Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dad: Baby-Proofing

A little over a week ago, Susan figured out how to crawl. She first popped up onto all fours about 3 weeks ago and started rocking back and forth shortly after that. Once she figured out how to move her hands, it was on. We had started baby-proofing house before she crawled, but now we really have to get a move-on. I set her down in the living room the other day and got up to go to the kitchen for a second. When I looked back, she was gone. Her ninja skills are already well-documented, but this was some next-level Foot Soldier stuff.

Once we started baby-proofing, it became clear pretty quickly that “baby-proof” means “moderately adult-proof” as well. I have a theory that the makers of this baby-proof stuff don’t want a lawsuit on their hands, so not only do they make sure that their products are secure enough, but so difficult to put together that they can claim that you installed it improperly if it fails. I can’t even put her stacking cups back together, and now I’m supposed to modify a two-story house with a super-open floor plan, a flight of 16 stairs and a gas fireplace? 


When you start baby-proofing, you learn that your house is basically a death trap. There are sharp edges, choking hazards, strangulation risks and things on the floor that you don't even know about until they end up in your baby's mouth. Susan might as well be crawling around on a bed of nails surrounded by fire and lions on the streets of Philadelphia after the Phillies won the World Series.

Maybe they should baby-proof the entire city of Philadelphia.

Needless to say, I’ve had a little trouble so far. Look at the outlet covers that MJ stuck all over the house. They have what I assume is meant to be an easy-to-grab tab made for adult fingers that, in theory, grown-ups can grab, squeeze and yank out of the outlet. I’ve got the grab and squeeze down, but I haven’t quite mastered the pull-out-of-the-wall part. What instead ends up happening is the loss of several layers of skin on my fingertips as my thumb and index finger slip off the “grooved” surface which apparently was molded in the same factory where they manufacture cheese graters. Now every time I want to plug something in, I need a screwdriver, band-aids and a tube of Neosporin. Every single outlet downstairs is plugged up, so I’m pretty close to giving up on electricity and embracing the ways of the Amish. At least our energy bill will be lower for the next few years.

The next project was to construct baby gates in front the stairs. “Construct?” you may ask. “Don’t you just pull them out of a box and put them in front of whatever area you want to keep the baby away from?” Well to that I say, “YES, YES THAT IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO.” Instead, because of our ultra-wide stairway, we have to piece together three different “easy-to-assemble” segments, secure them into the wall and onto a stair rail, and do it in such a way that the gate doesn’t crumble like the Berlin Wall the second your curious baby accidentally falls head-first into it. Also, you have to use a screwdriver and a drill, which totally violates the “easy-to-assemble” mantra. About midway through night two of construction, I pondered hiring Gandalf and having him stand guard in front of the steps.

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!! Now stop crying.
I complain, but the point is that this stuff works. Susan gets into anything she can put her hands on, and we don't want her to get hurt. It's impossible to watch her every second of the day, and she tends to get mad at us when we throw in her Pack & Play every time we need to get up and do something. There are still a few cords to wrap up but I think we’re mostly baby-proofed, at least downstairs where Susan spends all her time. We still have to watch her like hawks because she’s already trying to pull herself up on anything she can reach. This is just one of those unavoidable truths of parenthood, that just when you think you have everything figured out, your baby decides to take a monumental leap in development and totally undo whatever sense of normalcy you had previously established. Pretty soon she'll be popping out the outlet covers herself and unlatching the gate so she can scoot upstairs and color on the walls. Maybe then she can teach me a thing or two about how to move around in my own house.

One day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mom: Creating a Mom Network

Some people may view Facebook, Twitter and all of the social media websites as the downfall of civilization.  (In my opinion, Honey Boo Boo and Teen Mom are the downfall of civilization but that is for a different soapbox).  I mean, let's face it - we are more connected than ever.  One of my biggest pet peeves (and I mean makes me want to scream into a pillow) is when we are at a restaurant, I look around and I see couples who are at the table, both playing with their cell phones.  Or families where the kids are playing with their Nintendo DS and Dad is checking his email.  I swear, it makes me want to go apeshit.  Thankfully, no one in my family is that thoughtless, rude or uncaring as to ever just whip out their phone while we are all having a nice dinner or even just sitting around chit chatting in the family room.

My point is, we are very connected.  And it's addicting!  It is hard not to check Facebook, Twitter, your email, etc. 24/7 because we all have smart phones and iPadsSo we actually have to make an effort to put our phones up at night (i.e., put them on the kitchen counter and walk away) so that we aren't tempted to spend our time together in silence, playing on our phones.

But in some ways, being so connected is a blessing.  It allows us to keep in touch with people we might have lost touch with.  It allows us to inappropriately check out what is going on in the lives of frenemies or ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends.  Most businesses today could not survive without Facebook.  We even shop on Facebook now.  And if you are a new parent, Facebook provides a forum for advice and help from other new moms!

