Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

To the person who keyed our car

Monday, February 23, 2015
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“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” – L.R. Knost

Sunday was a special day for us. It was AJ’s baptism. She was getting baptized in the church where I was baptized; where we were married. I was nervous.

The baptism was wonderful; our friends and family joined us in celebration. When we left church to head to my parents’ house for a special lunch, we found your mark.

For some reason or another, you decided to key the word “rude” on our car. First of all, I’m sorry if we did anything that you thought was so rude that you needed to do that. Because of the snowy day and our necessary early arrival, there was no one around when we parked and walked in to church that morning. We don’t know who you are or where you came from, or why you did what you did. Was it something we did? Or did you happen to pick our car at random?

I would be lying if I said that what you did didn’t hurt my feelings. You tainted our special morning. But my feelings have been hurt by others before, and are likely to be hurt again. We quickly forgot all about it once we joined our family to celebrate.

I’ve been where you are. I’ve been angry; and when I was I behaved worse than you, for rather than lashing out at strangers, I lashed out at family and friends. I’ve hurt others by my own actions, and although I’m sure those whom I hurt thought I was personally targeting them, I was not. I was being insecure and dealing with my own problems in the wrong way. I’m sure I will slip and hurt someone else again; it’s human nature.

It would likely be easier for me to call you a jerk and be done with it. But that’s not the example I want to set for my daughter, and that’s not how I want to live my life. Instead (and maybe because it’s Sunday), I forgive you.

I don’t know why people do what they do. I might be making this a tad overdramatic; after all in the grand scheme of things, this offense was very minor, and you are probably just someone who was bored. I’m just trying to make a point. I cannot control what you or anyone else does. I can only control my own actions. And I choose to forgive and move on.

So I forgive you, truly. And, if you are hurting, or need love, I invite you to take 10 or so more steps next Sunday and walk inside our church. I promise you will be welcomed.

Sincerely, a fellow human being.

Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.

Starting baby on solid food: An unofficial guide

Monday, January 26, 2015
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Disclaimer: I feel like I must prequel this post by saying…This is NOT meant to be a real guide to starting your baby on solids! Consult your pediatrician for advice and instructions on solid foods.

Step 1: When baby is a few months old, read about when to start solid foods. Tell yourself you will stick strictly to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months of life.

Avocado baby food...basically just boring guacamole.

Avocado baby food…basically just boring guacamole.

Step 2: Go to your baby’s four-month check up. Your pediatrician asks if you have started baby on solid foods (No, you have not told me to!). Listen to your pediatrician confirm the AAP’s recommendations – six months. Shake your head in agreement. Listen to recommendations on first foods and think to yourself, “I will definitely listen to my pediatrician.”

Step 3: After many a sleepless night, wonder if the rumors about babies sleeping once they start solids are true.

Step 4: Realize that your baby will be 24 weeks before the six-month anniversary of her birth. Decide that 24 weeks is close enough to start her on solids.

Step 5: Google the following: “Starting baby on solid foods,” and learn that everything you’ve heard is wrong! Become thoroughly confused.

Step 6: Notice baby is more hungry than usual. Decide that 22 weeks is close enough to 24 weeks. Try to convince husband that baby is ready to eat, and he gives in because he knows he is fighting a losing battle.

Step 7: Decide what food to give baby first. What a life-changing decision! Debate benefits of various “first foods.” Call friends for advice. Call mom for advice. Google for advice. Finally settle on oat cereal.

Step 8: Take your baby food blender out of the box to get a head start on making foods and find a recipe book and food guide. Realize you could have saved a lot of time if you had discovered this earlier.

Step 9: Wash baby spoons, baby bowls, baby-food-making accessories. Set baby in high chair; make sure she has on a large bib. Get out the camera. Make oat cereal exactly how the box instructs. Brace yourself for the big moment. Your child’s entire future depends on this first bite. If you mess it up, she will either never eat anything again or only like chicken nuggets for the rest of her life. You are sweating in anticipation.

Step 10: Give baby her first bite of solid food. None of it makes it in her mouth. Continue to “feed” her. The whole ordeal lasts about two minutes before she gets bored.

