Monday, December 13, 2010

Sad to Say

that I'm a bad blogger...plain and simple.  Bad, bad, bad.  Good bloggers update their blog on something closer to a daily basis.  Bad bloggers update their blogs on a bi-monthly basis!!  How can that be?  Well, I know a few reasons.

1) Lack of home internet.
        (a) which consequently means I'm being an attentive mother to my young child instead of trying to    
              squeeze in some computer time...which is good.

* tried to add picture here...but speed of library internet literally prevented me from doing so...the library is going to close instead :(

2) Cuh-razy new job title at work. (Which is also a good thing but has kept me might busy in my time away from said young child)

3) Enough excuses.

I've maintained this blog relatively well and with relative accuracy to the facts during Cece's first year and I don't intend to let it all fall to shambles now.  In the new year (and even before that, I think I'll start now) I'm going to carve out a few minutes in the morning by getting in a smidge earlier at work to update the blog world...and hopefully with a picture or video here or there as well.  I the best of my ability/accessibility, etc.!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Whirling Dervish

Cecelia is quite the whirling dervish...or tornado depending on who you ask.  Cece's aunt referred to her as a walking tornado this past week.  She got to spend a solid week observing Cece's quirky behavior as she and Cece's cousins were visiting.  Cecelia simply doesn't stop moving.  She'll squat to take a break.  But she rarely sits and stops to play with one thing.  She's always on the go and emptying drawers where'er she goes.  She also noted that Cece likes to abandon her drinking cup entirely when she is done drinking.  While she takes the time to pick up spilled snack and cleans quite well, her cup seems to be something she without.  Cecelia is also a bit...demanding...and...bossy.  Her cousins experienced this first hand this past week.  At one point, her older cousin asked why she was screaming (her way of communicating most things) and from the start decided it was just much easier to give her what she wanted.  He took to this quite well.  Her other cousin, however, disagreed (as I would also).  Cecelia decided that she would like his truck.  That moment stuck in his mind the rest of the week.  I'm just hoping he's not scarred for life by this encounter.  For the rest of the week, when Cecelia entered the same air space that he was occupying he would get very upset and either leave and go to a different room, or otherwise indicate that he had NOT forgotten the truck transgression.  And, no, he was not going to get over it.  I'm just hoping that Cecelia has learned a few more manners before her next encounter with her cousins so that, hopefully, she will not have any more faux pas such as this one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Almost Famous

I've been away for far too long...and hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of blogging, but in the meantime, here's a peek at a day in the life of Jeff and Cece.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Age: 14 Months

Picture Taken September 14th.  And yes, this was the best/only we could do.  We'll see how October goes, but this may be the end of monthly pictures...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Danger Zone

Cecelia likes to live dangerously and keep us on our toes.  While she's become quite proficient at walking and even dares to tread on both sand and grass now (look out!), she has recently begun some new daredevil moves. 


 She started climbing up on the recliner which is an achievement of physics calculations I don't understand but she still manages to pull it off nonetheless.  Like stairs, getting up is the easy part.  Coming back down is a smidge more difficult.  She has safely navigated herself down on her belly and gently placed her feet on the floor.  Unless she's in the mood to give Jeff or I a heart attack by leaning forward and feigning that she is about to dive head first.  But I digress.  

So, she'd been doing this for a few days when, one day, Jeff went to use the facilities and returned to the living room to find Cecelia sitting on the couch and when he entered the room, laughing at him.  Mischief!  Now, again, this is all well and good until she realizes that it would be really fun to climb on the back of the couch and teeter there at the top of the stairs.  We may need to create a different feng shui for our living space, though I'm not sure moving the couch elsewhere is the answer as that would leave the bars exposed for squeezing her head through.  And if I know my daughter, that's JUST what she would do next.  

So, fingers crossed she doesn't take up an interest in base jumping in the next few days.  Then there's the spiral stair case.  Some of you may recall she learned to climb stairs on that very set.  Then we deftly blocked it off with a storage container of toys.  Most recently a tub with mega blocks was sitting on one side and the storage container on the other.  The same day Cecelia was found sitting upon the couch, she also decided to move that tub out of the way (it's not terribly heavy) and ascend the stairs.  At which point her father replaced her at the bottom of the stairs and put the tub back in place.  Followed by her doing the same thing again (are you seeing a pattern here?).  Next, daddy-o moved the much heavier container of toys to block the stairs.  After some lugging, Cecelia gave up on moving the container and, instead, decided to climb up into the toy container, step on and wade through the toys to get to the other side, place both feet on the bottom step and continue on her merry way.  

