Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring fever and the rush of a sleeping baby

What a gloomy day it has been today, rain, rain go away! Since we have had a few really nice 60° days, I have been suffering from spring fever. This has been the winter that never was. I like snow but have had enough in the past 2 years. With spring 20 days away I hope I am not speaking too soon. If we get a freak blizzard it will be all my fault.

I wanted to get out of the house today and needed to pick up yogurt and baby crack. There was a break in the rain so I seized the opportunity to kick the dogs into the backyard. Squeeky hates the rain and Fizgig needs a good toweling off when he comes inside. once the dogs were in and dry, I loaded the baby in his carseat and off we went to Target. Such a glamours life I lead.

I like to wear Orion in the Becco when I go shopping. He is usually happier when I wear him and it gives me a workout. I have also found that he is more likely to fall asleep in the carrier or once we get in the car. I always have reuseable bags with me and if I am only picking up a few things, I will load up a reuseable bag with my keys and wallet and off I go. This usually prevents me from buying way more than I had intended to which is really easy to do at Target.

All in all, we were in Target for 20 minutes at most and the car ride home was all of 10 minutes. Orion was asleep by the time I pulled in the driveway. Hurray!!!! I am so happy! What to do, what to do? I feel like I did when I was a kid home alone. I want to jump on the bed and run around naked. Instead, I ate hummus out of the container with falafel chips and sometimes just my finger. Then I finally spent time on netflicks putting my queue in order and adding some new stuff.

There have been times when Orion has fallen asleep in the car and Patrick and I are all like "Ok, what do you want to do now? Let's take over the world!!". But we never do anything that exciting. When the baby is asleep I like to answer emails, check facebook, read, do the dishes, write this here blog. I know I have precious little time as his naps are an hour at most.

Right now, I could be working on his baby book which is all over the kitchen table, or folding laundry but instead I have chosen to dick around and it feels soooo good! I get such a rush when he is sleeping and I am free to do something. I will usually use that time to be productive but all work and no play is boring. What do you like to do when the baby is asleep?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why can't you sleep like a baby!?

Orion started sleeping through the night when he was six weeks old. I think we got lucky and I really can’t explain why. I do not have any secrets for sleeping newborns, sorry to disappoint you. I can only share my experiences. Luck was not always on our side when it came to the matter of sleep so do not be jealous. One tip I can share is to understand the sleeping patterns of newborns.

We had a bassinet in our bedroom next to my side of the bed until Orion outgrew it at 3 months old. Then he was sleeping in his own room across the hall from our bedroom in his very own crib. I love that our baby monitor will give the room temperature. I like his room to be about 70° with the ceiling fan on low. We never used crib bumpers, pillows, or blankets in the crib. We also did not leave toys in the crib as they can be a suffocation risk or cause injury if the baby were to fall.

If we did use blankets in the crib, he was swaddle up in the blanket nice and snug. Swaddling is a wonderful thing and there are many blankets and sleep sacks on the market. I think swaddling does help newborns to feel safe and stay asleep while providing needed warmth. The blankets were great when Orion was really small. As he got bigger, I loved using the Halo sleep sacks with swaddle arms until he was able to roll over. I was worried that he would not be able to sleep without swaddling but he slept well at night once we had to discontinue swaddling. We still use a Halo sleep sack but without the swaddle arms. With a sleep sack, you can be sure the blanket stays put without worry of suffocation or uncovered feet.

Sadly, we have never had much luck with naps. This is something we are working on and I look forward to being able to get things done while he naps. During the day, he will fall asleep while nursing and wake up when I try to put him in his crib. Yes, he passes the dead arm test every time. I am doing the same thing I do at night but it doesn’t seem to work. If we are out and about and he falls asleep in the carseat, I can bring him inside and get him to stay asleep in the carseat. I am not looking forward to upgrading to the next size car seat which I will not be able to carry into the house. We bought the new carseat weeks ago but I have been putting off its installation. Orion is about 21 lbs. now and his current carseat will fit till he is 30 lbs. so I might put the switch off till he hits 30 lbs.

This picture was taken Christmas Eve, we took a car ride to look at Christmas lights and Orion fell asleep.

I was amazed when I saw a friend put her 5 month old down for a nap on my leather ottoman. She just spread out a blanket, put him on his back, rubbed his belly, and after a bit of fussing was out for about 30 minutes. Why can’t I do that? We sat there and talked while he happily slept. I really want to be able to put Orion down for a nap and think I may have to wait until we are able to have a conversation regarding the matter. When he falls asleep on me during the day I have to ask myself if I would rather be holding a sleeping baby or try to put him down in his crib and risk waking him up.

Lack of sleep and exhaustion can do crazy things to a person. One sleepless night, I was up nursing a 9 ½ month old Orion and reading blogs and trolling the internet for sleep advice. I started to worry that I may have broken the baby. He used to sleep so very well but suddenly he would wake up every few hours. He will soon be 10 months old, is he stuck with his old bad habits. Is he an old dog that cannot learn new tricks? Will I be holding him at naptime when he is 5 years old?

Could it be sleep regression? What is sleep regression? There is 4 month, 6 month, 9 month, 12/13 month, 18 month and 24 month sleep regression! I think it is just a nice term for a chunk of time when baby goes crazy and does not sleep well. This might be due to physical milestones, cognitive developments, or teething. People like things to have labels and it lets them know that they are not the only one dealing with a fussy baby who suddenly won’t sleep. Moxie can tell you more about sleep regression.