Step 11: Realize you may have thought about this too much.

Why kids are so quick to fall for Frozen

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
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Just a year ago, I couldn’t tell you what the plot of ‘Frozen’ was. I had been vaguely aware of two princesses, Elsa and Anna, and a snowman that somehow came into play. I hadn’t heard “Let it Go,” and was proud of that fact. I thought the movie would never be part of our home collection, because, frankly, we have a son and not a daughter.
I was wrong.
For parents of young children, there is no escaping “Frozen.” (Cue choruses of “Duh!” from those who have been stuck in the deep freeze grip of the movie since it hit theaters in 2013).
There’s just something about Disney movies in general that immediately grabs youngsters. Our boy was already fast friends with Lightning McQueen and Dusty Crophopper. Elsa, though, became a whole ‘nother animated obsession.

Dad thinks Olaf is pretty funny and Mom likes Anna's spunky nature, but it's Elsa who has captured this boy's heart.

Dad thinks Olaf is pretty funny and Mom likes Anna’s spunky nature, but it’s Elsa who has captured this boy’s heart.

Thanks to viewings with friends and on the occasional “Friday movie day” at day care, he caught the “Frozen” bug. We’d watch the music clips on YouTube until Christmas came, when finally, his very own copy of the movie landed, as promised, under the tree. The day after Christmas, we gathered to watch it — a first full viewing for parents, grandparents and our boy’s very patient, kid-less uncle.
Sure, the movie is great — it’s quick-paced with lots of heart and wit, the latter mostly thanks to the lovable snowman, Olaf. The music is catchy and brilliant.
But none of us adults really felt like we had gained an understanding of what made this film in particular so instantly intoxicating to young girls AND boys.
Then, an essay posted on Time.com last week helped to shed some light on the issue. The piece, “The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen,” was written by two psychologists who also happen to be sisters, and moms. Their explanation for the widespread appeal of the movie really caused it to click for me. See what you think. Here’s an excerpt:

 

First, a preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of Frozen heroine Elsa’s internal struggle: Her emotions are strong, passionate — and seem uncontrollable. Preschoolers too, are driven by their impulses. When Elsa laments that she’s afraid that there’s “no escape from the storm inside of me,” it resonates with young children (and perhaps their patience-tested parents, as well).

Makes sense, especially when you consider that Elsa is the runaway fan favorite in this film.

Still, I tried to pump my small child for more insight. I wasn’t totally successful.

Me: Which character in ‘Frozen’ do you like the best? Olaf? Kristoff?
Boy: How about Elsa?
Me: Well what’s your favorite part of ‘Frozen’?
Boy: Elsa!

Our conversation continued, but you get the idea.

So as we continue to delve deeper into the world of Arendelle, learning ALL the words to the songs and waiting (hoping?) for a sequel, I’m curious: Why do you think all kids fall so quickly and easily in love with “Frozen”?

 

Lauren McGill is the city editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Charleston with their almost-3-year-old son. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/LaurenLMcGill

The Pink Lady and the Microfilm Machine

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
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I am a more than three decades older than my daughter, and she reminds me of that on a daily basis.

She doesn’t actually say anything to me. She’s simply 13 and in the eighth grade while I am quickly closing in on a half century.

She can watch her favorite television series on Netflix. When I was her age, only very lucky kids, of which I was not one, had VCRs. If I missed an episode of my favorite show, I had to wait for a re-run and hope that my brother didn’t want to watch something that same night.

She has her own cell phone that tracks everyone who calls her (although she gets many more text messages than actual phone calls). When I was her age, my family had one land-line phone and no one had answering machines.  If we missed a call, we just missed a call.

She literally has a world of information at her fingertips, whether on her phone, a tablet or computer. When I was her age, I had no options but to go to the public library when I wanted to do research.

But sometimes, even in these high-tech days, 13-year-old girls still need to go to the public library to do research.

