Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
To bring those of you don’t follow up to speed, here it is. In Jamie’s first season, he invaded the town of Huntington, WV, the “fattest” city in the United States. Obviously, that is not such a great reputation to live up to, and the citizens of were not impressed with Jamie at all in the beginning. Jamie’s tactics included going on the radio with a rather obstinate and annoyed DJ, holding community cooking classes, and working with the schools’ cafeteria staff to make healthier meals. Now in this season, he is trying to work with the LA’s schools to implement some healthy changes, such as less sugar, more fruits and veggies, less processed options. However, LA’s school board-- actually, the district’s superintendent-- has banned Jamie from going into the schools. Fishy, isn’t it? (Ha, ha, fishy, Food Revolution, I crack myself up.)
As I’ve been following this season, I’ve also noticed news stories about LA’s new changes to their lunch line. They are officially banning flavored milk. Funny, because in one of the episodes Jamie attends a presentation given at the California School Nutrition Association Event that discusses the benefits of flavored milk. The presentation is funded by the Milk Board. Not biased at all, I’m sure. The presenter becomes rather annoyed with Jamie, as do several of the attendees, simply for his point that flavored milk has quite a bit of sugar in it and perhaps does not have to be a choice to students.
Now, let me be clear. I don’t think this one little policy is going to solve our nation’s obesity crisis, nor am I going to point my finger at our schools and insist that it’s their fault so many children are unhealthy. The bottom line is there are several contributing factors to this issue- inactivity, poor food choices, lack of portion control, lack of parental guidance- the list goes on and on. I can also tell you that I’ve been in quite a few schools during the past decade, and the food options are not the healthiest. I doubt that they are any less healthy than when I was a child, and I think that provides an argument for many parents. ‘It was good enough for me, it’s good enough for my child’. But don’t you want better for them? Food that actually has some color to it, instead of a plate of bland food? Healthier drink options? Fewer clogged arteries?
And that’s not even my biggest annoyance with those opposed to this ban. My biggest is: What is it going to hurt? I’ve read a few comments where parents insist their child will refuse milk if it’s not flavored, and this is where I say: big deal. Calcium is not only available in milk. Other dairy products, tofu, spinach, fortified cereals, canned salmon, and broccoli are all great sources for calcium. Those options do not sound as tasty as chocolate milk, but maybe that’s the bigger issue. We want healthy to be so EASY. And frankly, it’s not, as so many people across the country who attempt to lose weight every year would agree. Making better choices takes effort, willpower, and knowledge. Giving kids sugary milk because it’s an easy method to get them to increase their intake of calcium is an easy way out.
I could easily continue my various arguments about why this ban is a step in the right direction, but then this post would be pages and pages long. The bottom line is that the solution to the obesity epidemic is going to take several small solutions to reach one bigger goal of health. I’m glad that LA schools are taking one of those baby steps, even if they had to be pushed to make that first step, and I hope schools all over America will follow suit.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Or, wasn’t me in the past.
Yesterday my dad and I continued our annual tradition of attending the Crosby Arts Festival. Although I had considered bringing Amelia with us, I decided that dragging the stroller and all of the baby essentials along did not sound all that desirable, and so, Amelia spent the day with her Grammy Conklin. At first, I was a bit anxious due to Amelia’s recent decision to refuse bottles. However, I had a battle plan in place and if there is anyone that I trust 100% to deal with my daughter’s attitude, it’s my mom. Within thirty minutes of arriving at the festival, I was calmer and enjoying the artwork.
And checking out babies and their gear.
Whoa, wait, when did this happen?!?
In my defense, I know that part of it was that I was missing Amelia a bit. Now that I’m not working, she is my little partner in crime and we practically do everything together. This takes a bit of planning ahead from me, especially since she only tolerates her stroller for so long, but generally, I can whisk her along wherever I go. And though I pretty much couldn’t stand being a mom in the beginning-- see other posts to see why-- I’m finding I mostly love it now. I don’t even mind being home to put her to bed anymore because if I’m out, I will miss my late night snuggles and the quiet calm that comes with her starting the night in her crib.
Oh my, I’m completely mommified.
