Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today is my tribute to mothering innovations – and a few things that someone needs to invent. When I last had children – 10-14 years ago – the Boppy and the Bumbo chair did not exist (and don’t you think that the manufacturers came up with these names just so we’d sound ridiculous saying them? I had no idea how rapidly my vocabulary would deteriorate) and we had to make do with a bunch of death-trap couch cushions. That’s not to say that I don’t think these particular innovations are splendid. I plan on keeping the Boppy around for myself after the Baby is done using it. The Bumbo might not be so useful. (I will pause here while those of you who haven’t been around a baby in the last little while go and Google both “Boppy” and “Bumbo”.)

My favorite innovation right now has to be, without a doubt, the Nose Frida. Right now, the Baby has a cold. But instead of the old nose-suction-bulb thing that my mom used on me (until I was 7, and that’s not an exaggeration – that’s how long it took for me to learn to blow my nose – you can ask my mom about this) – the kind of contraption that sends children running into hiding, if they are fortunate enough to be able to run – I got to pull out the Nose Frida. This was a life-saver, as I couldn’t exactly remember how to treat an infant’s cold. This is definitely one of the hazards of being an Old Mom – the memory goes. I find myself constantly running to, calling my mom, etc, because I’ve forgotten when the well-baby visits are, forgotten about the soft spot on the head, etc. I opted not to buy “What To Expect the First Year” because I think I just prefer to be surprised. Anyway, back to the cold. I knew I couldn’t just say “here’s a Kleenex and a glass of juice” and then somehow I came across the Nose Frida. Picture, if you will, a vacuum cleaner for the nose, powered by YOUR OWN MOUTH. Here’s how it works: you place a thin tube into your mouth, while a larger tube, connected to the small tube, is inserted at the base of the sickling’s nostril. And then you suck. Really. There is a filter that prevents any of the nose contents from even remotely touching your lips, but it does take some time to wrap your head around this concept. I watched a few videos on YouTube before I was convinced. In any case, it works like a charm, although the Baby still cried – apparently no one really likes to have their nose sucked on. It’s a bit easier than the bulb-thing (did you ever try to CLEAN one of those? It’s impossible.) A shout out to my old-world relatives, the Swedes, for coming up with this clever contraption. (Did they also come up with IKEA – another fabulous invention?)

As I’ve re-examined all of this baby paraphernalia, I’m struck by how much music is involved in baby gear, and how bad it is. Our bouncy seat, for instance, plays a mind-numbing digital rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It plays this at the same time as a barrage of bubbles sprays a school of neon plastic fish. The bubbles, and I kid you not, sound like machine-gun fire. It terrified me the first time I turned it on. What I’d like to see is someone come up with a baby toy: a seat, mobile, wind-up stuffed animal, that plays something decent – Billy Joel, Springsteen, Jim Croce, something like that. Something I might not mind listening to over and over. Come on inventor-type people – let’s spend less time coming up with cutesy phrases to put on onesies (“Got Milk?” “My Mom is a Hottie”) and let’s spend more time on the music.

As a side note – I decided to homeschool this year on top of making an international move and giving birth. Seemed like the thing to do to round out the chaos. I’ll probably comment on this experience from time to time. Today, Annie and Aidan perched themselves on stools by the sliding glass door and enthusiastically watched, and provided running commentary on, the emptying of our septic tank. Perhaps they would like to try the Nose Frida.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My newest little teacher.

The First Post. Lessons from the Battlefront.

New Adventures of an old mom. OK – so I borrowed the title a bit from a sitcom. It serves as an indication that both my creativity and productivity may be at an all-time low. I’ll just have to live with that. It also is indicative of the way that it feels to be “almost 40” (OK – not really – I’ll be 39 next month, but my kids always say “you’re almost 40!”) and caring for a newborn. I realize that lots of women my age are having their first child, but when I stop to consider that when Child #3 leaves home, I’ll still have an 8 year old, I feel my age acutely. And when I consider that I have both a child in high school and another barely out of the womb, I know that I am, at least in my own mind, an “old mom.” So, what have my lessons been for the past 11 months?

1. Someone has to be the statistic on the packaging for condoms. Sorry for my bluntness.

2. Email can often be the best way to present very surprising news to your spouse.

3. The image on a ultrasound does not ever lose its ability to humble, astonish, or move you to tears.

4. Women in France are expected to continue to drink alcohol in moderation throughout their pregnancies – Viva la France!!

5. There are approximately 1, 492 varieties of cloth diapers and covers. This includes 884 acronyms such as AIO and PUL. It is crucial to make the right choice so that you can avoid being bashed by other mothers out there in cyberspace.

6. Cloth diapering is more environmentally friendly than disposables.

7. Disposables are more environmentally friendly than cloth.

8. In order to participate on parenting community message boards, you have to know how to describe yourself properly. Otherwise, how will the other baby-wearing, attachment, BabyWise, cloth diapering, exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, family-bed sharing, Waldorf-education-espousing, Christian, non-Christian, atheist, home-schooling, EC’ing (Elimination Communication) families know whether or not your comments are to be trusted?

9. It is possible to look like a fool while using a birthing ball, if you haven’t done your homework.

10. Ditto for the squatting bar.

11. It is not possible to change your mind about wanting drugs for labor, when you are in the last 5 minutes of said labor.

12. It is nice to have your mother in the labor & delivery room but, sadly, she can really do nothing for the pain! (and how come??)

13. It is a myth that all newborns are beautiful. But mine really are.

14. If you decide to give your child a double name, maybe you should add in a hyphen. No matter what your husband thinks.

15. You haven’t lived until you’ve worn a $60 nursing bra. Really.

16. No one is on Facebook at 3AM.

17. Nothing is on television at 3AM.

18. The Moby wrap is the longest piece of fabric known to mankind.

19. Even if you dress your daughter in a pink shirt and pink pants, someone will ask you how old your little boy is.

20. It’s a good thing that babies are cute (remember – only some of them are) because they excrete a lot of bodily fluids.

21. They grow up pretty quickly.

So, I’m sure there are many more things that I’ve learned, and unfortunately, I probably have many more ahead of me. Things change in 10 years. How was I supposed to know that I’m supposed to give the baby Vitamin D drops? I don’t recall seeing a lot of kids out there with rickets, but supposedly this is the new threat. Will scurvy be rearing its ugly head again in the near future?