Dining with Kids

Tonight I took the girls to dinner at a restaurant by myself. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I just didn’t want to cook a meal at home and clean up after it, so I talked to Ellie and Piper about it advance and they were in a good place. Ellie is at the age where she can relatively behave herself, minus the fact that she still feels the need to yell everything she says, a la her uncle Chad – love you Chad! We went to the local Mexican restaurant we’ve been to many times because that’s where they said they wanted to go. Overall, it was just fine – I can’t complain. But the whole experience got me thinking – why don’t they have a playbook for servers for handling tables with young kids? I know we’re not the only ones – I see them everywhere we go. Normally parents aren’t brave or dumb enough to go by themselves with two kids under four, but I think there some tactics servers could use to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone, including themselves. I want to make sure to include the fact that I served tables for many years, basically from when I was 18 to somewhere around 23 or 24, so I get it. No one ever told me back them what to do when I get parents with young kids in. I wish I would have had some sort of training or playbook for those types of situations. If I were to make one, it would go a little something like this:

  • Bring a stack of napkins pronto
  • If there’s a kid under 1 or 1 and a half, bring a spoon and a straw for them to play with – a paper or plastic cup with ice cubes isn’t a bad idea either
  • Remove the condiment section altogether – let me know you’re doing it and that you’re happy to leave anything I need
  • Have something at the table for the kids to munch on as soon as possible – Mexican restaurants are good at this
  • It’s ok to talk to the kids – they have voices and can speak
  • Fill their drink cup half full – I have yet to encounter a restaurant with kids cups that are too small
  • Don’t set a sharp knife or a scalding hot plate right in front of my child, not to mention my glass of wine or cocktail – it will only result in more work for you
  • If there are toys or coloring things or anything else around to keep their attention, bring it. We went to an Italian restaurant recently that brought a little thing of pizza dough for the girls to play with – effing brilliant!

That’s it. I think most of these things are relatively easy, especially if it’s a slow night, which it usually is when us parents come to dine at an ungodly early hour. Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes you hard working servers – this just might help you survive my toddlers a little easier and would almost certainly result in more dinero in your pocket.

Advertisements

Binky Be Gone

Oh, the bink. Oh, the love affair with the bink. When we left Whistler a week and a half ago we told Ellie we left the binkies in Whistler. We were prepared for an agonizing drive home and agonizing it was. The funny thing about expectations though is that we were not upset or surprised by how agonizing it was so we gritted our teeth and beared it. The first day and night were tough, real tough. It was as if in broken-record fashion all that came out of Ellie’s mouth was “I want the pink bink. I want a binky Mommy. Where’s my bink?” The next day it was a little better and we planned it perfectly so that she was in school during this process. After school she was pretty sad not to have her binky. We tried distractions, which worked for a little bit. We used lots of responses, such as “I know it’s hard to give up something you love,” “you can do it Ellie, you’re so strong.” But it seemed like the thing that worked the best was a hug and saying “I know, I know baby girl.” There was a bit of a mourning period, so now that it’s [mostly] passed, we thought we’d do a little Ellie bink tribute.

Advice

I recently had a friend break the news that she is preggers! It’s always so exciting to see other people go through this for the first time. I remember the excitement and the nerves, the elation and the shock. When said friend told us she was pregnant, Brian proceeded to have several crowns with her husband, tell the couple that everyone is going to give them advice, and subsequently give them tons of advice.

The experience got me to thinking: I should write a blog post on my advice to new moms. Now that I’ve had a few friends go through being pregnant and having a baby, I have a few opinions of my own and it’d be great to have a place I could send them to as a resource instead of spilling 10 million recommendations onto them in one sitting, a la BT after several crowns…love you babe:)

I preface this advice with this: We decided to have a very unpopular birth plan and I completely understand it is not right for everyone or even most people, so my advice is not that everyone should do it the way we did.

