Proof that toddlers are really just our baser selves

(Alternate title: Notes from 19 months, because I haven’t posted one of those in a really, really, really long time, and also that title is too long so we can just go with the original blog post title)

I used to think toddlers were living, breathing, walking, running, falling, crying, enigmas never to be truly understood. Recently, however, I’ve come up with a little bit of a different theory. It’s not so much that toddlers are so different from us older-folk, it’s that they are simply miniature versions of our baser selves. If we were to take our most basic desires of behavior and bundle it up into a smaller human it would be exactly a toddler.

Here’s what I mean.


They just walk away from conversations they have no interest in

Do you see this? This walking away thing? This is what happens when you think you're being really interesting to a toddler.

Do you see this? This walking away thing? This is what happens when you think you’re being really interesting to a toddler. Bye, Felicia.

My husband has said on multiple occasions that I get into more random conversations where people tell me their deepest life stories than anyone he has ever met. Going through the deli at the store? Sure, I’ll for some reason listen to your story about how you can no longer do yoga due to your achilles tendon acting up sometimes*. At the pet store buying dog food? Why not, please do tell me about how your aunt’s tuna casserole won the best tuna casserole competition in Muncie, Indiana, in 1988**.

As often as I get into these conversations I also cannot seem to get out of them. I don’t know where the breaking-off point is, so I inevitably just keep asking questions, assuming the end must be in sight. I always assume incorrectly.

Toddlers do not have this problem. One of my parents’ favorite stories about me as a toddler was that whenever they traveled (which happened a lot as a pilot and flight attendant) and we talked on the phone and I was done talking I would just say, “I’m done!” and then walk away. It didn’t matter what the person on the other end of the line was saying or even if they were in mid-sentence. If I was done, it was over. Move on, slick. Nothing to see here.

It’s a super power I wish I could harness again, but alas, it seems I am forever doomed to simply become entrenched in conversations about people’s cousin’s cat’s favorite snacks***.


They can bite into a large wedge of cheese and feel no remorse

IMG_20160516_115647Sure, that huge chunk of Jarlsberg is calling to you, but something is probably holding you back from taking that wedge and jamming it straight into your preferred facehole.

Call it, “societal pressure,” or, “that last time that happened I got so sick I vowed it wouldn’t happen a fourth time,” or, “this is what separates us from the animal kingdom: knives for our cheese wedges,” digging into cheese and treating it like the food crack it is has become taboo in our culture. (For shame!)

Toddlers know not of these societal pressures, which leads to scenarios (like the one pictured here) of them actually gnawing into an entire wedge of Jarlsberg with reckless abandon. This inevitably makes moms look over and say something to themselves along the lines of, “It’s dairy, right? So, like, it’s healthy?”

But look at this face! This is exactly what you want to do to that wedge of cheese and you know it.


When they don’t want to go somewhere they just start crying

Picture this: it’s Monday morning. You’re on the train/bus/in your car with the crush of humanity, headed straight away from the weekend and toward five days of work in a sad, grey little cubicle (or, potentially worse, a brightly-colored, blinding conglomeration of what corporate America has most recently decided “brightens employee spirits for synergy”).

On the outside you’re probably sort-of pulling it together. Your face probably resembles something along the lines of this:

andy samberg meh gif

While your inside is actually consumed by the desire to do this:

crying emma stone gif

Toddlers simply don’t possess that first “I’m screaming on the inside but I’ll settle for stinky-cheese face on the outside” face. In fairness, they have no motivation to develop said “cool” exterior. If they don’t want to go somewhere, the squeakiest wheel also happens to be the loudest one. There is much debate in the parenting world on how to handle said squeaky-wheel-turned-screaming-wheel debacles, but the point is this: your inner self wishes it could actually scream from the rooftops how it feels about going somewhere undesirable just like a toddler actually gets to.


Their dessert consumption tactics are ideal

Snapchat-2979400929942602501Have you ever watched a toddler eat dessert? It’s magnificent. If you want to see just how creative a toddler mind can become, hand them something sweet and observe the results.

I have many examples of this, but most recently Wee Connor and I went to a restaurant in Lincoln Park called Jam ‘n Honey. This restaurant is famous for putting huge jars of Nutella and honey on the table for your spreading delights. Obviously I allowed Connor a Nutella toast because I’m a terrible parent who subscribes to the “everything in moderation” idea, and also because Nutella is potentially proof there is a higher power out there who loves us dearly.

I didn’t even realize there was a right way and a wrong way to eat Nutella toast, but grownups clearly have always been on the “wrong” side of the spectrum since coming into our sad little grownup existences. Wee Connor schooled us all by taking said toast straight to his face, licking off the Nutella from the toast, putting it down, looking at me, and then saying and signing (this is the only sign he knows, and I don’t know where he learned it, by the way) “more!” emphatically. See what I mean? Realistically who cares about the toast? The toast is obviously a vehicle to deliver as much Nutella as can humanly fit inside a human stomach, so why would you destroy said vehicle? No more Nutella vehicle, no more Nutella. It’s so simple it’s brilliant, really.

If we all listened to our inner dessert voice we, too, could channel these tactics. Luckily toddlers wear those inner dessert voices on the outside, which is convenient because that’s where half their desserts end up as well: straight on the outside of everything.


