Sunday, September 25, 2011

Well, This Stinks

In honor of the great Shel Silverstein's birthday today, and because the depths of my nerdiness apparently know no limits, today's post comes to you in verse. 

Baby N was out good, asleep on my lap,
As I fried my brain with T.V.,
When up through the air, rose a terrible stench—
What could that nastiness be?

I gave a sniff in the diaperous region—
(The culprit I first suspected)
But the baby was as sweet as a fresh-powdered bum,
My hunch, it seemed, misdirected.

I carefully stood, put N in her swing,
And turned off Dr. Oz.
The reek still remained, taunting me, and
I had to know its cause.

I checked out the kitchen with its dishes and trash,
Sure I would find the source.
The can overflowed with veggies and rot
So I took it out, of course.

But alas when I entered my unkempt house,
The smell had not dispersed.
If anything, though I opened the windows,
The odor had grown worse.

I rolled up my sleeves and got to work,
Vowing to uproot the stink.
Maybe I’d find a forgotten sandwich
From when, I hated to think.

But there was no sandwich or abandoned diaper,
Or a long lost bowl of slaw. (Thank goodness).
I did, however, pass a mirror
And what do think you think I saw?

Well, I found the source of the Odorous Funk:
Not cheddar, nor swiss, nor brie.
Curdled breastmilk on my shoulder lie—
The source of the stench was me!

Ew! Double ew!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Mind Us

I always thought babies were pacifists by nature. But baby N, despite being all big eyes and cuddles, is a warrior. She even has an archenemy: the Dark Bringer of Doom, His Uncomfortableness, the Car Seat. In her first months, whenever she encountered her nemesis, she would call upon the only weapon available to her—a piercing, hysterical scream.

And though the car seat was not phased in the slightest by N’s assault (what with it being an inanimate object), there were civilian casualties. Namely, Mommy’s sanity. 

You wanna knuckle sandwich? Try puttin' me in that seat!

To avoid these battles, I drove as little as possible in N’s early days. Unfortunately, big sister S needed to go to preschool every day (okay, let’s be honest—I needed S to go to preschool), so daily car rides were inevitable. To say these trips were unpleasant would be like saying that World War II was kind of a bummer.

One warmish March day when N was about five weeks old, I decided to pick up S from school on foot. We would avoid the DBD, get some exercise, and enjoy the fresh air.   

I nursed and diapered baby N, and set out with the stroller. N was sleepy, so I assumed she would pass out pretty quickly. Well, you know what they say about assuming…

Poor N started fussing almost immediately, and screaming not long after that. The neighborhood elementary school was about to let out, so I had the delight of pushing a wailing baby down the street at top speed, while parents sat in their cars eyeing me and probably googling ‘Amber Alert’ on their cell phones.

We finally reached S’s preschool, me huffy and puffy, N red and angry. I transitioned her into the baby wrap, sure she would settle down, and we began the uphill haul back.

S was thrilled we were walking; there were always a million treasures to be found on the way home—sticks, bottle caps, random pieces of tire, and other awesome playthings. N was not appeased, though. She howled even more as I hauled butt, with S motoring along beside me as fast as her little legs could carry her.  

The crying was not subsiding and the parents in parked cars were really giving me the evil eye now. I finally admitted that there was only one solution to this problem. Even though I’d already fed N and couldn’t imagine how she could possibly be hungry this soon, I knew the answer lay right in front of me: the almighty Boob. (And speaking of World War II, how many more problems might be solved with boobs? Just throwing that out there).

I turned down a quiet side street, found a shady patch of grass between a long wall and the sidewalk, and parked the stroller. S danced around looking for bugs while I went about my business, nodding casually at the few stray cars that passed. Nothing like nursing your baby on the side of the road. 

But no big deal. Until I heard the dread words, “Mommy, I need to go potty.” 

We were still a long way from home, and N was just getting going. I panicked. Looked left, looked right.

“Honey, do you remember how to squat?”

That's right. I told my three-year-old to pop a squat behind a tree on a public street. Not my finest moment. And she went for it.

