Mommy Blogs

Life happens when you’re making plans

Watch with sound on to hear the tiny voice.

Back in December, I was feeling overwhelmed. I was drained between fiances, Christmas, working odd hours, and having my SUV truly embody the fix or repair daily slogan. The day when I nearly lost my mind was when my automatic SUV had done the equivalent of stalling out six times.

I had been pet sitting my parents’ three dogs, and I was on the way to drop them off. The car ride was already aggravatingly stressful enough, with my back seat filled with my mom’s dogs, who hated being in the car. I also had my daughter screaming with them because she was upset for missing her nap. With this noise going on, it felt impossible to listen to my car. I was waiting for my car to lurch and be followed up with the stupid little wrench icon that popped up on my dashboard right before the engine shut off. Thankfully I had been prepared for this. I’ve been driving on the right-hand side of the road and would drift into the grass out of traffic.

To this day, I am forever grateful that my car had never done this while I was in the middle of an intersection or on the highway. I don’t want to think about the accidents that would have resulted from an engine shut off in the middle of i95.

Early that day, I had researched the problem, and over and over again, I saw that the same issue happening with other vehicles of the same make and model as my SUV. All the forums said the same thing. It was a throttle body issue. I sent my husband a few videos on how to change the part, and he said he could replace it if that was indeed the issue. But we didn’t have the correct reader to diagnose the problem, and I wasn’t in the mood to spend even more money on tools. After talking this all out, we figured the only time I had to drive the danger mobile to the shop was after dropping off a pack of stressed-out dogs.

When I walked into the mechanic’s shop, I think the service manager’s eyes were about to pop out of his head. He’s seen me far too many times since September because of an issue with the ball joint on the right side of my car.

“Don’t worry, I’m not here about the ball joint.” I try to sound not stressed out with a babbling, slightly cranky toddler on my hip.

“I’m glad. What can we help you with today?” he asked, pulling up my account. It was probably bad that he did it without asking for my phone number.

“I think my throttle body is fucked.” I told him, along with explaining all the problems my car was having.
He listened to me explain how many times I had to pull over the car on the way here in the very short ten-minute drive. I told him that the engine could gasp for fuel and then slow down until it finally shut off.

“That definitely sounds like the throttle body.” He said, taking my keys. “We’ll give you a call as soon as we find out anything.”

My daughter had been on my hip the whole time, and she wanted to roam about the lobby. My hopes of her falling asleep in the car so I could watch t.v. on my tablet while she slept on me had gone out the window. As soon as the keys were in the service manager’s hands, I walked out of the building and back to the car to collect her stroller.

“Mommy, where we goin’?” She asked as I seat-belted her in.

“We’re going to the park, baby,” I answered, pulling the sun visor over her head.

It was a perfect day for the brief mile walk. The sky was bright blue, with wispy white clouds gliding across the light breeze, barely 80 degrees, and no rain in sight. In the summer, there would have been no way in hell I would walk my child to play at the park in the middle of the day. We would have melted or died from heat exhaustion, slight exaggeration, but close to the truth.

The playground was partially under shady trees and across the street from a lake. Adelyn climbed all over the playground. She ran to the top of the slide and started to sing, “Let it go.” It wasn’t long before she had me climbing the rock wall with her. One of the benefits of being a “fun-sized” adult is that I still fit on the slides and other things that my daughter wants me to join her.

After about an hour of running, climbing, and swinging, Adelyn noticed the lake across the street.

“Mommy!” She shrieked. “That’s a big pool.”

“That’s not a pool. It’s a lake.”

“Not a lake. It’s a pool.” She said, shaking her head. “Mommy, we go to the water?”

It was more of a demand than a question. Adelyn slid down the slide one last time before running over to her stroller and climbing in. I hadn’t heard anything from the shop yet, so I figured why not. We crossed the street, and once we hit the sidewalk, she slid out of her stroller, walked out onto the dock, jetting out of the gazebo.

“Mommy look,” she pointed through the rails. “A turtle.”

She tried to press her head through the wooden rails, but thankfully it didn’t fit. The turtle swam under the gazebo and out of her sight. She darted over to the other side, trying to find it. But he hadn’t come up for air.

“Where turtle go?” She asked.

“He’s swimming,” I told her.

I guess the turtle swimming meant we should go swimming too because she started to run back onto the dock. Luckily I caught her before she jumped off the edge.

“Look,” I said, pointing at a black spot in the water. “There he is.”

“That’s not a turtle, mommy.” she frowned.

The gazebo was no longer fun. She sulked the whole ten feet it took her to get onto the grass. There she decided to chase her blues away and the flock of white ibis sleeping in the sun.

“Go away, birdies,” she yelled, running away in circles.

We left the relatively undisturbed birds and walked along the lake. When I initially started walking, I only planned on heading to the gazebo that was across the lake, but a phone call from my husband changed that. He wouldn’t leave work for another hour, and his job was 45 minutes away. That left me with at least two hours to entertain my daughter, and walking around a lake wasn’t going to do it. I hung up the phone, deciding to throw it all to the wind and walk to the beach. It was a nice day. We had nowhere to go might as well enjoy the day.

As soon as I clipped her into her seat, I felt free.

For the first time in years, I didn’t have a plan. In college, there were countless times I would head to the beach and spend hours laying out on the sand reading or, if there were the rare occasion of waves in Boca, I’d go surfing. Today I decided it was going to be like one of those days.

We walked to CVS and grabbed a few bottles of water and ice cream. While she munched away, we headed to the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. When we got there, the woman at the front desk asked if we had been there before. I smiled and said yes. I kept to myself that I had been going there since I was my daughter’s age and watched the place grow and change.

Adelyn was so excited to see the turtles that she abandoned her ice cream to get as close as she could to the turtles. Some of the turtles weren’t near the viewing area, so she asked me to pick her up.

“Oh no.” she cried when she saw a turtle floating with its butt in the air. “She’s got a big booboo. She needs a bandaid. Mommy gets the bandaid.”

The volunteer employee overheard her cry. “He does have a big booboo,” the man told her. “A boat was going too fast and hit his back. Now his back flippers aren’t working as well as they used to.”

Blaze, the turtle, was back in the care of the marine life cater after being released earlier this year. Sadly, the injury was far worse this time, and they were almost sure that he wouldn’t be re-released.

I put Adelyn back on the ground, and she ran to the smaller tanks. These one held teenage turtles, just regular ones, not mutant ninjas.

Adelyn sighed, hanging on the little chain, stopping her from climbing in. “Mommy, they sooooo cute.”

I’m not sure who said what, but suddenly Adelyn ran in between people as quickly as possible towards the tiny hatchlings. Before I could grab her, she was under the chain and almost stuck her hand in the tank. I was mortified. But instead of yelling and booming voices demanding her to step back away from the tank, another older volunteer gently caught her hand before it hit the water.

