Tuesday

Turkey and Broccoli and Meatballs, Oh My!

I not usually a recipe blogger, nor do I think of myself as anything remotely resembling a cook (unless you count my deep love of sugar and melted butter. In that case I am the spitting image of Her Southern Highness Paula Deen.)

But I am the parent of a toddler with an ever-changing palette, so any food I make that isn't thrown on the floor becomes a winner in my house. Last week I made Turkey and Broccoli meatballs. They were quite the success, so I thought I would share.

You need:
  • One pound of ground turkey
  • One (or more, your preference) stalks of broccoli, cooked and florets chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
Now:
  • Coat bottom of 9x13 pan with olive oil
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands and shape into golf ball sized portions
  • Drop them in the dish and bake about 15 minutes
  • Flip the meatballs over and cook another 5-10 minutes (until turkey is cooked through.)
  • Let cool and enjoy

Here is what we end up with:



I know they look like moldy meatballs in the tupperware here, but it's just the broccoli, I promise. They are really good. And it seems CeCe enjoyed them:


Another quick tip Moms- if you want to sneak vegetables into meals then you should check out Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Recipes tell you how to slip cauliflower into Mac and Cheese or sweet potatoes into chicken nuggets. It is a Godsend for picky eaters (CeCe is only one-year-old but I've been using it on Matt for a while now.)

Monday

Merry Christmas To All!

I hope all my readers had a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday! I'll be back tomorrow with some of new favorite toddler recipes to share. I hope all of your families got what they wanted from Santa. I know I did:

Thursday

Spoiled Much?

Santa better watch his back this year. It seems at least one child is on a warpath to check off items on her wish list this year, and who knows how many other children are following suit.

A 13-year-old girl wrote a letter to Santa declaring that if she did not receive items on her Christmas list she would "literally kill" jolly old Saint Nick, as well as hunt down his reindeer, kill them and cook them. And yes, this is real life, not the plot for "Fatal Attraction: Christmas Edition."

Check out the article from the UK's Daily Mail.

Some things on the teen's list? A Blackberry, designer sunglasses and Justin Beiber. Yes, the actual person.

This may be an extreme example, but Christmas is the perfect time to evaluate just how much we spoil our children. My child is still young enough that I haven't experienced the materialistic side of her that is sure to surface in years to come. But I'm formulating my "Anti-Spoiling Checklist" now. Here is what I've thought of so far:

- Are we buying presents year-round for no real occasion, so at Christmas the child expects the moon just so the gift-giving seems "special" this time?

- Are we buying multiple expensive items for children?

- Are we buying them electronics at a very young age?

- Are we allowing the toys to pile up without any turnover of getting rid of old ones?

- Does my child say Thank You without being reminded, and are they aware that other children are not as fortunate as they are?

What do you think, readers? How do you keep your children appreciative and grounded, and prevent them from turning into a homicidal brat?

Monday

Toy Safety at Christmas

'Tis the season for your child to accumulate tons of new crap to litter your household.

While our kids may squeal with glee over their new singing/dancing/light-up thing-a-ma-whatever, a headache for mom and dad is unfortunately not the only injury that can occur.

Toy safety is a new issue for me this year, as CeCe is just now old enough to have the really fun toys that involve batteries, multiple parts and plenty of potential for fatalities.

This article has plenty of helpful tips about choosing safe toys for your kids, and this article from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has similar tips but also covers toy maintenance and safe storage.

Here are the highlights that I have paraphrased:

#1.   Use caution with button-battery operated toys. It's like the battery makers measured a toddler's esophagus and decided "This is exactly how big the battery should be." Major choking hazard.

#2.   Choose age-appropriate toys. We all think our child is more advanced and therefore needs the older-kid toys to challenge their little 18-month-old brain. But just because your baby genius can handle the stimulation of that toy doesn't mean they still won't try to eat the tiny parts.

#3.   No sharp edges. No lead paint. This rule actually applies to a few adults on my list this year too.

#4.   Toys with pull-cords or electrical cords to plug into the wall are basically baby nooses. Don't buy them, or opt for battery-operated toys (in which case, see tip #1)

#5.   We all hate cleaning up after opening presents. Except your baby, who would love to put that plastic baggie in her mouth then swallow. Promptly dispose of all boxes, baggies, tiny little twisty ties and all the other annoying wrapping that encloses the toys. Or better yet, open and assemble all toys before wrapping them for your kid. Saves time anyway on Christmas morning.

Here is to a Happy and Safe Holiday!

Sunday

Daily Dose of Gratitude

This week I was reminded by my daughter that dancing is more fun when it looks ridiculous.

Ce has started to respond to music, to the point where even the background music of a car commercial will start her bouncing up and down. In the car with her dad she bangs her head to Incubus, and with me, I have taught her some amazing hand-shaking, finger-wiggling moves.

When the baby starts dancing, there is no choice but to start dancing too. And as we both wiggle, wave, bounce and bob, I am thankful to have a daughter who inspires to me to move and not care how I look while doing it.

I think the phrase should be "Dance like only a toddler is watching."

Monday

What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag

No matter how many times you checked that duffel before the big day, every pregnant woman will forget something vital from her hospital bag. She will also have a ton of crap she didn't need and a list of things she wish she had thought of after the fact.

So here is my short list of those items. I hope it may save your poor husband or partner a midnight trip home to search for your favorite fuzzy socks.

Things I thought I needed and didn't even ask for once: 

- My ipod. The last thing on my mind was listening to tunes. Not even my favorite jam was going to soothe me in the throes of contractions.

- A journal. Like that day wasn't going to be burned into my mind forever.

- My make up. Hahahaha!

Things I am so glad I had:

- A nightgown. Even if you aren't nursing, nurses will be whipping away your blanket to check your swollen hoo-haa every other hour. Pajama pants may seem comfy, but they won't be when you are shimmying them down constantly.

- Headband. Pushing will bring sweat, so keeping your bangs out of your eyes is a little thing that saves a great deal of annoyance.

- Extra pillows. For nursing, sleeping, propping your still-swollen feet up, bring some from home if you want or immediately pester the nurse for a few extras when you finally land in your recovery room.

Things I wish I had thought of:

- A "Do Not Disturb" sign for my door.

- Duct tape to keep it there.

- An extra empty bag. The hospital sent us home with quite a bit of baby swag and we were cramming it all in our already-crammed diaper bag. Leave room in your suitcase to bring home the party favors.

Friday

Thankful for the Frost

My Daily Dose of Gratitude today is for the cold weather. Yeah, I actually said that. My daughter makes me thankful for snow and frigid air.

Because without the winter months and freezing temperatures, we would never know how adorable CeCe looks in winter clothes.

Here she is last winter at just three weeks old:



And here she is last week, my sweet one-year-old:



Defrosting the windshield may be a pain in the butt each morning, but when I see my CeCe-Bear wobbling around in her puffy coat looking like a hot pink marshmallow, I can't help but appreciate the cold weather for the giggles it brings.

Tuesday

The Not-So-Friendly Folks

Have you ever wanted to run over someone in the grocery store with your shopping cart?

I had this feeling the other day. Not because this lady grabbed the last unbruised peach in the produce aisle, or because she had 57 items in her cart in the express lane.

It was because she ignored my baby.

CeCe is a super friendly kid. She says hi to every single person she sees. And if they don't respond, she assumes they didn't hear her and she will SCREAM hello and wave her hands until you see her. I think we could get her a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Most people are kind enough to stop and talk to her. But even if you are not "a baby person," is it really so hard to just say hi? Apparently, it is.