“Mommy, I did it! I peed on the ground!” S gleefully waddled back to where I sat on the curb. Despite her excitement, it was clear that she did not remember how to squat. Her pants were around her ankles, and she was soaking wet.

I told her to take them off, thinking she could ride home in the stroller with a blanket over her. She pulled off the wet clothes and skipped around while I tried to remove N, who still clung to me like the Strongest Barnacle in the West. 

And then it happened.

A car pulled out of the driveway next to us, veeeery slowly. I tried not make eye contact. La la la. My half-naked child didn’t just pee on your oak tree, I’m not exposing myself in the middle of the street, la la la. Doo do doo. 

I kept my head down, waiting for him to pass.

Then S cried, “Guess what, Mommy? I waved at that man in the car!” 

Really? This is a child who won’t even say hi to people she knows half the time. She had to pick this moment to go all Mr. Rogers on me?

“But he didn’t wave back." She stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, then shrugged her shoulders. "Oh well. Maybe next time.”

Dear Lord, I don't ask for much, but please let there not be a next time. Thanks.

Your humble servant, 
S. B.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Murphy's Laws of Parenting

1.   The baby will wake up the second the food is served.

2.   Your child will pee in his pants the one and only day you
      forget to bring a change of clothes.

3.   Illness will hit on the first day of vacation. 

4.   Your child will choose the day your
      mother-in-law comes to visit as the 
      day she decides to go all Picasso on 
      the living room wall. 

5.   Whatever it is, it’s just a phase. (Of 
      course, after this phase comes. . . 
      another phase.) 

6.   The doorbell will ring if, and only if, 
      the baby just fell asleep.

7.   The most expensive toy will be the most ignored. 

8.   In the time it takes you to clean any given area in your house, 
      your child can destroy a space three times that size in another room. 

9.   The best way to get a baby to have a giant poop is to give her a 
      bath and dress her in her cutest outfit. 

10.  As soon as you have things figured out, they change.

What wonderful truths have you discovered about parenting? Share in the comments!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ain't No Rest for the Weary

Hello, readers, Happy Labor Day! Are you thanking the ‘folks that brought you the weekend,’ enjoying a paid day off, grateful for mandated breaks and worker’s comp? Me neither! 

The closest thing I’ve had to a Labor Day in the last four years is the day I was actually in labor, which definitely does not count as a vacation. Invigorating, life-changing, awe-inspiring, borderline psychedelic, yes. But no weekend trip to the lake.

Perhaps you are one of those lucky ladies who has fabulous in-laws that take the kids for the weekend while you and hubby zip off for a romantic getaway. Or maybe the hubs watches the wee ones while you and your girls enjoy a spa and yoga weekend? (Do things like that actually happen in real life?) Anyway, if so, I am thrilled for you! Alas, the last time my man and I went out by ourselves was for the parent orientation at S’s preschool. Aw, yeah. Big date night over here!

The thought of creating a Parent’s Union is quite appealing, but faces several challenges. First is organization. Who’s got time to devote to that?

Even more daunting is enforcement. I’ve tried to tell S at times, “Mommy’s on a break right now, but I’ll get right on that juice order just as soon as I complete the requests for clean laundry and hot dinner,” but she just laughs maniacally and cracks her whip. 

So much work, so little time for martinis. Ah, who am I kidding? Like I clean!

Baby N is even tougher. I try to convince her that Mommy is contractually entitled to a peaceful meal (since she wakes up or fusses the precise minute the food hits the table), but she won’t have it.

My children have also denied requests for: a full night’s sleep, an uninterrupted shower, an hour—just an hour!—of quiet time. Nice try, Mommy. It’s like the Gulag up in this mug.

Luckily, my bosses also provide some very nice perks. These include multiple hugs and snuggles, a job that offers lots of room for growth, and plenty of humor. Just the other day, Sofia flung open the door to see the mailman, while pretending to talk on the phone. “Hello, hello?” she yelled into her make-believe device. “Anybody there? I can’t hear you!” Her telephone prop? The flange to the breast pump. Nice.

