Friday, June 28, 2013


Millie rolled over yesterday. I KNOW. I don't think I've ever been prouder of anything.  My pride glands are going to explode. This baby is a CHAMPION. I spent the afternoon clearing off shelf space in our family room for her future olympic medals.

Millie has been training for this for quite some time. For weeks and weeks now, she's been taking every opportunity she gets to try and roll over.
  • Is mom changing my diaper? I'd better roll over. 
  • Is mom trying to put me in my carseat? I know, I'll roll out of it!  
  • Uh oh! It looks like mom is trying to put clothes on me.  Time to roll!
This must be how Nastia Liukin's mom felt when her daughter was training for the Beijing games. 

Two weekends ago, we were visiting my sister Kelly and her husband Patrick. What do you think Millie did while we were there?  She fucking practiced rolling over, that's what.  She was SO CLOSE. The four adults just sat around her blanket all night, cheering for her as if we were at a world cup soccer match.  If we had any vuvuzelas at the time, we certainly would had used them.

Meanwhile, there is one member of our family who is unimpressed at Millie's recent accomplishment.   Cricket keeps looking up at us as if to say: "Guys, I can roll over too. I've been doing it FOR YEARS(Not that you care.)" And then, just to rub it in Millie's face, she rolls over effortlessly again and again on our living room carpet.
unimpressed dog watches baby roll

It's honestly pretty hilarious.  Here is our baby, working as hard as she can to squeeze out one baby roll, and the dog is next to her on the floor, thrashing around like-- well, like a crazed, attention seeking labrador-- which is exactly what she is.

Is gets worse.  Millie is also starting to enjoy Peek-A-Boo.  So, theses days we spend a lot of time covering our faces and asking in a loud playful voice "Where's Mommy?"

From across the room, Cricket's ears perk up. "I KNOW THIS ONE!" she announces triumphantly, running over for praise and attention.

"Dammit Cricket, get off this blanket!" We say.
"Millie, Where's Mommy?"

"MOM! MOM! Look at me. I found you. The Cricket found you. I found Mommy! The Cricket is a GOOD DOG."

And so it goes.
Poor Cricket.  I'll admit it must be pretty confusing. I hope the baby doesn't take an interest in shaking hands or begging next, or the dog is going to really feel supplanted.  As for Sean and I, we're not too worried.  We know that the dog's feelings will be a lot less hurt when Millie gets old enough to throw cheerios on the floor.  In the meantime, a little competition is not necessarily a bad thing.  If you want to raise an Olympian-- as we certainly are-- then it can actually work in our favor.  So Millie, if you're reading this--WHERE IS MOMMY?  Oh, you can't find her?  That's funny, because I think there's someone else here who can.  And-- I don't want to alarm you or anything-- but I hear she's got a pretty impressive roll...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Travel With and Infant, Episode 2: How I Took My Boobs out in a McDonalds

Have you ever taken your boobs out in a McDonalds?  I have.

Normally, I would never take my boobs out in a restaurant of any kind, much less one that features industrial sized ketchup dispensers, but it was an emergency.

Here's how it happened.  In Millie's third month, we were traveling to a wedding in Michigan-- the first leg of a long and unfortunate road trip- and she was sleeping mercifully in the back seat.  We began to speak about lunch.  "Let's stop when we get off the toll road," we told each other, "and grab a bite to eat." Fools.

Millie heard us and-- sensing an opportunity to escape her carseat-- awoke screaming like a valkyrie.  We abandoned our conversation about where to stop for lunch.  It was silently understood that we would pull over at the first available restaurant, even if it it were (god forbid) a McDonalds.

It was a McDonalds.
Now, I don't have anything against McDonalds per-say-- it's just that if I'm going to get a huge fat ass from eating fast food, I'd prefer it to be from eating delicious burritos and mexi-melts. But, in this particular instance, I would have stopped at any establishment, including a strip club just to get her to stop screaming.

To the credit of the McDonalds, it was very clean and nice. We were greeted by a very friendly woman distributing samples of their latest chicken wrap.  Millie and I had this conversation with her:

McDonalds Lady: "Would you like to try a sample of our new crispy chicken wrap?"


McDonalds Lady: "What a beautiful Baby! What's Her name?"

Us: "SCREAM, Scream, scream, scream, SCREAM."

"What a great name, very old fashioned.  Are you sure you won't try some wrap?" She persevered, "it's made with all white meat." 


McDonalds Lady: "ISN'T SHE A DOLL! Is she a good sleeper?"