“Don’t worry, mommy,” he said to me. “She’s excited. It’s good when kids are excited about the animals.”

We spent a little more time with the turtles before she had enough of watching turtles float around in their watery hospital beds. Adelyn climbed back in her stroller and yawned.

“We go to the ocean?” She asked.

And so we did. We made our way across the street and to the beach. Usually, I would have pulled our shoes off and made our way onto the sand, but she yawned a deep yawn. We watched the waves roll in, and tiny sandpipers run away. The wind blew in our hair, and salt kissed our cheeks.

I strolled along the sidewalk up to the pier. People passed by us carrying fishing poles and pulling coolers. Adelyn and I went through the gate and walked up and down the pier. The ocean was so clear that we looked over the edge and could see the fish that teased the fishermen with their existence.

I glanced at my clock, and we still had an hour before my husband would be anywhere near us. Adelyn babbled, talking to the birds that flew over her head and the people sitting on the benches watching their poles. When we left the pier and headed north, my goal was to reach Carlin Park before being picked up.
The sun beat down on my skin. It was a wonderful warm welcome to the cool breeze that thankfully wouldn’t quit. Today was truly one of those; this is why we live here days. I looked down through the tiny screen and saw that Adelyn had finally fallen asleep. It was later than I would have liked, but it didn’t matter. If she had napped on time, we never would have played at the park.

I would have missed all her stories about everything that she saw at the park. There would have been no giggles or smiles as she watched turtles swim in the lake or scared the ibis from their sleep. We never would have walked to the turtle park and seen the cutest little baby turtles that made her ooooo and aw at their tininess and cried for the turtle who had been hurt.

As she slept, I walked past kite beach, where a few kite-boarders took advantage of the wind. I made my way to the beach entrance that my husband and I had walked down when we were married. I stopped and watched the waves roll in. When we got married, the wind was blowing harder than today. I remember how my dress flowed in the wind doing exactly what I wanted it to do, making me feel like a fairy. I was so happy that day that it didn’t rain and it wasn’t hot. I learned after a lifetime of living here that you could never trust the meteorologist.

I left and walked past stretches of beach where my friends and I spent years surfing while in high school. I thought about how much money I’ve spent fixing my boards and how much dust they’ve collected since college had ended. I looked down at my daughter and got filled with a burst of joy thinking about getting her out on the water with me as soon as I felt comfortable with her swimming ability.

I could see Carlin Park coming around the corner. My legs burned, and my feet were sore. I had not worn the right shoes for this walk. I checked the workout app I started when I left the mechanics’ shop. I was just shy of walking six miles.

While I was looking at my phone, a horn beeped, and I jumped, dropping my phone on the ground, watching my husband’s truck pass by. I laughed, he was right on time, and I should have known he would do something like that. He waited in the parking lot as I came down the small hill and towards the truck. My skin was a rosy pink, and despite knowing we were about to drop a few hundred dollars, I was in a very blissful state of mind. I hadn’t looked at my phone besides taking a few pictures. I let my thoughts drift off into the world of what-ifs and let the sea breeze take away all my problems. I could have spent the day wallowing and stressed out, but I am so glad I just went with the flow and let the current of life take control.

Mommy Blogs

Over Coming Body Dysmorphia and Postpartum

Left: Summer 2007, 20 years old, no tattoos and no baby. Right: Summer 2019, 32 years old, four tattoos, and one baby later

Being a mother is probably one of the best worst things that has ever happened to me.

I love my daughter, I’d give my life for her, but I hate what has happened to my body and mind. For the first year of Adelyn’s life, I was completely unaware of how bad my postpartum depression and anxiety were.

I thought I had it under control, but nearly two and a half years later, I’m finally seeing how deep my depression went. The depression didn’t stop with dark, damaging thoughts. It crept into my vision and how I viewed myself.

In truth, this wasn’t my first time dealing with body dysmorphia. I came of age in the 90’s heroin chic, and I never fit the aesthetic. Even though I am small and petite, 5 ft tall, and never maxed out over 99 pounds, I wasn’t thin. For my size, I was thicker. I was a swimmer, I had bigger thighs, broad shoulders, and I had a full C by the time I was 13 and larger by the time I graduated high school. Nothing about me was tiny except my height. I would go on a fast and diet just trying to emulate the girls who were my height but had a slimmer figure.

When I entered college, I started to lose even more weight, and at one point, I was down to 92 pounds. It wasn’t something I was actively doing, and I felt great about the way I looked. But by my 21st birthday, I found out why I had been drastically losing weight while so many of my colleagues had put on 5 to 15 pounds. I had Celiac, an autoimmune disease, and was living on borrowed time when it came to how much longer my stomach lining would stay intact not following the proper diet.

As my health improved, so did my weight, but I didn’t see it that way. I watched the number on the scale go up and up. It was a scary thing to break triple digits. In my mind, a small number meant I was healthy, but the larger the number on the scale became, the more I worried. That turned into watching what I ate. It’s sad that I could finally enjoy food without the fear of getting sick, but I wouldn’t allow myself to do. I had a fat distorted image of myself in my mind.

Even well into my 20’s, I was still unable to shake the false narrative I had created. I was eating healthy and working out, but I was never truly comfortable with my stomach. I didn’t have abs like the other girls. No matter how hard I tried, my stomach was soft.

I’m not entirely sure why we do this to ourselves.

No one is going around touching my stomach or measuring my waist. The only person who had a problem with how I looked was myself and I. And somewhere in my late 20’s, I figured it out. I stopped caring if my stomach was flat. I ate and drank what I liked, and I worked out because it made me feel good, not because I had to stay skinny. I even joked about working out so I could eat and drink more, knowing full well that wasn’t a real thing.

When I hit 30, I was feeling great about myself. There was a mental “I don’t give a fuck” switch flipped, and it was great. But also, I was pregnant. I was carrying my first child, and nothing in the world was going to make me feel guilty about loving myself and taking care of the tiny beast within me.

The only problem with this newfound happiness seemed to be my body didn’t get the memo. Morning sickness was more like all-day sickness. I couldn’t eat or even smell most things without vomiting. I was unable to work out because any drastic movement would make me vomit. It was a very exhausting pregnancy. Between the vomiting and lack of appetite, I stayed tiny for most of my pregnancy which brought on a new problem. For the first time in my life, I was worried that I wasn’t putting on enough weight. I kept asking my doctors if it was okay that I was still tiny.

Such a strange turn of events.

I spent my life wanting to be skinny and tiny in a probably unhealthy way, only to be worried I wasn’t growing enough. By the time the nine months were over, I had reached a max weight of 131. Which for someone barely ever getting over 105, that’s a lot to adjust to. Thanks to a C- section Adelyn came into the world a whole whopping 7 pounds, bringing my pregnancy weight down to 124, and even though I don’t have the number for how much my after birth weight is, I did google it. After birth is usually around 7.4 pounds making my total pregnancy weight only 117.