I realize that someday I’ll have a quiet, peaceful, clean house…and I’ll probably miss the heck out of my little task-makers. So for now, I’ll try to enjoy the chaos, while I continue to labor away. Speaking of, I just got an urgent call via the Ameda Purely Yours…gotta go!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

If it Looks Like a Dog Toy…

…and it squeaks like a dog toy, is it in fact a dog toy?

No! It’s the BPA-free, all rubber, French-made teether to the stars—Sophie the Giraffe. I have seen this trendy toy pop up at baby yoga, the park, and restaurants, hanging from strollers and car seats everywhere I go. One woman even asked if I named my older daughter, S, after Sophie the Giraffe. Um, yeah…if it was a boy, we were going to go with…Elmo…or…Batman…

Anyway, popular consensus is that STG is a miracle toy. A quick perusal of the Internet will show you that people cannot live without their Sophie. At least ten Etsy stores make “Sophie saver” leashes so you won’t lose her, and the product website even states at the bottom—YOUR BABY NEEDS HER!

It’s hard to argue with that kind of subtle marketing.

Meanwhile, baby N has been teething since she was 2 months old—drooling like crazy, gnawing anything within her reach, and protesting loudly if you remove the placemat, or checkbook, or breakable figurine from her tiny yet iron-like baby grip.

And so, despite the fact that we are cancelling our gym membership, shopping at thrift stores, and eating beans at every meal (I’m talking a lot of freaking beans, here), I recently went out and spent $25 dollars on Sophie the Giraffe. Okay, technically, I had store credit, but still. If I’m spending that much on a teething toy, it better not only soothe baby N’s gums, but also put her down for a nap and change her diaper to boot.

In the store, baby N smiled and cooed at the sight of Sophie, immediately reaching for the box. I was feeling pretty pleased and justified with the purchase, and couldn’t wait to give her the cute little giraffe to suck on.

I opened the box and presented her to N. But instead of flashing the gummy smile of appreciation I expected, baby N squirmed and scowled. She looked me straight in the eye and threw poor Sophie on the ground. I tried again, but to no avail. Baby N continued to fuss until it dawned on me. She wanted the box.

I offered her the flimsy cardboard, and sure enough, she put it right in her mouth with a little grunt of satisfaction. $25 rubber toy made specifically for this purpose? No go. Cheap cardboard box? Oh yeah.

A few weeks have passed, and N still doesn’t give Sophie more than a passing glance, er, chomp.

Here are five things that baby N would prefer to chew on over STG:

1.     The label from a rotisserie chicken. The kid loves cardboard, what
        can I say?
2.     The finger of anyone within her reach. Big sister gets a kick out of 
        this and loves to offer N her hand. Unfortunately, S has a 
        summertime aversion to soap and water, so I’m not such a fan.

3.     Those tiny packages of Kleenex. These are N’s absolute favorite 
        teething devices. They’re crinkly yet soft, light, easy to grip, and 
        provide endless fun. That is, until someone notices that she’s
        managed to open the package and has possibly ingested some of
        the tissue, and then her daddy freaks out and asks why I don’t give 
        her a real toy. Like an expensive French giraffe that she will either
        ignore or throw at me.

4.     Pretty much anything else you can possibly think of. Well, anything 
        that’s not meant for children to chew on. For example, cell phones,
        toy cars made in China, construction paper, watches, Barbie limbs…

5.     Her big toe. She really goes at it if I let her:

Must. Have. Toe! 

Nom, nom, nom.

"'Who's Sophie?' she said, and smiled in her special way..."


(Dontcha wish your Sophie was a yogi like me? Dontcha....?)

