Getting Campy

After almost a decade of parenting, I finally managed to get on top of summer camp signups.* The big kid’s going to learn web design, how to be a ninja, zip lining, windsurfing, and skateboarding. I only know how to do one of those things!

To someone who grew up the way I did** this seems like a CRAZY amount of organized activity, but the list of things we didn’t do is even longer. I got everything registered in, what, March? And already stuff like LEGO camp and Animation Camp (Animation Camp, you guys!) were entirely booked up. And then there were all the impractical to get to but so freaking cool things like Circus Camp and Ride Your Bike Around The City camp and a bunch I can’t even remember now because SO MANY CAMPS.

I never went to summer camp when I was a kid, but my husband has stories about sleep-away camps where they played around on jet skis*** and learned to do gymnastics on the backs of moving horses, so.

I’m just hoping that once the web design camp is done I can put the kid to work. Unpaid internship, here we come!

Skate Park

*Well, for one of them, anyway. Rory was supposed to do swim this summer. Sorry, second child! I promise I won’t write about it in your baby book! Ha ha, just kidding, you don’t have one.

**Euphemism for dirt poor.

***This story is almost hilariously traumatic; ask him about it sometime.

Parenting Fail: Weaning

When Ellison was 18 months old, we weaned. We did it cold turkey, and it worked beautifully. Sure, there were a couple of rough nights, but he got used it relatively quickly and painlessly and all was well.

weaning failSo when I started really feeling done* with the whole nursing thing with Rory, I figured it would work pretty much the same way.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Excuse me. Ha.

At 17 months old, Rory was not ready to wean. She was nutritionally ready – she ate a TON, and rarely wanted to nurse during the day – but emotionally she needs to nurse. I figured this out after three nights of basically zero sleep, in which she screamed uncontrollably and wouldn’t let anyone touch her, all because I calmly and firmly told her we weren’t nursing anymore.

She also began refusing to nap during the day, and developed separation anxiety like crazy. According to Dr. Sears, this is a textbook example of how not to wean.

I’ve backed off on weaning for now. I’m hoping that once we get her settled back into a routine and feeling secure we can try weaning again.

*I’m very much a fan of nursing, but I’m also a fan of my own sanity, and the two seem to be at odds with each other. Seriously, though, you want to breastfeed into toddlerhood? More power to you!

What’s In My Diaper Bag

Obligatory diaper bag contents post in three…two…one…

I still haven’t found The Perfect Diaper Bag (I am beginning to suspect such a thing is a myth, like the tooth fairy or babies who sleep through the night) but the one I have (the Skip Hop Lady Bento*) is pretty good. Here’s what’s in mine:

Inside my diaper bag: one of two

Not pictured: Wet bag (from Ju-Ju-Be), burp cloth, snacks for the big kid (and me), and the Leachco high chair strap that she’s probably getting too big to need.

2014-03-25 13.45.55The cool thing about the Lady Bento is that it has a separate section for food. It comes with this neat removable Mealtime Kit, with three little containers that snap apart, an insulated case, and a freezer pack (which we’re not currently using). Right now I’ve got one of the little containers full of puffs, a Grapple, and a pouch of Rory’s favorite food (Amazemint from Oh Baby). We’ve usually got a Bumkins bib in there too, along with the Kipiis bib clip that can turn a napkin or burp cloth into a bib in a pinch (but appears to be out of production – we got ours at New Seasons when we couldn’t find one online).

Oh and you can see the Tokidoki PaciPod too, which has a pacifier and pacifier strap in it, and is clipped to the zipper for the outside pocket where I keep my wallet and phone.

I like all the pockets on this diaper bag and I love the little bento box in the bottom compartment, but honestly I think I need something…gulp…bigger. Half the time I need to bring a carrier along when we’re out with the stroller (for the inevitable screaming fits that accompany stroller-based trips) and that takes up a lot of room. Then there’s my stuff (laptop, iPad, whatever). Plus with summer coming I’ll need to bring stuff like sunblock and swimwear and towels and aaaaaaah I can’t even think about it without my back twinging in distress. Meep!

*I had the Skip Hop Studio, which I LOVED, except that the top zipper wouldn’t, you know, zip. That’s a pretty big problem for a zipper to have, and Skip Hop agreed, so they let me trade it for a slightly different bag that I love slightly less (but that actually has a functioning zipper).

My Favorite Parasite

2014-02-24 14.38.41Oh, babies. They scream and excrete and scratch you with their sharp little talons and yet you still just want to kiss their little faces off.

