Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Year Ago

I look at the baby sleeping in the crib. He seems pretty long to me now, taking up about two-thirds of the length of the mattress.

One year ago tonight, just a few hours from now, my water would break and Ron and I would head to the hospital. I still would not know, not even then, how much my life would change.

It's been a good ride, though, little man.

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The Latest Addition to the Family

I've given birth!

Well, figuratively. I've got a new site up and running called Philadelphia Moms. I've been posting for a few weeks now, but there's lots more I need to do with it.

For one thing, I can't for the life of me figure out how to get widgets or buttons on the site, including a site meter. Granted, I haven't spent more than two minutes at a pop trying to figure it out either. I'd like to increase the readership, maybe get involved with BlogHer, advertising. Who knows? Maybe I won't have time for any of that and it'll just stay as it is.

But what I realized is there's no good site for moms in the city. No real resource on what do to with yourself on maternity leave. Most of us city moms are stroller bound and when you've got a newborn it's overwhelming to figure out which places are stroller friendly. My goal (which may be unattainable, depending on how much time I dedicate to developing the site) is to create place where moms in Philly can come, get information or ideas and maybe even have exchanges. I'm open to any and all suggestions. There's people out there who are a lot better at this than I am. Feel free to link to this new site if you're reading.

Who knows where it's all going? But check it out.

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Products That Have Recently Found Their Way Into My Home

Ener G Egg Replacer


Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

My kid is a vegan. Who eats meat.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Between my brother and I:

Me: I told you he doesn't need another ride-on toy.

Him: But there was this one that was shaped like a bee. It was totally cool, what about that one?

Me: What part of "he-doesn't-need-another-ride-on-toy" do you not understand?

Him: Okay, Debbie, you win.

Me: Did you just call me Debbie?

Him: Yup. You got it. Debbie Downer. That's you.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Being a Mother

I've been putting off a overall post on this topic forever now, because there is so much I want to say but I'm not sure how. So I've kept rolling certain ideas around in my head and never really putting pen to paper, so to speak. Motherhood is a very individual experience, of course, but I do think there are some universal themes. I don't expect this post will be as all-emcompassing as I had hoped, but here goes...

The thing is, if people knew, really knew how hard being a parent is, I'm convinced no one would ever do it. It's one of those things you can't really know in advance. I thought I did. I never had fluffy visions of baby smell and baby giggles. I knew it would be hard work, but I didn't really know. Fortunately, by the time you really know how hard it is, you also know a little, tiny person, a little tiny person you're totally in love with, and so, you wouldn't undo anything, even if you could.

From the second Rolo came into this world I had an overwhelming amount of love for him. I knew he was mine, my responsibility, a part of me. Sort of like a mama bear, I knew I would protect him no matter what. These parts of being a mother were automatic.

Other parts weren't. The actual role of being a mother hit me like a two ton truck. It took some getting used to. The change in lifestyle. The raw emotion. The physical toll. For weeks, I would spontaneously cry for no reason. I wasn't necessarily sad, although sometimes I was, I was just overcome with emotion. I couldn't watch anything upsetting on TV. I had moments when I numbly asked myself "What have you done?" I was someone's mother. Who let that happen? You need a license to marry someone, to drive a car, run a business, but no qualifications at all to have a child.

I've said before on this blog that I feel like there are multiple versions of myself (please hold all schizophrenic jokes to the end, thank you) and they don't always go hand-in-hand. It's funny how you can be two things at the same time; how you can know, somewhere in your heart of hearts, that you're a good mother, that you're doing a good job and how you can also feel like you have no idea what you're doing.

One aspect of being a mother that I always suspected was there is the isolation. Feeling things but not being able to talk to anyone about them. A good friend of mine had kids before I did and for years when you asked her about the kids or about parenting, the answer was always, "Fine, everything's fine. Nothing to see here!" Now when I recount some bit of awfulness that is parenting, she sighs and tells me she knows just how I feel. Well, why the hell didn't you warn me it was going to be like this?? But the truth is if she had told me I wouldn't have understood at the time. And more importantly, she couldn't risk my knowing. The fact of the matter is there are times when you want nothing more than your old life back but you can't say that out loud. There is a secret code among women that you don't discuss the dark side of parenting with anyone unless they are in your inner circle and also have children. And then, still only rarely.