      1. Knowledge is power, but you can’t take everything literally and you have to incorporate your intuition: I’ve heard of people reading millions of books (a few of which I’ll recommend below), and then raise their children according to exactly what the books say. Please do consume information, but please don’t hold yourself to a standard of doing something exactly as a book says all the time – it’s exhausting.
      2. When you first get pregnant (or beforehand if you’re the planning type), please get on a fabulous pre-natal vitamin. It needs to have 1000mg of folic acid and that’s hard to find in over the counter versions. This is vital for baby’s brain development.
      3. Try as hard as you can while you’re pregnant with your first to relax, take it all in, eat healthy food and stay active. It will not be as easy to do this the second time around, so savor it.
      4. Watch the documentary “The Business of Being Born“. I never thought I’d admire Ricki Lake so much – did I just say that out loud?
      5. If you have access to a HypnoBirthing class in your area, take it. This class was the best money we ever spent, I swear on it. We learned why hospitals operate the way they do and how to work with them and communicate effectively to accomplish your desired birth. HypnoBirthing taught Brian how to be the most amazing birthing partner and taught me what to expect during labor and delivery and how focus my mind and energy on productively working through the beautiful experience. I really can’t rave enough about it. Here’s the place to go in the greater Seattle area: http://www.seattlehypnobirthing.com
      6. Buy yourself this pillow for sleeping: Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow
      7. Register for Amazon Mom: it is so convenient, especially when your baby is just born and you don’t want to leave the house.
      8. You must register for or buy this product. It’s my Go-To gift for new parents and it comes in SO handy every single day! Leachco Podster Sling-Style Infant Seat Lounger, Sage Pin Dot
      9. Acupuncture and Massage: Honestly, if you can treat yourself to these things, please do…and don’t take it for granted. Again, savor every second. A month before I had Ellie I had insane heartburn. I went to acupuncture and had three pins put in my right ear and then a tiny gold ball was stuck to my ear. I don’t know why, but I didn’t have a lick of heartburn for the rest of my pregnancy.
      10. Books to Read:
        1. Sleep Training – this one is short, sweet, relatively easy to follow and doesn’t involve crying it out: The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours aNight
        2. Vaccines – obviously a big topic as of late. Especially if you have a tinge of nerd in you, this book will be very stimulating: The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Sears Parenting Library)
        3. How to Raise Baby – this is our favorite because at the end of the day, what matters most is that your baby is happy, smart and moral: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
      11. Things to NOT do:
        1. Watch a bunch of movies with crazy screaming women in labor – I strongly believe what you fill your mind with affects you in real life. That is simply not how it really is.
        2. Listen to terrible birthing stories from everyone you know. Find people who had amazing experiences and find out what they did and why they loved it. Fill your mind with good and good will come. It’s just like visualization for an athlete.
        3. Get anxious as you approach your due date. Just relax, baby will come soon and then time will fly by like it never has before.
        4. Spend a shit-ton of money on things that don’t matter. I can’t say I always obey this rule, but I think I do pretty well. It’s the 80/20 rule, right? Twenty percent of the time I might invest a little more than the best “value” option, but most of the time I try to be realistic. Honestly, I can’t understand why anyone needs a $1000 stroller – really people?!?!? I think the BOB is just great myself.

At the end of the day, once your baby is born, it’s important to pick a few things that are the most important to you and try to do them as best you can. I recommend staying away from perfecting everything. Don’t tell your kid not to do every little fun, dirty, crazy thing they try because we all have to learn from experience. Additionally if you tell them not to do everything it seems like that ultimately causes them to do everything. Life is all about balance. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously – that was difficult for me in the beginning. After all, what could be more serious than shaping and forming a human being? Ironically, us being happy and healthy as individuals, parents and partners is just as important to shaping and forming a human being as all the other stuff, so prioritize that as much as possible. Have fun on the ride – it definitely is fun, exhilarating, emotional, and scary – and we wouldn’t change it for the world!

Life

My wonderful, amazing friend Molly gave me a little care package just because and it included a fantastic book, which I’m almost done with called “Carry On, Warrior.” I’m not one to read a lot (sadly), but when I pick up a captivating book, I seem to dive in and go nuts about it. I saved this book for my flight from Seattle to Miami and I could not put it down. As soon as I got to Miami I ordered several copies for some of my girlfriends I thought would enjoy it as much as I do. My friends asked me “what’s it about?” I tried to come up with several themes of the book, which was easy because there are many, but at the end of the day – it’s about life. And truth.

The book made me cry during much of my flight, which I’m sure caused those around me to think I was slightly crazy, but I just didn’t care. There are so many memorable parts of the book. The part where she writes her son a letter in case he’s gay is absolutely fantastic. I also just read about her AIDS bike ride, which was hilarious and inspiring. There’s a section where she writes about her love for her husband, which just absolutely brings me to tears because of course it makes me think of Brian and his love and devotion to us, which is unwaivering.

The best thing about the book is that is goes from those serious and sappy topics to things like this about parenting:

“I think parenting young children (and old ones too, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting to climb, is an impressive accomplishment. They try because during the climb, if they pause and allow themselves to lift their eyes and minds from the drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they cried most of the way up.

And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, ‘ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T! TRUST US! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!’ those well meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.

Now I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. They are wonderful ladies, clearly. But last week, a woman approached me  in the Target line and said the following: ‘Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by fast.’ At that particular point in time, Amma was wearing a bra she had swiped from the cart and sucking a lollipop she undoubtedly found on the ground. She also had shoplifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. A losing contestant. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was sucking the pen on the credit card machine WHILE the woman in from of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled, and said, ‘Thank you. Yes, Me Too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.’

Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. He comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. But I don’t ever feel the need to suggest he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing how hard it is, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on any more responsibility. And I doubt his colleagues come by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I’m pretty sure his boss doesn’t peek in his office and say: ‘This career stuff, it goes by so fast. ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE CRAIG???? THE FISCAL YEAR FLIES BY!! CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!’

My point is this: I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.

But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:

‘It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours ’til bedtime.'”

Absolutely hilarious. And so relatable.

To read more, find the book here: Carry On, Warrior and her blog here.