Monthly Archives: January 2011

How Do They Know?

A simple question for all my mommy friends:

How do babies know when their moms have a jam-packed day that leaves little wiggle room for anything out of the ordinary–and subsequently pick that time to meltdown, have an inconvenient diaper blowout, refuse to go down for a nap, etc.?

Mine knows exactly how to make sure the wheels come off. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under babies, daily life, infants, moms, working mom

A Day in the Life of, Well, Me

Ok, so let me put the disclaimer on this post right up front: This post is totally self indulgent because it came out of having one of those days. It may border on a pure-bred venting session, but I’ll also argue that it’s important to chronicle days like today so that I can remind my husband how awesome I am the next time he complains about, well, pretty much anything. I’m kidding. Sort of.

At any rate, the day started out great. I got the gym despite the sleet. That’s gold-star worthy in my book. The extra bonus was that my quick trip through Target proved more fruitful than the baby oatmeal I set out to buy. After months and months of searching, I ended up finding jeans that fit the new breastfeeding me perfectly. Don’t ask me what possessed me to bother taking off my sweaty gym clothes to try on jeans on a whim, but I did and I don’t regret it one bit. Especially since they were 30% off, so the price tag was a whopping $13.98 a piece. I bought three pairs–two bootleg in two different washes and one skinny leg. (As an aside, Target also had some great “boyfriend” cardigans.)

I got home in enough time to put a load of laundry in, take the dog out, shovel the back deck, install the dog barrier bag in the back of the truck, and set up a new toy for baby before the nanny arrived. I think she arrived around 12:15pm and I believe I was showered and out the door, wearing my new jeans of course, at 12:35pm so I could make a 1:00pm rendezvous with the contractor who’s installing some new windows. (Ok, so I was a little late.)

Why I’m having to meet the contractor at the Home Depot is a whole other story. It involves a housing downturn that led to some late child support payments that then resulted in the loss of a drivers license and the saga goes downhill from there. But he does incredible work, so hauling myself out to Home Depot for cans of spray insulation is the type of sacrifice that’s worth it to not only get the job done right but done at all. Plus I need to pick up color swatches because two other guys are coming to repoint and paint the brick in the back of our house the following week.

I got to HD before the contractor, so I decided to head to the paint section to get a jump on my color swatches. On my way there, a young female associate stops me.

“Do you know you have  a sticker on your leg?” she said.

I give her a look like “what the heck are you talking about?”

“On your jeans. You have a sticker running down the back of your leg. I just thought you’d want to know.”

Yes, thank you. Always good to know that you forgot to remove the size/style sticker from the brand new jeans you just bought at Target for less than most nannies get paid per hour.

I was slightly embarrassed but mostly just amused by my oversight, but it really was a sign that I was going to need a lot more humor to get through the rest of the day.

At any rate, I left HD with a bag full of color swatches, a bunch of moulding, spray insulation, and some clamps. (I’ll get to the clamps in another post.) Next stop: Target for the big box of diapers  that I couldn’t carry that when I was on foot earlier that morning and then PetCo for some really expensive dog food and not-so-expensive cat food. Last stop of the day before I make it home, unpack the car, and prepare for a 4:00pm interview: the grocery store.

Now, I love going to the grocery store; I actually really like to go through every aisle and look at all the different products. But having an infant that could meltdown at any moment has made me a very efficient shopper even when I’m restocking the whole fridge and all the cupboards like I was this day. I think I arrived at 3:05pm and was out of there by 3:40pm.

In the 35 minutes I was in the store, the weather went from a wintry mix to a full-fledged snow storm. There was not a chance with the caliber of DC metro area drivers that I was going to be home in 20 minutes for my interview despite being 5 miles from the house. So, I pulled over, grabbed my pen and paint swatches, and prepared to do my interview curbside to the Iwo Jima Memorial. (I’m all about improvising.)

With every minute of my interview, I watched more cars start to line up on the entrance ramp to the main road back into town. By the time my call concluded, I realized I was going to have to take the back way. Two hours and five miles later, I finally arrived home. That would also more than an hour after the nanny was supposed to leave to pick up her own  kids from school. (Thank god she has good friends who can pick up her kids in a pinch.)

Even though it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing I could about the weather and the traffic situation, I felt bad. Almost guilty, like I had somehow super inconvenienced her.

