Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm not going to BlogHer

Who puts the mommy in mommyblogger?

After a weekend of deliberation, I've decided that I really can't justify the expense of attending BlogHer this July. If I was a serious blogger instead someone who just does this for fun, I'd treat the $400 flight, $200 registration fee and cash outlay for hotel and taxis an investment.

But I'm not. I'm more blogging mommy than mommyblogger, and while I'm charmed as hell that a few hundred people like to read about my exploits in pottytraining, I'm no Dooce. That said, I'll miss circulating at the Silicon Valley/Chicago/NYC/DC/LA Moms Blog Party, stuffing my suitcase with swag and meeting some of my favorite bloggers in person, but this way I'll be able take my kids backstage at the Pitchfork Music Festival and celebrate Baby A's birthday with a backyard barbecue.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Have a wonderful weekend

I'm looking forward to sharing my kids with my in-laws this weekend. Both of them have been so delightful lately. Their joy is infectious, isn't it? IMG_1635

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Where's my bad mommy award?

I let my 3 year old daughter cheat at CandyLand.
And I tricked her into washing my bras.

I fed cheese pizza to my 8 month old and kept her up until 7:45pm.
Then I treated her to a 3am nursing session because, while Josh and I would like her to sleep all night, we love our peace and quiet more.

I lost track of how many glasses of sangria I drank at a company outing. And it's only Thursday!

So it's fitting that, while costing flights and finding roomies for BlogHer 2008, it took me a few minutes to realize I won't just be leaving Josh alone with two kids during the annual Pitchfork Music Festival (he's a Pitchfork writer and would be there from 11am-11pm if he had his druthers). I'll be leaving on Baby A's first birthday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The lazy mom wins

"Mommy! I don't wanna take a bath tonight!"
"You didn't take a bath yesterday, so you need to wash tonight. Your choice: bath or a shower."
"How about this. If you hop into the tub, I'll let you wash my bras."

Tub + 3 year old + 2 bras + baby wash = everyone and everything clean and happy...especially this mama.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Product review: Ergo baby carrier

I loved my Hug-a-Bub wrap when Baby A was tiny. I even liked it as she grew bigger and could face the world (although it put a bit more stress on my shoulders). But now that my little terror is grabbing and reaching for everything in sight, it is just no fun having her strapped to my front. I don't need her grabbing knives off the counter or, G-d forbid, reaching for a pot on the stove.

Enter the eighth--yes eighth (more on that later)--baby carrier of my parenting life, the Ergo Baby Carrier. This frameless pack can be worn on your front or back, but its strength is really as a backpack. Unlike our unwieldy REI frame baby backpack, this one is soft, machine washable, and small enough to roll up into ball (or fit into a diaper bag). It holds your baby or toddler against your back, which is nice and snuggly for both of you. So comfy, in fact, that Baby A fell asleep in it on Sunday, which gave me the chance to try out its sleeping hood.

The Ergo is recommended for babies 6 months and up, but you can purchase an infant insert for it. I can't see wanting to use it for newborns since small babies are perfectly comfortable in a tidy little wrap or sling and the Ergo is so much bigger and bulkier. I also probably wouldn't feel comfortable putting a child much smaller than Baby A (an 18lb 8 month old) in the backpack position. She fits in there comfortably, but looks like she has a lot of room to grow.

Anyway, so far I'm delighted with my purchase. At $92, it wasn't cheap, but I'd seen it in action on a couple of moms lately and they both had nothing but praise for the Ergo.

Still reading? Here's a quick rundown of my baby carriers, past and present:
Baby Bjorn Original: a gift from my co-workers, this front carrier was Z's favorite place to be during the so-called witching hour. Josh wore it for hours, placing a cloth diaper over Z's head so he could eat dinner. I hated wearing it as it made my shoulders and back ache.
Baby Bjorn Active: this much improved version of the Bjorn is on loan from my best friend. It is still the only infant carrier Josh can manage, but he's going to have to learn to use the Ergo because Franny's due in 9 weeks!
Over the Shoulder Baby Holder: a padded ring sling I purchased when Z was born and have used with both my babies. It's fine.
Mei Tei Carrier: Oh, how I wanted to love this beautiful back carrier. But Z hated it and Josh was convinced I'd drop her trying to get her into it. I ended up selling it on Craigslist to a former coworker.
REI Tagalong Child Carrier: I like this backpack a lot, but I have a tendency to knock people and objects with the bulky metal frame. It is great for hiking, airport travel and long walks, but not so good for cooking and cleaning house.
Hug-a-Bub: Love, love, love it!
Mod Mum Sling: I won this stylish one-piece sling in December and I've gotten a lot of use out of it, but Baby A is starting to outgrow it.

