Wednesday, September 10, 2014

One Year of Parenthood

One year ago today, after 25 hours of labor, and 10 months of pregnancy, I had a little boy. This little boy went from being a helpless little swaddled bundle of joy to a mobile and demanding toddler of joy.

Here is a sample of what I've learned this past year.

Pregnancy is the easy part. No really, anything that happened from vomiting everyday for 4-5 months to waddling around like the worlds heaviest bowling ball was resting on my pelvis was easy in comparison to now. Why? Because the Baby Buckshot was safe in my belly and not out in the world where he is only attracted to the most dangerous thing in the room. Why yes, BB, thank you for reminding me that I forgot to cover one electrical outlet in the entire house.

Babies sleep less over time. First day in the hospital, BB slept a lot. So much so that the hubs and I wondered if we had won the baby lottery. Until the second day, when he cried all night. And then the first week, when he didn't know when to sleep and when to stay awake. Then, just when we got any kind of nap and bedtime rhythm down, sleep regressions and teething hit and it was back to square one. Over. And. Over. But it is try, try again.

I am softer than I thought. Not just in the pudgey postpartum belly way, but in the, "Now, I have all the feels so when I watch a sappy movie or read a touching quote, tears" way. Something my husband, who had never really seen me cry before, is having to adjust to. There was a line in Love Actually, "Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel." Baby Buckshot is my Joni Mitchell.

Nothing bonds women like motherhood. I was never a girl's girl. Most of my friends were men, I had a hard time keeping long lasting friendships with women until motherhood. Suddenly, all the female friends of my past have re-emerged and there's an instant support group. Old friends, new friends, all friends. If you have a kid, I'm likely going to be your friend.  I'm going to guess this has to do with the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, has taught me not to judge other people's lives like a little human being who has obviously been put into my life to see everyone else's perspective. No judgement here, other mamas. Just another mom trying to do her best with what she has.
Moms fight. Over everything. Did I also mention that nothing riles up other women against each other like motherhood? I wrote about it briefly here but I have to say it again. Nothing seems to hit a woman to her core like commenting on how she's opting to feed her infant child. Breastfeeding, formula, nursing in public, adding cereal to a bottle. Oh. My. Drama. Llama.

Poop can travel far. This is one of the early, most poignant lessons. A lifetime of only seeing excrement go into a toilet bowl did not prepare me for the ability of a tiny human to blow poop straight across a changing table, past a lamp and directly onto a wall. More than once.

The greatest expression of our love is also the greatest challenge to our marriage. My idealistic prenatal self thought that parenthood would be this amazing bonding experience where my husband and I would feel magically connected. And most of time, this is true. We have learned the ability to collaboratively take care of BB, even when upset with each other. We just seem to get upset with each other much more often. The first year of parenthood rivals the time we spent planning our wedding in terms of conflict and only now am I hearing that this is very common for first time parents. For those just starting, it takes about a year and it all works out.

Breastfeeding. There is no skill I have ever learned that is as emotionally charged as breastfeeding. And succeeding to this point give me this deep sense of accomplishment, for doing something my body was made to do. It's weird how something that was so stressful and painful in the beginning gives me sad pause when I think about it ending.

Everything is fleeting. For someone like me, who is a constant planner, learning to let go and deal with one short term problem at a time was a learning process. Solutions for some baby problems were absolutely necessary one minute and totally obsolete the next. Turns out, life seems to move slow but the moments just fly by.

My mother really, really, really loves me. It took becoming a mother in my 30s to realize the depth of my mother's love for me. It has spanned my lifetime, it has included my husband and now her grandchild. Until I loved my own baby, I had no idea the depth of a mother's love. Afterall, who goes from changing a person's diaper 30 something years ago to changing that person's child's diaper three decades later? Only a woman in love.

Happy birthday, Baby Buckshot. I love you to infinity and back.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Baby Mum Mum Review

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to give me Chinese rice crackers. They were wrapped two in a bag, always perfectly crispy and airy and my brother and I would eat 5 bags at a time. They were also sodium laden with the equivalent of a whole package of MSG (mmm... so good.)