Still, that does not completely explain my urge to rip the newborn out of the high school girl’s arms when she was totally letting that poor baby’s head bop all over the place. Or, the cooing I found myself doing under my breath each time I caught sight of a baby. I even found myself checking out a stroller which had a small bench seat affixed to the front so an older child could sit there while the baby lounged in the stroller part. I’m completely sucked in to the world of mommy hood, and I know it.
Perhaps the best part of this realization is when I came home and shared with my husband how I was scoping out all the babies at the fest. Oh, the look of horror that instantly appeared, as if the next words out of my mouth were going to be “Let’s have another baby!” I adore babies, but I was not doing drugs at Crosby, OK? No more babies for me for quite a while. I need a break from the waking in the middle of the night and frequent nursing. I’m all for everyone else have babies, though. Get to work, ladies, Amelia is going to be a toddler all too soon, and I’m going to need a substitute baby to fuss over… then promptly hand back!
Friday, June 24, 2011
So, let’s see. What are some of my favorite things she’s doing right now… Well, sitting up seems like a big one. Jon thinks it’s hilarious to see her sitting on the couch as I’m on the internet or watching TV, her with her rattle. Good stuff. She can stand, but not by herself. Babbling is pretty funny, although I‘m slightly annoyed at her constant DA DA DA DA!!!! all day long when in fact it is MA MA MA MA who is taking care of her all day. I am working on waving with her which thoroughly amuses me. I wave. She stares at my hands. I wave some more. She wiggles her fingers and stares at them with a determined look on her face.
As she gets closer and closer to nine months of age, she is working on crawling. I don’t know how to feel about her impending mobility. This may be my first baby, but I’m no fool. I know that mobility equates to her getting into everything, which will be challenging as it is. Add to that my daughter’s determination (as in getting completely and utterly pissed when she is not allowed to get what she wants), and I am pretty certain that I have many battles in my future. People are constantly warning me about her teenage years, but little do they know that I already have one. She’s just stuck in a baby’s body.
So obviously, I’m pretty on the fence about her crawling. The real milestone that I didn’t know she would already hit is WHINING. Umm, hello, why didn’t anyone warn me that she’d be able to do that at six months of age?!? I thought that was something she wouldn’t be able to achieve until she was talking. At first, I thought it was kind of cute, and definitely more desirable than crying. Now that she’s been working on it for six or seven weeks, she is really getting it down. She starts with a few little whimpers, then increase to actual whining, then LOUD whining which graduates into a curled lip and tears. If she’s tired, she skips the first two steps and goes right into the loud whining. Not endearing at all.
The whining is probably the worst unexpected milestone. Other things that she does that I envision developing into acts of defiance include: looking past me when I‘m talking, shaking her head no, undoing her diaper (well, she can undo half of it, which is bad enough), and smacking things. At some point I’m sure she will figure out that the way to drive Mommy craziest is to combine all of those things into one string of frustrating actions.
She is eating solids, which was only really fun for the first week. Then it just became extra work. No teeth yet, and I’m not sad about it. I love the look of disappointment that crosses people’s faces when they ask if she has any and I say no. Um, I’m nursing here, people, use your imagination about why I’m not looking forward to her little gnashers.
Don’t worry, though… Mommy can roll with the punches. I’m thinking ahead and have strategies up my sleeve. We are slowly working on baby proofing the house, converting the pack and play to the baby container it was meant to be rather than a changing table, and I’m looking into one of those
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I’ve really been understanding how that mommy bear might have felt lately. I’ve probably mentioned before that my daughter has the tendency to be rather difficult. I know this and will admit it. However, there is something about someone else pointing it out that is hard for me to accept. I immediately want to defend her or make excuses for her. Although, maybe the reason that I become defensive is that I then frantically think there is something different I should be doing in raising her. Probably the only thing worse than feeling like other people think that your child is a pain in the butt is feeling like a bad parent.
So this, like many other parenting situations, I now fully understand. You know those parents that defend their kids when they are being absolutely out of control? While I don’t want to become one of those parents, I do understand. You love your kids through and through, even if they are awkward, rough, lazy, etc. I don’t want to become a parent who sticks up for my child even when she is wrong. I will do her no favors by not correcting her when she’s wrong or letting her get away with everything. However, I do understand how, as a parent, you believe your children are perfect. Nothing puts a bigger grin on my face than when people compliment her big blue eyes, her look of contentment when we dine together, or her cheerful smile. Equally, nothing pisses me off more when someone points out her flaws (as if I don’t know about them already… HELLO, people, I live with the girl 24 hours a day.)