"WE HATE YOU NOW LEAVE US ALONE" We said to her. (Ok, technically I guess we only said this in our minds, but it's what we were both thinking.) I think what we said aloud was actually: "Oh you know, some nights are better than others."

"SCREAM, "we added."

The conversation ended when Sean rescued us by trying a sample of her chicken wrap.  Millie and I skulked away to the back of the restaurant to nurse in privacy.

Now, you would think when a harried new mother sits with her screaming baby as far away from other people as possible, AND puts a nursing cover on to hide the activity of feeding, it would send a very clear message.  That message is:
 Apparently, you would be wrong.  Based on the behavior of the people I interacted with, the actual message I was sending out was more like this:

I can't prove it, but I think the man at the register must have been directing the other customers over to talk to me.

The worst moment was when an affable older gentleman with a walker ambled over to me and gingerly reached out and pulled back my nursing cover to "get a look at the baby's face."  Her face. Which was attached to what? That's right, MY TITTY DAMMIT. A 70 year old man in a McDonalds helped himself to view of my titties and I was powerless to stop him. He moved like a dammed rattlesnake.  The attack was over before I knew what had happened.

Sean had to hold back a smile as he ushered me away and out of the horrible McDonalds.  As we reached the door the chicken-wrap-lady gave us a plastic happy-meal toy.  The other customers seemed sad to see us go, probably because--without the distraction of my titties--they had to face the fact that they were eating a McRib Sandwich.  How had their lives gone so wrong?

As for us, we got on the road and made it to Michigan safely.  The next time we're traveling and Millie starts screaming, we won't be fooled again.  We'll drive right past those golden arches, and stop at the strip-club.  Not only will their all-you-can-eat lunch buffet taste better than the McRib, but at least the creepy old men there will tip us handsomely for the peeks they steal.

To read other posts about travel with an infant, click the link below:
Episode 1: Millie's first French Kiss

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

As a mom, I doubt I'll ever be one of those women who makes it look easy.  You know, the moms who bring the orange slices and capri suns to every soccer game, who know how to get the grass stains out of blue jeans, and who almost never say the F-word in front of their kid's Sunday School classes? Yes, I'm sure Millie has lots of embarrassing mom-moments in her future, but, there is ONE day of the year where she can feel smug and superior that I am her mother: Halloween.

I know it's only June, and that's a little to early to be thinking about Halloween costumes.  However, I am someone who like to play to my strengths-- and so I've decided that a smart parenting style for myself will be to become one of those parents who lets my child wear costumes and super hero garb YEAR ROUND. This will increase my value to Amelia, and also provide us with the maximum amount of hilarious photos for us to embarrass her with once she starts getting boyfriends.

With this in mind, I've created the first of many, many costumes for her to play dress up go to the grocery store in. Inspired by Max from Where the Wild things Are, this hat/mitten combo makes the statement: I AM AMELIA, QUEEN OF THE WILD THINGS, but is still subtle enough for everyday wear.

where the wild things are knitted hat and mittens

Here is the pattern and a photo tutorial of how I did it, in case you want to knit one for your little monster: Max Hat and Wolf Mittens.

So--other moms-- you can keep your orange slices, stain removers, and profanity-free sunday school lessons-- I don't need them!  My daughter will be the one in the corner with the cape on-- and she'll be looking so awesome that no one will hear me anyways.

update: I wrote a book! You can order a copy and view a complimentary crocodile hat knitting pattern here!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Millie goes to Amish Country

Yesterday we took Millie on a tour of Amish Country.  Actually, we were just driving through Amish country, but we had to stop several times to accommodate her scream/sleep cycle, so we chose to think of it as a country tour.  

I grew up in North Carolina, and was therefore never exposed to Amish people until we moved to Ohio.  I am fascinated by their communities, culture, and agricultural practices, but mostly by their pretty, pretty horses. Like all women, I love horses.  Don't ask me why-- I think it has something to do with X-chromosomes and Barr bodies---but I look at a green, rolling pasture filled with horses with an aesthetic appreciation that is only found in men who are currently watching movies of Megan Fox.   

