Category Archives: boys

All Boy From Here On Out

This morning I came face to face with the reality that I have a boy not a baby on my hands.

We were on our way out the door. I need to put the stroller in the car, so I set the not-so-wee one down in the driveway while I started folding down the third row of seats in my car. I figured he’d maybe toddle into the garage and annoy the dog for a minutes. I got one seat down, popped the stroller in the back of the car, and turned around to grab the baby to hoist him into his car seat. My dog was standing right next to me, but no baby. A little panic flared up, but I quickly convinced myself that he hadn’t gone far.

Turns out he had wandered over to my mom’s little shade garden. No biggie. And actually he looked kind of cute playing in among all the plants. But as I looked at him, something wasn’t right. His hair was soaking wet. I took two more steps closer to him and realized that it wasn’t just his hair; both his jacket and pants were soaked. My child–yes, the one that just a half hour before had had a bath–had found the sprinkler.

But it wasn’t just that his once-dry clothes were now sopping wet. No, just sticking his hands and face into the sprinkler wasn’t quite enough. A medium sized pool of mud and dirt had collected around the base of the sprinkler and my child was sitting, splashing in it. Of course that looked like loads of fun, so the dog jumped in.

I’m totally running late, so I run over and grab the kid, taking him far, far away from the sprinkler. He was covered in head-to-toe mud, so I started stripping my just-bathed child down in the middle of the driveway. I took off his jacket and threw it on the ground. I started shimmying off his pants when the dog stole the jacket and ran circles around me with it hanging out of his mouth. So now I’m chasing the dog around the driveway and my filthy offspring is toddling around behind me, one thunder thigh still in his pants and the other bare. Somehow he wriggled his one leg free of the pantleg and took off toward the house just as I nab the jacket from the dog. Looking for more fun times, the dog bounded toward him. The kid basically turned right into the dog, losing his balance, and face planting into the cement garage floor.

I collect my bawling child, tie up the dog, and head to the car; I am 20 minutes late at this point. I put my kid in the car seat– soakied onesie, dirt-filled shoes, and all–and realize that with his tumble we’ve now added blood to this mix of dirt and water. His cheek was swollen and crosshatched with scratches. I couldn’t believe he’d already stopped crying.

Needless to say, hot mess pretty much sums the whole ridiculous situation up. The one redeeming part was that I fortunately had a set of dry clothes in a diaper bag stashed in the car, so I was able to change him in the church parking lot. (Classy.) And I was able to clean up the blood and dirt on his face with a baby wipe. But there wasn’t much I could do about the dirt caking his feet. It’s safe to say this little boy is definitely all boy.

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Filed under boys, daily life, moms, pets, photos

A Pig Pen in the Play Pen

Baby had his first play date the other day. Play might be a bit of an exaggeration. More like lie-on-a-Boppy-next-to-another-baby date. But it was fun, mostly because it was a chance for the moms to get out of the house, eat some spinach dip with pita chips, and vent.

But as the four of us moms snapped pics, laughed about how the kids looked like their dads, I had an awful realization: My kid is the dirty kid.


Mr. Un-clean

I guess I should have considered changing his outfit before the photo shoot rather than after. I didn’t realize it was so obviously bad.

Baby has always been a spitter-upper. My mom (and pretty much any other mom-like woman over the age of 60) is convinced he spits up because I give him a bottle cold. Like right-out-of-the-fridge cold. The pediatrician looked at me like I had 10 heads when I asked her if this was true. But even without doctor’s confirmation that it was indeed a motherhood myth, I knew cold milk was the unlikely root since he would spit up after nursing, too.

For whatever the reason, I can count on baby to make at least three wardrobe changes in a day because of spit up. (Diaper blow outs are another animal altogether.)

But as a mom, I have pretty much stopped noticing how nasty spitting up is. In my head, I know it’s gross, but it’s so expected now that I don’t even sweat it. I just make sure I have at least two cloths within arm’s reach at any time for mop up. And when I say cloths, I mean those flannel receiving blankets most people use to wrap up their kids; plain old burp cloths can’t really handle this kid’s volume.

My husband reminds me occasionally of how nasty it is by gagging like Vince Vaughn in the scene from the 2008 classic Four Christmases when a baby vomits on Reese Witherspoon. (As an aside, I highly recommend it for people like us who have divorced families; you’ll likely appreciate the humor more than those with unbroken families.) Here’s the clip, in case you haven’t seen it:

But it’s not until you see a picture of your kid like the one above that it really hits home. Now I worry that he’s going to evolve from the dirty baby at the play date to the dirty kid in school. God, I hope not.

But this baby is a magnet for dirt. Despite daily baths and constant trimming, it’s always a battle to keep his nails clean, for example. I mean, really, how do infants get dirt under their toenails? What’s it going to be like when he’s crawling? Do people start giving their kids multiple baths a day? That seems a little excessive.

But the one comfort I take is that he’s a boy. I don’t think many people really expect boys to stay clean very long, so maybe mine won’t look as exceptionally stained as he does today.


Filed under babies, bathing, bottle feeding, boys, daily life, hygiene, infants, newbie parents, parenting, spit up

Is This Bad?

