A short tirade with chutzpah

I get caught up with others and how they behave. I’m not talking celebrities, just normal people out in the real world hanging out. The fun mom encouraging her kids to crawl all over the public fountain downtown not caring what anyone thinks. The cool high school girl singing at the top of her lungs to whatever she’s listening to while walking on the sidewalk.

Sometimes I wish I could trade places with them for just a moment, and take some of their chutzpah with me when I come back.

So often I stop myself from doing this because of that, or make up an asinine reason why I can’t go or can’t do something. Deep down I’m wondering WHY I am afraid and WHY I’m not doing what I really want to do.

I’ve decided it is never too late to change your wicked ways. I’m going to take action and start doing the things I shy away from. I’m going to step up to the plate and try new things and not worry about the consequences (I’m not talking death-defying or hurtful situations here people). It’s time to get out there and have a good time.

Maybe you should, too. Let’s all stop and smell the roses. They are quite fragrantly beautiful this time of year.

Healthful Mondays: Yogurt

The other day I was running low on baby food and my wee one was wailing for more, more, more.  What to do?  I took a peak in the fridge and there wasn’t much to choose from.  But, behind the mineral water and neglected orange juice was sitting my favorite plain yogurt.  It beckoned me with its smooth creaminess, its white happiness, and its tangy milky flavor.  I flashed back to the past pediatrician’s visit and vaguely remembered somebody saying something about no dairy until 1 year of age.  But, the baby was wailing and the yogurt was calling.  I went for it – and she ate it all up.

After 8 months of age, yogurt is okay for your baby.  Other dairy such as milk and cheese are still a no-no.  For some reason, yogurt sneaks by due to containing live active cultures, or probiotics. Probiotics are foods that contain natural good bacteria that assist with digestion and overall health.  These lovely little probiotics are found by the thousands in yogurt.  So, not only are you providing your baby with great natural protein and dairy, but wonderful probiotics.

Adding a spoonful of yogurt into baby food, or as a treat on its own is a great way to introduce yogurt to baby’s diet.  Starting with plain yogurt with labeling stating it contains “live probiotics” is a good idea. Purchasing yogurt in a large container instead of single servings is also a great way to be eco-friendly. Spoon out yogurt for each serving and enjoy some yourself while you are at it.

If you are wrinkling your nose up at the idea of boring old plain yogurt, mix in some pureed bananas, strawberries, or peaches to liven things up.  Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon, squeeze a little orange, or stir in some oatmeal.  The things that don’t seem appealing to you might taste amazing to your baby.  Try to stay away from flavored yogurt as they contain large amounts of sugar and may not contain probiotics. Remember to watch your baby for adverse reactions to new foods alerting you to food allergies.

Wanting some help losing the baby weight? Try having yogurt as a snack or with a meal during the day. Those live and active cultures help your body stay balanced and have happy and healthy bowel movements, which aides in getting rid of extra fat and creating a tiny tummy.

You might be tempted to buy expensive fancy-shmancy yogurt while at the supermarket, but my favorite is cheap and plain. It’s a blank canvas that can be added to easily or enjoyed plain. I’ve even used plain yogurt in place of sour cream and mayonnaise! YUM!

Fine art for kids: Marker wash

Even the very young benefit from exploring their ability to make marks, which may not look like much, but are essential to their art development.  Your child’s creative growth is encouraged through making messes, scribbling, and trying new things. Toddler artwork is truly abstract, with no recognizable shapes or design, but can be proudly displayed around your home or used for other fun projects.

An engaging and fun artwork can be accomplished with your young child by taping a square of drawing paper, or if you feel like splurging, watercolor paper, to their high chair tray. Toss your babe some washable markers and let her explore creating lots and lots of lines. She will inevitably do some taste testing with those markers, but have no fear, they aren’t toxic, and washable markers mostly wash off (red is a bit challenging to remove from clothes and skin).

Once your little one has covered her paper with lines of color, replace those markers with a wet paintbrush. Let her paint over the lines and watch as they blend together and change. When the paintbrush becomes dry, re-wet the paintbrush for her and allow the painting to continue.

Remove the tray before the paper gets too soaked and wipe your babe down – especially if she has marker on her hands or around her mouth. Washable markers are great if you can toss the marked items in with the laundry – couches don’t fit in the washer!

I proudly display my daughter’s artwork on the fridge, but you could cut and paste them on the front of cards to send Grandma, or place them in small frames around the house. I’ve even used pieces of baby painted paper for wrapping gifts!

Take the time to create some art with your babe today. Encouraging her creativity will benefit her budding development and allow you both to enjoy some important bonding time together!

