Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Would you do Differently?

Is there anything in your life as a new parent with your first newborn that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

Perhaps it's the little things that you would change.  Or is it something more global?  Then again, maybe there is nothing you would have done differently [and if so, what's your secret?].

I would change a few things about my first couple of years as a mother.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would change how anxious I was to leave the house with a newborn, and how I felt so tied to the clock for every single feeding and nap.

I would try harder to get out in the world more with my son when he was a baby, regardless of whether or not it messed with a nap schedule and he slept in the car, or if he took a bottle instead of nursing (oh, the glory of the bottle once I gave up the guilt!).

Maybe I'm underselling myself and simply looking backwards with dark-colored glasses.  We have plenty of pictures as evidence that we did interesting, fun "stuff" together as a new family of 3-- music classes, airplane rides to visit family, walks in the stroller.  I managed to keep us all relatively healthy.  But looking back, I was always so worried.  You can't see that in the photos.

(Image from an article I wrote on WhattheFlicka)

The worries haven't altogether vanished, though they have changed.  Mostly, I worry that my own issues have had a negative impact on my son; did he have a difficult toddlerhood because of me?  Is his aversion to large groups because of his homebody mom?   Does he prefer to always have an adult next to him because I over-involved myself from the start?  (See?  I can still worry plenty).

I think I would have enjoyed having a baby much more if I had been able to let go, especially in the company of other moms.  Maybe it is easier to relax if you get to spend afternoons with your baby along with your sister or mother or a best friend.  I didn't have any of that when my son was a baby.  That isn't anyone's fault...or maybe, if anyone's, it is my own.  Either way, it is what it is.  I was underprepared for the reality of having a baby and how alone I would feel when entering that new world of motherhood.

Going forward, with my kids now 4.5 and 2, I actively try to stress less about the little things, even though it doesn't come naturally.  Already, the issues that seemed so big the first couple of years now seem tiny-- what baby food they were eating or spitting out, what went in the bottle, what nap schedule we were on, what was playing on the television.

Even though I lean introverted, now I try to make and strengthen relationships with friends-- even my online blogging friends-- as they are my equivalent of the modern day village.  Even that is hard for me at times.  Still, that's what I'm trying to do differently as my family continues our little journey together.

What about you?  What would you change about your early days of parenthood?  Everything?  Nothing?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Watch Out for Mommy Brain

Do you often forget simple words and phrases?

Do you find yourself walking into a room only to forget what you originally wanted?

Do you frequently lose your train of thought mid-sentence?

Have you started to stutter, especially in the company of other adults?

Do you find yourself tripping over the simplest Dr. Suess pages, especially at night time?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might be suffering from a condition known as Mommy Brain.

What is it?

Mommy Brain is a common psychological and physiological condition that predominately affects women of childbearing age who have children ages 0-5 in the house.  [Note: Mommy Brain is positively correlated to the number of offspring; the more children under the age of 5 in the house, the more severe the Mommy Brain will be.]

Preventative Care:  Don't have children.

However, if it's too late for that option, there are steps you can take to alleviate-- but not completely cure-- the most troubling symptoms.

What to do?

1.  Drink plenty of coffee.  This is as necessary as water in temporarily suppressing the symptoms of Mommy Brain.  Recommended intake:  2-5 cups daily.

2.  Consider at least occasionally sleeping in the basement, or as far from your children as possible, in order to reach that elusive REM sleep you keep reading about.

3.  Whenever possible, roll down the windows of your minivan to allow fresh oxygen to reach the foggy recesses of your brain.

4.  Do not read more than 2 storybooks per night to your children or you will be at risk for increased slurring and stuttering.

5.  Indulge in the occasional Girl's Night Out, where you can talk with other grown-ups without constantly pausing to change diapers, clean up spilled juice, or turn on an episode of Dora [Note: Slurring can occur here too, from different causes.]

