Category Archives: being a mom

Photoblogging: Mother’s Day 2014

Yesterday I enjoyed a low-key Mother’s Day, my fourth as Coraline’s lucky mom. We started the day with brunch — Coraline’s favorite meal — at The Egg & I, our first visit and one of the few places with a less than two-hour wait. Then we came home, where Rich and Coraline presented me with cards and presents. Coraline’s card made me cry (Rich chose well), while Rich’s was sweet and heartfelt. They gifted me with Lily Allen‘s new album, Sheezus, which I really like; a gift certificate to my favorite Italian restaurant, Altruda’s; and the Evil Dead Blu-Ray, which is a huge deal. It’s a huge deal because while I LOVE horror movies, Rich does not. At all. So he really took one for the team, because now that I own it, he knows there’s a chance he might have to watch it with me. That’s a good man right there. As far as Coraline is concerned, it’s a “people” (read: adult) movie that she can’t watch for a very long time.

Rich then offered to watch Coraline so I could enjoy a solo trip to Barnes & Noble without my tiny bookworm in tow — so luxurious. After the bookstore I went to my parents’ house to give Mom her card and presents. Coraline will be personally presenting her abuela with her Mother’s Day card today; we knew she’d want to do that herself. I got home, hung out a bit more, then when Coraline went down for her nap, I passed out on the couch with my cats. Then it was time for dinner, which we picked up from a nearby restaurant, and more family time. All in all, it was another great Mother’s Day. I’m really fortunate to be mom to such a fabulous kid, which I would never be without an equally fabulous husband.

Speaking of, said husband indulged me and took some pics of me with our curly-topped cutie to commemorate the day.


Coraline insists she be called Darth Vader when wielding this little inflatable light saber.


A kiss from Mommy




A kiss from Coraline


A BIG kiss from Coraline


She’s very into making silly faces for photos these days.


Me and my little girl


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The Numbers on the Scale

Song Lyric of the Day:

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful? / Would you let me see beneath your perfect?

Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande / “Beneath Your Beautiful

For the past few weeks I’ve gotten back into something of a fitness routine. I’m now on three weeks of only taking the stairs at work (my cube is on the third floor), I walk the track at work when I can despite the ridiculous heat these days, I’m wearing my pedometer again to track how many steps I take each day, and I’ve started using our home gym again. I’ve even worked up to running part of the time I’m on the treadmill, which I usually have set on 3.9MPH, a speed at which I can easily maintain my natural native New Yorker walking rate. We’ll see how I do when I increase the speed soon.

Coraline is curious about what constitutes exercise. She loves pointing out that those runners we passed, the soccer players we saw, the kids shooting hoops were all exercising. Rich and I have explained to her that exercise is a way to stay healthy: It gets your heart pumping harder, which is very important since our hearts need to be healthy to keep everything else working well. She has no concept of exercise as a means to weight loss, which is perfectly fine by me. The longer she only sees it as a means to being healthy, not skinny*, the happier I’ll be. I worry about her future body image, when other kids might pick on her for being what they perceive — what society dictates — to be overweight or even if she’s underweight, which I was growing up and into my young adulthood. Being asked by perfect strangers almost everywhere I went if I had an eating disorder (what I had was ridiculous metabolism) took its toll on my self-esteem and confidence. That I know from.

So it’s because of all the baggage that’s attached to exercise and eating healthy that I never let her see me weigh myself. Yes, I started working out again because I’d like to look and feel better. I want to shore up the wobbly bits. I want to increase my endurance, which the stairs and cardio are definitely helping with. I’m trying to make smarter choices about what I eat because without that, exercise alone won’t get me very far. Admittedly, that’s a struggle for me, but I’ve definitely been doing a lot better of late. And, most importantly, I want to be as proactive as I can regarding my health so I can see my daughter grow up.

I do attach some importance to the numbers I see on our scale. I am happy when I see that number inching down bit by bit, pound by pound. I don’t want to lose that much weight — between 5 and 7 lbs. — but I do want to lose it. When I weigh myself, it’s when I’m all by myself and Coraline isn’t there to see. Not because I’m ashamed or anything, but because I don’t want her to start attaching importance to the numbers she sees, certainly not at the tender age of 3 1/2. She just thinks the scale is this neat little thing to stand on in the hall bathroom. She has no idea what the numbers on it mean, even though I do.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

*Rich and I never use the words “skinny” or “fat” to describe people. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know exactly what those words mean.


