Archive for the ‘Entering parenthood’ Category

Pregnant women are smug

December 2, 2010

Too funny. Thanks for sharing Carrie!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

November 15, 2010

Christmas came a little early this year. It wasn’t wrapped, and there were no tags. But my daughter’s closet is full of winter clothes and beautiful dresses for the spring and summer seasons. Her bookshelf is teeming with new titles, including some bearing the coveted Caldecott seal. All this and Thanksgiving has yet to roll around.

Sure a few corners of these books are frayed or missing a page, and yes, a few outfits are likely a shade lighter than they were when on the rack, but that’s the beauty of hand-me-downs. They already have a story.

And now their next chapter begins…

The starring characters: Baby Blue and Baby Blue #2

Directors: Mom and Dad Blue

Costumes: By my elder sister, Lori, who fell in love with outfits for her own baby girl, experienced timeless memories with her in them and then carefully packed them away for my little girl.

Script work: By another of my elder sisters, MB. I certainly did enjoy sifting through books with you last night as you recounted which ones were your little boy’s favorites so I could flag them for mine (yes, we’re having a boy)!

And now, as I begin to field questions about what Baby Blue wants for Christmas, I am at a loss. She has so much already. If only that were the case for everyone. And so I make mention of a worthy cause that would more likely benefit from some Christmas gift giving–the Lighthouse of Oakland County–another Michigan gem.

Every year this organization provides holiday meals, groceries and meal baskets for needy families. Lighthouse also runs a program whereby individuals can “adopt” a needy family and fulfill its Christmas list. I’m always taken aback when the Christmas list for the family we adopt each year arrives and the eight-year-old wants only socks or underwear and his 10-year-old brother desires only a winter coat. You can bet, we search for the warmest coat we can find!

If you are looking for a worthwhile cause this holiday season, Lighthouse of Oakland County certainly fits the bill.

Happy Holidays! 🙂

Parenting pearls from people I know

November 4, 2010

I’ve been making a mental note of the times I hear someone mention some parenting tip that I particularly like. I have accumulated a few of these mental notes and thought I’d share them here while also encouraging you to share your personal favorite parenting tips. Leave a comment if you’ve got one to share!

On Christmas gift-giving:

My co-worker, Andy, and his wife give their two children three presents each on Christmas Day. No more. No less. His rationale: “If the Magi’s three gifts were good enough for Jesus Christ, three gifts are certainly more than enough for my kids.”  I kinda like that train of thought.

On getting your kids to eat their vegetables:

My friend Amanda recommends actively soliciting the help of your little ones ones when doing summer gardening. Her two kids help her plant and then pick the green beans, tomatoes and other produce sprouting in her garden. And as a result, they’re all the more intrigued by (and more likely to eat) the vegetables they pick. I’ve already started this tradition with my toddler. She helped mama pick tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers all summer. And though she isn’t yet eating tomatoes, she is willing to give them a lick. It’s a start, and I’ll take it!

On birthday party gifts…

I recently heard the story of an eight-year-old boy whose parents were going to throw him his last “big” birthday party inviting all the kids in his class. Concerned about the excess of her son receiving 25+ gifts, this boy’s mom encouraged him to instruct his friends to bring a baby item (diapers, formula, etc.) instead of a gift to the party. They would then donate these items to a shelter for children from broken families. With only a little coaxing, he agreed. With tears in his eyes at the sight of the massive pile of baby items accumulated after the party, he said “so many babies need help.” What a great lesson his parents taught him and, by extension, the kids who attended his party!

I see this blog topic becoming a recurring one as I come across more wisdom from my parenting peers. Thanks to Andy, Amanda and Pat for these parenting pearls for us to ponder. 🙂

Mom and baby meet Michigan Ave

October 19, 2010

I lived in Chicago for six years and spent three of those years working on the city’s Magnificent Mile. It was an awesome place to work. Shopping and dining options abounded, and I regularly spent my lunch hour window shopping or enjoying the tasty cuisine seemingly available at every corner.

