Posts Tagged ‘children’

Dear people who were parents before I was a parent: I’m sorry



Confession time: Before Lily was born, I was a bit judgey toward people with kids who seemed to not always have their shit together 100 percent of the time. Not out loud, necessarily, but I’m sure they could see the judgey look on my judgey little face.

I remember smugly thinking to myself “I’m soooooo glad I am sooooooo god-damn perfect and have sooooo many good habits now, like making home-cooked, certified-organic-and-GMO-free-artisanal meals and exercising 800 times a week and getting 20 hours of sleep a night, which I will obviously keep doing even after I have kids, who will also be perfect and never melt down in the middle of the grocery store because I wouldn’t let them climb the paper towel display! I AM JUST SOOOOO AMAZING AND WILL NEVER NOT HAVE MY SHIT TOGETHER!!!”

Well, ladies and gentlemen,  you heard it here first: I do not, in fact, have my shit together. I recently introduced myself (Allison) as “Lily” and my daughter (Lily) as “Allison.” Last week, I took my toddler to the park with her shoes on the wrong feet, and she noticed before I did. Yesterday, I ate an entire can of olives for lunch. Because I was hungry and tired and, well, they were there.

Here’s the thing. When you become a parent, every last cell in your brain is in some way devoted to making sure you keep your adorable offspring fed and diapered and otherwise alive. Couple that with severe sleep deprivation (which may ease up after the first few months but never really goes away), and what little is left of your “mom brain” is put toward only the most essential tasks, like guzzling coffee in the morning. And, if you’re lucky, not forgetting to brush your teeth afterward.

Other seemingly reasonable tasks — such as responding to a text the same week your friend sent it, remembering to fold laundry within seven days of putting it in the dryer, not getting yogurt on your pants, not remembering you got yogurt on your pants and wearing them again the next day, blogging more than once or twice a year, not wearing your shirt inside out, or knowing the name of that one actor, you know, the one who was in that one movie with that lady from that one show? He has hair and eyes and a mouth, probably? — are relegated to the back burner.

Having been a parent for a year and half now, I understand this. But before, I was Ms. Judgey McJudgerson and basically thought moms and dads just used parenting as a lame excuse for not having their shit together. And for that, I apologize. I now know that we’re all just doing the best we can, and we should give each other — and ourselves — a break.

And, if I could go back in time, rest assured that I would slap that smug, self-righteous look right off my smug, self-righteous face.


Dear Sesame Street: Please stop teaching kids it’s OK to feed wild animals

Not even the squirrels. That's how serious this is, folks.

Not even the squirrels. That’s how serious this is, folks.

Though I know I’m not “supposed to,” every once in a while I break down and let my toddler watch a limited amount of TV, because sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps my sanity intact on a day that involves multiple meltdowns and outfit changes.

I make myself feel OK about this by putting on Sesame Street, since hey, at least it’s educational! Or so I thought.

Recently we watched an episode in which Elmo and Friend go on a camping trip. Elmo’s incessant need to piercingly narrate every damn thing they do apparently attracts all the woodland creatures within a 12-mile radius, and soon Elmo is inviting them to stay for dinner. Before you know it, a beaver, some turtles, a few raccoons and an entire flock of ducks are on their second helping of dandelion soup in what is clearly the start of their never-ending dependence on humans to provide basic sustenance.

All right. I know some of you might think I’m blowing this out of proportion. They’re not even real animals, for chrissakes. They’re puppets. PUPPETS. And it’s not like every toddler who watched the episode immediately started using Goldfish crackers to coax some new fluffy friends to live in their garage, dooming them to a life of human-fed captivity.

But hear me out. Less than 24 hours after watching this episode, I saw this unfortunate news:


Think this is mere coincidence? Think again. It’s quite clear Sesame Street is at fault for each and every stupid tourist-wildlife encounter in recorded history.

OK, that’s a mild exaggeration. But sadly, it’s not unusual to hear a lot stories like this in Montana and other Western states, where it seems residents and wildlife intersect more regularly than in other parts of the country. Most of us grew up learning it’s not OK to try to feed or touch the wildlife.

Apparently, some idiot tourists don’t understand that Yellowstone National Park, et al., is not a goddamn petting zoo, and the animals don’t need you to feed them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in order to survive. And that by doing these things, you’re actually risking both your and the animals’ lives.