The phrase “sleep like a baby” is very misleading. I think it has fooled many parents into thinking that there is something wrong with their baby. I was also misled when I was told babies sleep 20 hours a day. Now "they" say a one month old baby needs 16 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. Orion seemed to nurse more than he slept in his first weeks. But he was never awake and fussy, any lack of sleep he may have now or in the past never caused an adverse reaction.

Babies go through phases and their patterns are constantly changing. Just when you think you have something down, it will totally change. I think you have to be flexible and patient as a parent. I understand there will be some sleepless nights. I am thankful and lucky that I do not have to go clock in somewhere during the day. If we have a rough night, we might be able to catch a nap together during the day. I may not have a "job" but I work 24 hours a day and am always on call. Orion is my boss.

I have yet to have a night away from my baby. I think the longest I have been away from Orion was for about 5 hours when a girlfriend and I did a ghost tour of Harper’s Ferry one very cold windy night. That was the only night my husband has put the baby to bed. It didn’t go so well but eventually patrick got Orion to go down but he woke up about 45 minutes later. I do look forward to some more me time but I have had about 30 years of me time leading up to Orion’s conception. My time will come but for now he needs me and I need him to be a happy healthy baby.

Orion and Squeeky are both sleeping on me and I cannot believe that smile on Orion's face. This was the best cuddle puddle ever!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do you really need...

There is a lot of money to be made off parents and pregnant women, especially first time parents. If you are like me, you never spent much time around babies before having one of your own. It is hard to tell what you need from what you don’t before that bundle of joy arrives. Once that bundle does arrive, it might be joyous but tinged with sleepless exhaustion. This can lead a desperate parent to shell out big bucks in the hopes of regaining some sanity.

Sadly, I am not made of money and am often shocked by the price tag of many baby items. I follow a number of blogs and am surprised when they recommend a $40 sleep sack or $33 hooded towel. My husband does make enough money to enable me to stay home with the baby but that doesn’t mean we do not miss my previous income. Even with extra money I wouldn't want to spend $33 on a towel unless it can also give the baby a bath.

Truth be told, I am cheap and I have always been cheap. My mother said I was the cheapest person she knew. Not sure if she ever realized that I got it from her as she loved thrift store shopping, bargain hunting, and never let me spend more than $2on a pair of underwear. Old habits die hard but I am now realizing that there are a few things you should not cheap out on.

I hope this reoccurring feature will help you weed out what you need from what you really don’t.

First we are going to talk about baby containment devices. There are play yards, swings, jumpers, Bumbos, and exersaucers. When our baby boy first came home, the only thing we had to land him in downstairs was his carseat. I think this has turned out to be one of the best baby holding options. First, if you have a car and a baby you must have a carseat. We spent about $300 on the Chicco Key Fit this is one of those things you do not want to cheap out on. When shelling out those big bucks, you want to get your money’s worth. We love our stroller and find it very easy to use. The carseat worked well to hold our newborn because it was portable, snug, and rockable. The seat with infant insert envelopes the baby who has spent the past 9 months floating in goo, cozied up in your womb. This seat isn’t a swing but it can be rocked and I love a multitasker. I can remember having Orion in the carseat on the floor next to my bed and rocking it with my foot while I rested my eyes. To this day, the only way I manage a shower during the week is by putting Orion in the carseat and bringing him into the bathroom. I do have to strap him in now that he is such a wiggle butt but he can see me, hear my voice, and more important, I can see him. I do not have to worry if he is crying or if he decided to test gravity in his crib. Do not under estimate the power of a carseat. It might not work for everyone but it certainly worked for us.

We had an open top take along swing but Orion was never interested in it and it really wasn’t very portable. We put him in it a few times and he didn’t mind it but it was never a magic charm which would swing him to sleepyland. This was a hand me down which we later donated to Goodwill. I am glad we were able to try it out without spending the money. Go make friends with pregnant women and see if they are willing to swap stuff once they are finished with it. This was an item that was very bulky which I would not be willing to put into storage for years until baby number 2 shows up. I am sure many other moms get to a point where they really just want to downsize on the baby gear.

Most people have happy memories and childhood photos of them in a doorway jumper. When I was registering at Babies R Us, I assumed this was a must have. For Orion’s 4 month birthday, we instilled the Sassy Seat doorway jumper which he liked until he knocked his head into the door frame. His weight was never evenly distributed in the seat and he would end up being lopsided. He really loved the toys that came with that seat. Our pediatrician told us that he does not recommend these types of jumpers as they can cause hip issues. Thanks for telling me now Doc! But we did get some really cute pictures of a very happy Orion in his Sassy seat.

The Doctor recommended an exersaucer and I started to shop around. This is an expensive item which becomes obsolete once baby is walking or so long that he can stand up flat footed when seated. I looked at Kid to Kid for a used one but they all seemed pretty ratty. I ended up at Burlington Coat Factory and got a super sweet deal on a floor model. We love our exersaucer and the seat is removable for washing. It is also durable, Patrick fell on it once and it came apart into 2 pieces but was not damaged. Regardless of much we love this exersaucer, we will not be keeping it around once Orion outgrows as it takes up way too much space.

