Bringing Up Baby

Documenting the baby makin' experience. From Trying to Conceive, to Bringing Up Babies, I share all the laughs and all the horror.

I'm Jess, I'm 32 years old, I live in Minneapolis with The Husband, Jack (the girl dog with a boy name), and our little dudes, Cormac (Mac) and Fitzgerald (Fitz). They're case you were wondering.

If you're interested, my primary blog is Scattered Jigsaw Thoughts.

Feel free to Ask Me Anything

Or you can just email me: sutherslat {at} gmail {dot} com

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Last night, I had a meeting for a potential job opportunity (one I’ll be ruminating on for a while yet). I flew out the door after throwing down some dinner for the kids and as I was leaving, Mac was begging for yogurt and Fitz was sobbing for me. It was hectic and rushed and I left feeling awful.

I didn’t get home until after my husband put the kids to bed but when I walked in the door, I wasn’t greeted with silence. Instead there were heart melting Fitz sobs coming from their bedroom. I rushed to the room, ready to give my husband a break and see if I could put an end to the bedtime insanity.

When I walked in their room, Fitz immediately stopped crying and quietly hugged me tighter than he ever has. Meanwhile, Mac lept out of bed cheering, “you came back!!!” He squeezed me tight and proclaimed that he missed me a “really lot” and I stood there feeling like a million bucks.

It’s those little moments — those small victories — that absolutely make parenthood worth it.

There is nothing Mac loves more than a good snuggle session. He really is the snuggliest little kid who ever lived. And I love it. But every night his love of snuggles causes a battle. Every night he asks me to snuggle in his bed and every night I say no. Mostly because he and Fitz go down at the same time and Fitz would lose his damn mind if I was snuggling in Mac’s bed without him. Every night Mac gets upset that I won’t stay and every night I get upset that he’s upset about something so stupid (especially since we almost always snuggle before bed anyway). Some nights, I sneak back in after Fitz is asleep and snuggle with Mac but more often than not, we just call a truce.

Tonight, though, Fitz was exhausted after not napping this afternoon and so he went to bed early. When I put Mac to bed, he once again asked if I would snuggle with him and I could see he was gearing up for battle in anticipation of my ‘no’. But then I said yes. And he absolutely lit up. He was more excited about that snuggle than he has been about anything in a long time.

That’s all it took to make him completely happy. Completely and ecstatically happy. And let that be a reminder to myself to say yes a little more often. 5 minutes out of my life is nothing to bring him that kind of joy.

On Wednesday, a former high school classmate of mine came over to demonstrate an It Works! Body Wrap on me (I’ll be discussing that more next week). For her purposes and mine, she took before and after pictures of me so we could see that the wrap actually works (for the record, it does).

My stomach is my shame spot. It always has been, but even more so since having kids. It’s gross, it’s saggy, it’s flabby, it’s scarred to hell with stretch marks, and it’s maybe the whitest surface on this whole damn earth. NO ONE sees my stomach. Once, shortly after Mac was born, I showed it to one of my best friends so that she could fully understand the horrors of childbirth, but other than that, NO ONE sees my stomach. No, not even my husband, ESPECIALLY not my husband,

Having to lift up my shirt for a girl I haven’t seen in 14 years was fear inducing, I mean, the old high school friends in Facebook are the ones you want to impress, right? But I had to try out this wrap and so I sucked it up, lifted my shirt, let her take some pictures, and put the wrap on.

After 45 minutes, we took the wrap off and once again took pictures. When we looked at them to see if I noticed any before and after differences (I did), I finally saw my stomach for what it really was. What it really is. It’s a stomach. A totally normal, unimpressive, but hardly horror-movie-levels-of-grotesqueness stomach.

I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder. It wasn’t until my late teens that I even thought much about what my body looked like beyond my big boobs. So body dysmorphia has never really been an issue for me. But since having kids, my self esteem about my body has plummeted. And after looking at those pictures my friend took of my stomach, I see now that I actually have been dealing with some body dysmorphia. That I’ve built my stomach into this swamp monster of hideousness when in reality, it’s just a totally normal stomach. Could it be flatter? More toned? Slathered with some self tanner? Of course. Am I proud of my stomach? No. But now at least I’ve seen that it shouldn’t be such a source of shame for me. Now at least I’ve opened my eyes to what other people see when they look at me.

I’m embarrassed that I’ve spent so many years being so ashamed of something I completely created in my head. But now I get to work on correcting that picture I have of myself in my head to make it more accurately reflect reality. And thus, even if that body wrap was totally ineffective, it was still worth it for the perspective I’ve gained on myself.