*True story
**Also a true story, though details on that one might be blurred a bit
***You guessed it****.
****It went, in order of preference: Goldfish crackers, Friskies treats, shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes. And no, I don’t actually know how the ranking system was established.


P.S. I recently decided to become all official-like and start a Facebook page for my blog. Come on over and like it! I’ll be posting updates and maybe even funny or interesting things along the way.

Notes from 16 months: a recipe for a toddler

Toddlers are odd creatures. As best as I can explain it to childless friends (who, by the way, thank you for still being my friend. I don’t know how you do it.) is as a cocktail recipe, which said childless friends probably appreciate since they a) can enjoy cocktails regularly, even without yogurt in theirs or a family member’s hair, and b) it’s a better representation than anything else I can think of.

To make a toddler:

  • Combine one part baby with two parts “that drunk friend you, for some reason, now have to take care of”
  • To mix, run around dwelling endlessly over and over again, mostly in circles
  • Add wine, to taste 

In between the mixing and wine-adding I’ve jotted down some notes from the past month or so.


Here be dragons, if by “dragons” you mean “one nap a day”

Asleep in the home furnishings area of Target. I was lounging on a display loveseat when I took this picture. One nap to rule them all.

Asleep in the home furnishings area of Target. I was lounging on a display loveseat when I took this picture. One nap to rule them all.

As Connor has gotten older he has switched to one nap a day, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that the nap is much more predictable, but a curse in that it feels like we’re (yes, “we”, because I need that alone time during his nap as much as he needs the nap) napping without a safety net. If we go out to do an activity or errand too late he’ll fall asleep on the way back, which means an incomplete nap and bedlam the rest of the day. If we don’t go out at all he goes stir crazy (which, to be fair, I do too), and it’s bedlam at nap time. The problem now is there isn’t another nap I can hope can make up for a crappy nap anymore. It’s pretty much a one-shot deal.

Overall, though, I do prefer the one-nap-a-day thing, presuming it all goes well. Connor naps for about 2 hours in the middle of the day, which means I can clean around the house stream Netflix and intend to clean around the house for a perfect amount of time to turn my brain off. The biggest downside to this one nap thing, of course, is that I’m much more of a slave to the schedule. I hear myself sounding insane when people ask to do brunch on the weekends and I tell them only if it’s super early (aka, “breakfast”, perish the thought) or much later in the afternoon (aka, “linner”, or as most of my friends call it, “uhhh…okay…well…we’ll think about it and get back to you…”). When Connor was younger he seemed much more portable because there was always another nap to fall back on, and neither nap lasted very long anyway.

There seem to be two kinds of kids: kids whose naps are super flexible and who don’t fall apart if they don’t have one, and those like Connor. So again, I’m sorry friends-without-children. I know you say “I’ll never be like Taylor and Chris and be a slave to my child’s naps” because I used to say that, too. But alas in this house naps are king and I am but a royal napping jester.


No, I don’t know where or how he got that [bump/scrape/mysterious large mark on his forehead…wait…is that Sharpie? When did he have a Sharpie? Is there a Sharpie somewhere I don’t know about? Can my son manifest Sharpies now?]

Less than 10 seconds prior to that he was sitting peacefully playing with that activity box thing.

Fewer than 10 seconds prior to this he was sitting peacefully playing with that activity box thing.

Remember that “drunk friend” part of the recipe I shared before? More than likely that drunk friend woke up with about eight bruises or bumps they have no recollection of receiving. This is nothing compared to a day in the life of a toddler.

Just like your drunk friend, a toddler will get so excited to see you, despite the fact they just saw you three minutes ago, they’ll start running as fast as they can and then trip over the flat unobstructed floor.

Just like your drunk friend, a toddler will randomly change direction on less than a moment’s notice and walk straight into a door frame.

And just like your drunk friend you’ll tell them they can’t have pizza and they’ll collapse into a heap, sobbing on the floor, and bonk their head on the way down.

So no, I don’t know where my son got that huge mark on his head. I usually respond with “being a toddler,” but people seem to think I’m trying to make a joke. I’m not.

Unfortunately the one thing you (hopefully) don’t have to do with your drunk friend is change their diapers, for a multitude of reasons you understand. You’re still on the hook for that with your toddler, and that’s where the “one part baby” piece of the “1 part baby to 2 parts drunk friend” piece of the recipe comes in. Them’s the breaks, parents. Them’s the breaks. 


Toddlers live to make fools of us all

diabolical laughterLet me explain. First, a quick piece of back information: for now, Connor is pretty much a champion eater. He adores vegetables, gobbles pho, and eats pretty much what we put in front of him. While we may still be steering straight into a “picky” or “no” phase with food, right now it is what it is and it’s pretty enjoyable.

I was out to eat with some of the moms after a playdate and ordered Connor a breakfast burrito, which had eggs, sundried tomatoes, corn salsa, pepperjack cheese…and probably some other fillings as well. I scraped out the inside of the wrap it was in and Connor dutifully ate the filling, bite after bite. Until. Until. Until. One of the other moms whose daughter is 2 turned to make conversation and asked if Connor was a good eater*. As soon as she asked the question and I started to answer something along the lines of, “Actually it’s been pretty easy so far with him…” Connor immediately looked up, opened his mouth, and stuck out his tongue so that all the food in there would fall out. And then he did it again.