Take my baby, for example. She’s six months old now and has just discovered the exciting world of separation anxiety. Mean old mama keeps insisting on leaving the room (my house is 850 square feet in total, so “leaving the room” is somewhat relative) to do things like use the bathroom or get a glass of water, which obviously necessitates screaming. Mean old mama also feels compelled to put the baby down every once in a while, cruelly surrounding her with toys and playthings, so that she can use both hands to check email or eat food. Mean old mama wants to gently lay the baby in the crib when the baby is napping, and clearly that kind of behavior cannot be condoned. And sometimes mean old mama wants to sit down while holding the baby. Sitting down! While holding the baby! Have you ever heard of something so inhuman?

I took to the internets to see if there was any sort of six month mood shakeup that I’d forgotten about, because my memories of Ellison’s infancy are basically one big sleep-deprived blur, and also because I am currently so tired I barely remember my own name. I did find posts from people saying that their six month olds screamed when they weren’t being held. My people! Here’s what the internet suggests:

I would never ever leave a baby to cry in distress. I can’t imagine how any mother could actually bear to hear that distress. All my children and their children were picked up if they were distressed.
-“Most Helpful Reply”

Uh huh.

There is nothing wrong with holding your baby. That is the way things were meant to be. Personally I could not let my babies cry. This early they are learning to trust.

Awesome. So I should constantly carry the baby while somehow also feeding myself/showering/doing laundry/working? So that she can learn to trust and not grow up to be a serial killer?

Why are so many in a hurry to lose precious moments with our children? They grow so fast. The time I have spent caring for my children are the greatest moments of my life, even the middle of the night feedings. We as a society are often led to believe we need to force independance on our kids way to soon often leading to a neglect of their emotional needs.

Why indeed? I personally intend to neglect my children’s emotional needs as long as possible in order to make them grow more slowly. That way we’ll save money on school clothes. Wait, that isn’t what this is saying?

In the meantime, I’m off the parenting communities and on to bigger and better things, like learning to sleep while writing HTML. I’m pretty sure if I can get that one down, I’m home free.

Origami Valentines

2014-02-13 16.22.01-1This year Ellison is super into origami (thanks, Origami Yoda books) so when I saw this Pinterest tutorial for origami Valentines I knew we had to give it a try. The kid took one look at the tutorial and was like, “That’s what I want to do.” He has been going crazy with anticipation all week waiting for the lollipops to arrive, and today we finally got down to business!

As far as origami goes this tutorial is pretty easy (see the embed at the bottom of this post or go here to view the pin on Pinterest) and the kid got the hang of it pretty quickly. We used plain paper so he could write on them, but they’d be really pretty with patterned paper like in the original example. Our paper was a little smaller than in the example, too, and we didn’t use double-sided tape (just a bit of Scotch tape on one side).

Ellison ValentinesThey might be a little messier than the Pinterest version (because, let’s face it, he’s 8) but I think they look fantastic. I think the kid likes them, too – he made one for himself to put in his Valentine’s box at school!

Plus, who doesn’t love lollipops? (We got YumEarth Organic pops to accommodate the gluten-free, free-range sugar eaters, and there are a few left for sneaky moms and dads – not that I know any of those.)

Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

For more Valentine ideas, check out my XOXO board on Pinterest.

g bottom

gdiaperI’m not exactly the cloth diapering type (too much effort, too much laundry, an intolerance for saggy bottoms – take your pick), but I LURVE gDiapers.*

The whole concept of gDiapers appeals to me: they’re hybrid diapers, so the inside is still disposable (and I can compost the wet inserts – HUGE bonus, since the city switched us to an every-other-week garbage pickup and OMG that is not nearly frequent enough), the gPant covers are super cute, and they contain blowouts like nobody’s business. Plus they’re a Portland-based company, and you know how much I like to buy local.

I like them so much that I’m even thinking about getting cloth inserts to use at night. Yes, you heard that right: I am willingly signing up for more laundry. THAT IS LOVE, PEOPLE.

The initial investment is kind of steep – you’ve got to buy the covers, which can be pricey, and the inserts, and if you’re going cloth you’ve got to get enough of those to keep the baby diapered while you wash things. I got the starter kit off the gDiapers website, but it looks like eBay has some good deals on bigger lots, too. I’m kind of wishing I’d gone that route because I only have the two covers currently, and a couple more would be handy. My friendly neighborhood consignment shop gets them in sometimes, though, so I’ll keep my eye out. Also, you can sometimes find gDiapers on Amazon Warehouse Deals (aka my very favorite part of Amazon).

Also also, how cute is Rory with the little g on her butt?

*They did not pay me to say that. I remain sadly uncompensated for my many opinions on things, although I did sign up for Influenster, so that could change – and obviously I would make a point of mentioning if I got something in return for a review.**

**Although there’s the whole Netgalley thing, so I suppose I am compensated where book reviews are concerned. Some of them. Hm.

Pink Think

Dear younger self,

Remember when you were all “I will never dress my girl baby in pink because patriarchy and also blech”?