A few of my friends from high school and college have had babies.  A few more are pregnant now.  Reading their blogs, their Facebook updates and looking at their pictures can be so comforting.  Especially when you and your baby are going through a difficult time.  Take teething for example.  The first week in October, Susan was teething again.  I expressed my frustrations (aka bitched about it) on Facebook.  I received several comments from friends, including some from friends who had friends with kids, with suggestions on how to help Susan.  We tried a few (unfortunately, the amber bracelet did not work) and then saved some to try for the next round of teething.  But my point is, without Facebook, it would have been difficult to get those suggestions.

Also, for example, when I didn't believe my pediatrician that Susan couldn't wear sunscreen until 6 months and we went to Florida when she was 3.5 months, I messaged a friend from high school on Facebook.  I remembered that she and her husband had taken their daughter to the beach when she was that age, and I wanted to know what they did.  She confirmed what my pediatrician said and then gave us great suggestions about how to let Susan enjoy the beach while staying safe.  And her tip on what kind of beach hat to get was super helpful. 

Facebook has been such a wonderful tool for this reason.  I mean, it is pretty much the only way this blog gets read.  And while I may not have stayed in touch with these people if it weren't for our shared plight (and that is, being a parent, especially a new parent, is scary as shit and its nice to see other people are struggling and scared too), but thankfully, we can all unite around motherhood.  I remember reading in some of my pregnancy or motherhood books that sometimes, new moms can be competitive and judgmental.  Well, I have not felt that way at all.  Or at least, I am not trying to compete.  I'll tell you right now that I do not have it all together.  I have bumped Susan's head on the door putting her into her carseat more than once.  I have sat on the floor of her bedroom and cried with her when she couldn't fall back asleep at 2:30 a.m.  I have wished she would nap just a little longer so I could sit on the couch for ten more minutes because I am so exhausted.  I have had bad morning with short tempers.  Trust me, I am not competing with anyone.  And I am so thankful to have friends and co-workers who have babies and who aren't judgmental when I have questions.  So I guess my biggest piece of advice to my friends who are pregnant is, don't be afraid to ask for help or ideas.  Yes, you will know what works best for your baby, but hearing war stories from your friends and tips and tricks that they found helpful really is beneficial.  And always remember, this too shall pass.  Until the next big development.  If I have learned anything over the last 7 months is NOTHING STAYS THE SAME FOR LONG.

So thank you to all my friends for all of your help and support.  I am sure I will be calling on you again soon!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mom: Baby Stats at Seven Months

It has been a busy last few weeks.  We were blogging wizards in September.  Today, for the first time  in a week, Susan slept til 6 again.  Last week she woke up between 4 and 5:15 every morning thanks to the fourth tooth.  Needless to say, last week was a crappy week for everyone. But this week is bound to be better.

On Thursday, Susan will take her second airplane ride and her first trip to Tupelo!  Papa and Gig have come to see her a bunch and even her Great Aunts Mimi and Sally, along with cousin Lilli have flown in to see her.  But she still has a lot of family to meet and it will be a great trip (even if that d@#n tooth doesn't erupt).

She turned 7 months old on Friday.  She is one busy girl.

Weight: 22 lbs (based on our baby scale)
Height:  Unknown
Next Appointment:  12/21 for more shots and check up.  We will get official height and weight then.
Teeth:  3 - lower central incisors and right upper central incisor. (Left upper central incisor is the one that is in the process of erupting)
New Foods:  peach, green beans, yogurt, and oatmeal.  She loves the yogurt mixed with peach and we started oatmeal cereal mixed with fruits yesterday.  So far, she is a fan.  She is eating 3 times a day.  Two servings in the morning, two at lunch and now three at dinner.
Bottle:  4 times a day, ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 oz.
Clothing:  9 month for some smocked items, 12 month for Carters, Osh Kosh, etc.  Carters runs VERY little for us.
Favorite Toys:  Chicco Spring Roller, Busy Bee, stacking cups, Herman the laughing stuffed toy
Likes:  Kisses, dancing, jumping up and down, tummy kisses, bath time, peek a boo, Patty Cake,  Itsy Bitsy
Dislikes:  She has quit trying to roll over every time we change her diaper.  She is starting to get bored.  If she is in one place for too long or needs some new activity, she will let you know immediately.  For this reason, we are glad she has started (sort of) crawling.
Milestones:  CRAWLING.   The day before she turned 7 months old, on 10/18, she crawled.  She had been getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth for the last two weeks but couldn't quite figure out what to do next.  Now, she is not a speed demon yet and still has some mechanical issues to sort out - as seen by the video below.  But she can do it.  My guess is within the next two weeks, she will be zipping around the house.  Also, about a week and a half ago, Lynne, the lady who keeps Susan, said she made her first sign.  We have been teaching Susan sign language since she was 4 months old (I'll blog about this later).  Lynne, who has also been teaching Susan, thinks Susan signed "milk."  We haven't seen any since then so it may have been a fluke (most babies don't make their first sign until about 8 months).  But we will count it!

So big!

