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We had a super-quick weekend trip back up to Chicago to visit family – namely, to celebrate my grandfather’s and my brother-in-law’s birthdays.  We stayed at my parent’s house on Friday night, where Frankie chased my dad all over the house and laughed hysterically at my mom opening and closing the sliding door to the laundry room.  Ah, to be young.

We had a nice visit with my grandpa, who is actually doing quite well at 92, albeit slow and forgetful.  He kept asking us about his CD player, which just needed batteries, but poor Grandpa can’t quite remember things that you told him 5 minutes before. 😦  Although, ask him about events and people from the 1930s, and you’ll find a goldmine.

I then took Frankie to the mall.  The mall!  Oh, how I have missed you.  Sure, Springfield has this building that is supposed to be a mall, and is called such, but really, compared to the mecca that is Woodfield Mall, home of my teenage years and at least 5 different retail jobs, is it really a mall?  I had to return the Toms shoes for Frankie that my sister-in-law bought him, just to get a different size, and seriously, is there anything cuter than Toms shoes for kids?  I think not.  I also bought enough Body Shop deodorants to last me the next year.  You’re welcome, pits.

We then packed up Frankie and went to my mother-in-law’s for Tony’s brother’s birthday party (I told it was a whirlwind).  We had a great time, but poor Frankie showed how much he doesn’t like crowds.  And dogs.  There really wasn’t that many people (just immediate family), but he was pretty clingy and wanted to breastfeed A TON, to the point that by the next morning, I was physically drained and depleted.  And the singing of “Happy Birthday” was literally traumatizing for him.  We kept him in the next room over, but he cried throughout the singing, and when everyone cheered and clapped at the end, his face was one of utter terror.  He was so upset that we put his Elmo video on for him in the family room, and he stood there shaking – literally shaking – while watching.  I felt so bad for the little guy!

Here’s some of the downfalls of having a super-sensitive kid.  You never know what’s going to set them off and scare them to death.  You have to be super vigilant to their emotional needs, and put your own needs aside (isn’t that every parent, though?).  They are not independent creatures.  And, the thing I find the most frustrating is that few people get to see the awesome, lovable, caring, funny kid that he is.  Once he “accepts” you and has some one-on-one time with a person, you’re good.  But in groups and with people he’s not comfortable with, he’s a different kid – sullen, withdrawn, anxious, and shy.

Now I know that I’m not the only person with a shy kid – hell, I WAS a shy kid, and clung to my father during such traumatic events like family get-togethers, family friends coming over, and the dreaded Omnimax movie at the Museum of Science and Industry.  So I’m really sensitive to his sensitivities, but can I just get a little sympathy over here?  Can I bemoan to the world that it’s difficult to NOT have a carefree, extroverted child, the kind of child that Americans seem to prefer?

Enough complaining.  I love you just as you are Frankie, and I hope you cling to me and cuddle as much as humanly possible, because I know one day you won’t.  And maybe, maybe, when you’re older and still feeling overwhelmed and anxious and shaky, maybe you’ll remember how much Mommy loves you and even if you won’t or can’t cuddle with me then, you’ll remember when we did.

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Yup, you read that right.  I’m homeschooling Frankie!

Frankie’s reaction to his mommy being his one and only teacher

(Actually, his reaction to Christmas.  Tis the season).

Ok, not really, but I’m calling that in my world, at least for the time being.  The reasons?  First, let me say that ALL parents homeschool in some way, especially before they enter kindergarden and first grade.  I’m fairly open-minded about homeschooling in general; I myself was homeschooled for high school (although the thought of homeschooling younger kids scares the crap out of me).  Seriously, am I the only educator who feels more comfortable with adults?  Anyways, since I’m a stay-at-mom currently, I’ve been thinking about all the things a non-daycare, non-preschool attending child needs, like a schedule and structure – in other words, I need to get my act together and start educ-macating my baby!

Two, we have been seeing our therapists through Early Intervention (developmental, speech, and occupational), and I have some GREAT ideas from there for things to work on with Frankie during the week.  I love our therapists, and Frankie is making great progress.  But I need to make sure he has “school” time everyday in order for the therapy to really work.

Three, have I mentioned that I’m anal retentive ?  I thrive on lists and schedules.  Why not with my son?  Sometimes, half way through the day, I feel like saying out loud, “Now what?”  Then I have to tell myself, “Wait, you’re the mommy.  You make the decisions.”  And then I respond with, “But I don’t have any ideas.”  This is basically what happens to me without structure.  I don’t think I’m OCD because I like it; it’s more out of necessity.  Without structures, lists, or schedules, I literally sit around, procrastinate, and do nothing.  Am I alone in this one?