Highchairs are a wonderful thing and Orion loves being in the highchair and drumming on the tray. I often feed the baby when I am eating. Yes it is annoying and I have learned to use both hands, one feeding me and one feeding the baby. But I want us to have family meals and eat together. Orion likes to feed himself so I can get a bit of a break when I give him finger foods. There are many different types of highchairs so you can find one that works for your family.

If you plan on doing any traveling within your baby’s first year of life, you will need a pack and play/play yard. This was the first item we bought to have a place to put the baby down when we were downstairs at our old house. Orion was 4 weeks old when we bought it and even though we are now living in a one floor home, it is still set up in our living room. This is the pack and play we bought. It has hamper, shelves, bassinet, changing table, carry case, and a mobile with bears, lights, and music. Orion would lie in the bassinet and watch the bears with such intensity. They never put him to sleep but it kept him quiet and happy. The changing table was really great until Orion became too much of a wiggle worm. Now we use the changing table to put his coat and shoes on before we head out the door. This is an item that will grow with your child. The shelves that used to hold diapers, wipes, and burp cloths now hold Orion’s toys. Sometimes he will crawl over and help himself to a toy or two.

I hear a lot about Bumbo and sometimes wonder if we should have gotten one. I do not think Orion missed out on having one or that it would have been a magical answer to some prayer. If you do want one, buy it used. They are easy to clean and I have seen tons of these at Kid to Kid and on Craigslist. You might even be able to get a free hand me down from a friend or family member. There have been a few recalls on this item so be sure you are using it safely.

Bottom line, you need a carseat and you can use it in different ways. You need a highchair, and can find one that fits your price range and family life. Then it is a good idea to get a fun play seat for the baby and exersaucers seem to be the answer. If you will be traveling a pack and play is a necessity. Do you need anything else? Not really but that doesn’t mean you won’t want other things and you might find that they answer all your prayers.

When shopping for big ticket items, keep in mind that Babies R Us is always giving out 20% off coupons, use them wisely. When shopping for anything, ask yourself if you really need x, where will you put x once you bring it in the house, and how often will you use x. Try to practice mindful shopping.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When a parent gets sick

Recently, Patrick was sick with a stomach bug. This was the first time one of us has been really sick since Orion came into our life. I did not want me or the baby to get sick, so Patrick had to limit his contact with us and wash his hands constantly. It seemed to work as neither I nor the baby has yet to vomit. I did not get sick but it did leave me feeling like a single parent. I honestly do not know how single parents manage! My hat is off to you and wish you nothing but the best of luck. I am thankful for my husband in sickness and in health.

Patrick’s illness started Thursday night and continued until Sunday night. Friday went by without too much excitement. Saturday was such a beautiful day that it seemed to prove global warming. We live in Northern Virginia, it is late February and it got up to 59°. I am not sure what got into me but I was in super mom mode. Among other things, I cleaned the kitchen, went grocery shopping, and took both dogs and the baby for an afternoon walk. By the time I got Orion in his crib at 8 pm, I was exhausted. Yes, I did go to bed at 8 on a Saturday night. But I wasn’t asleep for long as Orion was up a few times throughout the night.

On Sunday, Orion was the only one who got changed out of his pajamas. It was late afternoon by the time I realized I had yet to brush my teeth or wash my face and I could not be bothered. It wasn’t until around that time that I realized Orion was cutting his 5th tooth. I knew 5 and 6 were on the way but didn’t even think they would pop up at a time like this. I was so exhausted and tired of Patrick being sick and Orion being fussy that my brain was not working.

Now that I knew Orion was working on a tooth, I could at least give him something to make him feel better. Oh how we love Hyland's teething tablets! I am amazed that we all got 8 hours of sleep on Sunday night! Monday has seemed to be easier to deal with because of a good night’s sleep. Patrick is not yet 100% and my on again off again week long migraine still pays me a visit. Thankfully, Orion has been less fussy and has not been in crazy play mode. His new tooth doesn’t seem to be causing him too much trouble today.

What can a parent do when they get sick? Sadly, the answer is nothing; you still have to be a parent. You can ask for help but if you are like us living without family in the area, you might not be able to get help. The best thing you can do is to try to not get sick in the first place. Wash your hands, avoid sick people, drink plenty of water, eat your vegetables, and get a yearly flu shot. There is still no guarantee that these steps will prevent you from getting sick.

The reality is that you will, at some point, get sick. Things that need to get done will not get done. Dishes might pile up, the dogs won’t get walked, and the floors won’t get cleaned. It really doesn’t matter as long as the kids are being taking care of and you are trying to get better. You have to push through it and hopefully your spouse will be able to help.

I know I will get sick and I have been waiting to get sick for months and months. I have spent a lot of time over the past 6 years being sick. A diagnosis was a long time coming but eventually it turned out to be M.S. Luckily I have been on a wonderful medication, Copaxone, for the past 3 years. It was this drug that gave me the good health to get pregnant. I stayed on the drug throughout my pregnancy and still take it daily.

I am trying to not fear the inevitable. When I get sick, I will deal with it because what other choice do I have. I am no longer the warm gooey center of my universe, Orion is and I wouldn’t change that. I just hope we never get sick at the same time!

How Friggin Cute!

It has been a rough couple of days at our house. Patrick started getting sick Thursday night and finally recovered Sunday night. And Orion has been cutting his 5th tooth!