Obviously, Sesame Street is not solely at fault for people thinking it’s OK to feed and/or touch wild animals. (And I admit, I’m making quite the cognitive leap by even trying to connect these two specific incidents.)

The thing is though, you also can’t only blame the idiots, either. When it comes down to it, most of them just don’t know any better. Where many of these tourists are from, close encounters with actual wildlife happen next to never, and when they do, they actually are in a goddamn petting zoo.

It’s kind of like when a tourist from Montana, who may or may not write a blog that rhymes with “Thuirrel Proughts,” stops in the middle of the sidewalk in New York City to stare up and take a photo of a skyscraper, because it’s something she doesn’t see every day at home. Doing so is apparently Extremely Annoying to resident New Yorkers (albeit slightly less Life Threatening than sharing a s’more with a wolverine, but I digress.)

Ya know what though? At the time, she just didn’t know any better.

You know what could’ve helped her know better? An episode of Sesame Street in which Big Bird’s country-born cousin Pudgy Pigeon comes for a visit, and someone with a thick Bronx accent yells “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” after she abruptly stops to take a selfie in front of the restaurant from Seinfeld. Then she would’ve known better.

(Or a quick Google search. That probably would’ve done the trick, too.)

Anyway, the point I’m getting at is that while the premise of this Sesame Street bit seems innocuous, who knows what seeds it’s already planted in the heads of tiny city-born tots who might try to hug a grizzly bear in Alaska a decade from now. Because according to a beloved children’s program, befriending wild animals and inviting them over for pizza and a sleepover is just a normal part of experiencing the Great Outdoors.

So, in a feeble attempt to counter the damage already done — and with that air of smug self-righteousness you’ve come to expect on Squirrel Thoughts — I’m offering some tips for any potential tourists who still might not know any better:


I apologize for the stilted Internet yelling, but it’s the only chance I have at drowning out the children’s media behemoth that is Sesame Street.

Also, if you prefer information from legitimate resources, here are few:

Four reasons not to feed wildlife

Wildlife safety in Glacier National Park

Yellowstone visitors place bison calf in SUV; newborn euthanized

(FOR THE RECORD: I realize that other states, even on the East Coast, have wildlife, and that not everyone who visits from those locales are completely oblivous about how to interact with wild animals. I also realize that many of the tourists who commit these transgressions are from other countries, and who knows what kind of access they have to Sesame Street. In turn, I hope anyone offended by this — including but not limited to Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and, especially, Snuffy — realizes that it’s all in good fun. Unless you have tried to caress a mountain goat. Then you should read that shit a few more times.)


Important questions I’ve pondered while reading classic children’s books to my infant daughter

“The Cat in the Hat”

Is the Cat and the Hat holding Thing 1 and Thing 2 against their will? Are they getting enough clean food and water while he peddles them across the country in a crate with no air holes? Is PETA aware of the situation? Wait, are Things 1 and 2 even animals? Do they dye their hair blue or is it naturally that color? If I wore footy pajamas like theirs to work, would I get fired?


Things 1 and 2


“Guess How Much I Love You”

Why does Big Nutbrown Hare have to constantly one-up Little Nutbrown Hare? Can’t he just let him win at the Guess How Much I Love You game, even once? When Little Nutbrown Hare says he loves him to the flippin’ moon, can’t he just be like “Whoa, the moon? That’s so far — no way I can top that! I’d never say anything like ‘well hey, I’m pretty impressed you love me all the way to the moon, but guess what — I love you to the moon … and back! Suck it, Little Nutbrown Hare!’ No, I’d never say anything super douchey like that”?
 To moon and back
Does Big Nutbrown Hare also never let Little Nutbrown Hare win when they play Candy Land? Does he show off with fancy hook shots and dunks when playing a friendly game of HORSE with the neighborhood kiddos? Is he overcompensating for something? Does he also drive an obnoxiously large truck?

“Where the Wild Things Are”

Why does this one Wild Thing have human feet? Is he the mutant result of some sort of unethical science experiment gone horribly wrong? What in the actual fuck, Maurice Sendak? Why would you do this to me my sweet baby girl? How many years of therapy am I is my child going to need to stop having nightmares about the human-footed Wild Thing??

