Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sing Along with Disco Mom: 80's Lyrics to the Death

It's been awhile so it's time for another Sing Along. Inspired by my brother's recent "Christian Metal Band or Star Trek Episode" quiz (take it, it's hilarious), I thought there must be some good lyrics quizzes out there, so here's one on 80's lyrics. I'm sad to report my score was 52.5 out of 103, just barely over 50%. I found it hard to get so many songs in my head one right after another, and didn't take the time to sit and think too hard - I can only ignore my kids for so long at a stretch.

Please take it yourself and report your score here - you're bound to do better than me!

Half a Year

This week Ginger passed her 6-month-day! It has been a whirlwind of a half-year and we love her more and more each day. I don't know how Hazel stayed entertained before, because she wants to play with her constantly. Here's Ginger's growth so far:

January 22, 2007

January 23, 2007

February 23, 2007

March 23, 2007

April 23, 2007

May 23, 2007

June 23, 2007

July 23, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

D'oh! Wish I'd Thought of It!

Don't you hate it when you see a clever invention that solves a problem you didn't realize you had until you see it? And it's so simple and becomes all the rage, and you think, "I wish I'd thought of that!" Or worse, you thought of it and never did anything about it and someone else makes a million on your idea. Well, here's my latest: the Edge Pan by Bakers Edge. I'm an edge and corner lover myself so I am drooling at the genius of it. First thing to go on my Christmas wish list (if I can wait that long...)

What is your "D'oh! Wish I'd thought of that!"? (or, alternatively, what's your genius idea someone else can rip off?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Which One Is the Boy?

We're at the grocery store. Ginger is sitting in the stroller sucking pacifier happily. Hazel is standing next to me, excited to help me pay for our goods. The old man behind me is grumpy and impatient. The old lady in front of me is paying and gathering her things, also admiring my children.

"They're so good," she says in her native Brooklyn accent. "And they're both adorable." I beam. She looks closer. "You can definitely tell they're brothuh and sistuh." I stop beaming.

"Sister and sister," I correct firmly, and miss her fumbling reply by turning my back on her and lifting Hazel to help me pay for our things. When I turn back she's gone. I hope she feels stupid. I know I think she is.

On the way out I inspect my girls. Hazel is wearing a purple shirt and pink shorts, pink plastic clip in her hair. Ginger is in a bright pink flowered onesie and mulberry cords with a ruffled hem. Pink and purple pacifier clip. Nothing I would let a son of mine wear in public. I think to myself and wish I had asked her, "Which one is the brother?"

Of course I assume it was Ginger since she has the short hair of any 6-month-old. But the pink is impossible to miss. I should be used to it by now - it happens too often - but I continue to be surprised every time. I stop into Starbucks for a passion tea lemonade, and we make our way home as I compose this essay in my head.

I am reminded of a time when Hazel was about 7 months old. My good friend Kat was visiting and we were off to a day in Manhattan. Hazel was mistaken for a boy all the time so I was sure to dress her in pink and purple galore, including a hair clip that barely stayed in. See for yourself. And sure enough, before the day was done, a stranger had asked, "He a boy?"

When I first moved to NYC, I thought this mistake was only made by certain nationalities that favor boy babies over girls. But as time went on I realized this ignorance and lack of social tact knows no ethnic bounds, today case in point.

Last time someone called Ginger a boy I was better prepared and told them to look closer and guess again. But today I am caught quite off guard, and hoping this writing will help me get over it. I am comforted and gratified by what Kat said that day in Manhattan, and what she would say again today in conclusion to the entire topic:

"People are idiots."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Small Mercies: Parking Diaries III

It's a sad day when you have to willingly and voluntarily submit to the iron fist of the #!@%# NYC Sanitation Department. For us, that sad day was today.