I let my daughter cheat

I was playing CandyLand with Z last night. She was closing in on the finish line when she drew the peppermint stick card. It would have sent her back nearly to the beginning.

"Mommy, I don't think I want this card. Can I choose another?"

"Sure!" I replied, relieved the game would end sooner rather than later.

Anyone know of any preschooler board games that are fun for parents too?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

She finally rolled over

Today Baby A decided she's going to be a baby on the move. After two full months of sitting up and happily going nowhere, she started rolling front to back and back to front today. To say she was pleased with her accomplishment would be a mighty understatement. She was thrilled.

Not your typical week

Wondering why I haven't posted in a couple of days?

On Thursday I woke up at 4am to catch a 6:30am flight to Cinci for a business meeting. I made it home at 7:15pm, just 20 minutes after Baby A fell asleep. On Friday the weather reverted to winter (boo), and now we have about 4 inches of snow on the ground. It's also worth noting that on Friday morning I faced my fear of the IUD and got myself 10 years' worth of birth control. Read the whole sordid story here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sleep training in Australia

I got this note from my sister this morning: "Sorry about the slow reply. Eliza and I have been at Tresillian sleep school and we are still away, don't get back til Thursday."

My sister lives in Australia, where you can apparently go to a kind of sleep training sleepaway camp with your baby.

Monday, March 17, 2008

8 months old

When I realized this morning that Baby A turns 8 months old today, I could barely believe it. I mean, seriously, where does the time go?

Josh's mini-me marked the milestone with two championship naps (which Josh was home to witness...and enjoy) and the largest dinner we've seen her put away yet. She fed herself half a regular-sized sweet potato, two-thirds of a Monterey Jack cheese stick, a hunk of Italian bread (minus the crust), a handful of Gerber stars and two graham crackers.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

10 outfits and 1 book for $37

Hanna Andersson, Old Navy, Gap, Children's Place and OshKosh--those are just a few of the brands I stuffed into an extra-large garbage bag while shopping at the Parenthesis Spring Rummage sale this morning. I've always believed in shopping the sales, but I see little need to venture into retail stores for kids' clothes and toys these days. With so many families in Oak Park, the quality and prices I can find at community rummage sales really can't be beat.

But it isn't just economics that has me purchasing barely-worn embroidered denim and kitty-cat pajamas for my young-uns. Ecologically speaking, reusing children's stuff makes sense too. The world doesn't need to manufacture plastic for yet another high chair or Cozy Coupe (and pump enough oil to ship it here from China).

That's why our high chair is a Freecyle find and Z's push-powered car was picked up at our synagogue rummage sale. Our toddler bed, Britax car seat, bouncy chair and Exersaucer are hand-me-downs and both my Baby Bjorn and my Hug-a-Bub carriers are on loan from friends. Even our plastic kiddie picnic table was a freebie--we swapped it for a mini backyard slide we'd inherited from friends.

With day care, preschool and babysitters, kids are expensive enough as it is. I don't need to spend a fortune on crap that we won't be using for more than a couple of years. That's why I was intrigued when Parent Bloggers Network alerted me to a new resource for parents who want to expand their baby gear sharing beyond their immediate circle of friends. Zwaggle assigns point values to children's items given away to other members--points which can then be spent on new used stuff. There don't appear to be many Chicago area members yet, but I'm tempted to join anyway since some items won't be too expensive to ship (FedEx is integrated into the site).

Best. Toy. Ever.

I found the American equivalent of my favorite childhood toy, the German-made Kugelbahn at the Economy Shop today. It is basically a track you can build to race marbles down. Judging from the Marbleworks package, it appears this toy is 1980s vintage.

Five dollars very well spent.

