Category Archives: Baby

Growing Up

When I was 19, I used to think that I didn’t ever want kids. My “humorous” reason was that I was way too selfish and wouldn’t want to put someone else’s needs above my own. At 19, that was probably true.

When I was 24, I realized that I wanted to have kids, just not yet. I wanted to be married for at least a year before even thinking about it.

When I was 27, I was desperate to be a mom. I hated all my friends who were having babies.

When I was 28, our son was born, and we spent the first two nights in the hospital feeling totally shell-shocked and confused about what we had signed up for. The first few weeks were overwhelming, scary, and really made me question everything I had thought I wanted. Luckily that was all just the craziness of the first weeks of the first baby, and I’m happy to say that I don’t regret anything.

When I was 31, our daughter was born, and it was slightly less crazy but still overwhelming, and it’s been almost 6 months and we still aren’t sleeping super well and it seems that they never nap at the same time and there is always someone needing something.

But I think we’re done now…and it makes me sad to think that I won’t be pregnant again. The first time around, every stage was new and intriguing, and we saved everything religiously for the next one. This time, we’re starting to jettison things, baby clothes and toys and gear, just getting rid of things when she doesn’t need them or fit into them anymore. It’s hard to give away boxes of baby clothes in the mindset that there won’t be another one.

But still, I sometimes think about that selfish 19-year-old, and I think she had the right idea. Doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, being accountable to no one, spending time with Drew or with friends or even alone – it was so luxurious and I didn’t even know it. I remember in New York, when Drew and Jared would be working two shows on Saturday and Sunday, I could sleep until noon, and then spend the rest of the day lying around reading. I used to watch a lot of Law & Order: SVU while doing cross-stitch kits. It didn’t matter. I could do whatever I wanted. (I want to yell this at the 20-somethings I know who complain about being tired. You have no idea! Embrace it! Just take a nap and you’ll feel better! Go out to brunch or something!)

In the last three years, I have discovered that I have a well of patience that I didn’t know existed. I have also discovered a temper that I didn’t know I had. They both kind of depend on the amount of sleep and protein I’ve had in the last 24 hours. I am definitely a different person now. I think I’m more responsible. More willing to lower expectations. More grateful. I hope the changes have been for the better.

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Giving thanks, 2014 style

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be honest with you: this year has kind of sucked.

Every New Year we say “This is gonna be OUR year!” And sometimes we’re right: 2009 was a good year. As was 2012.

But 2014 was not kind to us. But the silver lining – because I always have to look for the silver lining – was that I spent much of this year being actively thankful for specific things in my life. Because I had this idea that, if I spent too much time dwelling on the negative things, God and karma and the universe would say something like, “Guess you don’t care about all this good stuff then.” And it would be taken away.

So I’ve thought a lot this year about the people in my life, the ways I’m blessed, and the things I’m grateful for. And there are plenty of them. At the top of almost every list are my husband and my son, two people I couldn’t live without. There are my parents, who are consistently supportive and loving and who make the 3-hour drive from Lakeport to Pacifica over and over and over, just to hang out with us. Drew’s parents treat me like one of their own and I have literally ZERO crazy “in-laws” stories (and I know that other women out there have some crazy in-laws). There are my friends: the real-life ones who have put up with me for years, and my online mommy friends, all of whom are invaluable. I have a job I love, with people I love. I get to live by the ocean in a neighborhood and an apartment that I really, really like. (There’s even ample street parking.)

And on top of all of that, this year I’m also thankful that 2014 is almost over. Rather than ringing in this New Year by saying “I can’t BELIEVE it’s already 2015!” I’ll be saying, “Thank God. Now, bring on a fresh start.”

Just to make sure I don’t end on a downer, here are some really specific things I’m thankful for at this exact moment: My kid is napping, and he apparently knows who Elmo is, which surprised both Drew and me this morning. I made a German chocolate pecan pie for dessert tonight and while it looks a little, um, “homemade,” the filling part tastes good. We’re actually going to finish our Disney Project this year, which was a grand undertaking, and I’m proud of that. It’s a really pretty day right now…but I hear it’s going to rain all weekend, which would be really nice.

See? Still an optimist. Happy Thanksgiving.

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First day of daycare

This is a huge milestone. The moment we’ve been leading up to for (at least) the last year.

