Saturday, December 30, 2006

My singing

I love to sing! I love a good night of karaoke fun and change the radio station if I don't know the song since I can't sing along then. Problem is, some say, I'm not a good singer. Of course,I disagree. Singing is not all about tone, you know. There is something to be said for rhythm and personality, which I have. I am delighted that my darling daughter loves my singing. I sometimes sing to her as we nurse. When I finish a song, she pulls her arms around to clap for me and then signs for more while flashing me a smile.

Just one more reason to love this girl!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Reflections on toy rotation

The toy rotation is going well. Caroline gets excited about the "new" toys when we bring them out, and I don't have as much to pick up since there are a limited number of toys accessible. We've outgrown the boxes on the bookshelf, though, thanks to push toys and ride-on toys, so I put those in Caroline's closet. That is not working so well. Caroline discovers these "new" toys every time she gets dressed now, and insists on playing with them. I'll have to carve out some time next week to reorganize a more hidden closet to house the off-duty big toys.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Being Santa

Twas the afternoon of Christmas and warm in the house, the toddler is napping, quiet as a mouse.

Now I can reflect on the fun of being Santa. I really enjoyed planning the gifts for Caroline, making decisions on how to give them (to wrap or not), and setting out her gifts last night. I have quite a list of toys I want for Caroline, but I put several items on hold until her second birthday when she can more enjoy them. I decided to wait on the play kitchen and basketball goal until she is bigger, and I'm happy with the choices I made for her. She was truly excited about each gift!

I decided to forego wrapping to save the preparation time and clean-up time. Caroline is too little to enjoy unwrapping anyway. Christmas Eve, after Caroline was asleep, I enjoyed a glass of wine and the sugar cookie we left out for Santa as I put out Caroline's gifts, stuffed her stocking, and set up her train set.

When she awoke this morning, I had John get ready with the camera to catch her expression as she walked into the living room. She went directly to her train set and played with it for a moment until she spotted her vacuum cleaner. She turned it on (she's played with one before) and vacuumed a bit, and then she went back to the train set. I showed her the aquadoodle, but since it was not opened, she didn't care much about it. She did play with it later in the morning, though. Then I pulled out her stocking and coaxed her to see what was inside. She pulled out a book, Once Upon a Potty and read it, then played with her Jack in the Box and cars and ball a bit before returning, again, to the train set which, at this point, looked as if it had been hit by Hurricane Caroline.

Next, we moved on to wrapped gifts. Caroline had a necklace from a friend of her grandparents and a stuffed dog and The Lady and the Tramp video from Aunt Carlye and Uncle Marc. She opened her gift from mommy and daddy (wrapped since it was not from Santa, you see) -- a Tupperware shape-sorter ball. She dumped out the shapes and arranged them on the aquadoodle box.

The wrapping and packaging are put away now, and we'll spend the rest of the day playing with our new toys and spending time with GramPatty, Tom, Grandma B, Ann, and Chris.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I am not pleased with Blogger Beta. I am upset that Hello no longer works with Bloggerbot. I do not like BlogThis (because I can't get it to work.) I do not like posting images directly from

Weekly W: Which ornament has traveled the farthest?

I like to bring home a souvenir ornament from our vacations, which can be difficult when traveling during the summer. I didn't have a very hard time finding this Santa climbing the Eiffel Tour in Paris since we vacationed there between Christmas and New Year's in 2003-4. This is my most-distance-traveled ornament.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's now off of the SLOW BOAT FROM Japan

This week, I've been joking that my new vehicle is on a slow boat from China. It was actually on a slow boat from Japan, but we got the call yesterday that my CR-V has arrived in California! It should be in Austin just after Thanksgiving.

After year and years of *talking* about getting a new vehicle for me, we did it. I wanted to keep my Malibu at least as long as John had kept his Civic -- nine, going on ten, years, and I did! I passed the nine year mark with my Malibu in September.

As we started looking, we were in no rush. Once we fell in love with the CR-V, though, the rush was on! We considered the Chevy Equinox, the Subaru Forester, the Pontiac Torrent, and the Honda CR-V. I like the look of and Consumer Report ratings of the Forester, but to add the options we wanted increased the price beyond the level we were willing to pay. We didn't even drive one. The appeal of the Torrent and the Equinox was the GM employee discount, since my dad is retired from GMAC. We drove the Torrent, but I didn't like it. I did like the Equinox, though.