Meanwhile, big sister S loves STG. And not just because the toy could be her namesake. As soon as we brought Sophie home, S suggested that I go back to the store to buy one in her size. It went straight into her mouth, and she found it very satisfying to chew on. If only she didn’t have all of her teeth already…

S was also thrilled to discover that Sophie the Giraffe makes a very loud, high-pitched and not-at-all annoying squeaking sound. In no time, S learned how to squeak out Jingle Bells on Sophie, and this has kind of become her theme song. She’ll race around the backyard, squeaking out Jingle Bells (again, not at all annoying), and eventually get bored and try to shove the toy in baby N’s mouth.

But of course N doesn’t want STG. She’s already found a stick or leaf or something else entirely unsuitable for babies to suck on.

I still think Sophie’s cute, though, and she’s taught me an important lesson. If I’m ever tempted to spend $25 on a baby toy again, I’ll remember her and look no further than my own recycling bin for entertainment (soda bottle rattles, anyone?). 

So for that I say, Merci, Sophie!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quiz Time! What Kind of Mom Are You?

That’s right, I’m bringing back the quiz, old-school Teen Magazine style. But instead of answering burning questions like ‘Which Vampire Hottie is Right for You?’ and ‘Are You a Promzilla?,’ this thought-provoking test will determine your mothering style. It is scientifically-accurate in 98% of cases, so don’t argue with it. Okay, get your pencils ready!

1.     You took prenatal yoga classes because…
    A.   You wanted to connect with your baby’s spirit while she was still in
          the womb.
    B.   Your OB recommended them, and they were fun.
    C.   You thought they might help you de-stress—studies show that a
          stressful womb environment can have a negative impact on the
          baby, and it stresses you out to think that your womb might be
    D.   It didn’t occur to you to do prenatal yoga, mostly because you were
          in denial that you were pregnant until you were in labor.

2.     Did you find out the baby’s sex before he was born?
    A.   No—you didn’t want to have preconceived notions about your child,
          and besides, gender is a continuum, not just based on sex.
    B.   Yes—it was too hard to wait!
    C.   Of course—you had to preorder the custom curtains to match the
          sheets to go with the wall-hangings….
    D.   Nah—either way it’s just another kid to take care of.

3.     For your baby shower, in addition to the regular stuff, you   
    A.   Good vibes for the birth.
    B.   Copies of your favorite children’s books.
    C.   Contributions to your child’s 529 plan.
    D.   Cash for the paternity test.

4.     Your baby’s name...
    A.   Was inspired by nature. For example, Willow, Aurora, Jade…
    B.   Is a classic like Joshua, Matthew, Katherine, Madeline…
    C.   Is also a place—Berkeley, Brooklyn, London…
    D.   Comes from a classy alcohol brand—Hennessy, Chardonnay,

5.     Your baby’s first exposure to music was…
    A.   The drum circle playing at the birth.
    B.   The lullabies and nursery rhymes you sing to your baby.
    C.   The violin lessons you started for baby when he turned six months
    D.   The soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto.

6.     What was your approach to getting in shape after having the
    A.   You don’t have a mirror so it never crossed your mind. Besides, you
          embrace the curves and marks your children have bestowed on your
          body. They reflect your Journey as Woman.
    B.   You figure that with breastfeeding and taking the baby for daily
          walks, the weight will come off naturally.
    C.   You alternate baby boot camp classes with training for a marathon
          via the jogging stroller.
    D.   You don’t exercise. Exercise is for pussies.

7.     Your stance on
        breastfeeding in
        public is…   
    A.   Breasts are for 
          breastfeeding, duh.
          You’ll whip out the boob
          whenever, wherever.   
    B.   If baby is hungry, you’ll 
          find a private place and 
          nurse under a blanket.
    C.   Um, no. You plan your 
          excursions around baby’s 
          scheduled feeds, and you 
          always have a backup
          bottle on hand just in case.
    D.  You don’t breastfeed, on
         account of the nicotine. 

8.     When it’s time to start solids, what do you feed your baby?
    A.   You make your own baby food from veggies grown in the garden.
          Love is the special ingredient!
    B.   You buy Gerber—doesn’t everyone?
    C.   You have freshly-picked organic baby food shipped in twice a week
          from California.
    D.   You introduce fries at sixth months, nuggets at seven months, but 
          no Mountain Dew until after a year. That shit makes babies go 

9.     What was your approach to babyproofing?
    A.   You closed the barn door and called it good.
    B.   You did the basics—outlet plugs, gates for the stairs, etc.
    C.   You paid a fortune for a professional babyproofing service as soon
          as you found out you were pregnant.
    D.   What is babyproofing?

