On Being a Parent: My Guide Book

It happens to each of us when they hand us those squirmy wrinkled little balls of blubber called newborns, we immediately become parents.  There is no class.  There is no manual.  There is only whatever YOU have done to prepare yourself for the nanosecond that your child is handed to you and becomes totally and completely all your problem.

I always wanted to be a mom.  I mean I love kids.  Always loved babysitting and never minded changing diapers.  Watching and playing with kids was always so much more fun than work.  My attitude was very much ‘how hard could it be?’.  Like seeing someone with a hysterical baby in the line at Target.  Something inside my pre-parenting brain always made me look at the offensive child’s parent out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of neglectful idiot would take such an obnoxious child out in public.  That’s right.  I judged.  But in that nanosecond I could no longer cast that sideways glance…cause it was bound to happen to me someday.  As much as I always wanted to be a part of the club there was no way of ever knowing just how difficult it was going to be.
So I went back into my archives to figure out just what (if anything) I had learned over the past 12 months, hoping to impart on you faithful readers some of my Mama wisdom.  P.S. If you click on the ‘titles’ they will take you back to past blog posts of mine.  
Month One – Sleep is for P@#$ies – That’s right.  Who needs to sleep?  Those first few days home are like the first few days of a love affair.  You’re so cuckoo crazy about this new little person that you can’t bear to be apart from them for a second, let alone close your eyes, for fear of missing some precious moment between the two of you.  And then, the oxytocin wears off and you’re just frakking exhausted.  At this point ‘They’ tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps.  To take it easy, leave the house disgusting and don’t worry about showering.  ‘They’ are stupid.  There’ll be plenty of time to sleep when you kids go off to college.  Do ‘They’ care that they don’t have any clean underwear?  Do ‘They’ think the dishes are going to wash themselves?  Maybe ‘They’ have a Rosie the Robot like the Jetsons to do all their work for them?  I think ‘They’ need to grow a pair…or maybe ‘They’ have kick ass MIL’s.
At least someone was sleeping
Month Two – Breastfed Babies Should be Fed BEFORE Going into Public.  This is a practical issue that Mamas with formula-fed babies don’t even remotely have to consider.  They whip a bottle out of their diaper bag and BAM! Instant calm.  However a Baby on the Boob needs to have a full stomach before you attempt any manner of errands big or small.  Their little baby stomachs are only the size of their fist.  They need to be fed constantly.  So you better have a pretty tight grocery list together too.  The days of lingering in the International Food aisle and browsing soup labels for the least amount of sodium are over.  This lesson was learned the hard way.  Literally whipping out the boob in the shoe department at Meijer.  It could have been worse though, at least there’s a bench in the shoe department.  And when I got home I STILL didn’t have everything we needed for the week.  Probably forget something essential like toilet paper. It does get better and eventually you can go out for longer and their little tummies can hold more, but really, always wear something that always you to easily access the Boob.  I’m still wearing nursing bras…
I will be pissed if I don’t eat soon…
Month Three – Cloth Diapers Rule.  No, really, they do.  You’re already doing laundry.  What’s one more load every other day or so?  And there are so many options in the cloth diapering world I’m still trying to figure out why in the world anyone uses disposables.  Oh, wait, right, cause of the billions of dollars in marketing that the diaper industry spends every year to get us to use these obscenely expensive little earth destroyers.  But I digress.  The cloth diaper world is pretty damn addictive.  They’re constantly adding new patterns and colors and technology.  And yes, it’s a piece of fabric that covers your child’s ass and collects their waste, but they can be sooooo damn cute.  And you know what, even with my slight obsession with fluffy butt covers, I have spent less total than I would have spent in 6 months last year.  And I’m done.  I don’t need any more diapers for Cedella and hopefully can use her first ones for Baby #2.  How cool is that?  Imagine what you could do with all that extra diaper money…  
GroBaby & Sofie what a crunchy combo
Month Four – Always Wear Stretchy Pants on the Train or else you face a big old disaster when you try to pull up your pants while holding your infant in a moving vehicle.  This one would have been really helpful to know before getting on the train with Cedella by myself.  But now you can apply this to your own travel adventures.  Other helpful travel tips?  Check out how to install you car seat in a cab on Youtube before you go.  Get a map of whatever public transport you’re going to be using and make sure you locate all the handicap entrances and exits, otherwise you’ll be carrying your child, diaper bag and giant stroller up and down several flights of stairs.  Don’t plan on visiting the zoo when it looks like it’s going to rain.  Protest marches can be a fantastic learning opportunity.  But really, the most important tip?  Don’t schedule too much, relax and have fun.       
Taking some time to just relax in Chicago
Month Five – The Bathroom is no longer Your Sanctuary.  It’s sad but true.  What used to be a lovely place to go and get some quality reading done or grab a quick game or two of Jeopardy on your iPhone, has now become the room you spend the least amount of time in.  There is no loitering allowed.  Hurry up and do your business cause if you’re in there too long someone WILL interrupt you.  And well, that just sucks.  There is no privacy here and poop is now a regular topic of discussion between you and your husband.  Whuck?!  That’s right.  Sexiness and mystery have left the building and have been replaced by flatulence and a constant need to say “TMI”.  

