Tag Archives: parenting

31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge Day 20

Day 20: Your biggest insecurity.

Being a good mom and parent. Coraline is my first (and likely only) child. I freely admit: I was virtually clueless going in. The most consistent contact I had with babies up until then was hanging out with or babysitting my nephews. Now, if I’d been about to adopt a puppy or a kitten, I would’ve known what to do with my eyes closed. But a baby? My baby? Talk about being terrified you’re not doing something right before you even start.

I skimmed through but didn’t actually finish reading most of the parenting books I bought or was given — there are so many books out there, and a lot of them give completely contradictory advice. Instead I Google things all the time (symptoms, milestones, etc.); I told Mom a while back I have no idea how she or anyone else parented without the Internet there to provide answers or support 24/7. I (and Rich) have learned a lot along the way, and continue to do so. We’ve turned to our family and friends who are parents whenever we’ve had questions or needed advice; thankfully, that hasn’t been a frequent or regular thing. Oh, and I call the pediatrician about the seemingly most trivial things. They’ve got a great nurse line, and I’d rather be safe than sorry when it comes to something I never have to think about for myself (is it OK to use Neosporin on a cut? How much allergy medicine since she’s under 2? Is it OK to have peanut butter in the house?).

I’m doing the best I can to be a great mom to Coraline, and I will continue to do the best I can for her. She and I (and Rich) have gotten very good at learning as we go. I will say I truly believe I am mom enough for her. She’s happy, she’s smart, she’s healthy (save for those blasted allergies), she’s kind, she’s sweet, she’s confident, she’s fearless. I’ve had a hand in a lot of that, you know.

Walking hand in hand (5/7/12)

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Mother’s Day 2012

Song Lyric of the Day:

That’s my daughter in the water / Every thing she owns i bought her / Every thing she owns / That’s my daughter in the water / Every thing she knows i taught her / Every thing she knows

Loudon Wainwright III / “Daughter

When I woke up yesterday morning and came upstairs (after having moved downstairs to our guest room with ear plugs so I could sleep in), Rich and Coraline were in the kitchen where Rich was busy cooking bacon. Coraline was wearing a tiny tiara and her purple footie pajamas, pushing the Swiffer around; she looked like a tiny Queen of Clean. After Rich assured me we could still go out for Mother’s Day, I of course jumped at the chance to go to Tomato Head (as I did last Mother’s Day). But before we headed out, Rich and Coraline presented me with my Mother’s Day gifts. Coraline gave me a cute Minnie Mouse card and recycling bins for the downstairs kitchenette, since she knows how I try to recycle as much as possible. She also gave me some exotic hot chocolate mixes, including a pink Hello Kitty powder; that one should be interesting. Rich gave me a couple of beautiful tealight lanterns for our bedroom, a bag of tealights, and a fancy French fry cutter (he knows me so well).

At Tomato Head we enjoyed a delicious brunch, where Coraline deconstructed my Belgian waffle square by square and berry by berry, and I got, let’s say, tipsy, after drinking a Mimosa. Turns out when you stop drinking save for one drink a year, it doesn’t take a lot to make the room spin. Since it was raining, we skipped our usual post-brunch downtown walk and came home so Coraline could nap and I could pass out. Despite trying for two hours to sleep, my nap was a no-go. We then enjoyed a nice dinner of leftovers from the 40th wedding anniversary party we hosted for my parents the day before (and which I’ll write about later this week). Basically we just spent a nice family day together, which made it a perfect Mother’s Day.

I like to think since my first Mother’s Day (look how tiny Coraline was — and how short her hair was!), I’ve become more confident in my parenting. I’ve certainly embraced how lucky I am to have such an even-tempered daughter, particularly when you know how, um, passionate, her parents can be at times. Sure, she gets mad when we tell her no, but does she sulk or pout? Nah, she moves on to the next thing. Which makes my job as her mom a whole lot easier. But even on Coraline’s worst day, it’s still my privilege to be mother to such a sweet, smart, funny, and gutsy little girl.

