Friday, April 29, 2011

Best Buys for Baby

I have a lot of stuff. And a tiny house. If only I had known what was a winner and what would ultimately become a loser. And while I realize that every baby and toddler is different, I thought I'd make a list of Best Buys in case someone else has low square footage and a hatred of clutter. Which I have.

The list isn't complete, and I hope to continue it throughout the next few weeks. Here are some essential baby needs, according to me.

Ikea highchair
Ikea highchair
Cheap, easy-to-clean, and you can take the legs off for easy travel usage.

Any kind that vibrates and has dangly things to amuse a baby.

Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp
Greatest book ever on getting kids to sleep and stop crying. Hands down.

Good for babies with sensitive skin and little rashes.

Wedge thing
For newborns. Keeps them on their backs, hugs them snug, easily washable.

Disposable bibs for lazy moms like me.

For wearing your baby. Not just for crunch moms. It makes shopping and housework easier. I got a cheaper Bjorn version, and it worked great.

These toys got a lot of use, and they're still being used. Babies laugh at their wobbliness. Toddlers still use them and come up with make-believe relationships and such. Also, Norah (a generally constipated little kid) always had a number two while playing, so I think they're relaxing, too.

Carseat Cozy
Carseat cozy
Hey, we live in Minnesota.

Play Mat/Gym
Yes, it's dumb that they call these "gyms." But it's a great little space for setting your baby down once in a while. Music, mirrors, squeakies, crinkles, and a semi-soft area for tummy time.


Friday, April 22, 2011

BC (Before child)

I love Norah so much, it's bordering on psychosis. But you can't help but grieve a little for certain parts of your life BC (before child).

5. Food.

I eat healthier now. More balanced meals, cooked at home. We have regularly scheduled meal times. This is good.

But I also miss eating lunch at 3 pm, and not giving a rip if I was hungry at dinner time or not. I miss eating ice cream or popcorn for dinner once in a while. I miss going out to dinner at restaurants without inevitably apologizing to someone or groups of people. I miss not worrying about whether or not someone will eat what I've made, or if they'll make a face and say, "Yuck!" I miss not having to clean food off of everything after a meal.

4. Grooming.

Yes, I still keep excellent fairly good personal hygiene. But I used to take decadently long, hot showers. Slather on lotion. Blow dry my hair. Wear clothes other than jeans and a hoodie occasionally. Paint my nails. Spritz on something that smells pretty.

Now a shower is kind of a pain in the ass. An annoyance, not a pampering session. In and out. Hair stays wet. Glasses on. Uniform of hoodie and jeans on. Nails bare. Now my fragrance only gets as fancy as when Secret deodorant comes out with a jazzy new scent, like "Truth or Pear."

3. Leaving the house.

And, yes, we leave the house. I get dressed, I attempt to get Norah dressed, she runs around giggling, sometimes crying, and dodging my lunges as I hold her coat open for her arms to go in. We find shoes that match. We make sure we have diapers, wipes, cell, and depending on the length of time out, possibly a back-up outfit, a bib, and a backpack with good portable toys in it. I corral Norah to the car, when she tries to veer off to run in the yard or chase a squirrel, strap her into her car seat, and then eventually sit at the wheel and drive away. This is all after we plan what time we can leave the house so that we do not interrupt any meal time or nap time or bed time.

BC? Grab coat, keys, bag, leave. Any time. Any place. No notice necessary. See you later.

2. Sleep.

Oh, sweet, sweet sleep. I don't think I can even write about this without tearing up. I would sleep in embarrassingly late on weekends, and take a nap after eating breakfast. I would stay up late without worrying about having to get up at 6. I would nap after work sometimes, if I had a bad day. I'd sleep throughout the night, every night.

I wouldn't wake up at every tiny little creak or squeak, and just lie there for minutes, eyes wide open, trying to identify said creak or squeak, whether or not it was a little person, or the house, or something outside. Or something outside trying to get inside. Or a rabid bat flying around the nursery. Or Norah getting out of her crib and juggling knives I left out in her reach accidentally. (Yeah. Sleepy Heather is a little unreasonable.)