Yeah, you can try to distract me.  But those blocks are mine!
And for video proof of crawling, see below!  I was pretty excited, as you will see.  This was the third time she crawled that day.  Also, thank you to Laura Beth and Robbie, who helped make this possible.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dad: A Night Out with Susan

To get a jump start on our Christmas shopping for Susan, Mary Jane and I decided to take Susan out on the town one night last week for a family outing to the toy store and then dinner. The night started at Toys R Us so we could get some ideas for Christmas presents (for her). I had a lot of fun until Mary shouted at me from three aisles over that it was time to go and she and Susan were leaving without me. I tried to tell her about the Hot Wheels ramp I found that Susan would just LOVE, but she wasn’t convinced so off we went to dinner. This is where the night got interesting.

There are a few things you never want to hear while you’re eating. Usually anything involving bodily functions, politics or Skip Bayless’ stance on anything is off limits. Apparently, our waitress at this fine dining establishment (that will remain nameless, because I actually like the place) didn’t get the memo.

Skip Bayless is not welcome at our dinner table. Or on our television.
As most babies do, Susan attracts a lot of attention when we take her out. Most people love smiling babies, and it’s always nice when people say how adorable Susan is. Some stop to talk for longer than others (and touch Susan, which is another issue that you have to deal with as a parent), but most realize that there are normal social boundaries in place when it comes to talking with complete strangers. When we got to the restaurant, our waitress – a mother of two, as we learned, who looked to be around our age – came over to take our drink orders... or at least that’s what we thought. Instead, she saw Susan and started talking. And talking. And talking until she took the conversation here:

“Then when my second one was about 2, I told my guy ‘uh-uh, no more, you’re gettin’ snipped.” And she laughed. Ha...ha?

My cheeseburger almost came through my nose. I cut my eye at MJ and could tell she was a little uncomfortable with the comment, but she’s too nice to say anything so she just smiled gave a fake laugh (at least I hope it was a fake laugh). After the waitress said that, all I could picture was a giant pair of scissors chasing after me like that giant boulder in Indiana Jones. I really didn’t want to hear any more of what this woman (OUR SERVER, mind you) had to say on the subject, so I tried to go to my happy place and tune her out.


My happy place is where I go when I’m in an uncomfortable situation, which 98 percent of the time is in the dentist chair. It’s a lot like Adam Sandler’s happy place in Happy Gilmore, except mine usually involves baseball or trying to remember the entire plot of The Princess Bride. I’ve used this since high school. I try to block out whatever’s going on (tooth drilling, “turn your head and cough”, a lecture from my overly-intense 9th grade history teacher Mr. Hobgood, etc.) and instead focus entirely on whatever mental task it is that will distract me. In this particular instance, I was trying to name the first 30 Goosebumps books in order. I got as far as Say Cheese and Die (#4) before I saw out of the corner of my eye the waitress making scissor fingers while saying “snip snip” over and over.

I stared blankly at Mary Jane, hoping she would pick up on the telepathic cries for help that I was throwing at her brain like Kris Medlen fastballs. After mentally shouting at her to OMG STOP SMILING AND LAUGHING BECAUSE YOU ARE ONLY ENCOURAGING HER AND IF SUSAN DOESN’T START CRYING SOON I WILL, the conversation kept on. Thankfully it moved away from the topic of male severance, but what came next wasn’t much better.

“I just knew with the second one ‘cuz I’m pretty regular, and as soon as I was late on my next cycle, I was pretty sure,” she said.

I’ve gone through 4th grade sex ed, so I know the code words ladies use for talking about menstruation. It didn’t take me long to figure out that our waitress hadn’t lost her bicycle. 

Not what she was talking about.

I’ll say that at this point in my 28 years of living (and 4+ years of marriage), I’m mature enough to talk about these things, but there's a time and a place, and that time is not at dinner and the place is not at a restaurant. Also this woman was OUR WAITRESS, and not like a waitress who is actually your friend and hooks you up with free soup and spinach dip. No, we had never seen this woman before in our lives. But we had a baby, and so did she, so apparently that means that you can share whatever you want because of some mutual motherhood bond. What to Expect said nothing about that, nor did it tell me to bring a set of ear muffs for when I bring Susan out in public so that I don’t hear what will become commonplace conversations about vasectomies and menstruation. If the helpful sales woman at Best Buy starts talking about episiotomies, I’m never leaving my house again.

Susan would go on to attract much more attention throughout the night, but from a mostly normal group of people who engaged in what I consider socially acceptable conversation with us. I don’t know if the waitress sensed my unease, but she didn’t bother us a whole lot after that. This isn’t the first time that Susan has brought some strange conversation upon us, but it’s the first time since she was born. MJ will tell you that strangers used to try and rub her belly when she was pregnant, and I’m sure she got her fill of awkward pregnancy comparison stories, too. I’m just glad it doesn’t work that way for guys, because I really don’t want to hear from anybody about what they saw in the delivery room. What happens in the stirrups should stay in the stirrups.