Most of the weight I gained belonged to my daughter and was what kept her alive. Only a few days later, I started to wonder how much I weighed, but I did myself a favor before giving birth. I hid the scale. Even when I went to the doctor, I tuned them out when they told me my weight. Since I had a C- section, I couldn’t work out as quickly as I wanted to, but I wouldn’t let that thought take away from any happy or stressful moments I had with her.

Once again, I wasn’t in complete control of what my mind wanted to do. Every single day it was a constant struggle for me to come to terms with my new body. At one point, my boobs had become so enlarged that they could have fit in an F. It was gross. I hated seeing myself like that, but I couldn’t do what I had done in the past. I couldn’t starve myself because I needed enough food in my body to create food for her.

Every single day for three months was an internal fight. My body still wasn’t for me. It was for my daughter, it was still the force keeping her alive, and I hated it. I felt like a cow every single time the pumps were hooked up to me. Secretly, I missed my life before this little life sucker came around, and at the same time, I loved every single second of it. I was emotionally distraught when one of my boobs stopped producing milk. It meant I had to switch to formula far earlier than I planned. I cried for days about losing the bond that breastfeeding created, and at the same time, I craved the freedom it was giving me.

I didn’t know if this made me a bad mother or not. I was switching my baby to formula and going back to work all in the same month. I kept asking myself how could I do this to her?

She didn’t die because I had to go back to work. My baby didn’t love me any less because she drank from a bottle. I didn’t miss out on those late-night cuddles because she was becoming independent at 3 months old. In fact, despite all my worrying, she’s grown into a wild, sassy toddler clone of myself. It’s creepy and one of the reasons I had to learn how to accept this new form of myself.

It wasn’t easy.

My body and mind had changed so drastically in that year that I felt like I no longer knew myself. My hips were wider, and my butt was bigger. My midsection was squishy, and I could murder anyone who could bring harm to my baby, and that included myself.

I couldn’t let myself fall back into my old ways. If I wanted to get my pre-baby body back, I would have to earn it. There are no easy ways out. I knew all too well that taking shortcuts would never last and only harm my psyche. I changed the way I ate to clean eating and lots of yummy wine. Eventually, I had to face the fact that I didn’t have the same amount of free time working full time and taking care of Adelyn. The wine had to go. Too many empty calories. This decision made me look at what else I was putting into myself that was just extra weight, which made me kick Starbucks to the curb. These choices made my wallet a little fuller, and my waist was a little slimmer.

Though I have not fully learned to accept my new self, I can tell you that it’s getting easier two and a half years into this experiment called motherhood. I’ve shed some of my pregnancy weight and gotten rid of most of my pre-pregnancy pants. Besides taking up space in my closet, they were horrible evil things telling me lies every time I put them on. For a while, they tried to convince me that one day they would fit again, but they never will. No matter how much I could starve myself, I’d never lose bone, and it was okay to fully admit that to myself.

Coming face to face with this realization has helped me battle my body dysmorphia, and thankfully, by the grace of God and all in the universe, I survived my postpartum depression pretty unscathed. It’s perfectly okay that I don’t love the new me just yet, but I have to accept her as what she is.

A fierce, loving mom, who is a bit squishier in some places, yet still completely awesome.

Mommy Blogs

Keeping Kids Active

Keeping kids active in a world that has become predominantly sedentary is difficult. It’s far too easy to rely on an electronic device to entertain our kids while we try to keep some sense of order in our life. Our kids need something active. Something to stimulate them far beyond a screen. Most parents are already spread pretty thin, so adding on another place to drive to and spend at least an hour of their time isn’t high on their priority list. But it should be. Not only is this important for their physical fitness but also for their mental health. Kids need an escape from the structure and stillness of a classroom.

A lot of parents I know usually start their little ones in what I call the core three: soccer and t-ball or dance. Watching the age groups of 2.5 to 4 is an ab workout for those parents who know not to take it too seriously. When your child is this young, the only expectations you should have is for them is to have fun and go to sleep early when they come home. For those parents who expect their kids to be the next Ronaldo or Messi, you’re going to have a very stressful season. Now I know you didn’t pay for cleats, a helmet, and a bat bag full of gear to have your tiny tike do somersaults in the outfield. But what you did pay for is for your child to learn a new skill. You are paying for them to learn to listen and respond to a coach and work as a team. By the end of the season, you’ll have a better understanding of your child and what their interests are, and those core three may not be it.

Once you’ve gotten out of the toddler level sports, it’s time to ask your child what they would actually like to do. This is where you get to explain to them that not only will they have practices with their teams or classes, depending on what they choose, but they will need to practice at home. This does mean that you, as a parent, are getting homework as well. If they choose baseball or football, they will need someone to throw and catch with. If they select soccer, you might have to play goalie or dart around the field, helping them learn how to pass the ball. Dance means watching your child and helping them remember their steps. Each sport has its own requirements for your child to practice so they may excel at the best of their ability.

For Mark, my step-son, traditional sports were not for him. We tried t-ball, and once he was home, he had no interest in picking up a bat or a glove. Soccer was great, he was able to run and speed past others, but stopping was his biggest problem. We had to really talk out what made him happy, and that’s when he asked for a skateboard. My husband and I talked about it with each other what it could mean for him to take an interest in an extreme sport. We knew the risk skateboarding could bring. My husband skateboarded as a child, and I longboarded throughout college. For Christmas, we bought him his first board. It was a small, black penny board with bright red wheels. He was ecstatic. By the end of the day, he was outside with his mohawk helmet, trying to figure out how to go up and down the sidewalk.

Skateboarding is hard. He had seen kids do it in real life and on TV and thought it would be easy. When he came in that first day, he was bright as a ripe tomato, and because we live in Florida, he was a bit of a soggy tomato. But the thing I saw in him that I didn’t see after any of the other sports was determination. He took off his helmet and put his board away before flopping on the couch and looked at me.

“Can we go out tomorrow?” He asked, a bit winded.

“Of course.” I was so excited.

He never wanted to practice when it came to soccer or t-ball, and it was always a fight to get him outside and practice. For the next three days, he was with us. He was outside every day trying to figure it out. About a month later, we went to a birthday party, and the mom was telling me about a skate park that was basically in our backyard. On our way home, we drove by and saw a bunch of kids of varying ages going down ramps and launching themselves into the air. His eyes lit up.

“I want to learn how to do that,” he said after we left.

But I told him he wasn’t going to the skatepark without a lesson because when it came to skateboarding, it wasn’t a matter of if you will break a bone but a matter of when. So we agreed that he would keep practicing, and for summer camp, he would go to skate camp. The week before skate camp, my husband and I upgraded his small penny board to a full-size skateboard for his birthday. Once that thing was unwrapped, he was outside. He had to learn where to place his feet and how to lean into the turns. It was much different from his other board.

