Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Baba G's First Flights + Travel Advice

As we're currently gearing up for a trip to Arizona to visit Baba G's grandparents and other relatives — plus go to a Cubs spring training game — I thought I'd write about what worked for us when we traveled with BG last year.

You might remember that our very first trip with him ended in disaster, with all of us catching some sort of awful stomach virus in the Dominican Republic. The good news, however, was that the flights to and from the Caribbean went smoothly. We changed planes in Atlanta both times, so he went on four flights in total for that trip.

We carried all of BG's stuff on-board, with toys/food/formula I thought we'd need during the flight in a big duffel bag that I kept under the seat in front of me for easy access. The picture below shows just some of these "essentials." (Those of you who've read my other blogs through the years might remember that my poor kitchen table is never clean. This is what it looked like while I was working on my book.)

Not even 1/4 of all of his stuff
We had to wake BG up around 5 a.m. to leave (he normally gets up between 7 and 7:30 a.m.), so he was pretty out of it once we got to O'Hare.

Welcome to your first security line!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here in Chicago, people go pretty nuts about St. Patrick's Day. You know, dyeing the river green and whatnot.

Even though Ireland is one of my favorite countries, I've never been that into the holiday. We did, however, have a "First St. Patrick's Day" outfit for Baba G last year when he was less than two months old (before I started this blog). So here is a blast from the past to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Even got the green pacifier -- how ya like me now?

Shamrock Shake Shake Shake Your Booty!

For those of you who are going to be downing some green beer or green eggs and ham or whatever other weird things you eat and drink in honor of St. Pat, have fun and be safe!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kid O Sorting Primary Colors - Rings

When Baba G was a newborn, I remember how hard it was for me to imagine him ever being able to move on his own. It seemed impossible that he would one day walk, much less crawl ... much less roll over.

Same thing went for his toys. I just couldn't picture the day when he'd understand how to match up shapes, stack blocks, or put things into containers. So when he received the Kid O Sorting Primary Colors - Rings for his first birthday, I thought, "He is NEVER going to actually stack those things."

And for a month, I was right. He had a blast throwing the rings all over the place, but stacking them onto their designated pegs wasn't gonna happen.

Until one day, he did it.

Slow and steady...

No big deal.

And from that point on, he would both throw the rings around the condo AND take a few precious moments to re-stack them.

I can do it without even looking!

And, of course, he would carry them around in his mouth, like he does with almost everything. He is part boy, part doggy. Thankfully this toy is free of all the toxins that are usually in plastics.

I swear the red ones taste better.

Here's a short video of Baba G in all of his stacking glory:

So the moral of today's post is that your kid IS going to learn to do things you can't imagine them ever being able to do when they are teeny babies. And no, it's not like I had no faith that BG was going to figure out how to do anything besides throw stuff, but it really was hard to envision nonetheless. It's easy to think every phase of development is going to last forever when you're in the thick of it.

The bottom line: Kid O is a really, really cool company that makes a ton of awesome stuff. (You can rest assured I'll be buying Baba G this Fox Wobble when it hits stores later this year.)

The Primary Colors Stacker - Rings is a great product that will help test your kid's patience (a good thing), build his fine motor skills and — eventually — teach him how to match up colors. Baba G hasn't gotten to that last part just yet, but hey, he's already come a long way in just a few weeks since he got this toy.

I personally love how bright the colors are and how simple and clean the design is. And as I mentioned above, the rings and base are BPA, phthalate and toxin-free.

Amazon sells the Rings (with a different, wooden base) for $15.30. The all-plastic version I have seems to go for around $19

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"Catching Up" Guilt

I have a pretty bad memory, so I have no idea why this particular moment has stuck with me so vividly: it was the summer of 2006, and I was in a sort of lobby/holding-area room at the Chicago Board of Trade, awaiting my first interview with HR. There was a stack of magazines on a coffee table, and the one on top had a cover that screamed "Mommy Guilt."

I didn't understand what that phrase meant at the time. I don't think I even read the article, but there must have been something else on the cover that clued me into the phenomenon of hard-working, loving and responsible mothers who believe they're failing on multiple fronts. Now all I can figure is that my mind stored that memory away on purpose, because it knew that one day I would want to remember that I'm not alone in feeling this way.  

"Hey, 2013 self! It's me, your 2006 self. Don't you remember that I saw a magazine article about this? A cover story, no less! It is real — you're not the only one!"

