…Like a Boss

Every time I drive past a used car lot, I think of the first time I was grounded.
Stay with me.
The details are a little fuzzy, but cut me some slack because I was only five. All I know for sure is that I was with my parents at a used car lot, and it was dark outside. In the distance, I saw it– gleaming in the light of a fluorescent lamppost, a pile of tattered plastic bunting.
And by tattered plastic bunting, I mean decorative flags that would surely match the Pocahontas motif in my bedroom. I would decorate with all the colors of the wind, and it would be spectacular.
I asked my parents if I could take it home, and they said no, because that would be stealing and it was trash anyway. Um, hello– had they never heard the universal motto of yard sales? One person’s trash is another’s treasure. And it would look great in a Pocahontas room.
Ever the problem-solver, I decided if I wanted to take it anyway, I had to ball it up and stuff it into my coat. I don’t know if it was the sheer puffiness of my neon coat a la 1995, or the fact that my parents were distracted by cars and my two younger siblings, but they didn’t seem to notice. I was totally getting away with it, like a boss.
It wasn’t until we were driving home that it occurred to me that my parents might eventually notice this “trash” (how dare they) once it was taped to my bedroom walls. Panic set in. What was I supposed to do with this stuff? Take it out of my coat right now and admit the jig is up? I would get in trouble for taking it. Throw it in the trash when we got home? They would find it, and I would still get in trouble for taking it. Hide it in a dark corner of my closet? Bingo.
I committed to this plan and no one was the wiser, until my mom decided to clean. In my bedroom. In my closet.
Boss status, retracted.

I don’t totally remember how the next part went– the part between the finding and the punishing– but I imagine my mom coaxed me into telling on myself before actually producing the evidence. She’s always been good at that, like a special mom superpower that I can only HOPE to possess someday. All I know for sure is that I came home from my exhausting day of finger painting and snack time (kindergarten, as it should be) only to find out that she’d thrown away my avant-garde decor and I was grounded. Yes, you heard me correctly– I was five, and I was grounded.

Boss status, reinstated.

When I told my friends at school the next day, they could hardly believe their little ears; none of us had ever been grounded. This, coming right after my exile to the Red Square Table for sticking a pencil up my nose (on a dare, I’ll have you know), basically made me a kindergarten badass. So much street cred.

I remember my little friends coming to the yard to play after school, and all I could do was pout at them through the sliding glass doors while my mom told them I could not come out to play. This must be what prison’s like. While I was supposed to be taking this opportunity to learn a lesson in lying, I resolved to put more energy behind not getting caught.

This was an endeavor I pursued for the rest of my childhood. And just when I thought I could pull one over on her, my mom was quick to put me in my place. There are only a few instances where I actually got away with anything, and they are obviously the crowning moments of my adolescence.

But here’s the thing– it’s all of her sneaky mom-ness that turned me into a good kid. All those times she hacked her way into my MySpace account and threatened to ambush dates and sleepovers and mall-ratting (this woman had eyes everywhere) kept me on my toes, and wary of ever truly testing my boundaries. It wasn’t until I was safely 200 miles away in the mountains of central Pennsylvania that I did anything remotely questionable, and even then I somehow managed to stay on the dean’s list and off of the 6’oclock news.

Even now that I’m all grown up (well, mostly), I still have the feeling that she’s looking over my shoulder with every decision that I make– and I think that’s a good thing. While she might not be able to ground me anymore, I have what has become an inherent need not to disappoint her. It’s all of her sneaky mom-ness that has turned me into a good person.

That is easily the single hardest job of a parent, and I hope I can pull it off just as well. I hope my kids push their limits just far enough to find out where they are. I hope they get away with enough things that they maintain the confidence to defy me once in a while, just so that I can put them back in their place (like a boss). I hope that in another five or ten years, I’m the one turning their friends away at the sliding glass doors while they plot new ways to get away with things. Most of all, I hope that I’ve inherited enough sneaky mom-ness to turn them into good kids.


two months old

Two months, TOO FAST.

Appropriately, so much of this month can be recounted in twos:
Two big milestones— you’re smiling all the time and starting to find your little voice! Don’t ask me why, but you seem to be the most outgoing when you’re on the changing table. You stare up at me and smile from ear to ear, ooh-ing and ahh-ing like you’re telling me a story. You’re starting to experiment with facial expressions, too; it’s so exciting to watch the beginnings of your personality come to life.