THERE’S FRIED LOBSTER ON A STICK?!?! We weren’t planning to go to the fair until labor day weekend. I may need move that date up because that’s how excited I am at the prospect of fried lobster on a stick.

  • Everyone in my house is either napping or playing together nicely right now. This is honestly all the victory I need on any given day.
  • I just ate a spinach and sauerkraut egg sandwich that has turned my whole life right around. Everything I thought I knew about breakfast has flown out the window. That sandwich is my everything. I want to live in it.
  • No, I’m not pregnant. That’s not necessarily a victory, but after that last bullet point, it probably warrants a mention.
  • This week has FLOWN by. Love that.
  • Good things on the horizon, y’all. Good things.
  • The Minnesota State Fair is just 2.5 weeks away. I can’t wait to eat ALL THE FRIED FOODS!! Now is not the time for clean eating, people. Now is the time for getting excited about deep fried mashed potatoes and corn dogs and bull bites and every fried food imaginable on a stick. GET EXCITED!!

Not a victory: The small fortune we’ll spend at the state fair this year on food since I’m pretty sure wandering around and eating is basically Fitz’s idea of heaven. No doubt I’ll be stocking up on plenty of strawberries and cream to shove down his gullet to distract him from the crab cakes that I want all to myself.

  • Mac had an amazing time up north with his grandma, great aunts, and cousins. He sweetly told me how much he missed me as soon as he saw me, but I’m pretty sure he’s a liar. He DID miss his brother, though, and Fitz missed him as well. When Fitz saw Mac out the front window walking up to the house, he started running to the window with his arms outstretched, waiting for a hug. When Mac finally made it inside after I smothered him with affection, he and Fitz had the longest, sweetest hug. Man those two are the greatest.
  • I asked Mac if I could come with him to the cabin next year because I missed him so much. He said I couldn’t, that he just wanted to go with grandma. Yup, sounds about right.
  • Whatever Mac, screw you, I’m finding a way to start up those big family cabin trips again and I’m going!!
  • Sleep training Fitz is the pits. On the upside, Mac is both a friggen saint and the deepest sleeper in the entire world. How he is sleeping through FItz’s middle-of-the-night hysterical meltdowns is beyond me.
  • There are a couple different job prospects in the works that have me feeling like a worthwhile human being again. Cross your crossables that I find some success.
  • My husband has been the shit lately. Like, something happened in the last couple months that really kicked his butt into gear and he’s just been awesome. Cleaning and organizing the house, pitching in with dinner, and being even more involved with the kids than he was before. I’m feeling like a pretty lucky lady.
  • I’m afraid I’m getting my first taste of what a shit show public school can be with Mac’s preschool experience. One of Mac’s friends is attending a private, Montessori program that I’m gathering is fairly intense. They’ve had approximately a zillion open houses and informational sessions and observations and visits and whatever else. Up until last Friday when I received a bunch of paper work I had to fill out for Mac’s school (which I could swear I already filled out and submitted), we’ve received no information about school for Mac. Start date? Teacher? Open House? Drop off and pick up protocol? Nada. This is the difference between public and private school, isn’t it? And so the educational guilt begins…

When I was growing up, we used to spend a week at a resort in northern Minnesota every summer with most of my mom’s side of the family. There are 8 of us cousins/siblings who are all around the same age and while we saw each other frequently throughout the year, that week was our week to really have fun together.

I don’t remember what year exactly those summer vacations began to fall apart. By the time I was in high school, the resort we stayed at became so expensive that my parents and one of my aunts and her family stayed at different resorts nearby for a few years. And then we stayed at my uncle’s cabin. And then we stayed at our cabin. And then we sold our cabin and didn’t go up north at all. And us kids grew up and had commitments and jobs and relationships and that week of summer stopped being a priority. It wasn’t until I was a full-fledged adult that I finally realized what a good thing we had and how much I missed it.

My family is now at a different resort than the one we used to go to. And not all the cousins and aunts are there. But it’s a core group and it’s a fun group and I know that it’s a group that’s spoiling Mac rotten, just as I used to get spoiled rotten.

I miss Mac way more than I thought I would, so we’ve been facetiming every day and my mom has sent pictures. Every photo I’ve received and every time we’ve facetimed, Mac has been in his swimsuit. He’s squirrely and he’s happy and he’s excited to get back to playing with HIS cousins. He is behaving exactly the way I did at his age.

Spending all day in a swimsuit. Running around with cousins. Flinging himself into pools and dipping toes into lakes. Eating too much candy (I have no doubt he’s consuming more sugar in these 4 days than he does all year). Playing and running and pretending and climbing and having an all around great time.