Friday night after I got Orion to bed, I came out to find Patrick asleep on the living room floor curled up with the dogs. How friggin cute, right?!

We are so thankful for the three day weekend, hurray for presidents day!! And we all got 8 hours of sleep last night!!!! We will make the most of today, including roasting a pork shoulder and making chocolate pot de creme.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roadtrip tips

Here are some of my tips for traveling by car with babies. Of course, make sure the carseat is properly installed and that the baby is secure in the seat. Also note the expiration date on the carseat, these things are not built to last forever. And never buy a used carseat or buy a seat from Craigslist. You cannot be sure the seat was never in an accident. A carseat is not something you want to cheap out on buying.

•Fill up the gas tank when the baby is awake. Know how much gas you will need. Fill up if the baby is awake but your gas tank is not yet empty but you will need more gas eventually.

•Make sure the baby is well feed before you hit the road. The chaos of Grandpop’s birthday caused me to forget to feed Orion his sweet potato puree. I think this added to his subsequent breakdown a half hour from home.

•A clean diaper is a happy diaper. At home I use cloth diapers and change his diaper every 1 ½-2 hours. On the road, I use disposable diapers (we like Pampers) so I won’t have to stop as often to change dirty diapers. I also think he is more comfortable in a disposable diaper for long car trips as they are less bulky.

•Have some baby friendly music on hand. Sometimes we listen to the classical station but there are a few lullaby albums that we love as a family. Mumford & Sons Inspired Lullabies by Lullapalooza has worked like magic on many occasions. Rockabye Baby Lullaby Rendition of The Cure is also a standard. I want their Nirvana, Tool, and Radiohead albums for myself. I also downloaded 50 Greatest Baby Lullabies by Lullabye Baby Ensemble which has a nice variety and you can play guess what song this is.

•Have a favorite toy for baby to amuse themselves with. I get motion sickness very easily and cannot sit in the backseat. I have tried to sit in the backseat and soothe the baby when he is freaking out but that has only work 5% of the time. When baby wants to be held and fed, nothing else will do.

•If baby is awake, talk, sing, laugh, and be silly. When we had our 4 hour drive up to PA when Orion was 6 weeks old, I talked so much I thought my head would explode.

•Keep baby comfortable, not too cold and not too hot. Also protect them from direct sunlight.

•If you have to stop, pull over where it is safe and well lit. Ideally that would be a rest stop or gas station.

•Stay calm. If the baby cries, it won’t kill him. I did not learn this lesson until Orion was 6 months old and we left him with my mother-in-law while Patrick and I had dinner down the street with friends. When we came back Orion was happy so I assumed that everything had gone well. Then I was informed he cried for close to an hour after we had left. But he survived and still loved me and would not be scarred for life and end up on intervention because I left him for 90 minutes.

Traveling with babies is not an easy task so try to simplify as much as possible. If you forget something, chances are you will be able to pick it up when you reach your destination or you may forget that it was even forgotten.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Yes I know Valentine's Day was yesterday but I was too busy to write. Valentine's day always gets me thinking about venereal disease and I chuckle whenever I wish someone a "Happy VD". I wonder how many people contract a venereal disease on Valentine's Day. But I am getting way off track.

People always say that Valentine's day is a hallmark holiday developed by chocolate/card/flower companies. What is the Grinch equivalent for Valentine's day? I say so what, who cares who invented it! I like cards and chocolate and flowers! Some people need a day set aside to let their loved ones know that they ARE loved. Patrick and I tell each other and our son how much they are loved every day. It is still nice to set aside one day as a special day of love. And it doesn't need to be fancy or break the bank.

To show my love for husband, I cooked dinner and dessert from scratch. This is something I am trying to do more of these days. I can wear Orion on my back in the Beco and manage to cook and clean. He will usually fall asleep when I wear him which is a funny sight when he is on my back.

As his 9 1/2 month old neck is still mostly jello he does not wake up with a sore neck. I do wish I could attached the hood once he is on my back and asleep but I am not double jointed. It took awhile before I felt comfortable and safe cooking with him on my back but that is a blog post for another day, so stay tuned.

I made pot roast and chocolate mousse. I love making pot roast as it is easy, delicious, and a one pot meal. I found time to cut up the mirepoix the day before. I like to cut the carrots, onions, and celery on the chunky side. The addition of extra carrots makes it feel like we are actually eating some vegetables. I should have made a salad but shoulda coulda woulda and we were full enough after dessert. I seasoned the chuck roast with salt, pepper, Hungarian paprika, and some other spices. Then brown the meat all over, remove from heat, add mirepoix, garlic, stock, wine, better than bouillon, and add the meat back to the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and put in the oven at 350° and bake for about 4 hours. 3 1/2 hours in to cooking, I add a cup of rice to soak up all the delicious juices. The air smelled so good and comforting. It really pissed off Fizgig as he could smell that the air had a flavor but not a taste he could sink his teeth in to.

Doesn't the strawberry look like a heart? Or a tongue, either way I'm cool. The Chocolate mousse was more of a challenge. I attempted to make it a day ahead but failed. The recipe I was using was David Lebovitz's "Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate mousse" A bit schizophrenic especially when you take into consideration the Alton Brown Good Eats episode I had been watching which lead me down the path to destruction. My first attempt melting the chocolate left me with a bowl full of diarrhea.

