Observing the lasts of parenting is trickier than the firsts

The last time he snuggled me awakeMy youngest child is now three years old. He is full of curiosity and asks me to define words like God, football, and bet. Today, he told me not to skip my morning run because “you won’t move your body for all of the day or night.” And while he still clings to his diapers, he is so clearly not this baby anymore. Sigh…

I see the horizon of parenting getting easier. When we fly on an airplane, Sawyer is content to watch a video and I don’t need to bust out my bag of toddler airplane tricks anymore. I’m nostalgic in advance, wanting to simultaneously rush through and savor each of our mutual milestones. But as we continue along this bumpy journey together, I realize that it is much harder to commemorate the LAST time doing something than it is the FIRST.

How obvious is it the very first time you attempt breastfeeding compared to the maybe-last-but-you’re-not-totally-sure-if-he’ll-go-for-it time? The first time in a not-exactly-our-plan co-sleeping arrangement vs. the last time your toddler sneaks into your bed?

Sawyer’s adorable mispronunciations become fewer each day. When will he finally stop saying “nak-pin” instead of napkin? Will I even notice?

What other lasts should I be writing in my trusty (imaginary) baby book?

The photo above is the last time Sawyer snuggled me awake and let me take a picture. That was Mother’s Day. I hope it’s not the last last!

 

Happy 9 Year Blogiversary!

About the Rookie Moms

Hi there, allow me a moment to reflect. We’ve been friends since 1997 and moms since 2004. Upon discovering that babies don’t suggest, “Hey mom, let’s go out and get you some new jeans and a latte,” we decided to take matters into our own hands and make a list of all the fun places we could go with a baby in tow. We started this here website 9 years ago to share our brainstorm with others. We have been dedicated to encouraging moms to have more fun with parenting ever since.

In honor of our special navel-gazing day to celebrate nine years of navel-gazing, we invite you to leave a comment. Say hi. Tell us who you are, what you like, what you hate (as long as you have manners, we can take it).

Slings and carriers: Baby Halloween Costumes

For wee babies experiencing their first Halloween, I think the baby carrier costume is the most practical (that is, if you leave the house). Your baby is cozy and snug against you and you have your hands free.

Here are a few adorable sling costumes to try:

Turn a sling into a Halloween costume: spiderSpider: add white or silver (or glow-in-the-dark) web to black sling in less than 30 minutes. Instructions at www.mammasmilk.com/halloween

Watermelon: Have an hour and a red or green sling? You can try this watermelon costume. More sling costume ideas like race car, peacock and pumpkin pie from Mammas Milk.

Babywearing costume inspiration from Mammas Milk Slings: watermelon and cow

Other carrier costumes:

Popcorn. Kate from This Place Is Now A Home made a white and red striped popcorn container out of felt and simply wrapped it around the Baby Bjorn she wore. But not before attaching real popcorn to her son’s cap. Is this not the cutest family costume?

Baby costume popcorn

The Hangover: We love what Karen, Ross and baby Laz did as the characters from the Hangover. Dad plays Zach Galifianakis with sunglassed infant in the BabyBjorn and Mom as Ed Helms character. Million laughs.

Hangover as great Halloween costume for a baby and family

Total Recall (Kuato & George): Nothing gets Daddy to carry the baby for Halloween like a costume inspired by a classic Schwarzenegger movie’s mutant death scene, right? (Wait, was that sexist?) [Read more...]

Activity #35: Buy some new jeans

Rookie moms challenge to buy some new jeans

Put away the maternity pants and take yourself out to Old Navy to get some interim jeans to make you feel normal. Go with a girlfriend you trust. Don’t look at the size, just find something flattering and comfortable.

Maternity Leave challenge: Buy new jeans - ones that fit your current body.

DO NOT THINK ABOUT OR TALK ABOUT THE WEIGHT YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE IN THE FUTURE. Buy jeans to wear this week. When the day comes, you can put these in storage for the next time around, give them to a friend who is a few months behind you, or wear them when you do that chalkboard paint project you’ve been talking about.

This is really two challenges folded into one: Implied in the new jeans is a shopping trip, and we don’t take that challenge lightly. That’s why we recommend bringing a friend with you. You’ll need to have your baby in a stroller in order to try on clothing. But, I mean, if you do try on jeans while wearing your baby in a front carrier, please do send me a video, because I would like to see that.

