The road trip from…. well, let’s just say it was bad.

winter road trip - pexels-photo-12875

Hubby is away at a conference and I thought that it would be a good idea to take the girls on a road trip to visit my parents. Bean was super excited and for a week before the trip, asked me every morning if today we were going to visit her grandparents. Then travel day came… along with a snowstorm. So we pushed the trip back a day. I get a phone call the next morning from Papa: “The storm’s here now. I’ll come to get you.”

So Papa drives a few hours to pick us up, only to turn around (after lunch) and drive back again. The girls were tired and I was hoping they would nap (at least for a bit) in the car. El cried. And cried and cried and cried… I would reach over into her carseat (Papa was driving) and shake a rattle for her, show her one of Bean’s toys, let her chew on my thumb, anything to try and distract the crying but nothing worked for longer than 5 minutes. She’s probably had a poo. Let’s pull over and I’ll change her. Except that the weather was atrocious and the thought of changing her in the car, with the door open and the strong winds gusting around her cute little naked bum, was not a pleasant one. I decided that maybe an indoor change table was a better idea. Tim Hortons it is!

Bean was asleep by this point, so Papa stayed in the car with her, while I ran into the Timmies with El wrapped up in a blanket in my arms. I get into the bathroom, put her down on the change table and realize that it was a blow-out! No wonder you were so upset little one! I clean her up, wrap up a now happy baby and head back out to the car. As soon as I put her into her carseat she starts screaming again. I climb into the backseat in case the sight of me will calm her down. Sadly it does not. Instead, her screams wake up Bean. “Mummy, El’s crying.” Right. I bite back a sarcastic comment and manage a thank you for telling me.

Another half hour of screaming and I decide that maybe the boob will calm her down. We pull off the highway to a rest stop and Papa takes Bean inside to buy me a coffee while I try to soothe El with the boob (aka breastfeeding). She only eats a little but happily stops screaming and entertains herself with looking around the car and out the window at the people walking by. Papa and Bean return with coffee for me (and Papa) and an apple juice for Bean. “I hope that was OK” says Papa.

I try to space out the consumption of the apple juice but every 5 minutes a little voice from the backseat says “Mummy, I want some of my apple juice now.” 10 minutes after the rest stop El FINALLY succumbs to sleep. Ah…. The sweet sound of silence (punctuated, of course, by requests for more apple juice). We’re half an hour from my parents’ house when a little voice from the back seat announces “Mummy, I need to pee!” Oh dear. We’ve just passed a major exit and are in the country where there’s a long stretch until the next exit.
Papa: There’s another rest stop in 10 minutes.
Me: We won’t make it that far.
Bean: Mummy, I need to pee!
Me: I know Bean, but you have to wait until we can get off the highway. Hold it for now please.
Papa: There’s an exit with a gas station in about 7 minutes.
Me: We need something sooner. Just take the next exit and I’ll figure it out.
Bean: Mummy, I can’t hold it! I feel the pee pee coming!
Me: I’m not opposed to the side of the road, but I would prefer if it wasn’t the side of the highway. (towards the backseat) Bean, look out the window. Count how many trees you see!
Bean: 1, 2, 3…
Me: We’ve got about a minute. Tell me there’s something coming up.

Then we both see the sign for the next exit.
Bean: 20, 21, 22…
Me: Just exit and then pull over. I’ll help her pee in the snow.
Bean: 30 trees mummy. I have to peeeeeeeee!!!!!
Me: Ok Bean, Papa’s going to exit up here, let’s get ready to jump out of the car. Put your hat and mitts on please. (I offer up a silent prayer: Please let us make it out of the car before the pee comes.)