When I fail at cooking or baking, it really bums me out. I wasted 6 ozs of chocolate, 6 ozs of butter, and 1/4 cup of coffee. I hate wasting food and money not to mention my time which is precious like truffles these days. It also reminds me of when I was 10 or 11 and attempted to make cookies but left out some vital ingredient. They came out a total mess which my mom was left to clean up. I can still see her scraping the cookies into our backyard on a dark spring evening. She never let me forget that cooking disaster.

The Valentine's Day attempt at making mousse was a delicious success. Rich with deep chocolate flavor and a firm but creamy texture. I made some balsamic strawberries to top the mousse. This is ridiculously easy and very tasty. Cut berries, add 1 TBS sugar, and 2 TBS balsamic and macerate for at least an hour. It was perfect to balance the rich chocolate. And we had a nice sparking Rosé to wash it all down.

Orion did not get much out of this national day of love. I love him and spoil him everyday so I figured I would focus on my husband. Patrick has a better chance of remembering this Valentine's day where Orion never will. I do look forward to Orion being in school and giving out Valentines day cards. I have been trolling the internet for free printable downloads, get 'em here:

I like to think I am a good gift giver. About 2 weeks ago, I went on Shutterfly and made a 20 oz travel mug for Patrick as a Valentine's gift. He is a big coffee drinker and may have to visit 4 different offices in a day. Now he can caffeinate and show off his cute baby boy. It was really easy to put this gift together. I think it took me all of 20 minutes. This gift was personal, has both form and function, and I kinda made it. Patrick gave me some books on learning to sew to enhance my craftniess.

I like any excuse to get dressed up (which I didn't as we were not going out but at least I was not in my pajamas), enjoy a special meal, give gifts, and show appreciation. You don't have to turn it into a big commercial Hallmark holiday. You can make it your own, make your own Valentine's card or gift or chocolate or plant flowers that will bloom every spring. Make love anyway you want!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Big Day Out

This past Saturday we celebrated my maternal Grandfather's 90th birthday. We were determined to attend this event despite the 6 hours we would spend in the car and the forecast for snow. I grew up in Philadelphia and will always call the city of brotherly love my hometown. We moved to Northern Virginia 4 years ago and I try to get up to Philly a few times a year to visit friends and family. Since having the baby, visiting has become more difficult. My mother passed away in 2005 and my father passed away when Orion was just six weeks old. Since losing both my parents I find it more important than ever to maintain ties to our extended family.

I thought we would leave around 1:30 or 2 as the party started at 5 and the journey takes about 3 hours. When I conferred with Patrick at 10:20, he suggested 11 or noon. I said fat chance on getting me out the door in 40 minutes. So I jumped in the shower, got dressed, and put my face on. I do not wear makeup very often but for family events and special occasions I take this extra step. But honestly, I never feel like I know what I am doing. I am just playing with my crayons. When it comes to eye makeup, I feel I have it down thanks to the diagram on the package. My chapstick addiction makes lipstick a bit more difficult. Also I hate the smell and taste of most lipsticks. When it comes to foundation, I am really clueless as my skin is so fair and pink. At the end of makeup play time, my husband deemed me presentable for public display. One day I may have to test him and see if he would let me out of the house looking like a hot mess.

Being a stay at home mom, I don't have many opportunities to get dressed up. Some days I never leave the house or get out of my pajamas. There was a time when I was really in to fashion and sometimes I miss getting dolled up. So I wasn't going to let a long ass car ride prevent me from wearing something nice. I never had a doubt as to what I was going to wear. But once I got in the car and sat down I started to think that a high waisted skirt and Spanx may not have been the best choice. It was too late to turn back. The words of my mother, "beauty is pain" rung in my ears.

We hit the road around noon and even though there was some snow on the roads, they were not as bad as we had anticipated. We hit the rest stop in Delaware just north of the Maryland boarder. Orion had been sleeping up to this point and I had to resist the “oh shit he is awake, must put my boob in his mouth” urge. Our first road trip was a 4 hour drive up to Gilbertsville, PA when my father died. Orion did a good job sleeping on the road but lost his shit in the final 20 minutes. When we got to my Aunts, lil' man was a hot sweaty mess. When he was 9 months old, we made the 10 hour trek to Michigan to visit my in-laws. He slept like a champ but once again couldn't stand to be in the car for another second once we were a half hour from our destination.

When Orion cries in the car, I shut down and it used to really pain my boobs. When you are so close to your destination, there is really no point in stopping, getting him out of the carseat, nurse him up, and put him back in the seat. He will just cry some more when he gets put back into the seat. Thanks to child safety laws you can no longer hold a baby in a moving car. This is a good thing, but not something you can explain to an upset baby.

True to form, Orion spent the last 15 minutes of the journey fussing. Getting off 95 at Broad Street, I was excited for Orion to be in Philadelphia. He would not remember this trip but I was driving through my past with my present and future snuggled in the car. We parked in Center City as the bell tolled 3. We had time to kill, so we visited a friend and enjoyed one of my favorite Philly treats. No, not a cheesesteak (they are way too hyped up), not a soft pretzel (this is a food item I wish would catch on like the cheesesteak), but Capogiro gelato.

