Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to be a Good Grandparent

A few months ago, my mom sent me an article about a hospital that offered a "Grandparent School" for soon-to-be grandparents. She made a joke about signing up but honestly she had already mastered most, if not all of it!!

The "school" was a one-day seminar that focused on current safety recommendations, advice concerning their relationships with their children/the new parents, and even a run-down on the latest nursery gear, if I'm remembering correctly.

I thought the idea was brilliant, and it got me thinking about what I would choose to teach if I was going to run a school for grandparents-to-be.

 And let me be clear - this is NOT directed at any of Anna's grandparents, who are all fantastic. In fact, the more horror stories I hear from other new moms about their parents or their in-laws (and believe me, I hear plenty!!), the more I appreciate my own set of grandparents. So, Mom, SuSu, and Poppy- thank you for being sane and for being good grandparents, haha.

So, class, get out your freshly sharpened pencils and your Trapper Keepers: here is my syllabus for Grandparent School.

8:00 - 9:00: Current safety recommendations
          A lot has changed safety-wise since your kiddos were kiddos. Car seats are now legally mandated, babies are put to sleep on their backs, baby-proofing has developed to a whole new level. Take some time to research the new safety recommendations, and make sure you know how to properly work all of the new safety equipment, especially if you are going to be driving with the grandchild or watching the baby in your home.

9:00-11:00: Infant CPR
             Many hospitals, fire stations, pediatrician offices, or independent licensed instructors offer half-day seminars on Infant CPR. They are generally inexpensive and will teach life-saving techniques. Make sure your seminar also includes instructions on what to do if the baby or child is choking.

11:00-12:00: Current Infant Nutrition Recommendations
           We all know that your son Johnny started rice cereal in utero and was eating table food by 2 months, but new parents have updated recommendations in terms of feeding their babies, and if they choose to follow those recommendations - let them! They don't need your commentary or your criticism. If your daughter is choosing to breastfeed, support her. If your baby is on formula, then that's great too (just learn how to properly mix it, if you're in charge of bottles at any point!).        
            Grandparents also need to follow the new parents' lead on feeding the baby once she is on solids. Know what Baby is allowed to have, and what needs to be avoided. Familiarize yourself with the High Allergy Risk list for infants, and also respect the parents' pace for introducing new foods.
             If you are babysitting and get tempted to sneak Baby some cookies and ice cream, please remember that this is not a battle worth picking. You have the rest of their life to fill their tummies with goodies, you don't need to start now and risk getting permanently removed from the babysitter list!

12:00 - 1:00 Recess and Lunch
             Make sure to let your lunch settle before running on the playground, kids!

1:00-2:00 Milestone Hour
             Familiarize yourself with a current milestone chart for infants. Some "old" milestones aren't even considered milestones anymore, and some milestones have been moved to a later part in the development schedule. Nothing stresses a new mom out worse than hearing a constant litany of "Why isn't Baby crawling yet? Why isn't Baby sitting yet? You all were sitting at x months, I think Baby is behind." Believe me, any new mom is hyper-aware of Baby's milestones, and if she is okay with it and the pediatrician is okay with it...your opinion of when Baby should be hitting the milestones really doesn't matter.

