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New Parent Recommendations

I had no idea about anything that I needed for a baby when I got pregnant. I didn’t have any younger brothers. Or sisters. Or cousins.

I had bought a few gifts for my friends when they had babies, but I bought directly off the registry and was pretty clueless.

And things change. When my crazy friend had her son, she had a special support contraption to help him stay on his side when he slept. Five or so years later, the recommendation was to have babies sleep on their backs instead.

When it came time to pick out items for my baby registry, I went with all the staples. I feel in love with some cutesy, expensive things. It always helps to remember that other people will be showering you with these things using their money, not yours.

One thing I fell for was the matching crib set. I found this super-cute woodland-creature themed set. Which was perfect, because my husband and I were waiting to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.

I believe I used giftcards to purchase the set of the matching crib sheet, comforter, bumpers, and dust ruffle. They were so cute to set up the crib with ahead of time. But they weren’t cheap.

Carter's Woodland Critters, or something like that...

Carter’s Woodland Critters, or something like that…

Waste of money. The dust ruffle became too much to bother with with frequent sheet changes (my son was a power pee-er). My husband banned the bumpers for fear my son would suffocate himself on them. The comforter is very stiff and not real good for a tiny baby. We use it now that my son M is a preschooler as a top blanket over something fuzzier.

In that same woodland design, we had also received the lamp, diaper holder, receiving blankets, basket, and fleece blanket, for which we have used all of them for varying degrees of time.

But the crib set. Man, there are better things to spend your money on. Things you would never even think about.

Like hearing protection.

“What?” you say.

Last year, when my son had just turned three, I wanted to take him (OK, really I just wanted to go) to a monster truck show. So, I went online, did lots of research, and ordered him a pair of hearing protection muff things.

They worked great for the monster truck show.

Watching Grave Digger

Watching Grave Digger

And for fireworks the next July.

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

Chicks did boys with hearing protection

And for dulling the sound of the yard blower and leaf vacuum last weekend.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

No more crying when Daddy starts the leaf blower.

For around $15, I was able to get something for my son that, while I don’t use it every day, when I do need it, stops him from being upset, having extra anxiety, crying, and possible hearing damage. Here is a link to the ones I ordered: 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff Blue #970239

Two tricks to this being useful:

1. You have to buy ear protection that fits.

I ordered mine off of Amazon.com, and I carefully read all the reviews for each model I was interested in to try to get the perfect size. Sometimes how the manufacturer describes it is not how it actually will fit your child.  Some are made for adults, some for teens, some for tiny babies.

If you shop for them in a hunting/sporting goods store, you might be able to try them on before you buy.

2. You have to predict when you will use them, and have them with you.

Some people are better at this than others. Pretty much, I am just obsessed with getting $15 worth of use out of them before my son outgrows them. So, I am always thinking, “Should I take his ear muffs with us?”

It might seem silly, but I know that if we wanted to go to a concert or something, we can just grab them and M and go.

So Eager


Do all first time parents feel the need to give their child every experience right away? Or are my husband and I just like that because our son had medical issues?

My husband and I bought my son, M, a shiny, new, red Radio Flyer tricycle…when he was just two months old. And, of course, my husband assembled it right away. My son is now 21 months old. We recently brought the tricycle down from the attic. He enjoys sitting on it and pushing it around, but he doesn’t have the hang of pedaling yet. Yes, we realize we are a little crazy.

But this doesn’t stop at tricycles. My son sat on Santa’s lap when he was just 15 days old. In his first year, M attended his first hockey game and his first baseball game. He was so young for the baseball game that the crowd’s cheering bothered him. He seemed kind of oblivious to the hockey game. M rode a carousel–twice.

