Boo's first Christmas meal

Boo's first Christmas meal consisted of:
Proscuitto and Herb Pork Loin
Crab and Corn Chowder
Garlicky Gruyere Mashed Potatoes with Bacon
Sage, Rosemary & Thyme Gravy
Pancetta Green Beens (we love all forms of bacon, can you tell?)
Gougere Puffs
Grandma J's Deviled Eggs
Grandma J's famous Lumpia
Chocolate Chip Mousse Cake
Gingersnap Cookies
Scott's Pumpkin Pie

The Joy of Today's Toys

I'll admit it: I am the ultimate consumer. As pro-environment, pro-small business, pro-Reduce/Reuse/Recycle as I like to try to be, I am every marketer's dream. Easily suckered in by smart target advertising. Purchasing decisions in our household are often made based on which product has the most attractive packaging. Being in public relations, I value the work that goes into market research, right-on-target-market design, and clever copywriting. I feel those folks should be rewarded with my hard earned dollars, since they have, in my mind, earned theirs.

The world of toys is a new and fascinating world to me and my husband. What a mega industry it is. We try to temper our toy buying to just "educational" toys for Buddy Boo. What we've learned with Boo's first Christmas, is that nearly all toys really are education-based these days. Most of you probably already know this, but to us newbies, WOW is the word. When we were young, toys just had to be pretty and fun - I don't recall any verbiage on the packaging that talked about whether the toy would help me with math or reading skills. Certainly my first toys weren't created and bought based on the ability to teach me motor skills or cause and effect skills (not that I could read at a year old, but I have my hunches).

We woke up after Boo's first Christmas to a mini toy store. Building blocks, a Baby Einstein learning piano, soft shape sorter, animal orchestra stacker. Amid the darling baby clothes, baby necessities, stuffed animals and precious gifts, Boo broke out the colorful toys and started playing...and learning.

I'm today convinced that consumerism in today's world isn't such a bad thing. It's consumerism that pushed toy companies to make more toys that combine simple fun with educational qualities. I wish I had some of these toys when I was younger! ALL of Boo's new toys will help him grow and learn in some way, plus they are super cute, and they are fun for him to play with. All of the packaging touted each toy's special educational purpose, and I appreciate it. Even if some of it seems a bit far reaching. For a newbie mom, it helps give me pointers on how to help him play to get the most out of his toys.

Of course, all of this is nonsense to little Boo. At the end of his play sessions, he just wants to eat the toys...and the boxes they came in. Go figure :)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday!


Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I can't believe it's already Christmas. We love, love, love hosting Christmas dinner at our house each year, and this year there's so much more to look forward to! So many traditions to pass on, and so many new ones yet to start. Christmas really is about Believing. Miracles. Love. It's all of those things, and so much more now.

Before we put Boo to bed for the night, we told him the story of Santa Claus. The story we haven't told him is the original, religious story of Christmas. It's a story I am quite frankly a bit apprehensive to tell him, because I am not comfortable with it myself. Religion is a touchy topic, especially these days in the U.S., and I have no doubt what I am about to write will make some of you uncomfortable, some of you angry, and will also make some of you nod in agreement. Regardless, it's my blog, and it's something that's been on my mind since Boo was born, so you can either continue reading with the understanding that these are my beliefs and my experiences, which I do not intend to impose upon anyone else, or you can stop reading right now. As always with blogs, the choice is yours.

I grew up in a heavily Roman Catholic family, but I stopped going to church sometime during college (even the obligatory midnight mass came to an end a few years back for me). Don't get me wrong, I do believe. I believe in the wonder of many religious beliefs. I am in love with the stories and the faith and the magic of them all. But I do not believe in church itself.

This disengagement, for me, began possibly as early as around 10 years old, when nobody could ever give me a serious, straight answer for my very serious 10-year-old questions about God - not the priest, not the nuns, not my parents, not my friends, not anything I read (including the Bible) - and when I wanted to find answers about anything, I read a lot. My family went to church every Sunday, and my parents have become very active in their church. I am very proud of them for their faith and their active participation in that community. It is simply not for me, and it never was. I have fond memories of the singing and the stories of hope and faith and the kindness of strangers and going out for lunch as a special treat on Sundays (like I've said before, I have always loved good food)... but I was put off by the constant sermons that attempted to make me feel guilty about living, that told horrible tales of suffering without reasonable explanation, that included hearty moral contradictions within the same sermon. That, and I could never keep still in church, nor could I keep quiet. And I also got kicked out of summer Bible school when I was of elementary school age. I think, in part, because the teacher had no answers for my constant barrage of questions. No concrete ones, anyway. But, I digress...

My husband doesn't come from a very religious background. His father is Jewish and his mother is Protestant, but he says they never really talked about religion, nor did they go to church. He attended midnight mass with me a couple of times early on in our relationship. The best part for him was the "Peace by with you" part. I always forget, but I like that part too. It's a great feeling to reach across the pew, shake hands with a stranger, and offer a greeting of peace with a smile. That gentle gesture was a nice part of church.

Anyway, we've talked about how we are going to handle religion with our baby boy. I don't think we've come to any conclusion, however. I'd like to be able to take him to priests and rabbis and ministers and so on, to have him learn about all of the different religions of the world. Catholicism. Judaism. Hinduism. It's all very, very fascinating and part of me wants him to be able to have all of the information possible so he can make a decision about religion that is right for him. I want him to see the absolute faith that people hold across the globe, in whatever their faith may be. I want him to never be afraid to question. I hope he finds faith in the good, the kind-hearted, the beauty of the world's differences.

This all comes to a climax now, of course, as Christmas approaches. I am sure we'll tell him the story of Jesus someday, but not yet. He still has to experience the wonders of his baby world, and come to understand the everyday miracles that life here on earth brings. Christmas, for us, is about Love and Family. Believing in the goodness of mankind. Helping others. Appreciating life and each other.

To anyone reading this: Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Winter Solstice or the simple beginning of another beautiful year on earth, I wish you and yours all the happiness in the world. May you find love, belief, and goodness this season. May you continue to share your heart, your goodwill, with others in the year to come. May you continue to blog and read blogs with an open heart and an open mind.

Happy Holidays, to one and all!


Ah, but to dream...

As a new mom, I sometimes fall into that blissful odd world between beautiful reality and utopic possibility. Before, my husband and I would dream and plan and discuss all of these great ideas we had for the future. Now, we still do that, but the focus has shifted to tempering our far out dreams with our child's needs and a more realistic timeline.

I like to think my husband and I are both optimists, rather than dreamers. We dream big and then figure out how to logically make things work. Right now I feel like we have many big dreams that will take longer to accomplish because we have a child, and that's ok. It's testing our planning skills, and I think this is part of what helps people mature more after having children.

I also tend to also believe that following one's instincts is what allows us to live the lives we were meant to live. Go with your gut, and you can't go wrong. So far, this has worked out well for me. My best moves have been impulsive instinct and not practical-based: moving across country to attend a college (and a coast) I'd never visited, moving to cities without a job in place, deciding to drive down one more street and finding our house the day before it was listed. Sometimes, you just know that things will work out. You just feel like everything is going to be fine, even though the details aren't worked out.

A rambling blog today, I know, but my mind lately has been full of rambling dreams. Dreams that have not yet hit that "yes, this is right, now is the time" instinctive moment yet. For instance, I am now trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. My career path has been impulsive and yet calculated at the same time. With Boo in my life, I feel for some reason as if this is a good time to try something new, to follow old dreams.

So my random dream logs have been this:
-research medical school, look into becoming a pediatrician; or
-apply for MFA writing programs; or
-plan a launch party for www.eventbliss.com (you can go to the site, however there's nothing but a cheesy Yahoo placeholder right now); and
-sign up for hip hop dance classes (KM-we have to do this), French classes, German classes, Italian classes, glass blowing classes, accessory design classes;
-spearhead a new working moms group in the city;
-take up painting again;
-teach Boo sign language (I think he's starting to get the sign for "more");
-go away to the beach with my husband, Boo and the dogs for a long weekend;
-go up to the mountain with the girls from work and go snowboarding (uh, it's been about four years since I've gone snowboarding);
-write a book;
-publish a book of poetry;
-begin my home decorating/professional organizing/easy entertaining/special occasion event planning empire;
-spend the holidays in Europe one year;
-send my husband to the wine-making/brewmaster vacation he's talked about;
-with my husband, run a political campaign for a candidate we believe in;
-buy a bigger house (although that would mean we'd have to move out of the city);
-enroll Boo in one of the language immersion schools (French most likely);
-buy a beach house.

A dream is a start. But which dream do you start with?


Happy Friday

Today is Friday. Hooray! This week, Boo has been extra talkative, extra cuddly, and extra mobile. We ordered a big playmat for our hardwoods so he can tumble and crawl as he wishes in our living room without banging his little noggin on the hardwood floor. We're thinking of introducing the sippy cup since he's been trying to drink our water every time we bring a glass up to our mouths. He's actually grabbed my glass of water once and just sucked on the outside of the glass. Hmmm, time for his own cup, I think. We're still trying to finalize our Christmas dinner menu. We started compiling our huge donation to The Arc (I think we have enough old clothes, dishes and CDs and stuff to open up our own resale store by now!). We're trying to figure out which holiday parties we are going to attend and which we just have to say no to. We're weaning Boo off of his reflux medicine - slowly. I'm starting to pump less, mainly because I just don't have time at work when I can do this anymore, so it's down to two sessions, and sometimes just one. Our Christmas tree is up and there are more presents under the tree for Boo than A and I combined (rightfully so). It's a fun time of year, and even more fun this year with Boo.


