Mommy Bloggers are Crazy

For many years I had a blog for my shop. Boutique news, convention wrap-ups, costume stuff, etc. So I thought I knew what I was getting into with the new blog thing, but noooooo. Just like everything else that relates to parenting, I was wrong about the Mommy Blog.

crazy mom blogger

Mom blogging is a different world. There are networks, tribes, pods, loops… and you have to learn to navigate through them. It’s easy to get sucked into the networking thing and then next thing you know all you are doing is posting and liking and commenting in exchange for the same on your stuff.

And these people aren’t necessarily interested in what you are actually posting. They’re only interested in the reciprocal like or comment or share. It’s all a big numbers game where people want tons views and followers so they can be seen as an “influencer.” The more influence you appear to have, the more likely you are to get paid for things and get more free stuff.

I lasted about ten seconds on an Instagram follow loop. And most of the follows I earned from that have already unfollowed me anyway so it was a total waste of time. It seems like Twitter has a never ending supply of parent bloggers tweeting and retweeting every little thing. I’ve been pretty stingy with my blog follows, only following back the blogs that appear to have content I’m interested in reading on a regular basis.

I’ve been able to stay out of the mama drama for the most part. I participate in one Facebook group with a small group of blogging ladies that are pretty awesome. Our rules are relaxed and we haven’t had to do the dreaded Facebook ban on anyone.

I don’t plan on getting sucked into it since I don’t have the time to go leave fake likes and comments all day. And I prefer my readers to be real as well. So if you are reading this, liking and commenting, then thank you! I really enjoy reading the comments and knowing they aren’t just some reciprocal compulsion.

I still have a lot to learn in the business of mom blogging and blogging in general. My goal is to keep things fun and keep enjoying it and definitely Not get too obsessed with stats and shares and how many likes something gets. Of course I pay attention to that stuff! But really, it’s just exciting to be writing something people are actually reading. So again, thank you for being here!

thBFGA1IHA

My Top 10 Toddler Realities

*** Updated Intro – Funny thing about this post. I ran across it in my drafts and realized I’d never published it. This post is from the viewpoint of having a freshly minted two-year-old. I now have an almost three-year-old and it’s a world of difference. A lot of these toddler dreams are slowly coming true! Seems maybe they do finally come around after driving you crazy the first couple years. Oh, I’m sure I’ve still got plenty ridiculous toddler antics in store for me. But I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It does get better!

*** Original post – Before I had my son, I had no idea what it was like to have a child or even be around one. I went into this whole parenting thing about as clueless as you can get. I managed to dream up all these wonderful things we would do together, and now I get to watch my son systematically destroy each sweet toddler fantasy one by one. I keep telling myself things will change as he gets older. I’m really hoping there’s a sweet spot between crazy toddler and rebellious teenager. So here’s my list of my silly mama dreams and the crushing reality.

1 – The Dream: We will read books together, he will love them and it will be magical.

The Reality: He prefers to try and eat them, kick them, always has to see the last page first and rip a few pages out for good measure. This doesn’t stop me from trying, but it did stop me from getting any more books with fragile paper pages.

2 – The Dream: We will take fun classes together like “Sway and Play Yoga.”

The Reality: He threw all of the scarves at the girls, tried to get them to chase him, then ran out of the room making dinosaur noises.

3 – The Dream: I get to dress my son up in all kinds of costumes! I finally have an awesome baby accessory.

The Reality: I can’t even get him to wear a hat more than two minutes, much less a costume. So he now has an impressive collection of costumes that just require a t-shirt.

toddler tantrum
He looks thrilled, right?

4 – The Dream – We will go to museums and learn things! We love learning!

The Reality – We went to a neat science day at the Museum of Science and History. He didn’t want to do any of the crafts and just wanted to throw the cotton balls out of the sensory bins. And we had to go stare at the dinosaur 17 times instead of watching the cool science show.

5 – The Dream – I will raise an adventurous eater!

The Reality – My son is trying to prove you can survive on a diet of hotdogs and air. Far from adventurous, he won’t even dip his hotdog in ketchup. He hates trying anything new unless it’s chocolate in a different form, or made of a gummy bear type substance.

6 – The Dream – I will raise him to be bilingual and speak Spanish!

The Reality – Why I thought my two semesters of Spanish and being able to ask where the bathroom was qualified me to teach a child to speak Spanish is beyond me. I was super thrilled when he just started stringing English words together! I do still actually intend to teach him the basics when he gets a little older though.

7 – The Dream – I refuse to believe everything I’ve read about boys being potty trained later than girls. My son is going to be out of diapers by the time he turns two.

The Reality – Ha! Ha. Ha. Ha. Bwahahahaha. Wow was I clueless. We are heading into three and though we’ve made some progress, the only thing I can get him to do regularly is put Iron Bear on the potty. He’s like a poop surrogate I guess.

Build a Bear Iron Man bear on the potty

8 – The Dream – Brightly colored kid stuff will not take over my house. We will keep it tidy and neutral.

