Spring Fling Writing Contest 2021

The contest is to write an 150-word (or less) story about Spring using a GIF as inspiration!

The Funky Skunky

149 Words

GIF: From Giphy.com

Sydney is not like the other skunks in Skunkytown.

Yes, she is black and white.

She is covered in fur.

And she lifts her tail to spray like the others.

But…

Instead of a stinky odor, her spray smells like roses blooming on a warm spring day.

The other skunks laugh. 

“What is that FRAGRANT smell? Flowers?” they sneer.

Early one morning, a great, big bear comes to Skunkytown.

“ROARRR!” booms the bear.

“AHHH!” scream the skunks, as they all scamper into their dens. 

All the skunks… but one.

Sydney spins around. Lifts her tail. And sprays. “PSHHH!”

The bear steps closer…

Takes a giant sniff…

And smiles. 

“Wow, Skunk! That smells scrumptious. It reminds me of the succulent plants and flowers that I left in the field just over there. Thank you for reminding me.”

The other skunks cheer. 

“YAY for Sydney’s rose-smelling spray! She saved Skunkytown!”

Losing Teeth

There are many big FIRSTS as parents. Like your first child going to school. Your child driving a car. Your child getting married, etc. One FIRST that we are recently experienced is our first child losing a tooth.

This time should be EXCITING! Wiggley teeth! The Tooth Fairy! Sweet little smiles with weird gaps! But our experience has been anything but fun…

One day, several months ago, we noticed grown-up teeth starting to poke out behind our oldest daughter’s bottom two baby teeth. We were SO excited! This is big! But no, she starts hysterically crying. We google it and learn it is called Shark Teeth (what a quirky, awesome name.) Sometimes, kids get two rows of teeth at the same time. Cool? Not really… because the baby teeth have to fall out for the big teeth to go in the correct place in the mouth.

So, our oldest daughter is very anxious. I mean- very very anxious and super nervous. When we told her about the Shark Teeth, she FrEaKeD. Luckily, her baby teeth were getting wiggley, which is what is supposed to happen. I don’t know what other people did when they had a loose tooth, but when I was younger, I wouldn’t stop touching them. With my fingers, with my tongue, with food. Wiggling a loose tooth is part of childhood and growing up. But, my daughter wouldn’t touch them. She wouldn’t let us touch them. She wouldn’t eat hard food. Even brushing her teeth was a struggle.

After many many tears and lots of arguing, my husband was able to wiggle one tooth out. HOORAY! She went from crying hard from fear to crying with joy within seconds. So many emotions.

We got one tooth out but unfortunately, we had to get the other one too. Even more resistance. Night after night. Nightmare city. This time, she fought us and wouldn’t open her mouth. My girl is small, but she is a feisty little human. I had to physically hold her down, try to open her mouth, while my husband popped it out. Again with the roller coaster of emotions. But even with that pre-bedtime activity, her favorite part of the day was “when my tooth came out.”

Here is hoping that we have no more Shark Teeth and that all her other teeth come out easily, swiftly, and effortlessly.

Pandemic Baby and Pandemic Life

The pandemic became a major issue in the USA around mid-March of 2020. Sure, it was floating around before then, but we didn’t realize how greatly it would affect us.

I’m a planner. I had said I wanted three babies before turning 35, and I was determined to do-so. (I made this claim in high school, long before meeting my husband.) I was so excited to be expecting my third baby, coming in one day before my 34th birthday. And then there was a global pandemic.

Our baby is turning ONE in early April. We measure how long the pandemic has been by looking at her. She is a real “Pandemic Baby.”

How long has it been since we’ve been in a grocery store? Look at the baby. That’s how long.

How long has my kindergartener been in virtual school? Our baby was 5 months old when she started. And she has yet to step foot in her school building.

When did we buy our first masks? We got a few weeks before the baby was born, so we’ve been covering up for some time.

The pandemic continues to be totally life changing for our family. We are together…all the time. Fortunately, my husband has been able to work from home. My oldest is in virtual kindergarten. Our middle child is neglected doing ABC mouse and playing alone. (ugh!) Then, there’s the baby.

Looking at the positives of this year, our baby doesn’t know how lucky she has it. We just… never leave… ever.

Bottles? Why would I do that. Where you going?

Babysitters? They aren’t in our bubble. And what is a “date” anyways?

Where did Daddy just go? Oh phew, just on a quick walk. I missed him SO much.

Play with me! Look at me! What else are you doing, anyways?

A person, not in our family? Who is that? All I see are eyes, and I don’t know them. YIKES!