Advice for hitting a shopping destination with your baby.

Feed and change baby upon arrival, rather than before leaving the house, so that he or she is content while you shop.

If awake and happy, position stroller so baby can watch you try on clothes. If sleeping, stick a portable white noise gadget — your phone or this thing — in the stroller and cover with a blanket to maximize length of sleep in florescent-lighted dressing room environment.

Older babies may enjoy getting out of stroller and sitting directly in front of dressing room mirror to check themselves out. Let your big sitting-up baby play with your old pants while you try on new ones.

Related rant: Is that #3 in there?!

This is our 35th-ish (I’ve lost count!) weekly challenge for rookie moms. Not relevant to you right now? Choose a different challenge.

photo: Bethan on flickr.

A three-year-old’s guide to Disneyland

Preschooler and toddler tips for Disneyland & California Adventure

Disneyland is a magical place. Happiest place on earth, right? For a three-year old it can be all kinds of wonderful — and overwhelming. We just returned from a fun family trip to Anaheim with our preschooler and his two big brothers. I offer you a few tips from my own experience and a few friends who guided my travels.

Favorite rides and attractions for a small person

Just being pushed through the park is a terrific sensory experience. Sawyer saw giant characters — most of which he did not recognize — being friendly and inviting. If you ask him, he’ll tell you he loved every minute of it. Here are a few of his favorite attractions:

Disneyland

Preschoolers guide to Disneyland & California Adventure

  • The monorail runs from near the Disneyland Hotel in Downtown Disney right into the park at Tomorrowland and riding it was a big hit. If you ask nicely, you might even be able to ride up front. Strollers must be collapsed.
  • Once you’re in Tomorrowland, drive small cars around Autopia, check out Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and fly the Astro Orbiter (just like the Dumbo ride with a different skin).
  • In Toon Town, Sawyer loved running around all over. It’s a great place to explore and climb on the giant play structures. Our kids and adults loved poking around Mickey’s House, though we bailed on waiting in the line to actually meet him. Gadget’s Go Coaster was just on the edge of Sawyer’s comfort zone.
  • It’s a small world, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant were big hits for us in Fantasyland.
  • The Disney railroad makes 4 stops along the perimeter of the park. It can serve as a fun ride or transportation to get back to the main gate. We took the train when our big brothers were on a roller coaster. Stroller ramps are at all stations except the main gate.

California Adventure

[Read more...]

Activity #34: Host a Margarita Mommies Group

This week’s challenge is a summery activity for babies that can sit up on their own; this is your 34th challenge.

These ten-month olds (Theo, Del, Julian and Paxton) are having so much fun slurping on plastic toys and touching one another’s toes that they don’t realize their moms are having fun too.Put a few inches of water in a baby pool and a whole bunch of babies. And stir.
Ingredients for a successful Margarita Mommies Group:

  1. Shady backyard on a nice, warm day
  2. Kiddie Pool with a couple inches of water
  3. Mom-sized lawn chairs with toes dipping in the water
  4. Plastic pitcher of margaritas with plastic cups — or lemonade for moms who are pregnant or need to drive home.
  5. Splashing babies (diapers optional) — keep them in the shade or slather heavily with sunscreen before the party starts!
  6. Daddies available to pick up mommy and baby afterward

This was suggested by my hairdresser as an awesome way to enjoy the warm days. If its getting too chilly for swim diapers and cocktails, this activity can be modified to be an indoor playdate, of course, with a wide open living room floor with a few toys on a blanket. (See also Start your own Breakfast Club)

52 maternity leave challenges with baby

Did you complete this challenge? Share your story and pictures.

  • Comment below with details.
  • Share a picture with us on Facebook.
  • Tweet or Instagram in our general direction @rookiemoms #rookiemoms

Do you hate this challenge? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before. Go on, tell us why you hate it in our comments. Then pick another activity from our challenge list.

My Star Wars Halloween costume dream come true

BuyCostumes offered me the chance to review any costume of my choice. I want to thank them for helping me realize a dream.

I immediately wanted to become Princess Leia! I figured that as the mom of three young boys this costume would come in handy over and over again (I can be my own birthday party entertainment, a hit at the annual preschool party, and the princess of my minivan). Options included Sexy Leia and Slave Leia but Whitney helped me decide that Standard Princess Leia was the most appropriate for my life.

