It’s that time of year again.
How far away are you from the last year of your 20s?
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It’s that time of year again.
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I’d like everyone to meet Prin– no, Queen Lanoy.
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When you Google the terms “kid photography,” do not be surprised when you see a bunch of images of kids and not photographs by kids: a kid-kid photographer, who takes photographs. I keep track of my children’s development by Googling all sorts of shit yet Google did not tell me what age children know how to take selfies, choose filters, and change shutter speed. All things that my toddler and not-in-preschool preschooler know how to do when they jack my iPhone and leave little kid photog gems. Using kids’ unedited imagination, feel free to see and add your own mini photog’s #viewfromdownthere to show the world through their eyes.
The grocery store with two kids under the age of four can be absolute horror if you don’t plan your time or aisle routes well. I truly despise grocery marketing tactics when they place brightly-colored sleeves of candy at toddler eye level so I, the already flustered mom with two kids under the age of four, would have to deal with toddler meltdowns. My tried and true strategy has been The Back and The Buggy: one kid in the Ergo carrier, one in the shopping cart.
Here’s where you can view the rest of the series: Kid Photog Series
How do you run errands effortlessly without alcohol?
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Growing up Lao, our clothes were either hand-me-downs, thrift, or too big. Too big because my mom would buy us the next size(s) up so “we’d grow into them.” I would be wearing size 9 women’s shoes in 5th grade sounding like a scuba diver walking in the hall. Embarrassed as little Theek was, my mom was right in sticking us in oversized jackets and clown shoes. Not only because we were poor but because kids grow like fucking weeds and you can’t catch up with them. If I’m gonna buy these snotty-nosed womb-squatters brand clothing, they better wear it for longer than that size range on that tag. Knowing that they can’t, forget me spending money on it.
There are a rare exceptions when I pay for new children’s clothing but mostly the stars have to align above that Target, where I find that nice clearance sticker on something that I already wanted. Well, that happened when Humnoy screamed “Spider-Man!” at a pair of footed pajamas swinging about in the shitty tangle of a clearance rack. I don’t even care that it’s a shitty tangle of a clearance rack because I’ll sift through it all day long to not have to pay full price. I need to thank my mother for passing on the frugal gene because overpaying for kids’ (and anybody’s) general clothing is just not smart. How to shop like a Laotian mama:
1) Avoid eye contact with shiny, organized racks up front Just keep looking ahead. Never left, never right, just ahead toward the back to the clearance section.
2) Check each and every item I just go for anything not white because KIDS.
3) Check the size The clusterfuck of clearance is that it’s an OCD nightmare so make sure you look through it all: the tag, eye-ball it on your kid, etc.
4) Check the price If at least half off, get it. If not, I make a face then put it back. Unless it’s really cool then we can get away with maybe 30% off.
5) Repeat for off-season, next size, and staple clothing items. ‘This’ll be the shirt that they won’t eat in!’ – said no one ever.
Lo and behold, the Spider-Man footies were more than half off and came in Lanoy and Humnoy next-year size, respectively. They rang up for ~73% off original price so <$10 total for two awesome pairs of footie pajamas. I say they were a great deal because this wouldn’t have happened:
Don’t worry, I’m not drunk-blogging this one although it was a nice buzz of confidence to deactivate my Instagram, which I started in 2010 (yep, right when it launched). I do feel a little guilty for just up and leaving so many amazing parent-friends I have come to know and laugh
at with without as much a goodbye photo. Ironically, if you remember, my last photo was a very, very rare photo of the kids’ faces that I captioned “For old times sake.” By the sheer nature of that photo alone, I really had no idea that in less than a day after, I would delete the entire account. Yet I got up, logged into my Instagram.com on my laptop, deactivated 1000+ posts and said goodbye without saying “goodbye” to the specially chosen few on my feed view. I left the Instagram attachment parenting community because of Instagram parenting.
I would read things like, “Oh, I found you through the #cosleeping hash tag!” or “I saw your gymnurstics pic on FB!” The most common was “I found you through [insert Instagram mommy]!” As a mom, Instagram was great for a quick peek into others but you can move on with your day (or the rest of your Instagram feed). With a great and interesting community, I still managed to hate it. I quit Instagram for a clusterfuck of reasons but the main reasons were a little more deep than me not ever being selfie-ready:
Addictive It is truly addicting and the only way for me to kick that disgusting habit was to delete and be done with it.
Obligation It was nice to know people liked my pictures, humor and all that but I felt I always had to entertainment the masses. Once people see one meme, makes sense to make more, right? I’ve got issues.