On more than one occasion during those three years, I encountered a tourist and her little girl asking for directions to the American Girl Store. The little girl would be holding tightly on to her mom’s hand working hard to keep from jumping out of her pants. I would happily point them in the direction of Mecca and smile as they walked away. On many more occasions, I found myself behind families making their way back down the street weighed down by the trademark red shopping bags undoubtedly stuffed with a “Kit,” a “Felicity” or perhaps a “Bitty Baby.”

I even made it inside American Girl once during those years to meet my sister who brought by niece to the city to experience the magic of the store (where you can also have tea with your doll seated next to you in a high chair or catch a live show with real girls cast as the famous dolls).

Last week, I was in Chicago visiting a loved one in the hospital just a block away from the Magnificent Mile. My husband offered to take me and my daughter to lunch to get away from the hospital for a bit. We took him up on his offer. The sun was shining on this beautiful day in Chicago, and we decided to take a stroll after our meal. On a whim, we made our way toward American Girl curious to see if our toddler would have any reaction to this special place.

We figured at 19 months, she was way too little to appreciate it, but were curious to see her reaction nonetheless. We walked in the door, and our daughter’s eyes grew big. She smiled as she pointed out “horsies” and “babies” on display. She then broke free and began roaming on her own. Her favorite thing was undoubtedly the strollers on display for customers to try out. She grabbed the handles and maneuvered first a double and then a single stroller like a pro. She was in heaven.

Tears came promptly when we finally picked her up and made our way out the door after spending time taking in the cast of dolls and their many accessories. But I know we will be back. And I am quite excited at the thought of making our way down Michigan Avenue with roles reversed when we are the excited mom and daughter, and I get to witness her experience the magic of American Girl.

Did I miss out? Methinks not…

October 11, 2010

In case you were wondering, if you Google “What to do with my life,” the sixth entry to come up will be a list of 70 Things to Do Before Having Children as proposed by a couple only known as “Marc and Angel.” Curious to see what I may have missed before giving birth to my daughter, I of course clicked on this link.  I have some thoughts in response to Marc and Angel’s list, but seeing as how 70 items is a lot to assess in one post, I thought for today I’d focus on the first ten. So here they are copied verbatim:

  1. Live in a high rise condo with an amazing view.
  2. Take a month long vacation on the opposite side of the world in a city with a completely different culture.
  3. Attend the Super Bowl live.
  4. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
  5. Make love in places you aren’t supposed to.
  6. Swim with the sharks.
  7. Scuba-dive to a large ship wreck.
  8. Audition to be on TV or in a movie… even if you’re just an extra.
  9. Throw the house party of all house parties.  Supply all the booze and invite everyone you know.
  10. Take sexy photos of yourself (keep them somewhere safe).

Now dear readers, before I share my comments, I need to remind you that my most devoted reader is my mother, Mary Kay. With that in mind, I’ve intentionally opted to avoid commenting on #5 and #10, cuz really, I just can’t go there knowing she is reading this (hi mom)!

So without further ado, my thoughts:

1. Live in a high rise condo with an amazing view.

I personally have never been one for high rises. I like being able to open my front door and grab the paper while feeling the breeze. I am not a huge fan of heights. And I like a neighborhood feel. But all that aside, why can’t you have a baby in a high rise? Admittedly, carrying a baby and all the associated gear up flights of stairs is less than desirable, but are we to assume that said high rise lacks the modern amenity known as an elevator? Hmmm…

2. Take a month long vacation on the opposite side of the world in a city with a completely different culture.

I did this once in my life. I admit, it was AWESOME. Saw six countries in four weeks with four gals who will forever be part of my innermost circle. BUT I was 22 years old, weeks out of college and unemployed. Since that backpacking excursion of summer 2000, I have (thankfully) been continually employed, but never have I worked anywhere where it would have been encouraged (and probably even permitted) for me to take a month-long vacation. Do many people have this option, childless or otherwise at their place of employment?

3. Attend the Super Bowl live.

I would like to do this. But not with an infant, and probably not with a toddler–that is unless my husband were the MVP of said Super Bowl game, and I was standing next to him while holding our toddler to assist him with the selection of which Caddy he wanted to drive home before filming his “I’m going to Disney World” spot. Even though my husband is very athletic, I think it’s safe to say he won’t be center field with the Super Bowl MVP trophy any time soon. But heck, I’d go to a Super Bowl if the opportunity presented itself. I’d love to take my daughter too if she were a little older to appreciate it. Until then, there is a little something called a babysitter.

4. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

There was a time I wanted to do this. I felt the desire strongest after watching professional skydivers plunge from planes above Lake Michigan during the Chicago Air and Water show circa 2002. But within an hour of witnessing that spectacle, the idea was completely off my radar. And now, I have no real desire to do this, and would have to agree with Marc and Angel, in this one instance, that this is something I wouldn’t want to do as a parent–just not worth the risk.

5. Make love in places you aren’t supposed to.

See above. Just can’t go there.

6. Swim with the sharks.

Never had and suspect never will I have any desire to do this before or after kids. Didn’t “Jaws” and “Open Water” terrify anyone else?

7. Scuba-dive to a large ship wreck.

Again, I ask why can’t you do this if you have kids? Heck, take the kids with you. I’m sure they’d love it. And isn’t this junior wet suit so cute?

8. Audition to be on TV or in a movie… even if you’re just an extra.

In Hollywood, it seems parenthood is the new black. Halle Berry. Julia Roberts. Amy Adams. Maggie Gyllenhaal. Reese Witherspoon. Oh just a few up-and-coming Hollywood starlets who are also moms. Apparently these gals, who happen to know a thing or two about show biz, think the roles of mom and actress need not be mutually exclusive. So perhaps neither should we.

9. Throw the house party of all house parties.  Supply all the booze and invite everyone you know.

I once threw a party at my parents’ house when they were out of town. I was 17 years old and made a bad decision. I was so worried the entire time that A.) the police would come B.) someone would steal my mom’s jewelry (turned out they just stole all the wine off the wine rack–yikes!) or C. ) that the house would be trashed, that I didn’t enjoy one minute of the evening. I’m a little older now (and hopefully a little wiser), but I still harbor the worry of both A and C. (I have no jewelry worth stealing so  item B is no longer a concern.) Still, I prefer my parties a little more intimate, and I don’t think parenthood has anything to do with it.

10. Take sexy photos of yourself (keep them somewhere safe).

Again, I don’t really want to go here. And if you know me, you know I hate having my picture taken so photos such as these would never be a reality–with child or without!

As I review this top ten list, I am mentally composing a note to Marc and Angel. It goes something like this… “Dear M and A, Thank you for your thoughts on what to do before taking the parenthood plunge. However, I suspect you don’t yet have kids. I fully admit that when you are a parent you’re limited in time and admittedly energy so that many of the things on your list aren’t as easily doable–but you certainly can do them. There are such things as babysitters. And judging by the number of flights I’ve been on in my life where a child (sometimes my own) has been screaming, I can tell you plenty of people are traveling with kids and not just to Disney World…”

I’ve found that having my daughter with us as we take on life’s adventures adds a whole new dimension to our experience, and I mean that in a good way.

So to those of you who, like me, were slightly disheartened to see this list, my advice is to instead make a list of things that having kids enables or encourages you to do (e.g. visit the zoo, go on a hayride, swim with the dolphins, touch a baby piglet). In my experience the list will be many times longer  than Marc and Angel’s.

Good luck!

Content for now

October 1, 2010

As a working parent, I admit that I experience a lot of guilt and, yes, even sadness that I am unable to spend as much time as I would like with my daughter. It is on my mind every single day. Yes, I realize that I’m not leaving my daughter in the care of others so I can pop bonbons while getting a massage. By working outside the home, I am helping to provide for my family, which I feel is certainly a noble enough reason to leave her.

Still, my heart gets heavy at various times. I am fortunate to work in an office situated in the heart of a bustling downtown area. I love the location. But it does give me ample opportunity to see moms at play with their kids in the park or moms getting in exercise (a foreign concept to me) while walking their little ones. I admit that from time to time, I wish I was out there with my daughter too. Facebook plays a part in my guilt as well as I see friends and family members doing fun things with their children and posting the resulting photos while I am behind my desk at work.

Believe me when I say I’ve read a lot on the topic of working versus staying at home with children. I know I am not doing any damage to my child. But I do wish I could see her more. Period. Thank God she is happy where she is, and we are so fortunate to have wonderful, trustworthy childcare lined up.

