Monday, May 30, 2011

cinderella ate my daughter

Growing up, I always heard how important it was to create your own values and to not let society dictate who you become. Peer pressure was a four letter word, and in social situations it was to be treated similarly to drugs and alcohol. Just say no to peer pressure.

I realize now that there's a not-so-subtle line between what I want for my own satisfaction and what society tells me I should want. And I'm coming to appreciate that if I strive for the former, I will be a happier person.

It took me almost 30 years to realize that. Is it impossible to hope that Natalie could grow up with that knowledge? Is it impossible to believe that she could grow into a 12-year-old girl who puts more emphasis on doing her best in school and being a good friend than the clothes she wears or fitting in with the right crowd?

Do you worry about these things for your daughter (or your son's future prom date)? Or were you were perturbed at seeing a 6-year-old dressed as a Pussycat Doll last Halloween? If so, you might want to pick up Cinderella Ate My Daughter the next time you are at the library.

Among the quotes that resonated with me (enough to write them down) were these:

What I want for my daughter seems so simple: for her to grow up healthy, happy and confident, with a clear sense of her own potential and the opportunity to fulfill it. p.9

Where was the point that exploration of femininity turned to exploitation of it, the line between frivolous fun and JonBenet?

I don't want my daughter to be twenty-one when she is twelve.

Rather than raising a generation of Cinderellas, we may actually be cultivating a legion of step-sisters -- spoiled, self-centered, materialists, superficially charming but without the depth or means for authentic transformation.

If you have read or decide to read Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I would love to discuss it with you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

i will miss this house

No we aren't moving.

But when Matt and I talk about home improvements and budgets and styles, one of us always brings up the point that this is not going to be our forever house. We won't still be living here when our children leave for college or get married. We won't be grandparents in this house. We might not even be girl scout leaders in this house. Our original plan was 10-15 years then we'd move on.

When I look around though, I will miss what we've experienced here. I remember decorating the house: peeling wallpaper, painting, and larger renovations. I remember when we found out we were pregnant (twice!), and when we brought Natalie home. We learned how to be parents here.

When Natalie's older, and we look back at pictures of her childhood, I hope she remembers our first home. Playing in the pool and sprinkler and laughing in her baby swing. The slide she wanted so badly. The deck she "helped" to build. The bathtub she drew all over and played in with her sibling/s. That we couldn't keep her from climbing onto the bay window seat. And so many other everyday memories we haven't made yet.

Maybe the pregnancy hormones are making me overly sentimental. But I can't help it. I will miss this house.

Friday, May 20, 2011

our connecticut wedding weekend

Recently, we embarked a short visit to Connecticut for a wedding. Flying with a toddler, we were prepared for the worst, but Natalie was fantastic. During our first flight (1 hour, 15 minutes), she was slightly fidgety but fell asleep for the last half hour. She was jumpy but good-natured during the second flight (45 minutes).

Not everyone fared so well. Both flights were extremely turbulent. The second flight was my worst experience to date. Several people got sick, including Matt. And he never gets motion sick.

We checked into our hotel, fed Natalie, let her watch an Elmo DVD while we recovered, and prepared for the rehearsal dinner. Dinner lasted a long time past Natalie’s bedtime, but we were back at the hotel and fast asleep by 10:30 pm.

The next day brought a trip to the pool. Natalie totally dominated that pool. We showed her how to go under water then dunked her carefully. She wasn't crazy about it, but she wasn't afraid. Most of all she loved sitting on the side of the pool kicking her legs and splashing everyone in a 3 foot radius. She was in the water for two hours, followed by a two-hour nap.

The wedding ceremony was lovely. The cocktail hour was spent chasing after Natalie who at one point grabbed two handfuls of dirt from the potted plants and threw them all over herself and the floor.

The reception was fantastic. The first hour was dancing instead of dinner, and I’m so glad. Matt and I got to dance with Natalie, and she even busted out her frog dance move. This consists of a lot of up-and-down motion, stomping one foot, and saying "ribbip". We danced the entire hour. Then I rocked her to sleep, and left her slumbering peacefully in the care of a babysitter.

The next day was more family time, and the next night was a different hotel. Though she was coming down with something and had a fever, Natalie slept pretty well.

The flights home were better than the flights there. The first flight (1 hour), she got her own seat. The second flight (1 hour, 30 minutes) she slept the entire time.