Vain Instagram parents everywhere post about what they’re doing so you know they’re doing it. As mundane as it was, I felt I was cornered into this tiny corner of niches and I couldn’t break out of it. It was mommy-everything or nothing at all.
Playa-Haters I managed to piss off a few other Instagram mommies and I laughed and laughed because they weren’t that cool anyways. You don’t have to like me but you hating on me won’t make you less uncool.
“Frenemies” So, when I pissed those IG mamas off, our mutual followers seemed to not want to tell me about it and that hurt me. A couple of legit friends came through to let me know Offended Mom thinks I’m speshul enough to get my own screenshots. Like I said, “Not. Cool.”
Perverts Instagram role-play is just a horrible and wrong thing. I know how it was too easy to slap a photo up on Instagram so I had to shut down any and all excessive mentions of the kids’ physical identities. IG needs a mass-delete option though, pho real.
Babies I think I was just kind of over babies. Babies all over my damn feed. All the time. There were just so many back-to-back photos of your kid’s foraged lunch that I could stomach so I’m just over it.
My babies Oh, my poor neglected babies. How fucked up is it that I’m “spending” more time with other people’s babies than my own real-life ones? I’d be thwarting baby limbs just to find the perfect filter and caption. This was my wake-up moment and it’s not my proudest.
I’m here to change all that because I now have a new daily feed– real-life parenting! I’m vowing to be more present with my family, especially the kids. Here are some suggestions to kick the Instagram Mom habit:
1) Leave the phone in another room
2) Designate non-family time only for Instagram
3) Log out/in each time so it’s not so easy to open the app
4) Carve out an entire day without Instagram once a week
5) Ask, “Do I need to share this right at this moment?”
I was buried in this existential world and false lenses with strangers scattered across the planet while my kids saw my face buried in my phone screen. To be honest, I am already back on Instagram but have not found a healthy balance to dive into it quite yet. Also this account will not be any ol’ mommy account. Trust. Instead of showcasing my “parenting” through glossy film and filters, I will make sure I’m actually parenting .
I once asked my mom about how they “went” in Laos and she described third-world bathroom needs much like a drunken camping trip I took with my party troupe once. Both scenarios involved dug holes and anything nearby resembling paper. I think she was messing with me but my story unfortunately is true. Now with little shitters of my own, it made complete sense to use cloth wipes with cloth diapers. Definitely more so now that new research shows that such hygiene convenience can come with major health concerns.
A January 2014 study was conducted on commercial baby wipes and its harmful reaction causing painful, itchy rashes to site of application. For users and young kids especially, that is usually their buttocks, hands, and face (hopefully not with same wipe nor in that order). According to the research, the culprit is “methylisothiazolinone (MI), a chemical that investigators believe is found in roughly half of all the wipes sold in the United States.” Wet wipes are nice to have on hand for easy clean-up for those crazy-long car trips or outings without a bathroom in sight. So, what are busy and convenience-reliant parents supposed to do if they want to avoid this risk? Well, there are alternatives so you limit your family’s reaction to commercial baby wipes:
Other Brands Since the affected subjects used Huggies and Cottonelle, then check out other brands. Remember, if you experience an allergic reaction from anything (not just butt wipes), stop using them. Duh.
“Natural” Disposable Wipes I’m not sure where in history did the term “disposable” be considered of nature but this can be a good option (with one claiming 99.2%, whoaaa) to “naturally” wipe butts and such.
Homemade Disposable Wipes These? These are cool because 1) cheaper 2) Safer ingredients and 3) still convenient to wipe and toss.
Commercial Cloth Wipes If you’re (kinda) one with Mother Nature, consider the sustainability of reusable cloth wipes. There are plenty of manufacturers to make this “natural” need so you don’t have to.
Homemade Cloth Wipes If you’re really one with The Mutha, make your own or at least find a small business that will.
Wipe Solution The key to get the proper clean is moistening. Components of good moistening are: 1) soap (cleanses), 2) water (cleanses and dilutes), 3) some sort of oil (“glides”), and 4) essential oil (antibacterial or aromatherapy, optional).
Confession: we have been using bathroom cloth for months now. Yup, for the entire family, adults and all. With convenience, there will always be risks. Fortunately for me, I have peace of mind that I am not only contributing to literal planet waste but also I can control what my family’s bodies use for their hygiene needs. The frugality is nice, sure, but it also doesn’t leave me desperate when that last roll of toilet paper tissue is lingering on by a ply. I just wash along with the cloth diapers and fresh, clean wipes for our butts.
