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:

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?


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.


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 :)


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.


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."


Second time around

To register or not to register? That is a very big question among mothers on their second go-around of pregnancy.

In a recent poll I asked my readers whether or not it was appropriate to have a full-blown baby shower for your second child. I've heard tradition states it is not necessary because you already received the basic baby supplies at your first shower.

Voters were split between "Go ahead and have a second shower, why not?!" and "Only if the gender of the baby is different than your first."

Having a "baby sprinkle" for a second child is a growing trend, where you simply request diapers, wipes, onesies- the bare necessities. A friend recently shared with me that her twice-pregnant amiga is hosting a "Booze for Diapers" party. She is supplying a keg for the guests, cover charge is diapers or wipes.

I personally love the idea of trading Bud Light for a box of Huggies. But there seem to be a few scenarios when not having a full shower could get expensive for you.

What do you do when all your main gear (sheets, stroller, car seat, swing) are pink with flowers and you are now having a boy? Or everything is blue and covered in monster trucks and you are pregnant with a little princess? Or your first child was born in the beginning of summer and your second is due near Christmas, so you need the complete opposite season of clothes than your hand-me-downs offer?

Are second baby showers tacky in asking the same people for more stuff, or should we just be planning better about what we ask for the first time?

All of CeCe's main supplies is green and yellow. I purposefully chose Winnie the Pooh as my theme so if in the future we have a boy I can reuse the majority of our baby stash. But I do understand the excitement in buying gender specific items.

I think the label of "tacky" comes in when you look at the price tag of it all. Are you asking for more $100+ items, or new clothes, bottles and bathing supplies? Are you expecting all new stuff from the same people who already bought you your first nursery?

What do you think, readers? Baby sprinkle, keg party, or full shower? Or, nothing at all? How do we celebrate a second child without asking for too much?


Plugged in

It's time for another installment of "My Favorite Things."

I guess technology is being integrated even earlier into our children's lives. Whenever CeCe needs a distraction, I flip the switch on her V-Tech Learning Laptop. Her face lights up brighter than the light bulb behind the plastic screen every time.

The computer mouse is cleverly a little mouse. Like the animal. Get it? I get a good chuckle out of it.

The laptop plays music and identifies household objects such bathtub, book and teddy bear. Ce has a blast slapping the buttons and opening and closing and the lid.

Whether she is updating her Facebook status or working on some spreadsheets for work, Ce gets plenty of use out of this beloved Christmas present.


So Fresh and So Clean

I never thought becoming a mother would change my life to the extent that I would fall behind on my hygiene habits. But here we are, six months into the game and I am just now back to taking an actual shower with soap every day. Small victories, people.

There is one plus to not keeping up appearances- I don't have to worry about taking off my make up before bed. Because I don't have time to put any on in the first place.

My ponytail holders are just loose pieces of rope since the elastic is so worn from my signature messy buns, and I can't remember when I last shaved my legs. At present, I could be a leg stand-in for Chewbacca in the next Star Wars installment.

Shampoo, razor, face wash, flat iron and concealer used to be part of my daily life. It wasn't even an option to go to bed without brushing my teeth. I carried one of those secret-agent style collapsible hair brushes in my backpack, and kept a toothbrush in my desk at the school paper's office.

The last few months of my pregnancy I couldn't even wash my own feet. Now we are six months past delivery and I still have dirty soles. It's time to stop hiding behind the grime and shake this frat-boy fashionista kick I'm on.

This is my call to every Mama who owns a hairbrush and actually uses it regularly. If you get your glam on, or just know how to get people to stop telling you how tired you look, let me know your secret! What are your tips for looking put together and shiny (in a good way) when you have a family demanding your attention every second of the morning before you are inevitably late for work?

I'll call this Mommy's Make Over Challenge. In five steps or less, tell me how you pull your look together with a screaming baby on your hip.


My first blog award

I was so excited to log on and see that one of my regular reads, Onesie Mommy, left me a blog award. I love reading her adventures of Miss B so it was special to know people are actually relating to what I have to say.

Part of accepting this fun little button is writing out seven things about yourself. I've never been good at this, so if I am allowed to tweak it a little I am going to write seven things about myself in terms of motherhood (an area of my life I am most comfortable with.)