The Reality – My house has brightly colored, blinking, music playing things in every corner. You can’t go anywhere without bumping into or stepping on something that springs to life and starts making noise. And everything is rainbow colored of course.

9 – The Dream – Speaking of noisy toys, none of those for us!

The Reality – Yeah, so you may not buy your child noisy toys, but everyone else will! My cousin got my son a guitar that plays 30 different songs and my son’s favorite song is five seconds of every single one, over and over again. I can’t think of one thing I’ve done to her to have deserved this.

10 – The Dream – We will go everywhere together! I love having a little sidekick.

The Reality – I never thought there’d be a day when the highlight of my week was going grocery shopping by myself. And it’s been so long since I’ve been to an actual store to try on clothes, I’m starting to think Amazon was created for moms so they wouldn’t have to wear the same clothes the first few years.

***

For all my complaining, we do have plenty of good times. Even our adventures that don’t go as planned (roughly 98% of them) are still worth the effort and make for (mostly) good memories. I haven’t given up on any of these dreams, I just realize now that they all take a lot of work and nothing comes easy in the real-life parenting world. And if all this stuff did come easy for you…you probably have a girl, lol. Because I also had to accept all that stuff everyone says about having boys is TRUE. But that’s a topic for another blog…

My Favorite Blog Post, Our IVF Story

favorite blog postI was filling out an interview for a guest blogger feature on the I Just Wanna Finish My… blog and one of the questions was “What is your favorite blog post, and why?”

I was stumped. I scrolled through my posts. There were many I really liked but none that stood out as an all-time favorite. I settled on my post about drinking wine and blogging in my activewear because I thought it was funny and very “me.”

But it got me thinking about my writing and what one piece means the most to me. I realized it was one I hadn’t posted here yet. A post that started as a Facebook status. It’s probably the most meaningful heartfelt thing I’ve ever written. So here it is, my all-time favorite post:

Coming out of the Infertility Closet (originally published April 4, 2015)

When I first got pregnant, I was open about the IVF on Facebook because I wanted to post all my ultrasound pics from egg to baby. But I didn’t tell the whole story and how much of it was a long struggle and I had never mentioned anything about even trying to get pregnant before the big news. So this morning I decided to share the story and posted this:

pregnant 39 weeks
Me at 39 Weeks

Just sitting here this morning, with my belly almost blocking my keyboard, thinking about the long road I took to get here and the long journey I have ahead.

Around this time, eight years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. It only lasted seven weeks, but it was enough to make Sean and I realize how much we really wanted to start a family. With the first time being a total surprise we had no idea we were about to endure seven years of struggling and the heartbreak of repeatedly failed cycles.

We tried everything- timing, charting, fertility drugs, IUI’s. We even tried not trying. With Sean’s long deployments our efforts would be derailed, sometimes a year at a time. We finally sought the help of a fertility doctor who diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had surgery to remove it, along with a battery of tests that concluded we shouldn’t have any problem conceiving. But we still did.

Over the next year I quickly got over any fear of needles and learned to give myself shots, though I still preferred to shut my eyes and have Sean do it for me. I tried multiple drugs to ramp up my follicles. We did several rounds of IUI, where sperm is injected directly into your uterus through a catheter. It’s as fun as it sounds.

And still nothing. Not even a “maybe” line ever showed. Stark white tests. So we gave up again. Thought about adoption. Thought about maybe another dog. Sean got deployed for another 6 months.

I considered maybe I didn’t really want kids. I wondered if I was doing this because it was expected. I imagined us growing old, traveling the world and not worrying about raising a kid. As appealing as that sounded, it also seemed like something was missing. It was a little nagging feeling I couldn’t shake. I knew there was one thing left to try and at 38, time was running out.

So we tried a new doctor. By now my test results were dismal. We had a 15-20% chance of success. There was no sugar-coating this time. No “you got pregnant once, you can do it again” BS. Age plus years of endometriosis had left me with low ovarian reserve so there wasn’t much to work with. The doc suggested we get started on IVF right away. After years of disappointment, we both went into it with the last shred of hope we could muster.

The shots were brutal. Every day for over two weeks, all in the stomach. Twice and then three times day. We were running out of spots I didn’t have bruises. Sometimes the shots left large red lumps as well. I was bloated and miserable, but most of all determined to get through it.

The results of all that work were pretty crushing. I had managed to produce one mature follicle. A follicle does not even guarantee they can get a decent egg out of it. Most IVF patients get five or six. Some get as many as 20. I had one.

So they gave me the option to cancel the cycle and try again the next month with hopes I could produce more eggs. They said most places would go ahead and cancel the cycle anyway. I thought about how hard we had worked to get that one follicle and all the shots I had gone through and that there was no guarantee I could even make more. We held onto the mantra “It only takes one” and decided to go for it. The egg retrieval was a success and when we got the call to let us know it actually fertilized, I couldn’t keep the shock out of my voice. When the embryologist commented that I sounded surprised, I could only think to respond “We’re just so used to disappointment.”