Two books read (almost) every night while we snuggle in the glider for your 3AM feeding. Our favorites so far are Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, and Oh the Places You’ll Go. I just ordered some books from The Little Critter collection and I know you’re going to love them! Call me crazy, but even though you don’t understand what I’m reading to you it is so, so important– and the beginning of a very special bond =]

Two songs that calm you down, without fail– Stand By Me and The Way You Do the Things You Do. Clearly, someone has an affinity for Motown, and I don’t hate it. 
Two bottles of gas drops emptied, because you are your father’s child.
Two exhausted parents, who gave in and embraced co-sleeping with open arms. I’m sure we’ll be kicking ourselves one day when you’re six and still sneaking into our bed at night, but I’m over it because right now it means I get to SLEEP.
Two little watchful eyes, getting so good at focusing on new things and observing your surroundings. You love checking out your reflection and watching things that spin, like ceiling fans and the bird mobile on your swing. We still can’t tell if your eyes are going to be blue or brown, but we should know soon!
Two piles of newborn clothes, ready to be packed away. A part of me is sad that those first precious weeks of your life have come and gone, but I’m so excited for what’s to come. You are growing more and more every day– holding your little head up, practicing sitting up like a big boy in your Bumbo seat, kicking your way across the carpet during tummy time. I can see how much you’ve changed in the way your face has filled out, in the way your skinny frog legs are turning into chunky baby thighs. Watching you grow and learn and come into your own is easily the best part of every day, and I can’t wait to see who you become.
Love you to the moon and back, my sweet boy.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
Dr. Seuss

erica vs. the momma

I want desperately to write about something besides babies. Anything at all. Believe it or not, there was a time when there was more to my life than breastfeeding and washing onesies. And getting peed on and changing diapers. I’m pretty sure there’s still a shred of myself here somewhere, buried under all of that stuff; somewhere, the Erica still exists beneath the Momma, and she has some things to say. I think.
The fact of the matter is, it stops being about you the minute you find out you’re pregnant. Everything you do suddenly revolves around baby, and that’s all anyone wants to talk to you about. Eventually, it’s all you can talk about because it has completely consumed your life (as it should– you’re growing a human being, after all) and relating to anything else is borderline impossible. And when that baby is finally here? Forget about it.

Sometimes I wonder when it all happened. Just three years ago, I was fratting all over State College and changing my major every five seconds. Now, I’m married with a baby and getting four consecutive hours of sleep is the biggest accomplishment of my day. Blink of an eye? Understatement.

I mean it when I say that I am the luckiest girl in the whole world. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I hold that title. I’m only 22 and already I’m married to an incredible, strong man, and together we have a healthy sweet boy.

We may not have a lot, but we have enough, and that’s all you can really ask for. It isn’t lost on me, though, that it has all happened very fast.

But that’s what your twenties are supposed to be– life happening in big obvious ways, all at once. It’s the decade of graduations and first jobs; getting engaged and getting married; having babies and buying houses. These last few years, it seems like my life has been on fast forward, hurdling ahead from one milestone to the next; I don’t think I’ve really had the time to process it all. While it’s surely an incredible adventure, it’s still incredibly scary.
All new adventures are bound to bring about change. Relationships evolve, roles are redefined, new dispositions are discovered; becoming a momma is no exception. I just hope that the Erica doesn’t get completely lost in the Momma. That girl who sang in All State Chorus? She’s still there, singing “Stand By Me” for the five-hundredth time so Landon will fall asleep. The student council president? She’s busy running a household.

This girl?

Well, she had her moment in the sun.

I’ll figure out how the Momma fits in with the Erica eventually. There might be a few (hundred) more posts about babies first, but he’s cute so you’re over it. Don’t miss me too much– I’ll find my way back.

one month old

My sweet boy–
You are one month old today.

Already, you have grown so much!

When you were born, you weighed in at 7lbs. 4oz. and were 21 inches long. Now, you are 8lbs. 13oz. and 21.5 inches long!

You spend most days fighting sleep, giving people the stink eye, crying for boobs, peeing on yourself and others, and hating on tummy time. Seriously hating it.

You make about 9,346,085,304,230,450 different facial expression a day, and I love every one of them.

You get the hiccups more often than any kid I know.

You snort and turn bright red when you’re really huff-and-puff-and-blow-your-house-down angry.

You have to have your hands near your face at all times.

You always do a victory fist pump after all of your big accomplishments– a long nap, a big poop, a loud burp.. You’re a man’s man.

You look more and more like your daddy every day.

Momma snuggles are your favorite (mine too) and the only way you’ll sleep after 5AM.

You’re always trying to hold your head up like a big boy, and I think it’s because you love to know what’s going on around you. You might only be able to see about a foot away from your face, but you are quick to fuss if we block your view!

I can’t believe you are already a whole month old. It’s happening way too fast. Everyone said it would, but now I actually believe them. Sometimes, I look at your little face and I can imagine what it’s going to look like a month from now.. a year from now.. and then I cry because I’m a total sap. While I can’t wait to watch you grow and experience all the “firsts” along the way, can you slow it down a bit? Pretty please?
You are the beat of my heart and the best part of every day, and I hope that you know just how special you are.