As soon as the box arrived, I ripped it open and started playing with the costume. Once the cinnamon-bun wig was in place I set up my phone for R2D2-style selfies, “Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” Whitney offered to take a few of me and my sidekick the next morning, which was almost soon enough.

Playing around with my Princess Leia costume - big thumbs up

I picked Sawyer up from preschool and told him about the big surprise waiting at home. Since he’s never seen any of the Star Wars movies, his cultural touchstone is the Weird Al song, Yoda (thanks big brothers!). He sings it here for your reference.

Do these characters even know each other?
The very next thing on my three-year old’s mind was the relationship between our characters. When I admitted that they’d never met in any of the movies, he was not pleased. Hopefully, there’s an as-yet-to-be-released part of the canon in which Yoda oversees young Leia’s safe upbringing. Since I don’t write or read fan-fiction, I agreed that our characters could be the best of friends. [Read more...]

9 Children’s books that will make you cry

Parents, I’m talking to YOU here. Your children will love the sweet stories and pictures but you will be choking back the tears before you finish reading
these bedtime books. Even though I hadn’t heard of some of these before our beautiful and wise Facebook community shared them, I was crying putting together this post. Bedtime stories that will bring you to tears

Whitney may have laughed at me for crying, but I dare her to read these books with dry eyes:

  • Corduroy. The book that started this idea for me. I heard our badass morning DJ talking about choking back tears while reading this to his own baby daughter. It’s all in the looks.
  • On the Night You Were Born. Our reader’s top pick and I’ve never even heard of it. What is wrong with me? I cried just thinking about that. Seriously, anything by Nancy Tillman has our readers sniffing through storytime.
    Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You. Another top reader choice, just the amazon landing page had me welling up with emotion.
  • You Are My I Love You. I received this book as a baby shower gift and it takes stamina to finish without fogging up my glasses, especially with a squirmy infant in my lap.
  • Love You Forever. My own mother must have read this one to me, because I have the refrain in my brain and I know we don’t have a copy.
  • The Giving Tree. I think this one gets harder to read as my own children get older. How dare they?
  • The Little House. The story of a little country house that gets engulfed by the city chokes me up on the last pages… just when I think I’ve made it through.
  • Hachiko. If it makes Sunny cry, then I want to read it. The story of a loyal dog.
  • If I Could Keep You Little is another well-loved parent favorite that I have to check out.

I started to type up poignant excerpts from each but I don’t want to get in any copyright trouble with these sensitive authors, so go have a click on the links above.

Did I miss your favorite crying-at-bedtime book?

Toddler Halloween costume ideas from pajamas

Pajamas are my very favorite Halloween costume base. There, I said it. For about $20 you buy something that your child can sleep in for a year — what a value! Here are a few of my favorites for this year. Buy ‘em all and never run out of ideas in your costume box!

17 cute costume ideas for toddlers from pajamas

If you’re looking for adorable costumes that totally give you your money’s worth, let me remind you about PAJAMAS! What else is comfy, cute, and wearable all year round? Here are 16 more sleepwear-costume ideas for your little one:

Bumble Bee. Pick up these Leveret Black & Yellow Striped Jammies for only $13 on amazon. Pair with wings and bobbly headband (which will be a costume-box mainstay for years!). Sawyer was a bee last year (pictured above) and has worn his yellow stripey pajamas at least 50 times since.

Bumblebee costume for toddlers

Clown. Julian was a clown in pajamas like these multi-colored ones from Leveret or polka-dotted ones from Old Navy. Just add a clown wig and a jumbo collar to any set of colorful pajamas. Perfect for a toddler on up through a grade schooler. See the quick clown collar tutorial.

Multi-colored stripes are a great base for a clown costume + 8 other costume ideas

Skeleton. Our go-to pajama-based costume is this skeleton from Carter’s or similar from Old Navy. About $10 or $12, it never goes out of style. Not only have all five of our toddlers worn this costume, but my family’s Halloween zombie decoration wore it last year, too. It also comes in pink, but huh?

