Month: November 2014

Random Review #4: Barnyard Bath

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

Today was a little tricky, because the first book Baby 1.0 picked off her bookshelf was The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. She loves this book. This is not a joke. When I picked it up to consider if I was cool enough to review a field guide in a children’s book review (I am not), she crashed to the floor with the force of a meteor, and threw her usual 3 minute and 17 second tantrum that ended in us brushing up on our local sea ducks. Feel free to quiz me on the preferred mating ground of the King Eider if you have any questions.

photo

Baby 1.0 just doing a little light reading from her favorite field guide

Her second choice came from neither of her two bookshelves, but instead from her stash of bath toys, where she selected Barnyard Bath, by Sandra Boynton. I’m not going to lie, I totally love Sandra, or Sandy as I like to call her. She is, to me, exactly what I want in a children’s author. She is funny. She rhymes. She is playful. She avoids trying to shove some super important message into a book using owls to illustrate the security one may feel in a traditional nuclear family. My only complaint is in Barnyard Bath, the nostrils on the cow look like an upside down pair of very large breasts.

nostrils

These nostrils look more like boobs than most boobs I’ve seen.

This is a pretty basic book. It’s rubber and came with a kid-friendly wash cloth so they can clean all of the animals. Not much to say about it, other than it’s a fun way to teach your kid that the purpose of a bath is to actually get clean. This idea of “getting clean” in the tub isn’t something Baby 1.0 is too keen on. In her beautiful blue eyes, the sole purpose of spending 15 minutes in the tub is to try and drink her weight in the body-flavored, luke-warm tea she is steeping in. She will stop at nothing to slurp down mouthful after mouthful of this sweet concoction that is usually 1 part pee to 10 parts tap water. This book provides at the very least a temporary reprieve from our nightly battle routine.

The only thing I don’t understand about the book, other than the giant, pink, breast-nostrils, is the book seems to be missing a page, or more accurately it seems like they printed the book a page short, and had to put the last page on the back of the book, along with all the other stuff that normally goes on the back of a book. What’s up with that, Sandy? Somebody get a little lazy in the publishing department, or are you trying to save a buck?

photo (2)

How much does one extra page cost, Sandy?

 

Suspicious missing back page aside, we love this book. Major bonus points for being able to take it in the tub. I give it a 4/5.

Advertisements

On Being Thankful

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly the sentimental type. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate things, but I’ve never really been the type to ooze emotion, even when the situation would call for it (like, say, at our wedding, or the birth of our baby). But today, when pondering what I would write for my next post, a really crazy idea came into my head. Maybe I should try to write about something I’m thankful for, but in a way that lacks the emotional ooze. So what am I thankful for? Baby naps popped into my head immediately, for without the blessed 45 minutes Baby 1.0 graces me with most days, I would not only lose my mind, but I also wouldn’t be able to write. Or shower, or do anything for myself in a semi-relaxed way. Squeezy food pouches were a close second, but it seemed like maybe I’d be a little light on material. It wasn’t until Baby 1.0 was dozing peacefully, and I was in the shower, that the idea to write about my parents came to mind.

Wedding photo

This is me, in classic form, being very unserious at my wedding.

Now this idea to write about my parents was a surprising enough revelation that it made me stand there, mouth slightly agape, left eyebrow arched suspiciously, head cocked to the side like a confused puppy. “The parents?! But they are divorced and there are many of them,” my brain said with dismay. “Yes. The parents,” repeated the heart, “all of them.” “But maybe we could just be thankful for cheese?” suggested my brain. “No cheese. Parents,” insisted the heart. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, for however weird, different or challenging I perceived my childhood to be at times, it was actually pretty great, thanks in large part to my parents.

It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that my view on my childhood fully shifted, and allowed me to see my parents for what they are: People. People who love, and people who care. People who make mistakes, and people who struggle. Just your run-of-the-mill, everyday people, living their own lives while simultaneously trying to be responsible for somebody else’s. Reconciling this new title of “people” with their previous titles of “Mom” and “Dad” has been paramount in appreciating the incredible effort they put into raising good kids, and continue to put in as we ourselves become parents.

Of course nobody is perfect, and this is hardly meant to be some brag about how I came from a modern-day Donna Reed family. That wasn’t the case at all. But now that I am a parent, it is much easier to look back, and not only cut them some slack, but also feel appreciative for the lessons they taught us, even if they were tough lessons to learn.

