Friday, December 30, 2011

What They Don't Tell You (when you're pregnant with your first kid)

There are many bits of useful information that people who already have children "forget" to tell you when you are pregnant with your first.  Or, to be fair, perhaps amnesia sets in as their children get older and move on to preschool and elementary school, and the parents wistfully look back on those dear, sweet baby moments...and forget all the hard stuff.

Sure, the expecting couple hears plenty of "things are gonna change" and "enjoy your freedom while you can!" but those warnings are merely friendly jests, often leading to a knowing little wink between the mother and father-to-be.

In case anyone out there is not quite in the ranks of babyhood or toddlerhood yet, here are a few words of wisdom (caution?) from this Frantic Mama:

1. The first 2-3 months will be Hell.  You think you've been tired before?   Pulled an all-nighter in college?  HA!  You WILL be woken up every 2-3 hours when you bring that bundle of joy home from the hospital. The upside?  Um, well, 'all things must come to an end?'  The only thing that gets you through those exhausting, emotional days is the joy and pride you have in your baby.

(Image from

2. Before heading to the hospital for delivery, stock up on many easy frozen entrees, like pizza and lasagna.  Let's Dish (or other assembly-line dinner preparation places) are also awesome.  I know you think you will spend your maternity leave whipping up casseroles and trying out recipes for that wedding gift crockpot, but trust me on this, you will be too tired to move, let alone bake and cook.

                                                       (Stock up!  You can thank me later.)

3. Sign up for grocery delivery service.  I know, I know, that $10 delivery charge sounds extravagant in our bleak economy, but just wait until you try dragging your exhausted, unshowered self to the grocery store with a tiny newborn in her carseat wobbling her neck around in the backseat, and then you shall see the light.  You won't want to waste what little energy you have struggling through the aisles at Target.

Before I overextend my welcome, good luck to all the future Mamas and Daddies.  There is truly nothing like bringing a baby into the world.  May these little nuggets of advice help you be a little less frantic when the time comes.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Food Recommendations for Picky Eaters

*Updated: January 2015

I try not to give unsolicited advice too often, because people rarely take advice from anyone and what do I really know anyway?  However, I'm trying to pay it forward with this blog, so I'm listing some must-haves that help me to be occasionally a little less frantic with my 2 picky eaters.

We'll start with food for toddlers.

I highly recommend having mass quantities on hand of the following:

1. Nutrigrain Bars (Target, Trader Joe's, and Rainbow make great generic versions).  I break them up into smaller pieces, and my son gobbles up at least 1-2 a day. Yes, they are sticky. Yes, crumbs and jelly will cling to your carpet.  But, for me, an easy, healthy go-to snack trumps a spotless house.

2. YoBaby Yogurt (Trader Joe's makes good kid-size yogurts too).  If your child has been teething since the dawn of the new era, (as mine did), you have probably already discovered this lovely little brand of yogurts.  There are lots of flavors; I especially like the ones with veggies mixed in (Hooray! Dairy, fruit, and veggies all in one meal/snack!).  My daughter especially likes the containers with pictures of babies.  It's a win-win. (Note: my kids go in and out of the yogurt phase:  one day, they both love it; the next, they won't touch it).

3. Earth's Best "Letter of the Day" Cookies.  It might be controversial to praise cookies when the mass media is constantly warning that all of us will be morbidly obese in the next few years, but these are all-natural, yummy treats that go well with a sippy cup of milk before a nap or bedtime.  Plus, they have letters on them, so they're educational right? [Update: I haven't seen these at the grocery in a while...they may be discontinued!).

4.  Smoothies.  Well, no, I don't break out the old blender and whip them up from scratch or anything, but the store-bought squeezable applesauces, the yogurt versions, and mixed fruit and veggie pouches that I can purchase is mass quantities are LIFESAVERS when our kids need something healthy to boost sugar levels FAST.  They have prevented many a meltdown in our house.

What are some of your go-to snacks for young kids?

Until next time... happy feeding!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Home for the Holidays (Tips for Flying with Young Kids)

Similar to the difference of having a cold pre and post-baby (See Post: The Neverending Cold), there are striking differences when traveling pre and post-baby. Of course, no one enjoys the lines and delays that come with airport travel, especially around the holidays.

But, oh, the anxiety that starts building in us Frantic Mamas once the flight is booked with the "infant in arms" asterisk!

