Monday, May 23, 2016

Tossing ideas around

I had great intentions for this blog when i started it up, years and years ago. But we moved, didn't have an internet connection for about five years, and by then, I'd long ago given up on the whole "mommy blog" phenomenon.

But my kids are half grown or better now, and the strangest thing is happening...old friends are actually having kids now (on's the weirdest thing), and some of them are wondering how i did it, all those years ago. Well...honestly, it was a lot of trial and error. But there's no reason I can't share my experiences in an effort to help others, even if I only help them to see that there's no shame in doing it the hard way sometimes.

Spoiler: the kids will turn out ok, no matter what you do, so long as you're parenting with love.

But I've got plenty of opinions and anecdotes on the subject, and will happily share them here. I also welcome discussion in the comments, as well as questions and subject requests.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rule #3: Be Considerate of Other Parents

You know, we wouldn't need any more rules if Rule #1 had been "Have Some Damn Common Sense," but let's be honest: people that don't have any can't follow it, hence why i need to spell some of these more obvious ones out.

But seriously.  Be considerate of other parents.  Don't make their lives more difficult for the sake of your own convenience, because other parents can become your enemies just as fast as they can become their friends.  There are many sub-rules that go along with this, but i'll just list out a few of the two most frequently violated:

1. Do not send your sick children over to play.  If they're too sick for school, they're too sick for my house!

2. Do not assume i will baby-sit on a moment's notice.

It's really a 'do unto others' sort of thing, and yet people really don't seem to grasp it.  Your children should never come to my door and whisper within an inch of my precious children such phrases as, "We got to stay home because we're sick/have lice/etc.!"  I'm not a supporter of spanking, but i do believe that parents who allow this to happen, should be spanked.

Likewise, please don't send your kids outside before leaving and assume i'll continue to watch them while you're away, or try and guilt me into babysitting only to pick the kids up three hours later than agreed.  Mmkay?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rule #2: You Cannot Spoil a Baby

Likewise, you cannot "train" a baby. 

Infants cry because they have needs.  They physically need to be held and loved, because their brains cannot yet distinguish between want and need.  Ignoring a baby's pleas causes stress and physical pain.  "Crying it out" does not teach a baby to be self-reliant; it teaches him to be insecure.

Things You Need, And Things You Don't

Ahh, the baby registry.  The time-honored tradition of listing things the new parents think they might need, just to be ignored by well-meaning friends and relatives.  Most people overestimate the needs of a newborn their first time around.  By the second or third baby, you probably won't bother taking most of that stuff out of storage.  So here are the essentials:

Carseat.  This one's a necessity, because even if you don't own a car, you will likely need to put your child in one at some point.  Don't expect your baby to be able to use an "infant" seat for a full year--some babies (especially breastfed ones) grow much faster than that, and exceed the weight limit by as early as 5 months old.  Consider investing in a model that will grow with your child to a forward-facing position, or have a bigger one ready for that sudden growth spurt.

Baby Carrier.  Ring slings, mei tais, mobys...there are tons of models out there, but so long as it's comfortable and folds small enough to throw in a bag, you're good to go.  Don't be afraid to try on or borrow several types until you find one you're comfortable with; try dropping in on a local LLL meeting for some advice and free demos on the subject.  They're much easier to maneuver through a crowd with than a stroller or 'baby bucket' (infant carseat), and much better for your arms and back.

Receiving blankets, cloth diapers, onesies, and sleepers.  Take as many of these as you're offered.  New, used, gender-appropriate patterns or not, you cannot have too many of these items, because little ones spit up, pee, and poo through everything, many times a day.  If you give birth in a hospital, and can manage to sneak a couple of extras out, do (lord knows the nightly rates more than justify an extra little t-shirt or washcloth)!  Even if you don't plan to cloth diaper, prefolds make excellent burp cloths.  Bibs i could take or leave; your results will vary depending on the child, but sometimes it's just easier to have extra shirts on hand.

Things you don't need:

High Chairs.  They are big, bulky, and don't do anything that a booster seat with a tray, fastened onto a regular dining chair, can't do better, and in convenient travel size.

Bassinets and Cribs.  Here's where I get controversial: i am a huge supporter of cosleeping.  Do your own research and follow your own instincts, but please keep an open mind about it.  At the very least, hold off on investing in a crib until you've tried a simple sidecar arrangement with a mattress on the floor next to your own; it will put you in close proximity in the early days, when every extra second of sleep you can get is like gold, and will help you and your baby learn to respond to one another's cues for the purpose of breastfeeding.  You can always put the mattress in a crib or toddler bed later if that's what you choose, so there's nothing lost by it.