Perhaps this post will encourage people to more creatively label children’s more negative aspects. Like when we were at the hospital after Amelia’s delivery and the nurse said “You’re baby is beautiful!“ I laughed and said that she probably says that to every new mom. I mean, what kind of witchy nurse is going to say, “Boy, your baby hit every branch on her fall from the ugly tree.” She told me, “Well, when they are less than cute, I tell the mom that he or she is very healthy looking. I don’t lie about cute babies!” This kind of line of thought has led to me calling Amelia ‘spunky‘ and ‘determined’, and I plan on extending this same type of courtesy to other moms as well.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I think that illustrates just a bit of what we've been through together. I don't know for sure, but I am guessing that the first few months of being Amelia's dad was not any more of a piece of cake than being a mother was for me. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure of this when I recall many of our initial
Luckily, though, Amelia is old enough that her personality has really blossomed and when she isn't tired and cranky, she has some very special moments with her da da (which she can say already... so not fair.) Sitting on Daddy's lap in the morning while he's on the computer. Going jogging with him and the dog while Mommy goes to the gym. Listening to him read her poetry. His hilarious crawling tutorials. Laughing at her when she says "HEY DA DA!!!!"
So, when I think my husband today on his first Father's Day, these are the moments that I cherish. Seeing my husband look at Amelia with such love and care makes my heart melt into one big puddle of joy. I look forward to all of the Father's Days in our future as special days to reflect on the important bond that our little girl has with her daddy.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Anyways, I felt the need to explain the above because I realize I may make parenting sound like hell on earth. For those of you that just read that sentence and have children, you are nodding and saying but it IS hell on earth sometimes! Right. Sometimes. There are definitely times where you want to leave your kids in the monkey exhibit at the zoo and hope things turn out OK. Good luck, kid! Hope you like bananas and swinging from ropes.
I write about this side of parenting because in the first couple months of being a parent, I NEEDED someone to tell me that being a mom sucks at times. These are the comments you hear, at the hospital and for the first couple months of living with a newborn: “Oh, aren’t they sweet? Babies are so precious.” “What a blessing.” I think that in particular, coping with Amelia’s colic was particularly difficult. Every baby is different, and colic makes life extra trying in the beginning. So when people made the above comments, I would fight to not express to them how much I was hating being a mom. After all, I wanted this for so long, how could I now talk about how difficult it was, how I even sometimes had moments of regret?
I hope that some tired mom will read this and know that someone out there understands what she is going through. I want her to know that it is completely normal and OK to want to put your child at the end of the driveway with a “for free” sign around the baby’s neck (I said want to, not to actually do it). Being a mom is exhausting, frustrating, dirty, disgusting, and sleepless. As my cousin Kendra once told me “You know, they torture people with sleep deprivation. What you really have there is a terrorist.” It’s what I think of every time my darling little angel (ahem, pain in the butt daughter) won’t nap or sleep without mommy. It makes me laugh so I don’t actually go ahead and make the aforementioned sign and plop her at the end of our driveway.
Another note: this blog isn’t meant to deter childless couples from having kids, and perhaps that’s why I really felt the need to write this. Coping with mommy hood requires venting and complaining. My time with other moms is vital to me continuing to be a good parent. Sometimes, my mom friends are unavailable so I have to complain to a childless friend before I rip every last strand of hair out of my head. This is generally a mistake, as I then have to see their wide-eyed no way in hell am I having kids after hearing THAT story! look. Not helpful.