It came down to this pro/con list:
employee discount
color (I loved the Granite Gray metallic)
American made

safety ratings
gas mileage (30 mpg on the hwy!)
resale and reputation

It looks like it comes out all nice and even, but the Honda's pros were much stronger. The "American made" ideal turned out not to be such a big deal as the Chevy engine was made in China and the vehicle was assembled in Canada. *Some* Hondas (not mine, obviously since it's been on a boat from Japan) are assembled in the US anyway.

The 2007 CR-V is popular! I orignally thought I liked the green tea color, based on the website photos. I wanted to see one, though, before I ordered it. There were no Honda CR-Vs in the 2WD EX-L trims available. (Our friend and John's boss, CTP, seemed to have bought the last one in Austin!) We drove out to South Austin to look at a different trim model in the green tea color on the lot. Turns out, I didn't like it in the sun -- too bright green. We headed back to Classic Honda in Round Rock with my color choices prioritized and peeked at their pre-order inventory list. They had two 2WD EX-Ls on the way -- black and blue. I chose the blue.

I'm excited!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekly W: What makes your life easier?

Early in my career, one of my bosses hired an office assistant for me because he said I could sell, sell, sell, but I just wasn't organized. I disagree, or maybe because I am not organized naturally, I work at it really hard. I like to think I run a well-organized home now that my home is my worksite.

Something that makes running my home easier, more organized, is the yahoo group I created for our family. As a mom, I have become enamoured with yahoo groups -- every playgroup and organization I am in seems to have a yahoo group. These web-based groups provide a medium to share information -- files, calendars, messages, web links, etc.

Caroline and I have a pretty tight routine for our days and weeks. I use our family's yahoo group to keep track of our activities as well as John's activities and my individual activities. I also use the calendar to keep track of my housekeeping tasks. I spend just a few minutes every day cleaning one area of the house. Some tasks are done weekly, others bi-weekly, and some just occasionally. The yahoo calendar allows me to enter an event once and determine how often to repeat that event -- every week, every other week, the first Monday of each month, etc. I planned out my household tasks and put those on the calendar. The calendar emails me reminders of which task I am to accomplish that day. It keeps me organized. It keeps me sane.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hair Twisting

Those of you who have known me for a while (oh, who am I kidding...those of you who have ever known me with longish hair) will be disgusted to learn that I twisted my first knot in my baby girl's hair this week. She wasn't feeling well and wasn't sleeping well, so I laid down with her for her nap. As we lay there, I was absentmindedly twisting her locks. I didn't realize what I'd done until she had a little rat's nest in her hair. I got it out without any tears from her. It didn't seem to bother her a bit. Maybe I can keep my hair short and just let hers grow and keep up my twisted little habit (hee hee! great pun, huh!?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Weekly W: Show us your Soles!

This week, Ms. W asks us to show our shoes. It *is* November, I realize, but it is in the 80s this week, so I'm still wearing open-toed shoes. I like these jazzy, sparkly shoes because they are the only jazz in my daily wardrobe, really. I'm usually wearing a solid-colored knit shirt (read: t-shirt) and jeans/capris/shorts. The colors in these shoes match pretty much all of my wardrobe. They're easy on and easy off, comfy, and pretty! I got these at DSW. I love DSW for shoes -- I can almost always find something (honestly, usually more like three or so things) I love on their sale racks. I only venture in there two or three times a year, though, so it's OK to find a couple of pairs of shoes at a time. I guess it will soon be time for a fall trip to DSW.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Got a Toddler? Get this!

I'd heard of this product and even tried it once when I was teaching, thinking it would clean my dry-erase board. (It didn't work.) Now that Caroline is exploring her world (often with a pen or crayon in hand) I have rediscovered this product and IT WORKS! Caroline scribbled a bit off of her paper onto the Corian on the island, so John recommended I try this. Just a couple of swipes and the ink is off. I'm quite pleased. And I think the four-pack that I bought will last a lifetime!

FYI, an urband legan that this product contains formaldehyde has been circulating. It is false.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Weekly W: What are you eating?

Tonight I made our traditional Halloween dinner -- chili and cornbread. It's the perfect easy meal to ring in the fall season.

