Stay the F@#k in Bed

So everyone has read “Go the F@#k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach.  I think it’s time for a sequel.  Let’s call it “Stay the F@#k in Bed.”

I have three kids.  And two are good sleepers.  Which leaves, hmmm, one who isn’t (sorry it took me a bit to do the math, I’m operating on too little sleep, which makes me slow).  I think it’s a given that in any family with more than one kid, there is at least one that sucks at sleeping.  And for those folks who have only one kid and she’s a crappy sleeper, sorry.

E, my oldest kid, didn’t sleep through the night until 14 months.  Yes, you read that right, I didn’t sleep for OVER A YEAR.  And then, the only way I slept was with ear plugs.  We were so desperate to put the nighttime feedings behind us, we resorted to CIO (or cry it out for newbies).  And she finally got it.  But now as we chat with our friends, and notice our other two kids (Hey!  When did you get here?), we realize that not every 6 1/2 year old gets up at least once three or four times a week.  And sometimes, if we’re really lucky, more than ONCE A NIGHT.

Why?  Bad dream.  Gotta pee.  Hungry.  Thirsty.  Just wanted to check in.

So, I thought I’d come up with some ways to keep our lovely babes in bed.  Any other ideas?

Large, flashing sign that says “Go back to bed!” 

Okay, this one only works for kids that can read a little.  But I kind of like it.  Sort of like a “Do Not Enter” sign that you see for light rail trains.

Automatic door locks.

Once E sets foot on the floor, the bedroom door swings shut and locks.  The night lights glow a little brighter (we don’t need to freak her out) and soft, soothing music lulls her back to bed.

Slanting bed.

I’m thinking that a bed that gently rocks your child back from the edge, slanting ever so slightly to make it a little harder for them to climb out so easily, might do the trick.  Kind of like a rocking boat that gently forces encourages your child to slide back in bed.

Bed Belt.

I liked this idea from memyselfandkids.wordpress.com – “Bed Belts – this wonderful item will help you get that restful night that you so sorely need. You know the child who insists on getting up in the middle of night, getting in your bed, kicking you and stealing the blankets? Well, with the bed belt, you won’t know that child anymore.”

Automatic Warm Milk Dispenser.

Similar to the Jetsons futuristic stove, this machine will heat and dispense warm milk to soothe your child and send her back to sleep.  At the first sign of restlessness, the machine will begin its preparation of the sleep-inducing drink.

Any other ideas?  Any suggestions on keeping my kid in bed?

Operation Whittle Middle: Time for Me

I feel AWESOME.  Seriously.  Yesterday I blogged about fitting exercise into a busy schedule.  Part of that blog relayed a story about a colleague who gets up at 5 a.m. to work out.  Yes, you read that right.  She INTENTIONALLY gets up at 5 A.M. to EXERCISE.  Shocking, I know.  But guess what happened?  Today I woke up, unintentionally, at 5 A.M. Yes, I set my alarm for 5:40, but I got up at 4:45 to get a drink and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I tried to lay there, but decided to JUST DO IT and get up.

First, I logged on to check what was happening.  Not much.  Apparently there are not a lot of tweeters at 5 a.m.  G tried to wake up.  I told him it was still night and go back to sleep (then I rocked him (because who knows how much longer he’ll let me) and laid him down) and magically, it worked!  I ate some yogurt.  Then I pulled on my running gear, complete with headlamp.  At 5:54 I left.  And I ran.  And I ran.  And then I ran a little more.  5.3 miles.

And I remembered why I should get up to run early.

For me.

Have a great day – mine is off to a great start!

Just Do It

Plan Ahead Plaque

Now that my youngest child is two, I’ve decided it’s time to whip this almost-middle-aged body back into shape.  While I’ve found that a certain amount of ruching on a tankini top does wonders to disguise trick me into thinking that I’ve disguised my extra baggage, I’d like to see if I can get my body to resemble my pre-pregnancy body.  Well, and also because the last time I ran (about 3 weeks ago), I decided that my awesome 3 mile run really meant that I could run a half-marathon in November.  And I signed up for one.  Sigh.  And I installed an app on my phone to track my training.  Which I have yet to start because I have yet to run again.  Sigh.