1. I'm gross. Showers are no longer a luxury but a race against time. Bathing is so far down on the list of priorities people might mistake me for a contestant on Survivor. But I've never been comfortable taking a shower and leaving my baby unattended, even when she is sleeping. I still drag the bouncy chair into the bathroom where I take a lukewarm shower and try to be rinsing the soap from my hair before I run out of animals to sing about on Old McDonalds farm.

2. I hate "mompetitors"- women who say their baby is advanced in every aspect of life. It's like they are trying to win an award for fastest development of motor skills, or first place in the ability to say "Bah!" Can't we just appreciate that our children are happy and healthy instead of trying to make a point that our baby is the MOST special of all babies ever? My daughter can not crawl yet. So effing what.

3. I'm obsessed with reality show moms. Not like Toddlers in Tiaras, but my favorite guilty pleasure reality stars who happen to have surprise babies like I did. Kourtney Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson, Bethenny Frankel - I DVR everything they are on and in my fantasy world I sincerely believe we would all be friends.

4. CeCe was an absolute surprise. I would even say a shock. Honestly, it more of a "What. The. Hell." moment. But she is my happiest accident. I don't know what I would be doing right now if I didn't have her, but I bet I couldn't have been this happy in that alternate reality.

5. The days of dry-clean only are gone. I don't wear anything I can't wipe my hands on, because the snot, spit and poop is inevitably going to end up on all my clothes anyway. I enjoy fashion but have learned that I am a human spit rag and CeCe doesn't care if my shirt is second-hand or name brand.

6. My blog combines my two careers. Journalism and motherhood. I graduated from the University of Kentucky (go Cats!) with a degree in print journalism, and this is my way of keeping up my writing skills while exploring the parenting side of life. I also freelance for a few Kentucky publications.

7. I have baby fever. Motherhood is harder than anything I've tackled, but I want to do it again. And again. And again ... People think I'm insane when I say I want three by 30. I'm not looking for enough kids to have our own TLC show, but I definitely envision a house full of screaming and laughter and crying and love.

Now I get to give out this award to some of my favorite bloggers! Here are some ladies I find to be versatile blogs:

My Dishwasher's Possessed! - Kathy uses her blog to weave stories and reveal parts of motherhood that are so relatable. She writes with lovely detail and good dose of humor.

Life Loss and Other Things - I appreciate Maria's candidness about sharing her journey through her miscarriages. Those experiences give her such an endearing tone, when you read about her children you can tell how grateful she is for them.

Five Foot Mama - I love this blog's Wordless Wednesdays. Her design is so cheerful and she incorporates fun tips and how-to's as well.

Mom Blog of Two Little Misters - I like the mix of tips, news, and personal thoughts on this blog. Useful and relatable.

Confessions from Boystown - Raising 3 boys, this woman deserves far more than any award I can give her.


Gimme Gimme Gimme!

Remember that little brat from the original Willy Wonka movie? Veruca Salt? That's what my dad used to call me when I got into my "I want that and that and that, and I want it NOW" mode. I'd like to pretend it was only during my toddler years but I'm pretty sure I heard him use that name last month.

CeCe has hit that stage of whatever you have in your hand- she wants it. It could be her toy. It could be a spatula. It could be a roll of toilet paper. It doesn't matter. She wants it now and she wants to put it in her mouth. And then she will want whatever object you proceed to pick up next, casting aside her current plaything without a bit of nostalgia and focusing solely on my iPhone.

The usual tricks don't work anymore. I used to be able to cover up the remote with a blanket and she would forget it even existed, let alone that she wanted it. Now, I throw the blanket over the desired object and she is ripping that blanket off and throwing it dramatically on the floor in search of her prize.

Sometimes it's easier to just let the baby have the freaking empty cup. But the remote was where I had to draw the line. She smushes her tiny hands down on those buttons and I was running the risk of her erasing my DVR history of "Khloe and Lamar." Unacceptable, baby.

So my solution- take the batteries out of an extra remote and let her go to town:

Is six-months too young to really understand the concept of "this does not belong to you"? I can't decide if I am better off installing high shelves in our home to keep everything out of CeCe's eyeline, or should I just let her cry when I stop her from putting my make up brush in her mouth?