Toddlers do this all the time. No matter what you say they do “all the time” to another parent/doctor/grandparent/anyone, they will turn around and do not that thing. They love it. They live to make fools of us all. It’s a good thing I’ve got that jester hat in stock.


Clothing sizes on tags make less and less sense as children get larger and larger

PSA: Babies are not fireproof.

PSA: Neither babies nor their clothes are flame resistant. I know there’s been some confusion.

Tags for baby clothes are hilarious to me. They always will be. More likely than not it’s because I spend such an inordinate amount of time doing laundry something had to become funny else I would lose my mind. Some of my favorite tags found only on baby clothes are:

  • “KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE”
    Because I was going to throw my child near open flames, but, phew, that tag really saved the day there! Who knew babies, nor their clothes, were not fireproof? 
  • “WASH INSIDE OUT”
    Not hilarious in its own right, of course, until you realize this tag is found on a blanket. Not a sleep sack or something fancy you often find near babies, but a square, flat, blanket. I am somehow supposed to figure out how to wash the closest thing to a 2-dimensional object we have in a 3-dimensional world inside out.
  • “SIZE: 18 MONTHS [or whatever size the tag says it is that is supposed to correlate to your child’s age, for some reason”]

It is this last clothing tag I would like to go into a little more.

When your baby is first born, all the teeniest tiniest little clothes seem to fit them perfectly. All the clothing makers perhaps take pity on new parents who get no sleep with the wee-est of wee ones crying and feeding through all hours of the night and make their clothes to be more or less the same size.

It is after this glorious period all hell breaks loose. For reasons I cannot possibly comprehend, most clothing in the USA is made with tags labeled with the child’s age, until 2 years old. 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc. Once they hit 12 months, the differentiation is done by 6 months instead of 3, so it’s 12-18 months, and 18-24 months.

The thing is, though, it’s all bollocks**. If you hold up five different brands of clothing labeled “12-18 months” (or any other size, 6-9 months, 9-12, whatever size you see) you will see five extremely different clothing sizes, ranging from fitting a newborn to a length almost fitting an adult. Who are these children they are supposed to be fitting? I can assure you, it’s not my child.

My in-laws spend half their time in London, and as such we have received some beautiful childrens clothing from Europe. One day doing laundry (read as: one random day in the past 16 months) I was looking at the tags and realized something: Europeans put lengths on their sizing tags for children. Sure, it’s in metric lengths, but seriously, there is actual, factual, hard data on what they consider their 12-18 month clothes would fit and you can adjust accordingly. Why we don’t do this in America is beyond me, but since Trump is close to becoming a viable presidential candidate most things are beyond me at this point.

Hanna Andersson has an American shop, and they maintain their lengths-based sizing. Boden has dumb age-based sizing, but at least an easily-accessible size chart.

Really, what I’m saying is this: good luck with buying clothes for babies. Asking moms what size their kids are wearing these days probably will probably garner a pause, a sigh, and a rundown of every brand they’re familiar with and how they run (“Oh, well, Boden runs long and lean, so definitely get his age in that, but Gap…well…Gap is iffy, but generally he’s right at the edge of that, so size up in Gap, same with Old Navy, and if it’s pajamas always size up because they tend to shrink…”. You didn’t ask, but it’s what you’ll get. Again, I don’t know why my childless friends have remained friends with me, but thank you all.


It just keeps getting better

connor on playgroundI say this a lot here, but it’s only because it’s true. I hear myself talking in platitudes but still can’t help it.

I’ve wanted him to stop growing and stay the same age now since he was born. I keep thinking it just won’t – can’t – get better. This is the age that makes all the headaches and bad days and battles with naps worth it, I keep telling myself. And then a little more time goes and I think, no, no. I was wrong before. This is the age. My husband has a remarkable ability to see this as a trend. “Don’t you want him to stop growing?” I incessantly ask him, and he’ll respond with, “No! Can’t you imagine how cute he’ll be when he can talk?! Imagine being able to toddle down the street to the park with him! Throwing a baseball? Walking down to Wrigley and catching a game?” Okay, fine, you’re right, husband of mine, if it has kept getting better with a 100% dependability factor, it stands to reason it might just keep getting better after all.

It’s just so impossibly hard to believe it can, is all.

 

*This is a question moms ask other moms all the time. I can’t tell if it’s a battle in the “mommy wars” or if it’s just plain curiosity, but I tend to lean toward the “innate curiosity” side more than the “mommy wars” side for reasons I can’t put my finger on.

**I will not stop trying to make fetch happen, Gretchen.

Notes from 13 months: the calm before the storm

Before I talk about coffee and baby walking and napping, I would be remiss if I did not mention what has been weighing on all our hearts this past week: the horrific terrorist tragedies that have played out across the world. There are no words that can describe how small my problems feel in comparison to those whose innocent lives were taken from them and whose families must somehow go on with their lives wishing they were thinking about coffee and baby walking and napping instead of what they are instead forced to think of. We have all hugged our dear ones a little closer these past days and the only way I can think to win over the twisted, horrific acts committed by Daesh is to go on and show that the lives we lead are not going to be controlled by fear and we will not let them win.