After he came in that day, my husband and I sat down with him and talked about how hard he was working and how proud we were of him. It was amazing how much he had changed in the few short months between December and the summer. Before, if things were difficult, he would get frustrated and storm off, but now he had a reason to focus and put his energy into something and see the results of his hard work. This work ethic continued through the summer.

When Mark started skate camp this summer, he was a bit intimidated. Here were kids of all ages and all levels going at full speed. The coach brought everyone in and broke them into groups depending on their skills. Mark was in level 0 or the beginner level. When I would pick him up each day, I would talk to his coach. He said Mark had potential, but he was playing with those who were happy with butt boarding and not going past that. When we got home on Wednesday, we sat down for a talk.

I asked him. “How are you liking camp?”

“It’s fun, but they aren’t teaching me anything.” he sighed heavily.

I laughed because I knew this sport was not one to push people past their limits. After all, they could get hurt. “Honey, all the coaches are there for you to ask them for help. They can only work with you if you want them to.”

So we agreed that there was no more butt boarding, and we were going to talk to the head coach in the morning. On Friday, when I picked him up, he was so excited. He said he was a level one and next would be a level two, and that’s when he would get to learn how to drop in. The following week, he was at his mom’s and had a week off from camps.

When we got back to camp, he pushed himself hard. He told me that he was going to go down all the ramps. Which he did. He told me he would learn how to drop his board, jump on it and go without falling, and boy did he master that. But on Thursday, I got a phone call when I was on my way to pick him up.

“Morning, Ma’am. We just wanted to let you know that Mark got hurt.” came the coach on the other end.

“Oh god, how bad?” All I could think was he broke a leg or his neck because suddenly he thought he was Tony Hawk.

“Well, we think it’s either his wrist or his arm. Personally, I think it’s broke, but he isn’t crying.” The coach said with an uncomfortable laugh that I completely understood. “I had to convince him to sit down and ice it while we waited for you to get him.”

I told them no need for an ambulance since there was no blood and I was five minutes away. When I got there, Mark was eating cupcakes and had a massive smile on his face.

“Hey!” I said, looking at his bent forearm. As someone who has broken many bones, I knew that noodle arm was broken. “What happened.”

“WELLLLL I was learning how to drop in, and I did it,” huge smile. “I did it four times until my fifth time, and I don’t know what happened, but I just fell, and I blocked my face, so I didn’t get a busted lip and ….”
I blanked. I wanted to laugh. He wasn’t phased at all. He was just so proud of how hard he was working.

I gave him a hug. “Honey, I know told you that with skateboarding, it was a matter of when, not if you would break a bone, but that didn’t make it a challenge for you to do it as soon as possible.”

Once he had his full cast, Mark went back to camp, and everyone cheered. He was so excited to be back. Some of the kids told their stories about how they broke bones. Mark told me how some big kids told him that he was the toughest kid they knew since he didn’t cry. Though he was limited on how high ramps he could go on, it didn’t stop him from learning as much as possible in his last week.

Could this summer have been easier? Probably. Less painful if I pushed him to soccer or baseball? Of course, but it wouldn’t have been the same. Mark isn’t one to be in the outfield standing around for the ball to come to him. He isn’t going to pass the ball and stop running because that’s what the play is. He is balls to the wall, high-speed energy kid that breaks his arm and keeps going.

If you can find that one thing that motivates your kid, hold onto it. You might be giving up an hour or two of your day, but it makes them happy. You can spend time with them and watch them grow as a person, and you can even use that motivation outside their sport and apply it to their lives. It helps with school and chores. But what matters most is you took that time for your kid, and they will always remember that.

Mommy Blogs

Encouraging Babies to Talk

When we first bring home our little ones, we are excited over every coo and smile they make. Sleepless days and weeks pass before we are finally gifted with smiles that aren’t the result of a satisfying poo, and before we know it, our baby’s coos have turned into babbles. This sometimes leads to parents playfully teasing one another over who will be the baby’s first word. Most of the time, dads win that battle. This is because the word dada is easier for their mouth to form, and mama isn’t that far behind. Not too long after they utter your name, that bundle of joy is screaming your name wanting milk or a snack. Therein lies the catch 22 of encouraging babies to talk. We spend the first year of their lives teaching them to talk and the next seventeen years trying to get them to stop.

From the moment babies are born, they begin to absorb the sounds, tones, and voices that fill the delivery room. We gently talk to them, permeating their minds with our loving words, even though they cannot understand them. Some new mothers have found themselves uncomfortable not knowing how to talk to their newborns, and I don’t blame them. The little blank space staring back at you doesn’t give you much to work with outside of baby talk. I found that one of the best and easiest ways to get over that problem was to read to your little one.

During cuddle time, pick up a book and read it aloud. Thankfully, since you have a captive audience, you aren’t limited to only pictures books with minimal words. Many moms use this time to finally read that book that they never had the time to read, and not only does it benefit you, but it also benefits the baby. As you read, you are introducing your baby to a world of words, and some of them may not be words you would use in daily conversation. Without knowing it, you are building your child’s vocabulary. But with this chance,e it doesn’t mean to forget picture books. Picture books use the most straightforward language, paired with images, to help your baby begin to understand the world around them.

It may be a surprise to some, but within a very short three months, most babies have the ability to watch you. They listen to you talk and turn their heads to find out where a new sound may be coming from. Another fun way to encourage and develop your infants’ vocal ability is to sing to them. WebMD says by three months, babies can even be “cooing” — a happy, gentle, repetitive, sing-song vocalization.”

What it comes down to is engaging with your child. It means putting down the cellphone and turning off the tv. When your baby babbles to you, it’s great to answer them back, mimicking them, but it’s even better to answer them using actual words. My favorite thing was to listen to my daughter’s excited chatter and try to guess what she was talking about. Using phrases like “you don’t say” and “tell me more” mixed in with some babble, I really felt like I encouraged her to continue with what had caught her attention. Nearly every time I would pick her up, I would address the action we were doing. I would say, “Do you want up?” or while getting dressed, I would describe what I was doing to her.

There’s no way around it, you will feel silly at times, but the baby doesn’t know it’s silly. They know they are getting your attention. They absorb not only your words but your emotions and feelings. If you ever wonder how you sound to others, you will learn at around the two-year mark when your toddler has turned into a parrot and repeats every little thing you never wanted them to say.

Mommy Blogs

A House Divided with a Step-Mom in the Middle

A house divided. That’s what it feels like some days when you’re a step-parent. Both families typically want what’s best for the child, and, at least in my case, there are far too many days that neither party can agree on which method to go with.

Mark came into my life when he was about three and a half years old. He was and still is a child filled with an insane amount of energy. My husband and I both work full time and do our best to find all possible ways to spend his energy in creative ways. That means evenings spent at the park, and when summer hit, taking him to the beach or the pool. But what we have never thought was best for him was to plop him down with a tablet and let him veg out, especially when he was so young.