Does all of this make me sound like some sort of postpartum depression poster child? Well, I'm not, but that's why people don't talk it very much.

The reality is that whatever dark moments there are, they never overshadow how great being a mother is. Yes, it's overwhelming sometimes, but it gets easier in ways. You adjust to the new life. It'll get harder in other ways. You see your baby "playing" with other kids at daycare, not capable of having hurt feelings. And in your mind, you fast forward 5 years and wonder if he'll make friends as easily then or if he'll be picked on or bullied. You panic slightly when you realize that you'll have to help him with that 5th grade science fair project and you hope your own reluctance to make new friends doesn't rub off on to him. That cheesy, crappy saying about parenthood really is true: it's like choosing to have your heart forever walk around outside your body.

Motherhood can round you out though; challenge you (in good ways). For me, it's been a blind leap of faith. I really didn't know what it was going to be like. I know I'm a good mom, but that I'm probably always going to wish I was better. Well, I hope I'm always going to try to be better, too. He deserves that. When it's all said and done, it might not be pretty, but being his mother is pretty amazing. When it gets hard, I focus on the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J, which hang in my kitchen:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you
out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love; stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Scarier Than I Would Like to Admit

Just caught myself humming the theme song of "Bunnytown". What's that, you ask? Exactly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bingo! (I think)

Remember my dairy/egg/birthday cake dilemma? Well I may have found a solution. Enter Cherrybrook Kitchen cake mixes. I found the chocolate cake mix at Whole Foods, so now I'm on the hunt for the yellow cake version. All it requires is adding dairy-free margarine or oil and water.

Is it totally cheating to use a mix? Hell, I don't care! They also have dairy and egg free frosting! As soon as I can find the yellow mix I'm going to test it out.

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More Than Just A Little Strange

Randomly, over the last few weeks, a recurring thought has popped into my brain: "If I ever have another baby, maybe I'll use cloth diapers."

I've read up on it a little bit and it definitely doesn't seem to be anything like our mothers' version of cloth diapers anymore. I'm sure there is a learning curve, but it doesn't seem very difficult. Plus the diaper covers are so cute.

The big question is whether day care and cloth diapers go hand in hand. They do not, methinks. But I suppose I could conceivably do it while on maternity leave. And no, I'm not pregnant by the way.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Apparently I'm More Out of Shape Than I Thought

According to MSN, San Francisco is America's Most Walkable City.

According to the article, the ranking comes from a survey where people can rate cities based on what amenities are within walking distance from an address. Apparently topography was not a consideration.

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Currently Obsessed With

Finding new wooden blocks for Rolo. And a wooden toy car.

So many options, it's hard to choose. Especially online.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Song of the Day

Because it's stuck in my head is "Question" by Old 97's


Monday, July 14, 2008

And It's Any Wonder Why We Have An Obesity Problem?

This morning when I dropped Rolo off at daycare, the teachers were feeding the kids Fruit Loops, instead of the regular Cheerios. I should note that Rolo is in an infant transition room for kids from 10 months to about 15 months old. So you know, they are basically babies.

Babies do not need Fruit Loops.

I am outraged. I know I've become an organic food hippie. I operate under the working assumption that there will be plenty of years when my kid will know what McDonald's is, what Fruit Loops are, what soda is. I don't need to be the one to introduce him to any of these things. Most parents allow their infants to gnaw on french fries and then wonder why their kids want to stop at every Mickey D's they pass in the car later on.

As Rolo shows interest in junk food, my aim is to teach him about balance, moderation and eating healthy. I won't be one of those psychos that never lets him eat any junk, but I don't need to start him on bad eating habits early either.