 When our son was very young, we attempted to book flights at the "right" time of day, hoping-- praying-- he would sleep on the plane.  He never did.  In fact, still, it seems as though every time my toddler's eyelids just start to fall (my husband and I holding our breath) the pilot or flight attendant cranks up the speaker to welcome all aboard and wish us a "comfortable flight."  (Has there ever been a more ridiculous suggestion?)

To help you all out, here are a few tips for "infant in arms" newbies:

1. Bring snacks. Lots of them. This is not the time to worry about serving 3 balanced meals a day. Cookies, graham crackers, those squeezable smoothies-- all good choices.

2. Embrace the portable DVD player.  Again, not the time to worry about mental stimulation or the "NO T.V. (EVER) before age 2 or your child will never go to college!" warnings that are highlighted in all of the parenting magazines.

3. Have a mantra.  Mine? "This flight can not last forever. The plane has to land eventually."

4.  Order a glass of wine.  Really.  Once I got my courage up to order one, I felt better the entire flight.  The judgmental looks you may receive are worth it.

Happy Holidays and Warm Travel Wishes from Frantic Mama!

What are some of your survival techniques?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Frantic Mama: Giggling

There might not be many things more adorable than a pudgy little toddler with his shirt off, giggling his head off while I hold him and tickle him. It really helps make up for some of the Frantic Mama drudgery we experience (changing countless poopy diapers, dealing with a sudden refusal to eat anything but cheese, the constant feeling of overwhelming responsibility, etc.). 

 So this Frantic Mama says Long Live the Giggles!

~Frantic Mama

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Watching the Clock

If you are even a little like this Frantic Mama, before having a child, you wanted one badly. It was unimaginable that caring for a baby or toddler day in/day out could ever be exhausting, isolating, or...well... boring... You loved children, right? "Playing" with one all day (every day) would be AMAZING, right?! Ha!

Yesterday, while playing with Hot Wheels for the millionth time with my son, I ventured a glance at the clock. 11:30. That left 30 minutes or so til naptime. I turned my attention back to my son. We continued to play with Hot Wheels (me, struggling to find new things to do besides rolling them around in circles repeating "eeeeeee;" him, persistent that this was the only activity he would engage in). Hours seemed to go by. I took another glance at the clock. 11:28. (Okay, it was more like 11:32, but I SWEAR time had stood still for those 2 minutes).


~Frantic Mama

*This post was featured on Mamalode June 2013 (  Check it out on their website and click on the Twitter and Facebook icons to share it with other clock-watchers!  :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Parties (with Kids)

*I originally wrote this in 2011 when my son was about 1 and a half, before my daughter was born.  I'm re-posting because it's the holidays again, and that means lots of get-togethers: with kids.

Let me just start by saying, I shouldn't be surprised.

We had all of my in-laws over for a Christmas celebration this weekend.  It is a large group of about 8 adults and four other children (in addition to mine).  My son, who had been quite content all morning, started crying as soon as people started walking in the door.  He had clearly not planned on sharing his Saturday with anyone except for his Mama and his Dada.  Sigh...

I took him upstairs to [attempt to] console him, and eventually I was able to calm him down a bit.  But overall, for three hours (!), my husband and I took turns holding him and trying to distract him from the chaos, all the while stuffing him with cookies and giving him his much-beloved (but much scoffed-at) pacifier.

We were ALL exhausted by the end of it.  I think I'm still recovering.

What do you love or hate about celebrating the holidays with kids?  Fortunately, there are some fun aspects, of course. Giving them special presents, eating Christmas cookies together, playing in the snow (that is, until one gets cold and wet and cries.  See post on that here.), and getting to see faraway family members.  But let's be honest: there are also hard things about celebrating with kids!

Truth be told:  Sometimes the best part of a big day begins after the kids are in bed.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Regarding Playgroups: It's Not Pretty

Most days of the week, I like to have one planned event (a playdate, a trip to the library, etc.) on the calendar to break up the day.*  Today our big event was to go to a neighborhood playgroup that is held monthly at alternating homes. I was, naturally, nervous to take my high-energy, anxious son (See Post One), but I am always looking to meet other moms, so we were going, whether he liked it or not.

Within 3 minutes of arriving at the gracious host's home, my son managed to climb onto one of her chairs and proceeded to tumble off it in excruciatingly slow motion, managing to hit his nose on the corner of their coffee table. Blood-curdling screams ensued as I picked him up and scurried into one of the bedrooms to calm him down lest his shrieking upset the other [happily playing] children, or the mothers enjoying actual conversation over mugs of warm coffee.