Figuring out how to deal with a stepchild who could be challenging at times was something I had been prepared for. Every ounce of me wanted to know how to be a good step-parent. There had been nothing in my life before Mark had prepared me to be an instant mom.

We had to treat Mark’s first day back with us in those early years almost as a reset day. It was hard to watch him go through the feelings and emotions of leaving a free-range, no rules, we’re the funhouse (their words) environment, and adjust to our more structured schedule. There were times when Mark would be in full-blown tears because he didn’t want dinner, and after having my own daughter, I now know that this isn’t such an odd occurrence. The problem was his outright refusal to eat and him demanding we make him exactly what he wanted because “that’s what my mom does for me.”

I’m not going to lie and say that these outbursts did not cause a point of contention a few times between my husband and me. After a few arguments, we really had to set down ground rules to make our marriage work. If I had problems with Mark and I didn’t feel comfortable disciplining him, I could call my husband any time of the day, and he would speak to him. My husband also made it very clear to Mark that I was also a parent, and whether he was home or not, he had to listen if I told him something. I have yet to hear the words, “you can’t tell me what to do. You aren’t my mom!” but it doesn’t make every comparison hurt less. Making a marriage work was easy, but being hurt by the child, I love as my own was hard. It’s gotten much better, but I had to learn how to not take everything he said personally. Mark wasn’t trying to attack me with his words, even though that’s exactly how it felt to me. He was frustrated and trying his best to explain himself with his limited ability to do so.

Slowly, Mark and I started to get used to each other. He learned quickly that screaming and storming off did not gain the same reaction from his father and me the way it must have at his mom’s house. Each time he would act out, we would explain to him why things were different here, and there were times when he understood, but he was still young, and he was still learning how to express his feelings and emotions. In truth, Mark is a great kid. When we’re out in public, he is well-behaved and polite. I credit that to my husband’s roots. He’s from the south, where “yes ma’am” and “no sir” are basically bred into you, and Mark is no exception. When Mark started preschool, the teacher raved about how great he was in class, but she noticed something that I had seen as well. He was nearly five and still saying certain things incorrectly.

Mark’s slight speech impediment had become a point of contention between the houses. Every time we got him back, it was worse than when he left us. I would work with him every day. Aside from basic math, we focused on learning how to read. That meant sounding out each word and enunciating them correctly. But what I learned at a t-ball game is that the other house did not practice that. In fact, they did the opposite. They were encouraging the mispronunciations and thought it was adorable. If he was younger, I could understand not correcting things every time, but he was entering kindergarten in the fall, and kids would likely make fun of him. Some of the older kids at t-ball already were.

After watching their interaction with Mark, my husband and I had a long conversation about how we could handle correcting this problem. My husband had suggested bringing Mark to a speech pathologist, but they didn’t think it was necessary. “He’ll grow out of it,” they said. That was when he was four, and now at five, he showed no sign of growing out of it without professional help.

At one point, I wondered, “am I getting too involved?” I even brought it up to my husband, and he quickly settled my nerves. To him, there was never the possibility of me being too involved. He wanted me to love Mark as my own, and he knew I only wanted the best for him. We decided to leave the conversation about speech therapy alone over the summer. There was no point in bringing it up again when Mark’s elementary school offered free speech therapy. What we thought would be a no-brainer ended up being an uphill battle.

I’m not sure if they felt insulted or what, but when my husband turned in the paperwork for Mark to be placed in speech classes, the other house tried to fight it. Luckily it wasn’t up to only one parent, and Mark had been seen by the speech pathologist, who agreed he did need some help. She explained that it didn’t mean Mark was any less intelligent couldn’t excel in school. If anything, it would help him develop skills on studying and learning that were more tailored to him, and that wouldn’t be something he would get in the regular class. All of a sudden, speech classes were great and apparently their idea.

Learning to bite my tongue and keep healthy boundaries with the other family has probably been one of the more challenging things about becoming a stepmother. I know there are times when Mark will tell me about his weekend and how he spent hours on his iPad and didn’t leave his house. I have to keep any negative opinions to myself and redirect my thoughts. I’ll tell him, “That must have been tons of fun. But what would you like to do today?” Usually, he’ll ask to go to the pool, go to the park or ask to do one of our art and craft projects.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, Mark’s half-sister, I was worried about how he would adjust to having another child in the house. He was so used to being the center of attention that when we would spend time with his cousins, he would act out just so everyone noticed him. We kept the news about us expecting to ourselves until I started to show. I think my giant tummy helped him understand the idea of him becoming big brother a little more.

Once Adelyn came into this world, Mark changed. He was quiet and calm around his little sister. He would gently touch her head while cooing and tell me, “I’m her big brother. It’s my job to keep her safe.” We were lucky that we didn’t end up with any of the older stepchildren problems I had read about. In reality, every single fear that I had about being a step-parent is gone. The relationship I have formed with my stepson is fantastic. When people ask me how many children I have, I always say two. I have a son and a daughter. Myson just came pre-cooked.

Mommy Blogs

How to Find a Pediatrician

Finding a pediatrician is among the first of many choices that parents will have to make for their children. Most hospitals not only want your doctor’s information but also your future bundle of joys before they will even start the process of setting up your delivery date. There are many things to consider when choosing a pediatrician. Are they covered by your insurance? Do they have good reviews? Are they close to home? Those can be answered relatively quickly with a simple google search. However, the most important question cannot be answered until you actually walk into the office yourself – do you get along with and have the same views as the pediatrician you’ve chosen? You may not get along well with the first pediatrician you meet.

That is perfectly fine. That is why starting earlier is better.

One of the first things to consider is whether or not the pediatrician is covered by your insurance. This is important because there is no reason to pay out of pocket when you may have the ability to have a large amount of the cost covered. If you do not have insurance, talk with your provider, most offices have a cash patient pricing list.

Next, if possible, try to find an office that is close to home. Having to deal with the stress of shots or possibly of a sick infant is enough on its own. Then add in the possibility that your little one does not like to be in a car seat. It’s best to keep the travel time down to a minimum to help keep your nerves from rattling with each wail and sob coming from the little one who cannot yet express their displeasure more communicatively.

After narrowing down office locations, you may want to read reviews of the office online. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what your reasons may have been for why you chose your pediatrician. It could have been something as simple as you liked their name. Maybe you prefer an older doctor who has seen their fair share of sickness, or perhaps you prefer a younger doctor that may be more up-to-date on modern parenting techniques. Or you could have skipped the small practice and gone with a pediatrics group where they have a handful of doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners, allowing you more flexibility with who you may see. Whatever your reasons may have been, the most crucial thing to determine is whether or not you and the pediatrician get along.