I’m so sad I’m not there to witness it. I’m so sad I can’t live vicariously through him. I’m so sad I can’t still be that little kid. I’m so sad we let that tradition wither away. Most of my cousins and I now all have kids around the same age. I hope that one of these years, we can build on this and reignite the traditions of our childhood.

Until then, I’ll just have to be satisfied with those pictures I’m texted of Mac doing the exact same things I used to do when I was his age. That’s enough to warm my heart for now.

I’ve been seriously bummed all day over Mac leaving and I’ve just been in a sad, vulnerable funk anyway. So my husband took a half day and surprised me with Dairy Queen.

That’s love, y’all.

I’m currently practicing some deep breathing techniques since my mom just came to steal Mac from me for the next 4 days. He’s going up to a resort with her, some of my aunts, and some of my cousins and their kids. He’s going to have an amazing time and I’m going to miss him SO MUCH. My husband told me I wasn’t allowed to telepathically communicate with Mac to convince him to miss me tons, but it’s too late. I can’t help but hope that, come Thursday, he demands to come home to see me.

It’ll never happen. He’ll barely think about me I’m sure.

I’m hoping that he does me proud over the next 4 days. I know he’s a good kid with nice manners, I just hope he remembers to act that way even when I’m not around to remind him. I guess this week will be the test for whether or not our parenting has worked over the last several years. Fingers crossed!

In other news, I’ve decided since Mac is gone, this is the perfect time for sleep boot camp with Fitz. Ultimately, he naps just fine on his own in his crib in his room. He goes down awake and puts himself to sleep. Most nights he is also able to go down awake and put himself to sleep in his crib. Unfortunately, every night he wakes up between 10-11pm and refuses to go back into his crib. He demands to be nursed and, more often than not, uses me as a human pacifier. The only place I can get him to sleep after 11:00 is right next to me in our bed. Seriously, RIGHT next to me. He HAS to be touching me all night.

It’s time to reclaim our bed. As much as I love that cozy little dude next to me, I’m tired of being a human pacifier and I just really want my bed back.

So those of you who have been in a similar situation with a stubborn toddler who won’t take an ACTUAL pacifier — what are your tips? Your tricks? Your words of advice? Can anyone help me or is this kid a lost cause?

Here’s some things that are awesome about my kids lately…

  • For a few weeks, we were having an impossible time keeping Mac in his bed all night. Nothing could entice him to stay there through the nigh. There was no reward or treat on earth we were able to bribe him with. He’d cry and tell us how much he didn’t like his bed and we felt awful so by 2am every night, we had two kids in bed with us. So after discussing several different options with him, we decided to try setting up his bunk beds and see if he liked that (he has been sleeping in one of the un-bunked beds all these years). So this past weekend we rearranged the boys’ room and set up the bunk beds and we couldn’t have anticipated the excitement Mac had over the beds. Even Fitz thought they were the coolest. Mac continues to sleep on the lower bed, but he has stayed in his bed all night every night ever since they’ve been set up. He falls asleep easier and sleeps later and wakes up telling us how much he loves his new bed. So glad we stumbled on such a simple solution!
  • While Mac and I were driving in the car yesterday to grab dinner, apropos of nothing he started telling me how much he loved his Bubba (my dad). He told me how happy he was that Bubba taught him how to play cribbage and always taught him so many other new things too. After a beat, he also told me that he loved Grandma so, so much and that Grandma and Bubba were the best. I am so proud of the relationship he has with his grandparents and so grateful that they’re such a huge part of our lives.
  • Fitz is our little communicator. He is working hard on lots of words and phrases, but until he perfects that speech, he has found lots of different ways to tell us exactly what he wants. The last few days, after all the other kids have left, Fitzy has started to dig his shoes out of the cubby and bring them to me so that he can go outside. Yesterday, he brought a diaper to me and pat his butt to let me know he needs a diaper change. And he’s great about reaching for specifically what he wants. Like, he doesn’t just whine in the kitchen when he’s hungry, he walks over to the table and points at the bananas specifically. Mac was never such a clear communicator and it’s a really delightful skill of Fitz’s.
  • Speaking of bananas, I think it’s time to start buying organic ones because Fitz has a tendency to eat the peel. He insists on holding the entire banana — peel and all — and for some reason, he always gets about halfway through and then starts eating the peel. Such a weirdo.
  • Fitz is far more attached to stuffed animals than Mac ever has been. He loves Mac’s soothe & glow seahorse and has also recently grown quite attached to a Winnie the Pooh that’s the same size as him. It’s very sweet, but i fear what it means for packing up for overnight stays. How many comfort objects are we gonna have to haul around? Still, there’s nothing quite as adorable as watching a kid happily bury his face in a stuffed bear.