6.30.2011

Chevy Volt Made Us a Big Deal

My sister Christina called. "Is Matt driving a Volt around?" The answer was yes. Apparently, she and her husband, Tristan, were driving down the street when Tristan saw the Volt coming. He got excited, then realized it was his brother-in-law behind the wheel.

"Do you want to come over and look at it?" I asked. Suddenly all the head turning from the drive to my friend's shower earlier that day made sense. I thought it was because I was running an hour late and probably looked frantic, but it was the awesome car I was driving. Having this car made me a BIG DEAL... Too bad it was only on loan.

I'm not a "car person," so knew nothing about the Volt when I won a week-long test drive at a TheChicagoMoms.com event. I just thought it would be nice to have another car on hand, especially a new car. If you're like me and don't know about the Volt, let me fill you in: According to Chevy, the Volt is "a full performance, electric vehicle with extended range." It's the first vehicle of its kind. It's a pretty big deal.

It's not often that you have the opportunity to drive a new car and very few people will ever have the opportunity to drive a car that is truly NEW: New on the market, new technology, NEW, NEW, NEW! But we did.

The friendly gentlemen who brought it to my house explained that I had about 35 miles of straight battery before it would start to use the fuel back up. It was like he was speaking a foreign language, so my first thought was "I'm nine months pregnant, is this safe? Should I have a car that can only get me 35 miles?" OK, I'm a huge idiot. The car could have continued 375 miles (the gas engine works with the extended range battery mode). The 35 miles were what I could count on to be TOTALLY GAS AND TAILPIPE EMISSIONS FREE. Nothing. The car was quiet, so quiet I had to keep double checking that it was actually running.

I plugged it into the garage every time I came home, more for the excitement of actually being able to plug a car in (seriously, it's that cool). I quickly learned exactly which fuse the garage is on when I started the dishwasher and promptly blew it. The cord wasn't long enough to move it to another outlet, so we just had to be aware of what was being used when the car was charging.

All in all, I loved driving the Volt, but didn't get to drive it a ton. I couldn't bring myself to put the car seat in the back. The thought of damaging it was beyond scary, so I used it only when I could run somewhere without the kiddo. I wish I could have gotten more use out of it, not only because of how efficient and fun it was to drive, but because turning heads is always pretty awesome.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary loan of the Chevy Volt with no other compensation. The opinions in this post are my own.

6.27.2011

When a Baby's Fever is Over 100.4


Lessons You Will Learn From This Post:
  • Seeing a baby with an iv is just plain sad.
  • Pediatricians actually have a reason for telling you to keep your babies away from other kids and anyone carrying germs for the first four weeks of baby's life.
  • I like to brag about my super human ability to be the last man standing around here, but not include the break down that follows (such as the July 2010 Shingles experience).
  • Losing power sucks.
  • Sitting in the hospital with a baby for 24 hours is B.O.R.I.N.G. (after you get over the scary part).
  • Doctor's answering services want to save you money.
  • When your baby's fever is over 100.4, pack your bags... You're going to the hospital.
W has had a summer cold that he caught from Matt who caught it from someone at work. Then he spiked a fever and the cold moved to his chest. We tried to keep him away from the baby and tried to keep Matt's baby handling to a minimum. But, despite our best intentions, the baby started a low grade fever on Wednesday night (during our no power period). I checked him every few hours. It jumped around, sitting below 100.1 until around 8 am on Thursday morning when it jumped to 100.5.

All I could hear was my pediatrician's voice telling me to keep the baby away from other kids for the first month and to immediately call the office if he develops a fever above 100.4 and to plan to make a visit to the hospital.

Below is a version of the phone calls that followed:

Answering Service: "Doctor's answering service."

Me: "Um, hi, my baby has a 100.5 fever and my doctor told me to call if it ever went over 100.4."

AS: "Would you like me to call the doctor on call?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess. This is what he told me to do."

AS: "OK, just to warn you, there will be a $50 fee. Would you still like me to call him?"