Thanks to my parents, and their openness about their less than perfect relationship, I have been able to use their missteps as a guide, and their victories as goals. Use good communication. Work hard. Practice transparency and honesty. Be supportive, loyal and kind. These are all invaluable lessons I am thankful to have learned from people who I love and respect. Perhaps the best lesson of all, they have recently shown me the importance of forgiveness, as they embrace friendship once again, and relish in their roles as new grandparents. This, the forgiveness, has strengthened my own relationships, and also allowed me to permit myself the same courtesy as I stumble through new motherhood.

I am so thankful to have the parents I have. My mom, my dad, my step-mom, my in-laws. Every one of them brings something incredible to the table. I could go on and on about the individual traits each person shines with, but then I’d be oozing emotion, and that makes my skin a little itchy. So today, I say thanks. Thank you for your love, your support, and your kindness. Thank you for your mistakes and your quirks. Thank you for above all else, sharing your imperfection, and in your imperfection, being beautifully human.

Random Review #3: Good Dog, Carl

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked another one of her all time favorites, Good Dog, Carl, by Alexandra Day. This is another oldie but goodie (we seem to have a lot of those), with the first edition being published in 1986. Surprisingly, there is no teal, and the mother in the book is tastefully dressed and suspiciously lacking a bang wave. This clearly indicates she must be French or something, because no average American mother in 1986 didn’t have either a bang wave or a sweet perm. Or both.

1Ai0vQ5

It’s an almost bang wave, and a bangin’ perm. Gotta love the ’80’s!

Let’s start with the title, Good Dog, Carl. Can we just sort of touch on what a bizarre name choice “Carl” is for a dog? After working in the veterinary field for nearly a decade, I can honestly say I didn’t come across a single animal named Carl. Or even any people named Carl, for that matter, except the kid on the Walking Dead, which I think we can all agree should be named something more realistic, like Walter. Odd name choice aside, you see Carl smiling from the cover, as only a Rottweiler can, with big jowls and squinty eyes, his big pink tongue hanging out of an open mouth that contains no teeth. With all this talk about breed discrimination, nobody would be scared of Rotties if they all looked like toothless Carl.

Good_Dog_Carl

Suspiciously missing all of his teeth, but smiling none the less.

Fun fact about this book, it only has 12 words total in it. This being a book from my own childhood, I did not remember this, and the first time I went to read it to Baby 1.0, I thought maybe we had a received a book that was accidentally printed without text. Apparently, this is just one of those stories you have to narrate yourself, which is something I’m getting considerably better at each time I read it 15 times a day.

The book starts off with the mom telling Carl she’s taking off, and he’s on baby duty. This seems like an extreme form of whatever the opposite of attachment parenting is, but again, maybe this is the French way of teaching your kid how to be resilient? I know there was a popular book floating around a year or so ago about how the French raise their kids, but I didn’t read it because T.V.

Mom leaves, and right away Carl is like “Hey Baby. How about you and me go do some crazy shit?” which of course the baby is totally down with because he thinks his mom is boring. Whether or not she is boring should probably the least of his concerns considering she left him with a dog as a babysitter, but whatever, I’m not judging.

out of crib

“Climb on Baby. Let’s go live a little”

The baby crawls onto Carl’s back and they go and jump on the bed. This doesn’t bother me so much because even with the popular cautionary tale “No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed,” we still sort of jump on the bed from time to time. After jumping on the bed, they put on makeup, which also seems pretty harmless. I think this is where Carl is trying to win the baby’s trust, like “It’s cool, Baby. See? I know you think this is bad, but aren’t you having fun?”

Then things get serious. Carl puts the baby down the laundry shoot, which could go wrong in so many ways, but lucky for the baby, his mom doesn’t ever do laundry so the bin is full, and provides him a soft place to land. Carl retrieves him and in an attempt to one-up himself, puts the baby in a fish tank to either teach him to swim, or give him salmonella.

laundry shoot

“Down you go Baby. Try not to die.”

I have to think the baby expressed some sort of grievance about nearly drowning, because after that Carl backs off on the risky behaviors. He puts some music on and dances, and then takes the baby into the kitchen for a little snack. He fills the baby up with all kinds of goodies, including chocolate milk, cookies and grapes. The baby is obviously dirty as all hell now, and probably smells like a fish tank, so Carl takes him upstairs and bathes him. He drys him off with a hair dryer, and dumps him back in his crib. Then, like a good dog, he cleans up the messes they made and plops himself down next to the crib just as the mom returns.

Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer

Show me a dog who can bathe and blow dry a baby, and I will show you a rainbow of joy leaping out of my, um, ears.

It seems obvious to me now, after writing all this out, that this book clearly is not about a dog at all, but rather her deadbeat husband named Carl, or her crazy Aunt Edna who smokes Menthols. Regardless, we both really like the book. I give it a 4/5.

****************************************************************************************************

Image credits:

Cover photo: http://www.beyondthecarseat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Good_Dog_Carl.jpg

80’s Mom: http://i.imgur.com/1Ai0vQ5.jpg

Laundry: http://i037.radikal.ru/0909/8d/d6b3760e77f3.jpg

Crib escape: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AjI3qIR27fU/TGXtXD-oUSI/AAAAAAAAEqk/_bGoigFVFUs/s1600/2b6fe9e8ff01.jpg

Blow dryer: http://amybronwenzemser.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Good-Dog-Carl-blowdryer.jpg

7 Minutes in Heaven, Or What 7 Minutes of My Morning Looks Like In Real Time

I would be hard pressed to think of something we Americans like more than our social media. We spend hours a day tweeting, and liking, and whatever you do on tumbler-ing. Recently, huge news stories have broken on websites like Twitter, where people go to report on events from pee wee football games to earthquakes, in real time. Since this is clearly the future of everything, I’ve decided to start honing my skills early and give it a try. So with that said, I will now begin live-streaming the next 7 minutes of my average morning.

Okay, so here we are. It’s 8:20 am on a Saturday. Baby 1.0 has been awake for approximately 1 hour. Like a good toddler, she has already turned down her breakfast, and eaten half of ours. I’m struggling to protect both my computer, and my hot cup of coffee from her very curious reaches.

8:21- Baby 1.0 walks into the kitchen singing. She throws open the bottom drawer containing dish rags and assorted baby items, with authority. She tears them out, one by one, tossing them over her head in dramatic fashion while yelling something that sounds like “Biiiiierbetertert,” with more pitch changes than Mariah Carey’s Emotions album.

MC

8:22- Storms out of kitchen suddenly, demanding to be held. Cat uses this opportunity to climb into now empty drawer. Baby 1.0 walks up to Dad requesting to be picked up – “puh, puh, puh” she chants, with arms extended up. Much to my astonishment, Dad unexpectedly begins beat boxing and bobbing around, similar to one of those air-filled wavy tube men at tire stores. This seems to distract Baby 1.0 from her request to be held, and we both stare at him curiously.

blowout_sale_skypuppet_yellow_single_1003lar

8:23- Dad and Baby 1.0 sit on the ground and begin a conversation with Siri. “Do you know my name?” he asks. “Jason, or at least that’s what you told me” Siri replies. “I love you,” he says. “All you need is love. And your iPhone,” she says, like a stone cold fox. Dad begins singing “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles. Gets as far in as singing “All you need is…” and trails off.

iphone

8:24- Silence. Silence? Baby 1.0 comes around the corner and begins a vicious attack on my lappy. Grunting, arms flailing, slapping, yelling “bee bee bee!”- it’s her main goal in life to find buttons to push, and one of her favorite targets are laptops. I’m deflecting pokes left and right, while trying to prevent my lappy from being thrown on the floor, or having the content erased.

IMG_0780

8:25- Attack is called off when Baby 1.0 is suddenly distracted by the sight of her teddy bear, aptly named “Teddy,” who has escaped her crib, and is lying on the floor near her bedroom door. Ambles off to retrieve Teddy. Returns with Teddy moments later making kissing noises. Requests I give Teddy kisses. I reach over for Teddy, and give him a big kiss, and a little snuggle. Capitalizes on my soft heart, and uses opportunity to TURN OFF MY COMPUTER MID-SENTENCE LIKE A NINJA, BY PUSHING ONE BUTTON.

8:26- Has my attention while computer reboots. Baby 1.0 burps. Pinches my arm. Wants to nurse. Wanders of kissing Teddy and saying “Baaaaabbbby.” Looks out the window and mutters “Oooooh boy.” Or at least that’s what it sounds like.