How do other moms fit exercise into their busy schedules?  I know a lot of moms get up early to work out.  In fact, I was just talking to a colleague and she said that she gets up at the crack of dawn 5 a.m. to go to the gym.  I was so in shock that I emailed her later to ask what time she goes to bed, because, honestly, I need 7 hours of sleep to function.  She responded that she goes to bed at 10:30 or 11:00, because she needs 7 hours too.  She must be sleep-deprived, because, I’m sorry sister, that’s not 7 hours.

The problem is, that if you’re like me and you lap up articles on weight loss hoping they hold a magic key, you know that lots of studies suggest that lack of sleep may cause a weight loss plan to back fire.  What the hell?  How am I going to get rid of this baggage then?  Let’s take a look  at my schedule, because, I’m sure you know that you should plan ahead and schedule your workouts just like any other appointment.  (Ha.  Does that really trick anyone?  “Oh man.  I have a work out on my schedule today that I can’t possibly skip to grab a drink with Susie/Larry after work.  Bummer.  Maybe next time.”  It’s like setting your clock ahead 7 minutes.  It only serves to freak out everyone else while you simply subtract the extra 7 minutes.)

5:40 a.m.  Alarm goes off.  Jump up and set alarm for an hour later.

6:40 a.m.  Rise and shine!  Wake girls to get ready for school.

7:00 a.m.  If I’m taking girls to school, get ready for work. If H is taking girls to school, make lunches.

7:30 a.m.  Leave for school.  Threaten no TV if girls don’t brush teeth right now!

7:33 a.m.  Yell that we need to leave right now or tardy slips!!

7:35 a.m. Forget cell phone – run back in to get it.

7:38 a.m.  Leave for school.

8:10 a.m.  Drive to work after dropping girls at their classes.

8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.  Work.

4:45 p.m. Leave to pick up girls from school and G from daycare.

6:00 p.m.  Arrive home and wish I’d planned dinner that morning.  Call H and hope he has a plan.

6:15 p.m.  Look in cupboards and freezer hoping something tasty and easy will materialize.  Make dinner.  Supervise homework.

6:45 p.m. Eat dinner.

7:15 p.m. Do dishes and clean kitchen.  Play and hang out with kids.

7:40 p.m.  Get kids ready for bed.

8:00 p.m.  Books before bed.

8:30 p.m. Lights out.

8:37 p.m. Give C another kiss and hug.

8:45 p.m.  Tell E to go back to bed.

8:50 p.m.   Tell E to go back to bed.

8:57 p.m.  Tell E to go back to bed!!

9:00 – 10:45 p.m.  Watch TV and catch up with H.

10:45 p.m. Get ready for bed.

10:55 p.m. Read.

10:58 p.m. Lights out.

I guess I could cut out some of the time hanging with H and watching TV.  After all, we’ve had over 20 years to talk, what more can we say?  (Maybe I can just have him read this blog, then we’ll be caught up.)

But what I really hate are the articles and blogs that suggest it’s simple to fit exercise into our lives.  Like this one, that says “Even a trip to the park with the kids provides an opportunity for you to exercise. Run laps around the perimeter or use the equipment to do strength moves like dips or pullups.”  Because, really, that wouldn’t be weird.  And frankly, when my kids are at the park, I like to sit on a bench and hope they don’t want me to get up to push them on the damn swing.

Of course, the suggestions to exercise while cleaning the house sound normal too, right?  (Now this chick has a great body, but seriously, does anyone clean their wood floors like this?  I think more parents would use a baby mop instead.)

So, I guess I have to become a planner.  A scheduler.  And just get out of bed and do it, dammit.  Do you have any tricks to share on how you fit exercise in?

*”Plan Ahea” plaque is from jessichka on etsy.com.  Click the picture for a link.

Dream Job

Recently, a friend and I were bantering about the perfect job.  You know, when you’re stressed at work or have been stuck with a sucky project, you always day dream about a better job.  I had a few requirements: it has to be something that I’m naturally gifted with, doesn’t require too much effort and would sound good at parties.
5.  Real Estate Agent
 
Frankly, I’m not sure that this one really has the party effect that I’m looking for.  Maybe if I described it differently than “real estate agent.”  I can picture this conversation: “E what do you do?”  “Oh, I make people’s dreams come true.”  Yep, that sounds a lot better than realtor!  Also, I don’t want anyone to get their panties in a twist, because I know that any successful real estate agent has to work HARD.  But living here in Silicon Valley, the houses practically sell themselves at times.  The true test of skill in this area is not SELLING homes, but helping your clients to BUY a home.  And I can convince anyone, and I mean anyone, to do anything I want.  Well, except I can’t get my kids to clean their rooms.  Or pick up their crap.  Or brush their teeth.  Or get ready for school.  Or, well, do pretty much anything.  I guess being a real estate agent is out.  Damn.  I really enjoy looking at other people’s houses.
 