Some background: I went back to work (4 days a week) just before B turned 3 months old. And since then, he’s been watched primarily by Drew’s parents, which has been one of those things that we are afraid we are taking for granted, but we try to remember to be grateful every day. So let me just say on the record, I am so thankful for Drew’s parents for taking on the majority of weekday childcare, and also for my parents for making the trek down here so frequently to babysit.

I couldn’t imagine leaving B with a daycare provider when he was 3 months old. I know people do it, and I admire that, but we are lucky and didn’t have to. I’m so happy we had family who could watch him. As he got older, it was an issue of finding somewhere we could take him that we could trust and afford and where we would feel comfortable leaving our most precious possession. It also became harder, as the months went by, to give up our free family daycare.

But we knew that he would probably really like to be around other kids more often, and he could learn a lot from them. We’re always impressed with what our friends’ kids seem to pick up from daycare, and it seemed like we were kind of missing out on that. Our pediatrician has stressed the importance of playdates, especially since B isn’t in daycare, and we understand how important socialization is at this age.

A couple weeks ago, we met with a woman (we’ll call her Alicia) who does in-home daycare for 3s and under, and we really like her. She comes highly recommended by members of Drew’s family, which makes me feel good. She has 4 other kids right now, who come on various days of the week, although one is about to “graduate” to preschool. Another one is 6 months old. Two of the kids are just right around B’s age, and when we went to meet her, he had a great time playing with them.

We decided to do two days a week, and today is the first of those days. All morning I kept telling him how lucky he is, that he gets to go play with other kids today, and he’s going to have so much fun. I dropped him off at 8am, and he walked right into the house and then started running around the living room, climbing on the couch, and talking to the girl who was already there. He seemed happy and totally not shy. I passed off all of his stuff to Alicia, gave him hugs and kisses goodbye, and then she took both kids to go find some toys in the other room, and I left.

Honestly, I have to say I did better than I expected. I hope he is also doing well. Every parent knows this is a rough day. We just have to get through the first few days of a new thing, and then everything will be great. Still, if you want to send me good vibes today, it’d be much appreciated…haha.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2014!

mother's day 2014 typo

I rejected a lot of quotes before selecting this one. Because I think it sums up my experience over the last 19 months.

(Now if only there was a PS about appreciating your own mother, it would be perfect!)

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Disney Project 2014: Saludos Amigos

Movie: Saludos Amigos

Release year: 1942

My reaction: This is the first in a line of more obscure Disney movies which I have never seen. The next month or so is going to be interesting. Saludos Amigos is only about 45 minutes long. It’s a mix of live action and animation, but no matter the medium, the vague racism is sprinkled throughout. I’m not sure that I was captivated by this one the way I have been by the other, more conventional, Disney films.

B’s reaction: He did watch a little bit, or at least, he sat where he could see the TV and practiced stacking blocks. Good enough for me!

photo (12)You know what this means, right? We’re caught up!

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Disney Project 2014: Dumbo

MovieDumbo

Release year: 1941

My reaction: The longest Disney movie (Fantasia) is followed by the shortest Disney movie. Dumbo weighs in at 64 minutes. Love it. I haven’t seen this movie in ages, but Drew and I both remember it like it was yesterday. I love the beginning, where the baby animals are all being “delivered.” (Ha! see what I did there?) Dumbo is from early enough in the Disney years that there’s still un-PC stuff (like the faceless roustabouts putting up the big top; or the crows, led by Jim Crow). “Baby Mine” is still a tear-jerker, although honestly at that point in the movie my baby mine was freaking out about something so I missed most of the song.

B’s reaction: Eventually I’m sure I’ll have some comment besides “He didn’t really watch this one.” But for now…he still didn’t really watch this one.

photo 2 (1)

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Disney Project 2014: Fantasia

Movie: Fantasia

Release year: 1940 (just like Pinocchio – weird)

My reaction: So much nudity. A drunk donkey. So many things that wouldn’t be in a movie made today. It’s really a bummer that the need to be politically correct has made it impossible that Disney would ever make another movie like this. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I remember seeing this in the theatre – according to the internet it must have been the rerelease in 1990. That is a long movie for a 6-year-old (and her 4-year-old brother) to sit through. I remember the live-action parts being really long…but actually they aren’t.

There are a lot of segments in Fantasia. I’m not crazy about the abstract stuff at the beginning. But other than that, I like pretty much everything. I would say, the Nutcracker Suite stuff is near the top. So is Night on Bald Mountain. And Beethoven’s Pastoral.