My recipe
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 can kidney beans, drained
2 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz each)
1 pack of McCormicks chili seasoning
a dash of chili powder
a dash of red pepper

For the cornbread, I use the Gladiola mix -- simply the best mix, don't bother with any others.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekly W: What's your favorite spice?

Last week, Ms. W asked about our favorite spice. I use quite a variety of spices in my cooking, but most of the dishes I make would not be possible without GARLIC. I keep my kitchen stocked with a variety of garlic mediums -- fresh for salad dressings and recipes when I'm feeling energetic; minced for when I'm not; powder for a dash or two in any dish; spread for garlic bread, which goes with any meal and is a great snack all by itself!

Feel free to eat as much garlic as you like as long as you make sure your dining partners (or better yet, sleeping partners) indulge, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Weekly W: What's your front door like?

My front door is decorated for Halloween right now. I realized when I was organizing a closet last week that my door will be decked for the season straight from now until Easter. I have cute Halloween decor now, then on November 1 the pumpkin will stay, but a scarecrow will adorn the door. Of course, we'll move onto to a green wreath for Advent in late November, adding a bow for Christmas. After Epiphany, I'll put up my heart wreath for Valentine's Day. Then we'll move back to the plain green wreath for Lent before putting up our Easter decorations! I also have a shamrock door hanging that I'll put up on St. Patrick's Day, but that won't be up for long since that is during the Lenten season. During the non-holiday times, I have a black-iron cross that hangs on the door.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, October 02, 2006

Weekly W: Who's your celebrity look-a-like?

Ms. W, whose celebrity look-a-likes include some dude (granted, he's a good looking dude) and Heather Locklear, has challenged us bloggers this week to use the "Find your celebrity look-a-like feature" on My Heritage. This is so cool! Try it out!

Runners-up for my look-a-like included Heather Graham, Jessica Simpson, and Raquel Welch with 75%. Further down the list was Neve Campbell (is that why John likes me?) at 71%.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Weekly W: What's your luxury?

Our question from Ms. W. this week relates to Survivor, a show I have never watched. I googled to get the scoop. On the "reality" show Survivor, contestants (actors?) are allowed to bring one luxury item. This cannot be a survival-type item, though. I found the current cast brought items from eyeliner and lipstick to boardgames and coloring books to Bibles and headdresses. My first thought was DIET COKE. That would be more of a survival item for me, though, and it is quickly consumable. A bottle of red wine was a close second but lost out for the same reasons. Wine, bubble baths, and books are my indulgent treat, but none of those would be practical for long-term survival. I'd finish the wine in a night and the book in a week. And where would I find a tub to put the bubble bath? So I decided on a feather-down comforter. It is soft, cozy, and relaxing. It could be used for other uses in a pinch, I suppose. I would bring me comfort and warmth and good sleep.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

One of the many reasons I love Austin

We took a bat cruise tonight with the Boatners and the Marshes and enjoyed a perfect night in Austin -- dinner at Threadgills and a beautiful sunset cruise on Town Lake to see the bats who abide under the Congress Bridge. The bridge is home to about 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats who are kind enough to rid Austin of 10,000-20,000 pounds of insects each night. John captured this image. Beautiful!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Toy Rotation Begins

We have begun stage one of toy rotation. I'm sure as the toys change and I get a feel for what I'm doing, our methods will change. For now I have out for Caroline on the toy shelf ten toys at a time -- a puzzle, a music-making toy, a skill toy, a doll, a ball, blocks, a puppet, an interesting toy, a moving toy, and some books. I'll add arts and crafts activities in the next few months. She'll still have other toys stationed throughout the house -- her dollhouse near the kitchen, her animal farm in her bedroom, her slide and some books in the front room, the ball drop and her magical unicorn and books in the office. The doll stroller and a basket of make-believe items (purses, scarves, etc.) will also always be out.

In the purple boxes on the top of the shelf are other versions of the ten toy categories to be swapped out every week or two or monthly. I'm not sure how often we'll make the swap just yet.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Photo Blog Assignment Week Four: What is your favorite piece of furniture?

This table is not an antique, nor does it have any real history. I like the look -- the mix of dark wood and iron is exactly what I wanted for my kitchen table. The sentimental value comes in that it was our first furniture purchase for our current home, and it is the place where my family and I share meals. I like to change up the placemats often, and those have been there too long!

