Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Go the Fudge to Sleep

OK, so maybe 'fudge' isn't the exact word the author of this brilliant ADULT (not children's) book used, but I'll try to keep things G-rated. Or at least PG-13.

Let me start by saying that as I sit down to write this, my darling little man is hysterically screaming my name, over and over again, in a last ditch effort to get me to lay in bed with him. No, I'm not talking about my husband. I'm talking about my other darling little man,my 3 year old little howler monkey, Luca. Before you think I'm the meanest mom on Earth (although I definitley have earned that title some days), my very patient husband, Saint Chris is in there, speaking in soothing tones, talking our distressed child off the ledge. I'm sitting on the couch, iPad and snoring dog in my lap, trying to muster up the energy to get up and pour a much deserved gallon glass of wine to drown my guilt and sorrow. "Why so guilty and sorrowful?" you ask. "Surely you must be impervious to crying children by now. Just take out your super awesome hearing aids, and turn up American Idol!" Well, the truth is, I have to admit that I am 100%, maybe even 200% (if that's even mathematically possible) to blame for this nightly bedtime mama drama.

We were bit spoiled by our oldest, Bella, who despite a few nights here and there, has been always been a champion sleeper (knocking on wood now!). When Lucs came along, things seemed to be easy peesy for about the first five minutes or so...and then it all started going downhill.

Despite being a scrawny, six pound/twelve ounce peanut, he was starvin' like Marvin, summonsing his private dairy cow, aka ME, every 2-3 hours, round the clock. Out of pure exhaustion, and against my better judgement, this worn out Holstein started the very bad habit of nursing and snoozing...aka co-sleeping. In my PK (pre-kids) days, I could be found standing on my soap box, declaring, "Babies belong in their own cribs. I would NEVER let my baby to sleep in our bed." I'd like to grab that PK me, hit her over the head with her soap box and laugh in her face.

Inconsistency became the key to our downfall. When the L-man was around 16 months old, I was still nursing him just at bedtime...and then (three times) once during the night. Knowing this was a Lindsay Lohan-sized disaster, I closed up shop. I cried, stuck some cabbage in my bra, and tried to remedy the damage. What I soon discovered is that it was tooo late.

Since then, it's been an uphill battle. He sometimes fall asleep in his own bed, sometimes in our bed (watching *GASP* Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). There are nights when he passes out on the couch by 6:30 pm, from sheer exhaustion and we just pick him up and put him in his bed. I have to admit, those are jackpot nights. I couldn't be happier if I won a lifetime supply of under-eye concealer and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges.

For a year and a half, we've done everything, short of filling out the online application for Super Nanny, to get our little monkey snoozing peacefully. We've bought six different night lights, filled up countless sippy cups of juice and milk (yes, can't wait to get that dentist bill!), camped out in a sleeping bag on his floor, curled up into the fetal position and slept in his bed (years of chiropractic care are in my immediate future), traded the toddler bed in for a super cool race car bed, begged, pleaded and cried for him to just GO TO SLEEP. Eventually, yes, he does fall asleep. But on the rare nights, when all of the stars are aligned, and he does fall asleep in his own room, he still somehow makes his way back into the mothership (literally) between the hours of 3 and 5 AM. 99% of mornings, I wake up, hanging off our king-size bed, with a drooling three year old, and two Boston Terrors stealing all of the surface area and covers.

I know there are solutions. My stock of parenting books rivals Barnes and Noble's. I've read and reread the sleep Bible, Sleeping Through the Night by Dr. Jodi Mindell. I've googled and purused thousands of message boards, taking notes on Ferberizing, accupuncture, slipping Benadryl into a sippy of milk... Kidding, kidding. I have friends who have climbed their way out of the deep, dark pit of sleepless nights. At one point, my mommy partner in crime had two of her girlies taking up prime real estate in her bed, all night, every night. One day, she woke up, put her very tired foot down, and instituted a "Kid Ban" on her bedroom. Within a couple of days, she was completely kid-free between the hours of 8:00 pm-7:00 am. I couldn't be anymore impressed if she had trekked up Mt. Everest wearing 3-inch platform heels.

So what's a mama to do? First off, I have to remember my mom's own parenting mantra, "This too shall pass." Secondly, I know the key to effective parenting is consistency. At this point, I'm about as consistent as Kirstie Alley's dress size. Starting tonight, no more Mrs. Nice Guy. No more nonsense. No more tears. This kid is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed, solo.

I just need to get some Valium and ear plugs first...

P.S.- would love you more than bacon if you want to share your sleep (or lack thereof) stories and suggestions. Help!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Here we go again...

These days, my third, and youngest baby, The Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale, has been the one keeping me up at night. This fundraiser was born out of a late night Bravo-induced bout of insomnia during Spring Break 2011, and has been one of the most fulfilling endeavors of my mommy life.

I had been looking at a pile of discarded toys and outgrown clothes in my laundry room, and wondering if I could muster up enough donations to organize a sale to benefit a local agency. After some googling, I choose a cause that is close to my heart, the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse of Dutchess County. They are a non-profit agency that is dedicated to educating children, parents and schools on preventing and breaking the cycle of abuse.