Princesses for Mother's Day (5/13/12)


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This Working Mother’s Typical Day

Song Lyric of the Day:

No one’s gone in vain / Here is where you’ll stay / ‘Cause life has been insane but / Today has been OK / Today has been OK

Emiliana Torrini / “Today Has Been OK

In a perfect world, one where I had better hair, bigger boobs, no mortgage, and was a published novelist, I wouldn’t have to work a day job. However, since I live in a world where humidity turns me into Roseanne Roseannadanna, padded bras are my friends, I have to pay for the roof over my head, and I haven’t managed to finish the fifth chapter of one of my books for I don’t know how long, I do have to work a day job. Thankfully, it’s a job I love working with a team of coworkers I love for a boss I love. I’m also incredibly fortunate that my boss allows me to work from home one day a week, which affords me some extra time with Coraline (although it’s great that she’s so good at entertaining herself since I am in fact working even though I’m home with her.)

So what is a typical work day like for me?


Wake up. Send the dogs out. Start Coraline’s morning bottle warming up. Prep the dogs’ bowls. Let the dogs in to eat. Pack Coraline’s diaper bag and bottle/food cooler for the day. Catch approximately four minutes of Morning Express with Robin Meade on Headline News while I drink my OJ and Coraline’s bottle finishes steaming. Grab Coraline’s bottle and go wake her up (usually with Rich).


Feed Coraline her bottle (some mornings it’s Rich). Discuss what our respective days look like. Hers: Hanging out with Abuela, playing/wrestling with cousin Stephen, and eating as many Goldfish as humanly possible. Mine: Working.


Dress Coraline for the day. Let her run around our bedroom while we get dressed for the day; she usually heads straight for my nightstand. Let Coraline brush her own teeth (it’s easier than trying to do it ourselves, and really, she’s not that bad at it). Fight to get toothbrush away from Coraline (downside to letting her brush her teeth: getting the toothbrush back).


Frantically grab all our assorted laptop bags, backpacks, shoulder bags, lunch bags, my purse, and diaper bag to get the car loaded. Bundle Coraline up (it is winter now, after all) and drive to my mom’s house.


Drop Coraline off at Mom’s house.


Get to work. Eat a granola bar or dry cereal for breakfast (yes, dry). Down my first of many glasses of water. Dive into email and start on my first work task.


Cave and put on my sweater since it’s COLD in the office.


Tune IPTV to Supernatural on TNT for background noise.


Steal a glance at Jensen Ackles.


Wonder how Coraline is doing and wish she was with me. Preferably not in my cubicle at work.


Grab a short lunch at my desk if I’m really busy. If I’m lucky, one day a week I manage to get away for an hour, just me and my book.


Call Mom to find out how Coraline’s doing. The usual: She resists napping early in the day, is eating well, is busy playing with Stephen, and will hopefully nap later that afternoon.


Listen to Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy on Lifetime while I work.


Find either chocolate or a soda as a pick-me-up from my post-lunch coma.


Mind starts to wander since it’s late in the afternoon.


Rally and manage to refocus on work.


Leave work. When exactly is determined by how short/long a lunch I took and whether or not Rich is stuck in a meeting (we carpool most days).


Pick up Coraline from Mom and Dad’s house. Bug Stephen for a hug and kiss. Stay for dinner on occasion.


Get home. One of us takes Coraline inside and puts her in her pack-‘n’-play in the living room. The other one grabs whatever bags they can manage to carry inside then lets the dogs out and gets their bowls prepped. Dogs are let in to eat and we prepare dinner.


If Coraline needs dinner, we feed her upstairs in her high chair and eat at the dining room table with her. Fight to keep the dogs at bay since Coraline loves to throw them her food.


All three of us head downstairs to the basement den. Coraline runs around playing while Rich and I eat dinner. If she had an early dinner at Mom’s house she grazes off our plates.


Coraline gets prepped for bedtime. Rich and I alternate: I’ll handle bedtime, he’ll handle any overnight wakeups. The next night, we switch. Tonight, I handled bedtime so he’s on overnight duty.

Post-Coraline’s Bedtime

Wash dishes, do laundry, file papers, take out recycling — do whatever needs to be done around the house that night. Get nagged at by Rich to RELAX. Take a shower at some point.


Give dogs their dinner.


Steam-clean and prep Coraline’s bottles for Mom’s house the next day. Pack any food and drinks in her cooler.


Find a few minutes for some downtime before getting ready for bed. Usually involves watching a few minutes of whatever I’ve got on the DVR in the upstairs living room. Update blog if I remember/am motivated.¬† Get the dogs to go out one last time before setting the house alarm.


Get in jammies. Brush teeth. Get in bed.


Curse the dogs and their clicky nails on the hardwood floor. Try to tune their clicking out to get some more sleep.


Curse the cats for fighting in the hallway right outside our bedroom door.


Wake up and do it all over again.

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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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