Category Archives: play time

Born To Run, Not Just Walk

Baby crossed a few major milestones this summer. And while I’m sorry that I’m only now getting to catch up on them, the truth is I’ve not only been busy trying trying to enjoy them but also just trying to keep up with them. Literally.

When baby and I arrived at my parents’ house for July Fourth weekend, baby was a crawler. He was pulling himself up on furniture, creeping around the house from chair to chair, and pushing all his walker toys, but he was not what I would consider vertical. Then one day not too long after we arrived, he took the first step on his own. The next day he took three steps on his own. The day after that he took five steps on his own. And after that he was a walker.

I had no idea it would happen that fast. I thought it would be a much longer process, one where he would spend weeks only being able to take a couple steps before crashing. I thought for sure it would take a decent chunk of time to develop the muscle strength, coordination, and balance to be toddling around. Apparently not. By the time we were packed up Labor Day weekend to head home, baby could run. 

And as fast as his chunky bow legs can carry him is clearly his preferred mode of transportation. This of course means that I also am doing a lot more running than I’m used to–even with the training that I’ve been doing to prepare for the Army Ten Miler next month. (Remember you can still donate; just click here before Oct. 3!) My mornings should start with “on your mark, get set, go” followed by the pop of a pistol because, from the second my alarm clock rings, it’s off to the races, the finish line being 7pm when my baby goes vertical to horizontal in his crib.  

But as I say that, one thing occurs to me: My baby really isn’t much of a baby anymore. I’m not sure I like the sound of toddler–just yet.



Filed under babies, child development, daily life, first year, holidays, play time, walking

Match Dot Mom

Back in my swingin’ single days, I used to spend all week waiting for the weekend to kick off with Friday night happy hour. Although I think it really should be called happy hours since many weeks I found myself still lugging my work bag around town at 1am on a Friday night. As a mommy now, obviously things have changed. But I still look forward to Fridays, but mostly because that’s the day I meet with my French mommy group. It’s a far cry from the happy hours I used to have, but it still is one of my happiest hour and a halfs every week.

But finding the right mommy group is hardly easy, as many of my mommy friends can attest. In fact, when I think about it, it’s kind of like dating all over again.

The ideal is to find a group of educated women who have laid-back personalities and a sense of humor, varied but complementary interests,  keep to a similar schedule, live relatively close to you, and, of course, have (at least) a kid around the same age as yours. It’s a tall order by any standards. I’m not sure I had as many requirements when looking for my last boyfriend. (Thank god my husband found me first.)

But where do mommies go to meet other mommies? The options are somewhat finite:

But let’s get real… chances are you’re looking for a mommy group because you don’t work at the moment, don’t go to church (or at least aren’t active in the community), don’t get to the gym as often as you’d like to admit, don’t have time for volunteer activities, and don’t want to shell out anywhere near $70/month for a membership to a baby club. And if you had friends with babies who lived in your neighborhood, you’d already be hanging out with them.

I lucked out and found a mommy group on the Internet, through (I totally get why people Internet date now and would admittedly be going down that road if I was single, as it’s an efficient and economical way to meet people.) I had to give on some of the said requirements–I drive roughly 40 minutes (although it’s probably less than 10 miles from my house) to get there–but the French connection outweighed the distance.

I think I lucked out, too, in that I’m sort of an inaugural member of the group. I found out about the group and was able to show up for the first meeting, and that likely made all the difference. It’s so much easier to try something new when everyone is new at it. I definitely think it would be much harder to jump into a very established group.

With that said, I always look forward to seeing if there are any new people at our weekly meetings and even if it’s a bit awkward and forced, I feel like my group’s organizers really try to make everyone feel welcome. But I can tell almost immediately who is never going to come back. In our group’s case, it’s usually someone who realizes the second she walks into the room that her French language skills maybe aren’t as good as she remembered them being in college.

But even as one of the regulars, more or less, I still find myself trying way harder than usual to have these women like me. I literally get up a half hour early, so I can spend extra time on my hair and make-up. I also spend an abnormally long time (for me) deciding what I’m going to wear; I always feel like I want to look fresh and chic and not the strung out and underdone that I usually am. I even stress a little over what baby is going to wear.

That’s when I know this is so like dating. Only minus the drinks and the free dinner.

And perhaps that’s why I find mommy groups, at least the one I’m in, a little awkward. Basically we sit around and watch each others’ kids play and make small talk about breastfeeding, nap schedules, and our husbands’ jobs. We don’t even have coffee or donuts, which makes me think that maybe I should bring some next time. Then again, everyone is currently thin, so maybe that wouldn’t go over so well, if it became a regular thing.

Maybe this whole blind-date, first-date feeling lasts for so long when getting to know other mommies because everyone sort of knows that they either (a) would never have crossed paths or (b) never become friends, if there weren’t babies in the picture. That fact is just sort of the Barney in the room. No wonder so many of my mommy friends who have tried some mommy groups have never gone back to them; that’s kind of a hard thing to get over if the chemistry just isn’t right. And seriously, when you have an infant, who has time to make an effort to spend time with women they don’t necessarily like?