2:00 - 3:00 Family Hour
               Here are some suggestions to maintaining a good relationship with your kids, now that there are grandkids in the picture:
               a) Get a life outside of kiddos and grandkiddos. Their little family needs time and space to create their own memories and traditions, and if you are constantly at their house and hovering around, it's difficult to get that time. Find a new hobby, start volunteering - enjoy your free time!!
               b) Speak only when spoken to. I mean this in the way of advice - there is definitely a learning curve to being a parent, but it's important for new parents to figure out stuff on their own. You had your chance to be a parent, now let them have theirs. All parents will make mistakes, but it's important to the learning process!
               All that being said, if they come to you for advice or suggestions or even just some support - offer it without criticism. 
               c) Be involved. I know this seems like it contradicts the above two, but I promise it doesn't. A new parent loves seeing Grandma and Grandpa playing with the baby and seeing that relationship form. Show you care by calling to check in (just not every day!), take interest in the baby's schedule, ask how things are going. Take lots of pictures and be present for the baby's events. And as the grandkiddos get older, find things to do that will create memories and strengthen the bond you have as a grandparent, because it's a pretty special one! SuSu made me laugh one day when Anna was still a teeny baby because she said being a grandparent is great - you get all of the fun and none of the work! She was joking, but it's pretty true - you did your work as parents already, now it's time to enjoy the "fun" of being a grandparent!
               d) Don't take it personally. Chances are, your kids will do a lot of the same things that you did when raising them. But it's also pretty likely that they will try some new techniques or strategies. Don't take it personally - chances are, it has NOTHING to do with you, and just because they choose to tackle something in different way than you did as a parent, it's not an insult to you or your parenting skills.
 3:00 - 4:00 Focus on YOU
              Some grandparents settle happily into their new role with open arms and not a single backwards glance. But, based on my anecdotal experience with plenty of new grandparents, I think it's completely normal to struggle a little bit. With 50 being the new 30 and 60 being the new 40 (or whatever the phrase is, haha), I think it's difficult for a lot of people to adjust to the thought of being "Grandma" or "Grandpa". The stereotype of a grandparent is bifocals, knitting, and senior living homes...while I think the reality is closer to my own experience. Anna's grandparents are healthy, vibrant, fashionable, and sometimes have more energy than we do!! 

Take the time of the pregnancy and the first few years of grandparenthood to adjust to your new role. Reflect on the kind of grandparent you want to be, and know that you don't have to be the stereotypical "old fart". And take comfort in the fact that it's not always an easy transition - I think struggling a little bit to fit in this new role is completely normal and is in no way a reflection on your aptitude as a grandparent!

Congratulations on finishing the Belly Babbles Grandparent School - here is your diploma!

Other new mommas, what would you include in your school, if you were teacher for a day?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baby Cold Survival Kit

This is what my week has consisted of. In pictures.

(oops, how did that get in there??)

The good news is that Momma and Banana are both on the mend, it seems. And this week has made me insanely grateful that Anna rarely gets sick. Let's hope this summer cold goes away YESTERDAY!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anna's Juke Box Tunes

I sing to Anna pretty much all day long. It's one of my tricks to keeping her quiet in the car, I sing her to sleep, and I sing to her while I'm doing my chores and she's watching/trying to help.

My regular repertoire is a hodgepodge of old childhood favorites, old church songs, chorus songs, and then random ones that to be honest, I don't know where they came from.

Here are some of her favoritest favorites. You will also be amused to know that as I type this, and am listening to all these youtube videos, Anna is sitting in her high chair going nuts hearing all of these songs, haha. Every time another one starts, she starts squealing and waving.

1) The Rooster Song. This is Anna's #1 song. She loves this thing. This used to be a chorus warm-up song, and I'm actually a little surprised that I could find ANY version online. I thought the only other person in the world that knew this song was Kathryn!! My lyrics are a little bit different, and we use much better animals (including aardvarks, anteaters, blowfish, peacocks, and seahorses).

2) It's a Big World, Baby. This is also Anna's #1 song. You might remember this one from our road trip to Raleigh. It's still a car trip standby on Steve's iphone, but it's also turned into a naptime/bedtime song to help her go to sleep.

3) Anna's Lullaby. Sung to the tune of Brahms's Lullaby, and lyrics made up by yours truly and Steve. This is how the nickname "Anna Bean" or "Bean" came about- Stevo needed something to rhyme with "queen".

Go to sleep, Anna dear.
You have nothing to fear (or Your daddy likes beer, lol)
.Go to sleep Anna Bean,
You are my baby queen.

Go to bed, sleepyhead,
It is time to sleep.
Go to sleep, Baby Girl.
You are my whole world.