Trouble.  Big trouble.  But, she is quite the problem solver.

See what Dooce has to say on the topic of daredevil children as she writes about her daughter who is one month older than Cece.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

When In France

I'm not sure this is an appropriate follow-up to yesterday's post, but Cecelia isn't always "appropriate" so here we go...

Cecelia has recently begun to show her receptive language skills.  While expressive language (though she's quite expressive, just not verbally...articulate) is not her strong suit, she's always been a "so big" girl and can now show us where her head and belly button are.  She'll also respond to such requests as those to dance, go to her high chair, answer the telephone, etc.

One response that is awesome, but could prove troublesome is her kiss.  When you ask Cecelia to give you a kiss, she'll either ignore you entirely or approach your face with a wide open mouth.  We'll have to combat this before pre-school or she'll be that girl.

Dorian, one of Cecelia's many men.  Just kidding.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We Know Not The Time Nor The Place

One week ago today we lost a good man.  There are many descriptors for my Uncle Bob, but good seems to encompass so much and, of course, words can never fully express all the lives he has touched.  My uncle's departure was a sudden and unexpected one.  He led a healthy life, doing all the "right" things: going to the doctor regularly, exercising, eating right, and enjoying retirement fully.

I know that Uncle Bob would not want us to grieve on this day, or rather grieve and then celebrate a life fully lived.  My uncle lived each day to its fullest and not in some cliche way.  He worked in an industry that he enjoyed (so much so that he ended up retiring...twice) and that challenged his intellect and creativity.  In retirement, he didn't talk about doing things.  He did them.  He was intrigued by woodworking and creating with his hands.  So he did.  He wanted to keep his body healthy with exercise and activity.  So he did.  And he continued to enjoy a favorite past time in golf.  And another favorite past time was giving time both in a voluntary form to help others and spending time with family and friends.  Uncle Bob knew how to do things right.  And his way was always right.

My Uncle Bob and Aunt Cathy lived a life filled with love.  They also showed that love took work, and sometimes tolerance.  That love is not always easy.  But that it is worth it.  And that death does not stop a marriage.  On the night of my uncle's passing, with many family members filling their home with love and support, the power went out.  I decided that Uncle Bob wasn't finished bugging my Aunt Cathy and that we were sure to see many signs of his presence in the near future.  That night the sky filled with lightning and powerful, booming thunder and my cousin's reflection that "Someone special was entering heaven that night" was proven by the spectacular night sky.

My uncle was proud (as he should have been) of both his children.

My cousin, Rob, followed dreams that others would only dream, but never live.  He drove cross country to really experience America, worked in game development for Harmonix industry (a dream for any child of the 80's), and pursued Air Guitar Champion prowess on the national stage.  Most recently, my uncle gathered his family together around his laptop computer for us to watch a surprise.  That surprise was my cousin on stage with the Boston Pops, along with the development team from Harmonix, to sing a Beatles medley as they introduced the advertisement of their newest release.  It was spectacular (as Rob himself is) and he was so proud.

My cousin, Gaby, embodies the kindness of both my aunt and uncle.  Their giving nature and generous spirit.  She has always been a big sister to me and we have always been close, both emotionally and geographically.  My uncle was proud of Gaby being able to stand on her own two feet and find what made her happiest.  She found that in my cousin-in-law, Joe.  Joe has been an amazing source of support for my aunt and cousins and I feel so happy to know that my uncle spent his last moments doing something he loved with someone he loved and trusted so much as Joe.  He also lived his last days creating memories with people he loved in a place he loved.  How many people have that opportunity?  As we've heard many times over the last week, "We know not the time, nor the place."

With that in mind, I feel blessed to have been invited to the beach two weekends ago and to have spent so much quality time with my aunt, uncle, husband, baby, and mother.  Two years ago, Cecelia spent similar time with Aunt Cathy and Uncle Bob and I'm so happy that we were able to have more memories with Uncle Bob before his death.  I know that he enjoyed spending time with my daughter (and I'm also happy she was well behaved for this trip to the beach) and one of my favorite memories of that last weekend was my Uncle Bob bringing Cecelia up onto his lap to give her a tutorial on the computer.  I have a feeling that Cecelia will have a similar love of all things technological as her Uncle Bob did.

