Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It’s the 2nd of October. What am I thinking about? Christmas stockings. That’s right, I said Christmas.

But, Jamie, we’re barely out of September. That’s ridiculous. I just hate it when stores put out Christmas decorations before we even have Halloween. Wahhh, wahhh, wahh….STICK IT!

Do you know why I am doing this? Because I’ve missed the boat on every holiday since Henning was born and before all that is holy, I’m not missing this one.

Technically, I am giving myself a free pass for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. St. Patrick’s Day because it’s not fun unless you’re Irish or drink green beer and Easter because it was like three weeks after someone cut a baby out of my midsection. Plus, it’s really unnecessary to have an Easter basket for an infant, and it’s a pain in the ass to put them in dressy clothes. Looking back, all I can do is think, “Why don’t I have a picture of my kid in some bunny ears or lying next to a sheep?”

Halloween was going to be my chance to get back in the game. I obsessed over it all through August and just couldn’t make a decision. Truthfully, I was leaning towards Henning as Sweet Pea because Pete looks so much like Popeye, but I don’t know that enough people would get the reference. Then I decided we needed one of those baby animal costumes, but only a weird one. Like a baby goat. Then I came to my senses and realized that being without teeth or the ability to walk kind of limits Henning’s Halloween fun. So I figured I wouldn’t waste a good costume idea on a year the kid won’t even remember and just pick up something at Old Navy or Carters. I watched their Halloween email notices come, and thought “There’s almost two months until Halloween. I don’t need to order that yet.“ Then I saw the sale emails and thought, “It’s only September. I don’t need to order that yet.” In fact, it was at this point that my mother called to ask if I had thought about a stocking for Henning and my VERY WORDS to her were, “I haven’t even gotten him a Halloween costume yet. I don’t need to worry about that yet.”

YES. YES YOU DO need to worry about that. In fact, as soon as the stick turns blue, you should go on and just get yourself a Chasing Fireflies catalog and open that puppy up. Because mamas be crazy. Now, when it’s time to order a Halloween costume, all the good places are sold out. Old Navy, Carters, nothing but the leftovers from their stock of orange onesies. You know what’s left? Pottery Barn. Pottery Barn has greeeeeaaaat costumes. Pottery Barn has both Max AND the monster from Where the Wild Things Are and we read that book every night of my life. However, Pottery Barn reeeeeaaaaallly likes those costumes and I just cannot make myself pay $80 for a baby Halloween costume, free shipping or not.

Of course, I could still find all sorts of costumes at actual Halloween places and on, but they all look like that type or rayon/polyester that would catch on fire if it got too close to a hot cup of coffee, and I am a-feared of stuff like that. What we will probably do is obey the 836 people who have emailed, texted, and sent pictures of kids to let me know that bald babies seem to somewhat resemble Charlie Brown, and buy a yellow t-shirt and a black Sharpie.

Anyhow, this is how I wound up spending an alarming number of hours considering Christmas stockings. My family has matching knitted Christmas stockings that we have used since the early 80’s. Because stockings are for LIFE. Only Communists buy new stockings every year. (Communists who celebrate Christmas are kind of rare, I guess.) These stockings were very popular in town and I know several families who use the same ones – one friend of my mother had to ask the lady to come out of retirement so her last child could have a matching stocking. I used to think that if I ever had a kid, I would want him to have a stocking like ours, but that lady has been dead for years.

Enter etsy. I was looking at stockings and making a ridiculously large list of favorites when I saw my brother’s stocking. Turns out these stockings were not a LaGrange 80’s fad, but became a trend in the 1950’s and never went away. They are from Mary Maxim and you can still buy similar patterns on her website, although I don’t think the newer ones are as kitschy.

The fact that these stockings still exist – and are actually starting to sell out in some Etsy stores because I am obviously not the only 35 year old with an overdeveloped sense of nostalgia -  has resulted in an embarrassing amount of pondering: Do I get Henning a matching stocking? I could get him one in red or white since all ours are in green and it would mark him as a new generation. Of course, then I would have to get Pete one so we would all match. Wait – I don’t even have my stocking. Mom has my stocking. I wonder if she’s going to fill stockings for Pete and Brandon this year. Maybe I should get Pete a stocking for over there. Still, those stockings are kind of fugly except for being steeped in tradition so maybe I should just pick out something new for Henning. Especially since those stockings are red and green and all my Christmas stuff looks like Dr. Seuss and Whoville. But then what if Lulu or Mitchell has babies and they get the old school stockings and I am sorry I got these?