Love will win over hate.

Ca va mieux. 

So now, naps and Thanksgiving and coffee and baby walking.


tay and kat ho ho ho

We spent the entire weekend together and this was the only picture we got together. Seems about right.

This past weekend one of my lifelong friends Katherine visited from Texas. It was awesome. However, in the “not awesome” category was the mind-blowing revelation that Thanksgiving is next week. Here is how this piece of information finally lodged itself into my brain:

Katherine: Oh my gosh, can you believe Thanksgiving is next week?
Me: Ha, no it’s not. I thought the same thing and looked at the calendar the other day and it’s the week after next week.
Katherine: No no! It’s actually next week!
Me (in my head): Oh silly Katherine. That’s not how time works. I’ll pull out my phone calendar to show how much time we have before Thanksgiving.
Me (out loud): Holy sh*t! Thanksgiving is next week!

It appears time has made fools of us all, and especially me. It also appears that all my “super early” planning for Thanksgiving can be filed under “a normal and appropriate-ish amount” of planning, and I have once again found myself with a full on holiday season in front of me with 0 presents bought and accounted for.

Oof. Pass the egg nog?

With this newfound information blowing my mind I have decided that instead of being productive, I would jot down a few thoughts about the last month or so of motherhood. Because there is just no way I can possibly try and process one more time that Thanksgiving is next week.


Walking is a whole new bag of beans.

Connor walking gifAnd that bag of beans has now been picked up while I’m making dinner and then somehow opened and spread all the way down the hallway.

At first walking was actually an improvement in the “keep child corralled and appropriately looked after” scene in our house. Connor had gotten shockingly quick on his hands and knees but just after learning to walk he was still just unsteady enough that he slowed down and I had the advantage. This grace period lasted approximately fifteen minutes, but that fifteen minutes was awesome.

Now we have hit the ground…running walking baby-marching and this has proven itself quite the adventure in child care, especially when I’m doing something extraordinarily un-baby-friendly with my hands like seasoning a pork shoulder for the slow cooker and my hands are covered in seasoning and raw pork.

Baby locating device

Baby locating device

The bright side? It turns out that you can teach old dogs new tricks. My new favorite thing is when I look up and then frantically start yelling, “OHMYGOD WHERE’S THE BABY?!” the dog will now also get up and run straight to the baby. He’s like a homing beacon for stray miniature humans. I knew having a herding dog would pay off someday!

Brinks, you are a gentleman and a scholar. Except when you get into the trash. Then you are a ruffian and a middle school dropout.


But first (and then in the middle, and then last), coffee.

futurama coffeeI realized recently I have no idea how many “cups” of coffee I drink a day. This is because I apparently drink them only in half-cup increments scattered and re-warmed throughout the day.

At any given moment I am pondering if my lack of ability to do anything is due to too much or too little caffeine.

Results continue to be indeterminate.


Finally, I can participate in a Tinder-esque app

Ellen-SelfieTinder came along after I had started dating my husband and so I have always nodded along to my single friends’ stories about Tinder trying to convey a sense of understanding about the culture of the app I very clearly lack while also trying to not venture into the look of morbid curiosity. I fear I often wade straight into the “morbid curiosity” realm due to my banal questions and eyes opening wider and wider with every passing moment of the story.

In some strange way, though, I felt left out. I wanted this satisfaction of instant judgment too!

Er…I mean…I wanted to be able to participate too!

Luckily, Katherine (the cruel friend mentioned above who informed me about the calendar) actually had me covered there (so maybe not as cruel as previously thought). She told me about this app called Babyname that is literally “Tinder for baby names.” While we aren’t going after kiddo numero dos any time soon, the idea is still fun and the app is so simple it almost hurts. You and your partner both download it, link up to each other, and then are both presented with baby names at random. If you like one, you swipe right. If you don’t, swipe left (which I am assured is how Tinder works). If you and your partner both swipe right on a name it stores the name in your “matches”. The idea is that you independently can come up with agreed-upon baby names without having to explain to your spouse why you can’t name a child after your 7th grade crush because that’s weird, that’s why, end of discussion, okay?!

It’s so satisfying. And it really is amazing. You never realize how many people you actually don’t like until you try and find baby names.


I would perhaps rather go on a quest to Mordor than navigate the transition to one nap a day

fozzie facepalmUnless there’s a chance that what lies in Mordor is a quick and easy solution to this parenting conundrum of going from two naps a day to one. I can’t say with any certainty on what actually is in Mordor, actually; I always fall asleep during the Lord of the Rings movies*.

There are good days and there are bad days. After daylight savings hit there were a lot of bad days. Oddly, want to know what made me feel better? Connor and I go to a playgroup for kids 0-3ish at the German school around the corner once a week. It has become Connor’s most favorite thing we do, despite neither my husband nor I speaking German. When daylight savings came up and I mentioned it had thrown the 1-nap-a-day thing sort of for a loop (along with some of the sleeing-through-the-night thing…also fantastic) they agreed and said how hard it is for children with changing the clocks back and how much it messes kids up. The way I figure it is that if Germans, a group of people known for their strict timekeeping skills and scheduling acumen**, admit that scheduling can be thrown off, maybe I can loosen up and realize it’s not just me.

