us squeeze in there, though. Me in my pregnant glory, doing my best to wipe every surface down with an antibacterial wipe, all while trying to comfort a nervous toddler and convince her that going potty in this terrible place was a good idea. And once I did get her to go, washing her hands and shoving her out of the bathroom as quickly as possible to try to avoid her coming into contact with any more of those nasty germs than necessary, all while doing my best to flush the toilet quietly so it didn’t scare the crap out of her. Because come on, that toilet IS scary!

But we survived. It’s still a battle to use most public restrooms, but at least we’ve made progress. I think my child is just too clean for bathrooms used by so many other people!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Supermom's Secret

Psst. I know the secret to being a Supermom. I do, really. I’m going to let you in on it, too. But first you must be patient and listen to the story of how I got it. (Well, I couldn’t just tell you – that ruins the fun.) The other day I was lurking on a message board (I always lurk it seems, never posting. Plus I love to use the word lurk and lurking on message boards is one of the only times the word doesn’t have really bad connotations to it) and I came across a post by a woman who was at her wit’s end with the lack of support she gets from her husband around the house. She stated she works 40+ hours then has to come home to do all cooking, cleaning, etc. and the only time her hubby helps is when she berates him. She was looking for advice on how to change the pattern. There were lots of replies. And good advice, too, like have a sit down discussion about the issue, praise him when he does small things (on the pretense he’ll do more to get more praise), divvy up the chores and post it somewhere, etc.

All these are truly good suggestions and I’m sure they work for many out there. But not for me. As I read through all the answers, I kept thinking, “What if her husband is a clone of mine? What then? Because she’s out of luck with those suggestions!” I, too, am out of the house for 40+ hours per week, and my husband also is not the greatest on the domestic front. He simply doesn’t care. Doesn’t care if he gets all his clean clothes out of the laundry basket, doesn't care if every meal is fast food. Doesn't care if he has to squash trash into an overflowing can. I’ve tried everything, too. All the advice listed above plus more. I even put signs on the appliances. Our steam cleaner has a sign that says, “Hi! I work hard to keep your carpets clean, but please empty me! I stink!” (It still stinks, but now my husband calls the cleaner Betty.)

At one point I convinced him that we should “trade” dinner nights. We didn’t have to cook, necessarily, but just be responsible for the whole dinner experience. What to eat, where, etc. I shined on my first night, giving him a home-cooked lasagna and chocolate cream pie for dessert. (Notice I didn’t say homemade, just home-cooked. My little mini Supermom secret.) On his first night here’s what I got for dinner: A hot dog, a bag of chips, and a fountain drink all consumed sitting on the tailgate of his truck in the parking lot of 7-Eleven. Dessert was anything I wanted from the candy aisle. No joke! Now, to be honest, he did do it to prove how ridiculous he thought the whole thing was, but still. Still! 7-Eleven! You know what? He was okay with it. Let me repeat that. He was okay with it. It was me – all me – with the problem, not him. I need to point out that this occurred prior to having children, lest any of you think I would have allowed this experiment with my own flesh and blood – unless you’ve fed your kids similar meals because it was easy and you knew it would be a big hit, which in that case, maybe it’s happened a few times since then, too.

So anyway, it still comes down to this: I have a burning desire to be seen as Supermom. I must be able to work outside the house in non-wrinkled, non-stained clothing, serve hot, nutritious meals that I prepare, and have a house that doesn’t make me pretend I’m not home when I hear the doorbell. The problem is, I don’t know how to do this. I try, I really do, but I feel like a hamster on a wheel. One day, I finally break down and I ask my mother how she did it. How did she raise four children practically by herself with only two hands? Did little fairies come in at night and help her? She just looks at me blankly and says, “I don’t know. I just did it.” That can’t be true. I think she’s holding out on me. I press her. She denies it. I cry. She pushes cookies. I feel better (and fatter). And she tells me the truth. She says, “Honey, the trick is to only care about some of the stuff.” Huh? That’s the secret? Well that’s just dumb. That would make me just like my husband. That would mean…..aha! That IS the trick, isn’t it? Just decide what’s more important!

Gee. Maybe my husband’s been right all along. He decided that the house wasn’t important to him, and that’s just the end of it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that important to me, either. Well, okay, maybe a little important, but maybe not THAT important? Like, dishes are important, as is cleaning the bathroom (yuck). But maybe having perfectly folded towels isn’t as important as, say, ironing my shirts. I don’t have to do both. It’s okay to just do one.