The Second Child?? (also: Big Dump)

Let's just settle this once and for all, for everyone out there who hasn't yet asked us:
Question: "When are you having another one?"
Answer: "WE DON'T KNOW."

Sorry about the caps, friends. I don't believe in screaming at people in person but somehow screaming this phrase online seems not only acceptable, but refreshingly appropriate.

Buddy Boo is six and a half months old. He is our first child. Perhaps he will be our only child, but we've hardly had the chance to breathe before the first person asked us the dreaded Second Child question. It has been asked at least 5 billion times since then (ok, a little exaggeration).

For some parents, this is an easy question to answer. They've always known they wanted two or three kids. Or rather, shall I say, the mother has always known. There are a few fathers out there whom I've met that have known they wanted a large family before they even met their wives, but for the most part, many of these fathers miraculously discover they want more kids after their wives divulge their dreams of their own mini-Brady Bunch. Just my general observation. Not saying this is true for everyone.

For some parents, they know that they want their children to be close in age, so they start trying again soon after the first is born. This is the case of my friend who lives about 3,000 miles away in (a much sunnier) Miami. Her baby boy is just about 10 months old and they intend to start trying for #2 next month. It surprised me to hear this, but good for her, I say.

Some of my friends don't want to wait too long to start trying for #2 because they are already in their mid-30's, or have hit 40, and they don't want to have a child later than the age of _____ (fill in the blank; it's different for everybody).

For us, we've always known we wanted a child. One. Uno. Singular, not plural. Beyond that, we've discussed discussing more children after we made it through the first one.

Side note #1: ok, I have to interrupt by saying that Boo, right now, while playing joyfully on his own on his playmat next to me, just took the biggest squishiest dump I have ever heard. I have yet to see it, but it sounded like the Mother of All Dumps. It's so funny how hard he concentrates and then he just goes back to playing like nothing happened. Perhaps I should stop typing and tend to my little baby's dirty bottom...

Side note #2: I'm back, and I think poor Boo has diarrhea. It was an interesting fairly wet mess that outwitted two diapers (as least I had put another diaper down when he decided to continue. We've not been so lucky before).

So A and I are going to discuss whether or not #2 (child, not in reference to the side notes above!) will or will not happen. I'd like to consider this around Boo's first birthday because it seems too much to think about right now. For us, a baby is
a lot of work. We love our baby boy immensely. We want to make sure we give him the tools to have a good heart, to make good choices, to live a good life. What we need to decide is whether or not we are capable of providing the same for another child.

This is really about whether or not it is practical for us to have a second child. A and I are practical people. We don't want a second child just because we think that Boo needs a playfriend. He's learning to socialize just fine without an in-house brother or sister right now. We don't want more children just to have "help" around the house. That's sick, IMO. We don't want more children just to carry on the family name. We need to do it for the right reasons for us. Kudos to those of you who made the decision to have more children quite easily. For us, right now, we're just not there.

A and I are content right now with Child #1. We are enjoying every single second of parenting one child. Perhaps down the road we'll decide we want/need another child in our lives, and that we are physically, mentally, emotionally and fiscally capable of having another child. Again, we're just not there yet.


The Six Month Amazing Circus

Buddy Boo, at six months, is the picture of baby fun. A and I are so amazed at everything he has learned in just the last month alone, and we're loving just watching him for minutes on end. He's sitting up by himself. He's grabbing objects near and far, reaching for them, grabbing things from store shelves, raking toys toward him with his cute little hands. And then, of course, putting those objects in his mouth. He's babbling nonstop. In the mornings, we wake up to "dadadada...dadabababa...badadalalababa" singing through the baby monitor. He's leaning forward to eat his toes. He's learning to go to sleep on his own so well, without any sleep aids. He's stopped crying in the car if one of us isn't back there with him. He's wolfing down peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, peaches like there's no tomorrow. He's starting to get separation anxiety when we leave. He loves paper, especially tissue wrapping paper. He loves the sound paper makes as he smashes it between his hands. He loves to nibble on the corners of our photo albums and magazines. He's reaching for other babies and patting them with interest at baby group. We love every phase he's been through so far, but this phase right now, this amazing big top circus phase, is by far the most fun and incredible for us.


O Christmas Tree

We were supposed to get our tree last weekend. The thought has actually crossed my mind: would it be so bad if we didn't have a tree for Buddy Boo's first Christmas? Bad mama. We'll get it this weekend, but honestly I don't know where we're going to put it. Our house has shrunk since the wee little lad entered our lives. Taken over by playmats, bouncy seats, swings, toys, blankets, more toys, general baby stuff. If we have three little trees on our porch with lights does that count? Oh, bad, bad mama. I am SO into Christmas, and SO into this being our first Christmas with Boo... but just not into the thought of a tree this year. What's wrong with me?

Is it the weekend yet? Is it Christmas yet? Is it vacation yet? We really should have the whole month of December off.


Work/Life Balance Schmalance

Question of the Day:
The myth of the elusive work/life balance working mothers are supposed to aspire to attain was conceived by:
a) a male doctor who was never home to discuss how his working wife was really feeling about her marathon multi-multi-tasking day, and therefore believed if his wife had balance every working mother could achieve the same;
b) a mother who won the lottery as soon as her baby was born, thereby allowing her to quit her job, hire two housekeepers, a gardener, a professional organizer, two chefs, delivery laundry service, a chauffeur, an on-call nanny and a personal shopper (achieving a balance between child-rearing and keeping your own identity is easy! she said);
c) a childless female doctor who was sick of hearing all of the mothers come into her office complaining of how tough their lives were;
d) some sick and twisted fool who should be banished from society; or
e) all of the above

While I have a suspicion the work/life balance myth could have been developed from a, b, or c, for me the answer would be d. What idiot decided that what we working mothers needed was to try to achieve that 50/50 balance between our working lives and our home lives? News flash: THERE IS NO BALANCE. It's never 50/50. For all of the mothers trying desperately to make sure every aspect of their lives is balanced, for you own sanity I implore you to give up the game and just live.

Motherhood has definitely helped me relax a bit in my overzealous nature to do everything all at once. I get really excited about things, but then sometimes I get worked up because there are so many things, and then I get stressed out even though I really am enjoying everything I am doing. I know enough to know this about myself.

Before Buddy Boo was born, I can't tell you how many articles I read about making sure that I tried my best to balance my life as much as possible. "When you find yourself spending extra time on a project at work, be sure to schedule in some 'me' time to make up for it." Blah blah blah. Come on, let's face it: even trying to achieve balance ends up creating more work than there was in the first place!

I've learned that there are, indeed, things I can say no to. But then where's the balance when there are even more things these days to say yes to? Yes to taking Boo to baby groups to play with other babies and talk with other new moms. Yes to writing a blog every other day or so. Yes to making my friend's wedding invitations and save the date cards. Yes to making cookies on a Monday night. Balance, my ass.

I suppose the underlying message in the articles I read about achieving work/life balance is to just do what makes you happy. Sure, sometimes work will take over for a while. Yes, there will be times when you'll be overloaded with family obligations and won't have time just for yourself. But that's how life goes and I think as long as you interweave some personal satisfaction into all of those things, you'll be fine. I think it's when we have to work to try to keep everything on an even keel that we get into trouble, and we end up feeling as if we've failed when in reality, we've just set unattainable goals.

If you feel you have achieved work/life balance, then I say bravo to you. Maybe you can share your recipe for success with the rest of us flounders flopping around with silly smiles on our faces from being happily unbalanced. However, I'm willing to bet that your recipe for success does not in fact lead to a 50/50 utopia, but rather a simple equation that works for you in your life, right at this moment. For me, I've stopped chasing the elusive mythical beast that is work/life balance. I'm too busy to even try :)


Hi dada

During the week, mornings have become our favorite time of day. We bring Boo to bed with us when he first wakes up, give him a little snack, and then he usually giggles a bit and goes back to sleep in our bed. Yesterday morning, Boo was in bed with us and A said "Say Hi Dada" expecting Boo to give us his usual big smile and a little cooing. Instead, he simply and immediately replied "Hi Dada." Suddenly, A and I were wide awake. A looked at me, looked at Boo, and then said to our little baby "Say Mama." That was promptly followed by Boo saying in his sweet little voice "Mama." Were we imagining it? Were we hearing things? We don't think so. Boo definitely copied his Dada.

The elation we felt in that moment lasted all day, and pieces linger with us still. It's so exciting, and so scary. He's sitting up like he's always known how, he's walking around with us just holding his hands, he's trying to crawl, and now he's repeated two of the greatest phrases we've been waiting to hear...and now I'm not sure either of us are ready for him to say them again. I know it will be a process that will take some time, but the time always goes much faster than I imagine it would.

Tonight Boo went to an art opening with us and he wasn't talkative at all. He was just cute little baby Boo who loves to smile when others smile at him and take in everything around him. I relished tonight, watching him hold onto his Dada's shoulder, looking around and watching him communicate nonverbally. He's so cute!!


Christmas is coming, bring on the family!