Such was the case this past weekend when I took Kendall and Bri, her BFF (best friend forever) to the local public library. They are doing their social studies fair project on the history of a local theater where they love to perform. During their interview with a long-time volunteer and default historian (an interview Bri recorded on her iphone instead of on a pad of paper or on a tape recorder), he gave them a list of resources in old newspapers dating back to 1912 that they could probably research at the local library.

That’s the reason I found myself giggling with two 13-year-old girls on a rainy Saturday afternoon as we browsed reels of microfilm from newspapers published more than a century before.

The content was both microfilmamusing and educational.

There was an three-column story about a “well-respected colored man” who had died after eating a large meal. The article described his last few minutes right down to the moment when he raised his hands above his head and proclaimed “Lord have mercy” before he collapsed.

There was a story about a “musical mule” that ate the keys off a piano.

And there were many, many articles about the day-to-day happenings of local residents who had gone on vacation, visited relatives or held parties. There was even an article about my daughter’s great-grandfather.

As we used the rather antiquated technology of microfilm to take a trip back in time, Kendall and Bri snapped photo after photo on their iphones as they giggled and sent text messages. I couldn’t help but note the paradox.

Then, a brief note about a lady dressed in pink who made male hearts flutter sent all of us into peals of laughter.the pink lady

When I finally caught my breath, I asked “Why would this be in the newspaper?”

Bri didn’t miss a beat.

“How is our news today any better? One-hundred years from now, people are going to laugh at us because we had headlines about Miley Cyrus twerking.”

She had a point – a really good point actually. And her words helped make our time together at the microfilm machine even more meaningful.

We left the library that afternoon with much more than a few pieces of copy paper for a social studies project. We left with a mutual understanding about life.

Times change. Attitudes change. Styles change. Even people change.

But the distance between generation shrinks when we realize our shared experiences, which we may document with different technology and with different language,  greatly outweigh our differences.

The pink lady – and the local public library – taught me that.

Moving on up

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
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Monday was a big day.

Our not-quite-3-year-old “graduated” to a new classroom at day care. Typically, this would be an event that would have already happened to us two or three times, but we’re still fairly new to the day care scene.

Perhaps it was those memories, still fresh, of tearful goodbyes in the mornings, of sneaking away while teachers distracted him, that had me apprehensive for the start of this week.

My "big boy" and I discussed his new classroom and teachers Monday evening over a vanilla Frosty.

My “big boy” and I discussed his new classroom and teachers Monday evening over a vanilla Frosty.

See, fortunately for us, our little guy was cared for by a babysitter for the first two years of his life. When she decided to pursue work outside the home, we set off on a bit of a scramble to find a new sitter — an effort that largely proved fruitless.

So, we found ourselves at day care, touring the building as children rested peacefully on nap mats. “This will never work,” I thought to myself, thinking of my toddler who resists all sleep when other people are present in the room.
“No outside food or drink allowed.” Gulp. He’s not going to eat. Stairs? Nope. Potty training? Uhh…

I zeroed in on all the ways the transition would be “too difficult” for our son. A lump quickly formed in my throat. But after we left that day, we considered all the ways it might be really beneficial for our whole family.

So, we forged ahead. And yeah, there were tears — from me, from our son, who had his schedule adjusted, gained approximately a dozen new classmates all at once and was foisted into an entirely new environment. But those days were few, and it wasn’t long before he was bounding into the classroom each day, talking happily about his teachers and learning the names of all his friends.

I knew he had become the oldest 2-year-old in his room when fall rolled around. Just before the holidays, his lead teacher informed me that he’d be moving up to a new class, with a few others, at the first of the year. Cue the lump in my throat.

Though it was just down the hall, I worried about him leaving the teachers he’d grown to like so well — especially the one who helped usher him through those difficult first few days.

Turns out, I should have listened to our kiddo the countless times he told me that he’s ‘a big boy’ now. My husband and I both took him to “school” Monday to encourage him through the transition, but we were barely able to pull off his coat before he went running into his new room, ready to explore.

My husband, well versed in the world of sports, equated this move to a player’s advancement to AA baseball. Our son’s trip across the hall to the 4-year-old room will be his promotion to AAA, one measly step from “The Show” — the major leagues — Kindergarten.

