How did summer end so fast?

Whoa, whoa, whoa! How did it get to be Labor Day weekend?

This week has been pretty much a wash here on Ask Moxie. And I'm feeling like a bad mother (shut you mouth!) because I just now, 3 minutes ago, ordered my older son's backpack and lunchbox for school this year, which starts on Tuesday. (Yankees, natch)

Quick report in on the Laptop Lunchbox system I got last year: I love love loved it. My son liked all the little compartments. But he didn't like that the lunchbox didn't have a strap for carrying. And he also didn't like that there wasn't some licensed character on the lunchbox. (Because lunch without Lightning McQueen or Derek Jeter is worse than no lunch at all, apparently.) So I ended up using the little containers with lids inside his soft-sided lunchbox.

The number of things I have to do is astronomical, with the kids, at work, with the apartment (which is getting there slowly but surely), church, professionally, personally. It's kind of mind-blowing. I should feel exhausted, but instead I'm kind of looking forward to all of it. Is this what it's like to be happy with where I am, mostly?

I'd like to remind New Yorkers (or metro New York-area people) that we're meeting up NEXT weekend, on Sunday, September 7, at noon, in Central Park. I've described the location (just to the west of the roller bladers) extensively here. Come with or without kids, and bring whatever you want them to eat. It's a spot pretty near bathrooms, and we'll have background music courtesy of the roller bladers.

Tuesday's post is going to be about making friends with other parents at preschool, and then we'll have more on sleep, teaching toddlers not to hit dogs, and other fun topics for the rest of the week.

Sigh. What do you all have cooking? Good, bad, ugly?

More on single parenting

Can we explore a little more the idea a lot of you brought up in the post about looking for resources on becoming a single mom? The idea that parenting without a partner is hard, but parenting with a partner who's actually causing more work for you is even harder.

There's a ton of drudgery involved in being a parent. But I've always thought the tough part of being a parent is the emotional part, carrying all that weight of another person or people, having to be thinking about them before you think about yourself. How many pieces of bread do I have left? Enough for everyone to have sandwiches for school? How many hours of sleep can I possibly get before the baby wakes up again and needs to eat? My child keeps hitting the dog–am I somehow not teaching her moral values?

And I don't even think that that stuff is the stuff you guys call being The Great and Mighty Oz* like thinking three steps ahead on everything from developmental milestones to doctors appointments to buying shoes in the next size up.

I know that when you don't feel like things are right in your relationship, everything else is more difficult. When you are happy with who you are, even if things aren't easy, they're doable. I've also discovered that it's much easier to ask for and get help by myself than it was when I had a partner. And since waking up in the morning is easier, everything is easier.

Personally, I think if you want to be a parent, you need to be a parent. And that being a parent is going to expose the cracks in any relationship. And that you can do it, no matter what it is you need to do. Put all those things together, and I'm not sure what you get.

What do you guys think?

* I've always called that "being Mr. Zero" from the movie When Harry Met Sally:
Bruno Kirby: You're saying Mr. Zero knew you were getting a divorce a week before you did?
Billy Crystal: Mr. Zero knew.

Libros en español sobre familias diferentes

Jen, a school librarian, is wondering if anyone has any suggestions of books in Spanish for little kids (pre-K through 1st grade level) about families of different shapes than the nuclear family. Books that are specifically about two-mom or two-dad families, one-parent families, kids being raised by grandparents, etc. Or books like "Everywhere Babies" that just show a variety of different families as part of the story.

Anyone have any ideas for her?

You’re not getting a good post today, because…

…in the past 14 hours:

  • removal of old sofa bed (I now know how to dismantle one!)
  • cleaning up the space where that had been (you can't even imagine what was under there)
  • 2 projectile puking sessions from the three-year-old
  • cleanup from all that
  • internet out at home
  • cleaning lady came and tried to navigate my reorganization of the apartment
  • registering my 6 1/2 year-old for his new school (more on that once I have an opinion)
  • delivery of new furniture

Oh, and I have two guests coming to stay for three days tonight.

Hee.

So there's no Q&A toady. Just something I was thinking about after the second puking session last night, when my son didn't want me to put new pajamas on him after I washed him off in the tub. He just wanted to sit snuggled in a towel on my lap while I sat on the closed toilet in the bathroom.

There's no doubt in my mind that cleaning up vomit is one of my least favorite parenting tasks. But there, nestled with my cheek against his head, him snuggling into me because all he wanted was to be in my arms, was one of the sweetest things I've ever experienced. (More so because this was the child that I didn't feel I connected with for the first year of his life.)

So I'm wondering if any of you had felt like sometimes the super-bad things are connected to, or have led to, the best things. In your relationships with your kids, or course, but also in other areas.

Becoming a single mom

Jennifer writes:

"I'm a new reader but not a mom. I'm considering the single mom routeand was wondering if you had suggestions for good references for going
about it. I've read a little bit but since this is such a scary topic,
I haven't done much research yet. Mainly, I was looking for a place to
start learning. In particular, I'm interested in the actual process of
finding donors and then the impact on the resulting kids."