It's a long story - isn't everything? Just depends on how much detail we go into, so I'll keep to the facts. In two days Ed is going on a week-long male-bonding fishing expedition in Canada, a more than well-deserved vacation. For at least a month, Ed has been working horrific hours, around the clock, and has not been able to do much in the way of preparation for this trip. Luckily not that much has to be done EXCEPT retrieve his fishing gear from our storage unit that's across the neighborhood and has normal-people hours of 8am-10pm. Very reasonable hours of operation for the average person, but Ed has not been able to get over there, not even on the weekend, because of his work schedule.

So this was the first morning he didn't have an early meeting or conference call, so he got up and went over there to get his stuff, and planned on arriving at work a little later than usual. I reminded him that, it being Thursday, he would have to park on a Friday street upon return to avoid the wrath of Sanitation. He came back about 45 minutes later with his gear, but stressed out about the traffic report on the radio that indicated the route his bus takes was heavily jammed and delayed. Then as he rushed to take a shower, mentioned as an afterthought that he hadn't found a parking spot and was in front of a fire hydrant with the blinkers on.

So I went down and drove around for at least 1/2 hour looking for a spot anywhere within a 15 minute walk. I knew I had to get back soon so Ed could leave, so I swallowed the frustrated lump in my throat and took the only option I could see left to me: I parked in front of our building, on a Thursday morning street sweeping side. I take the girls to a music class on Thursday mornings - we walk there, so I knew that by parking here it would stay here through the 9:30-11am sweeping period, and I was guaranteed a $45 ticket and sticker of shame. Just no way around it.

When I got back from music class sure enough, an orange ticket envelope on my windshield, but - and here's the small mercy - no sticker. I have never heard of this happening, and all possibilities seem unlikely: they ran out -OR- they forgot -OR- they felt like being nice? I can't see any of those being the case so I attribute it to divine intervention. And I'm not being flippant here. Different little things help different people at different times, and no one knows it better than our Creator. In my case today, lack of a big annoying sticker on my car window went a long way for me - a very long way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baby Shebang Part I: The A-List

There are tons and tons and tons of baby stuff out there, from carriers to carriages, from teethers to trainers. Most of it is useless, but of course most of it is also really cute. And there's obviously a market for all of it, because the stores and websites are growing exponentially. With no real or virtual barriers between my work and personal life, I am totally and continually entrenched in the world of child development and rearing. This leads to a relatively new imbalance in my interests and expertise, but all I can do is roll with it. So here is Part 1 of a three-part series on baby gear. I had to get this stuff out of swirling around in my head, and into some semblance of order.

Part I: The A-List contains my first choice stuff, the best of the best that I've found, that I use all the time, and my go-to list for baby shower gifts.
Part II: Honorable Mention includes things I do like and recommend, but don't meet all the criteria for the A-List.
Part III: Items of Interest contains things that I do not own or have not tried, but might like to in the future, like when we have another baby or when the girls are older. This post also contains websites I like to browse.

The A-List
To make this most honorable and exclusive of lists, an item must meet three criteria:
1. I have it or have used it.
2. It rises above the rest in both form and function - even better if serving more than one function.
3. I would rather not ever have to go without it.

The Baby Book by Dr. Sears - This is my #1 reference book for all developmental and health questions for age 0-2. I always consult this before calling the doctor, and it often answers my questions so I don't have to. Plus it's full of interesting things I never knew to ask.
The Happiest Baby on the Block (DVD and book) - I love this DVD. I give or lend it to everyone I can who is having a baby. It's a very well-spent $20 and 30 minutes, for great techniques for calming fussy babies that work. I also have the book, which goes into more detail than the video. Click on the link and you can watch an excerpt of the DVD. (I also have "The Happiest Toddler on the Block", but it hasn't been as helpful so far.)