To say I've been overwhelmed by the different types of guilt I've experienced these past 13 months is putting it lightly. So yep, I think I'm going to have to make this topic a regular column. Today I'll start with a kind of guilt that doesn't even have anything to do with failing as a parent, but rather failing as a friend/relative/confidante/message-responder/what-have-you.

A few months ago a friend who I worked with at the Board of Trade, as it were, called me because she had two job offers and wanted my take on the pros and cons of each. If there's one thing I'll admit to being good at, it's giving advice. (Ha! Doesn't everyone think that, though?) But seriously, I could be a life coach ... to everyone but myself.

Or at least there was a day in the not-so-distant past that I could have been a life coach, but not anymore. I didn't return my friend's call. Not when she first left me a message, or a few weeks later when she called (and emailed) again. After she accepted one of the positions we were finally able to meet up for breakfast, and I apologized. But I was frustrated with myself, because this wasn't the first friend who's wondered if I've dropped off the face of the earth.

I'm not going to say "I just don't have time," because that's the most annoying phrase ever, and technically I do have time. So if I'm being honest, I'll say, "I have ALWAYS hated talking on the phone, but since I've had Baba G that hatred has reached new levels. Unless it is an emergency, something for work, or my Grandma calling, I would rather not catch up via phone. Oh, and if you email me, Facebook-message me, text me or write me through Twitter, it'll still probably be a good long while before I respond to you. Sorry."

Yet THE GUILT I feel about this realization. THE GUILT. It is always, always there. Every second I am not doing something for work, spending time with Baba G or crossing a task off of my To Do list, I'm thinking, "Should I call X back? Should I check in with A, B, or C? Should I go through emails and other messages and reply to those that fell through the cracks? Does X hate me?"

This summer I finally made a concerted effort to stop worrying about those things. It took a delayed postpartum depression to make me wake up. I think the depression had its roots in my feeling like I just couldn't keep up with everything anymore. This is a nearly impossible thing for a Type A person to admit that you can't "handle" something, much less everything. I'm also the kind of person who worries extensively about letting other people down. But I just had to stop. I stopped because I have learned there are feelings way worse than the guilt of failing your friends and relatives. And those feelings are extreme bitterness and resentment that result from using your precious few spare moments of the day to do something you really don't want to do because you'd really rather just completely turn off your brain and watch last night's Smash. Or skim Entertainment Weekly. Or spend 5 minutes scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Or make a huge bowl of ice cream with berries on top (you know, to be healthy) and just sit in bed and eat it in silence.

My true friends and the people who really care about me will understand. Months might go by, but we'll pick up just where we left off like no time had passed. The others who might get upset or can't deal with my new communication methods and timeframes? Those people will probably fade out of my life. But if they made me feel bad about myself in the first place, then so be it.

Around the time my friend from the Board of Trade was facing her career dilemma, someone posted the article below on Facebook. This person doesn't have kids, but her sister does, and I can only assume she shared it as a sign of support and understanding. It made me feel worlds better, so in case it helps someone else, I'm continuing the share-fest!

I am not a stay-at-home mom (I work from home and have a nanny) and still feel the type of mental and physical exhaustion described above. So I think ALL moms feel this way, no matter what their overall situation is. And rest assured I'll cover "working-mom guilt" and "stay-at-home-mom guilt" in the future, because I am cursed with having both!

In the meantime, don't call me and I won't call you. Hee hee.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Onesie Extenders

One of my friends has three boys and generously passed along bins and bins and bins of beautiful clothes for Baba G. When I was going through all of this loot a few months ago, I came across these little things and had NO IDEA what they were.

Now tell me truly, if you hadn't read the title of this post, would YOU know what these white squares with snaps were for?

My best guess was that they were some sort of toddler cufflinks. I'm not lying.

But then two days ago it hit me after I came across them again. They're onesie extenders. I should've immediately known this, because they're very similar to the bra extenders I bought while pregnant:

Why does this skinny chick need a bra extender, pray tell?

I wish I had realized I had extenders in the house when BG's dad brought him home this ill-fitting souvenir from the Big Apple back in April:

That's one deep V

The bottom line: If you're like me, basic oneies are a staple in your kid's wardrobe. And if your kid is like Baba G (tall for his age, or simply just growing like gangbusters), it's nice to have a way to lengthen the lifespan of those onesies. Enter onesie/garment extenders, which can be purchased in multi-packs and also seem to be made in different sizes.

How many people knew about these already? Or how did you come to learn they existed? If it wasn't for my friend's loot, I still wouldn't know.