When I heard about Baby Mum-Mums, they sounded so familiar. When I looked them up online, they looked so familiar. Naturally, I went searching for this remnant of my childhood, food memories of my grandmother that I could share with my son as long as they were no longer sodium filled. 

I went to the local store and they had store brand rice rusk snacks, which weren't very good, but had the crispy to the bite but melt in the mouth texture. I immediately reached out to Hot Kid about their Baby Mum Mums so I could let Baby Buckshot try some since he was moving into eating solids.

Baby Mum-Mums are basically the perfect baby snacks. They come in a variety of flavors, organic options and, like the rice crackers of my childhood, come two in a bag with the rice rusk texture, without the MSG of my youth. 

Here are the highlights:

Perfect for Traveling. Seriously, if you have ever accidentally had a canister of Gerber puffs open up in your Rebecca Minkoff diaper bag, you understand how brilliant this individually wrapped packaging is. Getting to avoid that horrendous puff dust over everything in the car is also a huge plus.

Great size for Baby Led Weaning. A lot of baby snack foods are small which means baby has to be old enough to use the pincher grasp or they're just shoving a whole handful of puffs in their mouth which ends up in gagging.  Sure, there's gagging in Baby Led Weaning but Baby Mum Mums are large enough for young eaters to grab a hold of and gnaw on.

Teething. Speaking of gnawing on, these are great teething biscuits. Seriously, they start out hard like a cracker and as drool from the teething gets absorbed by the cracker, it gets soft enough for baby to gum.

Gluten Free. Not only do they come in organic varieties, they are gluten free, which allows some of the hip parents in metropolitan areas to stick with their no-wheat diets. Because let's be honest, we all steal a couple of bites here and there of our babies snacks. To make sure they're safe, of course.

Doesn't get stale.  Stale baby snacks are the worst. I'm not sure that Baby Buckshot can tell when something is stale but I can. For the life of me, I can't figure out why packages of baby snacks are never able to seal tight enough to keep the food from losing its crunch. Individual packaging is a no brainer in preventing the stale issue. Which, again, is probably not that important to BB, but is very important to me.

Subtle taste. There are flavors like Carrot, Apple, Banana and they all taste like those things but without the sugar or salt. If you've ever tried one of those gastromy based restaurants where there's an aroma that is released when opening a plate, it's kind of like that. Just the essence of those flavors. This is particularly good for early eaters because it doesn't ruin their tastebuds for healthy vegetables or fruit with artificially sweet or salty seasonings.

But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. I'm going to send a few lucky winners some samples. Enter below to receive a few individual wrapped packages of a few different Baby Mum Mum flavors for you and your little ones to try yourselves! Multiple winners on this one. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love You Forever Book Review

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is a classic children's book. Though most might not know it by name, we know it by the quote, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Though in Mommy circles, where we all want to dissect every baby to prove that we have something valuable to add to the conversation, this book is criticized as being the Helicopter Parent's Worst Case Scenario. That is until it is put into perspective of why the book was written.

Mr. Munsch tells the story of how this book was written on his website:
“I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.
For a long time it was just a song but one day, while telling stories at a big theatre at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.

Out popped Love You Forever, pretty much the way it is in the book.”

Now, I can't even read about the book without crying. Here's a video so you can cry with me.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Straws and Sipping Success

I can drink from a straw.
There are moments when I wonder if all of the effort I put in to teaching Baby Buckshot things has any real effect on his advancement. After all, he's going to learn how to walk, talk and break things all on his own anyway.

But recently I read that learning how to drink from a straw is actually critical to linguistic development. Where drinking from a soft spouted sippy cup is much like drinking from a bottle and drinking from a hard spout or lidless cup uses reflexes that baby has from birth, drinking from a straw forces babies to develop muscles in their mouths not previously used. The same muscles that are necessary to pronounce some words.

Naturally, I was determined it teach BB how to drink from a straw. I've tried before and he just sits there waiting for me to drop water in with mouth with the straw because I've done that before.