Miracle Blanket ("The Gift of Sleep") - This thing is AWESOME. I'm a big fan of swaddling for sleep, and this is the very best - it's like a baby straight jacket burrito. A little pricey but I got mine used on Ebay for less, because I wasn't sure if it would work. Next time I'd buy a new one without thinking twice. There is NO escaping, and babies sleep longer.
Amby Baby Motion Bed - When Hazel was little we didn't have room for a crib so we were looking for something compact and preferably portable that we could sleep her in safely, and happened upon this. She also had reflux, so I was happy to find something to help with that as well. What an awesome investment this was. Both babies have loved sleeping in it, and it doesn't take up too much room. Plus we bring it with us when travelling (by car; the travel bag isn't tough enough for air travel.)
Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West - This could also go under the reference section. Sleep training books are tricky to recommend because it seems there are so many out there, and everything works for somebody but nothing works for everybody. This worked for us. I had a couple sleep books that either didn't resonate with my parenting instincts, or provided too much or too little structure. I read an article by Kim West, loved it, and bought her book. Hazel was about 13 months old and bedtime was a nightmare every night. I stuck to The Sleep Lady's plan and Hazel was going down on her own in a few weeks. Ginger's getting an earlier start.

Boppy - This horseshoe-shaped pillow is so popular, and for good reason. I love it's multi-functionality, too. Great for feeding, great for tummy time, great for new sitters.
Food Smock - I know, everyone's sick of me praising my friend's product. But friend or no, Hazel wears her smock every day for every meal, and never gets food on her clothes. Awesome invention, beautiful fabrics. Also great as an art & painting smock.
Bebe Au Lait - I did a review of this great nursing cover before. I still recommend it (I have Windsor.)

Zutano booties - Out of all the fabulous and adorable baby clothes out there, only one makes my gotta-have-it A-List. For new babies (0-6 months), shoes and socks are a waste of time. Their ankles are so little, their feet so flexible, and they kick so much that everything comes off their feet. But their feet need warmth and protection. Enter these booties, which have a double cross-over snap design, so they stay on plus they come in a bunch of cute fabrics. They also have a fleece version for winter babies. After 4-6 months, shoes will stay on better, and there are lots to choose from (see Honorable Mention list.) - There's nothing not to like here. Big boxes, low prices, all brands, free shipping. I would be willing to pay more, plus shipping, for this service which delivers huge, heavy boxes of diapers and wipes to my door so I don't have to lug them home. But it just so happens I actually pay less. The referral program is nice, too, and you can buy gift certificates for gifts - very practical and always welcome! Plus they've recently expanded their product line, to include refill liners for my diaper pail ($4 less than BabiesRUs!), detergent, formula, and other baby items. For $5 off your first order, use promo code DISCOMOM.

Bumbo - I cannot praise this product enough. I never had it with Hazel, and a friend lent it to us with Ginger. Next time I'm definitely buying my own. Even with the swing, bouncy seat, play gym, and exersaucer, I would not be able to take care of both kids without this. I can put it anywhere and Ginger can be up interacting with the rest of the family, during meals, bathtime, at the beach, and even down in the laundry room. Plus it's safe, smart and developmentally sound.
Nobbie Ball - Balls are always fun, versatile toys. I like this one especially because of the sensory element - fun to hold, doesn't roll to far or fast - and because you can easily inflate/deflate it with a straw, it's good across ages. I deflate it to about 2/3 and Ginger can hold onto it, get a good grip, and explore. Inflate it and Hazel and I can play rolling or tossing games.
Skwish - It's just a good toy. High quality, smart design, fun across wide age rage, encourages thinking.
Travel Magna Doodle Pro - There's nothing not to like. Here's what there is to like: mess-free artwork, lightweight & compact enough for diaper bag, take anywhere, durable, and kids love it. This was Hazel's #1 toy for at least 8 months (about 16-24 months of age). We used it in the stroller, shopping, at church, in the car, and of course at home. It kept her interested, occupied, and happy for long periods of time so I could stay sane. Everyone won.

Congratulations - you've made it through my A-List! What do you think? What's on yours? I'm always interested in parents' must-have items. Remember, though, this is The A-List. Only your can't-live-withouts. Stay tuned for Parts II and III.