The holiday season is upon us, and we've dived in smiling, head first, arms open. With the Thanksgiving dinner behind us, we tackled our Christmas shopping Friday morning (not as early as others, mind you). We set our car radios to the all-Christmas song stations. We set out our Christmas stockings, put the wreath on the door along with a cheery yet subtle and not-too-Christmasy Happy Holidays wall sign, and set out three small trees with some Christmas lights on our front porch. As of today, almost all of our Christmas shopping is complete and half of our presents are wrapped. Buddy Boo helped me wrap some presents while sitting on our dining table. Turns out, he loves tissue paper - the crinkling sound of the paper as he smashes it between his hands is fascinating to him. Next week, we pick up our tree from the Christmas tree farm and address our holiday cards. Yep, we're pretty excited for Buddy Boo's first Christmas. Now we're not only continuing our own traditions as husband and wife, but we're laying the foundation for our traditions as our own family. It's a thought that is exciting, but also seems to have a huge amount of responsibility attached to it.

Each year, we host Christmas dinner at our house. We bring out the extra tables from the garage and extra chairs and cook a big meal for anywhere from 10 to 15 people. As a new mom, I'm wondering how the meal preparation will go this year. It's not so bad cooking a regular meal with Boo; we either take turns holding him or he sits in his bouncy seat while we pretend to put on a cooking show for him. But a meal that is a bigger production and has more specific timing involved may be trickier. I'm still trying to figure out how it will all work out.

After the dinner we usually tear into the presents. In my family, there are a lot of them. Santa would need to make several trips with a jam-packed sleigh to take over all of the gifts my parents buy for family members and friends. My parents go nuts, and I have a feeling this year they will jump beyond the border of lunacy when it comes to gift giving for their first grandson. Last year, Boo received more presents than we did - and he wasn't even born yet!

One reason there are usually a lot of presents is because, quite frankly, there are a lot of us. On my side of the family, there's me and my brother, but then there are the aunts, uncles, cousins and more cousins, grandparents, grandaunts and granduncles, second cousins, family friends whom we've called our aunts and uncles since we were babies, their children whom we've called our cousins but really aren't, friends who don't have family nearby and are staying in town for the holidays, friends of our relatives whom we grew up with, and some people that I'm not quite sure how we've come to know them but they are a part of our lives. This is my family. If you have come into our lives somehow - by blood or by chance - you are a part of our family. We're a big, loud, rambunctious, and overly joyous group. Most of my family lives somewhere on the West Coast - from Canada down to San Diego, with a couple of East Coasters and family in the Philippines and random countries like Luxembourg. We haven't all been in the same room in a very long time, and we don't all get together for Christmas, but when I was little we used to get together more often for highly stimulating, overactive laugh fests overwhelming with love. I cherish the memory of them. I hope Boo will someday have similar memories of his own.

I also hope he learns from the love of my husband's family. His family is almost the opposite of mine in many ways. The main opposite being that there are less of them. He has his mom, his dad, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, four cousins, one aunt and one uncle. That's it. I can count all of them on my two hands and a few toes. They live spread out throughout the world, but they still see each other at least once a year. Whereas my family is the heart-racing, screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-from-exhiliration part of a roller coaster ride, his family is the part of the ride where you turn the corner onto more even railing, breathe a sigh of relief and ride evenly for a few moments while enjoying the view with a calm smile. I love his family dearly. They are kind, witty, hilarious, politely frank, and welcoming. Theirs is a quieter love but a grand, grand love nonetheless. I feel so lucky to know them, and I absoutely relish that Boo will also grow up knowing all of them, enjoying family time of a different kind.

Christmas will not be too loud at our place this year. I think we are expecting 14 people total for dinner. We hope to someday spend Christmas with A's family as well, since that's important to us, especially now with Boo. We hope to provide some balance for Boo, so he can experience as much of the worlds we grew up in as possible. So he can know just how much love there is in our family. So that he will always know that not only do we love him with every tiny fiber of our souls, but that there is a world of people who love him just as much, wherever he goes.


Thank You

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:
-Life. Glorious, hideous, beautiful, surprising Life.
-My son, who is our life.
-My husband, who is my soul.
-My great-grandmother, who deserves to be in a category all her own as she turns 101 years old next month.
-My family. I love them all dearly. Each and every one.
-My friends. Supportive, encouraging, honest, silly, sassy, special. I am so lucky and I love them all.
-Our dogs
-Our house
-Creative differences
-Strong women
-Italian shoes
-Laptops and Wi-Fi
-Seafood. Better yet, seafood pasta
-Eco-friendly residential & commercial builders
-Organic farmers
-Beautiful beaming burping babies
-New York City
-Hot cocoa with marshmallows on cold winter days
-Small business entrepreneurs
-The Pacific Ocean
-Hybrid cars
-Cardigan sweaters
-Whole Foods Market
-Places where you don't have to wait in line for an hour for Sunday Brunch
-People who are smarter, more traveled, and better read than me so I can learn from them
-Happy hour
-The promise of the future
-The beauty of the past

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


Turkey, turkey. turkey

One of the top ten songs that freqents my mind randomly throughout the day is Adam Sandler singing his Thanksgiving song from an SNL skit. You know the one.

Tomorrow is Buddy Boo's first Thanksgiving. His squash awaits (he likes squash!), while A and I are eagerly anticipating the monsterous Thanksgiving Day meal my mother traditionally creates. We'll be spending the day tomorrow creating two dishes we've never made: Herbed Bread Stuffing with Mushrooms and Sausage and Brandied Caramel Apple Crumble. I was going to start the prep work tonight (lots of chopping involved with both dishes), but suddenly it's 7pm and I find myself instead in my jammies, eating a banana, writing this blog, watching Ken Jennings continue his insane winning streak on Jeopardy while simultaneously doing the bills and eagerly awaiting the new episodes of Lost, The West Wing, and The Apprentice. There will be no prep work done tonight.

We haven't put much thought into this being our son's first Thanksgiving. We're more focused on his first Christmas. I don't think he'll appreciate Thanksgiving as much as he will next year, when he can partake in more of the turkey day eats. At least with Christmas, there are twinkling lights, crinkly noisy wrapping paper, bright colors, snappy songs, and presents to be opened and enjoyed - as well as the good eats. We're totally stoked for Christmas this year.

I think as parents we probably have to pick and choose which holidays to really fuss over, and which to let slide just a bit. Otherwise, I can see how some families go mad over the holidays, instead of enjoying them as much as they could. This is how I see our first holidays going: Thanksgiving-small deal; Christmas-big deal; New Year's-small deal; Valentine's Day-small deal; Easter-semi-big deal; First Birthday-DAMN big deal (the theme has already been chosen and the menu and decor are being planned...I, I mean, We can't wait!); Memorial Day-BBQ deal; July 4th-BBQ deal...and so on.

Ann Coulter is on television now. I must go and berate her now with my husband. How this woman continues to get booked on shows, I'll never know (except that she is so ridiculously uninformed and stupid that she makes for good television).

This is much more productive than getting meals ready for tomorrow :-)


Baby group anxiety

Today, for the first time in almost two months, I attended the Baby & Me group at our hospital. Buddy Boo and I first started attending the 0-4 month old group when he was about a month old. We attended every week until I went back to work. No matter how tired I was or what kind of a mood Boo was in at the time, we went to the playgroup. Today was the first time we attended the 5-8 month group, and I was admittedly very nervous.

For me, there's a lot of anxiety attached to these type of groups. I almost turned the car around to go home halfway there. There are a lot of pressures being a mom (kind of like being President, according to Idiot: "It's hard work. I'm under a lot of pressure." Half of this country would like to relieve you of that pressure, sir. But, I digress). These groups are supposed to be a safe environment for moms of all walks of life who believe in all types of parenting. Yet it's hard not to compare yourself to other moms, to compare your baby to other babies, and to question your way of parenting when you are in these groups. It's inevitable, and sometimes, even though I know I will be so grateful for going afterward, I am filled with anxiety on the way there. I'm plagued by pointless questions: Who will be there? Will I be surrounded by the militant SAHMs who are appalled that I went back to work? Will I be the only one there who doesn't have set nap times for my baby? Nobody likes to stand out, and as a new mom, I definitely don't like standing out in a group full of what I deem to be are competent, with-it moms and their perfect children.

So Boo and I ventured to this new group with many unknowns. As always, I am very glad we went. The older group is a smaller group (I suspect because many of the moms have gone back to work full time by this age and don't all have flex schedules). There was E and her sweet daughter Baby L, whom we first met in our birthing class. J, her husband R, and their early developer son Baby A, whom we first met in the younger playgroup. A man, his mom, and a set of rambunctious and adorable twins. A full-time WOHM, her husband and their son. Finally, there was our group leader.

As I arrived late, I opened the doors to see smiling faces and hear welcoming greetings from everyone. I felt better instantly. Gym mats were on the floor, and I realized why they were needed as soon as Boo and I sat down and he lunged for the toy I just placed in front of him. This was definitely a different group from the one we used to attend. These babies now had real personalities. They were crawling, climbing, sitting, reaching, screeching, and playing games. I looked at Boo, sitting up all by himself, eating his teether toys, reaching for Baby A's stacking cups and smiling at Baby L, and I realized that I had a different baby now too.

There was a gentlenes to this group that I didn't always feel with the earlier group. People were more apt to ask and answer questions honestly than to simply brag about their baby's newest accomplishments, as they were apt to do in the younger group. There was a general feeling of support and encouragement. Perhaps it is because not only are our babies growing up, but so too are we as parents. We no longer feel the need to impress others as much. We know our babies better and understand that no other baby in the room is exacly like our own. We have learned to embrace parenthood with all its bumps, bruises, and glories. We now know it's okay not to know. We're more comfortable in this new skin, which is no longer new but feels like an old comfy coat that we've had for ages and never want to part with.