The Swim Lesson

We survived our first swim lesson on Sunday. There were a few questionable moments, but in the end, fun was had by all. My daughter didn’t scream her head off, and I didn’t turn and run when it was time to get into the pool.

As we drove to the community center, I will admit to being a bit anxious about the impending doom of revealing my ultra-white length of skin to others – especially some potential hotty-hot moms out there. I live in an area where some new moms are able to afford a personal trainer, and long days at the spa enduring body shrinking treatments. So, the pressure was high. My jiggling thighs are no match to 30-something-yoga-mom.

Walking up to the tot lesson, all the moms were already in the pool. Of course, we were late, so I was the last mama to disrobe and hop in. Instead of all eyes on me, mommies and daddies were busy engaging their children in the big pool – desperately keeping their kiddos from being “that one” that screamed and screamed.

Amazed at my luck, I grabbed the babe, jumped in, and got busy. We floated, kicked, jumped around in circles, and placed our ears in the water – although my daughter has NO idea where her ears are. No tears were shed, and no fellow mama gave me the “up-and-down” look of disapproval.

I’m already looking forward to next week.

Healthful Mondays: Number 2

Welcome to another healthful Monday, which is all about the “number 2.”  Number 2, doody, poop, poopoo. Whatever you call it, it’s been the main topic of conversation at some point in your house –  especially if you have kids.

Your child’s diaper can tell you a lot about what is happening in their little body when they aren’t able to tell you if their tummy hurts or they are really thirsty. And, as we know, everybody poops.

Your newborn’s first bowel movement is called meconium.  It is very similar to a tar like substance and will pass 10-12 hours after they are born. Hopefully, your baby will pass its meconium after it has been born, but in some cases, the baby has their first bowel movement while in utero.  This creates a bit more of a mess during delivery, and baby needs to be super-cleaned after birth, along with clearing all airways.

If you’re breastfeeding, babies are said to have sweeter smelling poop. Breastfed or  bottle fed, it is normal for it to take a couple of days before you see regular bowel movements in newborns.  Breastfed babies usually have runny bowel movements ranging from orange to brown in color.  It has a seedy texture to it, kind of like runny small curd cottage cheese, or mustard.  If you are formula feeding, your baby’s bowel movements might be similar to peanut butter and have a more distinct smell.

I was absolutely astounded by how many bowel movements my newborn created.  It seemed that every time I fed her, she had a dirty diaper!  Did she have diarrhea?  Was there something wrong?  It is totally normal for babies to have lots of bowel movements. They have tiny tummies that fill up, and there is nowhere for everything to go other than out.  I thought it was funny how everyone kept giving me infant diapers, until I ran out.

After a couple of weeks, I noticed that we weren’t going through so many diapers, and my daughter’s bowel movements were slowing down.  Then, one afternoon, I was changing her diaper and there, in the diaper, was the most amazing green poop.  She must be sick!  I was a little shocked and scared at the same time.  I told myself to calm down.  She wasn’t acting strange or upset, so there must be a different reason for this green mess.  It turns out that baby bowel movements run the gamut in color from yellow, to orange, to brown, to green!  I breathed a sigh of relief and we went on with our day.  Her next bowel movement was a completely different color – yellow!

If your baby isn’t acting their normal self,  checking their bowel movements is a good place to start when trying to figure out what’s wrong. It turns out that there are only a few colors you don’t want to see when changing your newborns’ diaper. Those colors are:

Red – If it ever looks like there is blood in your child’s diaper, you should contact your pediatrician. Some girls might pass a small amount of blood soon after they are born, and many times blood in the diaper might be due to small cuts or strain around the anus. But, it is still a good idea to call your pediatrician and let them know.

Black – Other than when your baby passes its meconium, you shouldn’t see black in your baby’s diaper. If you are seeing dark or black bowel movements, call your pediatrician right away.

White – This can be a sign of problems with some of your baby’s internals.  This is another color that deserves a call to the pediatrician.

(Green) – Yes, I said before to not worry about green bowel movements, but if you are seeing a lot of green along with a fussy baby, you might want to call your pediatrician.  If your baby is happy and showing no signs of distress, don’t worry about it.

No Bowel Movement – If your baby hasn’t had a bowel movement in a couple of days, this is another time to give your pediatrician a call.  Sometimes babies have long breaks between movements; so if baby seems happy, let it go another day or two.

Your baby’s bowel movements aren’t anything to be afraid of!  Take your time while changing your newborn’s diaper and make sure to wash your hands afterwards.  Just think, in no time, you’ll be getting ready for potty training!