Love you, kid!

our first adventure

Today marked the first time Landon and I ventured out into the world by ourselves. SCARY. I would tell you how it went, but I think it might be slightly more entertaining if we heard Landon’s side of things. If he could talk, this is probably how he would recount our morning:

YES! Awake just in time for the Today show. Quick– put a boob in my mouth before I scream.
Forgot how depressing the first hour of the Today show is. I think I’ll go back to sleep until they start cooking something. Hey, Mom? You can go back to sleep now too. You’re welcome.
Woke up with a boob in my mouth. Way to go, Mom! So glad you’re figuring this out.
Sounds like Mom is on the phone with Dad (OMG why aren’t you home yet?!) and she says she wants to go grocery shopping today. Mentions something about how cooperative I’m being today LOL not so fast, Mom!
Immediately start screaming for no apparent reason. Mom rules out all the usual suspects– burp me, change me, rock me. Surprise! Still crying. Solution? More boob time.
P.S. I totally just foiled any plans Mom had of leaving before 11AM. There’s no way I’m missing Kathie Lee and Hoda– it’s Boozeday Tuesday.
Mom seems to think she’s ready for the day LOL I don’t have the heart to tell her that her hair looks like she just rolled out of bed. Which she did. At least she put some makeup on because, well, YIKES. Someone has some mean dark circles under their eyes and it’s not me.
Mom straps me to her chest in some kind of cotton contraption so we can take the dog for a walk. Mom tells me she is my big sister, but I don’t see the resemblance. I’m not nearly as hairy, and I definitely don’t poop outside.
Decide to surprise Mom with an explosion in my dipe. Decide not to pee on myself this time, because that usually leads to a bath and BOY do I hate baths! Maybe later.
Mom packs the diaper bag with most of our material possessions. Are we going to the grocery store or backpacking across Europe?

Mom puts me in my car seat and straps me in a little too tight. Standard. I don’t know what these things are on my car seat straps, but Mom keeps calling them my monkey friends. Definitely not friends.
Spent the first five minutes of the car ride trying to eat this monkey’s face. Gave up and succumbed to sleep. No better lullaby than anything by Justin Bieber– love him.
We’ve arrived at the grocery store. Mom is pleading with me to be her good little man. We’ll see.
Mom puts my car seat in this big metal cart thing, and it isn’t so bad. It’s kind of like being in the car, except I can see Mom. Liking that. Hating that my jams aren’t playing, though, and this place seems kind of dirty and full of strangers.
Start whimper-crying because Mom isn’t paying attention to me. Suddenly distracted by the boob in my mouth. Wait– is that a boob? Definitely not. Just my paci. You’re a trickster, Mom, but this will do.
Awake from my paci-induced slumber to find that I’m surrounded by food. Someone is touching my foot. Not surprising, pretty sure Mom is obsessed with them. They’re little, I’m little.. funny how that works. Except– wait– Mom? WHO IS THIS LADY?! STRANGER STRANGER STRANGER TOUCHING MY FOOT!
Suddenly our big metal cart thing starts moving again, and Mom looks like she wants to punch someone. She mutters something about crazy people and assures me that will never happen again. Get real, Mom. Do you know how cute I am? Like anyone could resist pinching these cheeks and touching these wittle feets. Keep some sanitizer handy.
Did we just teleport to Antarctica? WHY IS IT SO COLD?! I don’t care that all you have left to grab are Hot Pockets for Daddy (sorry, Dad), get me out of here! 
Start screaming so loud my whole body turns red. Mom tries to console me with the paci. Not this time, Mom! I’m onto you.
Mom looks panicked and finds the closest checkout line. Glad she knows who’s boss.
Air conditioning. Justin Bieber. Monkey acquaintances (they’re growing on me). Looks like this baby is going home! 
Initiate explosion #2 in my dipe. Mom needs something to do when we get home. I’ve been letting her have way too much free time lately.
Briefly consider screaming to keep the car ride interesting. Mom turns up the radio. Nap time ensues.
Justin Bieber– 2, Landon– 0.