Ce almost broke her arm trying to get a hello from one young lady in the grocery store aisle. "Hi." "HI!" "Hi-hi-hi!"

Nothing. This girl looked up at my daughter, made a face like she could smell a hypothetical poopy diaper from six feet away, and looked away.

Here is what I wanted to say: "Hey you- yeah, you. You too good for my baby or somethin'?" (By the way, when I get angry in my daydreams I start to sound like a Jersey Shore cast member looking for a fight.)

Back to my dialogue: "You too fancy to say hi to my kid? She's talkin' to you. You too busy to say hi? Your face broken? Can't smile? Can't just smile at a cute little kid who is wavin' at you?"

This continues until the girl apologizes to CeCe, and CeCe graciously accepts like the angel child she is.

I know that type of confrontation in the soup aisle might be a little much, but I don't understand why someone can't just acknowledge my kid. CeCe has so much fun at the grocery store. I've visited Wal-Mart when I didn't even need to shop, just because she loves talking to people.

Does it really disrupt your day so much to say hi to a friendly child? Or wave at her, or just smile? You don't even have to stop your cart, make it a drive-by "hello!"

I know that we all aren't baby-people. Some people are not comfortable with kids. But I love that my daughter is social and isn't afraid to strike up a conversation. I'm sure this will lead to a very serious "stranger danger" talk when she is older, but at one year old, she only knows how to say "hi" and "bye."

So when she says it to you, I expect you to answer. Or we might have a problem here. Capice?

Friday

Daily Dose of Gratitude

This is something I'm going to try to do more often- voice the small things in the daily routine of a mother that remind me to not just love, but truly appreciate what my child teaches me.

Friday's lesson from Ms. CeCe: Ditch the fork.

Today CeCe reminded me that sometimes it's fun to eat with your hands- and not just things you are supposed to eat with your hands. I'm not talking tacos or pizza.

I joined her in eating our lima beans right out of the bowl with our fingers. It was messy and silly and why not? I wasn't just shoveling my dinner in my mouth. I was sharing a meal with my baby. It was as enjoyable as it was sticky.

I think as she gets older and our family grows, "No Utensils" night should remain a staple in our house. The clean up was ridiculous, but the giggles I got in return were worth it.

Thursday

Baby Weight

Living in Kentucky, I've heard my fair share of statistics about childhood obesity. But this news story threw me for a loop.

An 8-year-old boy in Ohio weighing in at 200 pounds was removed from his parent's care after case workers claimed they did not do enough to control his weight. Read the article here.

Is it neglect or abuse to allow your child to become severely overweight? What is the number that tips the scales into child abuse? I understand that this child deserves a fair chance at a healthy life and it is a parent's responsibility to provide that. But is this extreme?

On the flip side, I came across this article in the same day. A couple in Wisconsin is charged with child neglect for starving their baby because- get this- they didn't want the child to become obese.

Chubby babies are one of the great joys in life. I personally love seeing a drooling little butterball with chipmunk cheeks and thighs that look like there are rubber bands between fat rolls.

With the dangers and risks of childhood obesity so highly publicized now days, what happened in this couple's brain to make them starve their helpless infant?

So here we have two ends of the extremes- parents being held responsible for an obese child, and parents being held responsible for an underweight child. How can we teach parents the skills they need to find the healthy medium?

Here are some guidelines from the American Dietetic Association for proper nutrition for infants and toddlers, if you are interested.

Monday

My New Mom Van

Finally- no longer will I be mistaken for my own child's nanny.

As a young mother who still wears her jeans below her belly button, not much about my physical appearance screams "mom-material." But now, whenever I roll up to the Babies R Us parking lot, there will be no mistaking who I am. The reason? My new ride:


That's right- my new whip is a minivan. And I am darn excited about this. 

Thanks to the generosity of my amazing parents, we traded in the old pick-up truck and I am came home from Thanksgiving with this silver bullet. It seats 8, has 12 cup holders, a DVD player and plenty of room for baby girl to stretch her growing, chubby legs.

Making the switch to a minivan is the kiss of death to some women, the final sign that motherhood has swallowed every last bit of your hipness and old, cool ways. But don't be fooled.

A minivan is still a sweet ride. This thing has a dashboard that looks like it was ripped out of the Millennium Falcon. It has a six-disc CD changer! Granted I have to fill it with Baby Einstein and The Wiggles Greatest Hits, but the swag factor is still there.

And to all my Lexington friends, I know what you are thinking, and don't worry- the answer is yes. I will be happy to give you a ride anytime.


Our First Birthday Party

I can place a checkmark on my milestone list: First Birthday Party. But as simple as a one-year-old's birthday party should be, I fell victim to my excitement and almost took it overboard.

Sunday afternoon we gathered to celebrate the CeCe-Bear's birthday a few days early. I read many tips on throwing a party for a one-year-old, and the main theme was "Don't Overwhelm the Baby."

I thought I was staying low-key. I limited the guest list and instituted a "batteries ban" so there would be minimal noises blaring and lights flashing. I mean, her favorite toy right now is an empty paper towel tube. How fancy do we need to get?

But then came time to do my party shopping. My inner Mom-Zilla was unleashed. I stood in the aisle of the party store and I wanted those party blowers. I wanted the plastic "Birthday Girl" tiara covered in feathers and rhinestones. I wanted to turn my house into the actual Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

As I piled supplies higher and higher into Matt's arms, I realized how silly this was. CeCe wouldn't remember that banner hanging above her that read "Happy Birthday!" She can't even read it to begin with.

The party was really for me. I wanted the streamers and the balloons to adorn the memory I would have of this day. My baby girl was just excited to have her aunts and uncles all around wanting to play with her.

I think CeCe enjoyed smearing that cupcake from her chin to her eyebrows. But the paper Mickey Mouse ears (that my friends humored me by wearing), the Mickey centerpiece that involved fifteen parts and no instructions (thank you for assembling, Matt) and the Happy Birthday banner- those were all for my photo album.

I consider the party to be a success because there were no tears or meltdowns, but also because I got to observe everyone sharing in how much they love my daughter. Even though it was CeCe's birthday, I got quite the gift out of it.


Here is baby bear enjoying her cake!


And here are the Mickey Mouse cupcakes I made using Oreo cookie crumbs and mini-Oreos:










And the birthday girl banging away on her new drum.

Wednesday

Co-Sleeping Safety

Would you let your baby sleep with a butcher knife? Of course not!

Would you let your baby sleep in your bed with you? Many parents would say yes to this one. But according to a campaign in the city of Milwaukee, the two actions are more similar than we think.

Check out the posters created to warn parents of the dangers of co-sleeping with infants. Milwaukee apparently has a very high infant mortality rate, and since co-sleeping has been named as a contributing factor in SIDS, it is now being advertised as deadly. Here is what I take from this ad:  If you want to snooze next to your little one, you might as well give them a handgun and teach them to stick forks into electrical outlets.

As a parent who practiced co-sleeping, I think the city's mission is admirable but their method is absurd. Many factors can contribute to SIDS, and singling out co-sleeping as the culprit is not the way to properly educate parents.

My daughter slept in a bassinet next to my bed for the first few months, but on many restless nights I would pull in her bed with me, between my body and a long pillow, push the covers down to my knees and doze off happily feeling my baby's little body rise and fall with each breathe. Even now, 11 months later, I let her snuggle on my chest in the big bed when she is sick or has a rough night.