Me: "Yeah, whatever, fine. Call him. My baby has a fever."

AS: "The office opens in 45 minutes and then you wouldn't have to incur the fee. Would you like to wait?"

Me: "Not really. If the doctor said to call right away, I'm guessing he has a good reason. I'm calling because he told me to."

OK, so maybe I have a tendency to assume that the bad warnings will never apply to me and tend to zone out during these conversations in all aspects of life. So, of course I had NO IDEA why the fever might be an issue. In my head I had created a scenario in which a fever could cause brain damage and that every minute would count in saving my baby from long term complications or something dramatic. Going on...

The phone rang within in a couple of minutes and here is a little part of our conversation:

Dr: "Can you tell me what's going on with B?"

Me: "He has a fever of 100.5 and the doctor told me to call if it went over 100.4."

Dr: "OK, is he acting normal?"

Me: "Um, I don't know. I don't really know him that well, he's pretty young. But, yeah, he's normal. Sleeping more during the day, feeding more, not sleeping at night, but that's all normal for him, I guess. I'm pretty sure he has the same cold my husband and other son have. He's pretty congested. I'm the only one who hasn't caught it." (yes, I feel the need to let the pediatrician know that I'm doing just fine.)

Dr: "That could be it, but we can't make any assumptions with a baby. So, I'm going to ask you to go to the emergency room. I'd rather be safe and this is how we would normally treat an infant with a fever. I'll call and let them know you're on the way, so you won't have to wait."

Me: "Ummm, OK. So, I have to go now?"

Dr: "Yes, as soon as you can. And they might want to keep you for a night or possibly two, so you should pack a bag."

Me: "Really? Could the thermometer be a fluke? Should I retake it?" (Cue tears.)

Dr: "Are YOU okay?"

Me: (Cue more tears.) "I'm fine. Really, I am. It's just been such a long week. Everyone is sick. I haven't gotten more than two hours of sleep for weeks. I've had mastitis, then we both had thrush. All he wants to do is eat and he only sleeps during the day. And the power! Our power has been out. I haven't showered in days. Our power just came back on and now I have to leave?"

Dr: "This power thing is crazy, right? I just got here and could barely see to open the door with my key. It's hot in here and kind of smells like sewer. Our computers are down, our phones are down, and we only have enough power from the generators to keep the vaccines cold enough. I can't see anything."

And I immediately pulled it together, realizing the world is much bigger than what is going on within the walls of our little house. I needed to suck it up. After we talked through what would happen at the ER (urine test, blood test, and spinal tap to cover all the bases and then lots of antibiotics given by iv), I through a bag together and we were off to the hospital where he'd been born only four weeks prior. Too early for a return visit.

I spent 24 hours in the hospital with the baby, which meant I held him for 24 hours straight, working around his iv to hold him, nurse him, and change him. There are no swings or bouncy seats in the hospital, just your arms. Luckily, my mom, sisters, and Matt each paid us some visits while passing W around. I sat on a hospital bed, greeting the nurses coming in and out, didn't get much sleep, and may have watched Dear John in the wee hours of the night (don't judge, my choices were worse).

Now we're home, healthy and happy. Everything checked out OK and Matt got his first good night's sleep in four weeks.

6.26.2011

When the Power Goes Out

This week was our first tornado warning as parents. As the Chicago area was just starting to get pummeled on Tuesday night, we were taking turns holding the baby and eating the salad I'd thrown together for dinner. W was asleep. We were looking forward to catching up on some So You Think You Can Dance when we remarked about how dark it was outside. Then we heard a branch come down on the ceiling and a second later the tornado sirens started. We looked at each other, both wondering if it was worth waking up W to head to the basement...

Obviously, it was. After all, it is our responsibility to keep them safe. But, if we didn't have little ones in the house, we may have finished our salads first. Matt grabbed W, I ran down with B. Our basement is functional for storage, a work out space, laundry, and a small office, but not much else and definitely not for camping out with two little kids.