It looks like Discovery Toys is still selling Marbleworks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Step up, Silda Spitzer

I'm thoroughly disgusted with (now former) NY Governor Elliot Spitzer and his expensive call girl habit, but what really gets me hot under the collar is seeing his wife Silda stand stoically by his side.

I'm sure she thinks she's doing his family (he has teenage daughters) a favor by holding it together and playing the part of the perfect political wife, but get a life! The kids might not have known about daddy's dirty secrets before, but they definitely know now.

You're doing womankind an enormous disservice by letting him get away with disrespecting you (never mind frittering away $80,000 of your family fortune on unsafe sex that puts you at risk).

Don't stand there like a fool. Get a lawyer and change the locks on the Governor's mansion.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sleeping through the night

Here's where I jinx myself by blogging...

You see, as Josh and I were getting ready for bed Saturday night, we decided that it was high time Baby A dropped her midnight snack. I closed Z's door, pulled out a pair of earplugs and steeled myself for an hour of crying.

But she didn't wake up until 6am. (It was 6am instead of 5am thanks to Daylight Savings Time.)

Last night it happened again. She slept from 7:15pm until 5:30am, nursed, and fell back asleep for another 30 minutes or so.

Either we're the luckiest parents in the world or there's something to letting the kid stuff herself with solid food at dinner time. She still won't stand for a spoon, but at last night's Indian potluck she fed herself naan, basmati rice and Cheerios.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Baby portraiture: I'll pass on the Easter eggs

Z was invited to a tea party from 11-1 today, so Josh and I seized the opportunity and hightailed it out to Oak Brook to get a "professional" portrait of Baby A at Picture People (I had a coupon for a free print).

I stripped her down and asked to have her shot against a black background (I figured that's the least cheesy look they offer), but we couldn't coax many smiles out of our typically happy kid because she was completely distracted by the family on the other side of the curtain. It seemed mom and grandma had dragged out a 2 year old girl and her younger sister (about Baby A's age) for a series of matching outfit portraits. Because nothing captures happy memories like forcing a hysterical toddler into a cheerleading dress...and an Easter dress...and casual wear... In front of different backdrops...

We didn't have enough time to stick around for the proofs and hard sell, so I'll have to wait to check my email tonight to see if we got any good naked baby shots. In spite of her mostly serious expressions, she's still darn cute.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fitness starts now

Yesterday I got the results of my fitness assessment from one of the trainers at my company's private gym (oh yeah, you heard that right). I'm average to below average in most areas. Which is not terribly surprising because I haven't worked out in, oh, 16 months or so.

But today marked the dawning of a new era! I've got a lovely gym and workout classes right across the street from my office and a personal locker filled with shoes and exercise clothes (that they launder). There are no more excuses. I will get fit. Or fitter, anyway.

So today I took Pilates. And it kicked my core.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Baby-led weaning

Almost by accident, we've begun practicing something called baby-led weaning. It basically involves skipping over infant cereal and pureed foods and letting your child gradually learn to feed herself.

I didn't plan on straying from the typical method of introducing solids. I whipped up veggie purees and froze them in ice cube trays, but Baby A doesn't want anyone spoon feeding her anything, no matter how organic or home-cooked it is.

So we're giving her lots of real foods to experiment with. She licks it, tastes and mushes it between her gums and tiny teeth. Some of it actually ends up going down the hatch. She loves her some starches: Cheerios, bread, plain bagels, corn tortillas, whole grain waffles, plain pasta and pancakes. She's also enjoyed peas, sweet potatoes, bananas, peaches and chicken soup. Cut-up grapes and cooked carrot didn't go over so well, but I'll try them again soon. I'm also going to offer her uncooked tofu, cheddar cheese, pasta with Parmesan, cooked broccoli or cauliflower and bits of meat.

Apparently baby-led weaning (also called BLW) is increasingly popular in the UK and more and more research says that there's no need to spoon feed purees if you're waiting until your child is 6 months old to introduce solids. In fact, kids fed purees may become picky eaters and reject lumpy foods.

Other mothers are somewhat shocked (and perhaps a little dismayed) to see us without the requisite jars of Earth's Best, but while I didn't make a conscious choice to go with BLW, I'm happy to spread the word about a baby care trend that saves money and packaging and makes less work for us parents!