With our first couple hurdles cleared we let ourselves get a little excited. Our little embryo grew and divided and reached the crucial stage for implantation 3 days later. We may have had just one shot, but it was starting to look like a good one and we were about to put our only egg in our only basket.

Throughout that last seven years I had grand ideas of how I’d surprise Sean with positive results if we got them. All that went out the window with the first hint of a second line on that little white stick. I think I just ran into the bedroom with a big smile waving the wet stick and asking him to squint at the little hint of color that was starting to show.

And now we’re here. Anxiously awaiting the day that little egg, who grew into our little son, will make his first appearance in the world. Sean calls him our lion among the sheep, and I can’t wait to hear his first little roar

*******

I’d love to see what other people choose as their favorite thing they’ve written! Leave me a link in the comments so I can read your favorite stories too.

I Sold My Soul for a Free Pillow

sleep number pillowIt’s all fun and games until you turn it into work, and that’s exactly what I did when I signed up for this mission from Smiley360 and Sleep Number. I was having fun, sampling stuff left and right, but high on the prospect of free goodies I took on too much and that was my downfall.

I’m cool with the usual free stuff requirements – a blog or video and a few social shares. Something totally natural that you can work in without bugging people and looking like you totally sold out. And then, lured in by the promise of a free $90 pillow, I accepted the invitation to join the Sleep Number campaign.

Here’s what they want:

  1. Visit a Sleep Number store and get your number
  2. Share a photo to Facebook 4 times
  3. 2 Ad tweets
  4. 4 Photo shares to Twitter
  5. 2 Comments on Smiley360
  6. Report on sharing with 10 people face-to-face
  7. 2 Posts on Pinterest
  8. 2 Posts on Instagram

Visiting the store is quite a time investment for a busy mom. I was lucky they had a little Lego table set-up, but there were moments the toddler was zooming around the store squealing.

But the real killer is the social shares. One Facebook post, OK. People actually paid attention and posted their Sleep Number and it was kinda fun to see. But again and again…I’m probably losing friends and credibility with every post. Most of the time I feel like nobody is paying attention on Twitter so I loaded up my feed with as many tweets as I could.

And then this happened: In my rush to get it done, I tagged CrowdTap instead of Smiley360 and my posts were rejected! So not only did I already bug everybody, but I was going to have to do it AGAIN if I wanted to complete my mission. I had gone this far for the darn pillow, I wasn’t going to let it go, so I did it with an added apology to friends that I had let this happen.

I’m still waiting to see if my last posts were accepted, so fingers crossed. This better be the most wonderful damn pillow in the world. (and maybe I will post a photo of it because I Want to this time)

Getting my number at the Sleep Number store
Now give me my fancy pillow!

My Top 5 Daily #MomFail Moments

momfail1Every day starts off with grand intentions. He’s going to eat all his breakfast! Then we brush teeth! Serious potty training starts now! Then it takes about two minutes into the morning for it to all go to hell and I’m giving the kid M&Ms for breakfast just so I can sit for a minute and have a cup of coffee without being harassed. So here’s my list of my top five “Mom Fails” that happen on an almost daily basis:

1) Tooth Brushing He hates it so much that I usually have to straddle him, pin his arms down and then brush all the teeth I can get to as quickly as possible. We just had his first dentist visit recently and coincidentally, they actually recommended the pinning them down method! I guess that’s a Mom win after all.

2) His Hair – The kid needs a haircut. I sent him to pre-school this morning looking like a toddler Einstein, and not in good way. I even tried applying a hair smoothing product and it refused to do anything but stick straight up.

3) The Bribery – I know I’m setting myself up for failure here, but I usually get him a toy at the grocery store or candy at the checkout line. I can almost enjoy our grocery store outings this way. But he expects it now. In fact, he asks to go to the grocery store all the time because he thinks it’s a magical place of new cars and chocolate.

4) The Food – He would exclusively eat M&M’s and fruit gummies if given the opportunity, so I’ll do anything to get him to eat solid food. Hotdogs for breakfast? Sure. A fried egg and peanut butter from the jar for dinner? Yep that’s happened. These are obviously not the best choices, but all my efforts at good wholesome meals end up on the floor so I figure I’ll just at least feed him some something he will eat.

5) My Restaurant TacticsTaking a toddler out to dinner is a unique form of torture. In an effort to not just stuff my face while trying to keep him from escaping, I will let him do whatever keeps him quiet within reason. Last night he entertained himself by sticking his straw in my margarita, then licking it. Don’t get judgy, it was mostly just lime flavored ice. He also likes to lick all the tortilla chips and then put them back. That’s why he gets his own bowl of chips now.

So are of these really fails? No, I’m pretty sure they’re necessary survival tactics for parenting. (Though we could use some improvement on the dental hygiene angle.) I think a lot of parents will look at this list and be like, been there, done that. So what’s your #MomFail #MakingItWork moments?