Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do I Need A Travel System: Baby Registry: 101

The year was 2009. I was pregnant with my first baby and inundated by all of the gear options. Blogging wasn't "big" back then and I didn't have eleven Pinterest boards dedicated to the best baby products on the market. Resources were few and far between and most of them a bit antiquated. I did, however, have the Welcome to Motherhood checklist that came with the registry sign up at Toys R' Us and as any new mom in the early 2000's would do, I followed it to a "T" when I began registering for everything I would need as I began my foray into motherhood. 

Fast forward 6 years (or 1 Kindergartner, 1 Preschooler and a toddler later) and I can't even begin to comprehend how much has changed on the baby gear front. There are so many incredible and amazing products out there on the market today that I would almost, almost have one more baby just so that I could justify purchasing and enjoying them all.

If I had to pick one product to have been completely revolutionized in the last several years, it would undoubtedly be the "travel system" or infant car seat/stroller combination. What was once bulky, lacking significant storage and without variable positioning options is now sleek, stylish and wildly versatile. 

Take a look at what I was using back in 2010. Not only was it hardly available in a solid color and incredibly difficult to maneuver on any surface that wasn't as smooth as a tennis court but it was also supremely difficult to clean. Folding it basically required a degree in engineering and good luck if you wanted to attempt to do anything one-handed; steering, folding and reclining all required the luxury of two hands. Speaking of luxury, nothing about this travel system screamed "luxury" at all. 

Nowadays, the travel systems available to parents rival the style, class and luxury of my very first car. While this baby-making factory is closed down for good, one of my very best girlfriends recently found out that she's pregnant with her third after having given away every last shred of baby gear in her home. I won't say that this baby necessarily caught her by surprise but...did I mention that she gave away every last shred of baby gear in her home?

When the opportunity arose for me to collaborate with Evenflo and review the Pivot Modular Travel System, I knew it would make an excellent gift for my best friend who is quite literally starting over in the land of newborndom. Since writing this post, I've gifted her the stroller and car seat in exchange for the promise of unlimited baby snugs once the newest member of our village arrives at the end of the summer. Sure she gets some amazing new baby gear but I cannot wait to sniff some freshy baby head...

While I'm not the least bit jealous of the sleepless nights and sore nipples that await her, I am definitely envious of the fact that she'll get to stroll around in such comfort and style. With three reversible strolling modes including (a). Carriage, (b). Infant Car Seat with Stroller Frame and (c). Toddler Stroller, the Pivot travel system allows numerous configurations when on the go with the most precious of cargo. With its Cruiser wheels, ergonomic handle and adult cup holder, not only is baby comfortable while strolling but mom is too. 
One of my favorite features of this stroller is the bassinet or carriage mode. When my youngest was brand new, this was my favorite way of strolling the neighborhood with him. As a freshly minted family of five with three boys under the age of 4 at the time, we didn't miss a single opportunity for fresh air. Rather than have to shove my fresh little newborn into his infant bucket seat, I could keep him safely and snugly swaddled while laying comfortably on his back in the carriage mode of the stroller. What's even better is that once your babe is old enough to ride like a big boy without the infant car seat attachment, the carriage mode simply transitions right into toddler mode. No extra pieces or attachments to fuss around with, it's all right there on the original basket of the stroller. So amazing.

The second greatest feature of the Evenflo Pivot is that totally rad over-sized canopy.  Its three panels not only offer fantastic protection from the sun's harsh rays but also extra privacy to keep inquiring hands (and germs) out of baby's face. 

Storage on a stroller is what location is to real estate. With the size of diaper bags these days not to mention all of the accouterments that tiny babies and their growing siblings require on any given outing, a stroller without adequate storage is basically a waste of money and wheels. The Pivot travel system has a generously sized storage basket located beneath the stroller that's big enough for a diaper bag plus big sister's full-size backpack. In my case, it's big enough for my 2.5 year old to curl up in. It's also very easy to access with the stroller in both Carriage and Infant Seat modes.

Speaking of the infant car seat, Evenflo has quickly become one of my favorite car seat manufacturers on the market. Did you know that Evenflo designs and tests their seats for structural integrity at energy levels TWO TIMES the federal crash test standard? Additionally, they also test their seats to simulate side impact and rollover events. The SafeMax infant car seat featured above has an anti-rebound bar that limits the amount of rebound movement experience in the event of frontal impact. My middle child currently rides in an Evenflo Symphony convertible car seat and for a couple years now I've been nothing but pleased with its performance. 