Friday, September 08, 2006

As the child grows, so does the bag!

Before momma-hood, I was a minimalist when it came to purses. My "purse" was a small change purse to hold my cash and credit cards that attached to my keys. It was all I needed. After Caroline was born (and we abandoned a big, bulky backpack) a small shoulder strap was adequate to carry a couple of diapers, wipes, my Hotsling, and a rattle. That's all we needed.

As Caroline grew, the bag did too. I needed room to add a sippy cup, sunscreen and hat, and a toy or two.

Now that Caroline is a toddler, I have a huge bag to carry diapers, snacks, cups, clothes, toys, and whatever else we stick in there!

I've really loved each bag. The pink and black polka dot bag was perfect when I was still in the "It's a girl!" phase. I bought it on ebay. The funky floral earthtone bag was a great Wally World find for $9.99. It has lots of pockets to hold various items and a long strap. The big black toile bag will take us into fall carrying our junk and the kitchen sink (the dollhouse kitchen sink, of course, since it will probably somehow find its way into the bag at some point.) It was a $20 Tuesday Morning score.

I can't imagine moving on to an even bigger bag, though. I think the next stage is a step back in size when Caroline starts carrying her own backpack or purse. She already loves toting around a purse, or anything that *seems* to her like a purse.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Weekly W: Where do you spend most of your day?

Where do you spend most of your day?

This was a tough question for me. As the mother of an active toddler, I'm not in one place for long. My first thought was the bedroom, since I sleep there, it is where I am the most hours of the day. I decided to post about my living room/kitchen instead. It's the central hub of the house. Most of Caroline's play originates in here around her play table. As she roams the house, so do I.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just Pickin'

Here's some irony for you.

I have a weak stomach, always have, especially when it comes me just say...noses. I have, at least twice, thrown up at the mention of someone picking her nose. I have to look away when someone sneezes, and I can barely contain my gags when someone blows his nose around me. John handles the baby-nose-sucking duties in our family because it's just too much for me.

So, of course, wouldn't you know it, my daughter is a nose-picker! Ugh, that finger is constantly up her nose. I remove her finger, and she puts it back. I don't want to focus on it too much lest the whole finger/nose thing become a game for her, so I deal with it. Kleenex in hand, I wipe her finger with a serious face. And I remind myself that she is part of me, her boogers are my boogers. Now that's love.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to Cloth Diaper

I've written this post in various incarnations several times for friends and family members who have shown interest in cloth diapering. I'm posting it here to satisfy the curiosity of those who are curious and to save myself from rewriting or cutting and pasting in the future. I'll just send the asker to this post.

Why Cloth?
-Better for baby -- minimum chemicals next to baby's delicate parts
-Better for environment -- less waste
-Better for finances -- even with a well-stocked cute stash (like mine) you'll break even well before a year of use (and you could use your diapers for more than one child. Diapers also maintain their value well for resell -- between 50-90 percent of their original value.)

It's not what you're thinking (necessarily)
There are many different types of cloth diapering today. You can still use a pinned diaper with a cover, and many do as it is the most economical option. Rather than pins, though, diapers can be secured with a Snappi, a plastic clip to hold the diaper in place. When I use prefolds, I just fold them into a well-fitting cover.

I started cding using pocket diapers. These diapers go on like a disposable, either with aplix (like velcro) closures or snaps. The outside is make of polyurethane laminate (PUL), a waterproof fabric. There is an open pocket inside to slide something absorbent -- a microfiber towel, a prefold diaper, or an insert sold with the diaper outer. Up against the baby is a layer of microfleece. The keeps the baby from feeling wet. Pockets are the mainstay of my diaper stash. I use them for overnight and naps.

All-in-One (AIO) diapers are the easiest option since no stuffing is involved. Many work-at-home-moms sew and sell AIOs or All-in-Twos (AI2). AI2s have snap-in soakers allowing you to control the absorbency and thickness of the diaper.

Fitted diapers are not waterproofed, but fasten onto the baby using snaps or aplix. These diapers need a waterproof cover. I use these sometimes, especially when Caroline has a diaper rash as they breathe well.

