Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fred Howard Park Beach Day

We're slowly making our way through all the great beaches in the Tampa Bay area. Saturday we visited Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, and it was a perfect day!

We were going to go back to Sand Key Park in Clearwater, where we have gone twice already and loved. But Zane wanted to try something new, so we scanned the map of the gulf coast and chose this park. 

It was only a little over an hour to drive there from Brandon, which is basically the same time it takes to get to any beach from Brandon. 

It costs $5.00 for the day. I like beaches that cost a little something, because the bath houses are usually better maintained, and the parks are usually a little less crowded, because many people don't want to pay to go to the beach. 

We set up camp under the shade of a palm tree (didn't have to set up our umbrella), and Zane and Daisy explored the small island while I ate snacks and played with Amy. 

Soon Amy and I joined Zane and Daisy to see some of the cool spots they found. There was almost no one on the north side of the beach on the other side of a little walkway. It was a beautiful little secluded part of the island that reminded me of parts of Maui that felt very secluded. 

The water was also very clear and shallow, and we enjoyed walking around the rocks. However, we all came out with scrapes and cuts on our feet from the shells and rocks. If you choose to wade through this part of the beach, I recommend water shoes. 

One problem we've had with our six month old and beach trips is that she doesn't like to sleep on the blanket. I saw a couple other families bring their carseats onto the beach (I don't know why I didn't think of that). When it was time for her to nap, we tried the carseat, and she fell asleep almost immediately. 

While Amy napped, Zane and Daisy explored and played in the water some more. I lay down with Amy and rested. It was so relaxing under the shade of the palm with the sounds of the ocean and this beautiful view: 

We had arrived around 10:00 AM, and by noon there were lots of people and a full parking lot. We decided to head out around 12:30 PM and get lunch on the way home. Someday, when our kids don't need naps everyday, we'll enjoy longer beach days, but for now, a morning is sufficient fun.

Another successful beach day!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mom of Two: Six Months In

I'm on an emotional roller coaster 24/7. Some moments I feel like I've got this thing down, and other moments I feel like I'm trudging through mud, and please, someone come save me from this thing called "motherhood."

However, because of my dear husband watching the kids, I got two naps in two days, so I'm feeling pretty alright this very moment.

This month Amy dropped a feeding (from six to five nursings per day), started solids, cut her two bottom teeth, and moved into Daisy's room at night. We went through a lot of change.

She's almost crawling and almost sitting up on her own. I feel like she crossed a threshold in terms of personality. She came alive this month even more than before. She interacts with all of us more. She makes different noises for different emotions, her own little baby grunting language. She LOVES her big sister and is happy when Daisy is in her presence.

I had a couple monumental mom moments. I dared to pick up the dog from the groomer with both kids and no husband. That was very stressful, and at the end of it all, I wanted to either kick my dog or my toddler. Don't worry, I didn't do either one. I haven't snapped yet. Having children has unlocked in me a new level of self-control. It's amazing how much stress can overcome a mom in the few moments it takes to walk everyone from the car to the apartment.

This month I also went to the chiropractor with both kids. It wasn't actually that difficult. I just had to slow my expectations down. Amy was delightful the entire time in the waiting room, then cried through my adjustment, but that didn't actually stress me out that much. Afterwards I even spontaneously took us out to lunch at the Corner Bakery and was very proud of myself. Daisy (2.5 years) and I talked about Octonauts (PBS show) over a large chocolate ship cookie.

The biggest struggle for me right now is not being a mom of two, but being an adequate wife. I have so much less mind space and time for Zane. It's an exhausting season of life, even in it all of its happiness. Everything I've read about marriage during the little years is it's hard, so I guess we're normal.

When I find myself at empty in the wife department - that's about the time we go on a date and get a break from the kids long enough to remember that we chose this life, and it's good. Last night was pedis and dinner. It was so relaxing and fun. I especially enjoyed the strawberry shortcake without a toddler asking me to share with her.

It's been a whole six months now. We're getting into a better groove. Every month is easier than the last.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Child Death and the Horrible Mother

Confession: I lay my babies on their bellies to sleep. I have never posted about this publicly because I've always been afraid of being shamed by other people for it. I have two super healthy kids who loved tummy time and didn't have flat heads. They always slept better on their tummies, so I put them like that with their heads to the side and a paci in their mouths to ensure that their noses were exposed to air. I also kept them in my room in a bassinet until they could roll on their own. 

When my oldest was four months old or so, she started sucking her thumb, which was another safety net in my mind, since she would always make room for her thumb. One day I was walking by her room during her nap, and she was fussing because she had a stuffed animal blocking her thumb from her mouth. I rushed in and grabbed it. 

Yes, I feared that she would have suffocated herself. But you know what I feared more? Being a terrible mother. Being verbally stoned by the populace as an idiot for laying her baby on her tummy, for putting a toy in the crib. Is she just stupid? She should never have been allowed to have kids. 

Look. When a child [or anyone] dies, there are always places to point fingers and lay blame, but the mother is suffering enough without the WORLD discussing how brainless she is. 

I constantly see posts online of kids who almost died or did die written as a caution to us moms, but they're rarely just cautionary. Most of these posts include extremely condescending things about these kids' poor moms, usually in the comments, but sometimes in the text too. 

Example stories include: Bookshelf fell on a toddler when he was climbing it during nap time - anchor your furniture, dummy!! Child twisted her arm in an amber necklace during nap - take off the necklace, you moron! Good Samaritan saves kid from drowning at public pool - MOMS, for God's sake, watch your kids while swimming, you negligent good-for-nothing ninnies!!! 

None of these are stories of negligent or "bad" moms. They're stories of accidents, and accidents happen. No one ever wants it to happen to their kids, so please, let's collectively STOP blaming moms. It's a prideful, heartless, holier-than-thou attitude.

Sometimes we can take precautions, but we can't foresee every danger our kids could possibly encounter. 

Last summer at a pool party I turned around to see my two year-old face down swimming out into the deep end of the pool. My aunt screamed for my brother in law to grab her, and he turned around and did just that. My daughter was just fine. She probably had only been swimming for a few seconds, but I didn't know how long her face had been under. That night as I lay in bed, every time I closed my eyes I saw her body face down in the water. I scared myself to tears. I felt like a bad mom. Nothing happened, and I still felt like a terrible mom. If something had happened, I would have fallen apart.  

The horror of losing a child is just that: a horror. Let us mourn with those who mourn and comfort those in distress, instead of ridiculing and slandering, even if it's a stranger. 

**I'm writing about targeting moms, but this obviously applies to dads or the caregiver present too.