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.


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?


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.


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:


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!


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.


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!