*See Related Conditions:  Pregnancy Brain, Newborn Amnesia, Starting-to-Sound-Like-My-Mother Syndrome

We are always interested in collecting more anecdotal evidence to support the Mommy Brain prognosis.  Please share your own history with Mommy Brain as well as any tried-and-true home remedies in the Comments.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Find me on Top Mommy Blogs, here, and just click Frantic Mama to vote for me :).

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Day in the Life of a 2 Year Old


I'm E, Frantic Mama's 2 year-old daughter.  

That's me, in the picture there.  I was riding my brother's McQueen car around the basement this morning while it was still dark outside.  FAST!  Really, really fast.  In circles.  

I'm taking over my mommy's blog today because she says she's tired.  Can you even imagine?  Tired?  At 1 in the afternoon?  She tried to get me to stay in my crib for a nap because she doesn't seem to understand that people aren't supposed to sleep during the day.  She's so silly.

Here's what we've done so far this morning:

My mommy thought she would take a shower while I was awake and free from my crib.  I had fun!

Here's what I did while she was in there:

First, I put all of the towels on the floor in a big pile and jumped in them.

I heard my mommy mumbling something from inside the shower like, "E!  Stop doing that!  E!  I just folded all of those."  It's game we play, and it always makes me laugh the hardest.

Then I got bored and decided to unroll the toilet paper and run it up and down the hallway.  I knew my mommy couldn't stop me because she was naked in the shower.   My brother thought this was really funny, so I kept doing it.

Later, after I watched her clean up all the toilet paper, my mommy said something along the lines of, "Okay kids, we should go outside to play for a bit in the snow since it's not below zero anymore."  She didn't sound that excited, but I was!  So was my big brother.

It took us a long time to put all of our snow stuff on.  I like to take breaks while she gets me dressed, and do fun stuff, like go up and down the stairs, take all the pots and pans out of the cabinets, and fish through the pantry for the candy she hides way in the back.  She chases after me, mostly, which is fun for her.

After my mommy had gotten me all bundled up in my snow pants, I needed to go poo poo.  We had to start getting dressed all over after she forced me to lie on the floor while she changed my diaper.  Ugh.  That's the worst.

My mom looked hot and sweaty and said something like, "Sheesh, is this even worth it?" and gulped down that brown stuff from her mug that she's always carrying around the house.

We played outside for a little and then I was ready to come in again.  No one was listening to me, so I started yelling, "A show!  A show!" until they couldn't take it anymore and we came inside.  

Here's the pile of our snow stuff we like to leave on the floor of the hallway:

We watched Paw Patrol while my mommy was busy running around the kitchen and fiddling with my phone [I know it's my phone because I'm the one who uses it the most.]  

The second the show ended, I decided I was ready for lunch.  I announced "I'm hungry!" and ran over to the kitchen table, wondering where my food was.  This made my brother hungry too.

My mom told us, "Hold on.  Hold on.  It's coming."  I wanted to help her, so I said, "Pasta!  I want pasta!" but this is what I got (she's always going on about "4 food groups."):

I ate one raspberry and a few bites of those long brown things she calls fish sticks (that don't look anything like fish) dipped in the red stuff, and then decided I wanted to go play with legos.  I just didn't feel hungry anymore.

(P.S.  Can someone please tell me what those green things are that she always puts on my plate?  When I feel like it, I make a little pile of them on the floor next to me.)

I better go.  My mommy probably wants to play hide-and-seek with me again or send Hot Wheels back and forth with my brother and me for a couple of hours.  Maybe she'll take us to that big store later where my brother and I sit in a cart and get a cookie and buy food and toys while she says funny things like, "Sit down.  Don't touch that.  No, we can't get those."

~E at Frantic Mama

P.S.  My mommy recently changed her blog address from to!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Survive Winter with Young Kids

I live in Minnesota, the polar tundra of the U.S.  Today, it reached a lovely -1 degree, with windchill in the negative teens.  Needless to say, I have some experience taking care of children in cold weather.