The exit ramp ends at a carpool lot, so Papa drives into the lot and tries to position the car to block the wind. I throw open the door and am frantically undoing carseat buckles to get Bean out. I whisk her out of the car and into the snow. Did we make it? Has the pee come yet? Thankfully she’s dry, so I pull down her pants and help her to hang her bum out over the snow. The pee comes almost instantly and I’m keeping a watchful eye to make sure it doesn’t get on her pants, her boots, or on me. I can’t believe how much pee comes out of this kid! (Probably 300mL worth, since that’s how much apple juice she drank!) As I’m cleaning her up with a tissue she becomes all interested in the deep yellow hole her pee has made in the snowbank. “Mummy, look! My pee made a hole in the snow. That’s so crazy!”

I send a silent thanks heavenwards that I don’t have to clean up a pee-soiled carseat as I buckle Bean back into it. Thankfully the last half hour of the drive is event-free, even if the roads are now snow-covered. We arrive in one piece with Bean happily telling Grandma all about how her pee made a hole in the snow — definitely a highlight of the trip for her. I am now looking forward to some time relaxing with the girls at my parents’ house!

Shower woes

 

Shower Schizophrenia:The constant belief that you hear a child crying while you're trying to take a shower.

Image from someecards.com (this card can be found here)

 

As a first-time mum, this happened to me ALL. THE. TIME. I always made a point of showering when the baby was asleep and I always thought that I heard her crying — not to the point of running down the hall stark naked and dripping wet mind you, but enough to make me stick my head out of the shower and listen. I sometimes even turned off the water just to be sure. I stopped using the fan in case it was preventing me from hearing her cry. It was getting ridiculous.

So then I got smart and started using the baby monitor when I showered (which we rarely use at home; her lungs are strong enough that I can hear the baby cry from anywhere inside the house! It also helps that we have an open-concept layout, haha.). Even with the baby monitor on, I still thought that I could hear Bean crying, so I would stick my head out of the shower and take a quick glance at the monitor… no lights indicating any sound, so she was still asleep. At least I was a bit saner this way and could shower without turning off the water partway through.

Still, it was best when Bean got a bit older and didn’t spend all day sleeping & eating. I would put her in the bouncy chair in the bathroom with me while I showered and had what my mum calls a “mummy shower”. You know you’ve done it. Singing refrains of Old McDonald (or some other kid song) while suds-ing up your hair, peeking out of the shower periodically to make googly eyes at the baby and let her know that even though you’ve visually disappeared, you’re still right there, and managing to clean your entire body in 5 minutes, lest the baby need you. Let me tell you: it was a luxury when hubby was home on the weekend to keep an eye on the baby and I could take a glorious, relaxing, peaceful 10-minute shower with the fan on… ahhhh. Once I was back to work, I would get up and shower before Bean got up, and somehow, even though she was sleeping in a crib, I never once worried about hearing her cry while in the shower.

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Jump to present-day and somehow I am right back to that meme. I’ve been sick with a bad cold for the past few days (that I caught from the rest of my family…. I mentioned it here), and although I am feeling much better, it’s still with me. I have a cough and am congested. (I’ll spare you the details, but trust me when I say that this is much better than how it was.) El was fast asleep and I decide to have a quick shower (because, let’s be honest, I need one!). I could have sworn I heard her crying almost my entire shower (even with the fan off!); not enough to turn the water off, but I sure as heck sped up my sudsing! As a second-time mum I am more realistic and realize that drying off and throwing on a bathrobe before going to pick up the baby is smarter than just booking it down the hall dripping wet. I quickly dry off and get as far as the bedroom door when I realize that there is no baby crying. Oh. Right. Good! So I go back to the bathroom and turn on the fan (since the water isn’t running, I can handle the extra noise), and the whole time I’m combing out my hair, I think I hear the  baby crying. Only she isn’t. I get dressed and go and check on a rather peacefully sleeping little heffalump. Haha, joke’s on me!

So why has this phantom crying baby returned to my shower? I might need to break out the baby monitor again until this cold disappears.

What do you mommas do with the kids while you shower? (Respond in the comments.) Apparently I’ve still got some learning to do about showering with kids underfoot (or rather, quietly asleep in a bed somewhere, haha!).