It’s just another step that will come too quickly, in our minds, but that our son will be all too ready for.

 

Lauren McGill is the city editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Charleston with their almost-3-year-old son. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/LaurenLMcGill

Time to Deck the Halls….and Childproof Them

Friday, December 19, 2014
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The other night as I grabbed my laptop to catch up on emails and gather more Christmas ideas on Pinterest, my 17-month-old son, Eli, picked up my laptop cord and tried plugging it in our nearest outlet. Thank goodness for outlet covers!
Most parents with little children have childproofed homes, but have we all followed through with childproofing our holiday decorations?

Last Christmas, Eli could barely sit up on his own. This year he is walking…no, running…everywhere, which makes decorating our home much different from last year. We want this season to be a time of joy and magic for our family, not a time of danger. So, we are taking extra measures to ensure our decorating is also childproofed. Thank goodness for baby gates!
The best way I have found to childproof is to look at our home from Eli’s level, whether that be crawling, pulling up, or walking. Within a few days, a child’s perspective and the things a child can reach may completely change. As I looked around our home at every stage, I found things that could be a problem for Eli.
My most recent attempt at childproofing began as we started decorating for the holidays. Last year Eli couldn’t reach any table, much less the corner of our dining room table. While putting ornaments on our tree, I looked down and saw my once “little” boy wrap his hand around the handle of a fresh cup of coffee. Luckily Eli has already learned the word “hot,” but this momma learned a big lesson: I now have a big boy who can reach big things.
Last Christmas was all about watching the lights of the season for Eli. This year, Eli’s fascination has been with our Christmas tree ornaments. I quickly learned that all ornaments within his reach should be large and non-breakable. He hasn’t tried to eat any decorations yet, but we have had several ornaments launched through our house. Childproofing Christmas trees might be a great use for a baby gate!
Another thing that has changed this year is my use of candles and scented oils. I love the way these scents make my home smell, especially during the holidays. Candles and scented plug-ins once littered my home, but now they are absent from anyplace Eli could possibly reach.
Finally, since having Eli, I have started paying great attention to items that are brought into our home. Could someone have something with them that could hurt him? What has button batteries in them? A greeting card? A car remote? Does someone keep their medicine in their purse? One of Eli’s favorite things is going through bags. When hosting holiday visitors, make sure nothing dangerous is stored in their suitcases or purses where children may go exploring.
Although we can take precautions and childproof our homes, lives are not accident proof. So, I am thankful we have the West Virginia Poison Center to call and speak with medical experts in poison information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even during the holidays. Program their number into your phone (1-800-222-1222)—it may save a life.

Carissa McBurney is a community outreach coordinator at the West Virginia Poison Center and momma of a 17-month-old.

Practicing Patience

Friday, November 28, 2014
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Being a new parent can be stressful. You constantly are encountering new situations to navigate and new problems to solve. We had our own test of problem solving and patience last weekend.

We left a holiday party, picked up the baby from her grandparents’ house and were on our way home. It was around 10:15 p.m. and we were tired and the baby had woken up. As we headed down the Interstate we heard a “POP! Zzzzz” and saw the little red light appear on the dashboard. It was obvious we had a flat.

Our first priority was to get to a safe place, so we creeped down the shoulder of the Interstate to the next exit. By the time we stopped in a parking lot, our tire was in shreds.

We were still far from home, it was late and cold, and the baby had started to cry. The situation seemed dire. Frustration started to set in and my husband and I were on the verge of getting cross with each other. Then, to make matters worse, our car jack broke, meaning we had to call for help and spend even longer in the car.

Luckily we quickly realized arguing would get us nowhere. We were stuck and it was going to take some time to get us moving again. The only thing we could do was be patient and remain calm.

I got into the back seat with AJ and Chris tackled the tire. After a few ups and downs, we were back on the road and made it safely home.

In the end, AJ handled the bump in the road (pun intended) the best of the three of us. After a few minutes, she went to sleep and stayed asleep. We didn’t get home until around 11:30 p.m. and when I finally stopped holding my breath, I realized things weren’t that bad. The whole ordeal had taken only about an hour and we were safely at home and the baby was safely asleep.