Best place on earth to eat ice cream! I have been a fan of theirs since they opened and visit whenever I can. We have even flug (mailed in husband speak) some to relatives and have been meaning to do the same for myself. I love their Rosemary Honey Goat Milk flavor, but I digress. After gelato and another trip up to our friend’s apartment to nurse up the baby, we were back on the road.

We made it to the party in Germantown at 5. Orion spent the 45 minutes car ride sleeping but woke up once we arrived. I had only told an Uncle and one cousin I was coming as I wanted it to be a surprise. My mother was one of nine, and those nine had 32, and now my grandfather has 21 great grandchildren. When we get together it is very overwhelming as there are so many of us. Saying hello and goodbye takes forever. It was great to see everyone for such a happy event and well worth the trip.

We headed for home around 8:30 despite the many offers from various relatives to spend the night at their house. We didn’t want to haul all the stuff necessary when traveling with a baby for just one night. Plus, our 2 little dogs at home need caring for and we love our dog sitter but 2 visits are way cheaper than 4 or 5. This would also give us Sunday at home to decompress.

It had started to snow and was hella windy. The roads didn’t seem that bad but people were driving like morons. When we stopped to get gas in Maryland, some asshole was trying to merge on to 95 going 35 miles per hour. The stop for gas had woken up the baby and he started to cry. We were only 30 minutes from home and I just wanted to get there. The whole thing made me want to pull my hair out.

We got home around 11:30 and I was ready to rip off my Spanx and peel off my face. I got more comfortable while Patrick took care of the baby and got him ready for bed. Sadly, bed would not come anytime soon. It was after 2 a.m. when I got to sleep and I think I had to bring Orion into the bed with us but it is hard for me to remember. Sunday was a day spent in my jammies not leaving the house. In the afternoon, Orion and I took a nap together and after he woke up I was able to pass him off to Patrick. This allowed me to double my total naptime, score one for the momma.

Was it worth it? Yes, yes it was. I was happy to celebrate my Grandfather's long illustrious life. Coming up next will be a few tips I have learned for traveling with babies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baby Name Game

We had a bunch of different names picked out for a girl. My husband has always wanted a girl but I was pulling for a boy. He grew up surrounded by women and most of his friends are women. I was a girl myself and I remember playing tug of war with my mom while she brushed my messy locks. I also remember fighting with her about what I was going to wear and how difficult I was in general. I was not ready to go through all that. But I have always considered naming my daughter Charlotte after yours truly. We have 4 generations of Tom in our family. Names get passed down Father to Son, why not Mother to Daughter. So I do hope that our next baby (yes there will be another) will be a girl.

We had no interest in waiting to find out the sex of the baby. There will be plenty of surprises and I wanted to actually know something about my baby before his big debut. I was a high risk pregnancy and had ultrasounds every few weeks and spent too long convinced that our baby would be faceless as he was very camera shy. But he did love showing his junk! We have many ultrasound pictures with little arrows pointing to his penis exclaiming "BABY BOY". Plus, people want to buy stuff for the baby and I did not want to end up with a ton of yellow and green gender neutral stuff.

Naming our son was a big challenge. Patrick suggested Django, I suggested Hunter. I can hardly remember most of our other suggestions. My desire for Hunter would not be squelched, so I suggested Orion. We figured everyone knew the constellation Orion (but they don't). The name would be different yet familiar. Everyone (not everyone) has a memory of star gazing with their father who points out Orion's belt. I know I had that connection. Orion is my favorite constellation partly because it was so easy to find.

We had the first name down, which took forever but then we had to come up with a middle name. It had to be something normal. If he hated his first name he could fall back on his middle name. I hope he never hates his name but it may take a while for him to grow into it like it did for me( Patrick did not want to use any names from the bible but in the end, this rule was broken. I like using a grandparents name as a middle name. We went with his paternal grandfather's first name, James. He was usually called Mac and Patrick had suggested this name but Mac McConnell was just too much.

Once you have the name, do you tell anyone? We told people, we didn't see the point in keeping it a secret. No one was going to ruin that name for us and we weren't worried about anyone stealing the name. After our son was born, we found out Patrick's dear old friend was a bit upset because we had accidentally "stolen" the name she had her heart set on for her second child. Since she hasn't started on child number one yet, nobody got too bent out of shape. When I asked her what name she had picked out for her first child, she refused to spill the beans just in case we happened to love that one too. I would be happy for her to name her child Orion as I think it is nice to know someone with the same name. All the Charlotte's I ever knew growing up were older than my grandmother. I hear this name a lot these days and am very happy to see its surge in popularity.

The day after we decided on Orion, Patrick got a work email from Major Orion So and So of the US Army. How odd that a name we never saw used in reality would pop up so quickly. It was nice to know there was another Orion out there. We may never find a personalized licence plate, toothbrush, or pen with Orion's name on it but we are crafty people. I own some Sharpie pens and it is amazing what you can find on the internet.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


We call Orion by many different names. We call him baby boy, fussy pants, ginger snap, monkey, and doodle bug. When he is nursing, I call him my piglet. When he is crawling, I call him komodo dragon but sometimes it comes out like kimono dragon which is a funny image.

When naming a child, you have to take possible nicknames into consideration. As his full name is Orion James McConnell, we hope people don't call him OJ or Jim. I am cool with James but opposed to Jim because I do not see any reason to shorten an already one syllable word. People often think his name is Ryan or O'Ryan and this will be a life long struggle which I did not anticipate.