Month Six – Camping with a Baby can be Fun.  And if you plan it right, you know, like weekend full of thunderstorms, your child may sleep through the night for once.  We thought our tent was going to float away and/or be struck by lightning, and Cedella slept through the whole damn thing.  Could have been all the fresh air or having a busy day full of new experiences.   Maybe she just really digs storms.  As long as you come prepared to keep the baby occupied and safe and again, not do too much, then your camping trip can be pretty damn cool.  Really it’s never too early to get your kids into nature, right?
All the fresh lake air makes me sleepy…
Month Seven – Martha Stewart can Suck It Cause Nobody’s House is THAT Clean.   Really…this probably doesn’t need much more explanation than that.  Your baby is only your baby for such a brief time.  Are you going to remember how little dust were on your bookshelves or are you gonna remember the first time you took your baby to the beach?  What’s it gonna be?  I’d rather have a messy (not disgusting but messy) house and tons of great memories of spending time with my kids.  All that time cleaning you could be spending teaching your child to love the outdoors, develop their imagination or just be silly and dance to the Beastie Boys for a little while. 
Making memories at Lake Huron
Month Eight – Your Child is the Cutest Child in the Entire World and no one can ever take that away from you.  Also, you take much better pictures than the weirdos at Sears that charge you a pint of blood for each half decent shot.  A baby is going to be way more comfortable and smiley with you than with a stranger in a strange place.  So while I’ve seen some beautiful baby and family pics done by real photographers (that I’m sure cost more like a liter of blood per excellent shot) the best photos of your child are the ones you take when you’re just enjoying each other and not forcing something to occur that just isn’t gonna happen.  

Month Nine – Your Birthday and all Subsequent Holidays are No Longer About You and that’s ok.  Cause it’s your baby’s first everything and it’s your 32 time around this track.  Besides, who wants to have a party when you’re turning 30-something?  That’s not worth celebrating.  You know what is?  The first time your daughter has a donut.  Now that is milestone.  32…not so much.  And don’t worry that your family people don’t notice you or say hello when you come into the house.  She’s kind of a big deal.  Just think of it like being the mother of Lindsey Lohan Brittany Spears Miley Cyrus Selena Gomez (she’s still a virgin right?).  Cedella is a super star.  Glad I learned this already, to save myself years of embarrassing myself trying to steal her spotlight (a la Mrs. Lohan, Spears & Cyrus). 
Month Ten – Mamas Need Friends Too.  Life as a SAHM in a new city is lonely.  You need need need need NEED to have people (preferably women) to talk to.  You need someone to connect with, to commiserate with, to suffer and triumph with.  I can’t even remotely believe it took this many months in the trenches before finding someone to hang with.  Just because you’re a Mama doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up in the house and never have a social life again. I am so thankful and happy to have met Leslie and her beautiful baby Anna.  I can’t imagine how crazy, fat and bored I would be without them!       
Month Eleven – Christmas Morning is for Starting Traditions.  Those things we do each and every holiday, whether it is the food we eat, the activities we do or who we spend our time with, had to start somewhere.  Those traditions started with your grandparents, your parents or your besties choosing to make something their own.  We’ve taken from these things to make our own Christmas.  Cutting down our tree, decorating it while listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album, making Breakfast pizza and opening gifts in our jammies.  These are our new/old traditions.  The ones that we hope to continue for many many years to come.  Adding more traditions as we add more children, as they grow older, as we move through this life.  These are the little things that make our family Our Family.  
Christmas Morning Pajama Family
Month Twelve – Parenting is a Constant Work in Progress.  If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned this.  You are always changing, you are always growing, you are always having to readjust and relearn.  The trick of being a parent?  Being fluid…going with the flow.  And more important than anything else, take the time to step back and breathe it all in cause if ‘They’ are right about one thing (and that’s all I’ll give ‘Them’) it’s that time does indeed fly.