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The Little Social Butterfly

Song Lyric of the Day:

(When it gets loud, I turn it up) / Shake it like a bad girl up in Harlem / (When it’s too hot, I light it up) / Ooh, light it up, yeah, smoke em if you got ’em

New Politics / “Harlem

The other day Coraline got an invitation to a friend’s birthday party, this one for a zoo extravaganza. That’s when it hit me: My 3 1/2-year-old has a more active social calendar than I do. Sure, Rich and I went to our friends’ baby shower this past weekend, which was a blast and where we made some good new friends. But that was one of our few and far between social engagements these days. Coraline, on the other hand, has been to a couple of birthday parties recently, then has two upcoming parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend. As for my and Rich’s social calendars, uh, well, we’ll be accompanying Coraline to two upcoming birthday parties on consecutive weekends followed by her first ballet recital the following weekend.

I do have to say, I’m proud that Coraline is nice, and well-behaved and well-liked enough to be invited to her daycare classmates’ parties, among other events. She’s also social to a fault. Just last night, Rich had to remind her that while it’s OK to say hi to and smile at people we pass or have brief encounters with, we don’t necessarily need to tell them our life stories. Let’s just say that Coraline is very well known by certain cashiers at Target, Barberito’s, and Trader Joe’s. She’s particularly fond of yelling, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” as we head out the door. After telling them what we’ve bought, where we’re going, who we’re going to see, and so forth.

Raising a confident child has definitely been at the top of my list as far as qualities I want to instill in Coraline, and so far, she’s got confidence to spare. It manifests itself in a love of performing (look for a Coraline-directed all-toddler version of Frozen coming to a playground near you in fall 2014), her imaginative play, her eagerness to make new friends everywhere she goes, even her at times let’s say unique fashion sense. So far, so good on the confidence front.

Now if I can just figure out how to help her retain her self-confidence as she grows older.

Who's a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!

Who’s a social butterfly? Why, little ole me!


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Melatonin Down Bedtime

Song Lyric of the Day:

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping / Hill and vale in slumber sleeping / I my loving vigil keeping / All through the night

Harold Boulton / “All Through the Night

The last few weeks, Coraline has experienced a drastic personality change at bedtime. She went from this:

Video uploaded by thebrushborder

To this:

Video uploaded by babylonsfalling

We have no idea what caused the change. She used to be so easygoing and ready to go to sleep for the night after reading some books (oh, how I rue the day I introduced her to my old Disney reader of Three Little Pigs). Then bam! — she’d start screaming like she was dying the second you closed her bedroom door. Seemingly overnight what used to be a pleasant half-hour of quality bonding time turned into up to two-and-a-half hours of Rich and I tag-teaming each other, taking turns trying to calm Coraline into going back to sleep. (Thankfully, she has not been having night terrors.)

A couple of weeks ago I got desperate and called our pediatrician for advice. His nurse promptly called me back and explained that at this age toddlers develop “bedtime resistance.” She suggested giving Coraline two milligrams of melatonin drops about a half hour before we wanted her to go to sleep. Since our bodies naturally produce melatonin, she said you could, in theory, take melatonin drops indefinitely (which we aren’t going to do). Desperate for a return to normal evenings and uninterrupted sleep, Rich and I went straight to a vitamin store after work to buy some. We were giddy at the thought that something might finally help Coraline go back to her old non-screaming, non-head-spinning-and-pea-soup-spewing sweet, sleepy self. I very well may have skipped into the vitamin store.

That night we were only able to get one milligram of melatonin into Coraline, but it did the trick. It was Rich’s turn to put her to bed that night (OK, so I chickened out and traded nights with him. She was THAT bad at bedtime), and he said that she got drowsy right on schedule. He put her to bed without incident, and we didn’t hear a peep from her until it was time to get up the next day. It was glorious.

We’ve made giving her that milligram of melatonin part of her bedtime routine. It has an orange flavor, and since she loves taking medicine, it’s not a problem to get her to take it. We’ll probably stop giving it to her after a month, like her nurse suggested, and see if she’s been “retrained” to sleep by then. If she hasn’t, back on the sauce she shall go.

Now if only I could figure out a way to get her to sleep in on weekends …

Coraline with Red Panda and Nemo. Not pictured: the 72 other stuffed animals and dolls she sleeps with. (10/15/12)

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Dear Coraline: Month 11

Dear Coraline,

As of 1AM this morning, you turned 11 months old. Thankfully, this month has been far less eventful than last month was. If I had to guess your weight as of today, I’d estimate that you’re around 20 pounds (based on my biceps, anyway). You’re almost exclusively wearing clothes sized 12 months and — you guessed it — are still in size 3 diapers. You finally outgrew your infant car seat carrier: Day 310 saw you graduate to your official big-girl car seat, which is in our new car (a second big-girl car seat will be here soon for your poppa’s truck). You’re also so incredibly happy — you’re a delight to be around, smiling easily and making us laugh through your actions and facial expressions. And you are just gorgeous, with a full head of curly, fluffy hair, eight teeth (still), chubby little fingers and toes, awesome arm and thigh rolls, and a perfect, round belly.