The parents in today's playgroup, above all, were nice. They were friendly, and they made me feel welcome. They made Boo feel welcome too, and I relished watching him watch the other babies and attempt interaction. He's not quite at the "Hi, my name is Boo can I pat you on the head?" phase as some of the older babies are, but he's fascinated when they come up to him and initiate communication. I love that. Baby A really wanted Boo to wear one of the stacking cups on his head like a hat, and Boo seemed intrigued by that. I love watching him take everything and everyone in, and then try to crawl over to join the party or laugh back at a smiling face.

For Boo's sake, I'm going to try to go as much as possible. Maybe every playgroup won't always feel as warm and fuzzy as today's, but I know with each visit Boo will learn something, and see something or someone new. Each visit will help me feel more comfortable in my role as Mom, and help Boo find his place in the world. Or at least, learn playskills that will help him on the playground years from now.


Lions, elephants and dinosaurs in our midst

As far as a baby's speech development goes, Buddy Boo is in a fascinating and interesting phase: the ROOOOOAAAAR! Phase. From the time he gets up to the time he falls asleep at night, he fills the day with high-pitched squeals, roars, and sharp inhales that can sound very much like sounds that would come from elephants, lions or (what I imagine would come from) dinosaurs. The variance of these sounds is intriguing. The pitch, length and vowel-sound used often depends on his mood and his purpose. If he just wants our attention, he often makes a high-pitched squealing sound. If he is amused by something, he may make a dinosaur roar sound. If he's feeling mischievous and just wants to play (which, we've come to realize, is most of the time) his eyes light up, his mouth gets wide, and from his little body comes a sound that is not quite lion-roar, not quite elephant-roar, and not quite Toucan - it's an odd mixture.

This phase is quite amusing for A and I. Boo is so incredibly adorable when he attempts to communicate this way; he's a silly baby just being sweet and playful. Yet this is also simply part of his amazing journey of speech development. Every sound he makes has a reason now, and each day, we are all getting closer to understanding each other. It is truly incredible.


Pumpin' through to the weekend

It has been a very long week. I have had 14 meetings, one conference call, wrote several articles, made hundreds of calls, rebalanced my quarterly budget, trained a new employee, have started the hiring process for another (yahoo! help is on the way!) and had the usual numerous last minute additions to my schedule. Right now I am pumping. I wonder how much longer I can keep pumping at work. Too difficult to schedule in. Plus, I'm way too stressed out to get any decent amount of milk pumped. I need to budget for a massage therapist to come to work on my shoulders once a day. I'm just trying to make it through to the weekend, which is almost here, and Boo can have two days of straight nursing. And maybe I can decompress a bit. Oh wait, even on the weekends I still need to pump late at night after Boo goes to bed, so I have enough for him during the week.

How do women do this for months on end? I wonder if I will miss pumping at all when I do stop. Will it be odd? It does give me a sense of attachment to my son even though I am miles away at work. I always wonder how he is doing and what he is doing when I am pumping. Is he eating at home at the same time too? As much of a hassle as it can be trying to pump two or three times a day while at work, it gives me a sense of satisfaction that for those 20 minutes at a time, I am doing something that directly affects my son's well being. It helps me reconnect with him while we are apart.

Done pumping now. Back to the grind. It will end in a couple of hours. Then I can go home and just be Mom for 48 hours with my son.


A mom's diet, a son's diet

Today I ate & drank:
-small o.j.
-small 1/2 decaf nonfat with whip :) mocha
-part of a lemon poppyseed muffin
-Izzy all natural blackberry soda (non-carbonated, sugar-free but fantastic!)
-part of a small Charleston chicken salad
-one slice of pizza margherita
-one chocolate chip cookie
-chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce
-french fries with ranch sauce
-not nearly enough water

My diet has never been, shall we say, an example of perfect health. I'm healthy enough, but I have never been strict about what I eat. If I want something, I'll have it. I really don't care what the news says about what the latest "off limits" food is (eggs were great, then they were bad, now they are great again; it's all cyclical), or the latest diets. I love food. Let me say that again: I LOVE FOOD.

When I became pregnant, I realized that all of the yummy food I was enjoying was also being enjoyed by the growing being inside of me. So I started eating more fruits and vegetables. A few months before I got pregnant I switched to decaf coffee. But I also ate cake and/or ice cream every day. Really, every day. At the time I thought it was normal ("No, I don't have any weird cravings"). After Buddy Boo was born, I bloated up like a tugboat bath toy, flub, flub, flub. My face expanded to the size of my ass, which also decided to take a month-long stretch sideways. Yet somehow, that didn't deter my appetite. Cheeseburgers? Yes. Tiramisu? You betcha. Pasta with cream sauce? Oh yeah. And of course, chocolate. Who has time to think about eating healthy when you have a newborn that demands your attention around the clock, and when you need more nutrients because you are nursing? Forget about exercising - I used to love to go jogging but haven't been since my fifth month of pregnancy. Our jogging stroller is the one baby shower gift that is still in its box. Next to the fridge, of course. Thank goodness for breastfeeding. I somehow weigh less than I did pre-Buddy Boo(can someone tell me how much weight gain happens post-breastfeeding? starting to wonder about that now...but I digress).

So as A and I try to impart our values, habits, etc. onto our dear son, I wonder how we'll tackle the healthy eating issue. So our son may not have veggies or fruit with every meal. Not all of his fruits and veggies will be organic. He may eat chicken nuggets and fries every once in a while. Perhaps we'll have pizzas ordered in for Friday night family nights. He most definitely will have cake and ice cream...just not every day as I did for ten months :) I hope, and I think, that he'll be okay. We hope to raise him to have an appreciation for food, to know that most things are great in moderation, and that food is a wonderful part of life to be enjoyed but not abused or refused. We can't eat perfectly, but we can eat happily and healthily.

Now all this writing about food is making me hungry. Later!


Sir Laugh A Lot

I love Saturdays. We get up whenever, hang out in our pjs as long as we want, do some housework, play with Buddy Boo all day long, maybe run some errands, and there's even time on Saturdays to make a big yummy dinner. Today was an especially great Saturday. Today was Laugh A Lot day, and Boo was Sir Laugh A Lot. He was in the best mood all day long. Giggling at the dogs. Laughing with his whole body when we made faces at him. Playing peek-a-boo games with us and mimic games and you-make-a-funny-noise-then-I'll-make-a-funny-noise games. He was unstoppable, and really, who would stop a lovable silly baby like that? Not us. He's also been sitting up a lot, and a lot better. He's found his toes and thinks they are funny too, which in turn cracks us up. When he sits in our lap he sits up straight without leaning against us and then he'll lean forward to try to grab whatever is in front of him, and the he'll try to crawl out of our lap (or at least, propel himself forward using the force of his arms and sometimes a foot or two) if something he wants is farther away. A and I watched him in amazement all day. Then it hit us: we really have to babyproof our house, SOON. Oy vey. We're not ready!

What a grand, glorious, happy, happy day.


Sleep and "the experts"

Buddy Boo has had trouble getting to sleep lately. Our routine was great, but like everything else in parenthood, I've learned nothing is as constant as change. My least favorite question: "Is he sleeping through the night already?" My answer is usually, "Right now he is," because I know it will change again. If he learns a new trick that he wants to practice, if he's teething more, if he's going through another growth spurt...all of the "ifs" can quickly change that answer to "Right now he is not."

After Boo was born, when sleep was a distant friend, I started devouring all of the wisdom imparted by doctors and insightful parents in the form of parenting books. I knew them all. On my nightstand ready for a quick reference check were (in no particular order): Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby(highly recommended by our pediatrician and lactation consultants), The Happiest Baby on the Block (ditto on recommendations), The Baby Whisperer (think Mary Poppins on an ego trip), Baby Owner's Manual (for kicks), What to Expect: The First Year (my favorite because it covers everything briefly), Mother's Nursing Companion (ok breastfeeding reference), and The Girlfriend's Guide to Surviving the First Year (silly and sometimes informative). My recommendation? Read all of them... or none of them.

During the first month or so of new mommyhood, I looked to any place I could for some direction. I was fascinated by the answers I got - from books, friends, co-workers, family, doctors, strangers in the pediatrician waiting room or in line at the grocery store. Everyone has their own take on "the rules." What you are supposed to do and what you are supposed to avoid when taking care of a newborn. The differing opinions in the books I read astonished me. Never nurse your child to sleep (difficult when this is what most newborns do). Always put them to bed drowsy but awake (much easier said than done). Don't rock your child to sleep. Don't use sleep aids like sound machines or driving them around town to sleep. Blah blah blah. I'm convinced that these books -and not just dealing with a crying baby- are the cause of many a nervous breakdown by frazzled new parents.

All of these books are fun reads, and they gave me some good ideas, but I don't take much stock in any of them. They weren't written specifically for me or my husband. They weren't written with my child in mind. They weren't written with our particular home and work situation in mind. They certainly weren't written to be followed word for word.

After dissecting all of the books, A and I came to our own conclusions. We did what was right for us, and for Boo.