But after seeing that look, I feel a little guilty because I know that the story I should have told is the one about how Amelia shakes her head ‘no’ about everything and laughs. How she squeals in delight when our dog approaches her. Her look of fascination when she stares at her hands. Her saying “YA, DA DA!!!!” when she awakes with a smile every morning. THOSE are just a few of the reasons I wanted to be a mom. Those moments are priceless and keep me going. They force me to let go of my selfish wants and make me work on being a better person so I can be a positive role model for her to look up to. So, if you choose not to have kids because of one of my vent sessions, that’s fine. At least when you made your decision, you know you’ve heard the true version of parenting and not some sickening sweet unrealistic version. And besides, as with anything else in life, the most difficult victories are the ones that make life worth living. Indeed, that’s the path I chose, the one that is both difficult and has beautiful treasures along the way, waiting to be discovered.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I have been breastfeeding my daughter for a total of 7.5 months now, with no supplementation from formula. I am immensely pleased with myself. I say this as I recall my simplistic thoughts about the matter as my husband and I sat in the breastfeeding class at Wood County Hospital. Eight months pregnant, I sat in my chair with my swollen feet propped on a chair, baby pounding my belly with her feet and husband rubbing my shoulders. Ahh, this is the life. The nurse passes out samples of breast pads and lanolin while she talks about cluster feeding, mastitis, feeding on demand, blah, blah, blah. How hard can it be? You stick your boob in her mouth, she eats. Ta da! Breastfeeding.
Fast forward about four to six weeks. Sore nipples. Engorgement. Waking up three to four times a night to be awake an hour at a time to nurse. Feedings that last an hour, only to have a thirty minute break, which isn’t really a break because if you know anything about my daughter, you’ll know that she did not want to be out of a snuggle hold for the first eight weeks. Then feed again for an hour. It was sweet and cuddly for the first week because I was so sleep deprived, I was delusional. Also, I was still magically fascinated that I created this tiny little life.
That magic ended seven days later when the lack of sleep caught up with me. By that point I was also tired of having another someone always touching me. Please, please get her off of me and DO NOT TOUCH ME! My dog, Molly, who was my constant companion and source of comfort during my crazy pregnant hormonal shifts (visualize swollen, crying pregnant woman gripping 75 pound golden retriever… by my last trimester, Molly would sigh when I would approach her, sobbing) would be inches from my face, panting, hopeful to get one little scratch behind the ear. Husband equally hoping that perhaps I would utter the words ‘I love you’, coupled with a hug, kiss, or any other sign of affection. Instead, I would glare at both of them and demand that they stay at least five feet away from me at all times. You can imagine how well that went over.
Thankfully, by the time I went back to work when Amelia was nine weeks old, most of the cluster feeding had stopped. There would still be weekends when she would be sick, go through a growth spurt, or simply want more mommy time and feed frequently. Those weekends would get pretty tiring. I also had to start pumping at work which I didn’t have too much trouble with, but I know that some women find this to be a challenge in and of itself, for various reasons. Luckily, breastfeeding is pretty easy at this stage in the game, and there are now several reasons that I like it. It’s convenient, I don’t have to remember formula, nursing soothes her, and it’s free. I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I’m even considering breastfeeding past a year.
My disclaimer here is that I have nothing against women who formula feed their babies. Please, PLEASE do not leave a million defensive comments on my blog about your reasons for formula feeding. Mothering is about much more than how you nourish your child, and there are all kinds of things that we do that we should be acknowledged for. Hell, I think we should get a medal for every day we keep our kids alive and maintain most of our sanity. Breastfeeding was right for myself and my daughter, and because we are successful at it, it does give me some maternal pride.
That being said, I have become a huge advocate for breastfeeding and am glad that many of my mom friends have chosen to nurse their babies, whether that be exclusively or nursing as much as possible while supplementing with formula. My hope is that new moms at least give breastfeeding a chance, and not just a blind shot in the dark. Call a local lactation consultant before you deliver. Talk to your partner about your choice and make sure that he is educated as well (as in, drag him to the breastfeeding class with you. My husband went, and I think he is glad he did.) Know that while breastfeeding is painful, annoying, and difficult in the beginning, you and your baby will reap many rewards if you can stick with it.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
So, why was it so important to me that she endure the Toledo Mud Hens game last night? Well, two reasons. Despite the fact that I'm not a sports fan, I love going to see baseball. Not so much because I find it fascinating. All in all, I don't recall much of the game last night. I was too enthralled with talking to others, enjoying my Bud Light, and watching Amelia take everything in. What I enjoy about baseball is that I get to be outside, I understand most of the game, and the sights, sounds, and smells are some of my favorites-- people cheering, fresh cut grass, hot dogs, popcorn, grown-ups dressed like chickens (mud hens, whatever) dancing, men running around in uniforms without padding so I can... Oh, wait, my husband reads this. You get the drift. I like going to baseball games.