Yesterday, I tried giving him a cup with a straw. Same lack of sucking motion on his part. Then I dropped water into his mouth from the straw and he did like a hamster with a water bottle does. Then, I held the end of the straw closed, forcing him to suck to get the water out. He successfully learned how to suck on a straw but when offered the cup with a straw again, he went back to his "waiting for a dropper" attitude.

I tried the whole process again but then started lowering the end of the straw I was holding lower and lower until it would sit in a cup. Then, voila, he got it. From start to finish, it took him about 5-10 minutes to figure it out.

Now he's drinking from a straw like a pro and I'm feeling pretty good about my teaching skills. Next up, identifying colors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Infant No Refridgerator Travel Snack Options: 6 months to 1 year.

We've been doing a lot of traveling this summer which means long car rides and hotel stays. Sometimes in hotel rooms without mini refrigerators and other conveniences. Here is a list of my favorite and not so favorite travel friendly snacks.

Wheat bread. If bought the same day as hitting the road, all natural wheat bread will last for at least a few days out of the refrigerator without growing mold. It's low mess, easy to eat and not a bad snack for mommy and daddy either.

Fruit. Pick fruit that stands up well to travel, like bananas and apples. Berries and thin skinned fruits usually need refrigeration within a couple of days before they get mushy. I also didn't recommend oranges because they can cause diaper rash in some babies due to the citrus.

Gerber Instant Oatmeal. This brand oatmeal comes in organic and doesn't require hot water. Just mix with water, breastmilk or ready to drink formula and it's ready for baby to eat. Baby Buckshot enjoys this very much with some fruit mixed in also.

Gerber Veggie Pick-ups. I thought this would be a brilliant way to get BB some veggies on to the go. Unfortunately, sometimes he'll eat this. Other times, he won't touch it with a ten foot pole. If I could find a flavor he liked, I would definitely bring this on any trip because they are prepackaged in easily portable containers. The pieces are also soft enough to mush but in some cases, they are too small. I would prefer these in a glass container instead of the plastic and will try to find an alternative.

Baby Mum-Mums. I am a huge fan of these snacks because they are prepackaged for the perfect serving size of two biscuits in a bag. When traveling, allows me to take just a couple and not have to worry about putting them in a ziplock to stay fresh and dry or having to drag around a large container of the same item. They also come in a variety of flavors, including organic options, that BB really loves. I actually eat the plain organic ones as a snack myself. When Baby Mum-Mums sent me their flavors to sample, I was really thrilled as their best flavor is actually the organic carrot, which I could not find in stores.

Sesame Melba Toast. My husband told me that he remembered that melba toast was for babies, especially during teething so when I saw it at Trader Joe's, I naturally picked up a box. BB really liked to just suck on them, though he did not end up eating a lot of them. More like a suck until soggy and then toss. They were also a good adult snack. I might not take these with me again on a trip because they cause an awfully crumbly mess.

Gerber Little Crunchies/Puffs. These are the equivalent of baby cheetos, which I would normally not want to give to my child, but I made the mistake of letting him try one once and he loved them. Between these and the Gerber puffs (not pictured), when BB is having a meltdown in the car, a couple of these actually calms him down. I don't like to give him a lot of them though, because it really is junk food.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Defense of High End Babywearing

My babywearing world was recently bombarded with posts about a woman who scammed two other women in a 3 way trade of Highy Sought After (HSA) Tula baby carriers. She received her Tula and tried to mail fraud her way out of sending her Tula to the next woman, as agreed upon in the trade. Each Tula in the trade was worth $1300 and it was not Paypal backed.

I had the same reaction about wraps and Tulas when I first started looking at these things. Who is paying this much for FABRIC?!

Then you catch the BSC. Lol, just kidding.

It is a little bit like strollers. Many serious babywearers don't even have strollers so I think they justify how much they spend on carriers because they didn't spend money on a stroller. (Actually, I haven't used a stroller in a long time since I got my Tula and Neobulle.)