If you're asking yourself "do I need a travel system?" Is it worth the investment? Am I really going to use it? The answer is yes, absolutely. While I wouldn't ever recommend the travesty that I was cruising around with back in 2010, I would highly recommend the Evenflo Pivot Travel System with SafeMax Infant Car Seat. Safety, style and comfort all rolled into one that will grow with you and your baby starting on day one!

Thank you to Evenflo for kindly sponsoring this post. 
All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

When You're The Only One for the Job.

I honestly and truly thought we'd outgrown this phase by now. 

By "we," I mean the collective that encompasses myself and my three sons, ages 6, 4 and 2. I remember reading somewhere, probably on Diply or Buzzfeed or HuffPo, all super-reliable parenting resources, about how intense mother-son relationships could be but I never really gave it much thought until I had three of my own sons, each growing into their own, struggling with their desires for unrealistic independence, like wanting to use steak knives and cross the street without holding hands and cutting their own hair while desperately wanting me and only me to rub their backs before bed, cut up their dinner, buckle and unbuckle their car seats and in the 4 and under crowd, wipe their butts.

Yes, I still wipe my 4-year old's butt and the truth is, it's much better than the alternative of letting somebody with a short attention span and T-Rex-sized arms do a reach around in your newly cleaned bathroom with its illogical white shag bath mats and over-sized bath towels. 

The truth is, it's really, really hard when you're the only one for the job. I move through most of my days feeling stretched all too thin tending to their emotional and physical needs. My husband, bless his heart, tries to fix things in only the way that the greatest of husbands can, by gently reminding me that in about 10 years, they'll want nothing to do with me and I'll just be that embarrassing mom who does too much and loves too hard. It's then that I'll want to grab them by their brawny shoulders and shake them all while saying things like, "You used to cry for me to wipe your butts!"

Sometimes I think to myself, "It's your own fault. You did this!" because the truth is, I'm the only one who knows how the baby likes his pillows arranged at bed time and I'm the only one who knows who likes the crust cut off their peanut butter sammiches and who will lost their shit if you cut it in half on the diagonal rather than down the middle. I'm the only one who puts the special cream (Aquaphor) on their chapped hands at night and covers them with the right fuzzy socks. It's me who lays out their school uniforms in just the right place on their dressers and I'm the one who knows how to rub their backs light enough to soothe but not too light that it sends them into fits of tickle-induced laughter. I do the different voices while reading bedtime books and that automatically makes me the Official and Only Reader of Bedtime Stories Ever. Apparently I'm also the most adept at wiping butts because clearly I'm the only one who knows how to fold the toilet paper.

I can't remember the last time my husband changed my two year old's diaper or hoisted him out of the bath tub and not because my husband hasn't tried or offered. He's a fantastic Dad and an incredible teammate on Team Parenthood, although I'm sure there were more than a few diapers he was more than happy to not be a part of. While I'm sure there are better ways to deal with our 2-year-old's irrational demands, rather than hear him scream bloody murder while he thrashes about in the bathtub threatening to break a leg and completely ruin my Friday night by an unexpected ER visit, it's easier to trudge upstairs, wrap him in a towel and hoist him out of the damn bath tub.      

This season of motherhood feels like an endless string of asking little people to put on or clean up their shoes while simultaneously being interrupted every 11 seconds because someone hit someone, breathed in their general direction or bent the corner of their beloved Pokemon card. Sprinkle in several hundred "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMs" shouted from the tops of lungs, five collective hours spent chauffeuring little people around in a car and there's my day in a nutshell. 

While my days of feeling like a 24-hr. milk buffet are long behind me and I've slept through the night more times in the last two months than I haven't, I've entered into a whole new season of motherhood and it's kind of annoying. There, I said it. I love my kids so much that I often want to squeeze them until their little heads pop off but I am not nearly as cool and amazing and magical as they think I am. Their Dad is just as amazing at wiping butts and rubbing backs and squirting ketchup onto their plates as I am. Trust me on this one.

I know. I know in five years I could come back here and write a post through tears about how I miss the days when my kids needed me, their little hands reaching out for me, for just one more kiss, one more back scratch, one more story and there's a good chance I might even come back here to write that post, maybe even sooner than that- but sometimes? 

Sometimes it's really difficult to be the only one for the job. 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yes,They're All Boys... Now GTFO of Here.

We were in Walmart when it happened. Because isn't Walmart where the best stories take place? More specifically, we were in the hair care aisle trying our hardest to find a purple shampoo to act as a stand-in until my go-to brand arrived in the mail. 