Although frustrating, it was a situation that was out of our control. By taking a few moments to calm down, we were able to take care of the baby and solve our tire problem, without having the situation turn into something worse. And so as I learn time and time again, having a little patience in less-than-ideal situations can lead to a better end-result.

A New Mom’s List of Thanks

Friday, November 21, 2014
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Next week I will celebrate my first Thanksgiving as a mom. I have many things to be thankful for that don’t involve motherhood, but I thought I would share some of the things for which I am thankful as a mom (list is not comprehensive – I could list pages and pages but I’ll stick to the basics).

This year, I am thankful for:

Epidurals. Ms. “I want to have a natural birth” got the epidural and I have never made a better decision. I think my husband would agree; it was a lifesaver.

Nurses who help their patients with things I cannot even imagine helping someone with. The nurses who took care of me in the hospital were compassionate, caring and generally amazing.

My doctors and AJ’s pediatrician. What can I say about the people who made sure my little one made it into the world safely, made sure I was healthy and now make sure AJ stays healthy? I respect and rely on our doctors more than I can say and I know they truly care about our well-being.

Sleep. Glorious, uninterrupted sleep. This is one of those “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” kind of things. Oh how I miss sleeping in on Saturdays. I’m thankful I once got to sleep so soundly.

Only waking up once a night to feed AJ. After waking up every two hours for weeks on end, once a night is nothing. I remember thinking the day would never come. It did, and I was so grateful.

Velcro swaddle blankets. This wonderful invention helped us reach those amazing once-a-night feedings.

Our family and our friends. I am beyond thankful that we have loving, supportive family members and friends that care about and love AJ and us. We were overwhelmed with the good wishes, help and love we received when AJ was born. Chris and I are truly lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.

Baby Zantac. If you have had a baby with acid reflux, you know this stuff is like gold.

Coffee. Oh how I missed it while pregnant, and although I still closely monitor my caffeine intake, I’m back to enjoying my morning cup.

The “speak to a nurse” option at my pediatrician’s office – a great resource for when you want to know if your baby’s poop is a normal color.

Daycare. AJ seems to really enjoy going to daycare and they take such good care of her. They also love to feed my mom ego by saying things like, “She is just such a beautiful baby!”

My coworkers. Going back to work was made much easier by the warm welcomes I received.

My husband who gets up at night to change diapers, takes out the dog at 6 a.m. and who tells me I have a beautiful voice when I sing lullabies off-key (which is always).

My mom friends. I’m so glad I have good friends who I can spend hours talking to about stroller brands and baby fingernails and the best way to get a baby to take a nap without them wanting to poke their eyes out (or if they do, they hide it well).

Google. HOW did moms survive without Google??

Smart phones. Again, HOW?

Mommy blogs. There is nothing more therapeutic for me than to read the honest and wonderful stories moms around the world are sharing. It’s so helpful to know you are not alone.

And of course, I am most thankful for my healthy, happy, wonderful baby girl. She has changed my life in a million ways and I’m thankful for every one of them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Man’s Best Friend (but not Baby’s)

Friday, October 24, 2014
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MajorMy husband and I have something weighing on our minds. One of our “children” is having a rough time and we don’t know what to do to help her. No, I’m not talking about AJ; I’m talking about our dog, Major.

Chris got Major (a girl dog named after Major Harris) from the animal shelter right around the time we started dating and she’s been a part of us ever since. She is always by our side. If one of us is in a room with the door shut she is outside it whimpering. She’s always needed an extraordinary amount of love and attention, which we have always been able to give.

That is, until we had a baby.

We often wondered about how the animals would react to our newest addition (we also have a feisty but loving cat). Our guess was that the cat wouldn’t want anything to do with the baby and the dog would be a little jealous but would be protective of AJ, like we heard so many other family dogs were when a baby was brought home.

Well, we were right about the cat, but we seriously miscalculated the effect a baby would have on Major.