Parents, consider yourselves warned. If Germans can’t make daylight savings go well, then what hope is there for the rest of us? None. The answer is none.

I think (think), we’ve turned a corner lately. But it’s a cruel reminder that just because you think you have something mastered or done doesn’t mean the baby won’t put you straight back into your place, even if that place is headfirst into a bowl of coffee. (Please see above.)


It really does just keep getting better.

IMG_5556I hated this advice when when people would say it after Connor was born. “It’ll just keep getting better!” everyone said. “But, it’s great!” I would think. “Let me enjoy how great it is right now!” And then, it would get better.

All of a sudden when I say, “Want to go read a book in the booknook?***” Connor will go over to the booknook. (Note to self: must make sure Connor knows booknook is not a word.) He has preferences, and moods, and words, and a personality. It all changes every day, minute by minute. And it’s amazing to see how it happens.

And it does just keep getting better.


*Oh, be quiet. I’ve heard it all from my husband before. Blah blah blah they’re great, blah blah blah. Can we go on with our lives now?

**Excuse the massive oversimplification of an entire people and profound stereotyping here. It just fits into my internal narrative and makes me feel better so can we go with it? 

***The dog bed that sits next to a bookshelf in our house. Don’t judge me – it’s an orthopedic dog bed.

Voila! le booknook.

Voila! le booknook.

Notes from (what?!) 12 months

This was both yesterday and an eon ago.

This was both yesterday and an eon ago.

I’m in denial. Sometimes I pick my child up and cradle him up horizontally in my arms as if he just came home from the hospital. Inevitably, this results in a series of varying and understandable whines, whimpers, and a well-executed roll to attempt to get out of this position, onto the ground, and into something life-threatening and dangerous. I’ve been told all of this is a side effect of one horrible, inevitable fact.

My baby is turning one.

Some days I feel as if I can’t remember when I wasn’t a mom. Other days I feel just as shocked as I did that first night home from the hospital with a little human to take of and nobody seemed to object or seem as aghast as I was that I was to be trusted with this newborn. Most days it’s a mixture of both.

Since my last post we decided that moving with a 6-month-old wasn’t quite enough of an adventure, so we not only moved but bought a house*. And let me tell you. Moving with an 11-month-old is not an adventure, but rather an adventure. And by adventure I mean an exercise in how many times I can say, “oh my good god no do not put that in your mouth oh lord where are you going now, no please don’t go that way it will lead to certain death oh lord how many sharp swallowable objects can one family possibly own and why are they all on the floor where the hell is the coffee maker?!” in one hour. The answer is “too many.” But we survived! And we are settled in-ish! And I have a one-year-old. 

If nothing else moving afforded me a good lookback on this past year and so, without further ado, here are a few thoughts I’ve had in between my cups of coffee and my unstoppable urge to not unpack so much as to wander from room to room and ponder what needs to be done, rifle through a drawer, get overwhelmed, and then brew more coffee.


I’ve wiggled on some things and held firm on others.

Imagine, for a second, a Soviet-era Ukrainian gymnast. This encapsulates everything I can think of when it comes to parenting. Stay with me here.

  1. This is motherhood. Right here.

    This is motherhood. Right here.

    Incredible flexibility. You go into parenthood with things you say you would hate or never do, but life happens. You may have a fantasy of a house full only of purely beautiful, wooden toys for your child’s imagination to grow, but then realize that maybe a light-up toy isn’t the end of the world, either. Sometimes your child is hungry outside their set meal/snack times. They grow. A lot. It happens. And sometimes a few Cheerios helps things along, despite you telling your child that in France they don’t snack ever and they are all well-behaved angels. Your child cares not one lick about beautiful organic wooden toys or the well-behaved-non-snacking children of France, and sometimes you just need to be flexible, just like those Ukrainian gymnasts.

  2. The ability to stand firm and be rigid when you need or want to be. On the flip side of flexibility, if there are things you truly believe in for your family, standing firm is also part of the game. I ended up making almost all of Connor’s food for him and we still don’t do screen time. The things we decided to stay firm on are not the same things you might stand firm on, as with what we decided to be flexible on. And (other than vaccinations, because that is my line I will forever draw in the sand) that’s okay! Those Ukrainian girls stuck landings and were firm as if they were trees in the forest after their routines, and having rigidity mixed with flexibility is what it’s about.
  3. An underlying look of fear in the eyes that at any moment you may make a mistake of varying magnitude and the repercussions thereafter. Of course, I’m totaling up therapy costs or doctors visits while they were worried about the KGB coming for their families if they didn’t nail the high bar dismount.** But, you know, same thing, right?

Babies do not get less weird with time

Connor Ice Cream Face

Who reacts to ice cream with such terror? Who is this child?!

Something I’ve said since literally the day Connor was born is that babies are weird. For instance, some babies love swaddling and other (weird) babies like my own apparently would have rather had a hot fork stuck in his eye. As it turns out as babies develop personalities they not only don’t get less weird, they get weirder.

The latest and most easily identifiable example? My child hates ice cream.

You read that right. My child, a human being of my very own loins hates. ice. cream. If he didn’t have carbon copies of my eyes and my husband’s mouth I would swear he was switched at birth with this information.