The day’s perk I looked most forward to was definitely hitting up Denny’s for my free Grand Slam Breakfast. I also realized my birthday fell on Denny’s “Kids Eat Free” day and I called, confirmed it was true that I could 1) Bring in valid ID to get a Free Grand Slam and 2) Kids eat free from 4-10. I was for sure going to be there with bells on from 4-10 pm. Of course, when I get there solo with two little kids, I notice the teeny tiny print that the Kids Promo is valid only through the purchase of an adult entree of $4 or more. So, that’s not what the dude said on the phone and it just gets more annoying for everyone.
I know Denny’s isn’t some hottie tottie palace of foodie haven but it’s still an eating establishment with good workers and honest patrons. I respect that and just made a plan to pay for the kids’ meals since I’m getting $8 of my bill free. After some notable horrendous service including asking for stupid crayons for the fourth time to appease the trampoline toddler in the booth and banshee baby in the chair, I finally made my way up to the server to request my check because the last time I saw her was plate delivery. The kids played, they ate, they were also ready to go. The check had the kids meals as free but the birthday meal charge. I hand the cashier my drivers license while redirecting a toddler and holding a 20-ton baby-child, who is a bolter.
Between the toddler whining for money to feed the stupid, stupid Claw Machine and a baby who wants to run into the Denny’s kitchen, I’m trying to listen to the cashier as he lectures me that my birthday comp usually should not cover the kids promo, which I admittedly knew since the fine print but am shocked anyway. He did me a solid by saying “this birthday” will be free but next year, I won’t be so lucky as I try to distract Humnoy from his favorite Disney character in the plush toy pit. I escort the kids out in the wind and rain and make it home safe. Phew. Birthday accomplished, I’d say! Kinda.
We bounce into our home and I get interrogated with “Did you tip the server?” by GH.
My kids and I enjoyed a free meal and I did not think to do the basic
20 15% and tip the staff, as shitty as they were! This may sound like I forgot on purpose but honestly forgot not on purpose! I felt so bad and insisted we need to go back and anonymously drop off some cash… but to whom? Which shift? Would they even welcome me back into there? I didn’t catch either of their names because I only saw them once at our table. I really have never done this and feel really, really bad and basically:
Never have I felt the need to put a passcode on my phone until my mom pride took a reality beating.
Before hashtags, before blogging, before discovering the world other than my circle of Facebook friends, I had no idea how to entertain myself with those inevitable extended night/early-morning feeds with a brand new baby. Forget trying to entertain a newborn with shitty eyesight so what’s a new mama to do? With Humnoy, I loved cable’s OnDemand feature. I could catch up on some shows I missed during original air time and have the baby feed and fall asleep (and repeat 284 times). That is how I survived the first weeks of new motherhood and have since mourned the loss of the excessive channels of cable television more than ever. We have Netflix streaming and that’s neat and nice but the selection is abysmal. How many times are they going to suggest movies with 2.5 stars just because Humnoy is obsessed penguins? No thanks, I really don’t want to know any more about penguin migration patterns more than general knowledge. Well, goodbye to talking-dog movies because we got a box.
GH upgraded our Comcast account to cable with HBO for an extra $5 than our internet bill alone. If I can’t leave the kids alone yet and need some me time, I’m gonna just zombie out and catch up on these shows I missed. Yes, we are a TV family. I am a TV watcher. We love TV and it saves my ass once again.
Never again will I do that, I told my husband. I also told him to just cancel the damn thing since I vowed to never step foot into the kid cesspool at the gym (daycare) after our first-born’s bout with the stomach flu. GH didn’t believe me and then proceeded to stamp me as “that mom.” I’d have rather accepted “paranoid” rather than “that” but he’s just “a dick.” So far, I’ve just been semi-pretending to do the Squat Challenge and keeping up with the Plank A Day. As a mama to two littles, these are the only two exercises I do in the comfort and quarantine of my home with no special ‘diet.’ My meal plan? Eat whatever the fuck I can because I’m hangry. I failed for two days when I missed daily planks and I’ll admit they aren’t just straight through anymore. I cheat and stop the timer because I’m crumbling and then restart again until I reach my daily goal: besting the previous plank time by 10 seconds. Day 9 and I
re-planked until two minutes and 40 seconds. To spare a bit of humility, a crawling Lanoy does compromise my plank form so I gots to stop because reasons. Yeah, yeah– reasons. Since crawling, she’s got a new achievement. Not to be out shined, there is also a toddler version.
Check out how to get started and How To Plank here