I reflect back on how my uncle lived his life and see it as a lesson for us all.  To live each day fully.  To love completely and to accept without judgement.  To see opportunities to help others and embrace them, not begrudge them.  To look at the world and see all there is to marvel at; not all that is wrong.  To see death as only a part of a life well lived.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inverse Proportions

So, I'm not sure if this post is exactly mathematically accurate but what I do know is that it is a little after 5:30 and I am up and blogging.  Why?  Well, that is certainly a good question.  Now, my alarm was set for 5:30 as that is approximately the time Cece wakes up these days, which is quite frankly a DREAM compared to her erratic sleep behaviors for approximately the full year prior to that which would have equated to just about anyone's NIGHTMARE.

So, good news is that she sleeps now.  Her timing couldn't have been better since I returned to work and really needed the sleep.  I don't know what I would have done if her night waking had continued in quite the same manner.  So, she naps now for 2-3 hours pretty consistently mid-day and sleeps for, on average (and by average I really mean maximum) 12 hours, sometimes more like ten, usually starting at 6:30 or 7.  So, like I said a dream for we who were waking hourly with sometimes stretches of 2-3 hours for about 13 months.

 Now, with that said sometimes you get used to things and that is what we like to call a false sense of security, so 2/3 weeks ago - time is blurring together even if I'm getting better sleep....we were down the shore a-visiting and discovered that while Cecelia used to sleep better sometimes even needed us in the same room or bed in order to get quality sleep, now she NEEDS to be in a room of her own.  If she stirs in the night she will resettle herself, but NOT if there is the remote possibility of fun in the air.  So, when Jeff, Cecelia, and I shared a room at the shore, when she awoke around midnight she could not/would not/refused to resettle and sleep.  We got to 3 o'clock and I decided enough was enough.  I took her to the car, we drove (which ironically worked...not because she loves the car now but because she was exhausted.  And then when I was sure she was asleep, I pulled back in the driveway and slept in the car myself as well.  I thought about trying to bring her back in the house.  Then I thought better of that idea.  So, we learned that lesson and upon return trips to the beach slept in separate rooms.  It is amazing that in a house with 6 adults and 1 baby the only person who got a room to herself was the baby, but those 6 adults wised up to the only way that anyone was going to get some sleep was by giving her a little "privacy."

So, onto the inverse proportions.  Something else we've learned that seems to be unfortunately consistent is that the later Cecelia is awake, the earlier she wakes up in the morning.  For example, last night we had visitors over for dinner and we all stayed up and played a smidgen past bedtime.  Maybe 7:30 or so. So, as punishment from the baby gods, Cecelia woke up at 4:00 and could not be convinced to return to a sleep state with her pacifier, by closing the window, nursing, or snuggling.  Nope.  She was up for the day.  And so, alas, am I.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Friend or Foe?

Cecelia has been slowly but surely overcoming her fear of dogs, cats, and other furry creatures.   This video was taken when we went to our (newly engaged - congratulations!!!) friend's house and Cecelia met their dog, Peyton.  Peyton was quarantined to the upstairs for long enough, and both Cecelia and Peyton were pretty curious to meet each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

13 Months...1 Month Ago

So, my mom's a little (and by a little I mean a lot) late posting this.  This is my 13 month picture and on Tuesday she'll be taking my 14 month picture, because that's about how old I am now!  Over the past month I've overcome many fears (she'll fill you in more later) and am playing more and more at the park and playground with other kids.  Good times!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Times They Are A Changin'