The first pasture we passed was filled with horses.  One of them was running.  SO PRETTY.  No view could be more pastoral.  Except the next pasture, which was filled with BABY HORSES, who were learning to run. I almost snorted coke zero out of my nose it was so awesome.  Sean was laughing pretty hard at me.  But, when the next pasture came into view, even Sean had to catch his breath-- because-- although it didn't contain Megan Fox-- it did contain BABY MINIATURE HORSES, which are the only thing cuter than baby normal-sized-horses when they learn to run.  The crushing burden of this cuteness was felt throughout the car. Sean just gaped at it open mouthed.  I reacted defensively, shouting "That's it! We are moving to Amish Country." From the backseat, Millie seemed unfazed, possibly because, as a being of brain-melting cuteness herself, she has developed some biological protections from such an onslaught. 

As we continued our drive, I made some more observations, mostly regarding Amish people. 
1. Amish people love sunglasses.
2. Amish people have cool beards.
3. Amish people wear suspenders.
Once you factor in the ZZ-Top style beards, sunglasses, and suspenders there is very little difference between the appearance of these Amish farmers and many hipster musicians I have met, which is why I think somebody should make a website called "Amish Farmer, or Band Member." Visitors to this site will have to guess if they're looking at a photo of an Amish-born apple farmer, or the banjo player for a touring Americana band. It will be awesome.

Naturally, the sight of such beautiful farm country, friendly people, and majestic facial hair got me thinking about whether we ourselves should become Amish. I had reason to believe we would be welcomed, because every buggy-driving Amish family I waved to while driving, waved back at me.  On one hand, their world seemed irresistibly idyllic-- especially from the comfort of our air-conditioned car. But, on the other hand, I doubt they would let us have a cd player to play Millie's xylophone music, and I still haven't gotten to watch Downton Abbey.  It was a tough choice. 

Here's how I broke down the Advantages and Disadvantages:

advantages to becoming Amish

In the end, we decided not to become Amish, but to show our support for their lifestyle by purchasing artisan cheeses.  I have the feeling that many more trips of Horse-oogling lay in our future. But in the meantime, I'm trying to convince Sean to let me get a baby miniature horse for the backyard.  As a compromise to our combined aesthetic sensibilities, I've promised to let him name it Megan Fox. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Travel with an Infant, Episode 1: Millie's First French Kiss

When I was eight and a half months pregnant, we received a visit from our best friends, Rhett and Stacy, who are both pharmacists.  This visit gave us a somewhat skewed perception of what parenthood would be like.  Rhett and Stacy were accompanied by their 5 week old son, Wyatt, who had slept like an angel the entire 9 hour car ride.  The morning after their arrival, we took the baby out to a nice brunch, and then later that evening, to a fancy restaurant for dinner.  Both times, he dozed happily in his baby carrier, while the adults enjoyed cocktails and grown-up conversations about music, politics, and other non-baby-poop related topics. Since Millie’s birth I’ve been thinking more and more about this visit, and I’ve concluded that--- even though they are the best sort of people imaginable –there certainly appears to be a suspicious link between their son’s behavior and their access to prescription grade Ambien.

Emboldened by their success, and by the assurances of  EVERY SINGLE person we have ever met that car trips are soothing to babies, we have taken Millie on two road trips in her first three months of life. She travels pretty well, as long as you completely redefine the meaning of the word “well.” Of course, traveling with an infant is never for the faint of heart, and we wouldn’t have taken her at all if we didn’t have a REALLY good reason for going.  In our case, that reason is that we no longer have any brains whatsoever, and that portion of our heads which used to contain our brains now contains frozen lasagna, on which we have subsisted on almost exclusively since Millie’s birth.

Since I’m not sure about how my new, lasagna-based brain will perform in terms of long term memory retention, I’ve decided to jot down a few reminisces of our first road trips so we can share them with our daughter someday.

To Millie—this is important--- when I am very very old, and you are deciding what type of nursing home to place me in—I want you to go back and re-read these stories and ask yourself, “does my mother really deserve to be placed in this cheap, low budget nursing home? Or, doesn’t she deserve to be in a more spa-like atmosphere, you know, like one where the cafeteria pudding is made with organic coco and agave nectar, and instead of bingo they have mandatory holistic massage and acupuncture??” Think about it.

Today’s story is:

Episode 1: Millie’s first French Kiss. 

Sean was a new dad. As a new father, he ranked child: car safety as the highest priority, and very soon after Millie’s conception began to read consumer reports with an intensity heretofore reserved for planning camping trips and discussing German automobiles. In the course of his research, he learned that the ABSOLUTE SAFEST PLACE for the baby’s carseat to ride, was in the very middle of the backseat, facing backwards of course. 

