Monthly Archives: April 2016

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3…

 

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Spring gardening…damn the squirrels and full speed ahead

I know I should wait until May to start planting outdoors, but I am too impatient.

A few weeks ago I planted sweet pea and nasturtium seeds (actually, that was the correct time, but I don’t know how many survived; some animals, and I strongly suspect the squirrels, have been digging around in my containers). Last year the nasturtiums did very well, so if any of them are still in there and not being digested by small local wildlife, I expect the same this year. The sweet pea last year sprouted and grew leaves and vines but no flowers; I’m hoping if I give them a better climbing structure this year that will help.

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Chives, rosemary, and sage

0417161717bTwo pots of chives, one rectangular planter of thyme, one round pot of thyme, and one pot of parsley (surprisingly) made it through the winter indoors, and I’ve moved them outside to re-acclimate and hopefully perk up a bit. The rosemary, inexplicably, died, so I’ve got new rosemary in a rectangular planter, along with new sage and new chives. I bought a new mint plant as well; even though I can always start new ones from my old ones, they are never quite as robust.

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From left: last year’s mint, thyme, thyme, parsley.

I bought new “perennial, ever-bearing” strawberry plants as well. We shall see about that. Last year’s plants were from the year before; improbably, they survived that winter and grew lovely green leaves but few flowers and no berries last summer. This year I want at least one berry before the squirrels and birds get at them. Maybe I will put up some nets…is that awful? I don’t want to catch any animals inadvertently but I want to enjoy my plants.

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Strawberry box and strawberry jar – six plants total.

I planted basil seeds as well, but (a) they were left over from last year’s packet – do seeds go stale? – and (b) it snowed the day after I planted them so I doubt they will come up. I’ll wait until May, then get some basil to go with the tomatoes.

0417161717eThe narcissus bulbs spent the winter in the basement and are emerging now; I might have waited too long to bring them up. The grape hyacinth bulbs bloomed un-seasonally last fall so I don’t think they will bloom this spring – maybe next year? Last year was the first time I experimented with bulbs and they still seem sort of mysterious and magical.

You’ve all been very patient to read this far, so here is a photo of the baby in her first sun hat:

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Growing like a weed

 

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Tips and Tricks for Life with Baby

Here are some Things I have Learned during this whole baby adventure, sprinkled with quotes that were helpful and/or made me laugh. (The funny ones may not strike your particular funny bone. So it goes.)

“Pretend you’re good at it.” -Neil Gaiman

Surprises

Surprise #1: Hand lint. Babies’ hands “resist being unfurled,” as one book put it, and their hands act like tiny lint traps. Leave it long enough without cleaning and the lint begins to smell funny. Aren’t babies just delicious?

Surprise #2: The changing table. Many babies love the changing table. They can be screaming their little heads off, but the second you put them on the changing table they are delighted. I had assumed – wrongly – that a baby would dislike the changing table as soon as she learned to associate it with being undressed and having her nether regions wiped with cold wipes, but I completely underestimated how much babies enjoy being naked.

Surprise #3: Bibs. We got several bibs as gifts and I figured I’d put them away until the baby started eating food, or just use them as regular washcloths, but (in retrospect, duh) it turns out that bibs are great for catching milk spit-ups as well. It’s the same amount of laundry (tiny baby laundry!), but you don’t have to go through the hassle of changing the outfit underneath.

Conversation, 2:04am:

“Are turtles and tortoises different, like frogs and toads? Or is ‘tortoise’ just a fancy word for ‘turtle’?”

“Please let my brain go back to sleep.”

Oh please. You just told me you were having a dream about being at Moriarty’s house playing telepathic air hockey.

Child care

There are fun things to research and less fun things to research. Researching a crib or a stroller is pretty straightforward. Researching childcare arrangements is a little more complicated. Do it before the baby arrives. You don’t necessarily need to get on a waitlist before you have your baby (though in some places you will, especially if both parents are going back to work full-time at a certain time and you need to have care in place), but it’s much easier to research before the baby’s arrival: you have more time and you’re probably less emotional about it. Finding daycare is difficult for two reasons: (1) there’s no standard way of searching, especially if you’re looking for a nanny share or home daycare, and (2) you may, just possibly, have some anxiety or other emotions about other people taking care of your baby. This second bit is heightened after the baby comes, so do the research first; knowing your options reduces anxiety.