The second reason this was important is that it's one more part of my life I can say I get to enjoy again. In her early days, Amelia had colic. It was horrid. And combining that with being a first time mommy was beyond rough. I had serious moments where I would run through a list of relatives in my mind and consider who she could live with on a permanent basis when I lost my mind from her inconsolable crying and screaming at 3:00 am.
Because of this, I was very cautious about taking her anywhere at first. Talk about baby steps. I don't think we went anywhere but the pediatrician's office for the first three weeks. When we finally did venture out, it was to a few select households that I knew would be understanding of her colicky fits. We went to Meijer the first time when she was about a month old, and I think I practically ran through the store, throwing things into the cart, praying that she wouldn't scream uncontrollably. And when my friends who had 'easy' babies would say "Oh, you can take her anywhere you want, I ALWAYS would just throw baby so-and-so in her carseat and go! She would just sleep", I wanted to claw their eyes out. Screw you and your content baby, I'm practically on house arrest here. Sometimes she would take a step forward and we would go out for lunch, and she would be perfect and happy. Then, when I would try it again a week later, she would get overstimulated and scream and scream and SCREAM, leaving me to grab everything quickly and retreat, crying on the way home.
Last night was not the first time that we have gone out successfully as a family, but to me, it feels like one more assurance that we are past her fussy days. I am not naive enough to believe that she will always be so great when we do things. I know that she will have tired days, whiny episodes, screaming toddler fits. I can accept that. It's part of being a parent. But at least I'm not a prisoner in my own home anymore, as evidenced below:
Oh, and one last note. This game wore her out. I mean, she didn't sleep through the night, I've practically given up on that dream. But there was no crying, waking up every hour, middle of the night conversations, or waking up at 5am. SHE SLEPT TILL 7:30 am. I'm buying tickets to the remaining Toledo Mud Hens home games today.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Well.... except for when it comes to driving. I've never been a crazy person when driving. I mean, I definitely take after my family's habit of
The trouble is, I don't just have the urge to cuss at people anymore. It seems that I now have the impulse to directly confront strangers. This is not good. A) I don't work out as much as I used to. I'm not sure I can physically fight people who are more than 100 lbs or younger than 65 and B) What kind of example is that to set for my daughter? Do I really want my behavior to resemble that of the people illustrated on www.peopleofwalmart.com? Not really. Plus, despite my lack of fashionable attire, it has not reached the horrid depths of wearing nothing but a sports bra on top or metallic leggings:
At this point, I am crazily flailing my arms around, swearing, and flipping him off. I never flip people off. I fear it due to working in questionable areas of Toledo for almost five years and envisioning someone shooting me for one poorly thought out gesture. Move me out to a rural area though, and I lose my fear. I seriously considered following him into the parking lot to ask him exactly how important it was for him to rush to the golf course when he could have hit me and injured my then six month old baby. Possibly after I had pulled her out of her car seat, waving her in his face so he could see exactly how incredibly adorable and sweet she is, and also so he would be less likely to tell me what a b*tch I'm being right to my face. However, I was running late to step aerobics, and considering that I still have ten pounds of pregnancy weight to lose, that was more important. Maybe next time.
The second close call occurred last Friday. See photographic evidence of stupidity below:
I considered these three choices: 1) Leave him a note asking him where he learned to park, if he ever considers other people when making choices, and how he would feel if this had been done to him-- possibly with some bad language thrown it. 2) WAIT for him to come out of the store and angrily express what I had thought about writing. 3) Slam my door into his car a few good times so he has a visual reminder of what happens when you park too close to others. This was my most tempting option. Our car is used, getting up there in mileage, and damaged on the right side, so what do I care if it gets a little more damage, particularly to prove a point?
For various reasons, I did none of those things. Instead, I sucked my tummy in and scooched into my seat, of course while muttering obscenities. All in all, I think I've made wise choices in these recent situations, but clearly I need a plan to keep my sanity while sharing the road with these idiots.