Now it’s time to visit the office. You can either call ahead of time and speak to the receptionist or do a cold walk-in. Either way, you will get a glimpse into how they handle their patients. Is the receptionist kind and caring? Or are they short with their words and leave you on an extended wait? You need to think about these things when you are picking a doctor’s office because before you ever see the doctor, you’re dealing with their team. Having a good rapport with those who work at the front desk could help if you ever need an emergency appointment.

A suggestion that I have heard, and partook in myself, was to bring a list of questions to the first meeting. I didn’t get through all the questions that I wanted to, but I did feel by the time I left the office that I had a better understanding of who the doctor was. I left confident that we were on the same path when it came to childcare. If you had repetitive ailments growing up, there is a strong possibility that your child may have them as well. It’s good to know if your doctor is well versed in these illnesses so they may be on the lookout for them, rather than someone who may not be.

Finding a pediatrician does not need to be stressful, especially if you give yourself enough time. If you are lucky to live in an area that has many options, be sure to talk to a few of the doctors, but the most important thing of all is to trust your instincts. This person will be your partner in your child’s health. There is no reason that you should ever feel uncomfortable about addressing any issues with them.

Mommy Blogs

Toddler in the Bed

Holy Mother of the Universe, I was not prepared for how hard sleep training would be.

As of May 10th, Adelyn is two, and until now, her sleep schedule has been pretty routine. We finish dinner. She takes a shower and brushes her teeth, all before climbing into bed with me. I figured this wouldn’t be so bad, I read her books, and we both went to sleep before her father, my husband, Tyler, would take her into her room, and she would sleep there for the rest of the night.

This plan, though not perfect, worked 90% of the time. It also just fit with how ridged my sleep schedule must be to ensure I’d get enough sleep to make it through the day. I am lucky enough to have such an early shift that she only has to spend half a day in daycare, and my stepson does not need to spend any time in aftercare. But this schedule of rolling into work at 3 am slightly sleep-deprived, doesn’t leave much room for change.

But something did change recently. My husband got sick, highly contagious sick, so he slept in the office on the guest bed. This meant that Adelyn was no longer getting moved into her room at night. I thought nothing of it. She had also gotten sick and was waking up from a very aggressive cough and asking for water. To me, this all seemed to work out perfectly. I didn’t have to get up and leave the room to give her water. All I had to do was roll over and go back to sleep.

Little did I know this was going to break everything we had done with her up until now.

When Tyler was cleared as no longer contagious, he came to bed and tried to move Adelyn, but she woke up and cried. This wasn’t normal. This is the same baby that would sleep through me, vacuuming her room. The same baby that would stay asleep when being moved from bed to bed or even from her bed to the car seat. But this time, things were very different.

Tyler said, “Maybe we’ll leave her a little longer since she’s still sick.”

Adelyn had to be given a nebulizer twice a day, and in the morning, she was given oral medication. The next time Tyler tried to move Adelyn to her bed, she seemed to have what I could only describe as a panic attack when she woke up in her bed.

Her cries weren’t the normal disgruntled tears. She was full-blown screaming. When I got into her room, she was visibly shaking. I picked her up, and she was still trembling. I tried to put her back into her bed, but she was latched onto me. This is not my baby. She is not a hip baby. She does not hold on, though this night she did. She didn’t stop crying until she fell asleep on my shoulder. I tried to lay her down once her breathing had been regular for what I thought was a safe amount of time. Nope. Eyes open, tears falling, body shaking.
Tyler got out of bed. Since she’s an aggressive sleeper and attacks him, and he let her sleep next to me. We let her do this until the medication was finished. There were even a few times when she would wake up in my bed completely frightened.

When Friday finally came, I was exhausted. I woke up with every cough she made. Sometimes she coughed so hard that she would fart and wake herself, and she would be upset. Thankfully we had a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician. The cough was nearly gone, and she cleared her of the illness. This means we didn’t need the liquid medication anymore, but she asked how Adelyn was doing with the nebulizer. I said, “She’s doing as well as a nearly two-year-old would do, but something weird is going on.”
I explained everything to her, and the pediatrician said that we could end the nebulizer as well.

“Her anxiety might be coming from the nebulizer.” She informed me. “Sometimes it makes adults a bit shaky, but it looks to be manifesting stronger in her.”

I never would have expected the nebulizer to cause this kind of problem. I had taken it a few times before, and it was fine. Her brother nearly lived with the Darth Vader mask attached to his face for a year and never once had a reaction. But as she brought it up, it reminded me that we had just gone to the hospital for Tyler and his breathing. The doctor commented that his hands were shaking after he finished the breathing treatment, and she didn’t think he should continue unless his breathing got worse. It looks as though Adelyn’s little body amplified what Tyler had gone through.

We decided to let her sleep in our bed over the weekend to ensure that everything was out of her system. Monday came, and Tyler told me it was time for her to be out. The tiny savage had shoved him to the edge of the bed and kicked him one too many times. It was either him or the baby. So obviously, I picked the baby. What? Don’t be silly. Of course, I picked my husband.

That night he picked her up and moved her into her bed. She did wake up and cried a little, but she went back to sleep. About ten minutes after I left for work, she woke up and was crying again. He ended up bringing her into bed, letting her sleep next to him. As per usual, she was a sleep ninja and attacked. This horrible routine repeated until Wednesday, when he finally said no more.

“She’ll be two on Friday,” he reminded me. “It’s time she stays in bed.”

It broke my heart. I love my late-night snuggles. Lately, she’s been rolling over and sleeping on my chest. I feel bad because Tyler just gets assaulted in his sleep, and I get adorable snuggles with the occasional foot to the head.

Wednesday night was awful. Tyler moved her, and she woke up. He spent an hour trying to get her back to bed. For a half-hour, she slept and then woke again. This time I woke up and stayed up. She was awake from midnight until I left for work at 2:30 in the morning. Her crying tore at me. I would leave her and storm in my room, pissed that my baby was upset. I blamed Tyler for making her feel alone and broken. I didn’t care about sleep anymore, so I stormed back into her room and laid on the floor next to her bed, and she fell asleep. If I moved, she woke up and cried more. Tyler finally came in and said that she could come into bed. So for 30 mins, I got to sleep before getting up again and going to work.

Being this exhausted was probably the best thing for me. When I picked Adelyn up from daycare, she wasn’t napping. She didn’t nap on the car ride home though she kept yawning. When we got home, I changed her and told her it was time for night nights.

“Mommy’s bed?” She asked with a big shit-eating grin.

“No, in Adelyn’s bed.” I lifted her up, and she whined.

“No, night nights.” She cried.

I laid her down, gave her a kiss, and closed the door. She cried, but this time not as angrily as last night. I didn’t care. I needed a nap so I could function for the rest of the day. I watched her on the cam wander around the room, fake crying, hiding in the closet until she sat on her bed and started to really cry. That’s when I found that our baby monitor has a mic and a speaker.

“Adelyn lay down.” She heard me say, and she got quiet. “It’s night nights.”