4.  Trend Spotter
 
Seriously, this is a job.  People get paid to tell companies what the next big thing is.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Hanging out at a coffee shop, looking for hip, new trends!   Wouldn’t that be sick?  (I just figured out that “sick” is the new word for “cool.”  How hip is that?  I can’t wait to use it on my MySpace page!  What do you mean MySpace is over?  Crap.  Scratch this one off the list.)
 
3.  Party Planner
 
 
Fun!  Who wouldn’t love to plan parties?  And, frankly, I’m pretty good at it (with a little help from my husband, H).  We’re THOSE parents that plan home birthday parties with games and activities, make themed birthday cakes themselves and generally try to make it a party the kids will remember without spending a ton.   Except we’re always doing things last minute.  Like staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. writing the guests’ names in sparkle glue on fairy wands.  Or frosting the individual train cars for the train cake (that we hid in the oven and forgot about when we started pre-heating the oven the next day – nightmare!), or downloading Little Mermaid and pirate songs from iTunes.  Hmmm.  I kind of like my sleep.   Next!
 
2.  Negotiator
 
This is a job I’d be really good at.  I can negotiate the pants off someone (figuratively, not literally, I mean, unless that was the goal).  I negotiate all the time with my kids.
“Kids, bedtime is in 10 minutes.  Get your pjs on.”
Two minutes later, after no one has moved: “Did you hear me?  Bed time is in 8 minutes.  Get moving!”
Three minutes later, after no one has moved and E exclaims that she’s hungry: “What do you mean you’re hungry?  Have a banana!  Now get moving!”
Two minutes later, after no one has moved, other than E getting a banana: “That’s it!  No shows tomorrow unless you get your pjs on and get to bed!”
Five minutes later, after no one has moved: “All right, that’s it.  I’M going to bed.”
Hmmm.  Maybe that job won’t work out either.
 
1.  Private Investigator
Now, this job, is truly my calling.  After all, what do PIs do?  They find stuff.  They figure out who did stuff.  I do that all day long.  I find crap and figure out who broke it.
What’s your dream job?

What’s that? I can’t hear you!

I have a confession.  I think I’m getting old.  Okay, that was half-assed.  I AM getting old.  I know, I know, impossible to think with my youthful glow (from a bottle) or my soft skin (thanks to this), but it’s true.  And here’s how I can tell.  (And no, it’s not because I don’t get carded anymore or because I pulled every muscle in my entire body trying to show E how to do a cartwheel, although those could have been hints.)

I went to the counter of a Children’s Place store and told the clerk to turn down the music. Gasp!!  I have turned into my dad at 60!  Damn noise.  Here’s what happened.

I took the kids to the mall for a little shopping.  We stopped into the Children’s Place to see what we could find.  As we’re walking around, E headed one way, C headed another, and thank goodness G was strapped into a stroller.  I’m browsing and realize, I don’t see either of my other two kids.  So, I call out “E, C, where are you?”  No answer.  Or at least I think there was no answer because the MUSIC WAS BLARING.  (Oops – did I just yell?)  I start wandering around the racks calling out “E, C!!  E, C!!”  Nothing.  Nada.  I start to get the grip of fear, when E wanders by with an armful of clothes.  “E, didn’t you hear me calling you?” “What, Mom?  I can’t hear you!  Did you say something?”  Then I find C, cowering under a clothes rack, covering her ears.  So I marched up to the counter and said “The music is too loud.  Could you please turn it down?”  The girl looked at me and said “Hold on, I need to turn the music down, I can’t hear you.”  After the music volume was reduced to an acceptable level, I suggested that they keep it there.  I mean, my kid couldn’t even hear me yelling for her!  And I’m loud!

Has this happened to you?  Have you noticed that what was once muzak and calming background music has gotten louder and is now the actual song (which only tends to distract me more, like shiny objects)?  Are we just getting old or is everyone younger than us deaf?  Can you hear me?