The Cedella Report: Month 10

Another month with Monk has passed and she continues to impress and amaze us.  While it may seem so great having such a genius smart baby (just kidding, well, sort of) sometimes challenging is the best description.  At 10 months this child is blowing through milestones left and right and showing us her fabulous personality more and more each day.  Dare I say she’s loving, sassy and outgoing like her mother and stubborn, independent and funny like her father.  And beautiful as any child I’ve ever seen…

Thumbs up Mama!

But pictures?  Well, my little fashion model poser is gone.  She will NOT sit still for pictures and only occasionally bothers to smile for the camera.  I need a big ole beautiful Canon Rebel T1i so that I can take action shots and more beautiful photos of our little mover.  Do you hear that Santa?   I NEED one ::wink wink::

Okay…she was laughing in this one but its super blurry…

Did I mention that she’s walking?  Last month she was trying, but now she is Walking with a capital W.  All the grandmas told me Cedella would be any early walker.  And sure enough, just before she hit 10 months she took off like a drunken sailor during Fleet Week.  Stumbling from one piece of furniture to another.  Holding on to one of my fingers just in case she may fall down.  Stomping across the living room floor like Frankenstein.  The funniest thing is that she walks by herself nearly perfectly when no one is looking.  She is just hilarious to watch.  She does this whole trying to get her balance thing, where she wobbles back and forth until BAM she lands right on her booty.  Thank the universe for her fluffy behind (a great combination of genetics and cloth diapers)!

Is there anything cuter than a fluffy baby booty in jeans?  Nope.

And we’ve got a talker on our hands too.  My mother always tells me how she told her mother over and over again “I can’t wait for Ali to talk”.  As she tells it, once I started talking I have never shut up!  Ok, so that may be true, but is diarrhea of the mouth genetic?  Monk’s vocabulary currently consists of: Mama, Dada, ball, taa (Arabic for ‘come’), duck and her current obsession…dog.  Everything is dog.  She says dog ALL DAY LONG.  She calls anything with 4 legs a dog.  Tigers, bunnies, sheep, cats…all dogs.

In the midst of saying “dog”

Her favorite dog?  Kira of course!  Kira has taken on celebrity status in her eyes.  She calls out ‘dog, dog, dog’ until Kira comes into the room.  When we’re going through our bedtime routine she refuses to close her eyes until Kira lies down on the rug at our feet.  She wants to be around Kira constantly.  Luckily our furry baby abides.  She just sits next to Cedella on the rug and takes all the ear pulling, sloppy kisses and belly slapping that Cedella dishes out.  They really do enjoy one another.  However Kira is becoming a bit of a handful by constantly being under our feet, under the high chair and anywhere the baby is (particularly when it’s not a good time).  We’re trying to figure out a good way to deal with the dog without yelling (our current strategy) but I’m at a loss.  Two small creatures under my feet at all times is one too many.  What happens when we have another baby?  Oy vey…

Thick as thieves.

Cedella’s other favorite friend?  My New Friend’s daughter.  They LOVE each other soooooo much.  We all had dinner at their house last week and we had such a great time.  The adults got a chance to talk and have a couple drinks and the girls impressed us by playing so well together.  I don’t know if 10 month olds are normally so social, but these two crawled and tumbled all over each other and babbled back and forth and played with toys.  They’re remarkable…and affectionate!  Yay for Mini BFFs!!