Listen to your baby. Listen to yourself, your spouse or your S.O., your heart. You know what your baby needs. You know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Screw everyone else. Well, okay, listen to your doctor once in a while, but even the pediatrician doesn't know your baby as well as you do and the pediatrician doesn't have to be the one to take care of your baby around the clock. You do. You know. You are a parent and you know your baby.

So Boo's bedtime routine is changing. We don't know quite yet which changes will stick and which won't. He doesn't seem to like the Guess How Much I Love You book anymore, which he found comforting before. He takes three very short naps during the day instead of two long naps. He has started eating before he sleeps - not just snacking, but a full extra meal, even if he just ate an hour before. A couple of times he nursed to sleep, which is a big no-no according to the experts.

But the experts aren't home with us, loving our baby as we do. In this case, quite frankly, we are the experts on our baby. It took us a bit to realize that, but we know that now. What works for us, what makes our baby happy, is all that really matters.


Cold and flu season hits home

Ah, November. In the morning we wake to a thick covering of fog. The nights are misty. We don funny looking hats atop our heads and shiver as we walk.

We get sick. That's what we do in November.

Poor little Buddy Boo has a cold. His nose is runny, he's coughing, he can't sleep because he's having trouble breathing. And he's not even in daycare.

We broke the bedtime routine tonight because we couldn't bear it. Listening to our sweet little baby struggle. So he is asleep on the couch next to me right now. He'll probably come to bed with us tonight because I want to be there, just in case. I'm a softy, so sue me. I just want my Boo to be happy and healthy 100% of the time. What's so wrong with that?


South Park Stan

Bits and pieces of every child’s personality resemble a cartoon character or two. These characters are, after all, often fashioned after real children. This weekend, our sweet Buddy Boo resembled not sweet Charlie Brown, not naïve and happy-go-lucky Sponge Bob, but rather the sometimes smack-talking yet innocent Stan on Comedy Central’s South Park –for reasons other than the smack-talking :)

We came to this realization when we went to visit with our friend ML who was in town for the week with her baby, little Miss Mary. Buddy Boo hadn’t napped well in the morning, and was probably overwhelmed as it was. Then little Miss Mary wakes up from her nap and with bright beautiful eyes and a mischievous grin she started reaching for Boo, giving him loving pats on the head, squealing in excited delight. She is an absolutely adorable six month old baby girl – so cute and playful. Boo was curious but not his usual “Hey, another baby, let’s play!” self. He was tired. Actually, no thanks to us, he was likely overtired because he passed out as soon as we left. He just ate. And so he proceeded to spit up. At first, there were the usual dribbles here and there. No big deal. Then there was a nice splat on their carpet, followed by more splats over my shoulder, and a fabulous grand finale of one big vomit onto my jeans and their carpet. We felt terrible, but we also thought it was odd. He hadn’t spit up like that for weeks.

Later that night, it hit us: he had Southpark Stan syndrome. On the show, every time Stan’s girlfriend would come up to him, said his name, or just appeared near him, Stan would throw up. Perhaps this was a precursor to the bashful and nervous boy our Boo would become around girls later in life. Perhaps it was just coincidence. Either way, when we discussed the possibility of our little Boo throwing up around little girls, it made us giggle in a we-shouldn’t-laugh-but-it’s-kind-of-funny sort of way.

Our little Boo. See Girl, Vomit. Girl Touches Boo, Vomit. Girl Talks to Boo, Vomit. It’s a bit amusing when you think about it that way (or perhaps we’re just warped parents). Maybe tomorrow he will do something to remind us of Elmo, or Kermit the Frog, or Winnie the Pooh, but for at least the next few days, we’ll celebrate his resemblance to South Park Stan (again, just the spitting up part – not the random cursing; that’s probably just a few years down the road, eh?).


In a blink

A dear, dear friend of mine once told me that with every milestone her daughter reached, it made her a little sad. Milestones bring something new, but they also mean having to say goodbye to something we as parents barely get a chance to get used to, much less enjoy. In all honesty, I thought it was an odd comment at first. I had just given birth a few weeks beforehand. Weren't milestones to be celebrated, written down in baby books, photographed, videotaped and talked about endlessly?

Five months into this beautiful trip called parenthood, I now understand. As soon as Buddy Boo reaches a magnificent milestone, another one threatens to come charging around the corner to bully the new great experience out before the celebration can sink in. And in all honesty, it is a bit sad. Do I really remember his first real smile? He smiles all the time now. When was his first real laugh? I remember how old he was, but I can't remember the exact moment. When did he first find his hands? The way he gnaws at them and tries to grab everything in front of him, it feels like he's always known he has control over his hands.

This is one of those things that everybody tells you, warns you will happen, that is actually true (unlike the many other smile-and-nod-but-immediately-disregard pieces of advice): enjoy every moment, because they grow up in the blink of an eye. I was at a fundraising gala last night and someone repeated that phrase. It was perhaps the 567th time I had heard it, but lately I have truly been feeling their words and nodding in agreement. And yes, my friend HL was right: it is a bit sad.

Boo had his first taste of solids other than rice cereal tonight. Sweet potatoes. He devoured them with a devilish little grin, wide eager eyes and happy hands. When A took the food out in its single serving bottle he said "he's not going to eat all of this." Well, Boo almost did. We got a bit frightened though and stopped him before he could gobble the last two bites. What it was that made us scared, we have no idea, because there's nothing written that says a baby can't finish one serving of baby food during the first feeding. We both held back, even though he pretty much ate the whole thing. It was almost as if those last two little bites represented the final steps into another phase that we just weren't ready for, but Boo obviously was.

That's another amazing thing about all of these milestones: babies reach them whenever they are ready, but they don't bother to ask us parents whether or not we are ready. If they did, I would venture to guess that most babies wouldn't be crawling or cruising until they were two or walking until they were three. Nothing really prepares you emotionally for the next stage, and there is always, inevitably, a next stage.

It is so hard to say goodbye to the baby you know so well each time he changes and grows into the child, the person, he will become. Sometimes my emotions teeter-totter between wanting to hold on to the moment and looking forward to the next; I think that I can't wait to hear Boo say "mama," "dada," and "no, dog, no" but then I know I will miss who Boo is now. We'll miss trying to make up stories about what we think he is saying during his endless nonsensical babble. We'll miss watching his features focus fiercely as he attempts to speak our language. We'll miss our baby who will someday no longer be a baby.

So I'm becoming the overzealous mother I somehow feared but knew I would become. I write everything down. I take a zillion digital photos. I break out the video camera for the big moments I know the photos won't fully capture. I talk and talk about every milestone to anyone who will listen. I write, I write, I write. In hopes that someday I can remember all of the different phases of Boo that I had to say goodbye to, so that grown-up Boo can know just how amazingly beautiful and incredible he was in all of those phases. So that when I do blink and Boo is suddenly headed to college, I can look back and see a clear, full picture of the perfection that is Baby Boo.


The Boob List

I love breastfeeding. I love the fact that my son can get all of the nutrients he needs during the first 4-6 months of his life solely from my breastmilk. I love the amazing ability my body has to produce this liquid gold.

However...as with every thing of beauty, there is also a consequence to be paid. I'm in a list sort of mood right now, folks, so here is a list of some of the things I miss because I am breastfeeding:

1. Eating as much seafood as I want. I love seafood. Love it. Could eat it everyday. Twice a day. I'm not kidding. Shrimp is my favorite. Oh wait - lobster is pretty fantastic as well. So are scallops. Anyway, it hasn't been too hard to keep to eating less than 12 ounces of seafood per week, but I miss not having to wonder as I prepare to order: have I already eaten about 12 ounces this week or not? (sigh) Seafood pasta is my favorite.

2. Wearing any top that I want to without having to worry about whether or not it would work with a nursing bra and also be pump-friendly. When you are breastfeeding, you have to think about accessibility: the baby's easy access to the boob. You also have to think about the type of material and style the top is, because anything too thin or too low won't work with a nursing bra. If anyone knows of a great strapless bra that is wireless, please let me know!

3. Drinking whenever. This also hasn't been too hard to work around; usually if I have a glass of wine or a beer I just wait until the little guy is asleep for the night and I know he won't nurse again until the morning. However, it would be nice to be out with friends and not have to think about whether or not I'd need to nurse within the next two hours.

4. Eating whatever I want. Similar to the seafood but less of a pain is the fact that you can't just eat whatever you want, regardless of whether or not it's considered safe to eat while nursing. Buddy Boo gets fussy/gassy if I have too much dairy (thank God I was able to reintroduce at least some dairy back into my diet) or too much citrus (my one glass of o.j. in the morning seems to be okay).

5. Not having leaking/engorged/cracked/bleeding/itchy boobs. Sorry, but you breastfeed, and all of these are possible. Fun, fun.

All in all, I am glad I made the choice to breastfeed Buddy Boo. Every once in a while, though, I do miss the days when my boobs were just...well, my boobs.


Baby Talk

My son's voice is the greatest sound on the planet. When he babbles, I melt. When he laughs, my eyes tear up with love.

This morning I brought Buddy Boo into bed with me when he woke up at 5, since I just wasn't ready to face the day at that hour just yet. He lay next to me and rolled into me, just kind of staring at me and smiling. He's in this phase where he uses his hands to explore everything - the dogs, his rice cereal, my face. Inevitably a tiny finger goes up my nose, into my ears, my eyes, a tiny hand grabs hold of my hair. I think his favorite thing to do is to put his whole hand over my mouth (even at this young age, he's trying to get his mom to shut up already).