But I soon forgot about that feeling when I went up to let the dog out of his crate. Nothing says welcome home, mom, like poop in the crate. Now, I should have felt bad because obviously he’s having stomach issues, but I’m not going to lie; it felt like a huge F-you. Especially when I grabbed the dog’s collar to make sure he wouldn’t step in it and he peed everywhere. I love having to do a load of laundry, Swiffer, and disinfect before even taking the groceries out of their bags. Awesome.

At this point, it’s way past baby’s feeding time, so he’s melting down as I’m trying to put everything perishable away. (Seriously, the sushi would’ve been nasty had I forgotten about it.) Screaming babies do wonders for the nerves after two hours of gridlock. I’ll admit that I pretty much lost it three blocks from my house when a cab got stuck halfway up a small incline and a cop had to come and help him push the car to the intersection. (Seriously, guy, spend the money on the Blizzak tires; driving is your business.)

I finally got the kid tucked into bed at about 8:30pm. No thanks to the dog, who, because he got no real walk today because of my traffic-inspired tardiness, decided to do helicopters in baby’s room, causing baby to giggle rather than shut his pretty eyes.

My phone rings. My mother-in-law wanted to know if we had power because news reports were circulating that the winter storm has taken out power to more than 100,000 DC metro residents. (Great, one more thing to worry about.)

It’s 9:19pm and I’m thinking I probably should go shovel my front stairs, which are so steep that my mother always says you need to be a mountain goat to get up them. This is what my mother-in-law said when I told her I was going to get off the phone so I could take care of that chore:

MIL: You might want to rethink that.

Me: I don’t want to, but I’m worried it’ll freeze overnight and then I won’t be able to shovel tomorrow.

(At this point, I’m also cursing myself for not shelling out the $20 to get the pet- and child-friendly salt that I saw at Petco.)

MIL: Well, do you have candles out in case the power goes out?

Me: Well, I know where they are.

MIL: Do you have chocolate?

Me: Yes.

(In fact, the box of Belgium chocolates I had in lazy Susan fell out onto the floor, spilling all the hand-crafted delectables on the tile floor when I was putting the groceries away.)

MIL: Well, then, I wouldn’t bother shoveling.

Okay, then. Love the logic.

But more than candles or chocolate, I was thinking wine. (After all, didn’t I deserve it?) I decided to check the weather forecast. If it was supposed to be really cold and nasty the following day, I would buck up and go shovel. If not, I wouldn’t worry about it until the morning. Fortunately, it was supposed to be sunny and mid 30s, so I decided nothing could better put this day–and me–to bed than a big ole glass of red wine. Or two.

Leave a comment

Filed under daily life, family, food, moms, pets, shopping, working mom

The Making of a Mortifying Mom Makeover

Usually when you see the word makeover, you assume there will be an improvement, that you’ll come out looking better than you did before. I fear that with my last trip to the beauty salon the opposite has happened. And I wish I had someone else to blame.

I don’t know why, but it seems like as soon as women find out they are pregnant, they start making some other changes. As if packing on an average of 40 lbs and trading in a tight tummy for a beach ball isn’t drastic enough. Some quit smoking or commit to eating healthier, but the vast majority make the biggest changes to one thing: their hair.

For as many women who stop coloring their hair–I was not one of them thanks to my hairdresser’s preference for organic dye–even more opt for the proverbial chop. I count myself among the throngs there. I just felt like I couldn’t deal with the longer locks and went for what I thought was a very sleek, chic bob. In retrospect, it might have been the beginning of a mom do. By the time my super straight locks hit my shoulders, my fear was full fledged: My haircut could be best described as “soccer mom.”

So, recently I figured I might try to put some style back into my hairstyle. I wanted to go back long again. That was going to take some time, so I needed something to change up the look in the meantime.

Now, I haven’t had bangs since the seventh grade, when I had a severe case of the fuglies–a bad bob, bad bangs, big glasses, and blemishes. All that was missing were the braces. (Those came later). Apparently all that had slipped my mind because as I sat down in the salon chair, I told my hairstylist to start cutting bangs.

The Look I Was Going For

Now, in my head, I was going for a fresh, edgy, urban mom look. I was thinking heavy, blunt bangs à la Zooey Deschanel. Cute, right? Instead I think I made a Katie Holmes-degree mistake, ending up with a do that probably makes me look a decade older than I

The Look I May Have Ended Up With

really am. On a good day they might look a little like Sandra Bullock’s Golden Globe bangs, oh which incidentally landed her on at least one Hollywood insider’s worst dressed list.