Sometimes (often) when you ask moms of multiple children about things their answer is something along the lines of, “Well, child 1 did X, child 2 hated X, and child 3…well…um…I think by then I had just given up on even trying to fix the problem because all babies are all different and weird.” So when you see your kid eating corn on the cob like you would eat a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie, I say let their freak flag fly. Lean into the weirdness. It’s not going away.


There is this universal noise all parents make.

Overtired baby or Bears fan? The world may never know.

Overtired baby or Bears fan? The world may never know. Probably the Bears fan thing though.

I can’t tell if it’s parents with kids under 5 or all parents, but there is a noise so involuntary I don’t think we even know we do it anymore.

Whenever a baby/toddler rubs their eyes, any adult with children makes this exact same noise. As best as I can type it out, it sounds something like,

Whuuuu-ohhhh.”

Here’s why: this is the golden time to get your child to sleep. A well timed eye-rub-to-crib/nap transition is a thing of pure beauty. Ignored and very soon you will land yourselves in “overtiredland” and life for everyone involved will be miserable. No matter what. I’ve seen a group of adults be looking at a baby, have the baby rub their eyes, the parents all make that exact same noise described above, and the parents of the baby go, “It’s nap time!” and scurry off with nay another word. Every other adult didn’t even bat an eyelash and continued on with their lives as if the other adults that were just standing there and left in a poof of dust Speedy Gonzales-style hadn’t just fled the scene.

Eye rub. “Whuuuu-ohhhh.”

Every. Single. Time.

Babies may be weird, but parents may be weirder.


There is one best birthday party theme for a 1-year-old.

I'm not sure he noticed there wasn't a theme.

I’m not sure he noticed there wasn’t a theme.

I don’t know why I don’t see this more. I don’t know why I didn’t do this***. But there is one single theme that every single first birthday party should be.

Survivor.

Congratulations! You’re still on the island of parenthood. Go have an adult beverage or three.

The theme we had for Connor’s birthday was “random decorations I picked up at Paper Source and Target we managed to throw up.” It worked!


This motherhood thing? So, so, so worth it.

I can’t get over it. I can’t get over the fact I’m a mom. This little tiny human still seems to trust me despite all evidence pointing to the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing.

There are good days and bad days and days in between. But this motherhood thing? So worth it. Has been since day 1 and still is today.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s still some cake left in the fridge.


*Okay, a condo. But it comes with a parking spot, which makes us technical land owners. So…you know. Adulthood. Please see above re: nobody seeming to be shocked at us being old enough to do things like this (have a baby, buy a car, buy a house, etc.) except us.

**Perhaps an exaggeration? This was not my best researched piece and possibly a bit of hyperbole brought on by too much too little not exactly the right amount of coffee.

***Yes I do. Because I moved this month and I am exhausted and not even close to being one of those amazing put together moms who can plan a themed birthday party for a 1-year-old anyway. You moms who do that are amazing. And the moms like me who can’t? Um, well, I’m starting a support group for that. It’s called “having a glass of wine instead.” We meet on the couch after the baby goes to sleep.

A 10-month-old’s guide to playing with stuff (aka, notes from 10 months)

“Look mom! Now I can roll off this thing straight onto my head!”

Mobility is a funny thing. Every movement a baby makes toward that pinnacle of baby milestones–walking–makes parents have this sequence of reactions:

  1. “OHMYGOSH! He’s [insert milestone here: rolling over, sitting, crawling, pulling up, etc.]! OHMYGOSHHEDIDITAGAIN!”
  2. Grab camera
  3. Take 55 pictures and videos of the moment exactly preceding and following the milestone, but somehow manage to not get a good picture or video of the event again
  4. Get excited to see the milestone for the next week
  5. Realize that this newfound mobility actually means a new level of chasing a baby and watching as he manages to inch himself toward certain death
  6. Immediately put out every possible toy “guaranteed” to amuse and/or educate your child in some way.
  7. Watch child look incredulously at the toy, then at you, then toss the toy aside and again move toward certain death

Wait, what? 

En garde!

“Your toys? I laugh at your toys! This cabinet is much more enjoyable to explore! Ha HA!”

Yup. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million-and-one times. It’s simply the darnedest thing.

Before I quit my job almost a year ago to become a stay-at-home mom, one of my most favorite work tasks in the world was making flow charts. I would make them unprompted. I think I once made a flow chart about flow charting. I made a verb out of flow charts. There’s something about a flow chart that just makes sense with how my mind works. I find them calming. A year later as I was pulling my son out of the dog’s water dish for the fifth time that hour it hit me, just like it hits every mom in my situation:

I could flowchart this. 

Oh, that’s not the natural reaction? Most people don’t find joy in flow charts? Is that why “Zen and the art of flowcharting” isn’t a thing, let alone a bestseller? Well then. Ahem.

What’s done is done and now here I sit with a flow chart on how my 10-month-old seems to decide what to do in any given moment I set him on the floor.

So now, I bestow onto you this: my 10-month-old’s guide to how to play. (Feel free to click for the full version.)