Now, up until the baby arrived, the back seat was the excusive domain of our 70 lb Labrador, Cricket, and she considered every inch of this space necessary for the stretching, moping, sleeping, and drooling required of her on these occasions. On Millie’s first road trip, we did not leave the dog at home. We packed the baby into the car, and called for the dog to “kennel up.”  When she did so, she was faced with an upsetting new reality.  The carseat was in the middle of the back seat. HER backseat. A back seat that, while admittedly a little on the small side, was just large enough for a Labrador to ride in tolerable comfort to South Carolina and back. Now, to her horror, her riding space had been reduced by two thirds.         

We started the car, and Cricket’s concern was heightened when the quiet and solicitude she had come to depend on during these car rides was interrupted by an insufferable wailing.  She had heard this noise before. The sounds of the baby crying.  At the time, I was riding,  (in my arrogance,) in the “Shotgun” position next to Sean.  We weren’t surprised when Millie started crying, but we both looked forward to watching our colicky baby succumb to the narcoleptic properties of  long car rides that had been prophesied to us by our friends.

Sure enough, within a few minutes of our drive, the crying abruptly stopped.  We breathed a sigh of relief.  That was AMAZING we told each other--- it’s like someone flipped a switch and turned the crying off!  We rode for a few seconds in the golden silence until, to our horror, the unmistakable sounds of a slurping Labrador tongue issued from the backseat, followed by a muffled baby cry. "GOOD HEAVENS!"  We cried, in our most polite voices, not saying any cuss words at all! "STOP THAT CRICKET!"

For months now, Cricket had been telling us, "Guys, I know how to make that baby stop crying--- just let me lick her in the face."  When she finally got the opportunity to test her hypothesis with both of her meddling parents in the front seat and out of arm's reach-- she seized this opportunity with both paws, and-- as fate would have it-- a tongue.  I'll have to give her this, Millie definitely stopped crying.  I'm not going to pretend that I didn't panic for a few hours after I extracted the dog from the baby-- after all-- I know exactly where that tongue has been.  But, Millie didn't show any immediate signs of any dog-borne diseases, and after a few hours I began to relax. In fact, what with the severe thunderstorm, and the car breaking on the side of the road later on that very evening, there were a few times I was tempted to say "Hey Cricket.  I think the baby needs another kiss..."  But those stories can wait for a different day, because right now the oven is beeping, and I need to start my frozen lasagna.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How to Panic like a Veteran Mom

For a while now, I've been wanting to design a knitted baby mobile for Millie. Recently, I began looking for ideas and information about baby mobiles on the internet, and learned two very important things:

1. Baby mobiles are great! They help your baby build neck strength, and can reduce the risk of SIDS. If you love your baby, you will make sure there is a baby mobile over her crib.
2. Baby mobiles are death traps. If you have one in your nursery your baby will almost certainly die of strangulation. If you love your baby, not only should you remove all mobiles from your home, but you should knock on your neighbors' doors and ask permission to remove their baby mobiles as well.

PANIC TIME! As a new Mom, I've been exposed to a long list of things that will kill/maim my baby-- a list to which baby mobiles must apparently now be added. Even though I try to be reasonable and listen to that tiny voice in the back on my head that says---Katie, most of these things are items or activities that you yourself survived as infant, the truth of it is that I'm terrified of the "yes, but what if...?"

So, new moms, I've put together a handy "Panicking Toolkit" for you, which includes a list of items to be terrified of, as well as a readiness quiz to make sure you're really taking your panicking seriously.

Items/Activities to Fear
Blankets, pillows, crib bumpers, a baby sleeping on his/her stomach, a baby sleeping in bed with you, stuffed animals, older cribs featuring drop-side edges, new cribs featuring formaldehyde based glues, anything made of plastic, and any item that may provide stimulation for your baby, such as a mobile, a rattle, or a live pony.  As a good rule of thumb, ask yourself, "does this item provide comfort or enjoyment to my baby?" If the answer is yes, chances are that item causes SIDS, and you should dispose of it discreetly before someone calls child protective services on you.  

Readiness Quiz

1. Which of these items are most dangerous to have in the crib with your baby?
a.)  a blanket
b.)  a chainsaw
c.)  a bottle of percoset
answer: a blanket, because--unlike chainsaws and pill bottles--- blankets have no built-in safety features.

2. Which of these locations is the most appropriate for your baby to sleep?
a.) a soft, comfortable bed
b.) a tank full of piranhas 
c.) a prison-style bare mattress with bed-rails
answer:  your child's bed should feature the most bare, firm, inhospitable mattress you can find. Don't worry, your child will never sleep there anyways. She will demand instead to sleep while being held in your arms, most often during mealtimes when you are trying to use cutlery. 