Yeah. How’s that working out for you?


Gear Post: Baby Number Two

Pinterest Board

Now that I’ve had the baby for a few months, let’s talk gear. There’s a TON of stuff on the market, and everyone you ask has a different opinion on what’s crucial and what’s crap. (The reason for this: every baby’s different! There’s no way to know for sure what will work for your baby until you try! Ugh.)

Rory’s kind of a high-maintenance baby in a way that Ellison wasn’t – he wanted to be held, while she wants to be entertained. Here’s the stuff that’s been awesome for her:

  • Cradle ‘N Swing: Rory believes babies should always be in motion. This swing saved my sanity.
  • Teethers: I like the Comotomo one, and the Winkel is hands-down Rory’s favorite because it’s easiest to grab.
  • International Playthings Flash Beat Drum: The only electronic baby toy I actually like. Ellison had one. (He still jumps up and dances when the songs come on.)
  • Kidsme Food Feeder: She can gnaw to her heart’s content without swallowing any chunks.
  • Bumbo: She’s pretty much figured out how to get out of it now but for a while it was great.
  • She’s not attached to a lovie the way some babies are, but she really likes this one.
  • If your baby drools even half as much as my babies do, you will need drool bibs.
  • I got this wipes thing on accident thinking it was a wipes warmer (hello, fourth trimester sleep deprivation, how are you?) but it turned out to be kind of useful. More useful, though, are these changing pad liners, which make it so I don’t have to wash the changing pad cover nearly as often.
  • I am deeply in love with the Puj bath. Used it a ton when Rory was a newborn.
  • I got a Mei Tai because the Ergo was hurting my back (and also because we didn’t have the infant insert). LOVE it. Matt can’t wear it but loves the Ergo.
  • If your little is too little for high chairs but wants to sit in one anyway, this Leachco strap will make your day. Keep in mind it’s a little too short for a standard restaurant high chair, so buy a piece of Velcro to extend it and you will be very happy.

I’ve started a Pinterest board that I’ll add to as Rory grows so you can follow along with the current gear recs.

Muscle Amnesia

Oh the things you forget.

First up: babies? Messy. There’s cradle cap and baby acne and spit up and everything to do with diapers – not to mention whatever things exist in neck folds (seriously, don’t look in there). You think you remember diapers, at least, and how many of them can require changing in the space of, say, one hour. You are wrong.

Sleep dep: harsh. Again, you think you remember, and you think you can maybe do better this time. You are mistaken on both counts. (Fun fact: posting on Facebook about how tired you are at roughly three days post-partum does not elicit the expected sympathetic noises from other moms, but rather a stream of one-ups rendered even more bewildering by the fact that you are so tired you actually literally can’t see straight.)

It takes time for the belly to disappear. I mean, you knew this, but for some reason you also expect to fit into your pre-preg jeans at 2 weeks pp, which: no.

Nursing: hurts. You remember this. What you don’t remember is that, in the first few weeks, when the baby latches it feels EXACTLY like she is clamping down with a mouthful of needles.

The other thing you have forgotten, maybe: it’s totally worth it.


Really, you guys?

I’m taking some time off to have a baby. I am self-employed, and even if I weren’t, maternity leave is kind of a thing. I made sure to give all my clients plenty of advance notice so that I could wrap up any ongoing projects and they could work out alternate solutions for any problems/updates/edits that may come up while I’m unavailable. Reactions to this have been…interesting:

“…when you get back from your vacation…”
“I know you’re going to be hanging out with your baby, but can you just take this one project at the end of August?” (Note: my due date is August 26.)
“Okay, but you haven’t had the baby yet – why aren’t you taking any new work?”
“Oh of course, you’re going to spend some time doing the mommy thing – but you’ll still be able to do little updates to my site, right?”
“I understand you’re going on sabbatical, but…”

Call me unreasonable, but I am sort of baffled by this. It’s not a “vacation.” I am not taking an extended break to work on my French. I’m going to be giving birth, recovering from giving birth, and caring for a newborn. Even if I have some downtime (in between extended bouts of breastfeeding and the minutiae of parenting a baby and a seven year old) I’ll be severely sleep-deprived. All of which is why I am taking some time off from work.

(I’d assumed that by calling it “maternity leave,” I wouldn’t have to explain any of that.)

I love my day job, and I’m looking forward to jumping back into it when I’m ready. In the US there are no laws or benefits that allow self-employed and freelance folks to go on maternity leave, and I feel lucky to be in a position where I can take time off to recover from childbirth and care for my new baby. I don’t think any of that means I’m suffering from a lack of commitment to my work or a sudden attack of A Woman’s Place Is In The Kitchen. I think it means I’m being realistic, knowing my limits, and choosing the best course of action for my business as well as my family.

And I love that, too.