So that’s it, then. The Supermom’s Secret, not to be confused with Victoria’s Secret, which is another article altogether. Decide what’s most important and forget the rest. Is this really all there is to it? It sounds simple enough. I’m sharing the secret with you, though, because I do think this is the answer. We spend our days convinced all other moms are doing it better than we are, but they’re not, are they? The ones who project that image aren’t really that perfect in all areas. They’re just “super” in the areas that are important to them, and they choose not to care as much about the other areas. Could it be that I can finally call myself a Supermom? Can I do this? Can I really live this way? I don’t know. I’m going to have to give it a try. I’m going to have to ask my husband what he thinks over dinner tonight. And I’ll treat him to dessert, too. Anything from the candy aisle.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starting Preschool

Last February, I started looking at preschools for Megan. I hadn't really planned to so early, but I started seeing all kinds of advertisements for them, so I figured I'd better get on it. I found a few I liked, and decided on one. It's just down the street, comes recommended by my neighbor, and had all of the good stuff I wanted. Megan will be going two days a week, from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

It's funny. Megan went to daycare 3 days a week from 8:30 to 5 for two and a half years, and that wasn't so tough. I guess it's because I was at work all day. But now, I find myself a little sad that she'll be gone for 5 hours two days a week. I've gotten so accustomed to being home with her. She's so much fun right now. She asks a million questions, and while I tire of them somewhere around question #10,452, it's also really fun to talk with her, and to get to have conversations with my own child. The other night, we were out shopping, and I mentioned that the moon was full. She said, "what's it full of?" It was such a sweet question from a 3 year-old - asked so honestly and innocently.

So, in less than two weeks, my firstborn will be leaving me. My house will feel quiet (well, as quiet as it can feel with an infant!), because no one will be talking my ear off. And while I admit to napping most afternoons when the girls do, Emily will still be taking a morning nap for at least the next few months, leaving me some time in the morning all by myself. I don't think I can swing two naps a day. Does that mean I'm going to get to clean my house during the daylight instead of at night, when my kids are asleep? That could be really nice. But just you watch me goof around on the computer!

But seriously. The quietness. My baby girl, leaving me for a few hours, going to grown-up preschool. They really do grow up so fast. She's not a toddler at all anymore. She's a big girl, full of life, full of questions, full of fun. And I just know that in the blink of an eye, she'll be in elementary school, and then high school, and then she'll leave me for college. And then the tears will really flow.

Some Cooking Tips

After a recent cooking session with a friend, I realized other people might like some cooking tips. Because really, aren’t we all busy enough? I used to spend an hour in the kitchen on each meal, but once my daughter arrived, that went straight out the door! Prep time has to be at a minimum. I don’t care if something has to cook for 6 hours, but I can’t spend an hour chopping, sautéing and straining. My hands-on time is now for my kids, not my food. So, I’ll now share some of my favorite tips.

First, if something can be doubled easily, double it and freeze some for later. If a recipe sounds huge, such as a recipe for soup, make the whole thing and freeze it. There’s really very little that doesn’t freeze well – creams and uncooked potatoes, to name two – so as long as it’s not a cream-based soup, it will freeze just fine. So, I make a huge pot of chili, then portion it into sizes we’ll eat at once and use my handy vacuum sealer (LOVE that, by the way) so we can eat it later.

Second, make big batches of ingredients you can use in other things. Don’t just make enough mashed potatoes for dinner tonight – make a triple batch, then freeze the extra. When you want to make a shepherd’s pie, or just want a side dish, just grab them out of the freezer to skip half an hour of prep time. And never make just one batch of brown rice – make a huge pot. If it’s going to take an hour to took, you may as well spend one hour cooking 6 family-sized portions instead of just one. Keep it vacuum sealed in the freezer and you always have a quick side.

My very favorite tip? Every time chicken breasts are on sale, buy them in the giant value pack. Throw them in your crockpot with one can of chicken broth and enough water to cover, then cook them on low for 8 hours or high for 4. When they’re cooked, they’ll fall apart, so shred them and freeze them in 1- and 2-cup portions. Next time you want to make any sort of chicken casserole, soup, salad or pasta, you’ve saved yourself 30 minutes of cook time. Sure, it takes a little extra time to package all of that up one night, but it’s so incredibly nice to know you’ll save all of that time later.