The biggest problem is that my super straight bangs–at least I got the blunt part right–keep splitting, leaving the fringe looking piece-y, dare I say stringy a lot of the time. And no amount of hair drying or brushing seems to consistently solve this problem. Plus, I didn’t realize just how fast my hair grows, so a week goes by and the ends of my bangs are literally obstructing my vision.

My husband says that he thinks my bangs will look better when my hair grows out more. That’s pretty much how I know they are as bad as I think they are. So, the next question is what to do about them. Do I stay committed to them, but get more cut to add some heft to them? Or do I just leave them as is and hope that all the hair that felt out postpartum will grow back soon enough and fill out the fringe? Or do I just say “uncle” and start growing them out (again)?

Decisions, decisions. And to think all this deliberation when the most exciting places I go are the gym and the grocery store.

4 Comments

Filed under daily life, mom style, mommy care, moms, working mom

The Science Behind a Sleeping Baby

Sorry to have been out of the loop for a week plus; I’ve missed my cyber mommy friends. But my real job–you know, the one that keeps my cleaning lady and nanny employed–had me down in Orlando for the annual builders’ show. It was my first more-than-just-overnight trip away from baby. There’s lots to say about that experience, but that’s for another soon-to-come post.

So, before I digress totally, I just wanted to turn any mommy friends with infants, especially those who aren’t sleeping through the night, on to a project that a childhood friend of mine, Meg Casano, is working on. See, Meg is a nurse and mom of three, the last of which just arrived in September. She’s also an infant sleep consultant with her own firm, Baby Sleep Science.

Yes, an infant sleep consultant. Honestly, I didn’t even know such a job existed. How does someone even think of becoming one? It turns out that having just one colicky kid can illuminate a career path for the most desperate of moms. Here’s what she said:

As for how I go into this… Four years ago Ella was SUPER colicky from day 1, and I made myself literally crazy trying to get her to sleep. We were all exhausted and I realized there had to be a better way. I started doing my own research and was “apprenticed” by a woman who had her own sleep business and got her start with Dr. Weissbluth who wrote the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.”   I say “apprenticed” because there is no official sleep certification so you want to be very careful who you read and who you talk to!

When we moved to Boston, I met a woman our age who had her PhD in sleep rhythms and works in the Harvard sleep lab. She and I clicked immediately and she taught me a TON about the science of sleep and I taught her a ton about the medical/psych/RN part of sleep and we created a program of PowerPoint, classroom instruction, and private consults for the Isis Maternity Centers in the Boston area.  Then we branched off to do our own business where we could cover more ground than what we were doing at Isis. So… that’s sort of how I got started in a nutshell!

At that, I was even more intrigued and eager to pick her brain, even though I was blessed to have a baby that started sleeping through the night at about week seven. I figured that the odds were pretty darn good that I could learn something from talking with her that would help me in someway I hadn’t yet considered–or at least some of the mommies I know who would give nearly anything for just one full night of sleep (and by full night, I mean 6 hours.)

For the record, Meg has been a wonderful resource to me over these past 8 months since Baby Pienik arrived on the scene. But before I get into the weeds of what she’s taught me (so far), I just have to highlight her newest project. (Not to worry, I’ll share her best tips soon.)

For this project, the sleep consultant is starting sleep training, as Meg

The Sleep Sage

described it. She’s started infant sleep training with her wee one and is keeping a log of it online with the Baby Sleep Science blog.

The blog doesn’t promise to be a how-to manual for all parents, but it does give a very detailed account of how a professional baby sleep sayer would handle a lot of the issues that arise in the natural course of raising a baby. I really love reading her blog because there’s this clinical, professional element to it and yet she’s super candid about the realities of being a mom and trying to execute on this stuff.

At any rate, if you’re a mom with a sleep angel or, well, the other kind, there’s a lot great info to be gleaned from Meg’s efforts. Happy reading!

1 Comment

Filed under babies, co-sleeping, daily life, feeding, infants, lactation, naps, newborns, nursing, sleep

Stroller Envy

I have three strollers. It sounds excessive, I agree. And I’m embarrassed to admit that. But having the right stroller for every occasion make seeming superfluous worth it because it makes life just that much easier.