10 Things Designed for Kids by People Without Kids

Last week, my family got the stomach flu.  G, our two-year-old, got it first.  He’d been acting off and a little grumpy, so when he threw up on Wednesday morning, it made sense.  We got him cleaned up and put him to bed for a nap, then went back to our normal routine.  In the afternoon, when I had to go pick up his sister, E, from school, I didn’t think much about it.  Until he puked.  In the car.  On his carseat.  With 5 minutes left of the drive to our house.  I tried to stay calm as he whimpered and E gagged, and C, his other sister, shrieked “He threw up!  He threw up!”  As soon as we arrived home, the girls bolted from the car and the stench, and I grabbed G, stripping off his puke-laden clothes as I unstrapped him.  I got him inside and cleaned up, and laid him on the couch to watch “Cars.”  Then I went out to the swagger wagon to clean up the mess.  The smell of vomit was overpowering.  Fortunately, all he’d had all morning was a little juice and water, so there were no chunks.  But it smelled.  Bad.  I started to unhook the car seat cover, realizing to get it off I would have to undo the straps and feed them through the slits in the cover.  Which meant I had to unhook the whole carseat to get to the back of the seat to unhook the straps.  And feeding the straps through the minuscule slots was a joke.  I almost gave up.  Then I thought about shelling out $300 for another car seat and I persevered.  Finally, FINALLY, I was successful.  I threw it in the wash and laid it to dry on the drying rack.  Then I focused on washing the straps.  Which was successful (I think) but something STILL smells (which I’m reminded of every time one of the girls gets in the van, like I don’t have a nose and can’t smell it myself).  After the cover was dry, I set about putting it back on the seat.  That was torture in itself.  Getting the straps and the connectors through the slots was a nightmare.  I’m surprised I was able to do it.  But this whole exercise got me thinking “What kind of jerk designs a carseat cover that requires a degree in brain surgery to remove and reinstall, when it’s meant for small children, who regularly (a) pick their noses and wipe them wherever, (b) spill crap, everywhere, (c) puke and (d) pee and poop in their pants, leaking out of diapers or during potty training?  A jerk without kids, that’s who!”  So I’ve come up with a list of 10 things for kids that must have been designed by people without kids, in no particular order.

10.  Car seat covers

See above.

9.  Squinkies

These are minuscule little toys, shaped like characters and animals, too small to do anything with other than get lost in the carpet.

8.  Polly Pocket Shoes for Princesses

Can you see the shoe in the picture above?  Next to the Squinkie monkey?  Now imagine you’re at Disneyland with your kids for the first time.  One kid picks out the Little Mermaid Polly Pocket travel set.  It comes with several outfits for Ariel, including at least 4 PAIRS of teeny, tiny shoes.  Now imagine spending the next several days searching tirelessly, over and over, through two hotel rooms, looking for all of these shoes and all of the other accessories.  When you’re unable to find them, you skip maid service in case housekeeping vacuums up one of them.  Because, dammit, if we’re going to lose them, we should lose them at home, after vacation.

7.  Removable Wheels

This is partly the same problem as number 8, above, but for kids who like cars more than princesses.  But seriously, how many times do I take the wheels off of my car?  Like never. I let the tire man do that.  So why design a play car where they come off?  I’m sure that’s what this family was thinking when they finally found that missing wheel from their LEGO set.

6.  Halloween Costumes with Special Cleaning Instructions

We’ve all done it.  Usually it’s the kid’s first Halloween where they’re able to (1) eat candy because we’ve given in and allowed them sugar finally and (2) walk on their own.  We wandered past a Pottery Barn for Kids or stopped into the now-defunct Baby Style and fell in love with a dog/peacock/flamingo/cupcake/dinosaur costume that our child HAD TO HAVE.  We shelled out enough money to buy a case or two of Two Buck Chuck and brought home the perfect Halloween costume.  Never mind that we bought it in September and there’s no way, I mean, NO WAY the kid will want to wear it again come Halloween, but we never bothered to think about, much less read, the cleaning instructions.  Now, throw a toddler, possibly a potty-training toddler, into the mix.  And chocolate.  And lollipops.  Some tootsie rolls???  What do you have?  Pure disaster.  And a dry cleaning bill to boot.