At the animatronic dino souvenir store (check out the AWESOME T-shirt)


By the time M turned 18 months, he had had two rides on a real full-size train. He also had been on his first vacation, to a family event in North Carolina. Not yet two, he has now also racked up his first penny pony ride at Meijer, and seen life-size animatronic dinosaurs. M has ridden a Ferris Wheel. He has seen a full-size Thomas the tank engine, racking up yet another real train ride. He must just think that kids get to ride trains all the time. I think I was in middle school before I ever got to ride on a full-size train. There are probably some people who go their whole lives never riding one. (I like trains, can you tell? Random Fact: Also, lighthouses.)

To top it all off, M has already had his first flight. And not on a commercial airline or for vacation. We had an opportunity at a local festival to go up in a four seater Cessna and fly over our own house. M wasn’t scared at all. In fact, he fell asleep. (In case anyone cares, I got a little nauseous.)

I just wonder if this is normal behavior for parents. My asbestos fiend has a boy six months younger than M. She doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to have him participate in life events before he is old enough to appreciate them, as we do. But then again, this is her second child. I don’t know how she felt with her first child. My asbestos friend lived clear across the country when her first was born.

Are we so eager because we are first time parents? Or is it because my son was born with an issue with his urinary system that required surgery at 6 months of age? Surgery that had complications. I know I really felt the rush to “hurry up” and “make experiences” with M while he was laying in the Pediatric ICU. My husband wanted to get a family portrait done as soon as M was born. I put him off and told him we would do it for Christmas, for our Christmas cards. Sitting in the hospital with my son, all I could think was that if he died before we got a family picture taken, my husband would never forgive me.

We got the picture taken on my son’s first birthday.

On television shows and in movies, the new mother always gazes down lovingly at her newborn child. I was not that mother. I found that I could not even let my heart fully love my son til he was almost a year old. It was a mechanism I used to guard myself, in case he should die from his medical issues or from the complications a surgery could bring. (Morbid, I know. And it hurts my heart to write it now. And it hurt my heart to live all this.)

M has a follow-up appointment on Wednesday. It makes my chest tight just to think about it. Our last appointment brought good news. I don’t know how to ask the universe or pray to God or beg and plead for more good news. I can’t handle a nephro tube or surgery again. I can’t. And my boy wants to put that all behind him and play with his Cozy Coupe and Thomas Wooden Railway (“toot-toot” he says). Please, everyone put in a good thought for him. And I will in return wish that you all get a moment to yourself to enjoy an ice cream.

What will be the next life experience we rush my son into before he turns three? Run for President of the United States? Trip to the moon?

You guys are wearin’ my ass out.


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Potty Training – The Saga Begins

My son, M, is now 21 months old. I have started to try to potty train him. So far, I have been highly unsuccessful.

He has his own little potty. He loves to take it apart (no surprise, see post Like Father, Like Son). I tried making him stay seated on it while I read him stories. I found when he got up off the potty is when he would actually pee-pee. In the corner, or next to the potty. Anywhere but in the potty.

Now M doesn’t want to sit on it. He wants to wander around the bathroom with no diaper on or sit on my lap (must be more comfy than the potty). While his baby butt is adorable, we really aren’t getting any closer to getting this done.

I have a theory. And since this is my first child and I have only potty-trained (i.e. housebroken) my Lab-Chow mix Dave, it really is just a random theory. I believe that to potty train a kid, they have to be old enough to understand what you are trying to accomplish. But I also believe you have to train them before they are old enough to decide not to do what you are asking of them, just to spite you. From the stories my mom tells, she makes it sound like I was the latter.

Plus, everyone says it is easier to potty train when you are at home to devote time to it. I am definitely at home with time right now. And fearing my unemployment will run out at the end of the year, I need to get him trained before I have to return to work. And I could wait longer to go to work if I didn’t have to spend money on diapers.

I feel like if I could get over this child development hurdle, it would be smooth sailing from here on out. Because I am a first time parent and I am just that naive. I haven’t gotten within spitting distance of the terrible twos or terrible threes yet. But the two things that worried me most before I ever got pregnant were changing diapers and potty-training. Hmmm. I sense a theme here.

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