I am blessed to have what I would consider a good baby. He really only cries when one of two things are wrong: he’s hungry or he’s got a dirty diaper. And sometimes he doesn’t even bother crying over the latter unless it’s what I call a diaper blowout. Sure, he might get a little cranky if he’s tired but addressing one or both of the two aforementioned issues usually gives him enough time to settle down.

So, while I’m happy to avoid (at least for the current moment in time) bouts of unexplained crying, one thing I can say that he does that can frazzle some nerves is get super clingy–to the point where I’m wearing him as a living, breathing accessory for the day. Forget about trying to rock him to sleep with a few stories, putting him in his crib with the Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart-playing mobile, or sitting him in his vibrating bouncer chair to the soothing sounds of B-I-N-G-O! He’s not having any of it.

Moms love to hold their babies. I mean, really, who doesn’t love to snuggle with a wee one–except when they are crying, of course, in which case mom ends up holding the babe anyway. But when my baby turns into a creature from the planet Clingon, it can make it next to impossible to do something as basic as maintain hygiene.

This was my dilemma of the day recently.

I badly needed to shower, not only because I don’t feel human until I am lathered and rinsed but also fall in D.C. still means 80+ (and sometimes 90+) degree days, which equals sweat and more sweat. Plus, I figure I should at least be clean–make-up has fallen into the optional category these days–and out of my pajamas by the time the hubster gets home from work. I figure it’s the least I can do.

But as the morning turned into noon, and then into afternoon, and then late afternoon, my window for washing was closing and Velcro baby was showing no signs of unfastening. Now, I’m not opposed to letting my kid cry for a few minutes while I finish typing a quick e-mail, put something away, throw in a load of laundry, or what have you. He usually stops when he sees me again or finds a way to chill himself out. But I just can’t take that long, sustained wail that comes out when he’s in this mood, the one that can’t be quieted until he’s wrapped around my hip.

So after a few unsuccessful attempts (and admittedly naked ones since I had already turned the water on) at putting him in his crib, in his bouncer chair, and even the Boppy pillow on my bed so I could shower, I came up with an idea. What if I brought the play mat into the bathroom with me? I hadn’t tried that toy yet, so there was some hope the novelty might quiet him. He needed some tummy time anyway. Plus the cleaning lady just cleaned the bathroom top to bottom the day before. And maybe if I could poke my head out from behind the curtain every so often, he wouldn’t cry–or at least as hard. So, away me, baby, and the play mat went.

Well, he cried. And he cried. And he cried some more. And then nothing.

Silence is a bad thing at this stage of mommyhood. If I don’t hear a peep from him, I think he’s stopped breathing. So, I rip back the shower curtain only to find that baby has fallen asleep. He’d completely exhausted himself.

I think: “Cool. I guess that means I have time to shave my legs.”

I get out of the shower and decide I should leave him be while I get dressed and maybe rake a brush through my hair, or what’s left of it at the rate that it’s still falling out. I check back. He’s still soundly asleep. So, I run to the basement to throw a load of laundry in the washer. I check back. Still asleep.

At this point, I have a decision: I can either leave my infant lying on the floor and get dinner started or try to move him without waking him up. And I know that if he wakes up, it’s good times with Gorilla Glue baby.

I go for Option A. Dinner’s not going to make itself, I tell myself. And my mom always told me that what they say about dogs is also true of babies: Let sleeping babies lie.

But did she mean on the bathroom floor?

Probably not. And I sort of felt like a bad mom. I kept thinking every time I checked in on him, “Is this bad?” But he was sleeping so soundly–finally. In fact, he slept for a couple hours like that, believe it or not.

I actually couldn’t believe it, so I took this picture. Please, moms, tell me you’ve been here before.

Parenting at Its Best


Filed under babies, boys, daily life, infants, naps, newbie parents, newborns, parenting, sleep

Hitting the Wall

Today I lied in bed for 10 hours. I probably would’ve stayed there longer had the window washers not been milling around outside. I wish I could say that I slept that whole time, but I think if I back out the half-conscious feedings, my roundtrip to dreamland probably maxed out around seven hours. I still feel exhausted, but those sweet seven or so hours were enough to make me feel like I can go another day, another week, maybe even a month.

Yesterday I wasn’t so sure.

In the three-plus weeks since Baby P graced this world, I’ve been working off this time schedule:

8am-ish Get up, shove a granola bar and glass of lemonade down my throat, turn on the TV, gather dirty laundry from the night, make the bed, and maybe check e-mail, if time allows.

9am-ish Feed and change baby and once he starts to nod off, put him in his crib and hope to god that he stays asleep for awhile.

10am-ish Shower and get dressed. Maybe try to pump.

11:30am to noon-ish Feed and change baby, sometimes giving him a bottle of expressed milk in hopes that he will stay asleep for the next couple hours so I can throw him in his stroller and get a walk in. If not, I stay home and basically just hold him, maybe watching some TV or working on the computer, while he sleeps.

2pm-ish Feed and change baby. Hope like hell he’ll stay asleep in his crib, so I can finish laundry and maybe get some food–usually pretzel sticks with Heluva Good horseradish and bacon dip and/or a chocolate chip cookie–into me.