We don’t know how this family-only isolation will mess up our kids in the future. But we believe that their physical health and helping the greater community is most important.

Each day, we ask our big girls about their favorite part of the day. They always say that they had the best day ever. So, even if they are scared of the world and will have a hard time adjusting back into it, for now, they are happy 🙂 That should count for something… right?!

Breath Holding Spells – Take 2

Last post, I talked about my third baby’s breath holding spells. She had another one last night, and let me tell you, each time is just as terrifying… even when you see it coming.

A few months ago, our doctor told us that sometimes, babies who are anemic (low iron levels) can have breath holding spells. Our doctor *assumed* she wasn’t anemic, but her blood test indicated that her red cells were “smaller than normal.” She has been on an iron supplement for a while now, but her blood cells are *still* small. We are now told that she could “just have smaller than normal red blood cells, but that there isn’t anything wrong.”

As parents, we are worried about everything:

What is that scrape on your body from?

Don’t get too close to the dog’s face while she’s sleeping!

Where did you find that tiny Barbie shoe, and why is it in your mouth?

OMG why do you have a fever?

Now… we need to worry about:

Why the hell does our daughter have smaller than normal red blood cells? What does that even mean?

We have her ONE year doctor’s appointment coming up in a few weeks. I can’t wait to learn more about this (and get answers to me other 93042 questions I have written down in the Notes app on my phone.)

To Be Continued…

Breath Holding Spells

Breath Holding Spells.

Before my third child, I had never heard of them. I mean, babies cry. They cry all the time. That’s how they express that they’re angry, cold, tired, hungry, or just bored…right? My other children cried, too. But they were normal criers apparently because they were able to catch their breath in between gasps.

Here’s the backstory…

My third daughter was eating food. It’s her favorite activity, and she loves the whole process three times a day. One morning, I gave her a puff. She hadn’t had them before, so I was on Mommy-High-Alert. She must have dropped it (without me seeing), and she started ScReAmInG. She then started turning a weird shade of blue. “OMG SHE’S CHOKING!” I think because that would make sense. We take her out of the high chair, pound on her back a little. She calms down. She isn’t blue anymore. “Huh… she must have choked on the puff….then swallowed it?”

A few hours later, I am changing her outfit. One of her least favorite activities. It must have been a particularly fancy outfit with lots of buttons and snaps because it was taking a long time. Again, she starts ScReAmInG. I’m ignoring her, thinking “chill the f out baby. I’m going as fast as I can.” During one of her big inhales, that purple tint comes back. She’s clearly not choking on food this time. She’s just… choking? Not breathing? Scaring me for fun?

For the millionth time since being a parent, I called my pediatrician (“Yes.. it’s me again with another question.”) I frantically told them what happened. They explained calmly and knowingly that it’s a breath holding spell. When a baby gets so pissed off, they actually turn blue or purple and have trouble breathing momentarily. “Don’t worry.. they grow out of it… let us know if she passes out from it (?@?@?@?#!?!?!?!)… sometimes blowing in her face may startle her enough to make her breathe again….”

So, these days, you can find me at home with a pretty happy baby. She’s particularly happy because we try not to let her cry. And if she does cry, we are there within seconds to try to cheer her up. Because Breath Holding Baby found a new way to dominate her parents’ every thought and hog all the attention.

As of now, she hasn’t passed out from crying. Let’s hope it stays that way (and that she doesn’t have that blue/purple shade ever again).

50 Precious Words

Vivian Kirkfield (Picture Book Author) hosts a 50-word (or less) writing contest. Here is my 2021 Entry:

A Snowflake’s Journey

Ice Crystal bumps around in the crammed cloud.

“Almost time! Wait for it… NOW!”

Down, down they float.

“Wheee -Amazing!” another squeals.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this!”

The ground comes nearer.

Down, down, closer.

“Almost made it!” Ice Crystal yells.

“Look! Snow!!!” A dog leaps up. GULP.

Picture Book Author

I haven’t shared this on here, but I have been writing picture books for several years now. Recently, I signed with an Agent… which means I’m one step closer to getting traditionally published!

There is one thing that gets a bit confusing though when you’re both a Mom Blogger and a Picture Book Author. As a parent, it’s easy to write from the perspective of a parent. But picture books are not for parents – they are for children. Sure, parents can enjoy them. But that is not who they are for. Not sure what I mean? Here’s an example of something I wrote today called Newborn Pajamas:

People wear me at night.

When they’ve had a long day.

When they are done with tight fitting jeans.

When they want to get into their cozy beds.

Hi. I’m Pajamas.