Skeleton pajamas make a perfect toddler Halloween costume

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Hedgehogs & other creative new products for parents

Just when I was ready to declare 2014 The Year of the Hedgehog at the ABC Kids product expo, I was slapped in the face by another silicone feeding product. So, for nursery decor, foxes on on their way out and prickly pokey hedgehogs are coming in strong, but everything else will be made of rubbery-textured stuff.

Year of the Hedgehog #YOTH

I want to make this a thing so you should tweet and instagram at us with the #YOTH and #rookiemoms hashtags whenever you see a hedgehog where none existed before.

Hedgehog clock by Tree by Kerri | Year of the hedgehog

Tree by Kerri Lee makes this really cute wooden artwork including clocks, milestone blocks, light switch covers, funky night lights, keepsakes up the wazoo, and lots more. All original artwork made in the USA, and she was  a pleasure to meet. Check out her other stuff.

The Skip Hop hedgehog comes as a backpack or lunchbox

We are Skip*Hop fangirls, and this year they made us wish we had a reason to buy a new backpack, lunchbox and water bottle with all the cute. For better or worse, my monkey backpack is still going strong and I’m sticking with it!

Mary Meyer plush hedgehog for babies

Mary Meyer has a new line of natural baby toys that equates to hedgehog + natural materials + tags and loops = perfect baby toy. I took a photo at the new product showcase and can’t locate the new version online yet, but this one (above) comes pretty darn close. She also has a Happy Hugs Hedgehog clip-on toy that can attach easily to your baby gym.

To find even more hedgehog-styled baby products, see what amazon is offering. You’ll be stunned!

Super clever new products for parents

I was overwhelmed by the innovative ideas for solving the same old parenting challenges. Here are a few of my favorites:
Baby Rescue Rapid Evacuation Device

[Read more...]

One rookie mom’s 7 favorite apps that are not for her children

Thanks to Mandy Chuey for this guest post. Favorite apps of a social media mommy #rookiemoms

I can’t take the credit for being a social media mommy without encouragement from my husband, a tenured Silicon Valley Network Engineer guy. So basically he introduced me to a lot of the sites, apps, programs (whatcha call ‘em)? But now that I have landed in the world of social media thanks to my better tech half, I don’t want to return. It’s not that I had dial up AOL or anything, but I sure didn’t have FourSquare, Instagram or Nextdoor at my fingertips.  We live in a world that is super connected at super speed; you can get ANY and ALL parenting information in seconds from emailing your doctor, WebMD, and  youtube clips on how to wrap a Moby (still didn’t help me).  Also, I’m pretty sure The Bump will be sending me updates on my 18 year old daughter’s development while (fingers crossed) she’s in a dorm away at college.

I will not pretend as if I know the difference between 3G or 4G — and full disclosure: I still ONLY have the iPhone 4S. (Cringe.) After this article is posted my husband will sure to be wearing a disguise next time we go out together. With that said, I’m attempting to share what I know, what I use, AND my parenting experience as a social media-addicted mommy, which to some may not be much compared to moms sporting Google glasses, but I do what I can with a 10mo and 3 yr old, people!

Let me give you a tour of the most vital apps on my phone.

Facebook:
Pretty self explanatory. Mark Zuckerburg didn’t just rein in over a billion in one day for nothing. Pics and updates of friends and family and as some studies have said, updates to make you feel less than and depressed reading other people’s fabulous status updates while you’re home eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the container. My husband calls me a “lurker” because I check out what other peeps are doing but don’t post much myself.

My favorite feature is having a private family wall on a “closed group” where we exchange important personal updates and check-ins in addition to adorable pics of our offspring.

Nextdoor:-
A website to connect with those in your ‘hood.  Group members have to plug in a local address and get approved to join.

I love Nextdoor for Classifieds and immediate safety issues. Think Craigslist for a smaller mile radius. Example: I posted all the extra baby stuff  I needed to shed last week for free. My kiddies’ room was cleared out in 24 hours and I got immediate gratification!

Nextdoor is also useful to post nearby break-ins, school events AND our local Police Sargent and District Representative are members and update us on current events. Never a dull moment in The Town. (That’s Oakland, aka Oaktown for you non-Bay Area readers.)