HappyThis month, you’ve turned into my crazy, silly little monkey. You can stand up unassisted for several seconds at a time, and can walk several steps on your own before stopping and sitting down. You rarely fall these days, and when you do, you cry more out of surprise and frustration than actual injury. Although you occasionally do bonk your head — you’re lucky you seem to have your poppa’s thick skull. Basically, you never want to stop moving. You almost never want to stay in your play yard anymore, and you rely less and less on your dinosaur to walk, preferring instead to hold my or your poppa’s hand(s) as you parade around our house. You also love taking “wind sprints” along the length of the couch, jumping up and down, screaming with delight, and biting the cushions when you get to either end.

Standing TallYou first walked holding only one of my hands on day 314, going on to walk between your poppa and I around the basement for the first time, holding onto one of each of our hands, later that night. That was also the same day you seemed to purposely turn your dinosaur instead of going in your usual straight line. The next day you went on to stand unassisted for almost 15 seconds, a new record. You also cracked up your poppa that night by rolling around like Scrooge McDuck for a full five minutes on the downstairs dog beds (I was upstairs taking an online class at the time). I enjoyed witnessing your first true solo walk, from our ottoman to the couch, on day 316: You held your arms out Frankenstein-like and made it a few steps before falling. For some reason, later that night you did what can only be described as a Spider-Man crawl on the basement floor; your poppa and I found it quite amusing. The following day, you walked/ran on tippy toe (a habit of yours) from the ottoman to the sofa, then from the ottoman to me, then stood on your own while you drank from your sippy cup. That night we enjoyed a birthday dinner for your Auntie T, at which your cousin Elliott played peekaboo with you, cracking you up in the middle of the restaurant.

Mugging for the CameraAs the aforementioned rolls and round belly would attest, you eat very well. You weren’t crazy about your first taste of baked chicken (day 304), but now you love it. That was also the day you last had breastmilk; I’m happy I had enough stored to last until you were 10 months and 1 day old, since I never thought we’d make it that far. That night you demonstrated that you knew what “kiss” meant when you kissed both your poppa and I on request. You later made us laugh when you gleefully grabbed our cat Buster, who was trying to relax on the couch, and when you refused to go in the play tunnel we bought you, preferring instead to go (far) around it. Two days later (day 306), you waved when we asked you to. You really enjoyed — and still do — showing off that skill to whoever asked. Going back to new foods, you liked your first taste of cooked spinach, which you sampled from your poppa’s breakfast (day 313), as well as corn, which you tried the next day.

Walking!Your baby talk has finally evolved into a few discernible words. Your first word was “up,” said to your abuelo and verified by your abuela (day 309). That was also the day your abuelo let you try some ice cream; he said you wanted some since your cousin Stephen was having some. I’m sure you’ll love it someday, but right now you’re not a fan of how cold it is. You said “dada” (day 317) before you ever said “momma” (ouch). While your poppa swore he heard you say “momma” (day 324), I didn’t hear it that first time; I did hear what you said, but it didn’t sound like “momma” to me. I think your poppa was trying to humor me so I wouldn’t feel left out. It wasn’t until a few days later, when we picked you up from your abuelo and abuela’s house, that I finally heard you say “momma” (day 329). Your abuelo said that not only had you been saying it all day (yay!), but you’d been saying “poppa” for about a half hour before we picked you up. We find it funny that you said “dada” first since we always refer to your poppa as, well, “poppa.” But you’ve obviously heard other people refer to him as “daddy,” so we know that’s how you made the connection.

Saying hi to Mirror BabyProving once again that you are indeed your poppa’s daughter, you “played” Jenga (day 312) one evening, successfully getting six pieces out — the lowest piece being six rows down — before the tower fell over. During your second round, you got a piece in the ninth row down out before the tower fell over. All in all, not too shabby for your first time playing. You also appreciate how our game shelf is organized, trying to put back a game you’d taken out (day 325) before your poppa could do it for you.