I will play with that

 

Notes from nine months

swinging awayAnother quarter of the year gone already? I think three month intervals of babydom come as more of a shock mostly because they are associated with sizes of clothing (0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 12 months). And while the clothing sizing and age correlation has as much correlation with reality as a Donald Trump speech (why would it be so hard to label baby clothes sizes with lengths? You must measure these things to manufacture the clothes, baby clothes-makers! Label them with lengths like they do in Europe! But I digress per usual.), the nine month age signifies that you are rapidly approaching that landmark time of having survived your first year as a parent.

Recent updates in our house include, but are not limited to:

  • Sitting up from a lying position without assistance. Note: this has actually only happened once and it happened while my friend was in town for a few hours and while both my husband and I were looking away. It has not happened since.
  • More food. I can safely say that Connor prefers Brie to Camembert cheese, and there is positively no humanly way to say, “my baby prefers Brie to Camembert” without sounding like a total douchebag
  • Silence becoming the single most terrifying sound known to man as it typically indicates the baby has found something so profoundly dangerous it has captivated his attention for a very prolonged period of time. All my friends with older children postulate this “silence is terrifying” thing lasts until adulthood. Phenomenal.

And other than that, life has been going on. Living in a large city continues to be the best choice we could have made for ourselves and our family as demonstrated by the fact that most of our pictures are still unhung because we keep going out and having too much fun around Chicago because there is so much to do. It’s a quality problem to have.

In between naps, though, I have managed to jot down my thoughts on the ever-astounding 9 month mark. Enjoy!


Childproofing is easy

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child. But no. Ragged dog bone.

Please note all the toys behind this ungrateful child.

No, really! If you’re willing to take an iterative approach it’s easy to figure out what to do to make your home safer for baby.

First, set out some toys for your baby. Next, place your baby in front of the toys. Your baby will immediately turn away from the toys and head exactly toward the single most dangerous item/place in your house. The toys simply act as a divining rod to turn your child in the exact opposite direction of their location. You may then babyproof whatever it is your baby finds.

This approach works every time.


LIDS.

Literally every child's reaction to a box full of dang lids.

Literally every child’s reaction to a box full of dang lids.

I went to a mommy meetup recently. I had a lot of fun and saw a distant future of what it’s like to actually have a two-year-old running around and what kinds of toys children actually like. Spoiler alert: it’s the toy that the other child has.

However, when the host mom brought out a box full of jar lids (salsa jar lids, baby jar lids, olive jar lids, etc.) it was like she was the second coming of the damn toy messiah. Every child ages 6 months to 3 years flocked to this box of lids and played with them like they were the second coming of Christmas.

Lids, people.

Lids.

If you want to make a child’s day, hand them a box of lids and never look back. This will be especially infuriating fun when your child is surrounded by every toy imaginable you have painstakingly played with like a fool in the toy shops/Target/Buy Buy Baby. It is a perfect reminder (because you need so many) that you know nothing, Jon Snow.


Your child’s future résumé does not include baby milestones.

No, he didn't pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he's okay, though.

No, he didn’t pull himself up. He will eventually. I think he’s okay, though.

In order to preserve some level of credibility on this point I conducted a thorough interview (emailed quickly) with a good friend who works in HR. What I confirmed was simple: while there are many things that might go on your résumé/CV as an adult, the dates you achieved your baby milestones are never among them.

(It might be worth mentioning this is in a day and age where “artisanal cheese enthusiast”* and “food iPhonographer” are legitimate résumé excerpts that have been found on actual résumés.)

There seems to be a lot of pressure on parents about their children achieving milestones (i.e., sitting, pulling up, teeth, laughing, talking, walking, etc.) “early” as if what Princeton is looking for is a candidate who walked at 10.5 months instead of 1 year old. “Milly just sat by herself at 4.5 months, honey! Grab that application to Harvard, quick! She’s a shoo-in now!”

Milestone charts are helpful for your pediatrician to be able to tell you if there might be a problem. And that’s it. Babies are people. Small people, but people. People are all different. It can then be inferred that babies are all different. Your child might be “early” on some things and “later” on others. No matter what the case is, it’s not going on their résumé once it’s achieved.


I have responded to your text. In my head.

I’m sorry about that. Forever, I am sorry about that.

I needed to get that out there.


There is a foolproof way to get your child down for a nap

"Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool."

“Oh, you need to move the car for street sweeping, Mom? Cool.”

I bet I heard a bunch of neck snaps to attention with that one! Are you ready? It’s a two-step process. Here we go:

  1. Schedule yourself to be somewhere at a very specific time and place.
  2. Watch your child effortlessly fall into a deep, perfect slumber fifteen minutes before you need to leave.

It. Never. Fails. 

Never. 


It just keeps getting better.

Fine, everyone with kids. It does go so quickly. Yeah yeah yeah, all of you moms and dads out there. It does keep getting more fun. You got me already, lady on the bus whose status of children I have no idea, it is so much fun.

And so, so, so worth it.


*Um, duh? Isn’t that the equivalent of saying, “sentient being who breathes”?

Notes from six months

IMG_4354Even though I think we might be closer to the 7-month mark than the six, I figured that a new mantra of mine will eventually become “better late than never!” so I could, ironically, start on that way of thinking early.