Parents who make the decision to co-sleep should know themselves well enough to determine if it is a wise choice. If you sleep like a log and roll over like one too, don't co-sleep. The end.

But if you are like me and no matter how exhausted you are, the slightest little whimper from your baby will sound like an air horn and wake you, the likelihood of crushing your child is slim.

The dangers of smothering, suffocation, falling off the bed, etc; can be avoided. Here is an article with tons of info about the research done on co-sleeping, and here are just the quick tips on how to keep it safe.

What do you think readers? Are the baby/butcher knife photos extreme or understandable?

Tuesday

My Snotty Little Sweetheart

It's that wonderful time of year when my daughter's nose turns into a snot faucet and her sleeves become sticky and slimy.

I am astounded by how a toddler can produce the equivalent of her body weight in mucus in only a matter of hours. So when the snot gets flowing, mommy writes her newest installment of "My Favorite Things."

Boogie Wipes were my saving grace last winter and I'm fully stocked on them for this coming cold season. CeCe's poor nose would become so encrusted with dried boogers that scraping them off would leave a little red mustache of tender skin.

Boogie Wipes have saline in them so they are gentle and loosen the gunk. They are at any baby store and most grocery stores. Last Sunday's paper had a 50 cent off coupon for the wipes, but you can always sign up here and get one in the mail.

Thursday

My Little Mountain Climber

Sir Edmund Hillary was the first person to climb Mt. Everest. I think CeCe must admire the man, because she has been in training to climb a moutain since she could pull up.

My soon to be 1-year-old daughter walks fairly well. But sometimes, walking is just not enough to reach your desired destination. You must climb. The way CeCe uses her paws to travel up the furniture is an argument for evolution. Because she acts like she is part monkey.

The first baby gate we set up in our living room had a diagonal grid pattern to keep her corraled. Within a few hours, I saw her hook her tiny fingers and toes into the slots and pull herself up. Only prison-bar-style baby gates for us now!

She still tries to climb the vertical bars of the new gate, as well as scale the bookshelf whenever she thinks we aren't close enough to stop her. She even pulled a lightweight end table over on herself when we were moving furniture around. She wasn't injured, she just seemed more shocked than anything. "You mean this thing moves?"

If a rock climbing wall had a harness in size 12-18 months, Ce would be suited up and ready to go before you could snap her helmet on. I don't know what she thinks it "at the top" but I wish she could be content sitting on her dad's shoulders instead of trying to make the climb alone.

We created our own mountain range at home using couch cushions and pillows:

Monday

Daylight Savings With a Baby

Any other moms out there experience an early wake up call yesterday? C'mon, there must be other parents who hate Daylight Savings as much as I do. Which is a whole heck of a lot.

I was kicking Matt to get out of bed at what I thought was 8:30 yesterday morning, when he grumbled at me it was only 7:30. That meant when I heard CeCe at 6:30 a.m. start babbling and playing in her crib, it was really ... 5:30. In the morning. Crap.

The whole day was a mystery as to when she would nap, for how long, and how her bedtime would be affected. Apparently, some parents plan for this, advancing (or delaying, depending on the season) bedtime in 15 minutes increments in the week before Daylight Savings to help the kids be ready for the hour change.

Well I don't care if it's springing forward or falling back, saving time has me losing my mind. I made it all the way to the shower this morning before realizing it was 5 o'clock. They shouldn't even sell clocks that don't change themselves.

We were able to distract the CeCe-Bear until about 7:30 last night until the eye rubbings and monster yawns declared victory. She slept until a little after 6 a.m., which is good enough for me seeing as even I didn't accomplish that.

I searched around online for a solid, informative article about helping babies and toddlers adjust to Daylight Savings, and I came up with very few options. Any tips, links, or info readers could provide would be incredibly appreciated!

Thursday

Don't Let Me Down

My daughter has turned into a koala bear.

That fiercely independent little girl surprised me last night with a milestone that I didn't know how I would handle. The "Mommy-Mommy-I-Want-Mommy" phase.

CeCe-Bear was asleep when Matt brought her home from daycare yesterday. I picked her up from her crib after her nap, transferred her to the living room and exited to the kitchen so I could proceed to make dinner. Before I hit the stovetop I heard the crying.

Matt: "I think she is either hungry ... or she wants you."

Ding Ding Ding! Correct, sir. The moment I scooped my little one back up the tears stopped.

Preparing dinner with a curious and clingy 11-month-old on your hip is neither easy nor safe. Ripping open packages with my teeth and picking up dropped utensils with my monkey-toes is hardly what I would want to see in someone else's kitchen. I can see the new Food Network series now: "Cooking as a Working Mom." Today's specialty: Hamburger Helper ... AND a bagged salad. Cue the audience "Oooooh!"

I tried to switch the babe from my arm to Matt's, the floor or the high chair and Miss Clingy Pants wasn't having any of it. Her tiny little fist had my sleeve balled up inside of it, and she wasn't letting go. When an attempt was made to lower and release, she turned into a suction cup toy, dangling from my shoulder.

Eventually some cheesy ravioli was able to distract her and she thoroughly enjoyed her dinner seated in her own chair. But this morning the "Don't Leave Meeeeeeeee!" cries continued as I tried to make her breakfast.

My feelings about this clinginess are mixed. On one hand, I don't want my child to have anxiety about me leaving her. She needs to be comfortable playing on her own and I know there is a line where comfort turns into coddling. But on the other hand, I have a semi-guilty enjoyment about being wanted so badly. It means she knows Mama means Love.

All too soon she will be a teenage girl who will be too cool to be kissed, she won't see me as her only source of comfort, and our conversations will turn from "Yes ma'am, you are the cutey-wutey-cutest!" into "Absolutely NO belly button ring!"

I'm going to do my best to enjoy my koala bear while I have her full attention, because I know that soon enough Matt will be the recipient of this clingy sweetheart and I'll have to wait for my turn again.

Tuesday

Know-It-All Moms

If you have ever been tempted to stuff your baby's sock in a strangers mouth, then you may have experienced a Know-It-All Mom. Check out my column from the November issue of Lexington Family Magazine for more!

Thursday

Pregnancy and those Pearly Whites

Spitting blood is never a good sign. That is an across-the-board rule. I don't just mean if you're drooling red from taking a left hook to the jaw. Because while most pregnant women do not engage in physical combat, many of us end up with more than just toothpaste in the sink after we rinse.

I had never heard of pregnancy gingivitis until last week when I took a trip to the dentist. I knew my gums had been bleeding when I brushed my teeth ever since my first trimester, but I thought I was just being too aggressive in my oral hygiene practices.

Here is a WebMD article about pregnancy gingivitis and how common it is. Check it out even if you have already had your baby, because my kiddo is almost a year old and I am still suffering from the symptoms.

In fact, in approximately three hours I will be on my way to the dentist to have my last remaining wisdom tooth removed. It wasn't causing any problems ... except the pregnancy gingivitis had caused an infection to form around it. Ain't life grand?

For the next few days I will be probably be swiping CeCe's baby food for dinner, but once my mouth is healed, you can bet your bottom dollar this gal is going to become an avid flosser.

Tuesday

Keep Your Pants On.

Boot cut, trousers, skinny jeans and jeggings- when shopping for pants, the possibilities for style and comfort are vast. But as a mom, I have learned that my baby's pants exist mainly to be a poop-to-floor shield.