8:27- Sees cat. Chases cat yelling “Kitty MEOOOOOW!” which cat loves. And by loves I mean runs away from at an impressive clip considering her waist to leg ratio. Cat squeezes through baby gate with significant effort. Baby 1.0 watches her disappear under bed skirt. Disappointment evident.

photo (1)

8:28- Wanders back into living room to attack lamp. Ignores multiple requests from Dad to stop. In desperation, Dad picks up box and puts it on his head claiming to be the T.V. “Hey! I’m the T.V.!” he says in a goofy clown voice. Baby 1.0 turns away from the lamp, and stompruns over to him (I’m guessing our downstairs neighbor isn’t too fond of us), rips the box off his head, becomes off-balance and steps on book that makes animal sounds. Discovers that by stepping on the book, animal sounds will be made. Begins stepping on the book repeatedly. “Moo! Moo! Moo! Moo! Neigh! Oink! Oink!” – it sounds like a farm in a tornado. Then she stops, looks up at me with big blue eyes and starts fake coughing, my hint that she is feeling sleepy, and has about a 45 second window to bring her down into the nap zone.

By my calculations, in seven minutes, she has changed activities no less than 64 times (okay, I didn’t actually count, but I don’t have time to). Her attention span for any one activity, seems to last about as long as one beat of her tiny little heart. This pace is the one thing that remains constant all day, every day. Sure, there are times she will sit with you and read a book or two. But pretty much every waking moment is equal parts carnival ride and train wreck. It’s an exhausting pace that leaves us both spinning by the end of the day. But in the most mushy gushy way, I wouldn’t change any of it for a second.

 

*********************************************************************************************************

 Image credits:

Cover photo: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-fiPZNSWN8Fg/UDEuXQisZII/AAAAAAAAC48/ZXYm1NOhwLM/s1600/7+minutes.jpg

Mariah Carey: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3e/Emotions_Mariah_Carey.png

Air man: http://innovativecommunications.tv/files/2012/10/blowout_sale_skypuppet_yellow_single_1003lar.jpg

iPhone: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6178/6261865591_ce380761da_z.jpg

Baby 1.0 photos are ours!!

Random Review #2: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked yet another one of her go-to favorite reads: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens. You can say to her “Baby 1.0, go get Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens” and she will drop whatever she is doing and find it. Part of me thinks this is a clear indication that she is a genius, but it could also be she just likes it that much.

This book doesn’t even have an author, presumably because all told it only has 44 words in it. I say more than 44 words to myself in the shower on days that I shower. The book does, however, have an illustrator named Kathy Wilburn, who absolutely nails the pictures, in a 70’s elementary school kind of way.

This book is another oldie but goody, first published in 1987. It’s a Golden book, and is part of a series that includes some other riveting reads such as Tiny Tot’s Busy Day and Tiny Tot’s Toys. I haven’t read the others, but feel strongly that this is the best this series has to offer.

The book opens with the observation that “puppies are soft and cuddly.” It follows that up with “so are kittens.” Being someone who has worked with puppies and kittens for nearly a decade, I feel it’s my civic duty to inform you this is not always true. I’ll give you soft, but cuddly? I have some scars on my arms that would beg to differ. But whatever, let’s just chalk that one up to more lies we tell our kids. It’s in good company with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and why Gary the goldfish had to be released into the wild via your toilet.

photo

The book goes on to show some mischievous kittens and puppies wrecking shop in someone’s house. Again, we have young animals playing with a ball of yarn, just like in Goodnight Moon. No yarn, people! I’ve seen those strings pulled from the intestines of your precious pets. It’s not a pretty sight!

photo 3

After causing an indoor ruckus, the puppy and kitten go outside to terrorize the insect world. The kitten sets its sights on a delicate butterfly while the puppy goes after a beetle. Probably a stink beetle. The kitten is prancing around with a blue ribbon around its neck, which makes me wonder, did our good friend Kathy the illustrator ever have a cat? You put anything around a kitten’s neck and they will turn into a tornado until they get it off.

photo 1

The book finishes up with an idyllic scene where four kittens are playing with one puppy. This is Baby 1.0’s favorite page because this is where I get to say “Yip! Yip! Mew! Mew!” which she thinks is the best thing in the whole world, which in turn makes me think this book is the best book in the whole world.

photo 2

So there you have it. I actually love this book. It’s simple as can be, with dorkus drawings but I guess that what makes it so endearing. I give it a 3.72/5.

The Parenting Olympics

Over the last 15 months, I’ve discovered a secret about parenting… nay… THE secret of parenting. Lean in close, so I can whisper it into your eyes: parenting is a competition, and it’s every soccer mom and super dad for themselves. I say we stop with the pseudo-compliments and just get right to it, Roman style, via a series of carefully curated events. Events that will weed out the willing from the weak, the powerful from the pathetic, the ingenuitive from the incapable. I present to you, The Parenting Olympics.