Since my last post, we have:

  • Learned to sit up. More accurately, Connor learned to sit up. I had personally mastered sitting up at least a few weeks prior, but apparently I have become one of those people who inexplicably say “we” instead of “the baby” or “Connor.” “We” are teething. “We” will finish our cherry and apple purée in the next few minutes. “We” are tired and need a nap (okay, bad example on that last one. Usually the “we” there is horrifyingly accurate).
  • Moved from Charlotte to Chicago

…and I feel like that has taken up most of my energy/time/life source. Wee Connor’s sitting up unassisted means that actual mobility is not far off on the horizon. Lord help us all on that day.

While needing fairly substantial outerwear into the month of May is sort of a bummer, Chicago has been incredible to us thus far. My husband and I had almost forgotten what it was like to be able to have a choice of 10+ Banh Mi restaurants delivered to our front door (let alone being able obtain Banh Mi in the first place). We walk everywhere or take public transportation. We haven’t even re-installed the carseat into the car because we never need to drive. It’s heaven for us. Realistically, we just plain missed living in a big city. We love it, and the fact that this city we have chosen to nest in is filled with Midwesterners brimming with authentic Midwestern kindness is just gravy on top of the cheese curds.

While enjoying our new life changes, I have somehow managed to pull together enough brain cells on the past month(ish). I still can’t believe the little one is half a year old. Maybe one of these days I’ll wake up and realize I know what I’m doing. Ha! As if.

So here we go. Six months down…a lifetime to go.

Protip: don’t move with a 6-month old

IMG_4322I guess sometimes you do what you have to do. Moving with a 6-month-old was one of those things. While we are pretty much obsessed with our new city, apartment, and lot in life, I can’t say that moving with a baby would fall into the category of “best things ever.”

Here is a list of things I have learned:

  1. Outsource everything you possibly can outsource. We hired movers, of course, but our movers actually packed for us. What would have taken me a month to pack in between bouts of taking care of the baby and me generally being curmudgeonly about packing and going, “Why do we have so much crap?!” repeatedly it took them a matter of hours. We sorted through our stuff on the back end, thinking that if we had to find a spot for everything it would make us really think about if we needed it or not. It worked. I regret nothing.
  2. Things will not go to plan, and that’s okay. We had an apartment lined up and ready to go. This apartment was then pulled out from under us a week before move-in due to the owners deciding to sell the place. (Angry fists shaking in the air! Still!) I then had to hop on a plane to Chicago (again), find an apartment, stay in a hotel, etc. etc. etc. What this translated to was a better apartment than before (yay!) but also a sick baby who suddenly forgot how to sleep through the night. We still have not recovered the latter skill (boooooooo). I figure all will work out and life hiccups will eventually go away. All I need to do is figure out a life equivalent of drinking a glass of water from the back upside down while humming “America the Beautiful.”
  3. It’s okay to take a break. All our boxes still aren’t unpacked. On the other hand, we’ve seen some great friends, gone to a Cubs game, had some of the best brunches I can remember, and re-explored the city we fell in love with three years ago. And I’m okay with all of that, even if it means a few boxes are still left, the house isn’t straightened up, and none of our pictures are hung on the walls.

I have a new theory on yoga

See? Cobra.

See? Cobra.

After observing my baby for six months now, it has become clear to me that yoga was obviously invented by people trying to imitate babies and toddlers. Every time a baby moves, it’s a perfect yoga position.

How did I not see this before?

I haven’t been to yoga in approximately fartoolong, but I am insanely jealous of Connor’s ability to contort himself into perfect form. Who knew that all it took to master yoga were not fully-connected joints? Everyone? Everyone knew that? Oh. Well then. I see.


Food!

IMG_4355Exclamation points! Feeding Connor has been something I had been looking forward to pretty much since he was born. I have been making all of his food from scratch and watching him explore new foods is one of my great joys in life.

I must expand on this in a later post. But seriously. It’s so much fun.


Teething. Ohmygod. Teething.

I’ll say it. I’ll say it right now. Teething. Sucks.

I know a lot of parents with babies on the other side of teething who have said some variation of this to me:

“Oh, teething? I mean, I just remember one day it sort of just happened. He didn’t really get fussy or seem out of sorts or anything. He just woke up one day and had teeth!”

better call saul frustratedWell, parents of magical babies, do I have a limited*, one-time**, special*** offer**** for you, since you clearly missed out on a parenting experience: you may babysit my teething baby. Yes, that’s right! You, too, can now know what it’s like to have a baby who is extremely fussy, drooly, cry-y (it’s a word, dangit!), and for whom you can do nothing to help! Now you can’t act like I’ve never given you anything when this is the opportunity of a lifetime I have here for you.

Wee Connor still has his most adorable gummy smile to show for what has seemed like a month of teething symptoms and that is my one consolation in this extravaganza because it is so adorable. The rest, though? Not adorable. And yes, I know, every human goes through this. And gets through it to boot. It doesn’t make it any more fun, though.

Any day now.

Really, any day.


It just keeps getting better

tay facebook profileEvery time I post something or look at the baby I think, “nope, this is it. This is the most fun it’s going to be. This is the cutest he’s going to get. Stop growing now, boy. Because this is where I want you to stop.” And then a few weeks later I do the same thing. Because, as strange and sappy as it is to say, it does just keep getting better.

This parenting thing?

Totally worth it.


*Not limited

**Not one-time

***Special meaning “the worst

****Not so much an “offer” but more of a “beg”