3. Which of the following items in a baby's crib can help reduce the risk of SIDS?
a.) a teddy bear
b.) a fan
c.) a paperback copy of "The Art of War"
answer: The Art of War will engross your baby to the point that she will forget to suffocate on her pillow, but be warned-- she will emerge an even stronger adversary in the psychological battle that is bedtime. 

How did you do? Did  you pass? If not, I'd recommend that you PANIC.  Just kidding. I'd actually recommend that you get your hands on a copy of "the Art of War," because I've just given one to your baby. As for me and Millie, in the end I decided to go ahead and make her the mobile.  She loves it-- probably because it is so dangerous and unsafe. Right now it hangs over her crib, but my plan is too move it as soon as she gets old enough to swipe. In the meantime, I'll continue to protect her from the many, many threats she faces,  such as plush, snuggly blankets, and marauding gangs of formaldehyde-based nursery furniture.

(Knitters: Click this link for instructions on how to make this deathtrap)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lake Shiticaca and the Mastodon Titites

This weekend Sean went out of town for a boys weekend/fishing trip on the coast of North Carolina, and I'm happy to report that everything went smoothly without him here!

I'm joking of course.  Sean's plane wasn't even off the ground before our lives began to spiral out of control.  In a way, both of the disasters that occurred were related to our plumbing.

Sean was scheduled to leave for the airport at 2:30 pm, so naturally the main plumbing line to our house became plugged at exactly two o'clock. For those of you without a background in plumbing, something I learned this weekend is that, when someone says "the main line for the house" that's code for "even the toilets."  I made this discovery when I went downstairs to switch over a load of cloth diapers, and I noticed a large and foul smelling lake had formed on our basement floor.  I called Sean, who instantly said "it sounds like it's the main," and began the process of selecting a plumber that would work with our home warranty company, on a Friday evening, without price gouging us.  Meanwhile, I began the equally important task of selecting hilarious names for our newly formed basement estuary. Sean settled on "Mr. Rooter." I settled on "Lake Shiticaca."

Did you know that plumbers will come to your house at 7:00 pm on a Friday? I didn't either, but Mike from Mr. Rooter-- wherever you are-- I want you to know that, without you, I would have had to sail across lake Shiticaca all weekend just to do my laundry. I think you are as brave and heroic as any of our nation's Naval Officers, and if I ever see you again, I will make you a plate of cookies. Thank you for the service you provided to myself, my daughter, and my mother-in-law who was visiting for the weekend.  Without you, everything would have turned out to be a complete disaster, and even though it did anyways, that wasn't your fault.

Actually it was Millie's fault.  Or mine, or my boobs-- or something like that, because the second disaster that happened this weekend was that I developed Mastitis.  This is a condition that occurs in nursing mothers when their milk ducts become blocked.   The word Mastitis comes from the root Mast or Mastadon, because it feels like a Mastadon is trampling on your titty.  At one point this weekend, the thermometer read 103.3-- which isn't a scary number when applied to--for instance--radio stations, but is pretty dangerous when applied to fevers.  This is even scarier when the person who has this fever is responsible for keeping a tiny human alive. My symptoms involved uncontrollable shivering, fatigue, and headache (in addition to the mastodon trampled ta-tas described above.)

For you breastfeeding moms out there, if you are shivering uncontrollably and you think it's because your husband is on a fishing trip and is not in bed cuddling with you, and that's why you are so cold, and in unrelated news one of your titties is now the size of a high altitude weather ballon, and it's really starting to hurt, but it's probably no big deal, and the worst that can happen is that your husband will catch a Spanish Mackerel bigger than yours, then this is for you: SLAP. Wake up idiot.  You have Mastitis and are running a dangerous fever! Get your sorry ass out of bed and take your temperature!  Then, go to the doctor and hope to god that your mother-in-law is in town to hold your screaming baby in the waiting room.

Now that Tuesday has arrived I can look back on the events of our first weekend without Sean and laugh at them, because I survived Lake Shiticaca and the Mastodon Titties.  I feel totally fine, and there is not a single turd floating around my basement floor. It's all thanks to two people. I wish there were a radio station called "103.3, The Fever," so I could express my gratitude by calling in song dedications to them. For Mike at Mr. Rooter, the song I would dedicate would be "That Smell," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and for my Mother-in-Law Deb, I would dedicate "Jungle Fever," or perhaps "Cry Baby Cry" by the Beatles.