The past month or so has been a time of transition in our home, literally.  Transition was a big word at school this past year as there was construction in progress and staff making the move from one building to another to join ranks.  While I wasn't there for all that...I did change positions within my school.  Now, instead of teaching first grade as I had for the past few years, I am teaching in the school library.  And I love it.  Instead of reaching one class of students (which is also pretty awesome) I get to meet with every class in the school and get them excited about literature, researching efficiently and effectively, citing sources, interacting with Web 2.0 tools to enhance presentation skills (and because they're just plain fun) and learning all day long.  In addition to the traditional roles in the library, this year our school will be starting a TV studio and guess who gets to head that guessed right.  This is both exciting and intimidating, but fortunately I've been able to rope in three other staff members to help me out (phew).  With all that said, it has been a time of transition both professionally and personally as well.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to stay home with my daughter for her first year of life, but alas it was time to return to work.  In our home though, we are still fortunate that one parent can remain home with Cecelia.  In case you weren't clear on the math, that means Jeff is at home with Cece now.  And they are having a blast!!!  But, let me back up.  Jeff and I both come from backgrounds as educators and we take things like transitioning very seriously.  So, when we looked at the prospect of Cecelia going from one full day parent to another, we approached it very much as one would with a student teacher.  And to clarify, this was Jeff's idea, not mine.  But it was a great idea, if a bit rigid :).  Beginning on August 1st, we began a period of observation, where Jeff got to watch what we did all day.  Looking back over the past year, July and August were increasingly predictable months, whereas I would say the previous 10-11 months were NOT.  But I digress.  So, Jeff watched what we did, figured out where everything was (as if I was hiding it from him all this time) and rearranged things to put them in places that made more sense to him (because he likes to do things like that).  He recorded Cecelia's schedules, the foods she could and could not eat and some ideas of activities to do with her on a regular basis, as well as meal planning and food shopping to correspond to those meals.  Basically, my husband is a parenting rock star and I love him more than words can express here.  So, on to week 2 (wherein I screwed up the whole process) when I had a bunch of professional development meetings scheduled and wasn't able to ease into things that week, but trial by fire is also kind of good, right?  But seriously, on days we were able, Jeff took over and I took a back seat.  The following week I went away in the mornings and returned in the afternoons and the week after that I progressed towards full days away one hour at a time, so on Monday I stayed away until 1, Tuesday until 2, Wednesday until 3, and Thursday until 4.  Friday, because I could, I stayed home and cherished one of my last days at home with my baby girl prior to returning to full time days at work.  But then I did.  And everything was fine.  Fine for me, fine for Cecelia, fine for Jeff.  I get the feeling that Cecelia does better when she's with Jeff and now, when I am home it messes with her routine.  She's a bit of a crazy person in the mornings when I'm around, so I have to re-figure out what works for her.  Going on walks, to the playground or park seem to be good activities.  Cece is a busy little person and likes to keep VERY active.  This (realization that I mess up her routine) has been hard, but being away and at work has not.  I think because I did have a full year with Cece, this separation has been good for us.  She is bonding with her daddy (not that she hadn't before) but they are learning more about each other and I like that a lot.  I also like being at work and working with kids.  I think another reason that our transition has been so smooth is that in the teaching profession, well - it's a cliche, but I have the summers.  I have a week around the winter holidays, and a week prior to Easter.  I'm able to be home by 4:30 on days that I don't have meetings after school.  I feel very lucky to be in the profession that I am in.  I feel very lucky to have the family that I have that supports me, including my husband, parents, in-laws, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.  And I feel very lucky to have my beautiful, healthy, sometimes crazy, but mostly really really happy baby girl.  She's not such a baby anymore as she's growing taller, getting bigger, and as Jeff puts it has lost her baby gait and is walking more like a "person".  But more about all that later.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Our little eco-warrior learned to walk pushing the recycling bin around.  She also likes to sort for us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Say Hi!

Since I've been TERRIBLE about updating here since sort of returning to a work-like schedule, I just started uploading videos dating back to...May...I think and I don't even know if I embedded all those I uploaded before, so I can kill a few posts with enticing video.  Here's one for the evening.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Optimism to a Fault

The eternal optimist.  When Cece woke up at 4:42 and couldn't be coaxed to sleep just a smidge longer, I decided it best to take advantage of our early start and go for a run and watch the sun rise.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  Halfway through (so as far away as we were going to get) Cece started...not screaming, but I would say yelling.  Then I checked my phone for the sunrise time only to find that it already happened, ten minutes prior.  It wasn't all that spectacular.  So to all of you who were still sleeping, you didn't miss much.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Baby Dentures

A question we are asked quite frequently by family, friends, random passersby..."So how many teeth does she have now?"  To which we reply, "None."  Incredulous look, "None, not one, no teeth at all?"  That's correct...what do you think this is a game?  That I joke about my daughter's complete absence of teeth.  Well, I do... but not when answering a direct question for goodness sake.  