Cupcakes make everything better

I needed a pick-me-up the other day. Nothing was really wrong or anything. I was just a bit tired, run down, used and abused. Typical for a stay-at-home-crazy-mom, right? So, I figured I owed myself some kind of a treat – a special indulgence. What better way to make everything better than with a tasty batch of cupcakes!

What’s great about cupcakes is they are mini cakes. You get your own little cake with its own bit of lovely frosting to eat all on your own – with your hands.

Super yummy.

The typical chocolate or vanilla cupcake wasn’t going to cut it. Nope, something special was needed to make me feel better. Carrot raisin cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting would do.

There’s no way I’m about to take responsibility for the recipe I used for my dreamy cupcakes. The Joy of Baking provided it for me, which I tweaked a touch for my taste by omitting the nuts and cutting the recipe in half. I didn’t need THAT many cupcakes to make me feel better.

Cream cheese frosting is the simplest and yummiest frosting around. Whip room temperature cream cheese with a touch of butter, a couple drops of vanilla, and  a good heap of powdered sugar until you are satisfied with its amazing taste and texture. Cool it in the fridge until you are ready to frost.

Eating one of my cupcakes definitely made everything better – for a little while. Later, I had to eat another one just to make sure.

Play Date Adventure: The Bay Area Discovery Museum

The other day I had a fantastic time while on a play date.  We met at a location not far from my home at a spot that had been hiding right under my nose.  Once you have kids, a whole new world opens up – the world of child based museums and parks – places that are awesome and amazing, and tons of fun (for both you and your kiddies)!

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located in Sausalito, just a quick trip away from anywhere in the Bay Area.  With a small entry fee ($8 for children 1-17 and $10 for adults – children under 1 are free), it has something for everyone.  As I drove into the facility, I had to close my mouth as I gaped at the breath taking views.  The Golden Gate Bridge looms over the park along with classic California hills and lush foliage.

The museum consists of both indoor and outdoor areas dedicated to educating children through play. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is focused on developing childhood creativity and nurturing future thinkers and innovators.  At the museum, visitors can enjoy the grounds at their leisure, or participate in scheduled events such as story times, hands-on activities, and special events.

You can easily spend the whole day at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, but make sure to get there early. The parking lot was almost full by the time I arrived, which was just a bit past 10 am on a Friday morning. The Bay Area Discovery Museum opens at 9 am Tuesday through Friday, and 10 am Saturday and Sunday.  Doors stay open until 4 pm during the week and 5 pm on the weekend.  Bring a bag lunch to enjoy, or stop in at the café.  The café does have limited hours, from 10 am to 2 pm Tuesday through Friday and 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday, so make sure to plan accordingly.

Hours can slip by while wandering the amazing gardens, digging in the sand, climbing the various rocks formations, and exploring the environmental exhibits.  Bring the sunscreen and take your time. Strollers are okay, but do have to be left outside of certain rooms.  Shoes are taken off in play areas, so make sure to keep your belongings close or in cubbies located at the front of discovery rooms.

They aren’t joking when they say the museum is set up for the wee ones.  The tot spot, an area just for the very little, had fantastic areas to crawl, explore, play, and touch all set up in a safe and soft environment.  We rolled around, crawled lots, and played so long, before I had even buckled my baby in the car seat she was snoring.

Check out the Bay Area Discovery Museum’s website for more information and details about upcoming events and activities.  See you there!


Recycled styrofoam art

With Earth Day around the corner, finding ways to re-use or recycle is at the top of my to-do list. The other night, while making dinner, that flat styrofoam meat tray reminded me of an educational and enjoyable art activity I used to do with students. I decided to save that ugly yellow meat tray and turn it into something lovely instead!

Before heading down the art-with-used-meat-tray activity path, it’s essential to clean the styrofoam. I use lots and lots of dish soap to wash trays, and dry them overnight before using. This ensures no icky-sick potential.

Cut the sides off the meat tray along with cutting it to a size you want to work with. Then, you can use a pencil to draw a design onto the tray. Don’t go crazy or anything – you aren’t trying to press through the tray, just make an indentation. If you want to make a detailed design, you can print out or draw a design on a sheet of paper and then tape it over the styrofoam – just trace over the design.

When finished with your drawing, paint over the tray with tempera, acrylic, or watercolor paint. Press the tray onto a piece of paper and check out the cool print you made! You can re-use the stamp by washing it with water and then stamp and stamp away!

The great thing about this project is that pretty much anyone can do it – even little kids. The design might be a ton of crazy lines, but kiddies will be proud of the finished product. Adults can get in on the action, too. And, you might find yourself getting quite caught up in creating unique designs. I enjoyed playing around with making these styrofoam stamps while my daughter was napping.