As we lay there, he would gently let a sound out here and there, and then he would giggle. His giggles rock my world. They fill my entire soul with happiness. And the smile that accompanies those giggles is worth more than anything in the world that I can think of right now.

Buddy Boo's dad has been out of town for a conference this week and returns home today. Hooray! I swear Boo misses his daddy. The other morning he rolled over to where his dad normally sleeps and just uttered "a-ba-da-ba-da. a-da-da-ba-da-da" and stared into the empty space. I know A misses Boo - a lot. I can't wait until we see him tonight and smother him with hugs and kisses. Boo is also big into giving sloppy kisses right now. It's very cute. And surprise, surprise, that also melts my heart.


A sad, sad day for mothers in America

Today was a sad, sad day for America. I have been trying to understand what has happened, but I can't. How could the majority of you vote for an administration that has created a world where fear, oppression, hate, greed and evil govern and infest our daily lives? You have voted to ride the ignorant bliss train for four more years instead of facing the truth and working to heal our country and make things right.

Who are you America?

I blink, and I blink, but all I see staring back at me is a stranger with empty eyes, a heavy heart, and a lost soul. You are desperate for answers but you mistakenly turned to the smirking man in the van with a bag full of candy and lies because he is there eager to feed your fear. You are so scared that you let the Fear Administration hold your hand as you cast your votes. Who are you, America, and how did you get this way?

You have voted to turn back the clock, instead of moving forward. So go ahead. This is your chance. This is your administration. This is your president. If anybody can do it, this president and his axis of evil administration can. They're good at turning back the clock, taking away the rights decades of women and men before us worked so hard to achieve, destroying our families, our natural resources, our economy, our hopes; they're really great at watching out for themselves, and boy, they love to do that. And when they leave you behind, as they have thousands of children, women and men throughout this great country of ours, then perhaps you will no longer be blind. Perhaps you will feel the sting of reality. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Eleven states passed measures that would alter their state constitutions - their CONSTITUTIONS, for Pete's sake! - to make marriage only between a man and a woman. First of all, was this really necessary? If you voted for this and we know each other, then perhaps I don't know you at all. Do you also oppose my inter-racial marriage? Do you also oppose Freedom, Liberty and Justice for ALL? We allow men who beat their wives to stay married, we allow people who just met to get married, we allow murderers to get married - but two people who love each other very much and have been devoted to each other for decades but just happen to be of the same sex? Oh no, you want to impose your IMmoral values on this very private matter and say "Sorry, but a wife-beater has more rights than you do."

Who ARE you, America?

This is a blog about new motherhood, and if you are wondering what all of this has to do with my son, then you are, quite simply, an idiot. It has everything to do with my son, my family, my role as a new mother. What you told him today with your votes, America, is that we should live in a world of fear and greed. That his freedoms are ensured as long as he is a white, Christian, wealthy, selfish, greedy, hateful and oppressive man. That is what you have told my son, America. I will not raise him with those "values."

Many of you - the majority of my friends and family most definitely - are sharing my anger, my pain, my sorrow. You can foresee the road ahead, and like me, are terrified. Some of you - some friends and family included - are on the opposite side of this matter with me, and that's ok too. I want my son to understand the value of standing up for what you believe in, and if you disagree with me, then let's hold an intelligent debate. I want my son to value the power of his voice, to know his actions can affect change, and to be passionate about his rights, his beliefs, and also his country.

I believe in you, America. I may not recognize you now, but I know your spirit is still strong. I know we will find a way to right the wrongs of the past four years, and the wrongs that are inevitably to come in the next four years. I know we will move forward because we have to. We may have taken two steps back, but eventually (2008?) we will take a giant leap forward. For my son, for your daughter, for yourself. We must find a way to move forward.

PS - to those of you with Halliburton stocks or oil stocks, congratulations! Your evil empire stock rocketed today! Enjoy your greedy, dirty, fattened wallet. Perhaps you can find it in your dark heart to donate some funds to the thousands of poor children who come from low-income families that have been left behind and neglected thanks to Idiot's No Child Left Behind Act.


Twas the Night Before the Election...

...and all through the house, Buddy Boo is stirring in his crib threatening to wake up, Crazy Dog #1 is tormenting Crazy Dog #2, dirty dishes have piled up where just a few minutes ago there were none, a pile of work calls to me from the kitchen table, and my shoulders and back are grimacing in desperate need of a massage. Tense, perhaps, from the fear of what could happen on election day...and night. I know I will be glued to the television until that last vote is counted. Brokaw, Jennings, Rather, Blitzer, Stewart - I watch them all. If we had a wall full of televisions I know that A and I could easily have a screen for each station we wanted to keep an eye on.

We really should get the day off from work tomorrow.

A and I voted as soon as we got our ballots in the mail. Now to everyone out there who hasn't yet, GET OUT AND VOTE!!!!


Trick or Treating with the Animals

A and I are not big Halloween fans. We love the candy, but we've never been really into the dressing up part. This year, we were so excited to buy Buddy Boo's first Halloween costume that we bought it in late August after hearing all of the good costumes for babies and kids sell out quickly. (The costume we bought Buddy Boo did indeed sell out mid-September. Who knew?).

We decided that traipsing through our neighborhood with a 5 month old all dressed up but unable to walk, talk, or even hold a candy bag for very long (not to mention sporadically needing a diaper change or feeding) wasn't the best idea. So we headed to the zoo, where there was a scavenger hunt for kids and kiddie activities along the way.

This proved to be a fun Halloween adventure for both Buddy Boo and us. It was like venturing into a whole new world for us, filled with overwhelmed parents, beaming but not-too-helpful grandparents, confused infants, screaming/awkwardly running toddlers, competitive kids and bored teens. Families of all sizes were everywhere - to the left, to the right, or blocking our way as we tried to get to the next scavenger hunt stop. They were all dressed up and checking out each other's Halloween costumes. Buddy Boo's costume turned many heads and fished many a compliment, and we realized as we were there how appropriate his outfit was for the venue: a fish costume in the zoo.

Buddy Boo's first Halloween adventure was also his first trip to the zoo as well. We were so excited to show him all of the animals. We saw monkeys, polar bears, elephants, orangutans, tigers, fish. Halfway through, we gave up on the scavenger hunt and just focused on the animals. Buddy Boo was fascinated by the orangutan.

Afterward we headed to see some friends as Buddy Boo fell asleep in the car, tuckered out from the day's adventure. A and I talked about how holidays are so different now. With Buddy Boo in our lives, holidays not only hold more meaning, they now offer a newness that sparks more anticipation, more excitement as we prepare to celebrate them as a newly expanded family. Being a mom rocks!


It's all about routine

Buddy Boo is a great, easygoing baby. Much of that is because we've become accustomed to what makes him fussy and what keeps him happy. We like to try to stick with doing what makes him happy. :)

What makes him happy the most is what makes most babies happy: routine. His bedtime routine being the most important of all.

Most of our friends know by now not to call us between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Why? Because that is the sacred nighttime routine time. If we venture off this routine in any way, a good night's sleep could be lost.

This is generally how it goes:
5:45 - 6:15 Nurse Buddy Boo while A gets dinner
6:15-6:30/6:45 Eat dinner and feed Boo rice cereal
6:45 - 7:15 Either give Boo bath and get him ready for bed or just get him ready for bed (change diaper/change clothes/dispense reflux meds/eczema treatment/turn on waves CD/turn on night light/etc)
7:15 - 7:45 Boo gets one last light snack (sometimes)/rock slightly/recite GHMILY book one, two or three times
7:45-8:00 Boo drifts off to sleep, we tiptoe out to have some wine

If we vary from this routine, if the phone rings, if damn political canvassers (sorry M & D) show up at our door during this time, we could very easily be doomed. We'll go out to eat with him once in a while during this time period, but as long as we follow the routine and start it before he gets sleepy, we're good to go. Now, we have ventured from this routine and survived the night quite well, but we'd rather not chance it. It took us a while to figure out what routine worked for Boo, so we're not going to throw away all that hard work (and crying-filled nights - both him and us) for minor reasons.

I can't imagine how this routine will be pushed even earlier as he gets older and starts to sleep earlier, but I imagine we'll go with the flow and adjust as needed. It's what we do. We're parents. Sometimes the phrase seems so foreign, as if it shouldn't describe us, but it does.

So odd how babies are just like most adults - we too often feel safe when we have routines. We take the same route to work each day. We get ready in the morning in the same order. We stop by the same coffee shop for our morning coffee before work. We workout at the same time of the day (well, those of you that do workout).

Routines help Buddy Boo feel safe, and thus happy. And we'll do everything we can to make sure he is both.


WOHM, WAHM, SAHM: Why Can't We Just Be "M"s?

I don't want to debate the pros and cons of stay-at-home-moms versus work-out-of-the-home-moms versus work-at-home-moms. I really don't see the value in that debate. What works for you, won't work for me, and vice versa.

What's on my mind today is simply the dilemmas we all face as moms in making our decisions. I, for one, have always believed I would be a WOHM. There was no question in my mind. Even after Buddy Boo was born, even as we bonded from that very moment he was placed on my chest, even as I watched him grow and develop in absolute amazement during my maternity leave and as I grew as a person more in that short period of time than I've grown in all my years. I knew, I wanted to continue working. I had to. I didn't know how not to work.