Within a second of getting into the basement W noticed the snacks and toys that I store (read: HIDE) down there.

"Wow! Snacks! And I-Screamer! Is that mine?" He was completely unfazed by the sirens and being pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, standing barefoot on a freezing, cement floor, but what was jarring to him was the reality that he's been living right above so many yummy treats and fun toys.

"Ummm, yeah, I-Screamer is a present from the baby to say thank you for being such a good big brother. I was going to give it to you tomorrow." In reality, it was intended as a birthday gift for August. But, the argument and badgering from him wasn't worth it, so I handed it over.

As Matt ran upstairs to get blankets for us to sit on, I wrestled with the packaging, while gripping the baby. Matt came back down and I sent him back up for my phone, thinking we could monitor the storm on Twitter. Then I sent him up for my Boppy, knowing the baby would be hungry soon. He came back down and I asked for my computer to see if we could check some local news sites. And then it was for a radio, in case the power went out. It went on like this for some time. Like I said, this was our first tornado drill.

The power flashed about five times, the sirens quieted after twenty minutes, and we headed upstairs when POP - Power was out completely. Candles, flashlights, W back to bed, we went to sleep figuring the power would be back on by the morning. It wasn't.

Matt thought quickly and ran out for coffee for us and milk for W before he had to go to work. W and I spent the morning coloring, playing games, and answering a lot of questions about power. We changed the location of a play date from my house to a house with power and spent the day playing and charging my phone on someone else's power. I was actually a little thankful that the drive home took an hour and a half, rather than 45 minutes (thanks to most lights being down), so W could get in a nap. We had dinner at my parents' house that night, but decided to sleep at home. We went home to darkness. Around 5 am on Thursday morning the power came back, just in time for us to realize the baby had a fever and we had to head to the emergency room.

My conversation with the pediatrician may go down in crazy mom history. And, yes, I'll leave it there. How's that for a cliffhanger?

Check back tomorrow... Dare I say: TO BE CONTINUED?

6.21.2011

Making Healthy Food Choices with Kellogg's FiberPlus Cereal

I love cereal. I really do. All my life cereal has been one of my go-to foods. I have great memories of sitting at the kitchen table eating many bowls of cereal. As I’ve gotten older, so has my taste, and the cereal I eat has changed considerably. I still adore cereal, but the sugary options that I used to reach for are now far too sweet for me. More important, reading the side of most cereal boxes is reason enough to change your tastes. While delicious, cereal is often not a nutritional win.

With so many options for my favorite food, I really try to make the best choices possible. My biggest priorities with cereal is that they’re high fiber, whole grain, and satisfy my taste for a little sweetness and a good crunch. With the insane schedule we keep, I often have cereal for a meal. I focus on high fiber options for breakfast, knowing it helps me to start my day with a filling meal and a healthy choice (which I hope I’ll continue to do all day). It’s often my lunch when I’m working at home and becomes dinner when I have a meeting after work. The busier we are, the more cereal I tend to eat.

Lately I’ve found new cereals to work into my rotation. Kellogg’s FiberPlus Berry Yogurt Crunch and Cinnamon Oat Crunch fit my specific tastes perfectly and are great when I need something quick, easy, and satisfying. Often high fiber cereals tend to either get too soggy or don’t deliver with flavor, but these make me happy and I feel confident sharing them with my kids.

Teaching my kids healthy eating habits is one of my main priorities as a mom. Our eating habits are above average: we eat organic whenever possible, a lot of whole grains, few white breads or rice, and stick to lean meats. I’m not perfect and wouldn’t consider myself to be a nutrition freak, rather I’d call myself a conscientious eater. Having options that allow me to continue to satisfy my own tastes and cravings while teaching my kids how to make good choices makes life a little easier.

And anything that makes my life easier and is healthy is something I can get really excited about. Don't you agree?

DISCLOSURE: I received compensation and a box of each of the Kellogg's FiberPlus cereals to review for this post. The opinions shared in this post are all my own.