If you're a faux-blonde like me, you know that even one wash with well water without your trusty purple shampoo can do bad, bad things to your hair and having just had fresh highlights I wasn't about to let the brass monsters come creeping in. Mama ain't got time for that! 

I digress. Where was I? Oh, right there in the hair care aisle at Walmart with all three members of my man-tribe in tow. Only one of them was buckled giving the other two free reign to pick up every. single. bottle with any hint of purple writing on it and yell, "IS THIS ONE, MOM?" 

That's when I heard it. 

"Three boys, huh? Aww..." 

It was the "aww" that caught me off guard. As a seasoned mom of three boys, I knew immediately where this conversation was headed. Usually I just laugh and smile and if I'm feeling particularly prickly, before they can say it themselves, I tell them how full my hands are. You can imagine my surprise however, when I turned to find another young-ish mother staring back at me, her boy/girl twins watching a movie on her iPhone from within the large basket of her cart. I was surprised to see one of my own staring back at me and if we're being honest, a little disappointed too. 

I laughed and said, "yep, three boys!" And in an attempt to add levity to the situation, I quickly followed up with, "I really should be shopping for Clorox- who knew there could be so much pee on bathroom walls?!" 

She didn't laugh, perhaps because her son didn't look old enough to be out of diapers or perhaps she just wasn't feeling my wholehearted attempt at being funny that day. 

I shrugged my shoulders and turned just in time to catch several Lightening McQueen bubble bath bottles from meeting their demise as my two-year-old teetered precariously from the cart trying to grab as many as he could and hurl them into the cart. It was time to give up the hunt and get moving.

"But you won't get to do dance classes... or Girl Scouts! Don't you want just one more and hope that it's a girl?"

I cringed.  

I completely understand that 85% of these comments come from well-meaning places. I'm a girl therefore I must want more like me! Girls are the best, I should know, I'm one myself. What could I possibly have in common with something that has a penis and will eventually grow up and leave me for another woman? Or man, even? (Hey, it's 2017 folks...)

In my experience these comments usually come from mothers with young girls. Rarely have I ever had a fellow mother of all boys turn to me and say something like, "I wish one of them had been a girl!" even in jest. 

I've learned that mothers of all boys are a special kind of crazy and I'm honored to be a part of a club full of sword fights (moms of boys know what kind of swords I'm talking about) and bathrooms that will forever smell like NYC subways and I get it! We're kind of like an enigma. As women, why wouldn't we want to raise someone with whom we could braid their hair and paint their nails and sit through 8 hours of dance recitals on our Saturdays with?

Let me let you in on a little secret. My identity isn't suddenly lost on me because I'm the mother of all boys. I'm not any less "girl" because I'm not raising a daughter and as far as I know, a little piece of me hasn't died because I can't braid my son's hair or paint his nails or go shopping with him for prom dresses.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I do not feel as if I'm missing out on ANYTHING when it comes to being a mother solely because I'm a mother to only boys and you shouldn't either. Please, please do not have pity on me or feel sad for me because of what you think I'm missing out on. I promise you that these three boys bring me more joy than I ever thought imaginable and mothering them, in all of their testosterone-fueled glory is right where I'm meant to be.

Do I tell her that when I found out my third and final baby was a boy that of course I felt a twinge of sadness and mourned right then and there the fact that I would never experience the kind of mother/daughter relationship that I have with my own mother that has brought me so much joy or is that a silly conversation to have among rows and rows of shampoo and conditioner?    

I wasn't sure if I should excuse myself and pretend I didn't hear her, or if maybe I should tell her how there's so many other things that I'll get to enjoy as a mother of all boys. Or maybe I should just turn and bolt because that wouldn't be at all awkward, right?

Before I could say anything, however, a little voice arose from beside me. 

"I yike to dance. Wook at her butt!" 

And then another,

"My mom's a girl, She's my best girl."

And finally, 

"My mom's got her hands full with me and my brothers. She'd go crazy with another kid!"

- - - - -

I'd never been more proud of my three boys than I had been in that exact moment. You know, I worry a lot about what they're hearing when someone says something like "you gonna try for a girl now?" It hurts my heart to think that they'll internalize that and feel as if they're not enough. As if I could ever wish them to be anyone other than who they are. As if they're parts or lack thereof make a difference to me. 

It was in that exact moment I realized I couldn't have said it any better myself.

- - - - -

I laughed. "Nope. These three right here are more than enough for me," I said with a smile and as I turned to walk away my six year old stops me in my tracks, high-fives me and says, "how's that for being on team Mom?" 

Nope. I'm definitely not missing out on a thing.   

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