 Go to bed, cutie pie
This is your lullaby.
Go to bed, sleepyhead
It is time to go to sleep.

4) Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree. An old church favorite.

5) Give, said the Little Stream. Another old church favorite.

6) I've Been Working on the Railroad. This has somehow turned into the "doing the dishes" song because it's pretty lengthy and keeps Banana Bean entertained while I get the dishwasher going. She laughs when I dance along, too!

7) A Few of my Favorite Things - Will Ferrell/Robert Goulet style. Steve sings this to her, supposedly. He requested that this one be included.

There are many, many others but those are the top favs. Other blog mommas, what are your favorites to sing to your little ones?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baby Stains

Banana Bean, being the brilliant genius baby that she is, has a particular talent for creating very difficult stains on her clothes. Seriously, she's a prodigy.

Needless to say, I've done some experimenting with the best ways to get out the various baby stains. Poop, puke, pumpkin name it, I've de-stained it. Here are some of the best ways I've found to battle the baby stains. I'd love to hear other mommy tricks if you've got them!

And for the non-mommas out there, these tips work great for regular clothes too  :-).

1) Oxiclean powder - a scoopful in the wash cycle works great on the lighter stains and dirt.

2) Oxiclean Spray - this is a more recent discovery. I don't know how long they've been making this stuff, but it's fantastic.

3) Baking Soda and Vinegar - I actually discovered this one when the new deodorant that I bought Stevo for the sole reason that it smelled good actually rubbed bright blue all over the most expensive white dress shirt that he owned. Crap. I tried ALL of my old laundry tricks, including straight bleach, and it barely even touched that bright blue. A double round of this worked like magic and the shirt looks brand new.

Wet the stain, and rub baking soda into it. Spray it down with vinegar until it foams. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then launder as usual. You can repeat as needed, including a few rounds before the launder step.

I've tried this on many baby things and it's really crazy how well it works sometimes.

4) Dawn Dish Soap - you know those annoying greasy spots that you get on your clothes sometimes? Where the heck do those things even come from?? Well, Anna gets plenty on her clothes, but those are easily traced to the chunks of cheese, turkey, eggs, and other items that she likes to store under her bottom when she's eating.

Run some warm water into a sink or tub, and add some Dawn dish soap to it. You don't need a lot, just enough to get the water soapy. Soak the clothes up through overnight, and then launder. For extra tough spots, you can apply the Dawn directly. I've never had a problem with it affecting the color but you still might want to test it on a hidden spot if it's a particularly expensive or favorite outfit.

5) The Sun - I discovered this secret by researching laundry tips with the cloth diapers. Many cloth diapering parents love to dry their cloth diapers and inserts in the sun to help remove tough stains. I haven't really had a big problem with diaper stains, so I dry those indoors, but I have applied the same trick to some of the more stubborn stains on some of Anna's outfits. It's almost like magic, how well the sun works as a stain remover! I don't have a clothes line outside (yet), so I lay the clothes over the porch railing, so they get sun almost all day.

Hope this helps - happy laundry day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

11 Months Old!

Our sweet baby girl is 11 months old today - what a big month! Every day she acts more and more like a toddler - there's been a few times this month that she's made a new face and I've been caught off guard with how different she looks. Still beautiful (obvs), just different.






Banana's pulling up on everything now and if I'm holding her hands, she'll take a few uncertain steps. I'm hoping she'll start walking soon - it's one of the milestones that I've been the most excited about!


Speaking of exciting milestones, she says "Momma" all day long. It's her new favorite jabber word and needless to say, it's music to my ears. I'm sure "Dada" will be next  :-).



Anna Bean's other new accomplishments are big hugs and kisses. She finally mastered the kissing sound and it's one of her favorite things to do during her bedtime routine. We snuggle on the glider, and I ask her if I can have a "big hug". She'll throw herself against my arm or chest and let me hug her, and then I ask if I can have a big kiss. Now, the big kiss is a little inconsistent. Sometimes it's an open-mouthed, full-cheek baby kiss. Sometimes it's a true smooch, complete with a smack. And sometimes she just turns her face to the side, so I guess that's her saying that it's my turn to do the kissing!