When I was pregnant, I stressed about the stroller. I was adamant about finding a single stroller that was light weight, sturdy yet compact, good for nice sidewalks and gravel roads, reasonably priced, and could handle my kid from infant to toddler. Let me just save all you newbie moms the trouble of doing the research and just tell you that such a stroller doesn’t exist, no matter how much you spend. And trust me, you can spend $400, $600, even $800 (or more, gulp) if you want.

But it’s funny how once you go through the whole stroller selection process, you start noticing what kind of strollers other mommies have and somehow that starts to say something about the kind of parent they are.

For example, when you see someone with a Bugaboo, you think one of two things: mom and/or dad must be making beaucoup bucks or mom and dad are finicky first-time parents. (Why else would you pay nearly $900 for a stroller?) At the other end of the spectrum, a Graco stroller system somehow seems démodé. Quinny strollers are for those parents who still want to believe they’ll look chic and uber urban even with spit up down the front of their expensive clothes. Bob strollers say future soccer mom while City Mini strollers are for those who want the look of a jogging stroller but don’t want to jog. The list goes on and on.

When I was first stroller shopping, I didn’t know that my stroller would say that much about me. I was willing to pay a decent amount (<$300), if I could find one that could do everything I needed it to do. But as I started to really think about things, I realized my needs were diverse and evolving and maybe I was expecting way too much out of a single stroller. I mean, I needed something I could go for long walks with dog with but also could throw in the car easily when I went to run errands and yet could maneuver through crowds and over curbs.

So, at first, I started thinking that a nice, sleek jogging stroller would be the right fit for me. But those are inappropriate for newborns. Most joggers recommend that babies be about 6 months old before they ride in them. And I think there’s little more ridiculous than when you see parents put these teeny babies in strollers that are too big for them, so they end up all scrunched over and miserable looking. So, it was clear that I needed something for the early months as well.

Stroller #1: Pour le petit bebe

Figuring that out was easy. Every new mommy I knew swore by the Snap ‘n’ Go. That’s the Baby Trend model, but it’s basically one of those inexpensive, super light, folding stroller bases into which the infant car seat clips. Let me just say that they are awesome. I used mine all the freaking time. It made taking the baby from the house to the car to the stroller–and back again–as easy as possible, considering how heavy and cumbersome infant car seats are. I finally had to give it up around the five or six month mark because baby stopped being able to fit into the infant car seat. Good thing because I literally had almost worn the wheels off of it.

Granted, I could have opted for a larger stroller–even a jogger–that also allowed for the infant seat to clip into it. And the jogger I eventually chose had that option. But honestly, I never used it for the simple reason that clipping the car seat into the jogger made the whole contraption seem absolutely enormous. The Snap ‘n’ Go was much more maneuverable.

One stroller down and two more to go.

Stroller #2: The work horse

As I mentioned, I did end up getting a jogging stroller, but after I came to grips with the fact that I would indeed have multiple strollers, I downgraded my expectations–and budget. I ended up grabbing a Baby Trend Expedition jogger from Target for a whopping $107 at the time.

When I was shopping I had liked the Bumbleride Indie. A friend recommended it and a few of the books I had gave it good ratings. But I couldn’t get over the $450+ price tag and felt weird asking my parents to shell out for it on our behalf. So, I started looking rather pragmatically at my choices. At the end of the day, I looked at the Baby Trend and it had basically the same features. Maybe the Indie was a little lighter, but as another friend reminded me, no stroller, especially with a kid in it, is going to be feather light. So, the maybe pound or two difference really wasn’t worth hundreds of dollars in my book.

Plus, I figured, worst case scenario, the thing would fall apart in a year and I would have to buy a whole new stroller. If that was the case, I could afford to do that four times and still come out ahead of where I’d be had I spent the bucks on the fancy stroller. Plus it came with two cup holders that I didn’t have to pay extra to have.

Hello, stroller numero deux.

But it doesn’t take long after assembling the jogging stroller to realize that no matter how much time you agonized over finding the most compact jogging stroller, you’ve still got a pretty big contraption on your hands. And for as much as they may fold up easily and fit into their own bag, it’s not something you can just throw in the back of the car easily if you’ve got a lot of groceries, shopping bags, luggage, or in our case, a large Doberman. Just to give you an idea, our jogger generally gets strapped to our roof rack when we travel any amount of distance. So, are you really going to put your kid in a jogging stroller to run a quick errand? Ummm, no.