We've been expecting a tooth since, oh, four months.  That's when we were first told that a tooth was surely coming.  So, at this point, we've been waiting for a tooth as long (9 months) as we waited for a whole baby.  In reflection, when I heard that she would be getting her first tooth at 4 months, I was afraid of that situation, so looking back, it's all fine and dandy that she's going to need dentures (just kidding).  She's been able to eat everything put in front of her (that she WANTS to eat).  It hasn't hindered her ability to blow raspberries or drink from a cup, so really - what's the point of teeth anyway?  She drooled like a maniac around that four month mark, why - who knows?  The drooling stopped after she started wearing her baltic amber necklace (not saying it's a causal relationship, just saying).  

And every time I thought a tooth MUST be coming because she was acting like a lunatic, i.e. fussy, not sleeping, feverish, NOTHING happened.  NOTHING...which means, our daughter is just a lunatic sometimes.  GREAT!  For more reading on toothless babies, check out my friend, Rory's blog post on the same topic.  I really was planning to post this as well...great minds think alike!  And I figured I'd get this up before she (Cece) went ahead and got any teeth, thereby making this a far less amusing post.  I also hear that when she does get them now they'll be fast and furious.  That sounds like a really fun amusement park ride that I DON'T want to go on.  Come on, people - aren't we friends?  Why do you try to scare my pants off?  On the positive side, I hear she'll have better dental health the longer her teeth are delayed.  Well, yeah - there's a lot less chance of cavities if there are NO teeth to get the cavities.  A little obvious, no?  Sure does make for a great smile though!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


After thinking about Cece's fears, I recalled a race that I signed our family up for back in the spring.  It was called the "Black Sheep" 5K and it was called so for people running with strollers, running with dogs, or running with ear buds.  I thought this was a great opportunity to take Cecelia for a run in our jogging stroller donated by a class parent.  It was not until that day, upon arrival, that I thought, hmmm...perhaps this was not my best plan as I looked around at what seemed like millions (not really) of dogs.  Did I mention that Cecelia doesn't like dogs.  At this time she was still bursting into sobs when she saw a dog move toward her.  Now, always looking at the positive - this may have made me run faster, in an effort to stay ahead of the dogs so that she wouldn't see them and she'd never know they were there.  She did do well, especially since we swiveled the stroller around any time a dog was near.  The trouble with this particular fear is that dog owners don't always realize the fear that dogs can strike in the hearts of 9 month old babies.  But it was manageable, and Jeff won this cool hat.

Oh, and that was fun, having the organizers announce our names (uh, starts with a z...) not once, but three times.  Jeff won a prize in the category for running with ear buds and I won a prize in the category for running with a stroller.  I got third.  There were three women running with strollers.  You do the math.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Top Ten Irrational Fears

Here are a list of a few of Cece's irrational fears, which in reality aren't all that irrational when you're 2 feet tall and 17 pounds...

1) Loud Noises: vaccuum cleaner, hairdryer, food processor, blender, um, and other loud noises
   a) Except for fireworks and sonic booms created by air show jet pilots which she has consistently slept   through.

Cece sleeping through the 7th inning of the baseball game during which fireworks celebrated a home run.
Bonus: Jeff stuffing his face with popcorn!

  1.    b) Are we seeing the irrational yet?
2) Animals: mostly pets i.e. cats and dogs...Cece shrieks and throws herself at the closest person.  As her pop-pop says, "Any ship in the harbor."  When she was even younger, she would visibly shake when an animal appeared.  She seems to be getting bolder.  She's very interested in what the animals are doing, but if they approach her all bets are off.

3) Stuffed animals: Cece does not reserve her worry to animals that live and breathe, but a stuffed animal can send her into a tizzy as well.  Nana likes to play a game with her monkeys where she tosses them to Cecelia and she runs (in her best toddler-esque running) from the room.

4) Action figures (animals here too): Nana brought over some small plastic (not too small, all you choking hazard folks) for Cece to play with and, again, she shook with fear.  I found this to be a good deterrant when we went to visit her cousins and she was trying to attack their plates while they ate lunch.  I put a dinosaur on either side of them and she did not approach again.

5) Some toys that make noise independently, sometimes: We have a fridge farm toy.  Sometimes Cecelia LOVES it when the song plays.  Sometimes she looks skeptically at it as if to say, "But how does it know?"

6) Your favorite and mine...the carseat:  I gave myself the blogging Murphy's Law kiss of death when I indicated in an earlier post that Cece was beginning to tolerate the carseat.  Wrong-o-wrong, wrong.  Now, we do our best to time any long car trips to correspond to nap time.  Two birds, one stone.  But if she wakes up on the way, or if she's in the car during an alert time, all bets are off - could be good, could be very, very (very) bad.  I've gotten better at tolerating such shenanigans.  In the early days, I ALWAYS pulled over to check on my baby girl, to get her out of that evil seat, and rock her, nurse her, love her, because she clearly NEEDED me.  Now, I call back, "eh - you're ok." And on we go.