Her new favorite game is "pony ride", which we learned from Poppy and SuSu. I'll hold her hands and bounce her up and down on my knees while singing the pony ride song, and she'll laugh and squeal. Sometimes if she's in my lap, she will start pretending to bounce up and down to get me to play the pony ride game!


I've also been marveling this month at how much she understands us. I've always talked and sang to her these past 11 months, but now it's like she actually understands and comprehends. I had her in the bath tub a few weeks ago, and she decided that standing up in the tub is fun. I had my hands full with soap so I said, "You need to sit down in the tub please, Pumpkin." And she sat right down! She's very consistent with it, even if I have to ask twice. It's so much fun to see all my crazy one-sided conversations paying off and seeing her understand me!


Oh, she also is obsessed with water bottles.  If you try to drink out of one around her, she'll just about rip it out of your hands to get a sip.




We're also in countdown mode for her birthday party. I was a little slow to get excited for it, just because it seemed so far away, and now I feel like I'm behind and need to get a move on! The invitations are ordered and now I can really start the party planning. I know she won't remember her party at all, but we've had so much fun with her this year, and we want to celebrate all of her development, personality, and joy. We also want to celebrate with all the loving and supportive friends and family that we have around, so it's gonna be a fun one!


See you later, alligators!

What a Day for a Daydream

And I’m lost in a daydream
Dreamin ‘bout my bundle of joy
 -Lovin Spoonful

I keep the house very quiet during the day, no radio, no TV. And although I do talk and sing a lot to Banana Bean, I really enjoy the quiet because it gives me time and peace to think, contemplate things, and daydream. 

And oh how I daydream! There are so many things that I'm looking forward to with Anna, and daydreaming is one of my favorite things to do when I'm rocking her in the dark nursery, or playing with her at a play date, or taking her out shopping.

There is an ice cream truck that makes its neighborhood rounds during the last stages of Anna's bedtime routine, and I smile thinking of the day that she's one of the kiddos outside begging for a cone before dinner. 

As I read her bedtime stories, I daydream about when Anna's old enough to fall in love with my old childhood favorites. Will she love Ramona Quimby? Anne of Green Gables? Roald Dahl?

I love imagining us doing Anna's back-to-school wardrobe shopping, and seeing what she picks out and what she'll like.

I daydream about her prom, and helping her find a dress, and helping her to get ready. And being "that mom" begging for just a few more pictures before they get into the limo. Because I will be "that mom". If you couldn't already guess.

I watch the kids in the park playing soccer and I daydream about Anna finding a sport that she loves. I want to be the mom that's always the one on the sidelines cheering her on.

I daydream about signing Anna up for dance classes, and going to all of her little recitals.

I daydream about all of the art masterpieces that I will get to hang on the fridge or the wall.

I'm not alone in this daydream, but I love imagining taking Banana to Disney World for the first time. Who will her favorite princess be? What will her favorite movie be? Will she love Mickey and Minnie?

I could keep going for pages and pages, but the weather is cool and we're off for a walk. A perfect activity for some more daydreaming :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Summer Sendoff - Sunset Style

The summer is winding down, and we decided to give it an official sendoff by going back to the beach just one last time. We went on a whim and I'm so glad we did - it was a lot of fun! The women helped boost the local economy a little (err...or maybe a lot! Those outlet malls are dangerous!), soaked in some late-summer rays, and enjoyed some Anna Bean entertainment.

helping Momma pack!
















Anna loved crawling all over the place, and meeting some of the other babies on the beach. She also tried to eat lots of sand and she was definitely a lot quicker with it than on our last trip - she kept us on our toes!

We had a lot of fun but it's nice to be back, and to get back into our regular non-summer routines. And dare I say- there was even the slightest little hint of fall in the air this morning!!


Sayonara, Summer!