And again, I must say: babies do not need Fruit Loops.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nicer Than Most of My Furniture

While Rolo certainly has his share of some "blinky, blinky" toys as I call them, we try to ensure that he also is exposed to good old-fashion toys that require thinking, imagination and lack...characters. As in Disney, Sesame Street, Cars, etc. He's too young, of course, to really buy into any characters (though he does seem to have an affinity for Elmo) but I figure there's no need to get him hooked too early either.

The three blinky-blinky toys that he has and plays with on a regular basis are:
LeapFrog Learn and Groove Table
Fisher Price Musical Stage
Baby Einstein Exersaucer
Up until recently, he'd play with each of these nearly every day. But alas, the onset of crawling and cruising made the exersaucer less than desireable and for some reason the stage isn't being used as often either. But he still loves his LeapFrog table and that's okay because there's lots of educational components to it.

However, for his birthday, I got him the no-frills Haba Discovery Wagon. There's no blinky-blinky, but it's sturdy, attractive and probably better quality than that Ikea shit sitting in my living room. Which reminds me. I really should buy new furniture.

Oh who am I kidding? I also got it because it'll look nicer sitting in his room than this.

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The Joy of Allergies

So...finding a recipe for a dairy-free cake may be harder than I thought.

Rolo's birthday is only a couple of weeks away and lame-o that I am, I've waited until now to really give his cake some thought. While it's not essential, of course, that a one year old be able to eat his cake, there is the traditional let-him-smash-it business and I'd like to be able to let him do that without having to have a paramedic standing by.

I've found that people seem to mistake a milk allergy for lactose intolerance. Boy, do I wish it was lactose intolerance. But no, Rolo has both milk and egg allergies. His reaction to the skin testing was severe enough to believe at least in theory, that were he to consume a product with either of these as ingredients, he could have an anaphylactic reaction. Not good. It's possible he'd just get hives, some nasal problems, bowel issues, etc. But it's not the kind of thing you can really test out. Once they test positive for an allergy, just about every doctor you talk to would tell you you're crazy for even trying to give your kid anything that includes an ingredient to which he's allergic.

In fact, because 30% of babies with a milk allergy also have a soy allergy, we have to get Rolo involved in a "soy challenge". He didn't test positive for a soy allergy, but there's a high false-negative rate with infants, so to be sure, he's undergo a 6 hour testing, where he'll be given increased amounts of soy formula at regular intervals under surrvelience. Does 6 hours of testing sound like a good time? For a baby? With no naps?

The whole allergy business is a huge pain in the ass. We can't give Rolo table food when we're out, because we're not always sure how it was prepared. If he didn't have an allergy, I'm sure I'd give him pieces of bread, or pieces of pizza, or some of my ice cream (well, maybe; not sure I want to share my desserts) when we're out.

Anyway, back to my cake dilemma. I've found some egg-free recipes but they seem to substitute with some sort of milk. Sometimes coconut milk. Does the milk allergy apply to coconut milk? I have no idea but I don't think I'm willing to find out. Then there are some recipes that might be okay from a dairy perspective, but they're chocolate-based. Yeah, that's another thing: you're not really supposed to give your kid chocolate either until he's like 2? I think? So I need a cake that doesn't involve eggs, milk (for now that includes the soy version) or any dirivitive of these: whey, lacto-anything.

At any rate, I was planning on having two cakes: one for everyone else, and a small one I made for Rolo. Worst case scenario, he just won't have cake. I'm going to see if Whole Foods has any store-bought dairy free versions. And I'll continue to search for recipes. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

For the Sake of Home Decor

Go on Minnie! I'm right there with you.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Turn That Frown Upside Down

Yesterday was the kind of day I rarely have, where I wanted to walk out of my office in the middle of the day, go home directly to bed, ball my eyes out and possibly stay that way for a few days. I've got an employee resigning at the worst possible time, I'm in impossible arguments with my family and although I was going to meet up with a friend for drinks, we canceled because of work and torrential downpours. It's all made me one walking ball of stress.

