Archive for May, 2013

The other day I read and re-posted Glennon Melton’s excellent screed on the sacred monotony of parenting. And it got me thinking about how I respond when people ask me how things are going or what I’ve been doing.

As she points out, the answer is not actually “wiping bottoms and washing bottles.” That stuff is a given, but it’s secondary to the driving force behind all the chores. In essence, my days revolve around the answer to the question, “What does this baby need?” And I ask that question, silently or out loud, dozens of times a day.

Some days, the answer is as simple as a fresh diaper or a bath. Those are good days that I sail through, feeling like motheriest mother there is. Other days, I try to answer the question, the baby makes it clear that I’ve guessed wrong, and I feel like an utterly unqualified Martian. I mean, really, how hard can it be to help a baby get to sleep? But sometimes, it’s ridiculously hard, and even if the baby has the answer, he’s not exactly coherent when he shares it.

I also ask about my own needs. I tend to need things I can either get easily (chocolate, a laugh, a hug) or mollify myself into waiting for (quiet, sleep, a beer). But again, sometimes I don’t know what I need. And those moments, or afternoons, or days, suck, and I go to bed thinking, tomorrow will be better, I hope.

Then there are the needs of the couple to consider: We need a lot more just-us time than we get. When we do get it, sometimes we reconnect easily, and other times we spend our precious baby-free time reading from different pages of different scripts, our needs colliding and going unmet. Even though I know these clashes are temporary, they’re frustrating.

Last on the list of needs is the house. There is always a surface to vacuum, scrub, wipe, sweep, mop or dust (my least favorite). I try not to worry too much about doing these things on a schedule, but it’s also true that one of the things I need is a certain level of order and cleanliness. And while my husband helps, most weeks I do most of the routine cleaning in between meeting the needs of the baby, myself, and my marriage.

So that’s what I’ve been up to: Managing competing needs as best I can, letting some things go as I move others to the top of the list. It’s hard to explain why, but in some ways it feels like an invisible game of Jenga.

On good days, the tower never falls.


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You are 16 months old.

Your favorite food is anything with peanut butter on it.

Your favorite toy (see photo above) is Mama’s least favorite because all it does is squawk out one of two songs when the button is pushed. Fortunately, Elmo gets tired and needs naps rather frequently.

You will eat banana from a spoon, but if we offer you chunks of it, you either squish it or ask for the peel so you can put it back.

You offer your bottle to Ned (your bedtime buddy) after every meal.

You make an “ah” noise after you take a drink of water. Almost every time.

You think Mama’s farts come from her shoes.

You have begun to say “hi” to other kids. When a shy, overtired preschooler ignored your greeting you followed him, hopefully saying “hi” over and over.

You like to scribble on paper, and you like to turn the paper over to scribble on the other side.

You like Mama to sing the songs on your music table. You indicate this by starting a song and turning to stare at her.

You are enraptured by ants and will throw yourself flat on the floor to watch and follow them.

You think running away when Mama says, “Please come here” is a very funny thing to do.

You squawk when refused something you want, such as for the dishwasher to be opened.

You fling your arms skyward and grab your head when asked, “How big is Baboo?”

You can reach the water dispenser on the fridge. And so we are thankful that we can lock it.

You’ve had another bad round of teething lately, waking up at night and skipping naps. You seem to be working on your upper canines now that your lower ones are in.

You have begun to ask for the same book to be read to you over and over. Lately you’ve been doing this with “The Snowy Day.”

You have begun to refuse certain books, most recently “Clap Your Hands,” which was your chosen “repeat” book a few days ago.

You now give Mama leg hugs.

You gave Daddy a kiss on Father’s Day when he asked for one.

You’ve had your first few trips to a playground and seem amazed and delighted by all the space. The first time, you spent about 10 minutes holding Mama’s finger and eating Cheerios, then you followed her when she got up to throw something away. And then you spotted the water fountain and headed straight for it.