Last night we were playing with the CeCe-Bear in our carpeted living room, the usual games of "Peek-a-boo," "I'm Gonna Catch You!" and "Get That Out of Your Mouth." In her efforts to walk, Ce's pants seemed to be quite the obstacle. Because her belly wears 12 month clothes, but her legs are only 9 months long according to Carter's standards, we have an excess of fabric that tends to trip the baby.

My solution was to just remove the pants and let the child run free. Her solution was to immediately have a poo-splosion, but do so discreetly and steathily.

I was unaware my child's diaper had sprung a leak until I noticed a splotch on the floor. I used my stand-by cleaning technique of swiping my foot against the spot to determine texture, stickiness, and how many paper towels I would need.

"Matt. Is this poop? Matt. This is poop."

Because CeCe takes about six steps before falling on her behind, I looked around to discover a trail of poo across the living room. Smear of brown ... two feet of clean ... smear of poo ... two feet of clean ... I was able to chart her path around the room and must say she is getting very good at making turns.

Matt opted to clean the baby while I took care of the carpet. (Well first I hopped into the bathroom on one foot to clean my soiled sole.) Just another glamorous parenting moment in action.

I love this smile on my little stinker:

Friday

Not-So-Sweet Dreams ...

I hate scary movies. I can't even watch the previews for horror flicks without becoming convinced there is a serial killer hiding in my shower at that exact moment. I won't even let Matt watch "Ghost Hunters" while I am in the room.

I certainly don't let my daughter see images of evil clowns, shadowy figures that lurk or large amounts of blood splatter. But I still couldn't protect her from the boogie man last night.

Sweet CeCe wakes up during the night to toss and turn, and occasionally fuss. I thought nothing of it when I heard her rolling around in her crib at 1 a.m. Until the crying began. This was not "I'm cranky" crying. It wasn't even "OUCH MY TEETH HURT!" crying. It was can't-catch-your-breathe, shaking hands, tears streaming, wailing, terrified crying. Something scared my baby, and it broke my heart.

I picked her up and her tiny arms gripped my neck so tight it rivaled a professional wrestler's signature headlock. To feel my baby's body shaking with panic was something I never wanted to experience. I wanted to chase down and drop kick every shadow on the wall that might have scared her into this state.

I turned on a third nightlight and rocked my CeCe Bear far past when the tears stopped. I held her in a constant squeeze, and quietly sang one thousand choruses of "Nothing can hurt yooooooou, my baby giiiiiiiirl."

Ce slipped off to dreamland and woke up no worse for the wear. I, on the other hand, am exhausted and slightly traumatized by my baby's trauma. My movie-induced nightmares were nothing compared to that. 

Here is hoping CeCe can sleep peacefully tonight:



Tuesday

Don't Say It!

Certain words exist in the English language that you hope your child never learns.

Some might be of the four-letter variety. No one wants to envision that pretty, gummy little mouth ever dropping an F-bomb.

But for me, there are two words I wish I could keep CeCe from ever learning. "Mine," and "No."

Her daycare worker claimed she said "Mine" the other day. I'm pretty sure she was just saying "Hi" and had some food in her mouth. We haven't heard it since, so maybe we have a few more weeks (years? Hopefully?)

Now I certainly want her to understand these words. I just don't want her to have the ability to repeat them. She currently says "Hi" and "Bye," and if we could slip "Mama" and "Daddy" into the mix then we can stop.

Because I know what happens when a baby learns how to say "No." This will be the age when Matt and I have serious discussions about discipline methods.

I know a toddler can be defiant without knowing the word "No," and any child can be selfish whether they say "Mine" or not. But if there was ever a time when a baby looked like a monster, it is when they get on a No kick.

I love my nephew to death, but when that kid starts a chorus of No's and "That's Mine!" then trouble shortly follows. That music is the intro to a tantrum.

So tell me moms, any other words we wish we could erase from our children's vocabulary?

I hope this pretty little mouth stays clean:

Monday

Body Breakdown

I've been trying to channel my inner-Maria Von Trapp lately, but am having a hard time doing so. No, I am not adopting seven Austrian children, joining a convent or making CeCe some stylish playclothes out of hideous curtains (although that would be a handy talent.)

I'm talking about Ms. Julie Andrews' wonderful rendition of "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music. An uplifting little ditty, and much needed since motherhood can be a major mood-buster.

Even months after your baby is sleeping through the night and you manage the time and energy to shower, fix your face and find coordinating shoes, pre-baby confidence can be lacking. No matter how much baby weight I lose, I still can't come to terms with how some things just don't go back after birth.

Breastfeeding boobs were the bomb. But now when CeCe and I sing "Do your ears hang low," I feel I should be substituting another body part in the chorus.

The scale claims I am shrinking, but that nice line of pudge that sits atop my jeans button refuses to agree.

Even the parts no one can see make a new mom self-conscious. I'm convinced that the stiches I had after labor left mammoth scars on my lady parts. Instead of cute little undies that say "Love" or "Sexy" I need a pair that reads "Hot Mess" or "Wrecked Va-jay-jay."

My usual female insecurities have blossomed lately into an giant, ugly flower. Even if there is a heavier, only quasi-attractive girl around me, she might as well be a super model. Because she has not had a baby and, therefore, has the advantage.

I know that CeCe doesn't care what I weigh, how my body looks or if even my sweatpants give me a muffin top. A baby's love is truly blind to those things, and my confidence as a mom is through the roof. But as a girl- I'm feeling a little doe, ray, me, fah, so-so.

Thursday

Suck It Up

Being sick sucks. Being sick as a mom, sucks on a whole new level of suckiness.

The last few days have been extremely unpleasant for my body. I won't go in to details, but let's just say my body must be severely angry with me and is revolting in the form of pain and infection.

I remember the good old days, when being sick meant no school, my mom bringing me soup or ice cream while I burrowed under her electric blanket and watching a variety of talk shows and daytime made-for-TV movies.

Even in college, being sick meant dragging my butt to class if necessary, but just sleeping it off later. But as a mom, being sick means one thing. Nothing changes. You still have to do everything you ordinarily need to do- you just feel like crap while doing it.

CeCe's poop-stained pants do not care that I am ill. The dishes do not thoughtfully clean themselves when I am under the weather. My bosses do not shut down operations until I am well enough to return to work 100 percent.

I get as much help from Matt as I can, but as fate would have it- we both were sick at the same time. I must have kicked a puppy in another life, because if this is my karma, it ain't so good.

This past week I learned a valuable lesson: I need to take vitamins and wash my hands more often. Because there are many things we can't afford (in time or money), and one of those is to be sick as parents.

Luckily, this little girl remains healthy:

Friday

Are they Safe?

SIDS is the scariest acronym in all of parenthood.

As parents, we can take certain measures to reduce the risk of SIDS, but should those measures be a personal choice or regulated for us?

Chicago recently became the first city in the country to ban the sale of crib bumper pads. Check out the Tribune article about the ordinance for details.

I used a bumper pad for my daughter (still do in fact.) Did I sign a death wish for her in doing so? Or is Chicago on the right track? What do you think, moms?

Did you use bumper pads? What helped you make that decision?

I'd love to hear your responses. Please feel free to comment, or if you wish send me an email at kathrynrsaltz@gmail.com.

Thursday

She's a Scream ...

It's amazing how so few syllables can express so much.

CeCe is definitely a child who can express her wants and needs (and complaints.)

So far she has mastered "ba," "ra," and "AAAAEEEEHHHH!"