You can buy a cheap stroller that will do the job but the more the spend, up to a point, the easier the stroller is to use with more bells and whistles, either for the baby or the parent. I have tried a cheapie JJ Cole wrap hybrid carrier and if that's what babycarrying was like, I would have personally quit and never looked back. It carried Ben but it was uncomfortable over long periods. I used a moby and it was comfortable but really a hassle to wrap and can't be used past 15 lbs.  I have tried a full wrap conversion Tula and it's the comfort and convenience that is unparalleled.

Everything past the aforementioned point is really just style points. Like the Andy Worhol X Bugaboo collaboration. No one needs a pop art inspired banana print on their $1200+ Bugaboo, they just really WANT it. Because at some point, for many moms, like their clothes, their baby gear becomes an expression of themselves. And their babywearing is part of what defines them as mothers.

In luxury carriers (anything over $150), the fabric is more comfortable and as a result, easier to wear for longer periods of time (babywearers will often tell you a tale of how they wore their baby for the whole day with nary an ache as a testament to how good their carriers are), the carrier is better designed (easier to nurse while wearing or allow baby to sleep) and able to last baby longer (wider seats allow for longer use).

Arguably, most wrap/highly sought after carrier owners will tell you that they intend to sell their carrier when their child has outgrown it. This is why they'll spend more than the $150 mark for rare wraps and carriers. And because they are highly sought after (and as a result, outrageously priced), they should retain their value, if not appreciate in value. It's practically an investment, they reason. And in some cases, these women will resell their carriers for more than they bought them for. So they can spend $1300 today, and in a month or so, depending on how the demand as driven by the tastes of the mommies on the market, it might be worth closer to $2000.

That being said, no more un-backed trades for $1300 carriers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Letter to Breastfeeding Mothers Who Shame Other Mothers For Nursing In Public

Dear Backwards Members of the Breastfeeding Society,

Karlesha Thurman breastfed her 4 month old during her California State Long Beach University graduation only to be slammed with the most appalling onslaught of misogynist comments that I'm shocked to understand came from other breastfeeding mothers. 

I try to discretely breastfeed, not because it's superior or I am more decent than any other mom but because I am more self conscious and scared of how people around me will react specifically because of comments on articles like these and stories about women who are confronted and shamed in public for feeding their babies.

But some babies won't take bottles, some won't nurse with something over their head. Until I bought my Tula, I didn't have an effective way to nurse discretely in public and would have to go to a bathroom (gross) or go back to my car (extremely inconvenient). And not everyone can afford a Tula.

I support a woman's right to breastfeed however she would like in public. We are feeding our babies. And honestly, this shaming of women is misogynistic. And the worst offenders are mothers who tell other mothers that they should nurse in public with a cover because they think it's indecent because they nursed and managed to do it with the covers. This is the stuff mommy wars are made of. Judgmental, close mindedness with a complete lack of respect for other women and the needs of babies.

How can other mothers speak to breastfeeding moms with such contempt?

As you rage on with your comments against this young woman who managed to graduate from college wtih an infant, do you also comment on every sexually explicit picture on the internet?  I bet not. 

Why is it acceptable to show that amount of skin for something sexy in the name of commerce, which is what should be considered indecent? Large billboards, breasts exposed in windows, purposefully titillating (pun intended). But unacceptable to show the same amount of skin or less with the expressed purpose of feeding a baby, which should be considered the most decent thing to do?  

It's ridiculous that we live in a society where the intimate bond between a mother and her baby make people uncomfortable but a woman paraded around in a string bikini to peddle goods doesn't make anyone uncomfortable. It's even more ridiculous that women who have experienced this bond feel uncomfortable or ashamed about it enough to shame other women over it. 

And for those not familiar with the law, a mother as a legal right to breastfeed in California where ever a mother and child are allowed to be. 

Normally, I don't like to alienate my readers with tirades that might offend them but in this case, if you are a mother offended by my letter, you probably shouldn't be reading my blog anyway.

Thank you and good day.


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