As is typical, you have enjoyed many visits with family and friends. When your grandma and grandpa came over (day 318) to see you show off your walking skills, your grandma brought you her beautiful antique baby doll cradle, which you promptly squeezed yourself into. At dinner with them that night, you tried cucumber for the first time, which you liked. (It’s worth noting that cucumber came from your abuelo’s garden.) You tried ground beef for the first time (day 322) and LOVED it. To the point that you started eating it so quickly you ended up getting sick because you crammed too much in your mouth. At least I know that we can look forward to trips to a local burger joint when you’re bigger.

The Cora's in the CradleYou continually amaze us with your cognitive skills. It really is wonderful watching you learn new things and figure out things all on your own. For instance, your poppa used a cloth napkin to play peekaboo with you at Little Bangkok restaurant (day 323). Once you had the napkin in your own hands, you would drape it over your head, then quickly pull it off, smiling and laughing as you played peekaboo back. You learned how to back up your dinosaur on your own (day 324) when you got stuck. You mimicked me pointing out words during bedtime stories (day 331), and even turned the pages of your books when I asked you to (day 334). You also figured out my iPad very quickly, which I knew you would. That night we enjoyed some quiet time together, watching YouTube videos of hungry kittens and giggling babies (day 329) with you nestled into my side, sucking your thumb. Halfway through a kitten video, you turned to look up at me and flashed me the biggest smile. I love those sweet, stolen moments we have together.

CoyAlong with you learning new things comes you learning not to do certain things. You understand when we tell you “no” and “stop.” Of course, you didn’t listen too well one night and ended up dousing yourself with a glass of cold water because of it (day 327). We couldn’t help but laugh at your stunned expression before you started wailing; we dried you off and you calmed down pretty quickly. You’ve also taken to exploring the kitchen, trying to eat every cabinet doorknob within reach. You don’t like when Troubadour is crated for a time-out, working hard to figure out the latches to spring him from his canine hoosegow. You’re quite interested in a hole in one of the basement doors. When we tell you “no” to keep you from touching it (lest you get a splinter), you give us this look as if to say, “What? I wasn’t going to actually touch it,” before turning your attention to a door hinge or the door itself, acting as if that old wood is the most fascinating thing in the world.

The face of innocenceI can’t believe that in exactly one month you’ll turn one year old. Where have the last 11 months gone? You’ve gone from my tiny, 6-pound, 7-ounce newborn to a little walking, somewhat-talking dynamo. It’s such a privilege and blessing for me to watch you grow and learn, especially since you seem to be developing leaps and bounds every day now. I look forward to many more fun times with you, as well as our little stolen moments — I live for those hugs you give me when you walk into my arms, you know. I can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with our family and friends next month, and to experience all that your toddlerhood will bring. Until then …



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Dear Coraline: Month 9

*This was originally to be posted Thursday, June 23, 2011, the day you turned 9 months old, but thanks to a massive storm, power outage, an even worse storm, and other various disasters since then, it’s been delayed until now.

Dear Coraline,

As of 1AM this morning, you turned nine months old. The first day of this month (day 242) you had to go to the doctor, three days after you developed your first-ever fever. It turns out you had an ear infection, another not-so-fun first. You never let on that your ears were bothering you, so it’s a good thing the fever and your general misery tipped us off. You’d lost a bit of weight due to being sick and were down to about 17 1/2 pounds as of that doctor visit. Fortunately, you are now back to being hale and hearty and are rapidly gaining weight, including starting to outgrow a lot of your size nine months clothes (although you’re still in size 3 diapers). Your poppa agrees that we need to go shopping for some new clothes for you, which I love doing since baby clothes are adorable. Size 9-12 months, here we come!

Standing in cribYou’ve become a little nut this month, all personality and chattiness and ever-increasing mobility. You finally pulled up on your knees in your crib (day 243), prompting your poppa to hurry up and move your crib mattress from the middle to the lowest position, which worked out since on day 245 he caught you pulling all the way up to standing in your crib. I got lucky and saw you pull up to a standing position the very next day using your giraffe in your play yard. You spent all evening on day 249 pulling up using me and your poppa for leverage, making for a fun night for all of us. You’re quite fond of your downstairs play yard (which I like calling “the pen”) since you’ve got a lot of fun toys in there and are free to roam around however you want. As your mobility has increased, though, we’ve let you play free-range outside your play yard more often, which you love. You now take off crawling at warp speed in the blink of an eye, pulling up on the coffee table, couch, your play yard walls, even your exersaucer — whatever you can get your hands on. You’ve also developed a fascination with the fireplace, which we now have covered with bumpers for safety. And you made our day when you finally started to noticeably dance (day 265) to some of your toys’ music.