Hear for yourself:


Monday

The Nose Knows

"Don't stick your finger in that!"

I've been using this phrase much more than I care to lately with the CeCe-Bear. She is 10 months old now, and her little hands are far too adventurous for my own good.

She has discovered that hot food can burn, squishy things are fun, doors can pinch fingers, and the joy of her own body. Beyond the awkward grabbing during diaper changes, I am less than thrilled about CeCe finding her nose, and learning how nostrils are the perfect fit for tiny fingers.

Dinner time seems to be the ideal nose-picking hour in our house. Ce will usually wait until her finger is nicely lubricated with some squash or applesauce, then very slowly insert her index finger one millimeter at a time into her own nose.

This is probably normal for a lot of kids (I hope), but what creeps me out is how CeCe makes eye contact while she is doing this. She knows I want to stop her, so it's like a test to see how far I will let her force her digit into her face. What a gross way to be defiant.

But it backfired. This weekend I just let her go for the gold, and she ended up with a stream of pureed veggies making their way back out of her nose (and a very confused look on her face.) The organic snot was not pleasant for her, nor was the sight for me.

This will hopefully be a phase and we will soon move on to our next gross baby habit. I've never heard of an adult who likes to snort mashed bananas, so we should be fine.

Wednesday

My New Mommy Mantra

I recently posted about my worries and fears of creating a monster brat of a child. The feedback I received was helpful, so I wanted to thank you, readers, for easing my mind

Not to get too sentimental, but I wanted to share my new parenting affirmation today. And just because I found it printed in the front of an elementary school cookbook doesn't make it any less profound, ok? Here is what I currently have stuck on the front of my fridge at home:

"Children Live What the Learn."

By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.

If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Tuesday

My Baby's Closet

Is it healthy that I am completely jealous of my 10-month-old's closet? Because I absolutely am. If I could get away with wearing a hot pink tutu as an adult, I would wear it every single day.

But as overwhelmingly adorable as the attire is, keeping it organized has been overwhelming by itself. Between my shopping habits, two grandmothers, two great-grandmothers and a plethora of aunties who love pink as much as the makers of Pepto-Bismol, CeCe will not be needing to purchase another article of clothing until she begins elementary school.

Like many other Mamas, I have experienced the headache of keeping this overflow in check. Almost a year into this baby fashion show, I have learned a few things:

- Do NOT cut the tags off everything as soon as you get it. When I was 7-months pregnant I decided that I needed to wash every piece of fabric that might possibly touch my baby's skin right away. The result was a ton of wonderfully clean clothes that Ce never even got a chance to wear- and I couldn't return a damn thing. Resist the urge to clip tags and you will have plenty of cash (or store credit) to buy bigger sizes when your baby grows overnight.

- Keep store hangers. If the sales lady tries to take them away from you, object. Loudly. Don't spend money when you don't have to, and the hangers with built-in pants holders are great for keeping coordinated outfits together for when Daddy dresses the baby.

- Storage bins are a blessing. We didn't even bother with a dresser for our daughter. A child-sized dresser is only good for so many years, but large dresser drawers are a cavern for tiny baby clothes. Canvas storage bins turned out to be the perfect size for folded pants and onesies, and they slip onto bookshelves or changing table shelves easily.

- Don't get overexcited with pre-sizing. Not every baby is wearing 6-month clothes when they are actually 6 months old. Some kids will hit a growth spurt and you are stuck with the wrong size for the season. For the first year, buy ahead with caution. I jumped the gun and ended up with a box full of size 2 and 3 summer sandals because CeCe has freakishly small- I mean delicate and dainty- feet.

- Know your return policies. Don't assume that no receipt = doom. Find out what store carries the brands you are hoping to return and give it a shot. You can usually get store credit without a receipt, but even if you can't get the exchange most consignment stores will grab good brands that are clearly new.

Happy closet-cleaning Moms! Also, if anyone knows of a good charity in need of baby clothing, please post here. I take ours to Goodwill but am always interested in other opportunities to share. Thanks :)

Thursday

Whoops.

Sorry to anyone who tried to visit my site today and got a picture of a blonde girl with a backpack next to some links about medical terminology. Apparently my domain registration had an issue that has (hopefully) been resolved.

New post to come soon! Thanks for continuing to read My New Heartbeat!

Tuesday

Baby Snobs

I have the most imperfect little baby on the planet.

Wait- what? That doesn't sound like something a mother should say. But should it be?

I've been struggling lately with how often I say things like, "I have the BEST baby ever." "CeCe is the MOST beautiful girl in the world." "CeCe is the SMARTEST, MOST AWESOMEST, SUPER-BABY EVER."

We can't help ourselves, can we Mamas? But at what age do we need to cool it with the perfect talk?

Matt and I discussed how we don't want Ce to grow up to be a mean girl. I don't want her thinking she is better than everyone else, but I want her to try to be her best. I don't want her strutting around like she is prettier than every supermodel on the planet, but I want her to have self-esteem and be confident. I want her to know she is smart and strive to achieve, but I don't want her looking down on others she deems inferior.

Do we create mean girls or ego-boys with all our "perfect child" talk? Or is there a good age to introduce the concept of "you are special- but so is everyone else"?

If my daughter's first words are "prettiest," "perfect" or "I'm Amazing!" then we have found the time to change our vocabulary. And if she does grow up and starts showing signs of being the slightest bit stuck-up, I will just show her these baby pictures of herself:






























































































You are welcome, baby girl.

Thursday

Home is where the baby is

I'm completely nauseated from the roller coaster ride my emotions took this past weekend. CeCe spent two whole nights in Ashland, while Matt and I stayed behind in Lexington to enjoy some parental solitude.

Making plans for everything we would do was exciting. A dinner date! Staying out late at the bar! Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!

But the excitement would wane and I would be crushed with the thought of not seeing my daughter first thing in the morning.

We met my parents at a gas station halfway between our two cities. The hand-off went fairly well. Unless you count the part where my parents started telling CeCe to say "bye bye Mommy," and I told them through a clenched jaw to STOP IT.

They drove off in my mother's minivan and Matt and I tried our best to not cry in a gas station parking lot. I was unsuccessful.

But the weekend passed quickly. We slept, ate, drank, danced, laid around and just acted like a couple. Yet by Sunday I was ready to have my squealing, rowdy little poop machine back home.

Staycation was a success, but I think I am content having our little family stick together, at least for now. Many years and a few more kids down the road, I will probably be begging for my parents to take the kids for two weeks at a time.

Wednesday

Bumped and Bruised

Hey folks,
My new column for Lexington family Magazine is out, where I give my loud-mouthed opinion about over-protecting our kids. Check it out :)

I hope to update tomorrow with how baby's first weekend away went. I did not die of dehydration from the crying, so that is a plus.

Friday

Bye Bye, Baby

In approximately five hours I will be on my way to drop my baby girl off with her grandparents for her first ever weekend trip without me. And I'm kind of freaking out.

CeCe is 9 months old, fully weaned off the boob, and Matt and I decided it was time for a romantic weekend where we stay home and sleep. I do not require an exotic location with drinks and little umbrellas. I don't even need a hotel room to have a vacation. We are having a stay-cation.

My excitement to have this time as a couple is paired with the terrifying, paralyzing fear of not seeing my baby for two whole nights.
This fear is kind of silly, because it's not like I'm leaving her in the hands of a terrorist cell. I'm leaving her with the two adults (besides me and Matt) who I trust most in the world with a baby- I mean, they raised me and I have all my original limbs.