You love to entertain us with silly sounds. There’s one thing you do with your lower lip that we didn’t teach you — and can’t figure out how to duplicate.

You are 16 months old, and you’re more fun every day.

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This stuff is super-gentle on sensitive baby skin, smells heavenly, and produces bubbles galore — and it works like a dream on overtired and cranky parents.

Or maybe that was the port.

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As we’ve journeyed through the jungle that is feeding a baby, or at least feeding this baby, we have discovered that Baboo favors the novelty of food that comes out of packets.

That’s right: baby food now comes in squeeze-out packets. I discovered this just before we took the baby on a plane for the first time. I think I fell on my knees in Schnucks.

Anyway. Even a baby knows food from a tube is cooler than food from a tub, so one or two packets a week quickly becomes one or two a day and suddenly you’re all like, how did I spend $50 on one bag of groceries? Oh, easy: a gallon of organic milk and squeeze tubes of baby food.

It’s not that the kid doesn’t like the food I make him. I know this because on several occasions, something I’d offered him from a bowl was rejected, only to be greeted with enthusiasm when squeezed out of a Frankensteined packet. But that approach quickly became tedious, and the bottom closure was always problematic.

So my research-happy hubs hopped online and found several refillable food pouch options. And of course we picked the cutest ones: Squooshies.

And so now even if Baboo rejects something, we can still get him to giggle at whatever animal we’re waving in front of him. Much better.

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Many parents have said to me that the baby beginning to walk is a game changer. I see what they mean, but yesterday the baby expressed an intense interest in this:

I would argue that this is much more of a game changer, if only in terms of the mental space I’ll need to dedicate to making sure the bathroom door is always closed and making sure the lid lock is on after every use. There’s already so much stuff taking up space in my head that cramming one more thing in there is a daunting thought.

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This morning, in order to distract Baboo from the sad fact that his beloved Daddy was going upstairs to shower, I asked him where Baby Boy was. (And yes, I know. We really should give this doll a name, but it’s just not very high on the priority list.)

The baby was still standing at the gate making unhappy noises, so I inquired again where the doll was. Then I asked if perhaps he needed a fresh diaper.

Well, that did it. Baboo went over and got the doll, and we checked his diaper together. Then we did and undid his shirt several times, or rather I did his shirt several times and Baboo undid it, because while he is very good at opening the little Velcro fastening, he’s not very good at closing it. And he loves to open it.

Baby Boy gave Baboo a few thank-you hugs, which he responded to by cocking his head to the side and giggling, shoulders up by his ears.

This, my friends. This is what I live for. This is my wheelhouse.

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You are 15 months old.

You decided to start walking a few weeks ago, and now you cruise the length of the house like you’ve always done it. You’re slowly giving up your adorable crabby-gorilla crawl which makes us a bit sad — but also happy we captured it for posterity.

You have been through your first ear infection, and your first experience with antibiotics. This was not a happy time, but you remained sweet through all of it.

You throw yourself down flat on your belly or back when we come to pick you up after a nap. You laugh your fool head off when you do this.

You love to gnaw on hunks of apple, though Cheerios are still your favorite food.

You cannot resist the impulse to take things out of the recycling bin.

You prefer the Spanish setting on your musical table. This is why Mama knows the ABC song en EspaƱol. Sometimes she sings it to you, and you look at her like, “How do you know that?”

You recently spent a significant amount of time putting a toy into an empty baby biscuit box and taking it out and putting it back in and taking it out… (See photo above) You were very happy while you did this unless the toy got stuck, in which case you made unhappy noises and asked Mama for help.

You have a pair of shoes that you like to have Mama put on and take off over and over. We hope you’ll be okay with leaving them on when you start to walk outside.

You have had three haircuts. For the latest one, Mama let you watch the “Mnah Mnah” video while Grammie did the snipping. You were slack-jawed the first few times, and then you got really excited about it.