5.  A Musical Training Potty

Seriously.  Who thought of this one?  I can only imagine the brainstorming session.  “I know, I know!  Let’s make a potty that plays a tune when something is dropped into it!  Immediate gratification!  Moms will love that they don’t have to give the kid a sticker or treat!  I can’t believe no one’s thought of this before.”  Um, that’s because kids are pretty smart.  And they know that it doesn’t have to be a bodily fluid or solid that makes the damn potty play the tune.  Pretty much anything will work.  And it reinforces that throwing things like matchbox cars into a potty is a fun thing to do.  Genius.

4.  Bunk Beds with Immovable Guard Rails

Our two daughters share a room.  It’s a necessity and we have to have a bunk bed.  While changing sheets is a severe pain in the neck, I really believe it wouldn’t be so bad if the damn guard rail could be lowered.  I mean, really.  Is it rocket science?

3.  Pull Ups with Two Different Designs Per Box

Those of you without kids are thinking, “What?  You don’t want the kid to have choices?  Won’t they get bored?”  Imagine getting your kid ready for bed.  You grab a pull up and hand it to her.  She looks at it and screams “Not one with all the princesses!  I want one with only Sleeping Beauty/Tiana/Rapunzel!”  You look at the clock and sigh, then grab another one.  Damn, three princesses.  Another one.  Pretty soon you’re clawing through the box like you just lost the winning lottery ticket trying to find the one pull up that will allow you to put the kid to bed.  Kids don’t need choices on the undergarment they’re going to pee in.

2.  Packaging that Requires Tools for Removal

My son turned 2 last week.  After his party, he opened his presents.  He received a Big Rumbler Mover.  He danced around wanting it “Out!  Out!”  Two screw drivers and two dads later, he finally was able to play with it.  Seriously, when did packaging require an engineering degree to remove?

1.  Shorts or Pants for a Toddler with Buttons

Why?

Honorable Mention:  VW Passat Station Wagon

This one gets an honorable mention, because technically, it’s not a product for kids.  However, it is designed with the idea that the owner may cart some children around, so therefore, I believe it belongs on the list.

When my husband and I were planning to start a family, we decided it was a great opportunity to buy a station wagon.  We didn’t understand the allure of a minivan, when station wagons were (1) smaller, so more stylish and better on the gas budget, yet (2) big enough that you could still fit a ton of crap in them.  Plus, both of us grew up in families with them and fond memories of car trips abounded.  We ultimately decided on the Passat, mainly because it was cute and in our price range.  After discovering that our family of four was going to become five, I stubbornly refused to discuss upgrading to a minivan.  We were going to save gas and money by cramming two car seats and a booster into the Passat back seat.  Then I discovered that you can’t find the seat belt to use with a booster when there are two car seats installed, so we ended up buying yet another car seat (I think we’ve purchased 7 car seats and 4 boosters for 3 kids, which backs up my decision to keep the pukey one as discussed above).  But it worked!!  I successfully installed three car seats across the Passat back seat while 8.5 months pregnant.  A few months after G decided to join us out in the world, we were getting ready to take the kids and the Passat to Disneyland (see number 8 above).  That’s when the rattle started.  The day before our road trip, I heard a strange noise, primarily when going around a curve or turning.  Sometimes while stopping.  After imagining a wheel careening off of the car while driving through the Grapevine area, I called the dealer and made a service appointment.  When I showed up, with G in tow in his infant carrier, I was met by a different service rep than I usually dealt with.  My husband picked us up, then I waited for rep to call me and tell me what was wrong.  My cell rang around 5 or 6 hours after I dropped off the car.  The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, uh, we’re done with your car.”

“Great, what was the problem?”

“We don’t know.”

“What?  What does that mean?”

“So, we cleaned out your back seat.  Man, lady, you had a lot of stuff back there.”

“Yes, I have three kids, I know there was a lot but I didn’t have time to clean it out before I dropped it off.”

“No, I mean you had a ton of stuff back there.” He laughed and continued, “I’ve never seen so much stuff.  There were books, and crayons, and toys, and…”

“Yes, there was a lot of stuff.  So what was wrong?”

“Oh, we don’t know.  We think something may have fallen into the air vent under the seat.  That’s what’s rolling around when you’re driving.  Are your kids missing any toys?”

Is he kidding me?  He just told me how much crap I have back there and he thinks I keep an inventory?  “Uh, not that I know of.  So, it’s okay to drive it?”

“Yes, everything checked out.”

So, in closing, perhaps a vehicle used to transport kids would be well served to have some sort of, say, grill or cover over the air vents under the seats.  I’m just sayin.’