Good questions! I have no answers. But I'm positive someone in the crowd does, and is going to have great suggestions for places to start reading and talking to people.

One thing I do know is that if you live in a bigger city, there's probably a support group for single moms in your area. You might be able to contact them and see if you could talk to some people in real life about the single mom experience, whether they did it with a donor, or adoption, or started up as part of a couple and ended up single.

Good luck with your journey!

Readers? Where should she start?

Release the hounds!

It's time to buy your copies of the T-Tapp book, Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes. After you buy it, you're eligible for your free DVD and 30% off anything in the T-Tapp store. Details here. I'm off to buy 3. One to replace the one someone borrowed from me and didn't return, one to lend out, and one for my future SIL. (But don't tell her.)

The book, plus the Step Away the Inches DVD, would make a great baby shower gift, or baby's first birthday gift, for someone you know and care about. Hooray for hormone balance and mental health!

Super-special offer from T-Tapp

Yes, I know I'm a broken record about T-Tapp. But I haven't ever seen anything that can make you feel so good and help so many of your body's systems run better with such a small investment of time. Sleep better, lift depression and anxiety, regulate your periods, have more energy, and lose inches and tone yourself. All from 15 minutes of exercise a day.

Tomorrow is Teresa Tapp's birthday, so she's making a special offer that I wanted to pass on to you guys. If you buy a copy (or two or three or 10) of her book on Amazon.com tomorrow, August 26, you get:

  • "First,
    you’ll get to use the one-time 30% Off On Your Entire Order
    coupon that comes with each book just by showing your proof of purchase
    (forward your receipt confirmation) from Amazon.com (then just call
    our office to redeem your coupon when you’re ready).
  • Second,
    if you decide to give the book away as a gift, then whoever you give
    the book to will also get to use the coupon in the book for their own
    one-time 30% off shopping spree with T-Tapp when they send in the coupon
    to us by mail, fax or email attachment.
  • Third,
    you can have a DVD or VHS of any of the 3 workouts listed below for
    free (you have to pay shipping and handling) for each book you purchase.

Free Workout Choices:

  1. Tempo 2: Includes
    the next two levels of the Total Workout; both the beginning version
    with 8 reps, and the intermediate version with 10 reps all without instruction. 
    Chaptered by exercise and easy to navigate! (Retail value $29.95)
  2. Step Away the Inches:
    Our popular indoor walking workout using T-Tapp techniques – use it
    in your home and also while you walk throughout the day, on a treadmill,
    or any outdoor adventures. This routine is a total head to toe body
    sculpting workout done without any stretchy bands or weights. (Retail
    value $24.95)
  3. TappCore:
    Our Fundamental Fitness program designed for developmental bodies for
    strength, flexibility and a healthy heart. Buddy stars in this DVD as
    America's Furry Fitness Friend to help young people fit fitness in their
    day. In truth, this program works for kids and adults – it's got 9
    "minute moves" that maximize muscle activation so that you
    easily fit exercise into your day rather than scheduling your day around
    exercise. (Retail value $19.95)

Here’s how to
get this Special Free Workout Offer for Book
Buyers:
 

  1. On August 26th,
    purchase Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes
    at www.amazon.com.
  2. By August 29th, register
    your proof of purchase
    with our office by fax, mail, or phone
    by showing us your receipt confirmation.
  3. Select your free*
    DVD or VHS by calling the office
    toll free at 1-877-TAPP-FIT
    (877-827-7348).
  4. Use your one-time 30% book
    coupon whenever you like."

So if you've been on the fence, now is the time to get the book. For yourself, or for  a friend or family member as a holiday present, or as a baby shower gift (T-Tapp helps prevent PPD as well as helping you get back your body, and you can do it from home in 15 minutes a day, so it's perfect for moms).

Remember, don't order it until tomorrow. I'll remind us all tomorrow morning again.

Q&A: One-year-old not sleeping

Once again, when it rains it pours. A grand cascade of 5 emails, and one real-life friend, in the past week asking what the heck is going on with birthday babies. Let me write you a composite sketch of the emails:

“OMG Help! We made it through that !@#$% 9-month sleep regression, and my baby was only waking up once per night (which, believe me, was a miracle) by 11 months. But my baby just had a birthday and is now waking up 4 times a night again. Help me! What am I doing wrong? Why does my baby hate me? Is this ever going to end?”

In the order in which the questions were asked:

You’re not doing anything wrong. Your baby doesn’t hate you. Yes, it will end.

Your baby is ramping up for the 55-week developmental spurt. I forget what happens at this spurt, and my Wonder Weeks is packed in a box while I paint my living room, so I can’t look it up. But there’s a great summary here.

It’s going to be over in a couple of weeks, and then your baby will go back to sleeping at least as well as before, but maybe even better.

Sympathy, commiseration, anecdotes (either of your kids or of things you did because this regression threw you for such a loop), or any other musings welcome.