1. Time.

I debated what would top the list: Sleep or Time. But, honestly, you get used to the sleep thing. It still sucks occasionally, but when you grumble about being up at 6 and you are dead set on being grumbly about it, and then you see your baby's beaming face upon your entry of their room, it's all good.

Time. The worst part of this is that I had no idea. I had no flipping clue how much time I wasted. I didn't think twice about spending an entire Sunday watching a shitty Real World marathon. An entire day! Maybe Saturday and Sunday, if there was an 100 Greatest Pop Stars marathon, too. And what the fuck did I care who was the 62nd greatest pop star, according to VH1? (Genesis sucks!)

Now, every free moment is carefully considered. Should I clean? Blog? Nap? Write? Call people? Pay bills? Go grocery shopping? Boredom is a thing of the past. There is always, always something to do, and it's not usually something fun. Fun is for Norah-is-awake time. Norah-is-sleeping time is all business. We will once in a while watch a TV show on Netflix. (Thank you, Netflix, for thinking of parents who still want to watch their shows once in a while. Now get more seasons of Dexter streaming!)

Had I known, had I even the faintest idea, I like to think I would have changed. I could have a PhD. I could have written a dozen novels. I could have had the cleanest house in town. I'd be up on all my communication. I'd be a kickass golfer, or some other hobby that takes time to hone. Who knows, I could be a world-famous clogger or horseshoe thrower. I had no idea what kind of time I had.

Oh, well. They say busy people are most productive! I'd better use the rest of my lunch period for doing dishes.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Norah, Ryan, and I went to the library with our pal, Sara, and her daughter, Samantha, who is a month older than Norah. The two girls are good friends-- always shrieking and jumping up and down when they see each other. Chasing each other, playing ring-around-the-rosie and such. And the library is a great place to meet when it's cold out (yeah, it's still cold. I live in Minnesota) because there are books (duh), a Lego table, puzzles, a coloring station, and the epitome of toddlerdom: a train.

After running around to each activity, the girls settled on the train. It is set up on a short table, so the girls each grabbed a little engine or car or whatever and happily ran them over the track as they walked around and around the table, occasionally screaming "Choo choo!" Sara, Ryan, and I sat down on the benches next to the table and chit-chatted.

(And before you gasp and clutch your chest at the thought of screaming in the library, the children's section is pretty isolated, and the children's librarian assured us that loudness is expected at times.)

Then a little boy, probably 4 years old, came over with his dad. He immediately started grabbing the unoccupied trains and held them tight to his chest, explaining to the little girls that he was playing now, and shoving his way through them. I couldn't understand everything he was saying, but I heard words like, "mine," "move," "no," and others, indicating that they were not sharing well.

Samantha got a sullen little look on her face and slowly walked over to us. She crawled up on the bench between Sara and I.

"Boy talked to me."

"Samantha, it's okay to talk to boys." Sara shook her head. Samantha stayed put, looking angry.

Then I heard raised voices.

"This goes up!" The little boy had his had on some kind of lever on the train set. A little red, plastic bump appeared on the track. He put his hands on his hips.

"Down!" yelled Norah. She flipped the lever.





The little boy turned to his dad, who was reading a magazine near by. His face went up to the ceiling, his eyes closed, and his mouth twisted and gaped open. I'd seen this two million times with Norah-- he was about to flip out.



As the dad tried to explain how sharing is nice, and tried to contain the little boy's tantrum, I rushed over and tried the same.

"Norah. You don't even know what this lever does. Why do you care if it's up or down?"

She furrowed her little brows. "Down."

After the parental interference, the train set was quiet again. Samantha came back to the train.  They walked with their trains around and around. Samantha and Norah still had serious looks on their faces, and kept their eyes on the intruder.

The little boy started telling them the names of each train. Then he started bossing the girls around.