Standing tallYou sprouted tooth #7, the second left incisor on the bottom (day 242), and tooth #8, the second bottom right incisor (day 250), and enjoyed your first tooth brushing session on day 252. You are continuing to develop your palate, trying new foods more and more often. You’ve now tried squash (day 247); peas, which you LOVE (day 254); peaches, which you didn’t love (day 252); and even teething biscuits, which were a hit (day 255). However, it was on day 257 that you almost made your poppa’s heart burst with pride: You saw him eating broccoli and wanted to try it, and you LOVED it.

Mmm ... broccoliYour newfound mobility led to a very sweet moment on day 252, when you spotted our dog Caleb (still your favorite) on the floor nearby. You started crawling toward him and he started crawling toward you, and you giggled and smiled as he kissed you once you met up. That was also the same day you first cruised hand-over-hand around your play yard. We bought you a baby pool, but it was too cold the day we tried it out (day 255). You looked absolutely adorable in your bathing suit, though, and Caleb went nuts over your matching sun hat, kissing you until your hat flew off your head and you tipped over.

In search of a baby poolYou seem to have bypassed a lot of the social anxiety we’d been warned about. You study people very closely before deciding they’re worthy of a smile and have been very brave when new people have wanted to hold you. You did, however, leap into my arms at your ear infection recheck appointment when your doctor reached for you. You didn’t cry after seeing your abuelo for the first time in two weeks after he got back from Puerto Rico; we’d all expected at least a few tears, but you smiled as soon as you heard his voice. You’ve enjoyed visits here at our house with your other grandparents, too, and do really well with them both. Your poppa and I were particularly proud of how well you did during a sad occasion, the viewing of our friend’s father (day 270); you didn’t make a peep or fuss at all while we were there. One of your most significant social milestones came when we met up with a couple of my friends from high school and their babies (day 261). You liked Michelle’s daughter, Prisha, but you went absolutely NUTS over Neeta’s son, Armaan. I had to keep pulling you off him, you were being so aggressive going after him. I will say your poppa wasn’t too thrilled hearing about you chasing a boy at your tender age. I mean, just look at poor Armaan’s expression, then look at yours. Crazy, right?

When Arman Met Coraline

When Arman Met Coraline …

You enjoyed hanging out with your honorary grandparents’ grandsons Thomas and Matthew (day 268), particularly Thomas, who is 9 years old. That was the same day we went to a neighborhood association cookout and you met tons of new people all at once. You also saw some familiar faces, like our neighbors who have babysat you, which made you happy. You received tons of compliments and comments about your hair from just about everyone there. Oh, sweetie. Your hair. It’s taken on a life of its own. Most days it’s curly and cute as can be. Other days it looks like you scalped Little Orphan Annie and dyed her red hair brown. Either way, if I got a dollar for every time someone has commented on your curly hair, we’d have about half your college tuition by now. It’s insane the amount of attention your hair gets — insane.

Give me a head with hairPerhaps one of your best days this month fell, appropriately enough, on Father’s Day (day 269). We treated your poppa to brunch at Tomato Head and then enjoyed a walk around downtown. You were happy as a clam, snug and face-forward in the Baby Bjorn on your poppa’s chest, swinging your feet, flapping your arms, and smiling at everyone we encountered. I know that day meant a lot to your poppa, and you made it extra special for him. Later that day you enjoyed your first bottle full of water; the sippy cup is still a work in progress. That was also the day I got the biggest laugh I’ve ever gotten from you. I would creep up to you in your exersaucer and you would just die laughing. We were laughing so hard, in fact, I was almost crying. It was awesome, especially since you typically laugh more for your poppa.

Hanging out with PoppaYour ninth month ended on a literal dark note when a massive storm hit — the first time your poppa went out of town since you were born, no less — and we lost power (day 271). I don’t think you even noticed, to be honest. The storm was just starting when you went to sleep for the night, so you didn’t get to see me wielding a flashlight and lighting candles all over the house. I was just happy it turned out you didn’t need your nightlight or sound machine to continue sleeping happily. Small graces and all, especially since we still don’t have power. Yesterday, you started rolling your tongue and sticking it out the side of your mouth in concentration, which is too cute for words. I’ll do my best to capture that on film.

All in all, you continue to amaze me and your poppa with pretty much everything you do. You’re smart, sweet, and funny. You’re getting more affectionate, which is something I’ve been waiting for. You reach up for us to pick you up and bury your face in our shoulders or against our chests. You “kiss” us by either sucking on our noses or biting our lips. You grin from ear to ear when we walk in your grandparents’ house after work each night. You enjoy snuggling with us in our bed on weekend mornings. It’s the little moments like that and tiny gestures that make every single second spent with you the most meaningful ones. I look forward to a lot more of them in month 10.



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