But for as awkward as it can be during some of our meetings, I’m so glad that I’ve stuck with the group. Of course, I love getting the chance to practice my French, but every week, I get to know the women, at least the regulars, a little better and I like them not just a little but a lot more every week.

I just hope they feel the same way about me. I don’t want to have to try to pick up another mommy group any time soon.

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Filed under babies, bilingual baby, child development, daily life, foreign language, infants, mom style, mommy care, moms, parenting, play time

Driven To the Brink

I don’t know what it is, but every time I try to install, assemble, or set up some type of baby apparatus, I end up on the brink of a meltdown.

It started with the car seat. That exercise had my husband and I tearing the car apart in 90 degree heat as we tried to figure out whether to follow the car seat installation directions or the car manual, which of course, said opposite things about how and where best to install the car seat. Then it was the pack ‘n’ play. I still think it’s counter intuitive that you would have to put the sides up before pushing the bottom down. And you can forget about getting all the extras–diaper caddy, sunshade, mobile, etc.–back into the bag once you’ve taken them out.

Drivin' Me Mad

My latest battle with the baby gear, however, was with the jolly jumper. Or at least that’s what I call it. I think it’s technically called an activity jumper these days. But whatever mommies call it, it’s basically a seat that you hang from the door frame. You pop your wee one in it and–BOING!–you’ve got a few minutes of hands-free time. Your wee one can amuse himself for a few minutes by jumping up and down while you fold laundry or empty the dishwasher.

So, today I decide I’m going to be the greatest mom in the world and set this thing up for baby. He’s big enough, strong enough, and I know for sure he’s going to love being in it. And selfishly, I really want to go through the pile of junk mail and shred a bunch of stuff.

I pull the Combi Activity Jumper out of the box and my first thought was, “Awesome! There are only three parts to this thing.” Oh, and it’s totally cute and goes with baby’s fun car-themed nursery. It took me about 10 minutes, after reading the directions, to put it together. I thought I was rockin’.

And then I tried to hang it.

The assembly directions said it fits most door frames. I should have learned by now that with my horrendous luck, anything that says “most” means “not mine.”

I first tried to hang it between my dining room and our library, which is this weird little parlor room that many houses from the early 1900s had. I figured this was a very strategic location; I could see him from both the kitchen and the living room. What I didn’t realize is that the pocket door that I found so charming when I bought my house made the doorway too wide for the jolly jumper’s pincher-like door-frame attachment.

Not to worry, I thought. I’ll just hang it on the door frame between the library and the living room. It’s in the same line of sight, so baby will still be well monitored as he bounces to his heart’s content. What I didn’t realize is that particular door frame is taller than the one on which I had first tried to install the jumper. Consequently, despite my struggle to lengthen the strap, it appeared baby would have to be the height of a 13-year-old to be able to sit in this thing and have his pudgy piglets touch the ground.

Well, then, I say to myself, I’ll just hang it upstairs. The door frames are much narrower, so I’ll have to take it down after every use, but I can deal, I think. But why would it be that simple? Turns out every door frame upstairs has a transom window on top of it, preventing any sort of clamp-like installation.

Now, I’d like to say that I was like, “No biggie, I’ll just send it back.” But if I’m honest, every failed installation doubled my frustration level. Add to the aggravation the fact that the baby began screaming for no apparent reason. Well, maybe he was starting to get hungry again. But still, it couldn’t have been worse timing.

At any rate, I dial up the company to ask about what the best way to send this thing back was. It was ordered through Babies ‘R’ Us but shipped from the manufacturer, so I had no idea where to send it so I could get a credit of some sort. No dice. The company is only open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 5:30pm and half days on Fridays.

To this point, I’ve managed to hold it together. I’m annoyed as all get out, but I’m calm. Until I try to get the damn thing back in the box.

As I mentioned, this activity jumper has all of three parts. And yet, after 20 minutes of wrestling with it, it’s still not in the box. I mean, I’m sweating–I’ve ripped off my sweater and thrown in somewhere into the living room–and I’m cursing. (This, of course, is making the baby bawl even more.)

The problem is the toy bar. I can’t get it to detach no matter how hard I wrench on the thing. I’m literally stepping on the seat and pulling up with all my force. At this point two things are going to happen: (1) It’s going to come off and I’m going to go flying onto my ass or (2) it’s going to break, I’m going to go flying, and then I’m not going to be able to return it. I decide that it’s better to stop yanking on it.

So, now I’ve got a jumper that I can’t use but that I can’t return because it won’t go back into the box. Never thought a toy car would drive me right to the brink.


Filed under babies, daily life, infants, moms, newbie parents, play time, toys