The good thing about my particular personality type is that I rarely stay down and out for long. Usually by the next morning, I'm better, more positive, looking at the impossible tasks before me with a new energy. This time, though, it didn't even take until the next morning.

I underestimated the powerful magic of the baby giggle. Baby giggles make everything better.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Song of the Day

Because it's stuck in my head is "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Things I Am Currently Enjoying

1. Iced vanilla lattes from Bonte.

2. Haba's cheese carriage. (Technically, Rolo is enjoying this, but anything that keeps him occupied is something I enjoy too)

3. Salt bagels from the Bagel Factory.

4. My oasis drink flip flops (a birthday present from Rolo).

5. My new post-it notes (Meg, wherever did you find these?)

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I watch my baby as he sleeps in his crib. He is perfect, an angel. Impossible to think of him as anything but the light of our lives.

I think of my parents. My relationship with them has been troubled for almost as long as I can remember.

I weep for them, my parents. How many nights did they spend watching me sleep in my crib, unable to imagine what lay ahead?

Monday, July 07, 2008


I have a confession to make. Just about every swim suit I own came from Victoria's Secret. I swear, they are all tasteful, but they were VS nonetheless. Department stores never seemed to have a good selection and frankly, I didn't know where else to look. It's not like there are a plethora of swimsuit stores around here. I tried a J.Crew swimsuit once but the problem there is that every suit (and actually, this often goes for their clothes too) is for someone with no boobs.

My boobs may be considerably smaller than they were pre-baby, and joy of joys, gravity has totally taken over. So even more than before, I need, er, support. J.Crew is not familiar with this. And due to my new found anxiety about what a mom should wear, I don't think a swimsuit from Vicky's is going to cut it either.

I got a catalogue from Athleta recently and you know, their bathing suits aren't bad looking. There's a good selection, particularly of tankinis (which are my new best friend) and because it's geared towards athletes, it seems like there would be a good amount of support. I particularly like the Moroccan Tile tankini and the Victorian Scroll tankini.

Plus, I do enjoy some of their beach dresses and yoga gear. I feel a buying spree coming on.

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Sometimes, Jennifer Weiner makes me laugh out loud.


Sunday, July 06, 2008


Yesterday, my brother got married. It was fine.

And I did rock the green strapless dress after all.

Edited to add:
And it turns out I had little to fear about being "too old" to wear a strapless dress. The mother of the bride was decked out in one.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Something Changed

There's been this recurrent thought or series of thoughts running through my head the last year and I've been trying to wrap my head around them for some tme now.

Remember the dresses for my brother's wedding? Well I ordered Option 1 and Option 3. Option one, the black and white one with the green sash didn't fit right. I don't think I could have taken a size larger or smaller, it just didn't flatter me. And Option 3...well, I should love Option 3, the strapless green floral. It fits well. I like the pattern. It hides my post-baby pouch. But I look at it and all I can think about is that I can't wear a strapless dress. Not because of any church rules or because I don't like strapless dresses. In fact, almost every dress I own is strapless. I just put this new dress on and I suddenly feel like I'm exposing too much. I feel like a 33 year old posing as a 25 year old. And then there's this question: do mothers wear strapless dresses?

Don't laugh, I'm serious. In many ways my life is so much more mult-dimensional now that I have Rolo. But something else happened too. It's like a switch flipped and I'm not the same person anymore. Which, like, duh, I guess on some level every new mother feels because all of a sudden, you have a new label: mom. This is different than what I antipicated though. I feel like a different person and that my former self is a stranger. Sometimes I feel like a stranger in my own skin. I'm not sure that it's good or bad, just different.

Some of it is a self-consciousness that I don't think I had before. I know I'm not the best looking girl in the room, but I was always fairly confident about how I looked. I was in tune with my own body. Now....not so much. Maybe because I have less (read: zero) time to focus on myself I'm not as in touch with my own self-perception.