Covers--prefolds and fitted diapers need covers. Covers can be made of PUL, wool, or other water repellent materials.

My Diapering System
Overnight I use Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers, stuffed with two microfiber inserts or a Fuzzi Fannies fitted diaper with a doubler and a wool cover by Loveybums
Pocket Diapers:
Fuzzi Bunz (10)
Preston's Pants (1)
Daisy Doodles (3) each with an extra snap-in soaker
Poppy Pants (2)
Jamtots Berry Plush AIO (1) w/extra insert
Fitteds and prefolds:
Happy Heiny fitteds (2)
Muttaqin fitted (1)
Fuzzi Fannies fitteds (2) I bought these on ebay. Fuzzi Fannies no longer makes fitteds.
a dozen infant chinese prefolds
Bummis Super Snap (1)
Bumkins cover (1)
Loveybums wool wrap
Pretty Baby Designs wool soaker
Sweet Pea Soaker longies
Baa Baby Naturals soaker

My Laundry System
I now have enough diapers to wash only twice a week, on Sundays and Thursdays. I use a Rubbermaid trashcan with a step-on lid that seals tightly and throw my diapers directly into the pail. For thick or solid poop, I plop it into the toilet and use a diaper sprayer to rinse the diaper, then throw the rinsed diaper into the pail. I empty the pail liner filled with diapers into the washing machine and throw in the pail liner. I run a cold auto-soak/prerinse on the diapers, then wash them on the longest cycle on hot with about a tablespoon of Sun detergent (you do not need much soap. Too much soap can cause problems with your diapers!) I run an extra rinse and then put my diapers into the dryer. If a diaper is stained, I hang the clean, wet diaper in the sun to dry. The sun is amazing on stains. After sunning, I fluff the diaper in the dryer for a few minutes. I do run an empty hot wash with bleach through my washing machine every week or so to clean out the machine.

Accessories I Recommend

--cloth wipes -- even if you aren't cloth diapering, cloth wipes are soooo much better than thin disposable, chemical filled wipes. I just use water on the wipes for Caroline.(Emibeans has a great selection. I bought the grab bag.)
--diaper shower/sprayer (I bought mine on ebay)
--pail liner (I like the Mother of Eden pail liner sold at Emibeans)

Vendors and Resellers I Recommend
Emibeans (check diaperpin sales / announcements for discount codes!)
Daisy Doodles
Fuzzi Bunz
Middle Earth Diapers (exclusive vendor of Preston's Pants)

Resources / More Information
Diaper Pin
Diaper Swappers

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Momma loves a bargain!

I'm lucky that my baby enjoys shopping with me (or maybe I've just effectively trained her from early on.) We hit the streets a few afternoons a week looking for bargains. We like resell shops like Kid to Kid and Once Upon a Child, bargain spots like the Goodwill Blue Hangar outlet, and online spots like Craigslist. Today, I discovered Tuesday Morning.

Some of my recent bargains:
Zutano baby basics dress for $1.25 at a garage sale (these retail for $22) This is one of my favorite brands for babies!

a brand new Carriage Boutiques smocked bishop dress for $9 at Tuesday Morning (retails for $46)

a wooden ride-on toy for $10 at Once Upon a Child that was selling next door at Tuesday Morning for $30 with a retail list price of $60.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Where do you blog?


I blog in my "nursing chair!" Notice the boppy pillow in my lap. My blogging time begins as I nurse Caroline down for her nap -- I check in on some friends' blogs then. After I put her in her bed, I do a bit of my own writing. This is also my bed-time blogging routine.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mommy Showers (or baths)

I don't remember reading about methods for mommy showers when I was pregnant or starting out with a newborn, but I did pretty quickly figure out that night-time showers were the way to go. I'd get Caroline down for the night and then sneak off to have my shower. That worked well until Caroline hit a light-sleeping stage, and since the master bathroom shares a wall with her bedroom, the wall her crib is against, I often woke her while taking my shower.

Our newest routine is working really well, and I'm very happy with it. After dinner, I head off for my shower or bath, and John gives Caroline her bath. I enjoy the time to take care of personal hygiene beyond a quick shower...You know, shaved legs, plucked eyebrows, and even a microdermasioned face every now and then...And John and Caroline get some bonding time. I also enjoy it because now the time between baby bedtime and adult bedtime is not spent showering and such. John and I can watch a movie or visit together, or I can read or play on the internet a bit.