GOOD GRIEF. I realize this is ridiculous and I’m driving myself nuts. Although I did inquire into the stocking future of my newlywed sister’s non-existent, hypothetical, future children, and she assured me that she would be finding her own stockings. BUT, then came the Great Saga of Personalization. As you see, those old stockings have the name knitted right into them, which is really how stockings should be. But I can’t find a colorful, Dr. Seuss, Whoville, knitted stocking that has a name. And, obviously, all stockings should be knitted. There are rules to this sort of thing. So now I am stuck. I have, of course, found the perfect Whoville stocking with no name included.  WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO????

Maybe I can tack an initial onto the toe…..

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I've Gain-ed some Guilt.

My mother is big on sayings. I cannot express to you how often she says “God works in mysterious ways” and “What goes around comes around.” Obviously, her choice of saying differs depending on whether she is riled up or not.

I have decided to join her and take up a new mantra. Really, it should also have been my old mantra. I have chosen to now live by these wise words: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

 See, I am rapidly learning about the wide world of parenting fails. For example, Henning turned 8 weeks old last Friday and I just realized I have yet to sit him beside a stuffed animal and track his growth for a scrapbook. I even bought this ginormous stuffed dragon shortly after finding out I was pregnant for this express purpose and now we are screwed. I guess I could start him off at three months, but that just seems like advertising my own idiocy.

He also drinks cold formula. MADE USING TAP WATER. I can’t figure out if I am the cool, laid back Mom or the ridiculously lazy Mom. I know I am not the only person who does these things. I know that because I stole both these ideas from other Moms, and if you don’t think I bless them every day when I am standing in the kitchen after midnight running cold tap water into my formula, you are sadly mistaken. But I still feel guilty about it.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of guilt that comes with motherhood. Maybe this is why mothers are notorious for laying guilt trips on their children. Maybe there is just so much guilt that it has to be spread around. The fact that Henning and I miserably failed at breastfeeding has happily become less of a worrying factor just in time for me to find out that I could be making my own floor cleaner. And detergent. And using cloth diapers.

 Truthfully, I would totally use cloth diapers if Pete would let me. I think those new covers are suuuuper cute. But even if we used cloth diapers, they would still be washed in Gain detergent because I am wholly indoctrinated to the chemical-laden world and I love that fresh, clean scent. We don't even buy Dreft for the baby clothes. Did I just choose a fragrance over the well-being of my child and planet?

 Yes, yes I did. And I feel TERRIBLE about it, but not terrible enough to wear clothes-scented clothes. Maybe I just feel terrible that I don't really feel terrible about it? Henning also has a used crib AND carseat, both of which I’m pretty sure are illegal in the state of Georgia.

 However, the thing that makes me feel most terrible is when I am busted mid-fail. My Dad, Big Daddy Lee, kept Henning for a while one afternoon last week. We were running through the list of things packed in the diaper bag and I was feeling mighty superior. Extra clothes? Check. Wipes? Check. Bottles? Check – I even packed one wet and one dry in case of emergency. Socks? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, CHECK!!!!! (My parents are nuts about the socks. They don’t care if it’s 75 degrees outside. I can’t decide if they are old or I am uncaring.) Baby powder?

 Baby powder? Baby powder. Baaaaaaaby powder. Huh.

I look at Pete. Pete looks at me. Dad looks at us both like we are completely and totally inept.

 Do people still use baby powder? Is that still a thing? Did that not go away with Mad Men? We haven’t used any for over 8 weeks now and Henning has no sign of any rash or swamp-butt of any kind.

 Several people gave us bags of baby supplies at my showers. We have desitin. We have wipes for both sets of cheeks, and the face ones smell like grape kool-aid. We have gripe water and gas drops. We have creams and lotions, washes and soaps, medicines and remedies of all kinds. I could be mistaken, but I don’t remember any baby powder. Surely the diaper industry has become so advanced that baby powder has gone the way of Brylcreem.