7) Water: Again, not all the time, but she's not a lover of the pool.  She will be though, if it's the last thing I do that girl WILL love the water.

8) Sand: Such a girly girl, when her feet extend to sand, she recoils in disgust.  When I plopped her in the sand to see if "immersion" might do the trick, she proceeded to pluck sand from her tootsies one grain at a time.

9) Grass: As with sand, she just won't touch the stuff with her feet.  at. all.  So, silver lining here - if I put her on a blanket in the midst of either sand or grass, she's not going ANYWHERE.  Even though she's a fully mobile unit now, I can trap her on her very own island and know that she's not going to make a jail break.

10) Certain relatives: Sometimes she loves 'em, sometimes...not so much.  All in good time :)

Oh wait...did I mention the balloons?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Parent Proof

Yep - darts with daddy.
Safety net

Since my mind's been wiped and, in general, has been a bit hazy all year long, forgive me if I start to repeat myself in blog posts.  I've had lots of blog post ideas swimming around in my head all year and often did not have the time or internet access to post promptly while those ideas were fresh in my head.  So, onto parent proofing the house.  I recall last spring, while I was still pregnant, a friend's sister coming over to our house.  She took one look at our house and nearly had a panic attack just thinking of all the "necessary" changes we would need to make to our home in order for it to be safe for a baby/toddler/new person.  Let me walk you through our home and discuss the "changes" we actually made.  I read a book (well, actually listened to the audio book while driving in the car, but I digress) called "Free Range Kids" by Lenore Skenazy.  She has been dubbed the worst parent in America and wears this title proudly.  The reason she wears said title proudly is because the title is ridiculous and, of course, untrue.  She allowed her son to ride the subway by himself, to let him figure out how to get around, because he asked her to.  She let him go.  She let him figure things out.  Terrible, I know (note the sarcasm).  Skenazy cites research having to do with the actual rate of child abduction (quite low, but well publicized), the occurrence of razor blades in apples on Halloween (never actually happened, just theorized by Dear Abby), and other widely believed scare tactics designed to get people at most vulnerable points in life (for parents) to buy more stuff.

Where's the chalk?

We'll start with the obvious - stairs.  We did get a gate for the top of our stairs, which turned out to be the most dangerous item in our home.  Our stairs have a metal railing on one side and a wall on the other, but without making modifications, we were having difficulty finding a gate that would be truly secure at the top of these stairs.  We bought one that was designed to screw into the metal railing only to find that it was too tall as it was an "extra tall" top of stairs gate.  We returned it.  We also bought a pressure mounted gate with this in mind for the top of the other stairs (sprially and scary to all except for we who live here and love it to bits) and office entrance.  As it turned out, that one was too wide for that area upstairs.  We did measure.  Anywho, we tried the pressure mounted gate at the top of our stairs and would squeeze it in there and once Cecelia was on the move (crawling) she was obsessed with it.  All she wanted to do was go to the gate.  I swear if there was no gate there I don't think it would have occurred to her to approach the top of the stairs but that was a gamble that even I was not willing to take.  Once she was pulling up, the gate was even more desirable as it was just the right size for her to hold on to and rock.  Now, we removed her from the site of potential danger.  But once, and I was right next to her, she was too fast.  I had decided that if supervised, she could stand at the gate because my thinking was that she would get it out of her system, all this gate loving, and move on to some other part of the house to be obsessed with.  She pushed and she pulled and she pushed and she pulled and the gate gave way.  I hate the gate.  I promptly decided that the pack and play we never use was just the right size to blockade the top of the stairs and has resided there ever since.  This was my first thought before getting any gates, but we thought we'd try it out.  Now, a pack and play might not work in every home, but for us, it has been the perfect fit.  We can move it easily, but Cece can not move it easily.  She can still see through it when someone is coming up the stairs (fun) and she can still stand up near it with no chance of it being used as a sled for the stairs.
Working on my core muscles.