Now, there are days when I don't get that evening bath or shower, or, for whatever reason, I decide to clean up during the morning. Those are the days to forego the shower and take a bath. Yes, I can take a bath even without John home to tend to the toddler! Caroline hangs out beside the tub "bathing" me! So now I have no excuse to run around town stinky!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

New Name -- New Look -- More Content...soon

We have a new name -- So Many Joys -- inspired by the joys and Joyces in my life (see sidebar for further explanation.) We have a new look, thanks to my talented friend Erica Wagner. And I plan to introduce more content, meaning more posts from me, to keep my inner-writer in practice.

The links on Caroline's blog have been updated, and I may join a few blogrolls now that I plan to update more often. Keep your eyes out for John's new blog, too, He liked the name because *math is fun* and there was some remedial math class in high school called Fundamentals of Math that his teacher jokingly referred to as "fun of math." (Really, Caroline, your parents are cool!)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Go Shopping!

I've created a store on featuring some of my favorite products for babies. I'm working on adding my favorite books and Caroline's favorite toys, too. Take a look!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's World Breastfeeding Week

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. Go out and nurse your baby. Tell a pregnant friend about the benefits of breastfeeding. Help a new momma over the trials of the first few weeks of nursing a new baby.

Check out the gallery of pictures on Celebrity Baby Blog. (See anyone your recognize? Hint, hint!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer Reading

Caroline and I are both participating in the Cedar Park Library Summer Reading Club. We each have a log to track the number of minutes we read each day. Only library materials count, though. For every 200 minutes Caroline reads (or is read to) she gets a small prize. For every 400 minutes I read (and reading to Caroline counts), I am entered into drawings for prizes. We read anyway, but I love a little added excitement. We checked out a baby sign language book for daytime reading, and _Ten in the Bed_ for bedtime reading.

In other reading news, I am the "host" for my next book club meeting. Host is an odd term for it, as we meet in a restaurant. The host chooses several books and the group votes. I was very proud of my selections and am really enjoying the winner, which I checked out from the CP library, so it counts on my log.

My choices were:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiquro **winner**
The Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Happy Birthday, Caroline!

I've been a mother for one year now! The cliche is true. As hard as it is to imagine what being a parent is like and how you will fit a child into your life, once that child is here, you can't imagine life without her. I am surprised at how easily I've slipped into this new world. Sure, there have been rough patches, but looking back, the bad parts weren't bad at all. We survived the marathon nursing of the first months, the isolating loneliness of adjusting to being a full-time mom, teething, crawling, first steps. (yes, those happened this weekend!) I credit my sanity to the amazing village of mothers I have affiliated myself with. I can not imagine happily mothering without the amount of contact I have with other moms and Caroline has with other kids. Thanks for playgroups and internet groups, the isolating lonlieness of the earlier months has been replaced by an overbooked schedule! I have a sweet baby who gives me joy every day. I'm going to savor every minute of it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day is a hard day for kids (no matter how old) who have lost their mothers. I remember asking my sister, who had a child already, if Mother's Day was easier for her after she was a mother since it became more about her and less about our mom and her absence. She said it did. And it has.

But on this Mother's Day, I don't want to forget the two women who have the greatest influence on me as a mother -- my mom and John's mom. I find myself thinking of them often and wondering how they would have handled certain situations. I feel that I've come to know them both better, even without their actually being here and having never even met John's mom, since I've become a mom.

I know that they have both greatly influenced how I mother, too. From John's mom, I've learned the importance of natural parenting. I think of her as I nurse Caroline, offer her whole foods, and diaper her bottom with soft cloth. From my mom, I learned the value of playful parenting. I have wonderful memories of laughing with my mom, making even mundane tasks fun. From both of these extraordinary women, I learned what a difference being with your child can make. John and I both were quite attached to our mommies. Some may have even considered us spoiled. I only hope I can "spoil" Caroline in the way our mother's "spoiled" us. That close bond we both had in knowing our moms were there for us no matter what gave us the foundation to make it through the later times without them.