“Goodnight, Moon”

Is the mush gluten-free?
Goodnight Moon

Some members of this household are not taking the projectile pooping issue seriously

I don’t intend to make this blog entirely about parenting now that No. 1 Munchkin has taken over our lives. And I certainly don’t want its focus to narrow to only her excremental tendencies. But I feel some people in this family are not acknowledging the gravity of the projectile poop situation.
My husband. It’s my husband.
Take this example from the other day. I was mid diaper change, and Lily really let one fly. It projected so far, it landed on the Stormtrooper clock in the nursery, about 4 feet away.
(What, you don’t have a token Star Wars relic in your nursery? Weird.)
Poo 1
Poo 2
For a little context, here is another view of the Stormtrooper, in relation to the changing table upon which the assailant sat:

Now that I see it in this photo, I think it’s probably more like 7 or 10 feet. A world record, no doubt.

Upon receiving such panic-stricken messages, I expected Zach to respond with an appropriate amount of sympathy. But because he was being a cranky pants that day (Note: When you become a parent, you instinctively start referring to all people by what kind of “pants” they’re currently “wearing” — silly pants, cranky pants, fluffy pants, copacetic pants, etc.), his response was something along the lines of:
“DERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Please don’t send so many texts in a row when I’m at work. I was in a big Lawyer Person Meeting and derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”
The text probably included a few more “derrrrrrrrrrrrrrs,” but I’ll save him the embarrassment of printing it verbatim.
See, Zach has not yet experienced the projectile poop. In fact, he’s even had the audacity to utter the phrase “I think it’s a myth,” as if I currently have the time and wherewithal to sit around making up shit about shit.
So instead of the bare minimum response of some feigned sympathy that I was expecting following this traumatizing event, all I got was a bunch of derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs. This is my life, people.
Granted, my texts may have been a bit overdramatic. Especially since I sent them after I had already cleaned the poop off Lily and her targets. I mean, come on, guys … did you think I would leave my baby and her surroundings covered in feces while I took photos of it, just so I could blog about it later? What kind of mother do you think I am?

I have to rename my child Squirmy McGruntsALot


Well, Lily is now 5 weeks old, and we already have to rename her. We have no choice. Because she squirms. And grunts. A lot.

Squirmy McGruntsALot’s favorite time to do this is when she’s sleeping. Which wouldn’t be an issue, except that it kind of keeps Mom from “sleeping when the baby sleeps,” since I’m constantly rousing from my hard-earned slumber to look over into the bassinet, making sure she’s not hungry or being poked and prodded by alien abductors.

I took a video of it, but I’m too tired to figure out how to get it on here. So here’s one someone else put on YouTube of their kid squirming and grunting in his sleep. It’s pretty much the same thing Squirmy McGruntsALot does, so just go with it.


She’s clearly not the first baby to do this, but I feel like this isn’t necessarily “normal.” At least, no one warned me about this. It only seems to happen when she’s in “light” sleep, but that accounts for approximately 15 1/2 of the 16 total hours she sleeps each day.

I mean, I’ll take squirmy gruntiness over endless crying jags any day. But still. I’m tired.

Will she outgrow this? Or will poor Squirmy McGruntsALot stop getting invited to sleepovers when she’s older because her squirming and grunting weirds out her friends? Stay tuned.



She’s here! (Plus all the parenting wisdom I’ve gained so far)

OK, she’s been here for a few weeks now, but it turns out learning how to mom is kind of hard and takes a lot of time that most definitely interferes with your ability to sleep and blog.

But yes, I fulfilled my new year’s resolution at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, when I gave birth to Lillian Sage Franz, aka Lily, aka Lily Pad, aka No. 1 Munchkin, aka all the other silly nicknames we’re sure to come up with for her.


Hi, I’m Lily!

Turns out all the hard work and feeling like a zombie are worth it when you get to love and schmoodle a sweet little bug like this.

I’d like to claim I am a total parenting expert and am here to impart valuable advice, but I cannot. I will leave you with this little nugget of wisdom I’ve learned since Lily’s arrival: Projectile poop is not a myth. I repeat: Projectile poop is NOT A MYTH.

It is so, so real, and let me tell you: That shit can move. Once it strikes the first time — which will inevitably be during the middle of a 4 a.m. diaper change when you haven’t slept for eight days — you will live in constant fear of when it will happen again.

And it will happen again. If you’re lucky, you will have remembered to put a clean diaper underneath at the beginning, and it will block the poo’s main trajectory. If you’re not lucky, you will have forgotten to do this, and, well, let’s just say that projectile poop doesn’t discriminate when it comes to its targets.