Growing up named Charlotte Media Hirst, I hated my name. It was weird followed by weirder. At least Orion is a weird name followed by a normal name. Media was my grandmother's first name and we sadly do not know its origin. It wasn't until I was in high school that I became proud of my name. When I was in elementary school I was obsessed with normal names like Jenny and Jessica.

I have had a few nicknames, most of which were for family use only. I was Char-la-la, La La Orange, Charlie Bum, and Messy Marvina. This last one was because I always got ketchup on my sleeve and made a general mess of myself when eating and still do. When my brother was home for my wedding in 2005 he called me Char Char Binks. I never liked being called Char and did not realize until I was old enough to vote that I could have been called Lotte.

I prefer to be called Charlotte. I call my husband Patrick and refer to him as Pat on occasion but only in writing. I hope Orion likes his name and nicknames. Do you have any good nicknames?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby Boy's favorite toys

Orion was never interested in pacifiers and it took him awhile to see the fun of rattles. He does not yet have an attachment item, a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. His favorite toys are things I probably should not let him play with. One would be the dog's water bowl, he loves to splash in it but we try to discourage this behaviour. If baby boy is going for a crawl about I put the water bowl on the counter. Funny that he likes to splash in that tiny tub when he was not interested in the big swimming pool last summer.

Sometime we keep Fizgig on his leash inside because it chills him out. Orion loves chasing Fizgig and grabbing the leash and swinging it around. This looks very cute, like that baby is going to take the dog for a walk. But one day Fizgig ran for something while Orion was holding the leash and Orion fell over. He did not cry or get hurt or get dragged and honestly it looked very funny. But it was really not cool and eventually when Orion is holding that red leash, it will end up in his mouth. I do clean the leash but there is really no way to sanitize it so we don't mind Orion holding the leash but take the leash away when it gets in his mouth.

In the mornings when we lay in bed, Orion crawls to the head of the bed. He climbs to his feet supported by our headboard and grabs the cord of the venetian blinds. He chews it and twirls it then shakes all the blinds. He does this while I supervise and remind myself that I need to learn baby CPR. isn't there a warning on venetian blinds or their cords which say they are a danger to children? Its not like I let him play with dry cleaner bags.

Just last week he discovered the light switch above his changing table. Changing him has become very difficult as he wants to roll over, crawl, and chew on the changing table. He found the light switch and was able to turn it off but it was a few days before he could turn it on. I would say off and he would turn it off then I would say on and he would turn it on, coincidence? But he became obsessed with the switch and we were forced to move the changing table. This is the first time a friend of his has moved away.

He is fascinated by the electrical outlets which are childproof. He does not spend much time investigating them and moves on to the apron strings that hang near by then heads for the water bowl, dog food bin, and trash can. He tries to pull himself up on everything including the recycling can but these efforts are discouraged. We have two cushy couches, a leather ottoman, a grey bench, a blue plastic stool, and a grey plastic hand chair that he can pull himself up on under supervision. He loves to test gravity and has taken a few Nestea plunges.

As he is teething, his love of chewing on metal has grown. I have not found any metal teethers and the metal baby spoons I own are from when I was a kid and who knows what could be in them as safety standards were not where they are today. When Orion crawls in the living room he hits a fork in the road and will either go right to chew on the chrome wheels of my modern black leather rocking chair or go left to play with the metal dog crates. He likes to swing the doors open and closed on the crates. He will chew on them as well as the food bowls that hang on the front. This is fine as long as Fizgig is not locked in his crate. That is the only time he will bark at the baby. I am waiting for the day when Orion crawls inside on of the crates. I will get my camera and take a few pictures before removing Orion from the crate. Yes, I do look forward to this photo op and do not want to stage this cuteurtunity.

Orion has discovered the door stop behind his bedroom door and the front door. The one behind the front door makes a much better "sprrrooonnngggg" sound. I like it when he plays with this as I can hear where he is and what he is doing. This gives me time to put the laundry away or use the bathroom. But if I don't hear that sound for a bit then I must investigate as he may be trying to pull himself up on the ceramic umbrella stand. I do worry that my husband might come home one day while the baby is behind the door.

I think Orion might grow up to be a drummer. He bangs on everything, chairs, the floor, the bathroom scale, the plastic calculator on the desk, my chest, and his daddy's bald head. But his favorite drum is a round Tupperware container filled with dog kibble. We keep this bribe jar by the couch as Fizgig is prone to a spot of fuckery and is very food motivated. Orion will bang away on this drum and eventually start to chew on its plastic lid. This we try to discourage as it must be dog food flavored by now. Maybe it is time I bust out the pots and pans for him to bang away on in the kitchen while I attempt to cook a meal for the first time in ages.

Why do all babies love remote controls and cell phones? He is forever going for these devices and we have 3 remote controls and 2 cell phones in the house. Often he will change the channel when I am watching something on the DVR. Orion is the only one who has gotten the picture in picture to work on our Google TV and I have no clue how he did it. I understand that cell phones are insanely dirty so I do try to keep it away from him. The remote is another matter, I am thinking of buying him one of his own to play with and not a toy version but the real thing.

