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The Sinus Infection Leech

Ever since I was 9 or 10, I’ve had the crappy family sinuses. The ones that clog and ache when the weather changes. Thanks, Mom.

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I used to get the worst of it every other year. I once had to give a presentation with laryngitis when I was in college. I got a B, so it was all for the best. Now, two kids later, I’m on my third infection.

I was sick when I was pregnant with A2, and then shortly after she was born. I have videos on my phone with my raspy voice. My husband loves to imitate it. He does that awful grandma impression, like a bad imitation of the “Where’s the beef?” lady. Cue eyeroll.

One of my college friends called me tonight to talk. She was surprised to discover I sounded like walking death. I had Daddy J take over kid duty so I could lay down. I ended up app surfing on CNN and Facebook. She called, and told me to get some rest. I wish I could, and I wish my mind would let me.

As a working mom, I hardly cared when I was sick. It sucked, but I powered through, because that’s what I felt I should do. As a SAHM, I feel like there is no break, and that’s part of my job. When the kids sleep, I sleep, unless there is work to be done along the way. I feel like falling over, but I have a to-do list. We still need groceries. I still must tote the kids anyway. I will carry that double stroller, which is the equivalent of what childless people must bench press. I still cook meals, unless I feel so shitty I cannot function. Then, I defer to Daddy J.

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An Open Letter to My Cousin, Mother of Two

Dear S, Annoying Cousin Who Always Changes Plans Last Minute,

16 years ago, I was a rising eighth grader, and you gave birth to your oldest daughter. You told my mom and I not to come right away, and kept delaying the time we’d get to meet my now-teenaged second cousin. My mom, as is tradition (since your shitty behavior reared its ugly head), said, “Yeah, because ‘S’ is the only person who ever had a baby.” I was 14 and never gave this any thought. You did travel quite a bit with her and your youngest son (born three years later), but I’m sure you forget a few things, based on your recent behavior (2004-present).

No, we cannot drop everything to come to these “cousinly” meetings. Now it’s me who has been up breastfeeding newborns, currently not sleeping, because A2, who you have never even met, is in a growth spurt and teething. Your daughter used to projectile vomit and never sleep. Remember? I know my biggest worries were my cross country races, dance class, and going to school, but I haven’t forgotten.

Call me a bitch meanie mom, but I hope your kids used to scream in the car, just like mine. I hope at least one of them, like A2, hated car seats as infants. I hope G, your oldest, pulled an A1 and constantly dropped her sippy on the floor or basically threw a fit when your son, J, got more attention. I hope one of them teethed hardcore and never napped, like A2. I hope they were a pain to put to sleep, like A1 was as a newborn. I hope they both had tantrums. I hope you wanted to flip out, scream, pull your hair out, smack them, and despise everyone else who seemed to have it “together”, traveling with their children like it’s the easiest shit ever.

I hope someone asked you if your 18-month-old had a diaper on, because their child was stupid enough to SLIDE the baby onto their lap, so pee leaked out. Tell G that a few drops won’t kill her, and that you haven’t lived until your kid has emptied their entire bladder, pooped, and thrown up on you. Factor in getting head-butted in the face and bashed with a Magna Doodle while a baby is screaming in the background, then it’s all in a day’s work. Oh, and your kids are three years apart. That would be a vacation, as would your life be for me now, since your kids are potty trained, can talk, can dress themselves, can feed themselves, have been to school, and don’t need booster shots for another 10+ years.

Have fun.

Signed, Mama J

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Good Days and Closeness

SIL was at a rehearsal dinner until 10 (she is Miss Popular, and is in all of her high school friends’ weddings. She graduated 11 years ago, just like me). MIL was watching M. She called Daddy J to ask if it was ok for the two of them to come over. Why the hell not, I thought. I just woke up from a nap (thanks to A2’s teething, I was up until 3:30 and then awoken again at 6:30), and headed into the shower. MIL and M arrived when I shut the door. I enjoyed my Herbal Essences time and departed.

The kids played together. M likes A2’s (formerly A1’s) Rainforest Top-Cradle swing. She pushed it, even when the baby wasn’t inside. M played very well with me, and decently well with A1. She is a little bossy, but she is simply parroting all the phrases she hears at daycare. “I need that!” No, kid. You don’t really need the toy alligator that was actually meant for A2. I’m your aunt, so I’ll play.

MIL enjoyed the kids. Like my interim therapist said, she needs some early childhood development classes. Asking a 22.5-month-old to go over and ask a 2-year-old for permission to use her own a toy is stupid unrealistic.

Damn Go Fish for getting their music stuck in my head! I played it for M a million times, and at one point, I was nursing A2 while M was sitting on my left side and A1 was on my right. I felt hardcore for being able to handle three kids at once.