I’ve been doing some digging around and here’s a few good ideas websites that I found with homeschooling the wee little guys (you can also find all of these on my Pinterest account):

Pouring pasta (a lot of Montessori teachings are based on learning life-long skills, like pouring, cutting, preparing food, etc.  This would be a great place to start)

Water Tables – here’s a link to make your own, but I’m keeping an eye out for a used one

This blog has lots of great ideas for making busy toys for little ones

Here’s a collection of materials and activities that promote fine motor skills

Letter of the Week is a great site that gives a curriculum for babies and toddlers, divided up by monthly age.  For one year olds, they offer the Brightly Beaming Toddler curriculum.  It’s biblical based, and gives a song, poem, book, activity, etc. to do each week. 

Great list of what to do with a toddler if you’re out of ideas (which happens to me ALL THE TIME).

I’ve also pinned some older preschool curricula for the future (yes, the plural is curricula.  I minored in Latin.  And don’t tell me that in English, you ignore Latin grammar rules.  Because it sounds weird and I don’t like it.  So there).  I really don’t know where Frankie will go to school.  Some days, I think that homeschooling would be awesome, and I would be an awesome teacher, and everything would be awesome.  Other days, I think, who am I kidding, do I really want to do this?  Could I even do this?  And on rare days, I think, I need this child to get out of the house!  As much as I love you Frankie….

So I have a lot of work to do, organizing and prepping and making stuff to do.  Ahh, heaven.

 

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Being green means being a little too serious sometimes.  Case in point: whenever I start to go off on a rant in front of my parents, explaining to them that Portillo’s needs to not use styrofoam containers, that parabens in their shampoo are slowly destroying their bodies, and that the no-sugar yogurt they bought is Satan, they usually look at me and say sternly, “Hey Greenpeace!  Lighten up!”

In the spirit of laughing at ourselves, here’s Sh*t Crunchy Moms Say (done in the spirit of Sh*t Girls Say – if you haven’t seen that video, please do yourself a favor and Google it now.  Yes, I used Google as a verb.  You’re welcome).

I think I’ve said about half of the saying on the video, especially the one about coconut oil.  Why is coconut oil so difficult to find?  And complaining about “Big Pharma?”  Love it.

By the way, when I told hubby about the video, his response was, “Crunchy?  What do you mean by crunchy?”  And I had to explain to him that some people refer to natural/green/holistic people as “crunchy,” which I think refers to a love for granola.  His response to that?  “Oh.  I guess so.”  Which also made me laugh.

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Mr. Sensitivity

I just got back from my MOPS meeting, and for some reason, I’m totally embarrassed and frustrated as a mom afterwards today.  Why?  Because my kid had a gigantic meltdown at the end, in front of everyone.  And of course NO ONE at the group would ever say anything, since they are a fantastic group of ladies, but I felt downtrodden, like, why my kid?  Doesn’t every mom feel that way at one time or another?

As I mentioned before, we had Early Intervention come out and evaluate Frankie.  You know that nagging feeling in the back of your head that tells you something is amiss?  Well, I listened to that voice.  Turns out that our little guy is Mr. Sensitivity, in that he does have a few developmental delays (mostly speech and a little cognitive) that, the theory is, are due to his hyper sensitivity to his surroundings.  In other words, he gets so worked up over large crowds, change, and his environment in general that it prohibits him from learning as quickly as other kids.

What does this mean for Frankie?  He gets one-on-one time with a speech, developmental, and occupational therapists.  What does this mean for Mommie?  That I get some feedback and some tips for how to deal with a hyper-sensitive little guy who easily has complete meltdowns in front of people.  I’m really looking forward to the sessions; rather than think, oh no there’s something wrong with my baby, I have the attitude of YES!  It’s not just in  my head!  He really does need the extra help!

Hopefully this will help us get through the holidays.  I know that people mean well when they want to see Frankie, but seriously, you need to get out of my kid’s face – he doesn’t like it!  Can’t you see he’s arching backwards away from you?  Parties are rough like that.  He clings to me, and generally wants nothing to do with our relatives.  And of course, I sit there and wonder how many of them are thinking what a bad/enabler/martyr/overprotective mother I am.

So anyways…I just wanted to vent about that.  Maybe no one’s looking at me and my kid.  Or maybe I should just not give a shit.

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Although it’s already a few days old, I have to share what happened to me this weekend.  As my title states above, it was The Worst Thing That Can Happen To A Green Mommy.