We are still mostly struggling with getting Cedella to sleep at night.  9 times out of 10 she ends up in bed with us, helping herself to Mama’s Diner all night long.  I’m reading ‘The No-Cry Sleep Solution’ and ‘The Sleep Lady’s Good Night Sleep Tight’ books.  So far, all I’ve learned is to let her lay in her crib until she falls asleep.  MUCH easier said than done.  The thing is, she is a really good napper, taking at least an hour in the morning and at least an hour and a half in the afternoon.  She gets tired around 8pm, which allows us enough time for family dinner and bonding with Dada.  She does great with her nighttime routine and goes easily to sleep…on the boob.  How do you get them to sleep without the boob or the bottle?  I’m at a loss.  Then there’s staying asleep, or rather, putting herself back to sleep.  Other than nursing, how does one get the kid back to sleep?  We’re trying to use a Lovey, lullabies and rocking, we’ll see if any of that works.  Any suggestions (other than crying-it-out)?  This sleepy Mama needs all the help she can get…

I’m not tired Mama.

Other than that we are just really looking forward to the holidays and a slew of ‘firsts’.  Yay for first Thanksgiving and turkey!  Yay for first Christmas tree and first Santa visit!  Yay for first snow and first cocoa and first Christmas morning!  Yay for shopping and holiday cards and giving gifts!  Yay for introducing Cedella to our old traditions and creating new ones!  Can you tell I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays?  My favorite time of the year (minus the freezing temps and overcrowded stores).  But the most important first is just right around the corner…First Birthday!  Can you believe it?  I know I can’t…seems like just yesterday was the day she was born.  Life really is miraculous and stunning.  We are so incredibly blessed to have this 10 month old miracle in our midst.

Why so excited?  Elmo’s on.
Bye bye till next time…


The Cedella Report: Month 9

Hey Everybody!  I’m 9 months old!

My child is 9 months old.  ::gasp::  My baby is trying to walk, trying to talk, trying to get into EVERYTHING.  Oh…and she threw herself out of her crib onto the nursery floor.  That’s right…my Monk is giving me gray hairs.  In fact I found three today.  Three.  ::sigh::

Good news is that despite having her first cold and a runny nose that is finally going away (two weeks later), she is perfectly healthy.  Here’s her newest stats:

Weight – 19.5 lbs  (only about 1/2 lb since last month but she hasn’t had a growth spurt lately)
Height  – 28 inches (still the same too…which is great cause her few pairs of pants still fit)
Head    – 17.5 inches (this is great because it means her little peanut head has made it to the 50% and   everything is A OK.
Size – Mostly 12 month clothes these days.  Some 9 month jammies and onesies.  Some 18 month sized jeans (that big ole booty)  Still size 3 but almost size 4 shoes.

My little Fashionista.

What’s new with Monk?  Still all the same tricks as last month with the added excitement of the Amazing Baby Out of the Crib Trick.  One night after laying her down to sleep in her crib I ran downstairs and poured myself a glass of wine.  It was just that kind of day.  As I sat down on the couch to chug my glass, I heard a deep thump right over my head, almost immediately followed by the loudest wail that has ever come out of my child.  I don’t think I’ve run that fast since high school.  Ella was lying on the floor of her room, on her stomach, screaming bloody murder.  I scooped her up and shushed her and rocked her and nursed her and she fell right to sleep.  Talk about it hurting the parent more than the child!  I was crying like a lunatic and called Michael at work to tell him all about the horror.  After waking her up an hour later to check her pupils and make sure she wasn’t going to die I fell asleep sobbing and clutching her to me.  I’m pretty sure one gray hair sprouted at that exact moment.  The next morning she woke up and pushed herself out of my arms and once I was awake she started waving at me.  ::sigh of relief::  Despite a knot on her forehead she was perfectly fine.  And the crib is now in the lowest position it can be in.  Thank you Michael.