So two nights without diapers, without screaming, without biting my finger while I try to rub Orajel on her gums (have fun with that one, Mom and Dad.) That is also two nights without baby snuggles, goofy smiles, and high-pitched giggles.

My heart keeps flip-flopping between extremes, but I know it will be good for all involved to have this little non-trip. I think. Maybe. I'll let you know on Sunday.

Thursday

Depression Among "Supermoms"

This morning I sat down to eat my breakfast and began mapping out my day. Matt bought me a giant dry erase board that has been very helpful with my planning, and within 48 hours it was already pretty packed. Today I plan to: jog 3 miles, write a blog post (check), work on two different freelance projects and one personal project, do the laundry, clean up the kitchen, take a bag to Goodwill and get dinner ready for Matt so I can go to a new class tonight at 7:30.

Pretty normal day for a working mom.

As I was plotting out the next 12 hours, I heard Ann Curry in the background noise telling me that working moms are more likely to be depressed. You have my attention, Today Show.

Here is the link to the article from Today Moms. What I gathered from the show segment was how "Supermoms" are more likely to suffer from depression because the "I can do it all" attitude doesn't usually coincide with reality.

This is the study the article referenced. I can say the guilt of having my daughter in daycare does sting sometimes, but I don't expect perfection when stitching together my home and work life. Any thoughts, Supermoms? Is it overwhelming to try to have it all, or have you found some ways to handle the combination of work and family?

Tuesday

Happy 3/4 Birthday!

CeCe is 9 months old today. Do not clap, do not cheer, do not say "awe!" and most importantly, DO NOT comment on what a bi- .... bi-..., crap, I have to say it. What a big girl she is.

She is huge. She is beast. She stands, crawls, tries to walk and fails miserably, screams, jabbers, and has an actual personality. Remember when she was just a big blob who couldn't squirm away when you cuddled her? I kind of miss that. 

My baby has been living outside my womb for nine months, and it sure went by a heck of a lot faster than the nine months she was planted inside my uterus. Where was this time-flying-by thing when I was 50 pounds heavier and 1,000 pounds crankier?

Since I guess I have no choice but to let my baby grow up, I made a little slideshow to celebrate CeCe's first nine months of life. Like when someone is given a lifetime achievement award or is on Oprah, and they have a photo montage. Just imagine the theme from Greatest American Hero playing in the background.









Saturday

Q&A

Just wanted to say thanks to The Baby Habit for caring enough to interview this crazy mama about the blog. If anyone would like to read, here it is!

Friday

Chef MaMa.

Yesterday I spent four hours in my kitchen, used 7 different fruits and vegetables, two pans, four knives, three pots, a cutting board and a food processor, and ended up with a giant pile of mush. Don't worry- that was the intention.

I've been feeding CeCe store-bought baby food for a while, but even I am sick of the same boring flavors on rotation. Sweet potato, peas, squash ... applesauce, bananas, pears ... repeat next week.

Ce doesn't complain, but if she could talk I imagine she would say something like, "Hey Mom, can't a baby get some pureed variety in this house?"

Here is what is on the menu for the CeCe-Bear in the coming weeks:

-Acorn Squash. I had never cooked a food that looked like a lumpy green bowling ball before, but it actually turned out very tasty, in my opinion. I sliced it open and dug out all the seeds in the center, put the halves skin side up in a pan with about an inch of water and baked for 40 minutes on 350 degrees.
Make sure you cut the skin off before you puree.

-Eggplant. I love eggplant, but I didn't take into account the seeds. That is not a diaper I want to change.
I quartered and baked the eggplant for 30 minutes at 375 degrees to soften it up. I couldn't quite get all the seeds out, but I used the lower, less-seedy half of each slice to make little sticks to use as a finger food. I removed the skin on this as well, since I realized how bitter it is after I tested it out. It would have been funny to see the look on the baby's face if she tasted it though.

- Asparagus. Boil til tender, puree, voila! Smelly baby urine was never so easy to accomplish.

- Carrots. I steamed carrots slices in the microwave in a covered glass bowl with a little water for about 8 minutes on high. I used the skinnier part to make finger foods and the wide chunks for pureeing.

- Avocado. Best recipe ever: Cut open. Scoop out guts. Smash.

I also wanted to expose Ce to corn and potatos, but since they are not as nutritous as other veggies I used these two to make "garden medleys." Carrots and corn blend well together, as did the squash and potatos.

If anyone has a recipe or cooking tip I would love to hear it! My latest dilemma is that Ce despises all the store-bought pureed meat (and I don't blame her.) I'm fine with raising a vegetarian baby, but at least want her to know that turkey doesn't always have the texture of lumpy Elmer's glue.

Tuesday

Home Alone

Last Tuesday morning the house was full of tears, screaming, crying that involved gasping for breath and a good deal of whimpering. And the baby wasn't here.

For the majority of CeCe's life, I have walked a beautiful line of part-time working mom, part-time stay-at-home mom. I went into an office three days a week and stayed home with the baby the rest of the time. It was a great combination. Until my freelance gigs began picking up, the laundry was being stacked on top of more laundry and CeCe's naps became shorter and less frequent. The tight rope I had been walking suddenly felt like it was covered in vaseline.

Last week we decided to put the babe into daycare full time. And by "we decided," I mean Matt had been telling me I needed to do it for months, and I would say, "I CAN DO EVERYTHING MYSELF! I'M A FREAKING MOM!" as I had the baby on my hip, dinner burning on the stove and a laptop about to die before I saved my latest draft.

I thought the transition would be easy since I was already used to part-timing it. But when it came time last Tuesday for what would have been Ce's first nap-time wake up, I realized there was no smiling baby waiting for me in her crib. No chubby legs standing against the rail, chubby hands ready to play with some stacking cups and an obnoxiously loud Baby Einstein toy.

Guilt is a major part of motherhood. Of the emotions I feel daily when I see my daughter, guilt ranks right after love, adoration, and fear. 

But why? My daughter loves her daycare facility. The assistant director called me one day to ask if she could take my child home with her. Matt has expressed a legitimate fear that one of the teachers will abduct CeCe, because they love her so much. So why should I feel guilty about leaving her in this environment?

I miss her so much each day. Wouldn't you miss this face:



But I also had to realize that when she was at home with me, I was constantly saying "Sit still for one minute honey, mommy needs to wash the dishes," or "We can play for twenty minutes, but then I have to work, sweetie." 

At daycare, she is surrounded by other kids and adults with plenty of attention for her. And when I get all my work done during the day, that is more time in the evenings to devote entirely to the princess.

I thought I had the best of both worlds. Stay at home moms have a lot on their plates, and working moms deal with some severe depression. 

Tell me readers, how did you handle the guilt or any other feelings about childcare? 


Last Call

The lights are coming on, the jukebox has been turned off. This bar is closed, and much to my daughter's dismay.

Thanks to CeCe's adorable little fangs and her discovery that biting is funny, I've decided it is time to stop breastfeeding. And much like our introduction to breastfeeding, I was unprepared for all that came with the finale.

Instead of feeling like concrete was solidifying in my boobs, this time is was hot coals resting inside of them. Raising my arm above my head made my skin feel like it was going to tear, and I was only cutting out one feeding a day.

I started reading my breastfeeding books and looking around online to find some tips about how to handle the pain and discomfort of weaning. And the only tip I found was telling me not to wean.