Where there’s a will, there’s a … will

Over coffee with one of my girlfriends recently, we were talking about the seemingly unsurmountable pile of things to do in our lives and how there never seems to be enough time to do it. We’re not talking about the usual things like the never-ending pile of laundry, but about the bigger to-dos, like renovating the Master bathroom (me) or making a will (her).

What??? You don’t have a will?!?!

I was shocked that my incredibly smart and savvy mother-of-two friend didn’t have a will. I got talking to some of my other mummy friends, and as it turns out, several of them don’t have a will either. How can this be???

So with them in mind, I thought it was about time to write about why (as a parent) it’s important to have a will. Even if only half of you reading this go out and get a will, that’s enough to make writing this post worth it!!! (And if you already have a will, congratulations!!!)

Reason #1: your kid(s)

“For parents, a will is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your child is cared for by the people you want if anything should happen to you.”

— babycenter.ca

Seriously folks. Who would you rather decide the fate of your children: the government or you? I realize that seems a bit dramatic, but the way I understand it is this: if you have a will, you appoint a guardian to care for your children should anything happen to you. If you don’t have a will, the government gets to choose who raises your kids. Perhaps you think your sister would do a great job. After all, she already has kids and has a similar parenting style to you. But maybe the government looks at the situation and sees a stay-at-home mum in a different province from you with a husband who travels a lot for work and doesn’t think this is a good choice. They appoint your sister-in-law, who has a good income and lives in the same city, as guardian, ignoring the fact that you and her rarely see eye-to-eye and haven’t spoken in the past 6 months.

Maybe you don’t think your siblings would be the best choice. You can always appoint your parents (although I recommend choosing someone in the same generation as you, since your parents are more likely to die before you do), or a close friend. Although if you choose to appoint a close friend as guardian, don’t insist on 2 unmarried friends to share the guardianship, unless, of course, your life is going to be turned into a Hollywood rom com. 😛

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « life as we know it »(Trailer available to watch here)

Reason #2: money for your kid(s)

Without a will “… the government will decide your child’s financial future. The government will also take a portion of your estate, as their fee.”

— Jim Yih, http://www.retirehappy.ca

Without a will, your kids might not get as much money as you want them to have. Why not? Well, for starters, the government will deduct a fee for sorting out who gets what. Secondly, it will take longer for the money to get to your kids since the government needs time to sort it all out (and if you happen to die with a 17-year-old who needs that money for post-secondary in a few months, this delay could prove costly and frustrating).

Thirdly, with the government controlling the money, your child will receive their share once they hit the age of majority (18 or 19, depending on in which province/territory you live). How many 18-year-olds do you know that are fiscally responsable? When I was in high school one of my girlfriends was dating a guy whose mother had sadly passed away when he was younger. When he turned 18, he inherited a rather large sum of money and over the next year proceeded to squander it on new sneakers, clothes, and entertainment. With a will, you can avoid this by putting the money in a trust or by specifying when the child is to receive their inheritance.

Reason #3: family heirlooms

In your will, you can specify who gets what. Sure, you might not care who gets your clothes, shoes, or trusty lawnmower, but what about the portrait of your grandmother as a baby? A watch your grandfather managed to smuggle out as he was escaping Nazi-Europe back in the day? Without a will, these things might be sold off to cover any fees or debts that remain once you die. (Of course, having proper life insurance will also help with this, but that’s a post for another day — I’m still learning about that myself!)

For example, my daughter “has” a necklace that used to belong to her great-great-grandmother. (I say “has” because although it is technically hers, it is waiting in a safe deposit box until she’s old enough to treat it with respect instead of using it as a leash for her stuffed horse.) This is not something that I want to see sold off to cover estate expenses.