Happy Mother's Day to me.
Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!
Happy Mother's Day, Carolyn!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Recommendations for Parents-to-be

It's not often *I'm* asked for recommendations from expecting moms since I am pretty much the last of my family and friends to have a baby. I have a friend from college, though, who is expecting and recently asked for my recs. I thoroughly enjoyed putting together my list for her and wanted to add it here.

"I found that were very few things that were must-haves.

I highly recommend:
-- swaddle-me blanket (I recommend these to everyone now because they
worked so well for us. My sister and sister-in-law didn't have such
luck. I say register for it and give it a try. After the first couple of
months, Caroline would sleep seven to nine hour stretches when she was
swaddled. Once we stopped swaddling, no more long sleep stretches!)

-- a sling (rather than a Baby Bjorn which is bulky and hard on your
back and baby's legs) You can carry it easily in your diaper bag and
pull it out when you need it. I still use mine often. I prefer a pouch
. Ring slings are popular, too. This one is tricky for a baby registry because
stores like Target and Babies 'r Us don't sell it. DON'T get the kind
they carry. It sucks. I also love my Ella Roo Mei Tei.

-- Caroline loved her Flutterbye swing. I've heard good things about the
Ocean Aquarium Swing, too.

-- And we love these socks, too...not a necessity, but they are so cute
and they stay on. You won't need shoes for a while. They have others but
the mary jane socks are my favorites.

-- Dr. Sears Baby Book -- I live with this by my bed. Read it now, or in
the next few months, at least, to get off to a good start. (I didn't do
the natural birth thing, but I think it's great anyway.)

-- The Happiest Baby on the Block -- I didn't actually read this one, but we watched parts of the DVD at the baby care class we took. He recommends five ways to soothe a fussy baby -- shushing (making the shhhh sound which sounds like the womb noises), swaddling, side (holding baby on her side), shaking (more like giggling...never shake a baby!), and sucking.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Job = Caroline's Mom

The past month has been a roller-coaster of decisions, but I've decided once and for all. I am not going to take on any work outside of mothering Caroline for at least another couple of years. First, an old recruiting co-worker called to see if I'd be interested in working part-time sourcing candidates for her recruiting agency. I met with her and her partners twice, and they agreed that I could work from home. We were just about to put in the phone line when I changed my mind. Caroline got sick with a cough, she started crawling, and I realized that I didn't want to take any of my time or energy away from her.

Another friend called this week with an idea of starting her own business. She wanted me to partner with her on the venture. We tossed ideas back and forth for two days before I decided again: That's not what I want. I want to focus on Caroline.

Just a few minutes ago my friend and Mary Kay consultant called to invite me to their national meeting. She's been trying to get me to become a MK consultant since I had the baby, but I've been putting her off. Today I told her that I had decided that I didn't want to take on any work-related ventures for another two years.

So, there you have it. My mind is made up, and I've put it in writing. Now I just have to reread this the next time someone calls with an exciting idea to run by me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Choice Feminism

Article by Linda Hirshman, "Homebound"

When I think of my stay-at-home friends compared to my working mom friends, I'd say the stay-at-home moms are more likely to consider themselves feminists. Also, I'd say well over half of the moms in the two playgroups we attend have (at least) masters degrees.

My response to Hirshman would be, there's more to feminism than the corporate boardroom!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hands, Mind, Heart, & Soul

I usually have several books going at once, but last night I realized that each book represents a different part of my life -- my hands, my mind, my heart, and my soul.

My hands relate to my job. Caroline is my job, so my current work-related read is Baby Signs. We're introducing Caroline to basic signs -- like food, drink, nurse, dirty (as in diaper) -- as well as some fun signs, like the animals, in hopes to make communicating less frustrating for her.

My mind, well, that's pretty obvious. During grad school, this reading was dictated to me. Currently I'm reading a compilation of research articles compiled by one of the professors from A&M on breastfeeding. It's called Breastfeeding: Biological Perspectives. It examines breastfeeding in other cultures, the impact of artifical milk and its marketing in our culture and others, age of natural weaning, and such. Dr. Dettwyler was working on the book when I took her class my senior year.

My heart is my true love, FICTION! I have an extensive to-read list and check out a new book from my list every other week. I hit the jackpot this week and the two books I was wait-listed for at the library came in -- Amy Tan's new book, Saving Fish from Drowning and Zadie Smith's On Beauty, my book club pick for this month. I have them both now, but I may return the Tan book and get back on the waiting list for it. I hate to hog two good books.