4pm-ish Feed and change baby. Basically collapse on the couch with wee one on my chest. Sometimes I don’t sleep but make phone calls, work on the computer, or  do housework instead.

7pm-ish Wake up from nap, feed and change baby.

8pm-ish Think about getting some dinner, maybe walk over to my parents’ house in hopes that my mom has made extra food. (Otherwise, it’s a ham and cheese sandwich with some sort of salad, maybe more pretzels and/or a cookie.) She usually tells  me baby is hungry, so I give him about 3 ounces by bottle. She then gives him another 2 ounces because she’s convinced he’s still hungry. (He usually throws up on her after that.)

9pm-ish Baby finally conks out. I finish my dinner and the glass of wine I poured sometime between 7pm and 8pm.

10:30pm to 11pm-ish I go back to my quarters. Baby is usually still in a food coma, so I either leave him in his bouncer seat (or even car seat sometimes, depending on what I did that afternoon) or put him in his crib. I spent the next hour or so pumping and washing and sterilizing all the bottles, nipples, and other pumping accoutrement that I have dirtied during the day.

Midnight I collapse into bed.

1:30am to 3am-ish Baby wakes up demanding to be fed and changed and I oblige. (It’s amazing how much can be done with one eye open.)

4:30am to 6am-ish Baby’s up again, so I feed and change him. I usually don’t risk putting him back in his crib again for fear that he’ll be restless, so I let him fall asleep with me for the next couple hours before I’m up again.

So, that’s pretty much the schedule.

But the problems–the ones that can only be fixed with 10 hours of lying in bed–happen when baby doesn’t stay on schedule. What got me finding my wall yesterday was that the the night before last, baby got up at 3am for a feeding as usual. However, getting him back to sleep was a major challenge.

Baby would fall asleep mid gulp, so I’d wait for a few minutes before moving him every so slowly back over to his crib. I’d put him down and jump back into bed, quickly flipping off the light. Not three minutes later, he’d be fussing–the kind of fussing that if you just wait and see what happens it usually ends in screaming. So, on went the light and my glasses, so I could pick him up and start all over again. That went on for an hour and a half (it usually only takes about a half hour to 45 minutes to feed and change), by the end of which I literally was pleading with him to go to sleep. (It didn’t work.) Finally, I tucked him in close to me in the bed and he eventually settled down.

Only to wake up at 6am again, marking the official start to my day.

It’s funny how you can sort of deal with an insane schedule, as long as it stays a schedule. But when baby goes off script, it totally messes you up. I feel much better this morning than I did yesterday evening–boy, was I dragging–but I can definitely tell I’ve got a 4pm nap with my name on it.


Filed under boys, breastfeeding, daily life, moms, newbie parents, post-partum, post-pregnancy

It’s Go Time

Today is May 21 and it’s my official due date. This is my (and to give credit where credit’s due, my husband’s) first baby. About all we know about him at this point is this:

  • He’s a boy (as you might’ve guessed)
  • He’s been a very good womb baby (I have never really been uncomfortable much less sick during my pregnancy)
  • He’s got happy feet (I call them power moves)
  • He’s more of a night owl (takes after his dad already, I guess)

Funny that you can know so little and yet so much about the little guy without knowing some of the more basic stuff, like the color of his eyes.

At any rate, with Baby Pienik’s arrival expected today (although I don’t believe it), it seemed like an appropriate date to officially launch this blog.

I’ve always wanted to start a blog. Sort of seemed like a no brainer given what I do, which is write for a living. (I am an editor for a trade publication called Big Builder, which is all about the business of high-volume home building.) But even though I report and write all the time, I’ve had a pretty big mental block about setting up a personal blog. I think a big part of it was that I didn’t really feel passionate about anything enough to make time to research, report, think, and write about it on my own time.

Until now.

And that’s sort of the ironic part. Most of my friends would classify me as more the “un-mommy” type. My husband (you’ll hear lots about him later, I’m sure) and I have staked out what I think is a pretty modern life for ourselves. We are downtown dwellers who spent the bulk of our time (and honestly probably money) doing all the fun stuff in life–going out (a lot), traveling, and imbibing (a lot lot). I didn’t grow up with younger siblings and I didn’t really enjoy babysitting as teenager, so my experience with children, particularly babies, was, shall we say, limited. My husband used to joke that the way I held babies was from an arm’s length away.

But as my maman always said, it’s different when you have your own. Or at least almost have your own.

So, I’ve decided to use my maternity leave to launch this writing project. Maybe it’s just a part of my nesting process, something that for a writer goes along with washing the baseboards, organizing onesies by size, and stocking up on more newborn diapers than you probably need. But for whatever the reason that I’ve finally gotten motivated enough to start this thing, I hope this project does three things:

  • Lets the wee one know how special we think he is
  • Allows our complicated, fragmented, and totally awesome families and friends to share in our baby adventures
  • Provides some support, reassurance, and some good laughs to other newbie parents like us who are wondering how they can be good parents without moving to the suburbs

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Filed under boys, due date, newbie parents