Then the doubt began creeping in. How can I work and take care of my baby? How on earth can I deal with sending him to daycare? How can I schedule in at least three pumping sessions at work when I rarely am able to schedule in breakfast or lunch? How can I schedule in two feedings in the morning, get his bottles ready, make sure he has enough diapers, wipes and burp cloths for the day, make sure all of my pump parts were ready to go for the day, and get myself ready too?

Then the guilt. I'm allowing strangers to raise my child. I'm not going to be able to pump enough milk after returning to work and will have to (gasp) supplement with formula. I'm going to miss his most precious developmental moments. (All guilt I have let go of now, by the way).

So yes, eventually, there were times -many times- when suddenly I found myself wondering what the hell I was doing going back to work. Could we live with me as a SAHM? Could I live with myself as a SAHM?

Pre-Boo, I worked my share of 60, even 70 hour weeks. Now I no longer work more than 40/45 hours per week. I just can't do it. I won't. I'm lucky in that the majority of my work involves writing, which I can do from home. But do I want to continue, or is it time for something new?

So back to the WAHM, WOHM, SAHM deal. I have a GREAT respect for SAHMs. I don't know how you do it. Because that comes with its own challenges, not just financially for some, but mentally, physically and emotionally for all SAHMs I know. Some people have this idyllic image of what it is like to be a SAHM, and perhaps it is those folks who have more trouble once the reality of staying home really kicks in. Those who have a more realistic picture of what it means to stay at home seem to have a better time dealing with its challenges, and enjoying its rewards. WAHMs almost have the best and the worst of both worlds, from what I've heard. WOHMs, I know we're all just trying to keep our heads above water. We have awesome days where we feel organized like we're Super Mom, and then we have days when we can't believe we actually have clean, matching socks on and managed to vacuum the floors even once in the last month. (Note to all: the best advice every mom has given me is to accept the fact that you have to let the housework go. It's ok. And I've come to realize, it really is ok. Dirty dishes are less important than time with my son). And single moms - good Lord! How I have great respect and admiration for you single moms out there. Single moms are all Super Moms in my eyes. I seriously bow down to your amazing abilities. If awards were to be given out, I would personally give them out to every single mom out there.

We're all Moms. Whether I eventually decide to work in a job that is less demanding with less hours, or whether I eventually decide to stay home and start my own business, or whether I decide someday to take a break from my career and stay at home, I know it will be a decision that will benefit my family. Because it will be a decision I believe in, and stand behind, and will make me happy. My son needs me to be happy with my place in life, so I can set a good example for him, and so he senses happiness in me and my husband.

WAHM, SAHM, WOHM - I say Bravo to you all. Bond together and end the debates. You are all heroes in my eyes. Now if only the decision were easy to make...


Formula Does Not Equal Bad Mama

So my son is getting one bottle of formula each day now in addition to breastmilk. The Bad Mama Police haven't come to get me. My son is doing just fine with the formula supplementation.

For months I agonized over the day formula would enter our lives. The Bad Mama guilt trip would plague me. All of the exclusively breastfeeding moms would shake their fingers at me and point out all of the benefits of exclusively breastfeeding until my baby is driving. My son would miss a point on his SATs and would blame me for introducing formula at age 5 months.

Bullshit. I exclusively breastfed Buddy Boo until he was five months old, which, for me at least, is a huge accomplishment. I've gone through way too much stress and (recently) pain to mention of late when it comes to breastfeeding, and it's time to ease up on the nursing and pumping. I was lucky. Many women can't breastfeed exclusively for that many months, can't breastfeed exclusively, or can't breastfeed at all. These women are still the best moms in the world. They still love their sons and daughters with all their heart. They don't deserve the guilt trip that society can place on them, and they certainly don't deserve ANY guilt trips from other moms. And I've come to realize, I don't deserve the guilt trips either.

We are all moms who love our children. None of us know what we are doing when we begin, but we love every moment of figuring it out and we are all doing the best we can.

I'm done feeling guilty. I hope you are too.


Airplanes, Hotels and Formula...Oh My

New York City is without a doubt the most invigorating city in the world. The whirl of the cabs, the deli guys yelling to the delivery guys across 7th Avenue, the pick-up-your-pace foot traffic forcing you to play Frogger on city sidewalks. It's the lights, the skyscrapers, the people. It's the city people love to write about that makes it difficult to write anything new. It's this marvelous madhouse of Manhattan that we decided would be the perfect destination for Buddy Boo's first big travel adventure. .

4 am Saturday we woke up and started getting ready for our trip. (Truth be told, we started getting ready mentally three months ago - online research, posting questions on message boards, gathering advice from travel-savvy moms; we started packing Wednesday night). Boo knew something was up. He was very excited the night before. Little Bro picked us up - on time, I might add, Bravo! - and we loaded up the minivan with two suitcases, Boo's carseat, Boo's new lightweight stroller, a tightly packed hiking backpack/diaper bag, and my laptop. We got to the airport at just the right time. There was one guy checking in at the e-ticket booth alongside us, but after we checked our luggage (both suitcases could have been carry-ons, but with only four hands between A and I, we thought it best to check the luggage), we turned around to see a nice long line forming. Good timing indeed.

Boo's new stroller is very cool. It's a red (why are most boys' items an ugly navy blue? so boring) Combi Savvy Soho. So compact, I actually love to fold it up and carry it just for fun. Just because I can. The Graco we have is awesome, but the new stroller will take him well into the toddler years and is easy to maneuver through crowded city sidewalks. It also has a great bag underneath, side pockets on top for a cell phone and change, another back flap pocket for extra pacifiers, burp cloths, etc, and a built in stereo system if we wanted to pipe in Muppet music to enhance his ride.

Checking in was no problem. So easy, I think, because we were prepared for the worst. We took stuff off and put it back on as we went through the security screenings almost as if we had done so a million times. We expected the worst so it felt great. Waiting for boarding, Boo got hungry. Breastfeeding session in public #1 was in terminal D-1. No problem, no hassles.

We boarded early, which was heaven. My husband, A, installed the carseat near the window and I sat in the middle for easy feeding. Boo was in sensory overload - the buzz of the engines, the constant chatter around him, the faces and bodies zipping back and forth, the new smells of airplane air, forthcoming breakfast, and a hundred individual body scents. He was so excited on this trip. He made a few of friends on the plane: smiley lady across the aisle, seasoned NY woman in front of us, the flight attendant who kept cooing at him while I was breastfeeding. He slept at the right times, laughed when it was playtime and only fussed a little bit when he was getting sleepy and didn't want to miss all of the excitement. He was the perfect little traveler.

Deplaning, getting our luggage, catching a taxi - everything went smootly on our way from Newark to Manhattan. A installed the car seat easily into the taxi and off we went. I highly recommend flying into Newark - so much easier than dealing with the madness of JFK (flying out is another story...). It also helped that we booked a direct flight. For all the moms wondering which seats they should book when traveling with babies (front, back, bulkhead), in my opinion, it really doesn't matter. Just make sure you book a separate seat for your little one - we had more room to change him, feed him, a separate place for him to sleep - it makes a huge difference. But that's just my opinion.

Boo fell asleep during the cab ride to the hotel. Once we got there, he was ready to take in the city.

What a great city to explore with a baby. He loved all of the walking we did - to Central Park (twice) and all through Midtown. I understand why New Yorkers are so proud of Central Park. It is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. It is where the families really live. As we pushed his stroller up and down the paths, Boo started mumbling so he could hear his voice vibrate - cheap entertainment! We also passed by stroller after stroller, double strollers, rollerbladers, joggers, kids playing on the huge rock formations, couples having a picnic lunch, big well groomed dogs and small yappers. And of course the tourists (can you take our picture? Sure, can you take ours?). I love, love, love Central Park. And E did too. We never did find the zoo in the park, but he'll probably appreciate it more on his next trip there anyway.

We stayed between 6th and 7th avenues and 53rd and 54th street - it was perfect. We walked to all of the main television stations (you can take the girl and the boy out of television, but you can't take television out of our blood). We saw Ann Curie and Al Roker on the Today Show plaza (A kept jokingly saying "kiss my baby!"). We saw Greg Gumbel as he prepared to go live for Sunday's CBS Sports show. We went shopping on 6th, ate at diners on 7th, and Boo slept through the multi-sensory adventure of walking through Times Square.

During this trip, there were a few times Boo had to be fed while I tended to some business. The first time, I left Donald Trump's presentation early so I could nurse my son ("You're such a good mom," I was told by a fellow PR person to my left. Read: "Are you crazy? This is The Donald speaking!"). A tried to give Boo formula (Enfamil) and apparently Boo would have none of it. I panicked: we had to eventually give him formula. My supply went down after returning to work and even with pumping every moment I could, I knew that eventually a bottle of formula would be needed. I brought the hand pump on the trip, but after using the mega electric monster four times a day, no hand pump could work as efficiently. So we headed to three different stores and finally found some other formula.

The second time I had an evening event (praying he would take the formula - mama was really looking forward to a glass or two of wine). Boo took the new formula (Similac) much better. Hooray!