Conversation, 4:02am:

“I dreamed I was an urban planner for an imaginary town…”

“Did you know the town was imaginary in your dream? Like Sim City?”

“No.”

Baby clothes

Baby clothes are sized apparently at random, much like women’s clothing. Gerber 0-3 months is drastically different from Carter’s 0-3 months, and American Apparel runs so small (surprise) that our baby wore the 6-month size when she was 3 months old. Unless all of your clothing is from the same company, the best way to figure out the sizes is to lay everything out on a flat surface (floor, bed, table) and group together the items that actually are the same size. Then, put what currently fits in a drawer (or wherever you’re keeping the clothing the baby is wearing day to day), and bundle the other things together in the next-size-up groups, so when the current size gets snug, you can grab the next bundle. It is astonishing how quickly they grow out of things, and even more astonishing that this is going to continue for another 15 years at least (though I have been told it slows down somewhat).

See also: The Gear You Actually Need for Your Baby or the Next Baby Shower You Attend

“Do what works until it doesn’t work anymore. Then do something else.” -my friend J

A crash course in zen

Let go of desires (especially the word “just,” as in “I just want to eat this sandwich”) and expectations (such as “I will be able to eat and shower and nap and check e-mail today”). You’re on the baby’s schedule now, for at least as long as s/he qualifies as a newborn, and it will be so much less frustrating to have no expectations than to have them – even small ones, like going to the grocery store that day, or the baby taking a nap longer than 20 minutes – and not meet them.

That said, having such a limited and precious amount of free time can be a great opportunity to prioritize the important stuff (showering, eating, sleeping, and reading, in my case) and let go of the rest. This is probably the one time in life that everyone is likely to cut you some slack. Take advantage of that and focus on your baby, yourself, and the other loved ones in your household.

 “Today is like this. Tomorrow is a mystery.” -my friend J

 

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Local resources for parents of babies

There are SO many (free!) resources for parents with babies in the Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington/Belmont/Watertown area. If you can get yourself out of the house, it is well worth it. Many events are weekly so if you don’t make it this week, there’s always next week, and no one is going to judge you if you walk in ten or twenty minutes late. (You have a baby. Things happen. If you haven’t already, add “poopsplosion” to your vocabulary.) Even if you’re a bit shy, it’s a great time to meet people. Babies are excellent icebreakers! (Also, once they can reach and grab, coffee mug breakers. Diners beware.)

The activities and resources below are ones that I have attended/used and recommend; please feel free to add your favorites to my list in the comments.

Activities

Postpartum Support Group in Waltham
http://mamah.org/postpartum.html
Of all the things I went to in my first six months of being a parent, this was probably the most helpful, most supportive, most informative, and most important. It’s open to all parents, you don’t have to have worked with the midwives or delivered at Mount Auburn. Sometimes there are guest speakers (lactation consultants, infant massage practitioners, chiropractors, sleep experts, etc.), sometimes everyone just checks in and gets help from the other parents and the midwife who runs the group. (I ❤ Leslie!)

Hike It Baby Boston
https://www.facebook.com/groups/hikeitbabyboston/
“Hike” is a little misleading; there are some hikes but plenty of walks that are easy to do with a baby in a stroller or carrier. It’s great to get outside and there’s a “no mama left behind” policy so if you need to stop to change or nurse your baby, everyone will wait. Very friendly group, walks in many locations and different days and times.

Postnatal yoga
http://www.groundworkwellness.com/
I liked the class with Megan Dattoli at Groundwork in Belmont, but there are a surprising number of yoga classes especially for new mamas and their babies. Sure it’s a yuppie/hipster thing, and it may not work if your baby is cranky that day, but if s/he is content to nap or self-entertain for even part of the time, you get to do a little yoga without having to find a babysitter.

Belmont Public Library infant storytime
http://www.belmont.lib.ma.us/childrens-room-home
This is my favorite infant program thus far: it’s half an hour, no registration required, there is usually one story (maybe two), some songs with movement or fingerplay, and sign language; the story and songs are followed by some playtime with age-appropriate library toys, so there’s some time for parents to socialize too. The program happens in its own room right across the hall from the Children’s Department, so it’s easy to check out or return books while you’re there, and there’s a fish tank for the babies to gaze at.