This may be my solution:
Sunday, June 12, 2011
It is not, however, how I made my carrot cake. I have a baby, remember? And although I have a husband that can sometimes help entertain her while I cook, bake, clean, shower, etc., he was busy yesterday afternoon mowing our yard. Unless we strap her down to the mower-- which sounds like a rather inviting idea some days-- he cannot help me with her while dealing with landscaping. So, I was on my own.
Now, there was a (brief) time when Amelia enjoyed helping me in the kitchen. I would strap her into her chair, and she would bat at the toys dangling above her or slobber all over the toys that I put in her lap. She would be happy for about an hour. Those days are pretty much over, at least for right now. This is because my darling daughter is working on becoming mobile. She is constantly kicking, slamming, waving, pinching, and pulling on whatever she can get her little limbs on. Therefore, being strapped down is not an option that she cares for. Even when I take the risk of not strapping her into her chair and keeping an extra good eye on her so she can wiggle a bit more in the chair, she is only happy for a few additional minutes.
Add to that an extra dose of whininess that has been going on for the past few days (a cold? teething? belly troubles? Who knows) and baking the birthday cake was a bit of a stressful event. Generally, I love to cook and bake. Yesterday, I couldn't wait for the whole event to be over.
Here is how you REALLY bake a carrot cake when simultaneously caring for a baby:
Gather ingredients. Start peeling carrots. Baby begins some minor whining. Stop peeling carrots so you can put her bib on and give her a chunk of banana in her mesh teether. This will keep her occupied for about two minutes. Turn off oven which is almost preheated because you now have to stop the whole production and feed her. And, if it takes an extra long time to feed her, your house will be ridiculously hot by the time you're done if you leave it on.
Ten minutes later, turn oven back on, put baby back in her chair, and resume peeling/grating carrots. She begins throwing a great big fit as evidenced here:
**As a side note, yes, I am a mean mommy who takes pictures of her child having temper tantrums. All these sticky sweet pictures of babies sleeping and smiling is not the true story of being a parent. I'm keeping it real here, people.**
Now I have to stick her someplace new. Let's see, she likes her exersaucer, I'll put her there. Insert baby, put several toys on the tray, give her a big smile and make fake happy noises. Return to kitchen. Stir sugar and eggs together and note that whining has resumed. Ignore. Add half of flour. Realize that whining is verging on tears. Go back into living room and frantically search for cartoons on TV. Why are there no cartoons on Saturday afternoon on any of the six PBS channels?!? And how have we lived here for almost four years without cable???? Take a deep breath and pop her Baby Einstein DVD in (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa Baltzell, what a great Christmas gift).
Let's see. Still need to finish cake batter. Mix in oil, rest of flour. Stir in carrots and coconut. Wait... I hear whining/crying again... AGAIN?! She doesn't want to watch Baby Einstein? Maybe she is tired of standing. Go into living room, lift her out of exersaucer, sit her on the floor and put boppy pillow around her to ensure safety, surround with toys. Watch eyes glaze over. Ah, good. Return to kitchen, spray pan, put batter in, pop in oven.
I think you get the drift. This whining/crying also occurred at the precise moment that I needed to remove the hot cake pan from the oven, mix up the frosting, and again in the evening when it was time to apply the frosting. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I frosted the cake while holding her on my hip.
And yet, look how beautifully the cake turned out:
Saturday, June 11, 2011
So, now that I am trying my hand at writing, frequently all I can think of for topics is mommyhood. How to get more sleep as a mommy, keeping the house clean while entertaining my daughter, her development, parenting styles, how not to go crazy while being a mommy, etc. Rarely during the day do I think about politics, romance, travel (except in envy of those that actually still get to travel), making and reaching personal goals, fashion, or other such frivolous things. I do not have cognitive space for those things. Half the time I can't even find my cell phone or remember if I paid this month's bills.
I digress. When the title of this blog popped into my head, I decided to look up the definition of an amateur. According to Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amateur), the third definition of an amateur is "one lacking in the experience and competence of an art or science". Being a mommy is definitely an art rather than a science, and I generally lack experience rather than competence at this art. In any case, the definition confirms that this title was the one that I was going for.
That being said, I do have a few ideas for other posts that may steer away from mommyhood, so I'm hoping that I'm not scaring off all those