6.19.2011

Why We're Lucky on Father's Day


Happy Father's Day to all the amazing dads out there! Especially one in particular...

I am the first to admit that I am so very lucky. Matt is the most hands-on Dad you may ever meet. Truth be told, he has had far more one-on-one time with W than I have. He gives up all of his own free time for W. Sometimes it's difficult to figure out who is having more fun when they're playing or who is driving the story line for the Smurfs, cars, trains, and dinos.

Matt is a special kind of father. We are so lucky to have him and I'm incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful role model for my boys. I hope they always know how much he loves them.

Being a *good* dad isn't an easy job. Dads tend to be the butt of the jokes in tv ads, framed as a clueless dunce who just can't ever seem to get it right, with mom in the background rolling her eyes, hands firmly on hips. Moms tend to be the decision makers, the driving force in the home, but expect Dads to read our minds when it's time to jump in and do things the same way we would. When the kids get hurt or sick, they reach for Mom. Mom is the established parent, often the family expert on the kids. There is something a bit unfair about that when it comes to Dad. I could go on and on, but when it comes to parents I feel like the more thankless job tends to be Dad's. And, yes, there are many Dads out there who deserve it, but luckily I'm not married to one of them.

6.14.2011

Stickers!


I keep telling people that becoming a big brother is probably the best thing that has happened to W in terms of getting gifts and treats. It got to the point that he'd ask people who came to visit what they brought for him. Not kidding.

We're lucky to have so many thoughtful and generous people in our life. Many asked me what they could bring for W and in an attempt to think of something inexpensive that he would completely freak out about I'd recommend stickers.

Currently stickers are a huge hit around here. (He went through a book of 1,000 stickers in two days.) It's like a sticker jungle in our house. We've moved on from putting stickers on the furniture to layering them in piles and onto sticking them all over his shirt.

I've been looking for a sticker book, but can't find one. I seem to remember sticker books being much easier to find when I was younger. Until then we at least have t-shirts.

p.s. How about that Big Boy hair cut!?!? Now you can see why I started crying at Kid Snips. It's cute, right? But, I kind of hate it. I really miss his curls.Link

6.13.2011

Big Brother Song


The hardest part of having a second child is your first child. Suddenly you realize just how much they've grown and your expectations for them seem a little unfair. How are they supposed to share the spotlight overnight?

Anyone who knows W knew that this transition would be tough for him... He's not only our first child, he's my parents first grandchild, my sisters's first nephew, my aunt and uncles first great-nephew, my cousins's first second cousin, and my grandpa's first great grandchild. You know what I'm saying, right? He's everyone's first. So, he gets a ton of attention and is a lover of the spotlight.

He's clearly learned how to read his audience and is quite possibly the funniest person I have ever met. For a two year-old, he has an uncanny sense of humor and timing. I know all kids are funny, but he has an exceptional ability to make us laugh.

The other day he was leaning over B in the swing and, as he likes to do, he was making up a little song that went something like this:

You're so cute, Look at those little feet. I love you. You're my brother. What a sweet baby.

I rubbed his back and thought, "Wow, what a great big brother! He's really embracing this... What a sweet moment."

And then he wraps up his song with...

I don't love you. Go away.

He glanced up at me with a sideways smile, waiting for my reaction. I couldn't help but laugh.

OK, so maybe we're almost there.

*Photo courtesy of our neighbor, Evan

6.06.2011

Dirty Diapers Bring Out My Inner Snail

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. This post was inspired by the book.

I don't often think of snails. The most I've ever thought of them was when I was in Dublin for a writing program at Trinity University. I remember these incredible, gigantic snails slowing making their way across the sidewalk in the early morning when I would head out for a run. Sometimes I'd see what could very well be the same snail finally making it to the other side as I returned from my run, a faint glistening trail marking its slow crossing.

Reading about the complexities of a snail and the experience of having nothing to do but observe one, I realized something... Even I have a little snail in me. In the book Bailey is stuck in bed due to illness, so as she observes a snail living by her bedside, she notices the focus, patience, and determination of these little creatures. She notices that its actions are all very specific and well thought out. No matter what the obstacle, the snail would slowly and methodically go about its business.