Although, rewatching Fantasia with fresh eyes made me realize that it was significant inspiration for what I used to draw when I was a kid. The abstract stuff in particular. But also ponies and fish.

B’s reaction: Dang, this is a long one. Did you know Fantasia is 2-plus hours? And there’s a lot of downtime with the live-action segments.

As per usual, B didn’t watch much of it. But we’ve gotten smart enough to watch them on weekend mornings, rather than trying to do it at night, so at least he’s happy while he’s running around not watching the movies.

Fantasia

Covering up the Fantasia 2000 half of the DVD cover

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All 617 Tiny Little Pieces

I wouldn’t say I’m a neat freak. But I do like things to be organized. And complete.

That said, B has a variety of toys. Many of these toys come in sets. Like a set of 8 stacking cups, or 12 books…or 75 plastic food items. (I saw that at Target for $10 and had to get it for him.)

Sometimes we do a quick clean-up at night, and just kind of collect everything in his toy drawer unit. But sometimes I have to sit down and put things back into their actual sets (and sometime their actual boxes) and see if all the pieces are, in fact, there.

I do this with varying success.

photo (10)1. From the top…the 75-piece food set. Once we got it open, we realized how much, shall we say, brand influence there was on this set. There’s some Hamburger Helper and a Betty Crocker cake mix and some Progresso soup. I still really like this set though, although the last couple days when B has pulled this out and looked at me hopefully, I’ve surveyed the soup of other small toy pieces on the living room floor…and redirected his attention.

2. Wooden alphabet blocks. I love them so much. Although do NOT step on one, it is SO painful. I’m not even sure how many there are in the set, but I counted 40 back in the bag, which sounds right.

3. Noah’s Ark set. This isn’t even fair because they don’t all fit into the ark. So it’s tricky.

4. Disney baby animal books. As soon as B sees any of them in the box they come in, he has to dump them out. But he loves these books. I don’t know when was the last time I saw all 12 books together.

5. While I was assessing the various sets of toys, I spotted these blocks and went to see if all 13 were actually accounted for. Which was a mistake, because then B was like OH YEAH I LOVE THOSE BLOCKS WHY ARE THEY CONSOLIDATED IN THAT CARRYING COMPARTMENT.

6. I love this train. But I find the pieces everywhere. Lately I’ve started putting it all back together whenever I get a chance. I had finally, finally found the last pieces right before I took that picture – I was actually saying to Drew, “Hold him for a sec, just a sec, hold him back–” while I was trying to grab my phone and turn on the camera, while B was crawling maniacally playfully toward the train to reclaim the smokestack for his own.

This is just scratching the surface. If anyone ever tells you that your child will accumulate a lot of stuff…they’re not kidding. People cannot resist giving toys to kids. And I totally get it. But I think I will start looking for nice, 1-piece toys to give to my friends’ kids from now on.

On the other hand…this weekend he started picking up his Duplos from the ground and putting them BACK in the box…which could open up a whole new world for us.

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Christmas and the Four Gift Rule

This time last year, Drew and I were brand new parents. B was still technically an infant, and still novel to us, and Christmas was our first chance to really spoil him. He was growing out of all of the neutral-colored infant clothes we had started out with, and he was beginning to be interested in rattles and other toys. It was the perfect opportunity to go a little crazy with presents, buying him cute outfits and colorful stacking cups and yes, even some stuffed animals.

We have a picture of him from Christmas 2012, strapped in his bouncy chair, with all of his gifts piled around and on top of him. It’s an embarrassment of riches, especially for a 3-month-old. (We also have a picture of him lying on the floor, almost totally covered with wrapping paper – but that’s just for fun.)

This year, I’ve been asked the question multiple times: What does B want for Christmas? And the truth that I keep telling people is: He literally doesn’t need a single thing. Thanks to friends who are liberal with their hand-me-downs, he has clothes to get him through the next year and a half. Thanks to an admittedly lavish first birthday party, he has a ton of toys – several that we haven’t even given him yet. He has all the gear, all the furniture, everything a toddler could desire. We didn’t even know what we should get him, and we’re his parents, for crying out loud. (But no more stuffed animals. We’ve learned that lesson already.)