I think certain breastfeeding advocacy organizations have an admirable mission in providing aid and encouragement to women who wish to breastfeed. But I resent being made to feel like if I can't nurse until my child is a toddler, then I am failing her in some way.

When a child can walk up and say "Hello Mommy, I'd like some milk from your breast now please," it is too much for me.

Letting your child decide when he wants to stop nursing is called "natural weaning." So what I am doing is unnatural, I guess.

Stopping breastfeeding can leave a mother consumed by guilt. Should I keep going? Am I pushing away my own baby? Am I being selfish? A majority of websites I found answered those questions with a resounding "Yes." What I was reading essentially told me I just wasn't trying hard enough.

Telling a women she must nurse until her child is at least two years old can be incredibly intimidating. Mothers need to know that breastfeeding isn't an all-or-nothing deal. I made it 8 1/2 months with CeCe on the boob. Some moms I know only made it a few weeks. And we all should be applauded for our efforts.

Breastfeeding simply doesn't work for some women and their babies. And some of us have our reasons for stopping, whether it is a difficult work schedule, a dwindling supply, or like me, a vampire baby with daggers for teeth. 

Pumping would be a nice alternative, for those who have the time and resources. I was never able to produce as much milk with a pump than with my real live baby. And the soreness and time commitment still takes a toll on a mommy.

So to all the Mamas who left the breastfeeding party early (like me), let's stop the guilt! Stick an ice pack in your sports bra, take some Motrin and cuddle your baby while you feed them a bottle. Take it slow, but don't despair. You did the best you could for as long as you could, and I bet your baby appreciates it.






Saturday

Check it out!

If anyone would like to read my new column in the August issue of Lexington Family Magazine, here it is!

Please let me know if anyone has a topic they would like to read more about. My specialties include ranting, raving, and how other kids parents can be more annoying than your own screaming baby.

And now for a completely unrelated picture of CeCe:


Sometimes I dress her like this just to see what her daddy will say.

Tuesday

Up and At 'Em

My life is over.

CeCe is no longer almost crawling. Now she is full-blown, 0-60 in 30 seconds, get from the living room to the bathroom in the blink of mommy's eye, crawling.

And that wasn't enough. No, my over-achiever daughter decided that within days of crawling, she wanted to stand up too. Scuffling around on the floor was already boring. Now any surface within reach of her chubby little T-Rex arms becomes a tool for her to pull her body into a standing position.

The first time I caught her standing in her crib, she seemed terrified. See for yourself:



I could see the words above her head. "I don't know how to get DOWN."

But she got over that fear quickly. Now this is what I wake up to every morning:


I just hope she respects my request to not start walking anytime soon, but she rarely listens to me when I ask her to stop growing so fast.

Vacation recap

We survived our first vacation as a family, and much was learned along the way. Lesson number one: CeCe is terrified of the ocean.

Since she is a total water-bug in the swimming pool and bath tub, I hoped she would love the salt water as well. But every time I started to lower her sausage legs into the waves she would shriek like I was dropping her into an active volcano. "I promise child, I am not sacrificing you to Poseidon, I just want to see you giggle with glee as you splash in the waves."

By the last day, my dad managed to coax CeCe into sitting in the sand and she did not have a meltdown. I consider that to be a success.

What was not a success was keeping her routine the same when away from home. I did everything the book said- brought familiar toys and blankies, tried to keep feeding times on schedule and regular napping hours. That book will now be used as a coaster.

CeCe's 7 a.m. wake up call turned into 5:30 a.m. She refused to eat her solid food and wanted to nurse constantly. We reverted back four months in time, and it was not as nearly as cute the second go-round.

As I mentioned in my post  about partying as a parent, having baby is like having a hangover every morning without any of the drinking the night before. That applies to vacation as well. It's meant to be a time to rest, right? False.

Vacation used to mean sleeping in. It meant reading on the beach and throwing back a margarita before 5 o'clock without judgement. Family vacation means waking up at the same time you normally would and just not going to work. It means trying to keep an 8-month-old from eating too much sand and sipping half a margarita before falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m.

As much as I enjoyed family vacation, I'm looking forward to a Mama-and-Daddy-Only trip. Whenever that may be.

Monday

Out of Office

We are enjoying CeCe's first trip to the beach, and I plan to update later this week about how incredibly taxing traveling with a baby can be (and just maybe some more pictures of my chunky girl in her baby swim suit.)

Sunday

Move it or Lose it.

CeCe is on the move. Almost.

Her attempts at crawling seem to be at a standstill. While it may sound odd, I am fine with this delay. The longer she waits to crawl, the longer I get to put off installing baby gates, cabinet locks and electric socket plugs. As long as she stays immobile we can keep our house as the baby-death trap it is.

Watching a baby teach themselves new skills is a treat. When Cece tries to crawl, it goes something like this:

We begin with her on her back, kicking her feet like a wild stallion and doing something that resembles a half-backbend. When she finally flips onto her stomach, she rests for a moment because that kicking is exhausting to just watch, let alone do.

When Ce gets her second wind, she puts her hands flat on the ground and pushes up on her toes into what I believe is called downward facing dog. It takes a few minutes of this baby yoga for CeCe to realize her error, so she eventually works her way back to an all-fours position.

After rocking back and forth a few times, revving her engine, CeCe will either collapse in defeat and wail face-down into the carpet, or do some break dancing move that swings her legs under her rotund little body and end up in a sitting position.

We go through this dance at least 47 times each day, but this routine has become the norm as of the last two weeks. I continue to be her cheerleading, but my "Rah! Rah!"'s are not entirely sincere. I'm content that my baby is a big blob of cuteness who needs to be carried everywhere.

I've already set up the play yard (a.k.a the baby cage) in the living room in anticipation of that mobility milestone. Because once she figures out that complex alternating-hand-knee combo, my peace of mind in done for.

** Also folks, my new column ran in the July issue of Lexington Family Magazine. Check it out! I'll be writing monthly motherly rants, so if you have a topic that you are dying to scream about, let me know.

Thursday

Are rules made to be broken?

I had the privilege of taking my nephew and the baby girl on a play date this week while my mother was visiting us from Ashland. And I quickly realized that the lack of responsible parents in this world is astonishing.

Seated at the mall with my baby bouncing away in my lap, I sat and watched James run and jump and play in an area designed to resemble a giant's nursery. I sat and watched him because there was a big sign that told me I had to. Apparently, that sign was more of a suggestion.

One mother dropped her two children in the play area, made sure they took off their shoes, then promptly strolled off in the direction of Macy's. When she returned I intended on telling her I normally charge $10 an hour for baby sitting.

Another woman sat and ate her Cinnabon sticks while her pre-teen child, as tall as me, ran right past the 42" height limit sign and jumped on an oversized rubber ducky that sank under her weight. If your daughter is wearing a training bra, it might not be appropriate for her to be on play equipment designed for 5-year-olds.

All around us, children were jumping on booths that were labeled "No standing," they were leaving tread marks in areas labeled "No shoes," and were sipping from Starbucks cups by the "No food or drink" sign.

My dilemma is this: how am I supposed to teach my child to follow the rules when all around them they witness those rules being broken?

How do you enforce rules for your children when they are surrounded by children playing with no restrictions. Do you speak up to the other parents?

"Excuse me- there is a no climbing rule. I'm afraid my child will want to follow yours and then a terrible domino effect will ensue and result in a massive pile up of wounded children in that corner."