As for the other stairs (spirally), there are two ends to contend with - the bottom and the top.  At the bottom, I wanted Cece to experiment with climbing stairs so originally there were no impediments.  And experiment she did.  She was able to get up and promptly would try to get back down by sitting on her bottom.  Mom fail.  So, the toy box moved to blockade the bottom of the stairs.  We have since moved it out of the way to practice climbing stairs and back again when Cece is playing.  Did I mention we practice on these stairs and she is a master spiral stair climber.  I'm right behind her when she does this, don't worry.  At the top of the stairs, we've utilized that lovely pressure mounted gate leaning against the doorway since it's too wide, but once Cece could stand she would have just pulled it on top of herself anyway.  What I found is much more effective, if we're up there for an extended period of time, is to use the printer cart.  Our computer printer is on a rolling cart from IKEA.  It's carpeted and does not roll at all easily (i.e. Cece cannot move it) but easily enough for me to slide it in front of the doorway/top of stairs gap.  It is just shy of the width of the opening, but perfect for blocking access.

No, we didn't turn it on...

Onto chemicals and other Mr. Yuck sticker worthy items!  One simple solution is to get rid of all the chemical cleaners in your home.  We try to clean with only natural items like vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, lemon, etc.  Past that, we keep cleaners (even those natural ones) in a caddy in the outdoor closet that Cece does not have access to.  In the kitchen, everything that was under the cabinet (soap, dishwasher detergent, etc) was moved to the cabinet above the sink (well out of reach of Cece, and Jeff and I :) and moved all tupperware and storage type containers under the sink.  This is one of Cecelia's favorite places to explore, so why deny her the pleasure?  Pots and pans are also at baby-level and there are drawers next to the refrigerator with paper plates that she can pull out and have a ball with as well as plastic utensils and straws that she adores.  She enjoys pulling items out of our recycling bin which does reside in the kitchen, so we make sure things are well rinsed.  I've begun to just turn the trash can around so that the open end is facing the wall.  It's still easy enough to deposit trash, but (at the moment anyway) a conundrum not worth the time to a one year old.  Similarly, metal mixing bowls are on the bottom shelf of a wire rack and cookbooks are accessible for her to peruse.  Because...why not?
Sorting plastic and glass
Mrs. Clean

We did remove our table cloth because Cecelia, being the problem solver she is, realized that if something was on the table, all she had to was a swift magic trick to get it back down again.

Power tools are a must.
Navigating the bridges of life

As for sharp corners, we moved our coffee table out of the center of the room.  Our fireplace offers a fun challenge.  There is one REALLY sharp corner and edge, so we took a body pillow and laid it around the edge of the fireplace while Cecelia was learning to crawl.  Once she was steady, we removed the pillow.  Because Cecelia has always had the fireplace there, it's no longer such a novelty.  She does, at times, like to play with the mesh, or touch the edge, but she's never tried to crawl in (yet) and she's never knocked her noggin on that edge.  I'm not ruling it out as a possibility in life, but I think because she's been around it, it's a non-issue.  We did remove the fireplace tools because, well, who needs the weaponry, am I right?  Same thing with the tv stand edges and corners - pillows do wonders.

I was told there would be candy in this basket.

The bathroom is one of Cecelia's favorite places to hang out.  Under the sink there, I've made sure there are plenty of things for her to pull out and explore and anything I wouldn't want her near is either above the sink, completely gone, or way in the back blocked by all the fun baskets in the front.  She loves brushes.
Yes, please.
But I needed it!

We don't have any locks on drawers or cabinet doors.  I figure cause and effect - she opens a drawer, she learns how a drawer opens.  She closes a drawer, she learns how a drawer closes.  She pinches her fingers, she learns not to stick her fingers in a drawer and close it.  Cause and effect.
Mom, this is NOT amusing.

And, everyone's favorite: electrical outlets.  We don't have outlet covers.  Why?  They are plastic (bad for you and bad for the environment) and one friend told me that they could be a choking hazard.  I can guarantee that if we had outlet covers, Cecelia would make it her mission to pry them out.  Then she steps on them, ouch, the outlet would be uncovered anyway, etc.  Now, I'm going to be blunt here - if you don't give your child a metal object that he/she can stick into an outlet, then there should be no problems.  If you do give your child a fork, knife, metal coin (penny, nickel, dime, quarter), or other small metal object, then they might stick it in an outlet.  Don't let them do that.  Keep all coins (another choking hazard) out of reach and same thing with metal cutlery and voila problem solved.

I'll just plug this in here...