"Shhh. Be quiet," Norah commanded.

"Norah! Use nice words," I said.

"Please," she muttered.

The little boy started lifting up the bridge, stopping the train action for the girls. Samantha's angry face returned, and she walked back over to Sara, still staring daggers at the little boy.

"You can't go there!" the boy said to Norah, blocking the track.

"You need go home," she said.

I resisted my urge to high-five her, and gave her a half-assed "Norah, that's not nice," for the benefit of the dad. Ryan didn't try to conceal his laughter.

Now, I at least realize what I'm supposed to do as a parent. I'm supposed to teach civility, sharing, cooperation, and all that stuff. I'm supposed to be teaching her that it's important to get along with others, even if you disagree with them. In fact, I'm a big fan of getting along with others.

But for some reason, I was proud of her. One, I realize that she's two. She's not going to talk it out with the kid. She's not going to ignore it. She's not going to suggest alternatives or feel empathy for another child who also hesitates to share and play nicely. So she's got to use what she's got. And she stuck up for herself and said no. (Or in this case, "down.") And two, she was kind of badass. Both of the girls were. They didn't let that boy boss them around, even if he was older and bigger. It was... awesome.

She hasn't yet been tainted by society's gender expectations, or my unconscious teaching it to her. Girls are taught to be nice, quiet, and above all, to be liked. Boys are praised for their strive, assertiveness, and leadership. She was doing what was purely in her nature-- not conforming to what is generally expected of little girls. She was tough.

While I wish boys (in general. A sweeping generalization) were taught a little more about compassion, nurturing, cooperation, and all that "girl stuff," for the time being, I'll settle for my girl being taught a little more about badassness. And I'll try my best not to squash out that assertiveness. It'll maybe even it up a little bit.

On a side note: Check out this artwork. You'll have to scroll a little down on the blog. It takes the most common words used in toy commercials, but it's split between toys marketed for boys and toys marketed for girls. It's a startling representation of what we value in the different sexes, as far as temperament and behavior.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dora Vs. Diego

Norah now only really watches two shows: Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go. This is fine with me, because I don't like 99% of kids' shows. So less for me to endure. Granted, I have to get off my lazy ass to play more, but my ass could use the exercise.

Lately she's been asking for Diego more than Dora. This makes me displeased. Why do I care, you ask? This is why:

1. Dora is for chicks, man
It's as if the people at Nickelodeon, and probably parents who spend their money on logo-ed items, saw the popularity of Dora and decided to make a "boy version." As if parents were appalled at the thought of their little men having Dora as a hero, or wanting to wear Dora pajamas or something. They specifically created Diego to cater to and perpetuate this archaic notion that girls should like girl stuff and boys should like boy stuff. Although, it's acceptable for girls to like boy stuff (Aw, she's a little tomboy! For cute!), but boys are to be nowhere near anything deemed feminine. Ridiculous. Why can't Dora be for everyone?!

Of course, my mom told me, as I was ranting about this issue, that they probably just were looking to make more money.

2. Diego's voice versus Dora's voice
I know people who want to stab their eardrums with ice picks when they hear Dora on, but Diego is worse. The emphasis on the syllables or beats of each sentence is exactly the same:

Bah BAH bah bah BAH-bah-bah BAH bah BAH! Bah BAH bah bah BAH-bah-bah BAH bah BAH!
The PUma is CHAsing the RED-eyed TOAD! We HAVE to save BAby Toad OR he'll DIE!

3. Diego is constantly saving animals that I have never heard of, making me feel stupid.
Although, I'd like to believe that many people don't know what a Kinkajou is.

4. The review at the end is pointless. 
It drags out the end, and it's even too simple for a 2-year-old child.

Does a fish live in water or in molten lava? Does a butterfly eat from a flower, or a rhinoceros ass?

5. Backpack could kick Rescue Pack's ass.

6. Bobos vs. Swiper
Come on! No contest. But I hate monkeys. Including Curious George.