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Kid-Friendly Insect Repellents

We’ve lived in our house for three years, and now that A1 is old enough to eat table food, we’ve had our first ,second, and third ant infestation. Don’t get me wrong, I am a practice entomologist who has studied insects since the age of seven. I even got the Bug Bottle and the Bug Book—thanks, Reading Rainbow! (There—now I’ve dated myself.) I love saturniid moths, mole crickets, beetles, and a few other very helpful, fascinating insects. Ants are interesting. They are extremely social, considering that most insect brains aren’t nearly as complex. Unfortunately, they are a pain in the ass when they enter your home repeatedly.

Ever the technologist, I Googled “kid friendly ways to kill ants” and came up with some positive results. I’d like to share those with you.

1. Cinnamon. Yes, the sticks you put in your cider, and the powder you mix with sugar/butter on your toast. This actually works. During the first infestation, the little bastards colony moved to our pantry. The one that contained my baked goods. This included extra walnuts for my banana bread that were reduced to bits. Thanks, arthropod assholes. I sprinkled some cinnamon around the doors and in the cabinet (after we removed a ton of food). They have never returned to that location.
2. One part vinegar, one part water. The old school cleaning solution wins again: ants abhor the smell of vinegar. Put this mixture in a spray bottle. Spray your baseboards, doorways, window sills, outside perimeter, and any area with anthills. In fact, you can also spray straight vinegar onto them—it will kill the entire colony.
3. Lemon juice. How does this work? Ants make chemical trails to tell the rest of the colony where to find food. Lemon juice throws the workers off my erasing ant trails. It’s a citric pied piper. You can spray it (like the vinegar) or squeeze a wedge into a crack where they are coming in. Nothing to see here, guys!
4. Set out a few cucumber slices. According to thiswebsite, bitter ones work best.
5. Cayenne pepper. Apparently they aren’t a fan of this, either.
6. Chalk. They will not cross the line, and the fossilized sea creatures used to make it serve as a natural repellent.
7. Use a night light. The light patterns will change their foraging patterns, making it easier to put out bait (like the methods suggested above).

That’s all I’ve got for now? Other than borax and diatomaceous earth, do you have any ideas? Cheers!

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Product Review: Graco DuoGlider

Yesterday, we took the As for a spin in their (newly discovered) tandem stroller. It took me a few minutes to get used to a) the added weight of A2 and b) pushing it up (what I never previously noticed to be) a slight incline. I wore platform sandals. I recommend regular sneakers, of course.

It is seriously the Rolls Royce of strollers! I love the Graco Spree (see one of my initial posts) travel system, and the company took an easy single-child system to the next level. There are even drink holders for kids and parents. A sealable compartment on top allows you to store wipes, snacks, or whatever you wish (next to your drink!). I put my Mommy Hook on it as well, so I can carry my keys are purse with me. The expanded basket allows plenty of room for a joint diaper bag (aka my silver Kalencom), the short trips bag, and toys for A1. My car is currently in the shop, so I cannot post a photo, but you can view one here on Graco’s website.

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Felix Culpa Turned Product Review

Many moons ago (or so it seems), MIL bought me a Graco DuoGlide stroller. I was four weeks pregnant with A2 at the time. She told me it was a jogging stroller. I previously owned an Instep, so I assumed this was a side-by-side unit. Two days ago, after calling Daddy J and asking what we were doing (walking around the block with A1 in the stroller and A2 in my Infantino carrier), she got upset about the DuoGlide’s residency in our garage.

My best friend, J.S., talked to me about the concept of “happy little accidents”, hence the title of this post. One example would be discovering the Fisher-Price Pink Sparkles Tub does indeed have a drain. Damn. I spent six months flipping the thing over, and thought absolutely nothing of it.

I was talking to one of our neighbors across the street when Daddy J opened the stroller, and it unfolded vertically!!!! Holy shit! It’s a tandem. I’ve complained to EVERYONE about the thing being a traditional jogger for MONTHS—“Why couldn’t DJ’s mom get me a tandem? She never asks me what I want, she just buys it.” This is true—-of everything else. She was right this time. Score: Mama J-0 MIL-1. Usually my score is 100. I’ve gained enough humility in my life to concede to small victories. Oh, well. I told her I’d use it now, and I will. Today it began, and a product review will follow. Cheers!

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More Money Saving Tips From Mama J!

So, I left off with a discussion about some of my sweet couponing tips. There are a few other things I do. I’m sure you might read these and think to yourself, “Yeah, I’ve done these before.” That’s ok. It means you’re on the right track.