Last year was a test run...we started by shamelessly asking for support from our local community. My motto for the SSSCA sale quickly became "It never hurts to begask." The morning after my brainstorm, I called Hopewell EZ Storage , a locally owned storage unit business, and I connected with the amazing and generous Marge, who became integral to the success of the sale. She started off by donating a unit for the storage of our donations. That one unit quickly became two...and then three...and by the time the sale rolled around in June, we were up to five jam-packed-protect-your-head-when-you-open-the-door-because-it's-all-coming-tumblin'-out-units.

Hopewell EZ Storage became our primary and most often used drop-off location, but we had a few other local businesses and schools that were kind enough to lend us some space. My homebase, Van Wyck JHS, along with Sheafe Road Elementary School both lent us their main offices as places for parents to bring piles of clothing, books, toys and other baby gear. The Little Gym of East Fishkill, my little monsters' favorite place for gymnastic classes and birthday parties, also allowed us to use their gym as a collection site- I would get a call at least once a week that their little office was becoming happily filled with boxes of gently-used goods.

As June 18th, the date of the sale, loomed closer, we realized that we need to start sorting through everything we had accumulated. A small group of volunteers made up of family and friends, spent hours sweating like we were Zumba-ing in the Sahara, in the Hopewell EZ Storage parking lot, sorting through an endless mountain of clothes, trying to organize them by gender and size. I was so appreciative of these lovely ladies who took time away from their families and other duties to help this cause, with the only perks I could offer them being a pretty fabulous suntan, and some good karma.

At last, after two months of panic attacks preparation, the fated weekend had arrived. I had some wonderful friends, Van Wyck parents and students, as well as my always agreeable family volunteering to follow me into the fire as we set everything up. The sale was held in the Fellowship Hall of Hopewell Reformed Church, who very graciously donated this large and beautiful space. At least, the hall seemed large, until we started bringing in truckloads, yes, I said truckloadS from the storage lockers. My husband, brother-in-law, and amazing teaching partner&friend assembled a 3-man team of unloading units, loading the box truck and unloading the truck delivering everything into the Hall. I completely underestimated how long this process would take...by the end of hour #2, I was starting to get a little short of breath- and I wasn't the one doing all the heavy lifting.

Once all of the clothing, high chairs, playpens, swings, gliders, exersaucers, strollers, bathtubs, toys, bicycles, books and stuffed animals were unloaded, the crew got to work. Tables were set up, everything was laid out and priced. My parents called off their evening dinner plans with friends, and instead invited their group to come and help us set up. My in-laws invited my kiddies over to spend the night, allowing me to be 100% dedicated to the task at hand. Everyone was on a mission, and I had such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude as I looked around at the selfless group of people who made such an event possible. My husband, aka my right hand, never once questioned my sanity during this entire process. I'm sure I used up my lifetime quota of "Yes Dear"' during that two month time frame. By midnight, all was set, and we turned off the lights with an excited and nervous anticipation what the next day would bring.

We opened our doors, bright and early, Saturday morning. The sale ran for eight hours, and saw a decent amount of traffic coming through. It was a learning process, adjusting prices and policies as the day went on. In the end, we raised almost $2000 for the Center. One thing we did not think through was what to do with the large amount of leftovers...we ended up donating mostly everything to other local agencies who could use the help, as well as The Barn in Pleasant Valley.

That night, after all was said and done, I uttered the words "Now, next year..." to my husband, who's eyes I thought were going to pop out of his head. I agreed to put all planning on hold until at least the ink was dry on the check we wrote to the Center.

Fast forward a few months to October. My fantastic and always thinking girlfriend Alicia mentioned that she has been in the process of starting a fabulous new website with another local mama. She asked if I would be interested in having their help with the sale...she could hardly get the question out before I screamed hell yeah "Why, yes, that would be lovely!"

And so, this year's Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale was born. We (well, me) have partnered with Alicia and her smart and social media savvy business partner/friend/local mommy, Erika, to bring you this year's new and improved sale. Words cannot express how good it feels to have these two lovely and brilliant ladies diving into this adventure with me. I won't be surprised if my iPhone starts smoking from the rapid fire emails that we send back and forth once one of us gets an idea. Working on something together, especially when it's for an awesome cause, is exhilarating, exciting, and of course exhausting, but the other two 'ex' words totally negate the tiredness that may occur. The one major change for this year's sale is the date and location...the 2012 Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale will be held on Saturday, April 28th at the Jewish Community Center (110 Grand Ave Pougkeepsie, NY) from 9 AM- 2 PM.

So, if you have stuck with me through this very long post (I started off by just writing a quick blurb, I swear!), you may be asking yourself, "What can I do to help?" Well, you're so sweet- thank you for asking! Here is a quick list of ways you can get involved, starting today!

1. Donate your gently-used baby/kid/maternity clothing, toys, books, and other baby gear (playpens, strollers, cradles, bathtubs, swings, walkers, exersaucers, baby gates, etc.). The only items we are not accepting are stuffed animals, drop-side cribs, car seats and husbands who forget to put the toilet seat down (3 AM swim anyone?) Drop off locations can be found on our website www.shoptostopchildabuse.com.