Still, I wonder…

But today, as I dropped my daughter of at school (aka daycare), she didn’t cry like she often does when we walked in. She walked with purpose toward the book shelf and began to play with toys. She, who is generally pretty shy, even initiated a conversation with her teacher and took me around the room to show me all the cool stuff with which she plays. As she wandered, I chatted with her teacher. I can’t get enough info from her and the other teachers on how Meghan does at school, what her favorite activities are, how she interacts with the other kids, how she naps, and the like. I could pump them for details for hours. In fact, since my husband does pickup, I make him share every detail. I call him promptly at 4 p.m. to learn what she was doing when he first came upon her, how she reacted to seeing him, what her teachers said, what activities she enjoyed that day, etc.

So as I talked to Miss Kelly this morning while Meghan got settled in, I began my usual line of questioning. It never ceases to amaze me that my energetic (okay…wild) daughter promptly and obediently walks to her cot and curls up to go to sleep when the teacher says the words “nap time.” No complaints, no dawdling. She just goes. Whose kid is this? Certainly not the one I put down for a nap at home! Miss Kelly went on to talk about how Meghan likes to curl up with her in her lap, how Meghan chats about kicking balls, and how Meghan enjoys interacting with the twin boys in her class.

As I left the school this morning, Meghan didn’t cry (a rarity). And I felt proud–and yes content– to know she is so well behaved, interacting with other kids her age and taking advantage of the many activities offered. And for much of this morning, I have felt good about her being where she is. I know come Monday, I will wake up with a small pit in my stomach that our weekend together has come to an end. I know I will be sad to leave her in someone else’s care for yet five more work days. But for today, for this moment anyway, I am happy she is where she is.

And then there were four

September 3, 2010

Our little family became a little littler today. Riley was our problem child–a ball of energy, mischief and perpetual hunger wrapped up in 79 pounds of fur and just about the cutest face you ever did see.

I wish I could share with you stories of her stellar behavior or talk about how she brought out the best in everyone, but that’s simply not this golden retriever–not by a long shot.

I remember when I was 19 years old going with my mom, dad and sister to a house very far away in a rural area to look at golden retriever puppies and maybe even to bring one home. The breeder whose home we were visiting had numerous litters of golden puppies. Some were prancing in the yard. Others were yapping at our ankles to be picked up. I vividly remember taking this sight in and saying to my sister, “This must be what Heaven’s like.”

We picked one. A little female with a stripe down her snout. We named her Riley.

Riley grew up hyper, as many goldens do. But her hyperactivity never seemed to lessen with time. Riley lived with my parents for several years, and then my sister took her in. We all thought that was a great idea. As a runner, my sister could help Riley expend some of that overwhelming energy on long jogs.

A few years later though, Riley changed hands once again and became mine. The country dog turned city dog when she moved into my brownstone apartment in Chicago, where I was living single and enjoying the bustle of urban life.

We bonded. I loved having a companion when I was living on my own–someone to welcome me home after a long day. Someone to alert me when a stranger was at the door. And someone to make me feel secure as a single female living alone in a garden floor apartment that my friends affectionately dubbed the “crack house.”

Riley loved to be petted. Many evenings as I typed away on my laptop while sitting on the family room floor, she’d saunter over to me, pause and then plop her hiney directly on my keyboard. She’d nudge my wrist and wait for the petting to begin.

I remember my first car trip home to Michigan with her. In my naive way, I had assumed she’d spread out in the backseat and take a nap. But oh no. Riley wanted to be up front. No, not in the shotgun seat. She wanted to be on my lap, as I drove. Yup, I almost died as this 70+ pound fur ball finagled her way on to my lap on I-94.  Needless to say, a kennel was quickly purchased to keep her contained on future five-hour drives home.

But perhaps Riley is most well known for her eating habits. The stories of “What Has Riley Eaten Lately?” have made many people laugh and left many others astounded that she actually was still alive. Among the non-edible items Riley has eaten are a highlighter, a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, my Northwestern vs. Michigan football tickets, an 18k gold bracelet, a wad of cash, a full baseball mitt (yes you read that correctly), a size 18-month dress and accompanying bloomers, numerous dish towels, the linoleum of my parents’ kitchen floor, and way too many socks, wash cloths and bibs to count.