1. Shop clearance. Kids clothes are the BEST clearance items you can get. You can also get great children’s shoes and baby care items (like a toothbrush) when they are (as I like to call it) “red tagged.”
2. Look for bins. Giant Eagle (PA and Ohio residents) has a bin with discontinued items. Is it something you need? Is it something you like for a great price? Nab it!
3. Repurpose things in your home you haven’t used. I accidentally bought Suave conditioner instead of shampoo for Daddy J. Did you know you can use conditioner as a shaving cream? That will save you some coin.
4. Only coupon for what you actually need. Some people (just like the TLC show) are extreme couponers and buy crazy amounts of items they don’t need. Don’t do that—it is excessive, and you’ll have random junk sitting around your house. Bulk up on the useful stuff. Deodorant, diapers, wipes, lotion, hand soap, toilet paper, canned goods, the list goes on and on.
5. Get a chest freezer, then shop for two weeks worth of food. Buy value packs of meat, especially if they are BOGO. You can separate them prior to freezing. Date the freezer bags and divide them into portions.
6. Freeze anything extra. Got baby food that’s about to expire? Freeze it. This will save you on the next batch if you don’t have time to make fresh food (it sounds like a great idea, but I’m not sure if I have the time).
7. Make bulk portions of food and freeze. I make spaghetti from scratch. All you need is diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and water. You can add sausage (loose or encased) or meatballs to the mix as well. It is tasty. Freeze it in Tupperware containers or freezer bags.
8. Keep an inventory of all the frozen food. My dad does this on paper. This way, you know what’s there and will not waste anything.

Well, I’m exhausted, and I’m off to bed. Happy saving!

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Winning?

I love my kids—don’t get me wrong, BUT—there is something that invokes high levels of annoyance after years of doing “adult” things or not picturing some of the more repetitive, curious behaviors. Really, HOW many times does A1 have to ascend and descend the neighbors’ porch steps in an hour? Apparently plenty. She is in the swing on their swing set (we don’t currently have one) for two minutes, then it’s “Ow! Ow! Ow!” (Out, out, out)
“Do you want out?” I ask.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she says sweetly, sometimes accompanied by nodding. She runs to the slide and tries to climb up. “Uh! Uh!” This part is gravy to me.

Then, as aforementioned, there’s this pacifier dilemma. She found the defaced MAM I gave her at nap time yesterday. She STILL sucks on the darn thing, and there is NO SUCTION! She is quieter, but now that she is talking, and my annoying illustrious (gag!) MIL thinks she can’t. She just HAD to go to my aunt-in-law (AIL) for validation about A1 not speaking in front of her. I don’t know, MIL, it is perhaps because you are annoying and overbearing? She also thinks niece M is the greatest toddler on earth. She even brags about her behaving badly or being sick. She even laughs at her mischievousness. Dumbass Ridiculous!

Daddy J and I are going out to dinner with my regifted Applebee’s gift card from Mother’s Day. I’ll be sure to have a drink on me. LOL! Well, my I’m almost done pumping, so it’s time to fraternize with the crazy bitch MIL and hubby. Peace!

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The Fine Art of Couponing

Two years ago, after A1 was born, I decided to enter the wonderful world of couponing. We didn’t have a subscription to our local paper at the time, so I’d go to the store and buy the Sunday paper. There are days (especially now) that I don’t always have time to do this, so I started printing out coupons and perusing weekly fliers for deals.

Now that I’ve had plenty of practice, I’ve become quite the deal sealer and stealer. I’m in Pennsylvania, so I won’t mention the private stores I use (and one is a mom and pop, so it’s only in our city).

Here are my tips and tricks for saving some coin with coupons:

1. Get a weekend newspaper subscription. Getting a daily paper for a family on a single income is expensive. Even a six-month subscription is $75 here. The weekend subscription we have is a deal—three months for $25. An intern came to our house and offered this to us. Inquire in your neighborhood.
2. Buy the Sunday papers at the store. Buy at least three of them. Some of the neighboring Ohio publications are available, too.
3. Print coupons. My favorite coupon blog is Coupon Divas. It will teach you how to coupon, how to organize, give weekly match-ups (which allows you to align coupons with great deals, like BOGO items). It will also give you deal scenarios, store coupon policies, info about freebies (you heard it—free stuff), and much more. She even has links to the most popular sites to from which to print. They are also independent sites, and print the fliers you receive in the paper or your mailbox. These include:
Redplum
Smartsource
Coupons.com
Couponnetwork.com
4. Price match. Walmart is famous for this. Do it to your full advantage. Use fliers from private, independent stores and match those deals with Walmart prices. There are a few caveats, and the cashier will inform you of these. One of which is that the original (savings) price of a BOGO item, for example, must be listed in the flier you use. So, it will say, “A $4 savings!” If Walmart is offering the item at $2 BOGO, you just pocketed the extra two bucks. Use a self-scan register, and you can watch those savings go right down.
5. Get booklets from incentives programs. One of the most notorious is Pamper’s Gifts to Grow. I got a coupon booklet AND a free potty seat for A1 because of this. Proctor and Gamble (P&G) is including them in packages of diapers and training pants as well. Buy $12 packs of wipes (several—20-30, I will give a total after shopping day) save $25 on more diapers, wipes, and other household items. Sounds good to me.

Keep an eye out for more couponing tips!