Watertown Public Library Nursery Rhyme Time
http://www.watertownlib.org/children
This is a great program, held twice a week. It’s a little overwhelming for the younger babies, though they are welcome, but perfect for older babies or little toddlers. The librarian who leads it is wonderful! There are stories, songs, rhymes, fingerplay, and sometimes puppets.

The Loved Child free infant playgroup
http://thelovedchild.net/classes/new-parenting-infant-development/
Most classes and programs at TLC cost money, but the infant playgroup is free! It’s a nice way to meet other parents and babies. There’s a big mirror (most babies love looking at their own reflections), and lots of toys, so you can see what your baby likes playing with.

Resources

The book Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields: There’s a new edition every year, and it’s a great way to (1) figure out what you actually need and what is nonsense, (2) make decisions about purchases, and (3) save money on those things you do need.

Our pediatrician (wisely) told us “do not ask Dr. Google anything!” but the Moms of Camberville 2.0 group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404189156554599/ ) is an okay place to ask for advice or opinions about sleep, teething, weird rashes, etc.

Look, it’s true: they really DO grow so fast. If you’re looking to unload outgrown items or acquire new ones, try the Somerville “S1TM Exchange”  for baby/kid items (https://www.facebook.com/groups/S1FMBTSL/). Even infants have preferences, but you might not want to buy every kind of sleep suit (for example) on the market to find out what works for yours. We got rid of our glider chair and found a rock ‘n’ play via S1TM.

The Children’s Clothing Exchange (CCE) in Cambridge: Register, then bring in outgrown clothes and get right-size clothes. Genius! http://solutionsatwork.org/our-programs/childrens-clothing-exchange/

The Arlington parents’ list: if you live or work in Arlington, this is a great resource. You can get the e-mail in digest form once a day. Typical posts include ISOs (in search of) for clothes, toys, equipment, or advice (regarding daycare, summer camp, etc.) and FS (for sale – clothes, toys, etc.). http://wiki.arlingtonlist.org/arlington-parents-list

The Little Fox Shop: Located inside the Fox Branch Library in Arlington, The Little Fox Children’s Resale Shop has clothes, toys, books, and more for infants on up. (They also have some maternity clothes.) Proceeds benefit the library. http://www.littlefoxshop.com/

Growing Up Children’s Resale Boutique: Located in Belmont, a great place to sell children’s items (they won’t take everything, but you don’t have to make a special appointment) and pick up clothes, toys, sleep sacks, etc. https://www.facebook.com/growingupbelmont/info/?tab=overview

Have you found any of these useful? What’d I miss?

4/29/16 Edited to add: The Watertown Family Network and Jewish Family & Children’s Services (jfcsboston.org) are both good resources as well.

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What we’ve read so far, week 24-ish

Stack of picture books, spine facing

Keepin’ the library in business

This week’s special guest star is The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, borrowed from our friend and (conveniently) neighbor, and featuring “The Adventures of Isabel,” among many, many other poems. We’re also enjoying…

  • Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid: not quite as good as Oliver and His Alligator (one of our very favorites) but Oliver is as offbeat and daydreamy as ever.
  • Make Way for Ducklings: A classic, and essential reading for those in the Boston area! We’ll have to take her to see the ducks and the swan boats this summer.
  • Wolfie the Bunny: If the title alone doesn’t make you want to read this book…who are you? Wolfie the Bunny is fantastic, with a refrain kids can shout along to (“He’s going to EAT US ALL UP!”), a fierce and clever heroine named Dot, and a sweet twist at the end.
  • Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! has helpful endpapers with the correct pronunciation of each dinosaur type. For a multi-sensory reading experience, set up block towers to knock down whenever Tyrannosaurus WRECKS!
  • Lon Po Po is a Caldecott winner I remember from grade school. Actually, I just remembered the haunting cover, not much of the story (a Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood featuring a clever older sister).

And now…baby pictures. Closing in on six months…

Baby balancing on blue yoga ball

Baby yoga

Baby holding a blue and orange teething toy with hands and mouth

“Here, fishy fishy fishy!” A teething toy to gnaw on with those first teeth.

Baby in a bucket swing at the playground

First time in a swing. “Higher! Faster!”

Dad wearing carrier, smiling baby holding umbrella handle

Baby doesn’t mind the rain…and helps Dad hold the umbrella

smiling baby on a pillow

Tummy time on a homemade pillow from a friend

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