To prepare Major, we followed advice we read. We let her sniff AJ’s blanket from the hospital, we pet Major and gave her attention while holding AJ, and we let Major sniff the baby and didn’t yell when she tried to sneak a lick in. Major was visibly upset the first couple weeks, but we figured she would get used to the baby in time.

Ten weeks later, the cat likes the baby but Major seems to have gotten worse. She jumps at everything, won’t eat her food half the time, sometimes refuses to go to the bathroom, and generally mopes around. It breaks my heart. I don’t know how to help her and I feel like it’s mostly my fault.

Major has always had a special affection for me, I don’t know why. Before baby, my full attention was available for the dog when she needed it. Now, even though I give all the love to Major that I can, there is always someone else in my arms, someone else that needs me constantly.

I keep telling myself that once AJ can give Major attention, things will get better. Once Major learns that AJ is a person who can love her too, maybe she will warm up to her. And once AJ is eating, and dropping, solid foods, the animals will surely love her, right?

Is there a solution to Major’s problem that I’m missing? Are more animals like Major when a new baby comes home than I previously thought?

It might seem silly to worry about a dog, but before I was mom to AJ I was mom to Major. As many animal owners know, our animals are a part of our family, and we worry about their mental and physical health. I wish I could tell Major that I’m learning to adjust to this new life too. I wish she could understand that AJ is not a rival, but a companion that will give her so much love as they both grow.

A Bad Day

Friday, October 3, 2014
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There are hard days and there are bad days. Some days are both. The first weeks of AJ’s life held many hard days, but not bad days. But this week, I had a bad day.

Now, if you are like pre-baby me, you might be thinking, “How could she have a bad day when she just spent it hanging out with her baby?”

Moms, I give you permission to stop right now and laugh at (or virtually smack) pre-baby me. Oh how little I knew…

The day started out normal. There were chores to be done, bills to be paid and a few calls to make, but nothing out of the ordinary. It quickly turned into one of those days where nothing goes as planned and everything seems to culminate into a mess at the same time.

The bad day started when I set out for our mid-morning run. I ended up dealing with several issues on the phone and the run never happened, but I did almost shed tears at the park. When we got home, I was frustrated and upset, and AJ quickly became the same. A crying baby meant no shower and a half-par lunch for me.

AJ continued to cry. Screaming cries. It could have been her reflux, or maybe she was just tired of looking at my face. Nothing I tried could soothe her. Even after eating she would go back to crying.

Several household items and appliances have managed to break in the last few days, and of course something broke on this bad day, which required more calls to check on warranties or at least adding making the calls to the mounting to-do list.

I was on the phone and online trying to get through red tape for various issues all afternoon, all the while trying to keep a pacifier in AJ’s mouth. Not giving my full attention to her wasn’t helping the situation either.

I then had to run a few errands that couldn’t wait (and errands are never quick with a child) and when I finally finished the day’s tasks I was exhausted. But AJ was not. She was still crying on and off. Chris had an after-hours work event and wasn’t home. The house was a mess. I was not able to eat anything for dinner because I was back to soothing the baby. When Chris finally came home, I was a mess.

It was official; I had had a bad day.

We all have bad days, whether we are two or twenty-two, a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or none of the above. They come unexpectedly, usually right when we think everything is going well. Some bad days are for silly, superficial reasons; some are not. Some are because of our kids, some because of work, some because of quarrels with family or friends, and some are because of sickness, loss or heartbreak.

That evening, as I finally got into bed, I thought about the day’s events. Sure, things did not go as planned. I wasn’t able to shower or eat dinner, I was frustrated with a lot of things, including myself, and had not been able to soothe our baby. I felt like a bad mom.

I then did a small reality check – I had many things for which to be thankful, one being that I was with my husband and baby at the end of the day and we were safe and healthy.

Sometimes we let the little things get to us, at least I do, but I hope I can always remember everything that is good at the end of the day and be thankful for it. I hope I can teach AJ that it’s okay to have bad days, even if the reasons may seem silly to someone else, but to remember to put things in perspective. Often, we’ll realize what we thought was a bad day was actually a pretty good one.