That’s all the wisdom I have to impart for now. Once I have this whole parenting thing down in the next week or two, I’ll surely have more.

My new year’s resolution is to HAVE THIS DAMN BABY ALREADY (plus other pregnancy fun facts)

Well, our little munchkin was due to make her appearance into the world on Jan. 1, but, like her mother tends to, she’s running a little behind.

Since she’s dashed all hopes for a 2014 tax break or first-baby-of-the-year honors, she’s basically starting off her first year grounded, with about $1,000 already deducted from her allowance. That’ll teach her.

From what I can tell, I’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy, but after hitting the 40-week mark five days ago, I. Am. Ready. I’m anxious for labor to start and to meet this little bug who’s been growing instead me for the better part of a year.
If baby girl is still refusing to cooperate in a few days, we’ll start talking to our doc about forceful eviction, aka induction. Don’t worry, she’s been served proper notice.
This was actually taken at the 40-week mark. I'm three times this size now.

This was actually taken at the 40-week mark. I’m three times this size now.

I already nested/cleaned so long ago that things are starting to get dirty again, and I don’t feel like starting round two with this bowling ball-sized bulge protruding from my stomach. So instead, I’m writing a post on some things about pregnancy that have been particularly surprising to me.
You’ve probably heard all about the morning sickness, the mood swings, the need to pee every 2.5 seconds. But here are a few things “they” don’t tell you about pregnancy before you are pregnant that may or may not freak you out.
(I should probably preface this with: Someone who did a lot more research than I did prior to becoming with child might know these things. Also, I am weird, and weird things happen to me. So it’s possible “they” didn’t tell me about some of these things because I am the only weird person they’ve happened to.)
You won’t actually “feel” like you’re growing another human inside you for a while, and it will freak you the eff out. Sure, you’ll see what looks like the beginning of a baby in an ultrasound. You’ll hear the magical thub-a-lub of a tiny heart beat. Your uterus is supposedly blowing up like a balloon, but the only “showing” you’re doing for a while is courtesy of some massive stomach bloating. Depending on your hormonal load that day, you may accuse your doctor of being a g.d. liar because she keeps telling you there’s a baby in there, but clearly there is not, because you would be able to feel a human growing inside you, thankyouverymuch.
Consequently …
It will feel like ages between doctor’s appointments. Each day is a gift, and I hate feeling like I just want them to be over, but holy shit. Each day of the month will never drag by as slowly as it does when you all you want is confirmation that your little munchkin is still kickin’ in there.
Sometimes you don’t get morning sickness. This can mean one of two things: 1) You have a perfectly healthy pregnancy and are just “lucky” and don’t have to suffer through what’s considered one of the most miserable pregnancy symptoms; or 2) Something could be wrong with your pregnancy. As someone who’s experienced both situations (2 followed by 1), it’s pretty nerve-wracking to not have this ubiquitous symptom.
(Um, so, I’m not a doctor. I don’t *actually* know if these are the only two things it could mean. Maybe there’s a weird third option, like you’re actually spawning a miniature pony.)
The worst part is that Googling for information about lacking this symptom will often lead you to articles stating how some researchers have determined morning sickness could be an indication of a healthy pregnancy.
Researchers! STAAAP! Until you can confirm this is a black-and-white deal, quit putting this information out there for unsuspecting neurotics like me to stumble across and freak out over!
So, basically, I know most women would consider me “lucky” to not have morning sickness, but I would have given my left kidney to be puking my brains out every morning in exchange for the reassurance that something was, in fact, happening in there.
Also …
The Internet is your best friend and your worst enemy. A lot of weird-ass stuff is happening to your body when you are pregnant, so of course you want to know what is considered normal and what should send you into a full-swivel panic. But when you find yourself searching for phrases like “OMG is it possible that something else is making you seem pregnant when you’re not actually pregnant 12 weeks,” it’s time to stop. (Yes, I actually Googled something along those lines, due to the point I explained above. Following this and other ridiculous searches, and the panic they provoked, Zach made me put a moratorium on Googling things for one week.)
Really, if you have concerns, you should call your doctor/nurse/midwife. They will reassure you when a symptom is nothing to worry about or let you know if you should get checked out. If you do this enough, they will start to expect your calls. And if you start calling about the same ridiculous things over and over again, they will stop reinforcing your constant need for reassurance either by taking a really long time to call back or not calling back at all, in what I assume is meant to be a form of therapeutic neglect.
Not that I know from experience or anything.
Sleep may not come so easily, even at the beginning. You’ve probably heard that insomnia is common during the third trimester, because sleep experts typically do not recommend trying to catch your z’s with a watermelon protruding from your stomach.
However, I have been an insomniac since age 9. I literally have not had a good night’s sleep since the fourth grade. I had been looking forward to the fatigue of pregnancy in hopes that it would provide this elusive rest. But nope. That would just be too damn normal for me. So, apparently, instead of morning sickness, I got “bolt up wide awake at 3 every morning and never fall back asleep”-ness. (I have a team of medical professionals working on a better term for this affliction.)
On the plus side, I’m really not concerned about the lack of sleep most parents of newborns encounter, since that’s pretty much the norm for me. I’ve been training for it my entire life, apparently.
You can’t eat. Anything. This one’s two-fold: First, even if you aren’t afflicted with oh-my-god-kill-me-now morning sickness, it’s still likely you will find very few foods appetizing. All I could stomach for about two weeks was plain spaghetti with a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese.
Also, once you’re pregnant, all your most favoritest foods suddenly turn to poison, and eating them will surely kill you and/or transform your baby into a sock monkey.
Sushi. Alcohol, obviously. Soft cheeses. Wait, what?! You can’t eat soft cheeses when you’re with child? People. My life depends on cheese. Pregnancy has essentially eliminated half of its most delicious forms. It’s the worst.
“True Life: I Accidentally Ate Some Feta on a Salad So I Gave Birth to a Sock Monkey Instead of a Human Child.”