Bouncy seats, swings, exesaucers, toy gyms, etc.  All of these are nice to have for a few seconds of cheap entertainment when mama needs a chance to use the bathroom by herself (or, heaven forbid, a quick shower), but don't buy them all right away; they're big and spendy, so try borrowing them or trying one out at a friend's house or nursery at church, etc. to see if your baby even likes them.  You really don't want one of these things just to sit in the corner as an expensive quilt rack.

Strollers.  Tempting, but it's so much easier to use a baby carrier (or grocery cart when they're bigger) than to try and drag these around everywhere.  They take up a lot of room in the car, they're often difficult to unfold one-handed, and you have to worry about them getting swiped if you dare leave it outside the bathroom for a diaper change.  Not worth the stress.

Wipe Warmers.  Please.  These just dry out your wipes, when holding one between your hands will do the job just as well.  Even better: use a washcloth with warm water when you're home.

Playpens/play yards: Unless you have pets that are overly affectionate, or spend a lot of time doing farm or yardwork, a big blanket on the floor/grass and basic babyproofing should do just fine.  Don't ignore gates though, if you have a working fireplace, woodstove, or stairs.

Boppy (nursing pillows). Nice to own, but the pillows you already have in your home will work just fine.  By the third baby, i didn't need a pillow to nurse at all, being chubby enough to make snuggling right on my lap plenty comfortable.

Baby Monitors.  Unless your house is huge, trust me, you won't need the help hearing your child call for you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Cookies

 No matter what holiday you celebrate or refrain from celebrating this time of year, it is cookie season (unless you're in the southern hemisphere, in which case you'd probably prefer to make ice cream right now).  Below are a few of the tried and true recipes i've used over the years:

Oma's Anise Cookies

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise seed (opt)
2 tbsp melted butter
3 1/2 cups flour
dash salt
1/2 tsp anise oil

Mix eggs, sugar, and butter.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into egg mix. Add anise oil.
Roll dough out onto floured surface and cut into diamonds.
Tradition stipulates that the dough should be left out overnight to form a hard cookie, but my oma says this is not preferred. I agree.
Bake at 300 for 20 minutes.

Hello Dollies

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325.
Combine crumbs with sugar and butter and press into 9"x9" pan.
Layer chips, coconut, and pecans. Pour milk over the top.
Bake 25 minutes, cool, and cut.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour

Blend butter and sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla.
Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time until dough is stiff.
Roll out onto floured surface and cut into shapes.
Bake at 400 for 6-7 minutes.

 Most importantly, you must let the kids decorate them.  It is the best part, after all.

If you want to be adventurous or bring something to the party no one else will, try this last recipe.  Be warned though, this makes a very delicate cookie that is aromatic and lovely while warm, but bitter and kind of weird once it cools down.  Probably better served with an herbal tea than with milk:

Honey Lavender Shortbread

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp lavender
6 oz butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Combine first four ingredients.
Cream butter, honey, and sugar. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon dough onto parchment and roll to form a log. Refrigerage 1-2 hours.
Line sheet with parchment. Cut dough into 1/2 inch slices.
Place on sheet 2" apart and bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until golden.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rule #1: See the Good in Everything

Always find something to laugh at in a bad situation.  See something cute or clever about all the embarrassing things your children do in public (there will be plenty more where that came from).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unsolicited Advice

We've all been in situations where well-meaning friends or relatives, or even random old women in grocery stores, felt the need to hand out pearls of wisdom in regards to parenting.  Many times, the advice is terribly outdated, or at severe odds with our own lifestyle and values. 

The internet is full of tips on matching these unwanted encounters with either vitriol or gracious acceptance, and everything in-between.  There are message board threads and blog entries full of horror stories and snappy comebacks. 

But what about our own tried-and-true methods?  How often do we find ourselves tempted to stand over a new mother's shoulder in a department store, and suggest she try holding her fussy baby 'just so,' only to have a sudden flashback to a time when we were new to the game and would have bitten the hand of anyone who had dared something like that with us?

So my goal is simple: to compile and share anecdotes, links, resources, and life experiences for anyone that does want some advice.  It will be here, safely tucked away (and hopefully easy to reference) for future use.  And it will serve a dual purpose as an outlet for my own *ahem* pedagogy.