Reason #4: Peace of mind

For a couple of hundred dollars ($350 according to babycenter.ca), you can have a lawyer draft up a will that, if you’re smart about it, will function quite nicely for the next 20 years or so when you might want to redo it. You can use wording like “assets to be split equally between all of my children” to cover the possibility that you might have another kid one day (and thus save yourself another $350 down the road). For me, the peace of mind of knowing that my kids will be well looked after and taken care of (both financially and physically) was well worth the money. It didn’t even take much time — just 2 meetings with a lawyer (the first to hash out the details and the second to sign it). We made sure to get a copy made (we left the original at the lawyer’s office) and let our executors know where to find it. (Tip: Experts advise against putting your will in a safe deposit box as there are strict rules about who is allowed to open it. A better option would be a metal filing cabinet or a fire box somewhere in your home.)

Yes, you should review your will annually, but that doesn’t mean you need to change it all that often.

Reason #5: Providing for your honey

“Common law relationships … are not recognized under the Interstate Succession Act. This means that your significant other may not receive anything from your estate upon your death.”

— Jim Yih, http://www.retirehappy.ca

The quote above speaks for itself. However, as David Chilton points out in The Wealthy Barber, even if you ARE married, your spouse will benefit more from you having a will than if you don’t.  When you don’t have a will, your assets are “divided according to a rigid set of rules…  No thought is given to the … needs of the potential inheritors. For example, even if a surviving spouse needed a great deal of money for medical reasons, the estate would still be allotted according to the rules. The bulk of the estate might be tied up in a government-administered trust until the children reached the age of majority.” (Chilton, 67-8)

Need some more resources? Check out the links below:

12 Consequences if you die without a will

Why every parent needs a will

Or check out this book:
Chilton, David. The Wealthy Barber. Stoddart Publishing Co. Limited, 1996. — pages 67-70 discuss wills and the importance of having one. You might be able to find it at your local library too.

Action items:

  1. Choose a guardian for your kid(s). If you don’t have a sibling or close friend, you can always appoint one of your parents for now, but know that you will have to rewrite your will in the future as your parents age and predecease you.
  2. Choose someone to manage the money of your estate for your kids. It can be the same person as the guardian, but if you don’t think they’d be good with money (despite being great with kids!) you can choose someone else.
  3. Decide who gets what (ie. where your money & assets are going and if you want to mention any special family heirlooms). You can have it be split equally among people, or specify a certain percentage amount per benefactor (spouse, kids, charity, church/temple, etc.)
  4. Choose an executor (someone responsable for ensuring that your will gets carried out. Experts recommend someone in your generation (or younger), who lives in the same town as you. I say don’t put down your spouse or anyone else who might be too grief-stricken to want to deal with everything.
  5. Ask friends and family for a recommendation for a lawyer. Call and book an appointment.
  6. Get that will written (well, technically it should be typed), dated & signed.
  7. Tell your executor where to find your will. (If you’ve put it in a fire box, let them know where to find the key too!)
  8. Congratulate yourself for looking after future problems before they happen. Celebrate with a glass of wine (or whatever you fancy)!

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Add your inspiration in the comments below.

Remember when nighttime was for sleeping?

… or partying… but eventually after the party, you DO go to sleep, even it if’s not until after the sun has risen. 😛  For most of us, there comes a time in your life when nighttime becomes the time to sleep — whether you choose to go to bed at 9pm or at 3am, there’s something luxurious about laying down in a comfortable bed, on your favourite pillow, snug under a duvet and closing your eyes for some much-needed restorative sleep. Mmm…. just thinking about it makes me smile. (And for this sleep-deprived momma, it also makes me want to crawl back into bed, haha.)

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Of course, all this changed when I had a baby. Yes, sleepless nights and functioning in a zombie-like state were my reality for a few weeks, but then she started sleeping for longer stretches. Little-by-little I stopped needing a nap every day, until eventually Bean slept through the night and life was wonderful.