Healthful Mondays: Number 1

Due to feeling slightly under-the-weather with all this sun, then rain, then sunny weather, I’ve decided to dedicate Mondays to a new endeavor – Healthful Mondays.

What does that mean? I’m not really sure to be honest with you. All I know is that I want to FEEL healthy, I want my baby to BE healthy, and there are tons of ways to accomplish this. Some paths toward health I am familiar with, and others I am not.

So, each Monday, I am going to share something that has helped me keep my sanity, lose weight, or has contributed to the wonderful over-all development of my babe. I’m going to try new things (which I usually have an aversion to) and share the results with you. Some of things may be successful, and others may be very entertaining. You’ll just have to check in with me on Mondays to find out.

This week, sleep has been on my mind, and for all you new mommies out there, sleep might be something of a foreign thing. Hey, it’s not just newborns keeping us awake at night – older kids go through tricky phases, too. But, what got me, and the baby, through the first couple months of nights, somewhat sanely, was swaddling!

The most frustrating aspect of the whole swaddling affair is the actual swaddling itself!  If you’re going to attempt to swaddle with a blanket, it is a true art. Practice on a baby-doll before attempting swaddling your squirming baby the first time. Practice LOTS!  Here are the basic steps to swaddle your little one:

– Lay your blanket out on a flat surface in the shape of a diamond.

– Fold down three or four inches of the top edge of the blanket.

– Place your baby on the blanket so that her head is overlapping the top edge that you just turned down.

– Tuck your baby’s right arm into the flap made by the folded down edge of the blanket and the right corner of the blanket. Pull that corner across her body, tucking it behind the opposite side of his back.  You can tuck as tight or as loose as your baby likes.

– Bring the bottom corner of the blanket up and tuck it inside the blanket near her chest.

– Tuck your baby’s left arm into the flap made by the folded down edge of the blanket and the left corner of the blanket. Pull that corner across her body, tucking it behind the blanket on his back.

– Place baby in basinet or crib and hope the whole thing stays together!

Check out these great pictures to help swaddle from Bambino Land.  They also have wonderful swaddling products! www.bambinoland.com/photo/gallery/show/9

I’ll be honest. While recovering in the hospital, I observed the nurses deftly swaddling up my daughter into a super-happiness sleep bundle. Through my drugged state, I knew there was no way I was ever going to get it just right. So, once we got home, I whipped out the newborn swaddle that was given to me at my baby shower. It was made of super soft material with a wonderful zipper, along with velcro side straps, to quickly and easily wrap baby up – and unwrap and re-wrap during those middle-of-the-night-super-dark feedings.

At first my husband didn’t like that I whisked our daughter away at the appointed hour at night to restrict her in a tight swaddle, but each and every night she calmed down, made a couple of complaints, and fell fast asleep.  Many times for 4-6 hours of sleep at a stretch!

Most pediatricians say that after a couple of months baby will be ready to sleep un-swaddled.  My pediatrician said that when she can pull apart the swaddle, then it is time to try sleeping without it.  Most babies get to that point around 2-3 months of age.  You definitely need to stop swaddling baby by the time it can roll over.  Not a great idea to have your burrito baby roll over in the night and not have its arms free to right itself again.  Trust your instincts and when your wee one seems to fight the swaddle instead of enjoy it; the time has come to move on.

So, if you are planning on swaddling, practice, practice, practice. Or, invest in a slick zipper and velcro swaddle. It might save your sanity – seriously.

Look what I can do!

The other day I just couldn’t shake a bad mood. I tried eating (which usually helps), going for a walk, and watching a cheesy movie. The mood wouldn’t budge. It was a hanger-on-er.

When you are a parent, you don’t get a day off. Your child isn’t going to pat your back and tell you not to worry about it, they can entertain themselves for a couple of hours. As a stay-at-home-crazy-mom, there isn’t even a minute off. I don’t get to do anything (really, anything) without her.

So, the other day while I was feeling out of sorts, my daughter was pretty confused as to where her normal silly mom had gone. She pulled all her special tricks to get her special momma to come out and play, but I didn’t budge. I was still ornery.

It just so happened she figured it out while I was slathering another piece of bread with butter. As I came around the corner I was aware that the living room was a bit quieter than usual. You know what I mean. That quiet that means there is definitely something going on. Your heart beats a little faster, you begin to panic. Did you remember to plug all the sockets? Did the baby shove something bad into her mouth?


My adorable babe had decided she was ready to wear a bra. And, had done a pretty good job of putting it on – all by herself.

What makes you feel better when you are having a bad day?