I sometimes dream about living in a warmer climate which would enable me to play in the yard every day with my kids, take them for more walks, and go to parks more often.  When it gets this cold, you really can't play outside much (at least, I don't, and my kids certainly don't enjoy it).  Winter can feel isolating.  Cabin fever sink in.  The days start dark and end dark.  Blah.  Winter can be rough.

Why don't I just move?  It's not much of an option, due to my husband's job, so I'm determined to find ways to enjoy being a SAHM to young children even here, where it can be colder than the North Pole (seriously).

So what are some activities you can do with toddlers and preschoolers without leaving your own home?

My favorite Cold Weather (Mostly Free) Survival Ideas:

Travel around the house.  Perhaps this is obvious, but sometimes just initiating a change of scenery within our home helps stop any meltdowns/fights/tantrums.  I might say, "let's all go to the basement!" or "have we been in the living room today?"
*Note: Our house is extremely kid-friendly.  There are no fancy off-limits rooms, and this helps immeasurably when we are inside all day.  I highly recommend abandoning your pre-kid sense of orderliness and cleanliness for everyone's sanity.

Facetime (or Skype).  Is this lame?  My sister and mom live in North Carolina, so Facetime is the only way we see each other on a regular basis.  I can't tell you how often a quick Facetime chat with my sister and our kids is the highlight of my day.

Art Time.  I don't put hours into preparing crafts for my kids, so don't worry, there's no high level skill involved here, but sometimes I like to announce, "it's art time!" and try to make it sound really exciting for us to run into the kitchen and create.  I get out stamps, crayons, markers, whatever, really, and the kids have some creative time.  Bonus: turn on some music.  At times, this can be a magic combination in my house.

Embrace shows.  I know, I feel guilty too if my kids have too much screen time, but sometimes a show for the kids is your only respite during a home-all-day period.  Truth be told, one of my simple joys is when my kids are curled up next to each other watching something while I get a snack or meal together in the kitchen (separate but together downtime!).

Obstacle courses.  If I can muster a tiny bit of energy, I might set up an "obstacle course" in our house where the kids have to race, climb, and jump around.  I get out those foldable tunnels, throw pillows on the floor they have to circle around, and gather up balls they have to bounce.  You get the idea.  The 2 y.o. kind of just follows her older brother, but they always have fun with this.

Scavenger Hunts.  I promise this is easier than it sounds, and my 4 y.o. loves it.  I simply grab a marker and a piece of paper and jot down a list of things for my 4 y.o. to find or do around the house.  He loves speeding through a good "mission," and he can read some of the simpler words (I was a reading teacher in my past life, so I'm all about exposing him to simple phonetic words!).   Examples of items on the lists:  Bring me a red car.  Do 10 jumping jacks.  Color a circle and a square.

Extra Credit for exiting the house in sub-zero temperatures:  YMCA Programs.  Starting at age 3, our local Y offers affordable, low-key, once-a-week sports options that suit my son and are close to our house.  Once or twice a week, it is worth the effort of bundling everyone up and driving there so that he can run around and kick a ball with other kids (while my 2 year old drives me nuts running around the entire gym with me chasing after her.  See?  We all get some exercise.)

Now I'm tired just thinking about all of this, but I hope I've inspired you to find a little fun on a dreary, cold day.  When all else fails, remember, there's nothing wrong with cracking open a cold one that evening.  You deserve it.

Let's help each other out.  What EASY activities have you employed to survive winter with little ones?  Add them to the Comments!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  I recently changed my blog address from to  in case you want to update your bookmarks!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mama, What's the Temperature of Lightning?

I graduated from high school.  I made it through college.  I thought I had learned life's necessities and then some:  I've read The Tempest.  I can fill my tires up.  I even have a go-to Thanksgiving side dish.  But now I'm realizing that perhaps the most crucial skill I've acquired is this: I can operate a computer.