Mo Money Mo Problems

I have a theory that very few people are legitimately poor. Most of us are just broke because we choose to live outside of our means. Case in point– my life.
We just spent an ungodly amount of money on newborn pictures, so we’re going to spend the next month or so whining about how tight we are on money. The pictures (though amazing) are definitely outside of our means, but we’re first time parents (a.k.a. suckers) and decided to have them done anyway. Goodbye date nights, hello Ramen Noodles.
I’d like to say that we will learn from this experience, but that’s a total lie. I’m pretty confident that August will find us spending way too much money on vacation, and we’ll be knee-deep in Ramen Noodles by September.
While I regret this vicious cycle every time it happens, I know it will continue for one simple reason– call me cliche, but there are some things that you only get once. Landon will never be a newborn again; try as I may, he will not be my little seven-pound nugget forever. While we may regret spending an exorbitant amount of money on pictures, we will never regret capturing that special time because once it’s gone, it’s gone. Yes, it will suck to tighten the purse strings for a little while (and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to complain about it) but ten years from now, will we really care that our kitchen was a revolving door of packaged Asian noodles for a few weeks? Probably not.
Will I cry (correction– have a mental breakdown) if these pictures are ever destroyed in a fire? You bet your bottom dollar.

10 Things: Being a Momma

10 Things on Being a Momma
What I’ve Learned in the First Two Weeks

You will cry about everythingYou will cry because you only got a half hour of sleep last night. You will cry because it’s been two weeks already since your little nugget was born. You will cry about how sweet your baby is (and your husband will make fun of you). You will cry because the baby’s crying.  And just when you think you’ve pulled yourself together, you will cry for no reason at all.

Everyone has an opinion. Don’t give your kid a paci because it causes nipple confusion and buck-teeth. Don’t co-sleep because my sister’s cousin’s boyfriend’s nephew rolled out of bed. Sleep when the baby sleeps (which is a total pipe dream if I’ve ever heard one). Everyone and their mother will offer their opinions and advice, whether you ask for them or not, but take it all with a grain of salt. It’s definitely important to consider multiple viewpoints when making parenting decisions, but at the end of the day you will figure out what is right for you. 

Babies cry. Ok, duh. Here’s where I’m going with this– babies cry, and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes they’ve been fed, burped, changed, and cuddled and absolutely nothing will change the fact that they are not happy campers. Accept it. 
Mommas are superheroes. Sometime in the course of pushing a human being out of your vagina, you will acquire special mom superpowers. In fact, it might even happen before that because let’s face it– giving birth, in and of itself, is a superhuman feat. Suddenly, you can conquer the world on three hours of broken sleep. You can breastfeed, eat dinner, and update your Facebook status simultaneously. You can juggle your purse, a diaper bag, and a car seat without breaking a sweat. Cure cancer and solve the oil crisis while changing a dirty dipe? Consider it done.

Do something for yourself every day. Stop for an iced coffee on the way home from the doctor’s office. Set aside an hour to curl up under the covers and watch Kathy Lee and Hoda (even if you have to DVR it). Take advantage of the fact that your husband is home and treat yourself to 30 minutes of uninterrupted shower time. If you value your sanity at all, you will make time for yourself and it will be amazing. You deserve it!

I would be a hot mess without my husband. I definitely lucked out in the husband department, because he’s basically Superman. He helped me figure out how to use a breast pump, a.k.a. the least sexy thing ever next to watching me give birth (which he did, and promised it did not scar him for life and he would still give me the business four very long weeks from now). He waited in line for thirty minutes at the Sonic drive-thru just to get me an orange slush. He asks what he can do to help me around the house. And even after working all day, he is ready and willing to take on baby duty the minute he gets home, without complaint. He’s quick to tell me I’m an awesome momma, but the truth? I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for him.

It’s okay to be a bitch. Don’t be afraid to enforce boundaries when it comes to your little one. At the end of the day, you have to be your baby’s advocate. Smoking was a big issue for me, and it was hard to set ground rules for family and friends because I didn’t want to offend anyone, but protecting my little man’s brand new lungs is way more important than anyone’s hurt feelings. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The baby books are only kind of accurate. I’m very Type A, so I spent a lot of my pregnancy researching everything there was to know about labor and delivery. By the time June rolled around, I was convinced that my postpartum life was going to look something like a bloodbath massacre and my lady parts would never be the same. Real talk? It was a scary sight for like five minutes (ok, most of the first day) and then it got better. By no means was it all rainbows and unicorns, but it was not the slasher movie I was expecting. Moral of the story? Don’t freak yourself out reading about how so-and-so needed twenty stitches or had to wear Depends or bled for twenty days because chances are, it won’t actually be that bad. I promise (unless you are the so-and-so the books are referring to, in which case I’m sorry the universe hates you).

You will not have the answers to everything. If anyone ever claims that they do, please send them my way so I can let them know that they’re full of crap.

If you make it to bedtime and no one died, it has been a successful day. Some days will be harder than others. The laundry might not get done and there might be dishes in the sink. Your baby might decide to projectile poop at 1AM and dipping him under running water might seem like the right thing to do before putting on a new onesie and passing out. Is everyone still alive? If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and enjoy the two hours of sleep you’re about to get before you have to wake up and do it all again.