I could go on to explain how we rallied and my son was a champ for the rest of the playgroup, but I'd be lying. The lovely hostess did give my son a cookie which (somewhat) ameliorated his cries, but other than that, his nose was not only runny, but now featured a large red mark.  Next, he tried to play with the dog toys [and fell off a dog bed he was bouncing on], then tried to go up a slide backwards [need I even say it? he fell], and alas, with me in my trademark sweat, he made me pick him up while he waved "bye bye" to everyone I tried to talk to.

Apparently, someone does not like playgroups (and I'm really not quite sure which one of us that is).

*Please Note: This post was written before baby #2 entered the picture.  And yet, not much as changed...except that we go to way fewer playgroups these days. (Updated July 2013)

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Daily Food Intake

Cleaning up my son's high chair tray after his breakfast this morning, I found myself salvaging any of his uneaten food-- a couple chunks of banana, a fragment of a strawberry, a bite of sticky jelly toast-- in order to waste less, sure, but mainly because I was already hungry for a snack. I do this every morning. It counts as part of my breakfast.

My late morning snack is a similar story. Today, after my son declared himself finished with his lunch by throwing a yogurt-covered spoon on the floor, I enjoyed a few bites of string cheese and some uneaten chopped orange I had so dutifully diced for him this morning as a desperate attempt to infuse him with more Vitamin C (See Post: The Neverending Cold).

The Possibilities! 
(Not actually my kid or my fridge...but it could be!)
(Image: Morguefile)

I tried to have some yogurt while feeding him lunch, but of course, because he saw me struggling to shove a few spoonfuls in my mouth, he decided it was a very appealing addition to his own lunch.  Uneaten fish sticks and soggy tater tots are also staples of my diet.

 And so my meals continue similarly throughout the day, every day.

What are some of your usuals these days?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Neverending Cold

*Updated Summer 2014 (in honor of the annoyingly unexpected summer cold).

Before you had a child, colds were simply an annoying part of life.  You expected to get 2-3 a year, chug some NyQuil, and get over it. You might have even gotten a guilt-free sick day out of it.  Not anymore.

If one person starts sneezing or sniffling in my house, I know what's coming.  I might be in denial at first ("Oh it's just allergies,") but then... as my son or daughter's nose starts leaking a constant two-stream river of green-yellow goo, I know we're doomed.  My sons colds make an already "passionate" child almost unbearable.  I'm just being honest here.

Once my son or daughter is officially sick, they will NOT let me out of their sight; they hang onto me at all awake times.  I constantly chase them around with Kleenex, and don't even get me started on the torture that is the "Little Noses" dropper and blue nose-sucker thing.

All this excitement occurs while I am quite certainly developing the very same cold and struggling through the day myself [which will bring me to a future blog post about what happens after I get it:  the Man Cold].

Plus, my kids' colds last forever.  None of this two-day runny nose stuff around here.  Not in my house.  We seem to prefer really stretching it out, taking the full 14 day symptom period at it's word.  Is this true for your children too?  Why, I ask you, why?

Finally, when by the grace of God, the symptoms finally start to fade away, I feel eternally grateful that they are well again [mainly for my own sanity].  That is, until the next stream of snot (within a blink of an eye) starts bubbling up again.

Does anyone have any remedies for preventing (besides hand washing, duh) or shortening the duration of kids colds?  Please share-- I beg of you!

~Frantic Mama

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meet Me: Frantic Mama


Frantic Mama is my blog and screen name, but I'm known in the non-online world as Julia Arnold (or "Mama" to those under age 5 in this household).

I'm a mother of two young children living in Minnesota, where it is cold and snowy for the majority of the year.  I am frantic most (okay, all) the time, but I love to write, and so this blog was born.

On the Frantic Mama blog, I share the highs and lows of new motherhood with humor and honesty.  Let's call it the less glamorous side of new Motherhood.

I love connecting with my readers!  Introduce yourself.  Comment on blog posts, and/or join the frantic fun on Facebook: Like Frantic Mama.

Follow my random thoughts on life and motherhood on Twitter @MNFranticMama,

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You can find more of my writing on Mamalode and Felicity Huffman's What the Flicka.

November 2014 Update:  Clash of the Couples, a humor anthology I'm in, will be available (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.) beginning November 3rd!

Thank you for reading,

~Julia @ Frantic Mama