Stroller #3: On the fly, baby

And so it began to occur to me that I needed yet another stroller–one of those inexpensive umbrella strollers that could be stashed in a closet or in the trunk of my car. There are so many options that I think I just ended up picking one rather randomly–the Chicco Capri.

I think I mostly just liked the color, but after taking it out on it’s inaugural spin today, I will say that it’s super compact and light–perfect for taking on the metro and to restaurants. About the only negative I can see about it is it’s sun shade. It’s a separate canopy piece that you attach/detach, and I wish it somehow could collapse in on itself like the canopies on full-size strollers.

But it does the job, so I guess that’s really all I need. And I think that’s just the best way to look at the whole stroller selection process. For some reason, it seems like a huge decision when you’re seven months pregnant and trying to feel prepared for your first baby. But really it’s not that big of a deal.

The reality is no matter how much you spent on your stroller, as a new mommy, you’ll end up cursing it at some point. Every stroller feels heavy when you’re carrying it up a bunch of stairs. Every stroller can be difficult to get through a store door when you’ve got your hands full. And when you’re living in a city, every stroller seems to take up too much room in your condo or row home. On the flip side, every baby will find a way to fall asleep in his or her stroller, whether it be a $25 deal from Costco or an $800 Peg Perego. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?

So, when I look at my three strollers, what do I think they say about me? I’m practical, appropriate, and all about keeping it simple.

4 Comments

Filed under babies, baby travel, daily life, infants, moms, newbie parents, newborns, strollers, travel

Stroller Snooze

It’s amazing what moms will do to keep their sleeping beauties just that way–sleeping.

When my little bundle of boy falls asleep as we bump along the sidewalks during a walk around the neighborhood, I do everything possible to avoid waking him up once we reach home. That most often means wheeling the stroller right up the back deck, through the kitchen, and into the living room, where I don’t dare touch one thing on him or the stroller for fear of disturbing his slumber. I don’t even dare lift up the weather shield when we’re inside.

I love that strollers are seriously narcotic. Once he’s strapped in, baby seriously racks out.  The best part is he stays asleep in it even when it’s not moving. Today, for example, we’ve rounded the corner into a third hour of a nap. In that time, I’ve showered and dressed, taken the dog out, caught up on my e-mails, written a news story, and worked on scheduling meetings during a conference next week.

Needless to say, I’ve got him strapped into this thing at least three mornings a week.

Lights Out!

Leave a comment

Filed under babies, daily life, infants, moms, sleep, strollers, working mom

All Baby Wanted for Christmas

2010 was a year full of firsts for our family. My husband and I became parents for the first time in May and every day since then has yielded some sort of new discovery for baby, us, or both. But as cheesy or cliche as it sounds, baby’s first Christmas was definitely an awesome way to close out a year of most memorable firsts.

It was hard to resist the temptation to go big or go home for baby’s first Noel, but I think the family exercised a decent amount of restraint. Baby got a pair of booties from the maman, a hysterical dinosaur hat from Auntie Kate and Uncle Nick, bath toys from Mimi and Grandfather Condor, blocks and a toy from Poppa, and a Redskins warm-up suit from who else but the Papa–and a whole lot of wrapping paper. We figured he’d get a little more out of the whole Christmas event next year.

Even though baby was too young to get into the whole Santa and presents thing, he made Christmas so much more fun for all of us adults. I mean, who can really resist a baby with a set of reindeer antlers? He was full of smiles and giggles and totally into whatever anyone else was into–be it a magazine, a napkin, or a bowl of olive tapenade, as caught on video.

The fact that he was in a mostly good mood was amazing because he was teething in a bad way. Not only were his top front teeth coming in to match the bottom two that came in nearly three months ago, but his incisors were totally busting through the gums as well. Needless to say there was no shortage of references to that horrendous Christmas song, All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.

And that actually ended up happening. By Christmas Eve, baby had two big front teeth and a nice gap in between that my husband is sort of stressing about. By New Year’s Eve, he had an additional two sharp points poking through his gums where his incisors will eventually be.

But all teeth aside, this holiday season was so great thanks to baby. As my husband would say, he added a little je ne sais quoi to our normal holiday traditions. But the best part is knowing that next year will be even better because he’ll enjoy it even more.

Leave a comment

Filed under babies, family, holidays, infants, newbie parents, teething