I contaminated my family.

On Saturday, I went out to breakfast with my dad and Frankie, and on the way back I decided to stop back at my parent’s house to do a little organizing.  Because I love to organize.  I’m weird like that.  Before moving, I plan on gifting my sewing machine temporarily to my mom, since it’s just collecting dust at my house anyways and I’m anticipating having to downsize.  Besides, there is way too much crap of mine from high school and college in my old room, and it’s in need of a little sprucing up.

Amidst organizing my old dresser drawers, I came upon the box of memorabilia that I grabbed after my grandma died.  Old lipstick, hankies, some jewelry, and lots of other misc. stuff that I kept as reminders of her.  Of course, a lot of it had to go.  Maybelline blue eyeshadow stick from 1974?  It had the consistency of sidewalk chalk.

One of the items was a box of 3 old-school mercury thermometers.  My reaction was, these are dangerous and need to go.  My mother’s?  These are great!  They don’t make them like that any more!  My reaction to her reaction?  Yeah, they don’t make them CANCER CAUSING any more.  Ah, the good ole days.

About 2 minutes later, I reached for the box of thermometers when it happened.  I dropped one.  And it broke.  And the mercury came out.

After uttering several curse words, I grabbed Frankie (OH MY GOD MY CHILD IS IN THE SAME ROOM AS LIVE MERCURY!!!!  I AM THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!!!!), closed the door, and headed off to the internet to figure out what the *$&@ to do.  Of course, my mom is calm, laughing almost, remembering about she and her brother used to play with mercury.  Play with it, like it’s a toy.  My dad, also calm, saying that he’ll take care of it and it’s no big deal.

Me?  CALL THE EPA!!!!  THERE IS MERCURY HERE PEOPLE!!!!   WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!  WHERE’S MY HAZMAT SUIT?

Luckily, I had the wisdom to google (oh, what ever did we do before google?) and found on the EPA website how to handle the situation.  Surprisingly, panicking was not on the list.  But my dad and I did find ourselves on the ground, with a flashlight and exacto knife, trying to pry tiny beads of mercury out of the cracks in the wood floor and then grab the beads with duct tape for about, oh, an hour.  Finally, my knees started to give out and my dad had to finish the job.

Oh, and did I mention that during this time, an ant bit me?  Yup, that day got even better.

As I was looking up the EPA website for how to avoid a mercury pandemic in the house, I had my parent’s laptop on my lap.  And all of a sudden, I felt a burning, itching sensation on my upper thigh.  I thought it was from the laptop, but it kept getting worse and worse.  And finally, I had to pull down my pants in the middle of the family room to see what was going on.  Luckily, only Frankie was in the room, and he’s used to seeing me do such strange activities.

Low and behold, I find a small welt surrounded by itchy, red skin, and, oh yeah, A HALF-DEAD SQUIRMING ANT INSIDE MY JEANS.  Let’s all just realize what we’re dealing with: that an ant not only crawled up my leg, onto my upper thigh, and then bit me. 

And then I had to go find me some mercury.

In the end, I’m pretty confident that we found all the mercury, and from what I’ve read online, the amount in a thermometer is not a big deal.  I mean, you should still take it very seriously, but it’s nothing to freak out about.  As my dad pointed out, I probably eat more mercury in a tuna fish sandwich.  I’m not sure which is more disturbing. 

Although, seriously, how many of these lethal thermometers are out there?  For the record (MOM!), you need to safely donate mercury thermometers to the fire department (MOM!) for proper disposal (MOM!), no matter how good of a temperature they take (MOM!).

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Breastfeeding has recently been the subject of political debate, thanks in part to the IRS’s recent announcement that lactation supplies (mainly breast pumps and supplies) can be bought using those tax-free medical flexible spending accounts (which I’ve never done because it involves too much thinking and planning ahead).  Alongside this announcement came Michelle Obama’s claim that, as a part of her anti-childhood obesity campaign, she also wants to encourage women to breastfeed, since “kids who are breast-fed longer have a lower tendency to be obese.”

Isn’t it great to FINALLY see someone in politics (although one could argue that being the first lady doesn’t make you a politician, but I digress) saying, hey, our kids are fat.  That’s not good.  And by the way, breastfeeding is a good thing, people.  It’s free and healthier and good for moms, good for babies, good for the planet, and it doesn’t make your kids fat.

But alas, this is American politics, and of course we can’t just hear a good thing and say it’s a good thing.  No, not when there’s bipartisan standards to uphold.