She looked around the room and let out a fake cry.

“No fake crying,” I told her. “It’s night nights.”

Totally confused, she laid down and still cried a little, but she laid down. I was asleep before she probably was.

So that night, we did our regular routine. She ate dinner, took a shower, brushed her teeth, and then got her pajamas on. But this time, we sat on our fluffy rug and read books. She kept bringing me new ones from her bookcase because she didn’t want to go night night yet. Finally, after the fifth book (actually the third reading of Tangled), I told her it was bedtime.

“It’s time for night nights,” I told her, picking her up.

She smiled and pointed to her door to leave. “Mommy’s bed?”

“No, not mommy’s bed, Adelyn’s bed.” I laid her down in her bed, and she started to cry. I kissed the top of her head and turned on her owl night light, and closed the door.

After a bit of hiding in the closet and rolling around, she laid down and went to sleep.

Looks like night one of being a big girl has been a success.

Mommy Blogs

In Ten Years I’ll be…

Never have I ever had an answer to a question change so drastically as I have had with this one….

Where do I see myself in ten years?

When I was a freshman in college, I figured by the time I reached my 30’s I would have at least a few books published. I didn’t think that my self-doubt would grow to the level that it has. I also thought if I stayed in the news, I would be working at a 24-hour news network. If not, I wanted to have a job that would allow me to travel.

Now when I see myself looking down the road my dreams aren’t as wild.

For starters, there’s no way I’m going to throw myself into a 24-hour news network pushing 50. I don’t have the energy for that at 32. I’m sure as hell not going to have the energy or the care for it at 42. At least two books published would be great. But honestly, for me, the real success would be to squish that horrible self-doubt and just push my work through. I know how to write, I enjoy writing, and I know how to self-publish, so I just need to do it for crying out loud.

All the work I am doing right now is for my family. In ten years, I see my husband and I living in our home that we will have worked hard to earn. It will be our sanctuary away from work but also where we can let loose. I want it to be a place where our kids feel safe and comfortable and a place that will host our kids’ friends.

I have never lived to work, I work to live and to me living would be planning family adventures to somewhere fun.

I know that while we’re trying to create memories, my daughter may complain about and stepson will most likely whine during the drive. But no matter what, it will leave them with the best memories. Even though kids don’t think memories and quality time are better than any video game or electronic while it’s happening, they will thank us later.

It’s a scary thought that my stepson will be on the verge of getting his driver’s license. As of right now, he’s hard-working, smart (too smart for his own good at times), and just overall a good kid. In ten years, my husband and I will have a nearly full-fledged adult on our hands, and I hope to God he’s a good one.

In a very short decade, the little girl I’m fighting to get down for a nap because she’s past the point of exhaustion will be heading into middle school. I can only hope that girls are nicer than when I was in middle school because, damn, they were vicious.

I cannot wait to see the child she will grow into. She’s already such a happy, talkative baby. I can’t imagine her personality changing very much. However, she’s also a tiny terror who loves chaos at the moment, so God only knows what type of trouble is coming my way.

I was always warned that kids change you. I just never expected them to change my goals. Don’t get me wrong, I want to succeed, especially with my writing, but I am also in a different part of my life, and I don’t want to start a new job and meet new people. If I have enough money to live off of, raise my kids right, and sometimes travel, I am happy. The stress of trying to reach for some sky-high position and killing myself for a job that would replace me within a day if I dropped dead is not worth it.

So where do I see myself in ten years…being a kick-ass mom, raising two kids who aren’t assholes, and maybe sucking it up and letting people read my books.

Mommy Blogs

I wont call her beautiful

This morning when one of our reporters was trying to find a topic for the 9am convo, she suggested a mother who said she won’t call her daughter beautiful. This comment unexpectedly triggered me. The mother’s reason behind this is her sons are told they are strong, intelligent, and adventurous, and any compliments given to her daughter have been focused on her physical appearance. The mother believes attention to her looks will give her a complex to only focus on her appearance.

I call bullshit.

Just no…

I grew up in the ’90s, where if a woman was portrayed as powerful, she was always dressed in a masculine way, and her weak dimwitted counterpart was feminine. This, this right here, gave me a complex. I didn’t want to wear dresses or frilly skirts because I wanted to be strong. Frilly dresses and skirts weren’t strong; they were weak.

It has taken me half a lifetime to figure out that I can be strong AND beautiful. We should not run away from these words that describe appearances. We should embrace them.

A stranger’s first impression of you is your appearance. Are you dressed nicely? Is your hair brushed? Are you holding yourself with pride, or are your shoulders slouched? Do you spend most of the time staring at the ground? There are more ways to present yourself as a strong female other than having muscles and looking as large as a man.

If you have ever taken a theater class, one of the first things you are taught is your audition starts the moment you walk into the building, not when you step on stage. Hell, it might begin in the parking lot because you don’t know who may be parked next to you. The casting director and the rest of the crew are watching you from the moment that door opens because they care how you carry and present yourself when you may think no one is watching.

And the only difference between life and an audition is you don’t get paid to live.

Instead of avoiding the words pretty and beautiful, empower your daughter with those words. Let her be confident with herself and her femininity, and her appearance. Teach children how to hold their heads high and keep eye contact in a conversation. Make sure that they know that it’s not just the words that come out of their mouths that people listen to. Body language is just as important, if not more important, because not everyone will see you lift a rock over your head or ace that test you spent weeks studying for. The only thing a stranger will ever see is the person before them. And if your child looks like an unkempt, hot mess, it won’t matter how smart they are because people might not give them the chance to show it.

Not complimenting your daughter WILL make her desperate for approval from others. People who have been raised without this kind of attention tend to end up with a spouse who mirrors their parents. Their spouses will never be able to give them the approval that they so desperately seek, leaving them forever unfulfilled.

So when your seven-year-old daughter is getting ready for her first dance and asks you, “How do I look?” your answer should not be, “You look like you’re ready for dancing.” By doing this, you are actually causing the problem you are trying to avoid. If she looks nice, tell her so. If your son asks your opinion on his appearance, give it to him. Every time you avoid giving the child a compliment, they will notice, and they will start to wonder, “Does my mom think I’m ugly? Am I not pretty?”

Keep the compliments coming.

If your daughter does something creative, compliment her. If she solves a complex math problem, praise her.

It’s YOUR job to build up your child in every aspect of their life because the world will tear them down. That’s precisely what happened to me. My hang-up on strength and femininity had nothing to do with my parents. Society and the time I grew up in took care of creating that issue all on their own. So tell your kids they are pretty and handsome because children don’t need any help creating complexes about themselves. They’ll do just fine on their own without your heartless psychoanalyzation.