My soul is my spiritual reading, devotional or whatnot. Right now, I'm neglecting this part of my being. Now that I realize it, I'll pick up a good book to feed my soul.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Being attached

When I was pregnant, I wasn't sure what my parenting style would be. I read the Sears book and the Ferber book (considered to represent the spectrum of parenting styles from Attached Parenting to Cry-It-Out.) I thought I would fall somewhere in between. I knew I would breastfeed, no matter what, and that commitment has ended up forcing me more to the left (pun intented since I'd generalize that the AP parents tend to be more liberal while the CIO parents are usually quite conservative.)

The breastfeeding has necessitated that Caroline spend time in our bed, sharing sleep, which is a tenet of Attached Parenting and something I said in the past that I wouldn't do. While still pregnant, I joined La Leche League for support and advice, and the friendships I made there have led me to join the Austin Attached Moms group. I'd say we are quite attached, in that we follow the tenets of attached parenting, though not as steadfastly as some. I have embraced this label of AP, but I know of others who shun it, even though they are more AP than I am. When I break it down, I'm probably not all that AP.

The tenets, and our approach to them, are as follows:
1. Preparation for childbirth, which normally translates to natural childbirth without medical interventions. I prepared by reading books and watching videos, but I knew I wanted an epidural, and I didn't argue when my baby's heartrate kept dropping and they prepped me for an emergency c-section. I don't think at this point that I'll attempt the ever-popular VBAC. I'll opt for a scheduled c-section. US = NOT AT ALL AP.

2. Breastfeeding: I'm doing it and will continue doing it as long as Caroline and I want. I breastfed exclusively for more than six months, and am now offering wholesome solids (but Caroline's not taking them.) I do, however, pump daily and have John give Caroline a few bottles of breastmilk per week. Die-hards would shun all bottles. US = SORT OF AP.

3. Shared Sleep: Caroline starts the night in her bed, but I bring her into our bed for feedings. For awhile, that was once or twice per night, and Caroline would go back into her crib between feedings. Now, either because Caroline is waking up more or I'm more tired or the vicious cycle those two have created, Caroline starts the night in her crib but ends up in our bed after the first feeding for the rest of the night. US = SORT OF AP

4. Emotional Responsiveness: In a nutshell, responding to your baby's needs rather than leaving her alone to cry and come to terms with not having her needs met. US = FULLY AP

5. Avoiding Frequent or Prolonged Separations: I stay home with Caroline and take her with me most places. When I can't take her, like to the dentist, John stays with her. When we've gone out for the evening, we have family members watch her. I do, however, leave her for an hour a week in the church nursery and have just started leaving her in the nursery at the Y while I work out. US = SORT OF AP

6. Positive Discipline: I sometimes think this one doesn't apply to us yet since Caroline doesn't need "disciplining." But our discipline, what we are teaching her, comes through how we treat her now. John recently reminded me of a plaque that his grandma has displayed that was John's mom's (a woman who was AP before such a thing existed!)
If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.
(Dorothy Law Nolte)

US = VERY AP (I sure hope!)

7. Babywearing: I do often wear Caroline in a sling carrier. I think babywearing, literally having your baby attached to you, is what many see as the epitomy of attached parenting. That is just not so. All babies need time to explore their worlds. AP parents would avoid leaving baby in a swing all day, but I certainly used the swing or exersaucer when I needed a shower or a meal. When Caroline was tiny and less involved in the world around her, I could get her to sleep, when all else failed, by wearing her. Now, I wear her more for my convenience and for the sake of my back (she's heavy!) US = PRETTY AP

8. Balance in your life: It's so easy to loose balance once you have a baby in your home. I used to think that I wouldn't let a baby change my life. That's crazy! Of course a baby is going to change my life. If it didn't, I wouldn't be much of a parent. But balance is important. We're working diligently to keep balanced. John has continued with his karate training. I still read and enjoy my bubble baths. We've been able to get out alone together a few times. US = FULLY AP

So, all in all, we're certainly on the AP side of the spectrum. The idea behind this "attachment" is that dependence or attached leads to independence and security. I have learned not to judge other parents because everyone is different and everyone's family dynamic is different. John and I had many fun years as a couple before we became a family. For us, this is what's right.