2. Join The Little Bloom (their link is at the top right of this page!) www.thelittlebloom.com. Alicia and Erika's aahh-MAZ-ing new venture. They have up to date information on the Sale, as well as other exciting happenings in the Hudson Valley. It's free and it will only make your life more fabulous (as if that's possible!).

3. Print out our flyer and post it EVERYWHERE! Your kid's school, dance class, Starbucks, supermarkets, church bulletin boards, bathroom stalls at Target...all of the mommy hotspots.
Copies of our flyer can be found on our website (see above) under the "how to create awareness" tab. We thank you in advance!

4. Like us! On Facebook, that is. There is a link to our FB page on the website, or you can just search for the Shop to Stop Child Abuse. You will then be in the loop of any breaking news. Be sure to "share" our page with others...just like Kody Brown would say, the more, the merrier!

5. Come hang with us! We need warm bodies, like Angelina Jolie needs a sandwich (right, fellow Golden Globe watchers??) Moms, dads, kids (age 12 and up!), community members, teachers,
sports teams, Chippendale dancers, ANYONE who wants to volunteer is encouraged to contact us through our FB page, or our email address shoptostopchildabuse@gmail.com. Please give us your information and in what capacity you would like to help, and we will be sure to get back to you ASAP!

6. If you are a local business owner, and would be able to help us advertise (donating signs, etc) or would like to adopt this cause for your school or business, give us a shout and we will make it happen! A local school gave us this idea, as they have decided to adopt the Sale as their February Mitzvah project...thank you, JCC pre-school!

I think that's all, folks! We thank you for all of your help and support in making this sale a success, and we look forward to working with each and every one of you. Smooches!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You Are What You Eat...

<------------ Suck it, Sweeney.

Now, if that was true, I would be a giant pizza-flavored Goldfish cracker, sprinkled with cheese and covered in chocolate and peanut butter.

I used to be healthy. Seriously healthy. Like Jillian Michaels could've called me for diet and fitness advice kinda healthy. I ate my weight in fruits and vegetables, shunned sugar and carbs, went to the gym five days a week, and could out-plank anyone in yoga class.

Then, in January 2006, we happily discovered that I was expecting our first little bundle of noisy joy. Debunking those fat lady pregnancy myths, during those nine months I was, by far, the healthiest I have ever been. I ate right, dranks oceans of water, and was a fixture at Planet Fitness. A major component to my Richard Simmons lifestyle, was that my bff, J, was pregnant too, our due dates a week apart. We power walked after school, went to the gym at night, and did prenatal yoga classes on the weekends. At the risk of sounding like a world class beeotch, WE WERE AWESOME. Plus, it was summertime, so we had this amazing glow from the miracle of impending motherhood eight straight hours of lounging on a pool float or on the beach each day.

But, like all good things, my short stint as a tan, pregnant fitness model came to an end. In September 2006, I welcomed my baby girl into the world, and bid a sad farewell to the elliptical machines and free weights. My money continued to go to the gym for a few more years, but my sneakers found a cozy little niche in the back of my closet and developed a serious case of agoraphobia. Lack of motivation, energy, time...they all played a part in my downward spiral into a world of arm fat and a muffin top. The only semblance of a workout I get these days is hauling groceries and chasing my unruly enthusiastic children down the aisles at Target.

Now, although I know I'm not one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup away from being recruited for next season's Biggest Loser, I am not totally happy with myself, and the fact that even my bloomers feel tight. Who's to blame for this conundrum? It's obvious...MY KIDS.

Why don't I go to the gym? Because I have to play Barbie, cook dinner, clean up toys, wipe hineys, do bath time, read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" 17 times, bribe everyone into bed, do my Cinderella chores and then finally collapse from exhaustion on the couch at 10 pm with a bowl of ice cream and 2 hours of Bravo's finest programming.

Why don't I eat healthy? Because in a effort to be economical and non-wasteful, I find myself eating handfuls of Cheez-Its left in Bella's snack pack from school, sneaking spoonfuls of Mac and Cheese from the pot on the stove (you know you do it too!), and inhaling pizza crust and abandoned globs of cheese from my little skinnys' plates. My house is full of Oreos, Cheerios, Spaghetti-O's and every other sugar/fat/artificially flavored O's you can think of.

Alright...so I know I am being a teeny bit unfair, placing all of the blame on my innocent little angels. I guess I should take some responsibility. I guess Luca isn't force feeding me the Twizzlers that I found under his car seat (don't judge). I'm sure I could pack myself an apple and a bottle of water to bring to the park, instead of stealing sharing the kiddies' Pirate's Booty and Yoo-Hoo.

I'm thinking that the key to success and mommy-body acceptance is baby steps. Cutting out the junk, and starting to move and groove are good places to start. The fabulous thing about life is that everyday is a fresh start. Tomorrow, it's whole grain toast and egg whites for breakfast...but I think I'll start tonight by doing some lunges during commercial breaks on Jersey Shore. Again, don't judge.