“True Life: I Accidentally Ate Some Feta on a Salad So I Gave Birth to a Sock Monkey Instead of a Human Child.”

The heartburn. DEAR GOD, THE HEARTBURN. Apparently, when your uterus is squishing the rest of your internal organs up through your throat, it makes it nearly impossible to digest food like a normal person. And don’t even bother looking up foods to avoid to prevent it. Out of the foods you’re still allowed to eat, they will ALL cause heartburn. All of them. Even the healthy stuff. For realsies. I’ve eaten bananas that have given me heartburn. I kind of thought bananas were the most easily digestible food known to humans. Not cool.
The only thing you can really “eat” that doesn’t cause heartburn is Tums, which have subsequently become my favorite food during pregnancy. If someone invented a candy necklace — but instead of candy, it had Tums strung along it — and marketed it to pregnant women, they would make at least a few dozen dollars off it. (I’ll let someone steal that idea as long as they give me 70 percent of the profits. Remember, we don’t get to cash in on that tax break for 2014.)
That “pregnancy glow” is BS. Unless by “glow,” they mean the “red glow of jawline acne,” I apparently missed out on this supposed pregnancy perk. I had terrible acne as a teenager, so I’m not really surprised the surge of hormones wreaked havoc on my skin once again. (But hey, who doesn’t want to look/feel like a teenager when they’re pregnant?)
Of course, using any of the standard acne treatments will turn your little tyke into the aforementioned sock monkey, so I’m kind of SOL on this.
If you’re having a girl, some people think it’s absolutely necessary to tell you about their friend/relative/random person they met at a bus stop who thought they were having a girl but it turned out to be a boy. I’m not gonna lie: I was really hoping we would have a girl. Of course, you don’t want to hope for one gender over the other too much, because there’s a 50 percent chance it will be the other one, and you don’t want your child to feel like they’re a total disappointment before they even exit the womb. Regardless, I was happy when the ultrasound revealed it’s a Baby Squirreltina Jr. who’s been kicking me in the bladder. (Squirreltina is obviously a girls name, in case that was unclear.)
But now, I’ve had a enough people tell me stories about girls turning out to be boys that I’m starting to become paranoid. (In what was probably the most asinine piece of unsolicited advice I received, someone told me I should “bring a blue hat to the hospital, just in case.” Seriously. That happened. And no, I could not even.)
I have no idea why people feel compelled to tell me this, other than that it must be some sort of sign from the universe and I should be prepared. So, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be a boy and we have to name him Sharknado because we didn’t have any boys names picked out so we panicked and that’s the first thing we could think of.
Of course, I’d still prefer a boy to a sock monkey.
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