Here’s my musing: I thought it was so bizarre to get to one year, and then feel like my child was in such flux. It made 365 days seem completely arbitrary. You think, when your baby’s an infant, that a year actually means something. To me it just seems like a big period of flux in all sorts of areas.

Q&A: husband not into pregnancy yet

Maria B. writes:

"I am pregnant for the first time.  I am married to a great guy and amtotally in love with him.  I am ready to have a baby, and he's warming
up and very supportive.  It was my idea to start trying, and I got
pregnant right away which was a little overwhelming.  My concern comes
here.  My husband isn't yet excited as this is still abstract and he
hasn't really been around babies a lot.  It's early as well, I'm 16
weeks.  I'm ok with this, he's ok with this.  When I tell people I'm
pregnant, they usually press me for details about how excited my
husband is.  He is not telling his friends/co-workers because it makes
him uncomfortable.  I feel a little bit lost about how I can best
support him right now.  We have had conversations so he knows I'm not
pushing him to feel more than he does right now.  But I feel like he
needs me to do more.  Any ideas?"

Well, I figured I'd check with my Roundtable of Dad Advisers, aka the guys I work with. I'd say these guys are about as diverse as a group of all-white, college-educated, middle class New Yorkers can be. Seriously, though, for the most part I'd say they're at least as involved as the average, and a few of them are incredibly hands-on.

To a man, they all said that there's basically no way a guy can conceptualize of a pregnancy or a baby being real until they hear or see the heartbeat, and it's probably not going to seem truly real until they see your belly growing or realize that the profile in the sonogram looks like a person's face and not just a blob.

I wanted to see if it was just Americans that felt that way, so I checked with a Canadian friend, who said that for him it was really when his wife's belly started getting huge. Before that it was intellectual, but the radical change in her body started to make it real for him.

It seems to me that people who expect a male partner to be really excited about things before there's anything tangible (for him) to be excited about have some unrealistic expectations. It's not that there's anything wrong or outlying about your husband. It's just that women tend to live in a baby-worshipping world in which we get excited even passing the pregnancy test aisle in the drugstore. So we forget that men are living in a parallel world in which they aren't thinking much about a baby until they see the whites of the baby's eyes. <insert your own poopsplosion joke here>

Let's also not forget that there are some men who just don't do that well with infants. (That certainly doesn't mean that they get off the hook for doing baby care. At the very least they need to be doing everything–cooking, laundry, cleaning–if the mother's the one doing all the feeding and night waking.) But some guys just don't seem to connect so much with kids in the baby stage as they do with toddlers and older kids. So even if your husband still doesn't seem that excited when the baby's six weeks old, it doesn't mean he won't eventually be completely smitten by the baby and end up being a wonderful dad. It may just be that he does his best work playing horsey or throwing balls or showing the kid how to code or teaching your adult child to mix a mean margarita. If it's OK for moms to do the baby stage without really liking it (and it is OK), then it's fine for dads. As long as they're completing the required tasks, they don't have to love it.

So I would say not to worry about it. If people ask you about how he's feeling, just make a joke like, "Oh, he says he won't believe it's real until the baby poops on his pants." Everyone will laugh and you can start talking about which breast pump you're going to buy, or whether you like the new Winnie the Pooh or the old one, and how you secretly hope someone gets you one of those butt cakes they always have on CakeWrecks.com for your shower even though you know they're frightening.

It will become real for him at some point. And if it doesn't, you can always get him a baby carrot jockey cake to try to scare it into him.

Confirmation or denial? Men? Women who talked about it with your partners (male or female)? And I'd be really interested in knowing what the experience is for female partners of pregnant women. How far along was your partner before you started feeling like it was real?

Product Review: Miller Chill

Miller Chill is not good beer. Not not not not.

Let's back up to why I purchased this product in the first place. I was walking through the grocery store and passed the beer aisle, and the bright green packaging of the Chill caught my eye. And I flashed back to when I lived in Mexico City, and how the perfect drink for right after work or a hot Sunday afternoon was a chelada (or michelada, as the people I hung out with called them).

And I knew the Chill wasn't really going to taste like that, but I just couldn't resist and bought it anyway. Hope springs eternal.

Miller Chill tastes like the worst, weakest beer you've ever had, with some limeade in it, left out to go flat, then chilled again.

Do not buy it.

An actual chelada, however, is delicious. If you're doing any end-of-summer parties, or even just chilling out at the end of a long day, I highly recommend serving cheladas. You need:

  • decent beer (A lager is best. Maximum chelada enjoyment can be had with a Bohemia or Sol, but I've made great ones with Heineken and Rolling Rock and even a regular Bud would work just fine. Light beers are going to be too watered down to taste good in this.)
  • limes
  • salt for rimming the glass
  • ice

Squeeze the limes. Dip the rim of a chilled beer glass in the lime juice, then in salt so you rim the glass with the salt. Put about 2 inches (5 cm) of lime juice in the glass, then some ice. Pour in the beer. Disfrute!