We landed safely in Dayton and now look back fondly on our first vacation-with-a-toddler experience.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

third trimester

Before falling asleep last night, I decided to dig out one of my pregnancy books to see what was supposed to be going on with new baby. Much to my surprise, said book informed me that I am now 25 weeks along and in my third trimester! When did that happen? Here is my 25 week belly shot.

My pregnancy with Natalie seemed to take so much longer. I don't think I was bored per se, but I do think I'm much busier now.

When your days are filled with moments like this, time goes too quickly.

Monday, May 9, 2011

another project down!

Our new deck is my favorite part of the whole house. Especially on days like today... a temperature around 75 degrees and the sunniest skies we've seen 'round these parts in quite a while. And now on to pictures.

Remember what it looked like before?

Well this is what it looks like now...

The view from the yard. A pergola adds shade because our house gets full-on midday sun. Built in benches on either side of the deck add functional seating, serve in place of railings, and take up only a fraction of the space of furniture.

A close-up of the pergola and bench seating

The view out the back door... much more open to the yard, and about 3 feet bigger thanks to the large terraced step.

Natalie is really excited about the new deck!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

for what it's worth

There's probably nothing that can prepare a person for parenthood. So so so many things are not as you expected, and there are so many large and small things that weren't even on your radar to begin with.

Despite the fact that I have a large extended family and family of in-laws, and despite the fact that they were not sparing with their advice and wisdom, nothing took root. I didn't heed the warning to, "Sleep. Sleep. For the love of God, sleep whenever you can." I brushed off the people who said, "If you can't or decide not to, breastfeeding is not the be all end all." And only after I was home alone with my newborn baby for two days without help did I recognize the wisdom of, "Accept any and all help you are offered."

For these reasons, I don't expect my advice to go very far. I don't really even offer it, unless asked, because new parents are so over the moon in love with the thought of parenthood. Like me, they don't pause to consider that it might be harder than they expect. Way harder. But here it is anyway. For what it's worth.
  • Take way too many pictures.
  • Try out generic brands. Target's diapers are a lot better than name brand!
  • Take it easy on yourself. There is almost nothing you can do that will scar your baby for life. If you have to bottle feed, take her to daycare, or let her cry for 10 minutes while you shower, that's okay.
  • If something doesn't feel right, trust your judgment. Try different formulas (with or without your doctor's advice), and don't let her cry it out if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Do what you feel is best. You can't go back later and love your baby differently.
  • Sleep every chance you get. I heard this a lot but didn't take heed. Seriously, sleep.
  • Start a bedtime routine and stick with it.
  • Try lots of calming techniques to see which ones you and baby like best. What worked for us: patting her bottom, while lightly bouncing her and making loud "shhh" sounds.
  • Blackout blinds and a white noise machine can work wonders.
  • Find a soothie that she likes. Natalie had no interest in pacifiers, but she likes falling asleep with a blankie. I wouldn't put her down without one now.
  • Professional pictures are fun! And they don't have to cost a lot. We usually pay arond $20 at JC Penney with a coupon.
  • Wide neck bottles are the way to go. They make middle-of-the-night feedings much easier. We like the ones from Gerber.
  • Accept help when offered. And don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
  • Say out loud, "I love you, I love you, I love you." When I found myself sleep-deprived, stressed and frustrated, holding a tired baby who wouldn't stop crying, this trick saved me.
  • Nothing can prepare you for the first two months of motherhood. It isn't the same for everyone, but it was the hardest thing I've ever done.
  • It gets so much better. Whether your baby is fussy or calm or colicky or sleeps all the time, the same is true. Every month is better than the last. She'll start smiling at you, sleeping regularly (or at least for longer periods), laughing, talking, moving on her own... there are so many things that get so much better.
  • Sleep every chance you get. In case I didn't mention it before.
  • Nothing can prepare you for how much you are going to love your little girl. But you might not feel that bond right away. Give it a month or so until you really get to know her. You'll fall head over heels.
  • Get lots of advice, but go with your gut. I fed Natalie when she was hungry and let her sleep when she's tired. My friend had her infant on a strict schedule. Both of them continue to thrive, and they'll both turn out great.
  • There really is no tried and true. Every baby is different.
  • Get one of those temperature monitor thingies for her room. We don't have one, and we are constantly wondering if she is too hot or too cold.
  • Video monitors are not overrated. I thought they were, so we didn't register for one. We have one now, and trust me. It's $150 well spent.