Then I had a 2nd baby. The first few nights she was up every 30-45 minutes. (WTH! Aren’t babies supposed to sleep well the first night??? Maybe El’s passage through the labour canal wasn’t traumatic enough to induce a good first night’s sleep… not sure if that’s a positive or a negative.) Thankfully she improved (albeit slowly) and eventually we hit the milestone of sleeping-through-the-night! Yeeesssss! Except that it didn’t stick. It’s more like every now and then she does it… sort of like getting a free sample at Starbucks. You never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s always a pleasant surprise.

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Enter cold-and-flu season. Last weekend Bean got sick… 2 days later Hubby got it… 2 days after that El got a cold too, and that’s when I stopped being allowed to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time. We’ve been using hydrasense on her and I have the humidifier going in her room every night, but poor El keeps waking up from this cold and is miserable and just wants mummy. So there has been lots of comfort sucking at night. (Did I mention that El won’t take a pacifier??? Or a bottle, but that’s a problem for another day.) Add to that mix Bean’s random night scares (not nightmares… or at least not always), and I seem to be dangerously close to zombie status once again.

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Last night was a bad night for El. Tough to put down, she finally fell asleep only to wake up at 12:30am. I feed her. She falls asleep comfort sucking on the boob and then I try to transfer her back to her crib and she wakes up crying for me again (before I’ve even left the room). I try waiting various amounts of time after she’s asleep in my arms, but no matter what I do (even if it’s been 2 hours because I fell asleep in the rocking chair!) she wakes upon transfer. After trying everything (clean diaper, hydrasense, fed her twice, rocked and paced and patted and snuggled and sang and… you get the idea), I gave up on getting her to sleep in her room and brought her into our bed for some co-sleeping. Just before (or as?) I’m falling asleep I hear Bean wake up, definitely upset about something and calling for me.

I stumble down the hall into her room, climb into her single bed and start to snuggle her when she says “Mummy, I have to pee.” Right. Action required. “Ok, let’s go to the bathroom, fast fast.” (Yes, I said fast twice… after all, it was about 1:45 in the morning and I had just put in 75 minutes trying to calm down the other kid.) Thankfully we make it to the toilet on time. She asks for some water too and then it’s back into her bed. Since it wasn’t a bad dream, I tuck her in and then ask if i can go back to my bed. “No mummy, stay with me.” Sigh. Ok. So I climb into bed with her, expecting her to drift off to dreamland fairly quickly so that I can sneak back to my bed and get some sleep before El wakes up again. No such luck. Bean was not falling asleep. I can hear her tossing and turning in the dark beside me. I curl up under the covers and fall asleep myself. I wake up when I roll over and smack my head on the metal bar of her toddler rail. Ouch! Why do we still have this up? Would it hurt that much more to fall on the floor? Probably. Sigh… Ok, it can stay.

Listening to her deep sleepy breathing beside me, I get up and tiptoe back to my bed, where El is miraculously still asleep. I snuggle into the bed, only to have Hubby’s alarm wake up El (and incidentally me) 5 minutes later. I let El breastfeed in the bed as I mumble “What time is it???” I tell Hubby that I spent most of the night sleeping in Bean’s bed and am a little stiff, to which he replies “Better than sleeping in a chair, non?” I have to smile. Apparently he does notice when I go missing from the bed for long spurts in the night. And let me tell you, I am SO thankful we spent the money on a comfortable glider and ottoman (rather than just going with something that worked, or the wooden rocker I originally thought I wanted for the nursery) — as I have spent a lot of time sleeping in the chair lately!

My gem of a husband lets me sleep, gets Bean up and ready and then the two of them leave me a nice breakfast before heading off to work/school. Awww. What love!!! (I posted a breakfast pic on Instagram @theelephantmomma if you’re curious what they made for me.) So despite being stiff from spending most of my night in the rocker and in Bean’s bed, I can greet the sunny day from a happy place. (Although I am looking forward to an afternoon nap!)

 

What do you mommas do to survive the rough nights? Share your tips in the comment section below.