With W, I learned quickly that moms get lots of overwhelming curve balls thrown our way. Tasks or situations that seem really out of control happen a lot. For instance, the diaper explosion. I mean the crazy explosions that go up the back and down to the toes of the footy pajamas. And they always seem to be the worst when you're in public, right?

When faced with an explosion, the freak out button is blinking, tempting you to give in. The task just seems so huge -- And always an emergency. It's hard to figure out where to begin, so I learned early on to take a deep breath, assess the situation, and then create steps in my head of how I would get W clean. I often talked myself through it. "Unzip the sleeper, wipe down stomach, pull out on leg, wipe, pull out the other leg, wipe, roll up sleeper poop side in along the back, remove diaper and wipe down diaper area, flip onto front side, wipe down back, lean baby face forward and pull sleeper away from the head, sliding out the arms, full wipe down...."

Sure, it could take 15 minutes to change these monster diapers, but once I would make it half way, I knew I was almost there. I would constantly remind myself that no matter how long it takes and how much he screams, there is no way to make the process go any faster. The more rushed I became, the more poop I got on myself and the more wipes I wasted. In the end, slow and methodical always won the race.

Slow and methodical is not a comfort zone for me. I live in constant fear of wasting time. I tend to read the first line of directions, check the picture, and then figure things out on my own. I am constantly multi-tasking. Focus on one task is not a strength of mine. Trying to be patient gives me anxiety. But, when you're a mom, you can't always bulldoze your way through every situation (bulldozing is my preferred way of handling things). Sometimes you just have to channel your inner snail.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a member of the From Left to Write Book Club. To read how other bloggers were inspired by this book, visit From Left to Write.

No, Really, I'm Fine, the Crying is Normal

At least half of my friends don't have kids. So, when they read things that include the words LISA, EMOTIONS, and CRYING in the same sentence it seems that their radar might go off. Yes, my getting emotional and crying is not a common occurrence. And even less common is the chance that I might admit that I'm emotional and/or crying. Usually I beat someone to the punch and tell them I'm fine to thwart any emotions that I might currently be burying.

So, my revelation of postpartum crying jags seems to shake things up for my non-mom friends. Man, I have really good friends... I received a number of "you're going a great job," "don't beat yourself up," "are you ok?," "let me know what I can do to help," and (my favorite) "it's ok to cry!" (OK, my most favorite came from Mollie, who thought it was completely hilarious that I've been crying around town, but she's a MD, so knows how this works.) It's sweet.

On the other hand, my friends with kids don't bat an eye at learning about the crying outbursts. They call to laugh about it or discuss with an "oh maaan, that's the stuff that makes me think twice about having more kids." Because you can't imagine what it's like until you've been through it yourself... It's hard to imagine crying because your son just looks so damn cute or getting teary as you walk by high school graduation parties in your neighborhood. It's irrational, it's ridiculous, it could be scary. And that's the point of my putting it out there.

One my goals with this blog has always been to be honest about life as a mom. I learned the first time around that being a mom can be really overwhelming, scary, and isolating. Instead of crying alone in my room and wondering if something might be wrong with me, I'm coming clean about it. To me, the fantasy of a deliriously happy new super mom is rubbish. It puts too much pressure on all of us and I know it always makes me feel better to know that someone else has been through something. Ultimately, if one new mom can read this or remember reading this and take comfort in it, then that makes me incredibly happy.

And if that doesn't work, here's another way to look at it... I know plenty of weak/not-so-smart people who have raised kids. If they survived, so can we.