I try to balance Orion's baby freedom with my don't touch that it will kill you impulse. I am a stay at home mom who does not have high expectations for what I want to accomplish in a day. My days are mostly spent chasing the baby, guarding him so that when he pulls himself up on the blue stool he will not fall to the left and crack his head on the bookshelf. There is apart of me that is afraid to leave him alone in his crib as I have seen him pull himself up then let go and fall back. And don't suggest crib bumpers, I know they make breathable version but he will eventually use it as a step to escape his baby jail.

I do miss the times when I could put him down and he would stay where I put him. Or when the farthest he could go was just to roll over once and had yet to figure out how to log roll around. Or even the good old days when he really liked being in his exersaucer. Now that he can crawl, it is all he really wants to do but he will hang out in his exersaucer on his own terms. He was 9 months old when he got his first boo boo from falling off the bed. I admit, I fell asleep for a second and woke up in time to see his legs go over the edge of the bed.

He will get hurt and I will try to prevent injury but I will not prevent him from exploring his world. I will be there to pick him up when he falls and kiss his boo boos when he cries.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Sunday Sunday

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. For most Americans this is a day of football, food, and beer. But for our household, it is the best day of the year to go food shopping. Yes, my husband and I look forward to this day and wait for kick off before we go ransack the Wegman's. The market is less crowded and the people shopping are less brain dead. Also, the store was ready for an influx of customers and check out lines were shorter. I actually saw a check out girl tonight with no one in her line which never happens any other time I go shopping.

But tonight while wandering the gigantic store, there was apart of me that wanted to be hosting a Super Bowl party. It would give me an excuse to buy a giant pretzel slathered in crab dip or the bacon and chive cheese spread. I really want to have a bad cheese party with Port Wine cheese balls covered in nuts, Gourmandise and the worst cheese you can find. There are so many cheeses on supermarket shelves that I am convinced taste horrible but have no evidence to back up that assertion.

We are obviously not a football family and not much for sports in general. The sports category in Trivial pursuit is our Achilles heal. Patrick, being from outside Detroit is a Red Wings hockey fan and I am a Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse fan. But no sport whips me into a frenzy and forces me to buy expensive tickets or set my DVR. Patrick is way more interested in the Tour de France and will watch coverage but is nice enough not to subject me to any of it.

I wonder about the impact this might have on my son as we do not have a football, basketball, or baseball in the house. We do have some mini lacrosse sticks and tennis rackets that have never been used. I can see us getting a baseball to have a nice friendly game of catch in the yard which will turn into a game of keep away form Fizgig. Any tennis ball he sees becomes his property and do not leave Squeeky alone with a tennis ball as he will shave it to make it as hairless as he is.

Most sports are violent and I don't mind watching violence but I really don't want my kid to participate in the violence. I also do not want to deny my son the things he wants. If he wants to play sports, I will go to every game I can. I might not know what is going on or the rules of the game but I will cheer him and his team on and be excited when they win and supportive when they lose. I hope that by the time he is ready for organized sports some new invention will have come along to make the game safer.

When I was in middle school I did play Lacrosse. No one wanted to be the goalie so I fell on that sword. I remember the pads we wore on our legs were really shitty and on more than one occasion I got large round lacrosse ball shaped bruises on my inner thighs. But that did not turn me off from the game. I got really into the whole team sport thing and would paint my face green and white for game days. By the time I got into high school I was too cool for all that which was kind of a shame. I was too punk by 9th grade but who knows, maybe I could have been really good...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yes, another blog

Being up late at night, nursing a baby, I am glad I have my smartphone to entertain me and help me stay awake. I found myself finally reading the many blogs on my gReader, and then looking for more once I'd finished those. I was checking out a few of the Top 50 mom blogs on ( ) and I thought, 'hey I could do that'.

I've had other blogs. I started in July 2009. It is a cheese and food focused journal, but some of my life has crept on to it. But my life is less and less cheesy these days. So I decided to start a new blog about what else is going on in my life. Charlotte's Cheese Dreams is not dead, it's just that these days most of my conversations are about poop.

So this blog will be about babies, boobs, and cuteness. I love and have been brought to tears by the cuteness of otters and pomeranians. I am a sucker for cute and before the cutest baby came along I was a fur mom to two of the cutest puppies. So our cast of cute for this blog is:

Squeeky - Chinese crested hairless born 7/2005, added to the family 10/2005
Fizgig - the super sized Pomeranian born 1/2006, added to the family 2/2006

Patrick - super cute and super smart husband and father
Orion James - the cutest baby boy

Since giving birth to my son 9 months ago I haven't had much time to write. I hope this blog gives me an excuse to put the baby down and write. My husband and I still cannot get over how cute our baby boy is and exclaim multiple times a day that he is so friggin cute, hence the name of this journal. I had a hard time picking a name for it, since many of the names I wanted were already taken or had dirty connatations that I was unaware of.

Some titles that almost were:
Orion's mom
blah blah blog
not another blog
pancakes for dinner
giggle butt
boobies for babies
my heart has legs
Orion is my heart
so that's what boobs do
a new level of love
staying home
we made life
melting heart
i am not the most important
slipping down the totem pole
cupcake burrito
my heart on the outside
pee pee pants
the brown crayon
even is not fair
freshly made bed

Finally, a warning:

Even though this blog is about babies, it is not for babies. One of the biggest challenges my husband and I face in raising our child is cleaning up our own potty mouths.It will contain adult language and mature content. F-bombs and the like will be dropped here, and I do not want to hear any bitching.