And thank the Lord for that, because ever since my son turned 4, he has been on a quest to find immediate answers to the most unanswerable questions on the planet.

Planets, in fact, top his vast and often unrelated list of interests.  At 6:30 a.m., he begins the day with questions along the lines of: Which is the hottest planet [hint: it is not Mercury]? What color is Saturn? How small is a dwarf planet?  I only know the answers to these riddles because of the computer.  Specifically Google.

(My son hard at work on YouTube.)

My inquisitive son also went through a solid sea-creature fascination stage.  He was so enamored with underwater animals that I thought it might be his eventual focus in life (how naive of me!).

At first, Google sufficed to answer burning questions like, “Where do seahorses live?” and “How cold is the Arctic ocean?”   Youtube also became a handy source for exploring the ocean together. Convinced this fixation was permanent (and desperate for wireless answers), I invested in Simon and Schuster's Children's Guide to Sea Creatures.  It's beautiful, and he pored over it for all of 2 days.

Now my son is obsessed with another topic-- all things speed-related.  How many miles-per-hour does a rocket go?  What's the fastest type of bird?  If an orca whale raced a great white shark, who would win?

Though I gratefully acknowledge that Google has maintained my last few shreds of sanity during this time, my son has taught me much more than my Internet research.  It was only after his questioning really quickened that I realized this: I know nothing.  Sure, I know some things, but similar to how my son must feel every single day, this realization is both exciting and overwhelming.  There is so much to learn!

Fortunately, I have my trusty 4 year old to keep me on my toes.  How else would I know that a googol (that's the mathematic spelling) has 100 zeroes, lightning can reach 54,000 degrees, and that the whale would win the race?

What have your kids taught you?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  I recently changed my blog address from to  in case you want to update your bookmarks!

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year: 2015

Happy New Year, Frantic Mama readers!

I've never been one for self-punishing resolutions.  What a horrible way to start a new year: "I want to lose 10 pounds!  I want to keep my house perfectly clean!  I will never eat ice cream again!"  Ugh.  Instead of sentencing yourself to something that will likely make you feel less happy in the upcoming year, I urge you to join me.

For as long as I can remember, I try to think of a few positive goals I hope to accomplish or work towards in the coming year.  Sometimes, in a good year, these goals stick with me for 12 months, whispering to me in the back of my head and keeping me focused.  Other times, as happens in life, my January 1st resolutions slowly begin to take a backseat to something more pressing, and they simply fade away by the closing of the year.

Last year, I wrote about the goal of worrying less in an effort to enjoy my daily life more.  (Find it on What the Flicka).  In all, I think I did enjoy myself more this year.  Even writing down the goal of "worrying less, enjoying more," kept me more aware of my tendencies and pushed me to let go a bit more.

This year, I'm focusing on 2 of my current endeavors:  writing and horses.

Right now, outside of my family, writing is my main focus.  While I can't currently support my family doing it, I love it and I hope to continue to feel inspired and able to come up with fresh, meaningful posts and essays in 2015.  I also hope to connect with more readers and find good publishing fits to broaden my audience and gain publishing experience.

As far as hobbies, I have missed having one recently.  This is because writing has become less of a hobby for me and more of a professional focus.  However, I have always liked having something purely "fun" to focus on during my wee spare time.  So, now, horses it is!

As I wrote about here, I have always loved horses, and somehow I let life cloud this interest for many years.  School, jobs, marriage, pregnancy, babies... all of that kind of took over.  This year, I am hoping to find a stable I like and stick with it.  I want to learn as much as I can about riding and horse care, and then someday share it with my daughter (who I hope will catch the horse bug too).

What about you, dear readers?  Do you make resolutions?  Do you have any goals or ideas of what you hope to accomplish in 2015?

I truly appreciate all of the support you have shared with me in 2014!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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