But not just any pair of pajamas…

“Size: Newborn. This will be perfect for her,” the Mom said.

Out of all the options, she picked me.

I was brought home and hung neatly in the closet.

waiting… waiting…waiting….

Until one day, I heard a cry for the first time.

A screech. A whimper. A new baby.

The Mom put me on her.

Within minutes, I was covered in explosive poop. Gross.

Time for the laundry.

Over and over and over.

Before I knew it, this baby was fitting into bigger things: 0-3 months then 3-6, then 6-9.

And I was tucked away in a bin.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Longing, but ready whenever I was needed.

Before I knew it, I was back, hanging in another closet.

And I heard it. A familiar, but different cry.

The Mom put me on someone new.

Someone just as tiny.

This time, I was a little stretched out around the neck.

A bit baggy around the feet.

I was quickly covered in spit up. Gross.

Laundry again.

Over and over and over.

Just as I’m getting comfortable, I’m placed back into the bin.

Forgotten.

Will this be the end of my story?

Finally… I find myself hanging in a new closet once again.

I hear a cry. A new one? Could it be?

The Mom puts me on a third person.

My button has trouble fastening at the top.

The zipper gets stuck most of the time.

The arms are certainly a little longer than they should be.

But the Mom keeps choosing me.

For that tiny sliver of time…

When the baby is so small.

She smells the scent when I’m fresh out of the laundry.

Knowing that after this one, it’s the end of the Newborn size.

I’ve kept three babies warm.

I’ve kept three babies snug.

And I’ve kept three babies looking great (if I do say so myself.)

Even with the poop stains…

the spit up…

the spilled bottles…

the dribbled coffee (oops)…

the saline drops…

the boogies…

the diaper leaks…

I still remind her.

Of a flash of time

When all three babies were small enough

To fit snug inside. 

As a parent, I get emotional and nostalgic thinking back to when my children were tiny. But are children going to pick this book to read over and over? No. They don’t get it… or care really. Are parents with more/less than three children going to love this book? Maybe, but it’s for parents with three children. This target audience is too small and this “picture book” is not even for children.

As all Authors know, some ideas are great. Other ideas just don’t work – like this one. Here is a quick glimpse into the mind of a Picture Book Author. Onto the next idea…

So Many Specialists

As a parent, the most important thing really is your child’s health and wellbeing. Although we have had some serious scares (My Daughter) and (Scariest Mommy Moment), we have been so very fortunate.

Now, for the most recent scare (s).

As I mentioned in a previous blog (Family Update), our middle daughter had a blood test abnormality at birth. After getting retested though, it turned out to be a false positive. So we moved on… until our third daughter’s blood showed the same abnormality. It didn’t make any sense. I was told that this abnormality is extremely rare, but why another positive? Is this test showing that there may be issues with our girls as they get older? Does this happen to everyone else who delivers here? Is this the worst, most unreliable test ever?! Luckily, once again, it turned out to be a false positive.

Fast forward to a few months later. Our little one had been doing so well. Hitting milestones long before her sisters and one of the most engaging tiny humans we have ever met. One day, I looked at her head and thought: “What the hell is that bump?” On the side of her head, it looked like her scalp was protruding out. Was it there all along? Did she bump it, and I didn’t realize? Is it a bite? Does she have a funny shaped head? To calm my nerves, I spoke with her pediatrician. She was perplexed. What on earth was it? She said it was *probably* nothing (my favorite line), but I should go to a neurologist, just in case.

So… on we go to the neurologist. But before we see the actual doctor, I have to make an appointment to see the nurse practitioner. She will surely tell us what is going on, right? Nope. “Um.. I don’t think this is anything? But it could be that she has fluid build-up inside her brain causing swelling. So let’s bring you back to meet with the doctor.”  Perfect. So we broke our quarantine bubble another time just to be told we have to come back. Next… we wait again. An agonizing week of “WTF is wrong with this adorable human’s brain and skull?” Finally… we see the doctor. He looks at her head then says confused: “I don’t mean to be rude, but why are you here? This is her skull. How did you make it all the way to me?” I said “They said she could have fluid in her brain. Does she just have a funny shaped head?” My daughter is sitting there cooing and smiling at this masked man. And he said: “No? She has a perfect head? She is a perfect baby.” I left incredibly relieved and very frustrated.

Some people go through life never going to a specialist. We have been to like 5 for different and scary reasons. Are we alarmists? Perhaps. Are we super-observant parents? Definitely. Have we been through some experiences that make us more nervous than others? I think so.