Maybe because I know other people tend to, silently or otherwise, critique mothers fairly harshly (something I am guilty of myself) and now I assume people who either see me with Rolo or know I have him are doing that very critiquing of me. Maybe I don't want to wear a strapless dress to the wedding because people may think "Who does she think she is? Just had a baby and strutting in here in her little strapless number?" Maybe it's because my shoulders and arms used to be toned and now? Now I have that extra mom wave (you know when you wave your arm and fat on your bicep wiggles too). I'm not really suggesting that I have a weight problem, just a different-than-it-used-to-be body problem.

It's more than just this one dress. I go clothes shopping and rarely ever buy anything. I may try clothes on and they may fit fine, but I just...don't think I look good in most things anymore. I lack the desire to actually make purchases. And it stems back to having Rolo. Or maybe it was getting older? Is this what it feels like to get older? I've never felt old before.

Maybe I'm depressed? I don't think I am. I'm not sad or anxious. I just can't seem to reconcile my old self with my new self. Maybe it's just a body image thing. Maybe if I could ever get back to a gym, I would be able to purge all this from my system.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

T-Minus One Month

Rolo turns 11 months old today. And it reminds me of turning 29 years old. If you're 29, you may as well be 30. Twenty nine is like the year that is desperately clinging to a bygone era. I suspect I'll feel the same way about 39. So Rolo is 11 months old, but in my mind he may as well be a year old.

As I forecasted a month ago, Rolo had apparently been revving up for big advances. He started crawling and now crawls everywhere. Simultaneously, he started pulling up and cruising and within the last two weeks has gotten pretty good about getting from one piece of furniture to another. Last night, he actually stood for about 2 seconds on his own without holding onto anything. While he's still unstable, it's amazing to see how much stronger he's gotten in just a few weeks. The funniest thing is to see him get down from a standing position. He sticks his butt way out behind him and then just plops down.

I had taken him to the physical therapy evaluation, even though he was already crawling by the time the appointment rolled around. They spent a good hour and a half with Rolo, asking me questions and testing Rolo. I could tell as soon as they started testing that he was fine. He, of course, turned on the charm and performed every single trick they could possibly have wanted to see. All in the first 5 minutes. So, no future PT is needed and they probably thought I was crazy.

Rolo will occasionally say Mama now, although I don't think he associates it withme. I don't think he associates any of his spoken words with their meaning. But he is beginning to understand and associate words that are spoken to him. If you ask him to "share" he will promptly give you whatever he has in his hands. If you say "no" now, he'll stop what he's doing (usually only to start it right back up again 5 seconds later). He still won't clap or play "so big" but he plays ball. Really. He'll pass a ball back and forth with you for a long period of time. He really "gets" that it's a game. I think that's incredibly advanced, but I may be biased.

He's started eating more and more table food. Last night he had cut up chicken and sweet potato fries. I think I'm having a problem determining how much food is a serving for him (it's so easy with the jarred stuff--one jar = one serving). But Rolo seems to enjoy eating and practicing his chewing. Which is great because he has 6 teeth now; two on the bottom and 4 on the top.

Over the weekend, we went to the beach for the first time with Rolo and while he loved the sand, he wasn't digging the water. Although it was a little rough and cold and it didn't help that he was overdue to eat. I think we may go to the trailer down by the river soon and I bet he'll like calm bay water better.

Ron and I have already been arguing about a first birthday party. I fall into the catergory that believes that immediate family should be invited over for cake and other treats. Ron thinks it's an event that should involve no fewer than 100 people. Who do you think will be accountable if this child winds up totally spoiled?
We're at an impasse.

I think there's a good chance that Rolo will start walking before he hits the one year mark. Maybe, maybe not. He's learned so much in the last 11 months. I can't believe it's almost a year since he was born. I can't believe it's been almost a year since I've been to a gym. In so many ways my life is the same as before I had a baby, but I swear nothing on earth can prepare you for how different it will be either.

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