You can't make this stuff up

After my gloom and doom posts, it's time for a little levity. Courtesy of my 3-year-old. Who never stops talking.

"I'm scared of the monsters in my room. They want to war on me."

"All girls have vaginas, right Mommy? Baby A has a teeny tiny vagina. And I have a big vagina. And you have a great big Mommy vagina!"

"What happens if you don't have a heart? Do you die? What if you don't have a brain?"

"When can we go to Cinderella's house?"

The cost of war

No, I'm not talking about lives lost. I'm talking about money. Read The $2 Trillion Nightmare and tell me George W. Bush isn't the worst President in U.S. history.

Afraid to click? Know that, for what we spend on war each day, we could pay for:

58,000 additional children in Head Start for a year
Pell Grants for 160,000 low-income students for a year
The annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents
The annual salaries of 14,000 more police officers

Imagine how much we could invest in environmental protection, green energy and incentives for reducing emissions! We could fund universal health care for the uninsured!

On top of that, it is believed that the $2 trillion estimate is too low. With the cost of care for returning veterans, we'll end up paying $3 trillion. For what?

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog

Monday, March 03, 2008

Put down that body polish

I've been horrified by much of what I've read so far in The World Without Us, but hearing about the dangers of body scrubs really put me over the edge. Now many of these products (including my favorite, Trader Joe's Sea Salt Scrub) use salt, sugar or tiny bits of walnut shells, and that's OK. But a lot of body wash, scrub and polish brands include "'micro-fine polyethylene granules,' 'polyethylene micro-spheres' or 'polyethylene beads.'" Tiny bits of plastic designed to go right down the drain and into our rivers, lakes and oceans, where they can (and will be) swallowed by sea creatures.

I probably don't need to tell you that this stuff never goes away, it just accumulates in the ecosystem, eventually blocking the stomachs and intestines of fish, birds and other animals.

Parenthack: The animal guessing game

Not in the mood to play Candy Land or read the Cinderella book yet again, I asked Z to guess what animal I was thinking of based on 2 or 3 clues. We started with the obvious ones, but she loved the game so much I exhausted my memory of the zoo, aquarium and farm animals. This would also make a great car game and a nice alternative to "I spy," which is what we typically play when Z starts in with the, "It's taking a long time to get to _______."

Here are a couple of examples to try on your toddler/preschooler:
I'm thinking of an animal that lives in Australia and carries its baby in a pouch.
I'm thinking of an animal whose face looks like a mask. He lives in North America and sometimes eats garbage.

At one point Z wanted to take a turn. Her first clue was great: "I'm thinking of an animal with a hard back that lives in the water." I guessed turtle, but it was a crab. Then she said "I'm thinking of an animal that's a whale. It lives in the ocean and has a tail... Can you guess what it is, Mommy?"

"Um, a whale?"

"Yes!!!" she shouted as she jumped up and down, amazed with my brilliance.

As I was putting her to bed, Z asked if we could play "Guess the Princess." With only seven princesses in the Disney lineup, this is a much less challenging, less fun game. Which princess pricks her finger on a spinning wheel...Which one lives under the sea...Which one has a fairy godmother...Which one falls in love with a man with a magic lantern...You get the idea.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's a whirlwind

In the last four days, I've dined at De La Costa (with clients), Sushi House (with my mommy friends) and Hot Chocolate (with Josh and the girls). Sushi House is a new addition to Oak Park, and I'm thrilled. Really fresh, fabulous sushi at good prices.

I babysat, volunteered at Z's preschool open house, and accompanied both kids to a neighbor's birthday party at My Gym. I'm very proud of the birthday present I got for the birthday girl. Like most four-year-olds, she likes the Disney Princesses. But unlike the rest of them, she loves Alicia Keys. Really loves her. Wants to grow up to be her. So I went to T-Shirt Deli in Bucktown and created a custom "Lil' Alicia Keys" tee. It was a big hit.

And now we have another potential friend in the neighborhood. I diverted a few of the chocolate chip cookies I'd baked for the open house and brought them as a "welcome to the neighborhood" gift to the family that just moved in a few doors up the street. They've got a daughter one year younger than Z and the girls hit it off as I chatted with her parents.