I feel that my request would not be taken well. So what do we do, Mamas? How do we teach our children to follow the rules in a world where others defy them openly?

Sleep on it

While there have been plenty of nights I would have paid CeCe $1,000,000 to just go to sleep for more than two hours, I'm one of those "soft" moms who didn't try to sleep train by six weeks.

I have no judgment for parents who sleep train newborns, as long as it doesn't harm their child's ability to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, that might be what is happening with some parents.

Check out what the American Academy of Pediatrics has to say about the growing popularity of particular "infant sleep management" literature: http://aapnews.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/14/4/21

When the AAP has found 11 different areas where the advice being given is not medically advisable, the red flags should be popping up.

I have read portions of "Babywise" and other articles and guide books about sleep training and decided it wasn't for us. When I signed on to become a parent I knew lack of sleep just came with the gig. You crawl out of bed when your baby is hungry and you just deal with it.

Now I know "Babywise" isn't telling mothers to ignore their children's need for food, or let their children scream themselves into a sleep brought on by pure weakness from hunger. I'm not accusing the authors of such.

Unfortunately, some people will take that advice to the extreme and do more harm to their child's health by trying to improve their sleep. Pediatricians are seeing a rise of failure to thrive among babies and they suspect the rigid sleep scheduling might have something to do with it.

I'm interested to see what the AAP finds as it investigates the effects of these systems. What do you think? Bad advice, or just not being implemented properly?

Tuesday

Happy with my Helper

PTWM seeks EBS, NS, for `6 hrs/wk to cuddle, adore and play with SLBG.

That is my version of the classified ad I was going to run. 

"Part Time Working Mom seeks Experienced Baby Sitter, Non Smoker, for 6 hours a week to cuddle, adore and play with Sweet Little Baby Girl."

Because when it comes to finding a baby sitter, I'm pickier than when I was looking for a boyfriend.

My freelancing gigs have been picking up so I have enlisted a mother's helper to come over a few hours a week to play with CeCe.

I did a lot of baby sitting when I was younger, even into college, and I now know why mothers trusted me with their children.

I was a nerd. There was no fear of inviting my boyfriend over (if I had one), I wasn't texting all night instead of playing with the kids, the parents knew once the babies were in bed I was going to read a book until they got home. 

I also had no set rate and just charged what the parents thought was fair. (I could have been making bank now that I know the going rate for an hour of highway robbery - I mean, baby sitting.)

So in my quest to find a reliable helper, I had my criteria. References were key. 14 - 16 years of age so she could potentially be around long enough to become our regular sitter. If the girl wore shorts shorter than CeCe's creepers, too much make-up or big flashy jewelry, I knew that would never work. 

Ce may only be 7 months old, but she absorbs every word she hears and observes every person who crosses her path. I wanted someone who would get down on the ground and interact on a meaningful level with my baby.

As I type, I can hear the sitter reading CeCe a book (ten points right there.) I know and trust her mother (references- check.) When Ce cried, it was remedied within seconds (self-reliance, I like it.) She is smart, polite and, as far as I know, has never been convicted of a felony.

I've come to see that a baby-sitter is so much more than someone to take your kids to the pool, or someone who can change a diaper and coax out a burp. When looking to add a recurring character to your child's life, you need to look for someone with just that. Character. You're hiring more than a helper. You're hiring an influence.






Thursday

Dive on in

Now that it's nice and blazing hot outside, it's time to introduce CeCe to a favorite summer activity (for me at least). The baby pool.

Nothing is cuter than a baby swimsuit. Nothing.

Add the floppy hat and the cuteness is overwhelming:










First impression- not quite sure.

















   Then we found some toys ...











She's on her way to becoming a waterbug :)

Tuesday

Travels with Baby

Our little family is taking it's first vacation in less than a month and I've already started preparing. And I think I should have started sooner.

I knew traveling with a baby would be challenging. We have done overnight trips, but nothing like the seven-day stretch we are attempting. An 8-hour car ride is likely to turn into a 13-hour expedition.

Driving through the night is my plan- let CeCe sleep the whole way so her schedule isn't out of whack the next day. Granted Mama and Daddy will be walking zombies, but better than a baby who doesn't know day from night.

I'm compiling CeCe's packing list, although I'm sure I will forget at least 14 vitally important items. It's a law of traveling. Any suggestions are appreciated as to what can make road trips with a little one go smoother. 

So far we have:
  • Sun shades for the car windows 
  • Approximately five gallons of baby sunscreen, SPF 900.
  • A box of diapers
  • Baby on Board sticker (so drivers who were contemplating hitting us will change their minds)
  • Half of CeCe's wardrobe
  • The Pack and Play crib, which converts into a play pen (a.k.a. a baby cage)
  • Enough baby food to feed a tiny baby army
  • Stroller
  • Night light
  • Toys to hang from the car seat handle
  • An emergency contact sticker for the car seat
  • Baby first aid kit
And remember- we have almost a month left for my brain to decide we somehow need more. We're going to need a bigger boat.


Saturday

Five Father-themed Flicks


Thinking about my favorite real-life fathers got me thinking about some of my favorite fictional dads. In honor of Father's Day, here are my five favorite films about the father-child relationship, and why they make me laugh and cry:

Finding Nemo:


I know it's about animated fish, but the theme of knowing when to let go of your children hits hard. Giving your children space to breathe (through gills or not) is difficult. 

I love that Marlin is a single, super-protective dad who learns how to step back and let his son fly (or swim) on his own. And Nemo learns that the love his father has for him is so fierce that he would face anything to have him home safely.

Favorite line: "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo."




A Little Princess:
I grew up watching the 1995 remake of this classic. Sara Crew has faith her father will always come for her. But even when she fears he is dead, she remembers his words that she is a princess. 

This movie shows how important a father's encouragement is for a young girl. If her daddy says she is special, it must be true, and she will hold onto that feeling for the rest of her life.

Favorite line: "I am a princess. All girls are ... didn't your father ever tell you that?"




Father of the Bride: 
One of the most hilarious movies ever. While Steve Martin's character seems to object to his daughter's wedding on the basis of finances, it's clear that he really can't stand to see his little girl grow up. 

Two of my favorite movie scenes come from this flick. One is when Steve Martin is arrested for stealing hot dog buns. The other, when all he can see is a little girl in pigtails dribbling a basketball when he plays one-on-one with his 22-year-old daughter.

Favorite line: "Who presents this woman? This woman? But she's not a woman. She's just a kid. And she's leaving us ... I suddenly realized what was happening. Annie was all grown up and was leaving us, and something inside began to hurt."


Big Fish: 

Every kid wants a parent like Ed Bloom ... except if you are his kid. The larger-than-life personality of the father in this movie clashes with his son's desire for simplicity and truth. But as parents we accept and love our children in spite of their flaws, and sometimes as children we have to learn to do the same for our parents.

Favorite line: "You spend years trying to corrupt and mislead the child, fill his head with nonsense, and it still turns out perfectly fine."





I Am Sam: 
This movie can be difficult to watch at times, but has such an amazing message behind it. Sean Penn plays a mentally handicapped man with a 7-year-old daughter. 

When she is taken away from him and he fights to get her back, you see just how capable of love people are despite their mental limitations. Lucy doesn't see someone with a mental handicap. She just sees her father who loves her more than anything.

Favorite Line: "I worry if they take Lucy away from her father they will take away an enormous piece of her, and I worry that she will spend the rest of her life trying to fill that hole."