For our first event, please grab your stroller and line up at the starting line. A $1200 stroller does not a good parent make, but rather how you manage a stroller, one-handed (because you are obviously holding your child), while navigating through the crammed sale racks at your local discount retailer at Christmas time, 1 hour past your toddler’s nap time, while your blood sugar dips dangerously low, now THAT is worthy of praise. So line up, give your kid their least favorite sippy cup so they are agitated, and get from Housewares to Hosiery without knocking the faux fur sweater vest from the otherwise naked, severely emaciated mannequin. Extra points if you come out on the other side with both baby shoes and the paci.

racksHo ho ho. Now go go go.

Next up we have the Grab and Haul. As we all know, taking the babe out for even the simplest of errands requires no less than 16 things when it’s all said and done. So for our next event, we will give each toddler 30 seconds to collect as many things as they deem necessary for a jaunt out for milk, then you will have to pick them up, locate your car keys, wallet and phone, grab the diaper bag and the reusable grocery bag, exit the house, and get them into the car without forgetting anything, or letting anything hit the ground. Now, go get your milk, come home and bring everything back inside PLUS the box that showed up on your doorstep. Extra points if you don’t strain a muscle in your shoulder, or let the door slam on tiny fingers silently investigating the hinge. Extra extra points if you remember to put the milk in the fridge.

Naomi Watts And Son Out For A Walk In Los AngelesBinky? Check. Snuggly blanket? Yep. Snacks? You betcha. Flask? Don’t mind if I do.

Our third event is all about speed and dexterity. It’s a triathlon that will test your patience, persistence and ingenuity. On paper it’s a seemingly simple set of tasks, but in practice it can drive even the most patient of people to drivel and maybe even drink. For round three I will ask you to remove the laundry (you know, the load you washed last week?) from your dryer, fold it, put it away, and load the dishwasher. This all must be done while the child is awake, and free to roam. Because we aren’t famous rich people, the laundry folding station must be your couch, and because we aren’t famous rich people, and we rent, your kitchen can’t have a baby gate or effective child-proofing locks on your cabinetry. Points are docked for every time you raise your voice in frustration as the child knocks over a stack of folded clothes or rips a handful of folded clothes out of their drawer and spreads them willy-freaking-nilly around the house. Double points are docked for every time your child removes a dirty knife from the dishwasher and chases your cat.

pet-sematary-remake-1This is exactly what it looks like in our house when Baby 1.0 gets the dirty scalpel out of our dishwasher.

The fourth and final event of our series is a combination of our three previous events. It’s truly a measure of an Olympic Gold Medal Parent. For this event, I will ask that you take your child out for an outing that requires driving at least 15 minutes away from your house. The outing must be timed where, upon its termination, the child will need to go down for a nap in precisely 20 minutes, leaving you a generous 5 minutes of wiggle room. When the timer hits zero, you must extract your child from the outing of your choosing (read: the most fun your child has ever had, and whole-heartedly believes they will ever have again), navigate your way to the car, buckle them into their car seat while they do their best impersonation of a rodeo king/queen, exit the parking garage that was obviously built exclusively for smart cars without hitting anything, then make it home WITHOUT letting the exhausted child fall asleep. You will be disqualified for disobeying traffic laws, cussing out loud at the trash truck who is blocking THE WHOLE STREET, or getting into an accident. Extra points will be given if you turn this into a “teachable moment” by choosing to sing the ABC’s in a volume appropriate for a Death Metal concert, but a tone that would charm a little baby lamb.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-9.56.28-PM I have no words. Except I’d mop this chick in the Grab and Haul.

So there you have it. The Parenting Olympics. Got any ideas for next years events? I’d love to hear ’em!

******************************************************************************************************

Image credits:

Cover: http://slimber.com/gallery/images2/21/216558/the-olympic-rings.jpg

Racks: http://www.buffalonews.com/storyimage/BN/20130127/LIFE02/130129435/EP/1/1/EP-130129435.jpg&maxW=960

Naomi Watts: http://cdn04.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/watts-hands/naomi-watts-has-her-hands-full-03.jpg

Pet Sematary: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_yzXc2oxZKh4/TU–WgrVIdI/AAAAAAAAAPY/038-Fq4TF4A/pet-sematary-remake-1.jpg

Car singing: http://rixbury.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-9.56.28-PM.png