In response, Michelle Bachmann charged the first lady with trying to impose a “nanny state” on mothers.  And Sarah Palin laughed at the claim, mockingly saying that it was in response to rising milk prices (not sure what  COW’S MILK has to do with HUMAN MILK, but then again, this is coming from the woman who wrote crib notes on her hand before an interview).  And, not to be left out, Rush Limbaugh chimed in claiming that Michelle Obama wants us all to eat tree bark and berries while she gets to pig out on ribs while on vacation, and suggested that she’s not as healthy as her campaign is.

I don’t mean to bash the conservative right…that’s a post for another day.  But what makes me really mad about this is that Bachmann and Palin and others is that they can’t just let a Democrat do a good thing.  Supposedly, these are the same people who are pro-life and focused on the family.  If so, then why are they picking on breastfeeding and wanting kids to be healthy?  I feel like they’re really reaching on this one. 

It’s not as though Obama wants to hand out free breastpumps to all women (what the true definition of a nanny state would bring).  Instead, the government is simply stating that you can take the money that you have worked hard for, set it aside, and we won’t charge  you taxes when you purchase a $200 breastpump.  Or you can itemize your expenses on your taxes and deduct the cost of breastpump supplies.  THAT’S IT.  There’s no tax credit at all. 

Of course, politicians like Bachmann twist this around and make claims that aren’t true.  On a radio interview, she said, “To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump. . . . You want to talk about nanny state, I think we just got a new definition.”  Which is not what’s happening at all.  She’s lying.  No government is standing at Babies R Us, loading up carts of breastpumps to hand out at playgroups.  But then, you get a lot of people who hear that snippet and run with it, rather than investigating the truth for themselves. 

If a Republican does something that I agree with, then I support them and give them credit.  Just because I lean to the left doesn’t mean that I give credit where credit is due.  And Mrs. Obama (and the IRS) deserves credit from all women.

Oh, and the argument that says that this is discriminating against stay-at-home moms, who don’t have to pump?  First, I know a lot of stay-at-home moms that do pump on a regular basis.  Second, if  you stay-at-home and nurse and don’t have to pump at all, then you already get a break.  It’s called FREE MILK. And third, for those moms who can’t nurse or pump and have to buy formula, perhaps we should allow a tax break or FSA allowance for them.  Because we’re talking about the health of our babies.  Isn’t this something that we can all agree upon?

Read more about the controversy here.

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Diet Dilemmas

On Monday, while the rest of the US of A was celebrating the Hallmark holiday Valentine’s Day, I took Frankie to see Dr. Kris at Serenity Health and Wellness.  Dr. Kris is a chiropractor that I saw while I was pregnant and developed a burning stabbing feeling in my back that made me want to scream.  Oh, I mean sciatica.

**Side note: FYI, Tony is no slouch of a husband, and he did recognize Valentine’s Day by buying me flowers, some chocolate, and, my personal favorite, a Social Distortion CD circa 1990.  I love you, my punk rock hubby!

But Dr. Kris is so much more.  She is also trained in holistic medicine, specifically for pregnancy and pediatric care.  She also LISTENS.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a doctor that listens to you and asks a million questions, and then puts all that information together into one comprehensive assessment of your health?  Of course you do, you try to navigate the American health care system just like I do.  Well, Dr. Kris does that.  She gets it.

Frankie got a clean bill of health, although she did do some adjustments on him and some craniosacral work to open up his chest and nose from his cold.  We talked a lot of diet (both his and mine), and while I got lots of kudos for his diet (no juice, all fruits and veggies), there’s a few things we need to change.

– I eat WAY too much dairy.  I know this makes my family laugh, because it reminds of Tor, the holistic healer on Seinfeld, but it’s true.  And it affects both Frankie and my congestion.  So I’m off cow’s milk and drinking rice milk instead, which is surprising delicious!  It’s very sweet and I really don’t notice the difference.  I do miss cheese though…

– More beans, and less meat in our diet.  I’ve been meaning to work on this anyways.

– To help with our colds (yes, I caught Frankie’s cold.  He’s cute but highly contagious), she gave me this stuff called D-Hist, a natural sinus/allergy/cold homeopathic medicine.  It tastes a little weird, but I think it’s working.

– We need to find a better Vitamin D drop for Frankie.  The one we’ve been using is the most common, mainstream brand, but it also has unnecessary artificial flavors and other nasties in it. 

I’m thinking of reworking our diet a bit in general, based on her advice.  Frankie will be eating what we’re eating in a few months, so we need to start off right.  And seriously, my diet has been half dairy for years.  I need to get vegan cookbooks or something and figure out something else to eat!

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