We are so glad that in all of these circumstances, the results were that nothing was seriously wrong with any of our children. But how much time and energy have I spent going down the “what if” rabbit hole? What if something was wrong? I do have a shitty tendency to jump to worst-case scenarios rather than take things step by step. Luckily, I have a husband who is able to say “Let’s slow down and see what happens and go from there” when I am freaking out.

Will this be our last specialist? Who knows. We can only control what we can control. Until next time…

 

Giving Birth During a Pandemic

So… that was exciting!

I gave birth to my third daughter on April 1, 2020.

I felt fortunate to have my husband with me. For a while, they weren’t sure that he was even going to be allowed to be there. I also luckily didn’t have to labor while wearing a mask (side note: if women can give birth wearing masks, I’m pretty sure you can wear it to grab a coffee). Everyone working at the hospital seemed afraid of me… and I was definitely afraid of them.

A fun fact? My husband was the first person to touch the baby’s head when she was coming out. Gross? maybe. But it was his third time, so I felt that he could have watched a few YouTube videos and delivered her himself if it came down to it.

How did this happen? Well… I told every doctor and nurse that when it was time to push, I didn’t mess around. I wanted that thing out of me as quickly as possible. Ready or not… when it was time, it was happening. So when I said “it’s time”, the nurse (who had just started there a day ago) said “okay I’ll get the doctor.” No, m’am, that’s not what I said was going to happen. So instead, I told my dear husband to catch the baby. Luckily, he had just used the bathroom and washed very carefully (you know, Covid washing). So he touched her head and did his best coaching until the nurse came back in. Who needs an OB doctor when you can have your not-squeamish husband and a first time nurse?

Anyways, she is here. She is adorable. She is so loved. She has blue eyes like her sisters. And my husband takes pride that he was the first person to touch her.

Picture from Washingtonian Magazine94073907_10100438889074737_6536847285714681856_o

A Confession

Okay, so I have something to admit. A secret that NO ONE, except my husband, knows…

Back story:

Round 1:

We didn’t want to find out the gender of our first child. We had a gray and white nursery, referred to it as Baby M, and had both a boy and a girl name solidly picked out. However, at around 30 weeks during a normal visit, a midwife referred to the baby as “she”. When I quickly said, “we don’t know the gender,” she mumbled something about using the pronouns interchangeably, and that it meant nothing. Sure, lady. Then again, at the 36-week-ultrasound, the technician was flipping through slides, and I literally saw the words “It’s a Girl” written out. At this point, I was in a bind: Do I pretend I didn’t see it? Do I tell my husband who actually didn’t see it? If you know me, you know I can’t keep a secret, so obviously I told my husband. We decided not to tell anyone, but more so, not even let ourselves get excited or think about it again. When my first daughter was born, I said “It’s a Girl, right” rather than hear the exciting “IT’S A GIRL”. So… that was Round 1.

Round 2:

We were really serious this time about telling everyone we talked to that we didn’t want to know the sex of Baby 2. I had different symptoms between the two pregnancies, and I was CERTAIN that Baby 2 was a boy. I even had Mint Green furniture saved on Pottery Barn Kids, ready to check out as soon as the baby entered the world. But alas, Baby 2 was also a beautiful baby girl! And boy, was I surprised. I asked my husband to check multiple times to make sure because I simply didn’t believe it.

Round 3:

After going back and forth, we decided to find out the gender for our last baby. Mainly, it was a logistical reason. Do I really think I am going to decorate a nursery after the baby comes? Am I going to run errands with two toddlers and a newborn? We also decided it would be exciting for the girls to know if they were having a brother or sister. It would also be a totally different experience for us. So, we got a blood test at 15-ish weeks.

When the email came, I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I open it alone? Do I read it, and then pretend I didn’t? Do I wait for my husband to come home and open it with him? Do we just not read it and wait until 20 weeks and compare notes? Well… I caved…and I opened it by myself. To be honest, I didn’t quite get it or understand what it said. Sure, it said the words “Fetal Sex: Female”, but I simply didn’t believe it.  How could a blood test tell me this anyways? Couldn’t it say one thing and be incorrect? Should I get excited or not excited based on one piece of evidence rather than wait and see at 20 weeks? So, again, I told my husband. And again, we decided not to tell anyone … just in case the information was wrong.

Guess what? It wasn’t. We asked three separate people – the ultrasound technician, the specialist, and another doctor- and all three said GIRL. In case you’re wondering, apparently the blood test is pretty accurate (like 99% or something). But couldn’t we have been in that 1%? That would have been stressful.

Anyways.. phew… glad I got that off my chest!