The third time formula came into my son’s life was when A and I both had to attend a celebration dinner. Our dear pal J agreed to babysit, bless her heart. Now this was on our third day and Boo was getting a bit fussy. He has also started to become weary of people other than us holding him. So we were nervous for J. We tried to have everything set as best we could, and just prayed he wouldn’t scream the whole time and not take his formula. Well, poor J. He took his formula, but didn’t seem to want to be the happy, calm baby he normally is for us, for her. He was in a new place without his parents with new people. We feel terrible. We know he wasn’t as terrible as he could have been, but it’s still hard. We are ever SO thankful though (gift is in the mail, J!). While J was babysitting, A and I had a fabulous, luscious dinner at Gramercy Tavern. Our group had a private room, wonderful cocktails, wine, a succulent lobster appetizer, perfect salmon entrée and some magical sort of peanut and chocolate parfait dessert. It was grown-up heaven. We hadn’t eaten out at a truly magnificent restaurant without our son. We'll take him anywhere, but sometimes it's just nice to have grown-up time.

New York City is a great place for kids. No, we didn’t go to any Broadway shows. We didn’t eat at Nobu or Le Cirque with him or go anyplace with him that required me to actually think about what I was wearing (i.e. shirts that could hide spit-up). We didn’t hit the clubs at night and we didn’t use public transportation that much. We did enjoy exploring the city on foot and found a lot of family friendly restaurants, shops and attractions.

Here’s the thing: you have to move fast. We, as tourists, were completely appalled and annoyed by other tourists and slow New Yorkers (yes, we’ve come to realize there are a few) who would dawdle down the sidewalks, stop to look around immediately as they stepped onto a curb, and those that seemed to do the stop-and-start constantly. If you know how to walk and take everything in without the stop-and-start, without the dawdling, then everything is great. It was invigorating to be in a real walking city again. They say our hometown is, but nobody lives downtown, and very few people I know take the bus on a regular basis. We love our cars. Especially with a little one. It was so nice to be able to zoom about the city on two feet (plus four stroller wheels).

We know our son won't remember this trip. We'll have pictures, but we think he enjoyed it as much as a baby could. We want to expose him to as many experiences, cultures, foods, places as possible. We want him to see the world. We want him to be happy and healthy and to live a life that is well-lived. And we love that we are here to help him to do that.

Traveling with a baby is the best. It opened our eyes to a New York we had never seen. It made traveling so much more fun and adventurous than it normally is, and we never even knew that was possible. If you have a baby and are hesitant to travel - just do it. The drawbacks are very few; the rewards -for you and baby- are plenty.



I love, love, love, love, love my son. So much. It amazes me how much I love him. I love to watch A interact with Buddy Boo, because I can see just how much he loves, loves, loves, loves, loves him too.

We also love to talk about how much we love him. We talk about it a lot. I mean, a lot. I don't think it will ever cease to amaze each of us how much love we feel for our son. Sometimes it just hits us. Bam! There it is. More love than we ever thought possible. More love than we ever thought we were capable of. More love, more love, more love.

This is what life is about, baby.

This is what unconditional love is about.

I love my son. I love him!!!!! (giggle giggle)



My baby is growing up. And Fast.

This evening, he sat in his highchair between us at the dinner table and ate his first bites of solid food. Rice cereal. Just about a tablespoon full. As I raised the spoon, he leaned toward the food and opened his mouth, then he ate like he had been doing so for years. He didn't grimace, didn't turn away, didn't blink. He just ate. Like there was nothing to it. What's the big deal, he probably thinks everytime we break out the videocam. It was amazing to watch him.

He is such a confident child already. His personality is solid, and comes through more and more each day. He is amazing. He knows who he is, and doesn't waver. I wish I could be as fearless and confident as he is, my four month old baby boy. There are lessons for us in each learning experience for him. I believe our children are the ones who teach us about living.

As we three ate dinner together, one happy family, the first presidential debate raged on the television in the background. I hope that for my child's sake, the public will watch these debates closely and make the only logical decision, and that is to vote for John Kerry and the Democrats come November 2nd. We're in a war that we should never have entered. We have a deficit where just four years ago we had a surpus. We have a terrible economy while too many jobs are being outsourced outside of our country. We're faced with the horrible, frightening possibility of losing our right to choose. We are governed by an administration that sacrifices our environment in order to fatten its incestuous, greedy wallet. We are governed by an administration that doesn't believe in family values for all families, whose prejudice against other religions threatens the very freedom Americans value, an administration that attempts pathetically to mask its evil, greed and malice behind God and the Flag, and turns a blind eye to the millions of hungry, struggling, overworked families while they ensure only their own are taken care of.

This is not the America my parents wanted me to grow up in. This is not the America I want my child to grow up in. What I want for my child is to experience freedom in its truest sense, to be able to love fiercely, to breathe fresh, less-polluted air, to grow up in a country that respects and appreciates the environment and understand its limits, to have every opportunity for a fulfilling career in a field he is passionate about, to feel safe and secure in this world we live in. It is time for change, to move forward before we find that we have fallen too far, far back, into a time when the very freedoms we cherish today did not exist.

I watch my child grow up, and I wish to God my country would grow up too.


Everybody Loves to Buy Baby Gifts

It's true: everybody really does like to buy baby gifts. Perhaps we are drawn in by the tiny sizes, the adorable prints that we can no longer wear as adults, or the cute, cute cuteness of it all. But despite the cute baby items out there, some of the greatest gifts A and I received as we prepared for E's birth and after were items that were not the typical cute baby outfits (although we LOVED those too!). Even my friends that never want to have kids seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding baby gifts that weren't too "baby."

Since so many people it seems are expecting in the next year, here are some unique gift ideas your expecting friends or friends who have recently given birth will love:
  • Basket of organic fruits delivered to new parents' door (thanks ML & CL!). New parents don't have time to cook, much less eat anything that requires even being taken out of a box that needs to be opened. Having fresh organic fruits in the fridge which newbie parents can just grab and eat is a godsend.
  • Wine of the month clubs (thanks EG!). This is truly a great gift for the newbie parents. We loved getting two new bottles of wine in the mail each month, because honestly, we never had time to go to the store and when we did, we definitely did not have time to even look at more than one wine label to make any sort of decision about which wine to get. Which brings me to...
  • Grocery delivery service or personally buying groceries for newbie parents (thanks mom & dad!). Trips to the grocery store take on a whole new meaning with a baby, especially in those first couple of months. No matter how prepared new parents are, they will always need more... more diapers, receiving blankets, wipes, food, etc.
  • Receiving blankets. Newborns need tons of them in which to be swaddled (unless the newborn doesn't like to be swaddled).
  • Frozen homemade meals, take out meals brought in to newbie parents, any meals at all. Again, new parents need to eat (especially nursing moms!) and won't have time to even think about it. Get together with friends and start a rotations list to last the first couple of weeks...or better yet, a month!
  • Diapers and wipes, or a diaper service for cloth diaper folks. New parents need several boxes of both Newborn sized diapers and Size 1 diapers. Several packages/boxes.
  • Photo albums (thanks AS & ES, MS & CS!). Newbie parents will need a lot of them.
  • Baby Journal/Time Tracker (thanks JQ!). I'm talking about the kind where new parents can keep track of exactly when their newborn eats, has a wet or poopy diaper, and naps/sleeps. This was a great gift - so much so that after we ran out of pages at 3 months we bought another. This helped us so much to learn about E's habits, and to also see in the early days why he may have been fussy and if he was getting enough to eat (is it time again to eat? when was his last nap? did he have enough wet/poopy diapers today?)

Perhaps the greatest gift we received is the gift of ultimate friendship and family. Even with nine (ten! It's really ten!) months to prepare, new parents enter a very strange new world very suddenly and they need to be able to talk about it with other new parents (is this normal? how often and how long does your baby cry?) and also with parents who've been there (when does this weird cradle cap stuff end? what bedtime routine worked best for you?). Even if you can't relate, just allowing a new parent or expecting parent to talk openly and honestly is a great gift.

Just know that whatever gift you give, new parents will appreciate it. We tend to have a new appreciation for everything in life now. Especially for the little things :)


Starting Fresh

I suppose a blog would have been more appropriate than the website I created to follow my pregnancy. Well, here it is. Starting fresh. With new thoughts in a new format. The website could only hold so much text and I've got a lot to say :)

Motherhood really is a whole new world. It changes everything. It strengthens one's life. It is something that I now understand I knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about before I actually became a mom. One of my co-workers said to me after I went back to work, "Congratulations! Welcome to the club!" I almost hate to say it, because I never would have understood it before, but it really is like belonging to a club. With secret passwords and handshakes, a totally new vocabulary, rearranging priorities, and sharing the ultimate happiness you now find in life's smallest moments that others can't understand (he found his hands! he rolled over!). I think most parents don't mean to be exclusive, but the lifestyle almost demands it.

For me, it's difficult to be one of the first of my close friends to have a baby. My relationships with friends who have recently had babies have strengthened, and I only wish we all lived close to each other so we could share walks and play dates in addition to the emails, phone calls and e-photos. I've tried to maintain my relationships with friends who don't have babies, and some remain very strong while others -particularly the casual friendships - have been a challenge. I can't go to happy hour at the drop of a hat, or to three parties in one night, or even spend a few hours at a friend's house. Those days are definitely behind me, and I really don't mind it one bit. Most of my friends seem to understand. Some don't, and I've learned that's ok too.

So here I am starting fresh with a blog devoted to my experiences as a new mom, a working mom, a nursing mom, a m-o-m Mom. The challenges, the absolute bliss, the madness of it all.

It's 9:00pm and I'm ill today and it's my bedtime. Welcome to motherhood. It really is the best adventure a person can ever embark upon.

Good night!

PS - thanks to KM and also to blogging moms for inspiring me to start my own blog.


Baby Love