Chocolate Alert: Moving to the Dark Side

Got your attention? Good.

I love chocolate - this much we already knew. I was really a milk chocolatier, though, until a few years ago. The transition has been slow, but I've really come to love...ok, need, a much stronger chocolate-to-sweetness ratio, and dark is the answer. I think the whole country is moving in that direction as well because this week I discovered, to my drooling delight, three American (and personal) favorites have gone dark:

3 Musketeers Mint - Dark chocolate on the outside and white minty fluff on the inside, the same texture as the original. Similar to a peppermint patty but lighter texture and slightly milder mint flavor - thumbs up.

Dark M&M's & Dark Peanut M&M's - I knew about dark m&m's as of last fall, not sure when they came out. Yum. But I just discovered dark peanut m&m's, and devoured the bag more quickly than I care to admit. Wish I'd gotten a bigger bag. Double yum yummy yum-o.

Snickers Dark - This came out in "limited edition" over the winter - I bought it at Rite Aid, and when I realized how delicious it was I went back and they were sold out, with no idea if they'd get more - after all, limited edition. But yesterday I saw it on the candy rack next to the other snickers, and this time the wrapper did not say limited edition. Holy Chocolate Utopia, Batman! It's here to stay.

This message has been brought to you by Disco Mom, always concerned if you are getting enough chocolate.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Big Girl Bed

Well tonight Hazel made the switch. Her big girl mattress arrived, and we put on big girl sheets that she picked out at the store. She didn't even want to read books, but go straight to bed - that was unexpected. Even more unexpected was Ginger's smooth transition to the crib from the hammock. Now they are roommates, and so far so good. I even put them down at the same time and left the room with them both awake - Hazel snuggling her new big girl pillow and Ginger mesmerized by the crib-side aquarium. I kept the monitor close by and when I checked on them an hour later, both conked out and doing fine. Hazel was even correctly oriented on the mattress! Now we'll see how the morning goes...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Doney Highland"

No, silly. We didn't go to Scotland last Saturday! We spent the morning at Coney Island, or as Hazel calls it, "Doney Highland." It's about a 15 minute drive from our house so it's easy to get there fast. And we've heard rumors that most of the amusement park features are going to close for good after this year, so we decided to take advantage of our timing and location, and go check it out.It's actually kind of falling apart down there - definitely past its hey-day. But there is a kind of historical charm, and you feel like you should see people in striped bloomers and bobbed hair (but you don't.) Notice the elevated subway train in the left background.
We skipped the "freak shows" (yes, they still call them that!!!!!) and the spook houses (just the facades got Hazel whimpering) and the - ahem - burlesque shows. We hoped Hazel might like some of the kiddie rides, so we bought 3 rides, and after looking at them all, she chose the fire engines. It was as mild as they come - just goes around in a circle. She really liked ringing the bell and sitting in there before it started moving. She even had a happy face on the first time around. But after that she became very anxious and they ended up having to stop the ride to let her off before giving everyone else their money's worth. Good thing we didn't buy a 10-pack of ride tickets! And that also helped us with the decision to not ride the giant ferris wheel as a family.We walked up and down the boardwalk, mostly people watching and sipping fresh lemonade. Hazel just wanted to play in the sand. We hadn't really come prepared for beach time, but we let her play in it a little. People come from all over NYC to spend the day at the beach there - people had coolers, umbrellas, radios, huge tents, baby pools, etc.

We of course got hot dogs for lunch, and while I went to feed Ginger in the car, Ed and Hazel got ice cream cones. I think it was the first time Hazel had strawberry ice cream and she sure loved it. She tried her best to finish it, and came close, but as you can see she just couldn' it....
We hope to go back at least one more time this summer , in the evening. They do fireworks every Friday night during the summer, plus the lights on the boardwalk would be cool. And of course Ed and I both want to ride the Cyclone. Anyone want to babysit?
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