If any of this sounds vaguely like a dog you know, let me help you out. Marley. You know, from Marley and Me? Riley is Marley’s female counterpart. She could eat and eat and eat and eat until the cows came home. She can (and has) pulled people over while running on a leash. And while she earned numerous blue ribbons in obedience school, she rarely listened at home.

But she loved me–I have no doubt about that. And she had a great heart.

And this morning, she died. And I am so sad that this troubled, goofy, adorable dog is gone. Mandy, our 12-year-old yellow lab, is feeling it too. She hung her head as I cried with my face buried in my husband’s shoulder this morning. My 17-month-old daughter won’t quite get where her other furry friend is, and I suspect it will sting in the days ahead as she walks around the house calling for “Wiley.”

There’s nothing quite like watching your dog struggle to take in her last few breaths. While I am the first to admit Riley was far from perfect, I am so glad I was the last one to own and love her. She really did better my life.

As I attempted to regain composure this morning after my husband washed off Riley’s red collar and tags so I’d have a memento of my friend, I decided I needed to say one last good bye to the Riley dog. I went out to the garage where she was lying on a soft green blanket and touched her one last time. The waterworks unleashed once more. And ever one to provide comic relief, my husband said, “Babe, she’s already in Heaven eating Jesus’ sandals.” And, you know what, I wouldn’t doubt that he is right.

So long my friend! Thanks for the memories–good and bad. You are already missed.

Highlight of our Sunday evening

August 23, 2010

Hands down was this…

p.s. I realize ours is not the first baby/toddler to get her groove on to Beyonce. What is it about this song?!

p.p.s. I am very excited that, as you just witnessed, Meghan is now twirling.

A love story

August 18, 2010

My husband and I were set up on a blind date. A friend from a former job suggested that I meet her husband’s brother. Seeing as how I had had little luck in finding love on my own, I agreed to have her put us in contact. After a brief e-mail exchange, he and I met at a restaurant near my apartment. I vividly remember swigging a beer while listening to No Doubt’s “It’s My Life” to calm my nerves before departing for the three-minute walk to Tilli’s on the night of our meeting.

I didn’t want to be early, so I walked around the neighborhood a few times. And then I made my approach. I opened the door to the restaurant. It was a Wednesday evening so there were few people inside. I don’t why I thought he’d be standing right at the door, but no one was there. I scanned the bar and saw a friendly face smiling my way. He stood up. I walked over. We ordered a Harp and began our first conversation. Little did we know then that three years later we’d get married in Petoskey, Mich., and almost five years to the day later that we’d welcome a little peanut into the world.

That night we only knew we were both a little nervous. I wore flats because I didn’t want to be any bit taller than my five feet 10 and three quarter inches. He wore a zip sweater and khaki pants. We shook hands after chatting over two beers and then parted ways. I didn’t know where it would lead, but I knew I wanted to see him again.

And I did. And it must be said that he was a lot of fun to date. One spring evening, I arrived at his home to smell my favorite goodie, banana bread, baking in the oven. One fall day, he brought me a pumpkin. Once he sent me a card with a hammock on the front and a one-sentence message inside saying how he’d like to spend a lazy day with me in a hammock. There were other gestures (including one awesome one involving an extreme home makeover), but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll keep those for myself.

Now, six plus years after we met, we’re settled into domestic life. And while I think we both would admit that the butterflies we felt in the early days of our courtship are gone, something else pretty special has taken their place.

Seeing my husband as a father has made me feel even more fortunate to have found him. He’s a get-down-on-the-ground-to-be-at-eye-level kind of dad. And as I observed him the other night with our daughter, one thought came to mind: I am so very blessed!

Love you B!

p.s. If you want to read a really great love story, check out Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s chronicle of her courtship with the Marlboro Man (I hear it’s being made into a movie)! Start here.

When credit card use is a good idea

August 8, 2010

Want to know what 10,400 American Express reward points can get you?

A Step2® Push Around Buggy.

Want to know how you’ll feel when it arrives and you get to present it to a 16-month-old with really curly hair and a gap between her two front teeth?

Like it’s Christmas Day.