*** I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out the segment we had with Therapist Shannon Thompson Jones and her response to the mother not calling her daughter beautiful.***

Mommy Blogs

I won’t do that when I have kids

Before having kids, everyone is filled with all of these wonderful ideas. You already know how you are going to be as a parent. In the back of your mind, you have a plan for exactly what you are and are not going to do with this tiny human, and everything will be perfect. Everything is so simple, and you aren’t exactly sure why all your friends who are parents are so stressed out. It’s all about time management, and you got that down. Before I had Adelyn, I was one of those people. Hell, even before Adelyn, with my now stepson, I was one of those people.

Well, you learn quickly that 90% of those ideas go out the window, and you have to wing it. Every time you think you’ve got that tiny wonder figured out, she changes on you, keeping you on your toes and exhausting you in the most loving ways possible. I was adamant about not having kids in my bedroom, let alone sleeping in my bed. My room was my private place, where I had the freedom to decompress and escape.

I don’t know why I didn’t realize there was no such thing as an escape when it came to the tiny humans, no matter the size. With Mark, I stuck to my guns of, “No tiny humans in bed,” but he wasn’t an infant and could be soothed with a nightlight if he ever woke up during the night. With Adelyn, it has been a whole other story.

In truth, we have been lucky. Nearly every night, she sleeps through until morning no problem, but there are some nights that she wakes up, and nothing but cuddles can make the tiny tears stop. My husband is the master of getting her back to sleep using the holding cuddles method. He is also much larger than I am. With ease, he can wrap her up with one arm as she snuggles onto his chest and dozes off. It doesn’t work that efficiently for me. She throws herself all over me and can’t stay still on my small, bony shoulder. I have to lay down and have her rest on my chest until she’s fully asleep.

God help me if I mistake twilight sleep for REM sleep and have to start the whole process all over again. One thing that I didn’t think would be a point of contention–T.V. and electronics. With my stepson, it has been a struggle to find a happy medium. He used to have meltdowns when we were out, and we didn’t let him play games on our phones. It didn’t matter how many times we told him we didn’t even have games on our phones. He’d still lose his mind. Teaching him that it was okay to be bored and bringing his activity back up was one of the hardest but best things we have worked on with him. Now when we run errands or go to a restaurant, he brings books and reads or draws crazy creatures in his sketchbook. Seeing how much he had changed by being unplugged compared to when I first met him has been rewarding. Now when he does get to play Minecraft, he appreciates it. It’s not something that he expects and has meltdowns over anymore. Yes, some of his home activities give us more work when it comes to setting up and cleaning up, but it’s worth it. He has started using his imagination more, and his conversation skills have improved drastically. I hope we can continue this with Adelyn.

But we kind of fail with her at night when she’s being a crazy, sleepy, unruly baby. After reading her multiple books, especially her favorite touch and feel, That’s not my Unicorn, countless times, producing the opposite of the calm lulling effect that reading has also done to me. I’d break and turn on the T.V. Our go-to baby tranquilizers are Disney movies. And boy does this little Minky Mouse watch them. She settles down and smiles as the characters sing and gets so angry when a song stops. So far, her favorites are Lion King, Moana, Tangled, and Princess and the Frog.

My initial worry about her watching T.V. came from reading countless articles that said watching T.V. supposedly stunts their language development, but nothing has stopped this babble queen. She has been trying to talk and figuring out her tongue and the sounds her mouth makes since she was 4 months old. In the past few weeks, she has been chatting with us and giving her opinion in baby talk. Mixed in with her abundant dadas, rare mamas, and the new Lilos, she has also said:

I love you (once while cuddling in bed)
Damn it
Thank you
And then there was one word that reminded me that my adorable little girl is a sponge. She said, terrorist.

But in full context, she answered with this after we questioned if she was done eating and the wall, floor, table, and myself was covered with her dinner. More than once, we’ve called her a tiny terror or terrorist because of the path of destruction she leaves in her wake.

Not only is she thriving and trying to expand her vocabulary, but she is also showing how well she is processing words we say to her. While at Target, Tyler and I pointed out a Minnie Mouse outfit, and I asked her if that was a Minky mouse? Adelyn not only shook her head no, she firmly said, “NO.” I asked her, “Are you the Minky mouse?” and she nodded, saying, “Yeeees!” with a giant smile.

Adelyn has always been a very attentive baby, which is probably why I completely threw my no babies and strollers at Disney rule out the window. I can’t tell you how many times I told my friends, family, and husband that I would never ever, ever bring an infant to Disney. That lasted until September when she was about five months old. I completely justified bringing this tiny human with us because her older brother was there. I’m not going to lie. September was rough. It was hot, and she was still purely on the bottle. When we went back with friends in December, it was easier. She was really starting to be more aware of the world around her and was fascinated with the constant change of her surroundings. The best thing about that day was seeing her face lite up while watching the 3pm parade. Now, for those keeping count, Adelyn is under the age of one, and this past March, she had already been to Disney three times.

My little giggle queen had a blast, and I was totally surprised when she started to hum too. I mean, I call it humming, but it was more like Adelyn flicking her tongue out and blowing raspberries to the music. Trekking all the baby gear around still sucks, but it’s getting easier since she can eat regular food now and soon will be completely off of formula. I still wonder about those who bring newborns, but I can’t judge them anymore. I know the memories I have created, and I would never change the difficulties of lugging her stuff around for a single one of them.

Besides swearing I would never bring a baby to Disney, I thought I would never give my baby flour until she could talk. With all my digestive issues, I was terrified I would make her sick. I didn’t want to put her through that. But no one ever explained to me the power of a puff. Man, do those little rice/wheat snack foods help Adelyn’s hangry moments when I’m dicing up her food. Thankfully, introducing wheat has shown no signs of celiac, and the strawberry allergy I had developed while pregnant with her turned out to only affect me. Aside from not sharing my bed, watching T.V., regulating her diet, and believing I’d never take an infant to Disney, I didn’t have that many plans for how I would raise my kids. I just knew I didn’t, and still don’t, want to raise assholes. I never intended to raise them in the church, but somehow it’s become a thing for me. On Sundays, I drag both my kids to mass. My stepson has fun in Sunday school, even on the days that he has to do Catholic calisthenics. When we have Adelyn, we stay in the cry room. She doesn’t cry, but the little beast has wanted to explore ever since she has become mobile. I never thought I’d allow my kid to crawl around everywhere, but I’d much rather chase her than hear her cry and scream. Happy baby, happy mommy.

And what makes a happy baby isn’t always what you plan it to be. Sometimes when they are little, you just have to wing it and slowly learn what works for your baby and your sanity. Like nightly cuddles when she wakes up from a nightmare or when she can’t find her pacifier, and you’re too slow to pop it back in. As they grow, so do you. You can change how things work and adjust with your child. All you can hope is that once your child is out of your house and out in the world, they aren’t a jerk, a bully, or an ass. As parents, we can only do so much without a guidebook, and, let’s be honest, if there was a guide book it would be out of date before it ever lands in your hands.