10. How often do you give your baby a bath?
    A.   Once a week. Or less…
    B.   Every other day or so, more if needed.
    C.   Every day precisely at 6:30, after her evening meal and before    
    D.  You’re supposed to bathe them, too?!

11. Who do you turn to when you need a babysitter?
    A.   Your five older children.
    B.   Your parents or the nice neighbor girl.
    C.   A professional nanny that passed an FBI background check.
    D.   A combination of Benadryl and the T.V.

12. On an average summer day, your baby is wearing…
    A.   Dirt, and that’s about it.
    B.   Whatever is clean at the moment.
    C.   A matching outfit, with matching shoes and matching hat, natch. 
    D.  The same clothes he’s been in for the last week.

13. This past Mother’s Day, you were…
    A.   Thrilled—your partner took you on a hike, prepared a picnic, and 
          surprised you with a new homebrew!
    B.   Thrilled—the hubs fixed you breakfast in bed, then sent you off for
          a pedicure and a massage!
    C.   Thrilled—your husband followed your ten-point set of instructions
          to a tee!
    D.   Thrilled—your parole officer showed up and took you and the kids
          out to lunch!

14. Your worst nightmare is that your baby will grow up to be…
    A.   A Republican.
    B.   A drug addict.
    C.   A hippie.
    D.   A cop.

15. At night, you don’t worry about your baby because…
    A.   She's in bed with you.
    B.   She's in a bassinet in your room where you can see her.
    C.   You set your alarm to check on her every hour. Plus you have the 
          video monitor.
    D.   You are drunk.

Tally up your results!

If you answered mostly As, you are:
A Crunchy Mom!
(Note: this is the P.C. way of saying you’re a hippie).

You take a laid-back approach to parenting, raising your children to be in tune with nature, their bodies, and their emotions.

Recommended reading: The Dr. Sears line of books, Mothering magazine, The Lorax…

Potential pitfalls: You want your child to be a unique expression of himself, and he will be. But at some point, he may feel awkward being the only kindergartner with dreadlocks and a tofu lunch. His way of being an individual just might mean experimenting with conformity for a little while. Don’t worry, he’ll go back to being barefoot soon enough!

If you answered mostly Bs, you are:

The Average Mom!

You are practical and level-headed, and balance your own mother’s advice with your pediatrician’s. You are raising confident, well-adjusted children who will fit in wherever they go. 

Recommended Reading: The Baby Whisperer, Parenting magazine, Brown Bear Brown Bear…

Potential pitfalls: Sometimes you might find it hard to follow your own instincts when it comes to parenting. Remember that it’s okay to listen to your gut, even if it doesn’t jibe with what your sister, your college roommate, or the park ladies say. It’s okay to go your own way and try new things!

If you answered mostly Cs, you are:

An Overachieving Mom!

You are the envy of the playgroup with your sparkling countertops and GMO-free 100% whole wheat muffins. You are raising kids who will be responsible, hard-working, and maybe just a wee bit neurotic.

Recommended reading: Who am I kidding? You know you’ve already got every parenting book ever written.

Potential pitfalls: Here’s the deal C-mom. Kids are messy. Life with children is chaotic, and things definitely don’t always go as planned (see here for proof). In your attempts at perfection, you just might miss out on the little things that make it all worth it. Admit it—wasn’t it just a teensy bit funny when your son hung the asparagus out of his nose like a giant booger? Make sure to take time to laugh, be spontaneous, and let loose from time to time. Your kids won’t even remember the countertops!

If you answered mostly Ds, you are:

A Neglectful Mom!

Sad face. I really really hope you didn’t get mostly Ds. Now please turn off the computer and get yourself to rehab.