Then a friend on Facebook posted a PSA about the “mistakes” she has made as a parent. She said that she has spoiled her kids by buying them piles of gifts for every occasion, and now that they’re older, they’ve grown used to it, and even started to take it for granted. She was very honest and blunt, and I really appreciate that she was willing to open herself up like that. Most parents I know wouldn’t have come clean in such a way. At the end of her cautionary tale, she referenced the Four Gift Rule – “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”

I love it. I love the idea of taking some of the emphasis off of gifts, and simultaneously shifting focus to other holiday activities – but not in a chastising way, or a “you ungrateful child you” way. It just feels like a gentle guideline. I also love the foundation it gives me in figuring out what to get this kid (who’s not going to remember any of this anyway). Now that we have categories, it’s easier to come up with ideas.

And the four categories cover all bases well. We’ve already established a tentative “new pajamas for Christmas” tradition, and I’m always up for buying more books (even board books). So we’re halfway there.

Perhaps, in another year or two, when we have more room for large presents, and an older child who actually has a Christmas wish list, the four gift rule will go out the window. But for this year, I’m happy to enforce this for everyone in our family. (For B, we’ll just need to fudge the “something you need,” since he needs nothing. “Something you want” is easy – he’ll want it as soon as he sees it, at least in the moment.)

Merry Christmas! May your gifts be meaningful, your families be joyful, and your smiles be plentiful. And a Happy New Year!

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A 1-year-old is an unreliable wedding guest

A couple weeks ago, we took B to a wedding. A francy wedding.

(I meant fancy, but I accidentally typed francy, and I immediately fell in love with that new word I just created.)

This francy wedding took place at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. Drew and I were a little nervous about the whole day, for the following reasons:

a. wedding of a medium-close family member who might not be forgiving of 1-year-old antics;
b. ceremony at 3pm, reception at 6pm across the city;
c. our particular 1-year-old doesn’t always behave well in francy situations;
d. also we have to dress up

As a bonus thing to worry about, our car situation meant we were taking my parents’ bug, which is stick, so I had to drive.

We left plenty of time to get ready, get everything in the car, and get to SF. We got there about 10 minutes before 3:00, which was perfect. We parked right outside the church, which was perfect. I hopped into the backseat to pull B out of his carseat…and was greeted by an absolutely remarkable smell.

We opened the trunk (do you realize how small a VW bug trunk is??) and laid him down in it, button down shirt and all, to change his diaper. It wasn’t until I had the diaper half off, and Drew was digging through the diaper bag looking for the wipes, that I remembered I had used up the last wipe and forgotten to put a new package in. There were some exclamations of dismay. I mean, we were on the side of the road, outside a francy church, dressed in our best, trying to change our squirmy child in a trunk, and we had no wipes.

Luckily we had pacifier wipes, so we survived.

We got everything put together and went inside. The church was beautiful. We sat down in the back row, on the outside aisle, ignoring the waves from Drew’s family to come up and sit with them. Through a mixture of mouthing and mime, he told them, “Our kid is going to lose it so we need to be able to slip out quickly.”

We were sitting down for about 4 minutes, and the family members were being escorted in, when B opened his mouth and let out a “Aawwwk?” And then his eyes got big and he looked around, as he realized what a great echo there was in here. I jumped up and tried to jiggle him to keep him occupied, but once he started squawking, there was no turning around. We saw the bride come in, and then I ended up taking him out to the narthex, where we walked back and forth for the entirety of the service. Sometimes we went outside.

But B was smack in the middle of wanting to walk everywhere but needing to hold hands, so I spent an hour alternating between being kind of hunched over, and tossing his 25 pounds into the air to make him laugh.

After the service, we had all this time to kill, and we thought if we drove around he might take a nap in the car seat. Well, we were wrong. So we drove all around San Francisco, went up to Twin Peaks and got gas, and got caught in the worst ever traffic on the way downtown to the financial district, where the reception was.

Despite being the most anxious about the reception, it was actually really lovely. As soon as we got to the table, one of the waitstaff came over and said, “Do you want a high chair?” and Drew and I were both like, “YOU HAVE HIGH CHAIRS??” Also, the first toast of the evening was by the bride’s father, and rather than being champagne, it was a tequila shot with cinnamon and orange. So good. B lasted for a really long time before he started melting down (like 9pm – like 2 hours after his usual bedtime) – although right at the moment when we decided it was time to get him out, they started other toasts, and then one of the bridesmaids gave like a 15-minute toast and were trapped on the side of the room opposite the door.

Anyway. B’s first wedding, and it was francy, and it was inside a Catholic church, and it was late at night. And he did great!

francy2

Blurry backwards camera!

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