 Apparently not.

 So there you go. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I’m not going to watch you, and you promise not to watch me, while my Gain-scented kid sits over here probably not properly buckled into a borrowed swing, while his gums are chattering from the cold formula and lack of socks.
I think he's onto us already.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

Things that happened in the last fifteen months:

 Got a new job…Pete moved home….we bought a house…..we got married….oh, and this:


Henning Miles Daniel

7lbs. 2ozs. of pure sweetness!


Should you wonder if hindsight says this was a timeline more people should adopt, I can promise you that hindsight would slap you upside the head. With a mallet.

 So, even though Pete and I have absolutely no idea what we are doing, Henning seems to be thriving and I don’t think we have messed him up for life yet. I have discovered, however, that we have absolutely no consistency as to what either of us does with Henning when the other is not looking.

 Like when he sleeps.

 Generally, at six weeks of age, Henning will go to sleep around 9:15 pm and wake up anywhere between midnight and 1:30 am for a bottle. I give him a bottle and then we have a sing-a-long in the rocking chair. We have a regular playlist of 70’s singer-songwriters and children’s music, including Carole King, the Muppets, and that song Maid Marian sings in the Disney version of Robin Hood. And we always include Sweet Baby James. I think he’s actually starting to recognize that one, but it could be wishful thinking.

 Between the bottle and the rocking, there’s roughly an hour involved in this routine until he falls asleep and I can slide him into his crib. If he wakes up while I try to move him, we start over for a song or two. And I have been congratulating myself on getting this handled in the middle of the night with no fussing.

 He then sleeps until anywhere from 4:30 to – if we are very, very lucky – 6:00. If it’s nearer to 4:30,I will take the second shift, but the later it gets, the more likely that Pete will handle it. Fairly often on the weekend he will give me a break and take both night feedings, which is fantastic. Some mornings I wake up and he has given Henning a bath and fed him and they are watching tv in the den. It’s pretty awesome.

 Last night we made an important discovery. Henning stayed with his awesome Aunt Nicole yesterday, and playing with Amelia and Annie tired him out and he fell asleep on the way home. There was no waking the boy, and it was close to 9:30, so I put him down without worrying about a bedtime bottle. Mistake. Big mistake. He woke up around 11:00, which never happens, for his first bottle, drank it, and fell asleep before even finishing it. I put him in the crib – and actually felt sad that I really hadn’t spent much time with him between work and being out on the Ponderosa for dinner with the Comerfords after his afternoon out there.

At 2:39 am, he woke up and I stumbled into the nursery, to find Pete already at the crib. We did the late-night mumble: “You got it? Yeah? Umph. Bed.” And he took him, but I heard Henning whining a little while later and got up to investigate. Pete had fed him, dropped him in the crib and gone back to bed in the nursery twin bed. I’m trying to think of a word for what I felt, but I don’t have anything better than naked, blind, rage. I was cussing him out inside my head. “Why can’t he rock him if he’s going to feed him? What the hell does he do when I’m not looking? What kind of father does that……” So I picked up Henning and he was WIDE awake. Just looking at me with these huge eyes like he is ready to play. We got in the rocking chair and sang our whole playlist. Not even a blink. We rocked silently. Still looking at me. We started singing again and he finally closed his eyes, only to wake up when I moved him. It took FOREVER to get him to sleep, and I was SO mad.

 At 5:55 the same thing happened. Pete got up, fed Henning a bottle, and went back to bed. Henning started whining again and I stormed into the nursery, ready to do battle. After all, I had to be at work this morning! I needed my sleep! I got Henning out of the crib and got ready to get back into the rocking chair…again. Pete, who could see that I was steaming mad, rolled over and said, “Can he not go to bed without an hour of that?” and I said “He’s a BABY. OF COURSE he wants to be rocked. You can’t just feed him and dump him in there!”

 And my husband said, “If you lay him there for five minutes, he’ll go back to sleep. I usually just shut the door so you don’t hear him fuss.” And I laid the baby in the bed. And this child, who keeps me awake rocking and likes to be completely asleep before he is ever-so-gently placed in the crib, CLOSED HIS EYES AND SIGHED.

I think I got played by a 6 week old.