Our Little Dare Devil

She waves every morning when she wakes up.  She waves at our neighbor Wing when she sees him outside.  She waves to the picture of her grandma and auntie every morning.  She waves to Elmo every morning on Sesame Street.  She even waved at the nice sales girl at Babies R Us today.  There are hello waves, two-handed Arabic hand waves, bye-bye waves and even the weirdo closed-fist waves.  We’re still trying to figure out if the closed-fist is her fight-the-power wave.

Waving at the camera

Then there’s the kissing.  She’s a kissing bandit!  She kisses me constantly!  She makes this “mmmmmm” kissing moaning noise, then leans in, opens her mouth and proceeds with what we call the Movie Star kiss.  She makes out with your face.  The other day at a baby shower she went all Lolita on this 18 month old boy.  I sat her down on the floor a few feet away from him and before you could say “cherry chapstick” she was on this kid. Hands first, she dived for his face, placing hand on each one cheek, opening her mouth and slobbering all over his face.  Michael is currently working on building a cage and procuring a shotgun.

Kissing…notice the open mouth.

She’s also getting quite a bit closer to walking.  Yep, I said it…walking.  There are moments when she thinks no one is looking and she pushes off of the couch and just stands there, trying so hard to balance without holding on.  She loves holding onto fingers and walking back and forth across the floor all day long.  She has the whole furniture walking thing down to a science.  In fact, she’s such a good scooter she only crawls when absolutely necessary.  It’s pretty terrifying to think of her walking.  I just sprouted another gray hair.

Walking around her room

Cedella has always been an dancing machine but I got some pretty damn adorable footage of her dancing the other day.  Currently her taste includes Jay-Z, Yo Gabba Gabba and Led Zeppelin.  I know…she’s got great taste for an infant.  Check out her moves (but please ignore my horrendous impersonation of Rihanna):

These days she is still obsessed with balls, so much so that she says “Ba ba ba” until you hand her anything round that resembles a ball, like lemons, limes and apples.  She tries to eat them and is throwing them onto the ground, but still can’t quite get the hang of rolling it.  Oh well…next month maybe.  By far the favorite toy right now is her Elmo doll.  Anything Elmo holds her attention for a few minutes, which is tricky these days.  Elmo’s World is the most important (and usually only) time of day that she pays attention to the television.  Besides Dancing with the Stars.  She loves the dancing and the shiny lights.

Elmo is never far from reach

Sleeping is getting slightly better, but is still not what we’d like it to be.  At least once a night she wakes up and doesn’t want to go back to sleep.  She’s wide awake and wants to play.  We’re working on a nap and nighttime schedule but it’s a bit tricky.  Either way though we’re still nursing during the day, Mama’s Milk Diner is no longer open all night.  And I’m much more rested and generally pleasant for it.

Happy, well rested Mama

Newest favorite food?  Scrambled eggs!  Just like her Dada she absolutely adores eggs.  They’re the perfect finger food and she gobbles them all up in seconds.  We are fortunate enough to have local farm deliver fresh eggs to our porch once a week so we have peace of mind that she’s eating the very best.  And in case you’re wondering…yes you can definitely tell the difference between the farm eggs and the grocery eggs.  And yes, they are absolutely worth the hefty $4/dozen price tag.  Ella has also been eating chicken, tomatoes, apples, butternut squash, sugar snap peas and broccoli.  It may have been said before but seriously…this girl is such a great eater!  I hope she will always have such a healthy appetite for healthy food.

We have joined a Meetup.com mom group and have been on several events.  Our favorite so far?  The Nature Hike.  Wow.  Cedella was the most excited and thrilled baby I have ever seen.  She narrated the whole hike with her ‘Whoo hoo’ and ‘Lalalalala’ for the 2.5 mile hike.  Seriously, most of the other kids were either passed out or crying.  All but Cedella and another little girl.  They had a great ‘chat’ as did me and her mother.  So this little girl and her mom are our new buddies.  We’re going on a solo walk tomorrow.  Yep, a solo date.  That’s what it’s like.  Finding mom friends in a new town is like dating.  I hope our first date goes well cause she’s cool and we have lots in common and I need a mom friend.  Wish me luck…

Trying out the slide
Teething bad…
Stinker Face 2.0
Digging her teething pacifier