You form kisses with great concentration, making a puckery fish mouth first and then popping it open with a loud smack.

You have used the sign for “please” a few times.

You use the sign for “more” to say “help” and “want.” And “more.”

You have begun to make like a wet noodle when you don’t want to be picked up.

You want to touch all the trees, bushes and flowers we pass on our walks. You even want to touch the pine tree in our yard even though you know it’s pokey and you make an “ick” face when it pricks your fingers.

You like to help Mama put your bath toys away.

You enjoy brushing your teeth so much that Mama has to remind you to wait your turn because she needs to go first.

Your current nicknames are Baboo, Boots, Boo, Chickoo, and Little Mister.

You have discovered the joy that is “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

You understand that you can put things in pockets.

You can work a zipper.

You laugh uproariously at the “comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” page in “Goodnight Moon,” but only when Daddy reads it to you.

You are 15 months old and we’re pretty sure you’ll start running someday soon.

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A week ago, we hit the vaunted milestone of Baby’s First Ear Infection, and thus we have had our first experience with antibiotics. Things were going pretty well — he was sleeping better and he was eating less, but still eating — until Tuesday afternoon.

Baboo was struggling to go to sleep for his second nap, so I checked his diaper and found not only a number two but the nastiest diaper rash I’ve seen on him so far. I wouldn’t even call it a rash so much as the baby skin version of slash and burn. He shuddered with pain when I touched it even lightly, and he cried for a while after I was finished cleaning him up. And when I say he cried I mean he wailed like his heart was breaking. Which also means I was crying as I was cleaning him up, and apologizing the whole time.

I brought him downstairs for some distraction and called his doctor’s office to ask what might be done. The nurse, who was very sympathetic and helpful, was not surprised in the slightest. She gave me instructions on how to help him: use only wet washcloths to wipe him; daily baths with baking soda; probiotics; no fruit besides bananas and apples; as much yogurt, white bread and rice as he’ll eat; and my personal favorite, let him run round naked.

Her advice was reassuring, but her level of “of course” got me thinking: Why hadn’t the doctor, or the nurse, or the pharmacist, said anything about the likelihood of this medicine turning my baby’s poo into acid? Sure would have been nice. The only person who had warned me about this was my cousin, so I’d been on the alert and doing quick changes as soon as I detected poo, but the load that burned his bum was only in there for about 20 minutes.

Yes, having been on antibiotics I should perhaps have realized that what happened to me on them would likely happen to him, but I was strung out from a few days and nights of dealing with a very unhappy baby. That is to say, thinking logically was not in my wheelhouse. Getting his prescription filled ASAP and getting him home to bed were my prime directives.

So I suppose my aim here is twofold:

1. Medical professionals, please pass along information like this.

2. Parents, the first time you put your kid on antibiotics, make sure you pick up probiotics (my doc recommended Culturelle) at the pharmacy. And use lots and lots and lots of Desitin. And prepare to entertain your kid on the changing table while you let his nether regions air out. Might be a separate post about that soon…

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Another rainy day. A kvetchy baby. Bedtime. The one thing he cannot sleep without — a mobile that projects a light show on the ceiling — is malfunctioning.

My mother is helping me wrangle the baby on the changing table. The mobile is going on and off, on and off, randomly. I curse the cheap batteries we put in it and call for a fresh set. I take it down, change the batteries, put it back up.

Problem not solved. On and off, on and off. I start to panic. Handle him, I say, while I take this to The One Who Fixes Things. He reports no problem that he can see.

I start to mentally prepare myself to entertain the kvetchy baby while someone makes a Target run for a new mobile. Preferably the exact same one.

Then the One Who Fixes Things notices that the baby is holding this:


It’s the remote for the mobile.

We gave it to the baby to keep him entertained while we changed him.

Hilarity ensued.

And then the baby slept.

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I'm over 50. I'm raising a fifth grader. Sometimes he posts too.


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