6.03.2011

My Crying Tour

In the last 24 hours I've cried in the following public places:

1. Kid Snips: The stylist told me to walk away from W when he was clinging to me and acting like he was being tortured in his taxi shaped chair as he watched Winnie the Pooh and the nice lady sprayed his hair down with water. I walked away, feeling the emotions rise. Then she started to cut his hair and it got shorter and shorter and suddenly I'm that strange lady sobbing to her husband in Kid Snips. The stylist only then realized we also had a baby with us, asked how old he was, and then nodded sympathetically. The woman at the desk told me about crying all over the place with her newborn daughter. I appreciated their concern and shared experiences. But, I wasn't embarrassed. I didn't need comforting, because I know how it goes.

2. Whole Foods: We did some shopping and then had lunch there. A woman at the next table spent about 20 minutes full on staring at the boys. We probably looked like a happy little family, sharing lunch on a Thursday with the chattiest toddler around. When she walked away Matt commented on how nice it must be to be that age and see young families out and about. My response: "Are you kidding me? It must be terribly depressing. Let's not talk about this." Cue wistful tears.

3. Car Dealership: We currently have one sedan. It works fine, but with two car seats and a dog, we're not exactly going to be comfortably cruising to Michigan or Wisconsin. Remember when we had that Chevy Traverse? Well, now that's what I want... So, we're looking for one. We have some specific criteria for what we want and what we're willing to pay and it's going to be hard to find the right car. I'm not sure why, but when Matt explained we have a newborn and a two and a half year old and need to upgrade to a family car to the sales guy, I just got all sappy and teary. But, luckily, no one noticed.

So, why the crying? Why the anxiety? Because I had a baby about two minutes ago, that's why. I knew this would happen, it happened with W.

I know I'm not crazy. Ok, well not totally crazy (I'm a little nuts, sure). Lots of extra estrogen, total lack of sleep, recovering from GIVING BIRTH, and the whole birth/mortality wake up call is like a recipe for emotional disaster area. I know how scary it was the first time around, but with a little perspective I've learned to laugh (in between the crying) and remind myself that it will pass.

And these all just happened yesterday. I have weeks of random crying fits to look forward to. Not to mention the nightly "Will I actually get any sleep tonight?" anxiety attacks, the guilt about rocking W's world, the post-maternity body issues, the slap in the face that W is getting so old and this baby is going to be huge in about 3 seconds, and the shift from working mom to maternity leave...

So, if you know a new mom or if you are a new mom and these crying fits scare you, know that they'll pass. Sure, thinking about your sweet little kid going off to school brings on anxiety about the possibility of other kids being mean to him. And, yeah, suddenly you're convinced that every situation is dangerous and germs are covering every surface of the world. But, hey, that's normal. It's normal to be freaked out. Super mom is not born with the baby. Hell, super mom doesn't even exist. We're human, we're emotional, we're overwhelmed, we're flawed, but we have a huge capacity for love. An ability I never knew I had until I became a mom to W. And now that I've got two... Watch out, emotions.

A little advice: If you see a tired looking woman (who might be pregnant, but is dragging around a baby carrier) crying, the best thing you can do is pretend not to notice, turn your head, and be on your way. She doesn't need a hug. She needs a nap and maybe some ice cream.

6.02.2011

Welcome Beckett


Baby Boy #2 arrived a week ago. I woke up with contractions around 5 am, went to the hospital at noon, and he was born around 6:15 pm. All in all, it was not bad. After W's delivery you all know how anxious I was about this part of the whole baby having thing, but as I was promised, the second was far easier. It doesn't hurt that he is a full pound and nine ounces smaller than W was when he was born and has a perfect, tiny little head.

I feel good. Baby B is adorable. He sleeps for good long stretches during the day, but nights are hit and miss. His crazy appetite is keeping me very busy and my boobs feel like they're going to fall off. At his four day check-up, our pediatrician was shocked to find that he's actually gained weight since we left the hospital. (Hopefully that means my metabolism is nice and busy!)

Matt took the week off. Good friends have brought over meals. W is adjusting pretty well. We've been able to enjoy some good weather. So, other than the nightly hormonal anxiety attacks/teary freak outs (me, not the baby), we're doing pretty well.

Now I just have to learn to use the computer with one hand. Anyone have suggestions?