SeeClickFix:
SeeClickFix encourages all of us to become more active citizens in taking care of and improving our city by reporting non-emergency issues close to home in a fast and easy way. I used the app to report graffiti and illegal dumping. My proud moment was getting a stop sign installed on on a dangerous intersection. I’m no Norma Rae, but it does feel good to improve your neighborhood. After taking a picture and posting a fix, you will get confirmation that the issue is acknowledged. Neighbors can even vote issues to rank importance. Now that’s validation.

More service requests have been reported by citizens on SeeClickFix than on any other mobile platform. Cool.

Instagram:
Another excuse to post adorable pics of my offspring WITH amazing camera features AND photo editing that makes my pics spectacular.  Kinda makes me feel like Ansel Adams.

Twitter
Besides following some of the funniest comedians of our time, I use Twitter to catch breaking news, parenting articles and MOST importantly 510 Families tweets! (That’s the Bay Area blog run by Heather and Whitney) It’s great to get info on local family events up to the minute! I also tweet at local businesses and restaurants to let them know how much we appreciate them.

My moment of twitter glory was when I scored a calendar from East Bay Parks and Rec (@EBRPD) when I correctly answered a trivia question identifying a beach in Alameda. Hold your applause.

Vine:
Pure entertainment. Get to see how creative other people can be in a short film clips. I’ve made numerous videos of guess what…my children, of course!

Pinterest:
Pinterest has almost everything: kid art activities to high-end home design photos. We recently purchased a new home in Oakland and have used Pinterest to search for drought-tolerant gardening, fence design and paint colors. I also found amazing birthday party ideas from favors to the cake for my daughter’s third birthday Bug Party. The coolest feature of Pinterest is sending ideas and pics to your friends or spouse to review.

Ok, I do not have any pics of children on here, maybe the ONE place I don’t!

So, I’m no Steve ‘Mom’ziac, BUT I am a mom trying to use social media to the fullest to benefit me and my kiddos. Social media-mothering is more than a few excuses to post adorable pics of my offspring. I’m fully aware that by the time I finish writing this another app, program, game or website will be created and I’m perpetually uncool.

*At press time, I finally received my iPhone5s, but now the 6 is being released. Sigh.

Favorite apps of a social media mommy #rookiemoms

What are your favorite parenting apps?

Then I tried bribing my picky eater even harder

Bribing my picky toddler with cookies

I learned a few important things since I last reported on bribing my preschooler with dinosaur toys to get him to try new foods:

  1. It is not really a “bribe” it is an “incentive” (I don’t understand why, see definition of bribe.)
  2. Maybe my choice of prize was too weak
  3. My strong-willed child is immune to this kind of tactic

Whitney and her seven-year old daughter felt strongly that the toy dinosaurs were not enough to move the needle on Sawyer’s eating. They enthusiastially suggested that I use a bag of Star Cookies from Trader Joe’s as a new motivator. As you can see above, I put the dessert-prize in front of him each dinner and let him know which foods he had to try for each one.

At barely three-years old, he seemed to fully grok the experiment and was often motivated to try enough food for at least one cookie. But he never tried enough foods for more than one cookie. Again, I believe he ate what he was going to try anyway.

  1. One night, he ate PLAIN PASTA for a cookie. While that seems like a total gimme, most nights he will eat zero pasta, so I’ll call it a win. He nearly nibbled the fig he chose at the grocery store, but didn’t.
  2. The OMG-HE-ATE-MEAT award goes to the night he ate dinosaur chicken bites slathered with cream cheese and ketchup. I’ll roll with that. Ironically, he wouldn’t touch the tomatoes he picked from our garden while singing a song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood about trying new foods!
  3. One night he willingly ate blueberries for a treat. It seems basic, but it was a big deal.
  4. The final night, I offered him a DONUT for finishing his dinner. Instead of being motivated, he called me stupid and lost his chance at dessert for a manners violation (despite eating the breaded-frozen fish spread with cream cheese and ketchup).

I give up!

Bribing my picky toddler with cookies

My biggest lesson: I will now keep cream cheese and ketchup at the ready for all future meat attempts (and let him eat pancakes with faces until he outgrows it)!

I would encourage other parents of picky eaters to make a “Will Eat” list to remember the {good} stuff that is on the limited menu. It might make us feel better. While I’ve had a lot of fun collecting data on my child’s eating habits (or lack thereof), I want to back off of experimenting on him for the time being.

[All photos are from Heather Flett: all rights reserved]