I'm sure that I'm forgetting some other "essential" baby proofing products - there are so many out there, baby knee pads...don't even get me started...but off the top of my head, this is how we evaluated our home.  Another thing to think about is your individual child and your individual family.  For example, I observed when Cece was learning to sit and once she became more steady.  I would seat her with cushioning around her on the side she might roll to.  When she started to crawl, I could see if she was likely to bobble or how steady she was, and likewise, with pulling up and, now, walking.  I am certain that new challenges will surface and it is important to keep your child safe.  But, it is also important not to bubble-wrap them and assume that you can protect them from everything.  If children aren't given the opportunity to explore when they want and need to, they'll find a way.  It's in their nature, and it's an important learning process.  You also need to know your tolerance level.  If you won't be able to handle having EVERY container pulled out, then you should probably lock that cabinet drawer.  Know yourself and know your kid.
Just add bubble wrap.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mind Wipe

And the mind wipes (this term is not from MIB, but rather from the Artemis Fowl series which I am reading...and loving now) are complete.  Yesterday, I held 4 week old Anna and had that moment that I saw play out so many times when others held Cece at this age and younger where I thought to myself...I don't remember Cece ever having been this small.  And she was.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baby Accessible

I never gave much thought to the accommodations of many places as regarding family-friendliness prior to having a baby myself.  The first time these particular thoughts crossed my mind was when I went out to lunch with friends of ours who had recently had their first baby.  His dad took him to the restroom to change his diaper, but returned to the table because the restroom did not have a changing table facility.  And so, the baby's mom took him instead.  I remember thinking to myself, well, in today's world, there should be a changing table in the men's room too.  What if dad had been out to lunch or dinner with baby by himself?

When I had a baby of my own and was confronted with such realities on a daily basis, it was quite eye opening.  I wanted to share some of what I found in regards to the family friendliness of different facilities and what makes them more (or less) family friendly.  Any time there is a family restroom, that is generally best because mom or dad can take baby there, any time that family restroom also has a chair for nursing even better.  And the all star is most impressive.  In the world of malls, Neshaminy (surprisingly) has the best facility - they have a whole suite!  The first time I went to Neshaminy Mall with Cecelia was in the morning for a One Fit Mama class and I went to the women's restroom and was appalled to find it had no changing table and it was quite difficult to navigate a stroller even into the restroom.  An employee who just happened to be in there (thank goodness) informed me that there was a (really nice) family restroom area.  I found it after class to check it out.  There were two family restrooms with changing tables, two changing tables outside the family restrooms, and a nursing room with three or four chairs.  Impressive.  Another good feature was the door-less-ness of this area, so you don't have to maneuver opening a door while either backing up with a stroller or pushing one forward.  Neshaminy gets the all-star in my book.  Montgomery Mall also has door-less restrooms, but are more traditional in that there are bathroom stalls and then a changing table at the far end.  The changing table is very nice and built in with a pad and a dispenser to lay down a paper liner.  Tricky thing here is getting your stroller all the way to the end - can't even imagine if the restroom was full and I have run into the situation where others are waiting since there is one changing table per bathroom.  As a mom of an EC baby, I even prefer to have the changing table as a drop down inside the handicapped stall so that you can discreetly undress baby, potty baby, and re-dress without having to go in and out of a stall.  Willow Grove mall's bathrooms have a door making them least friendly in the mall department.

Ikea has a super friendly set up, which is no surprise because it's Ikea and they're pretty awesome at most things.  They have a nursing room and changing table connected to a kid-friendly sized bathroom.  Only thing is, again, that there's one chair to nurse in, one changing table, and one bathroom, so there could be a line if it's a particularly family busy day.  Whole Foods has a nursing bathroom with a comfy chair in the corner and also has a changing table.  Now the trick is, I can't remember which one - one has it and one doesn't and I'm thinking of North Wales and Jenkintown - will have to check back about that.  Babies R Us, not surprisingly, also has a pretty good set up with a nursing room with comfy seating and two changing tables.  This is entirely separate from the bathroom, which is good in some ways but a minus for an EC mom.  Fortunately, there is also a changing table in the bathroom as well.

Another surprise to me was places that were just plain lacking a changing table.  It seems like a pretty inexpensive addition to make a place all the more appealing to a person with kids.  Off the top of my head, the park in Horsham where we had Cece's birthday, Everybody's Playground, has no changing table in the bathroom.  Also Baja Fresh (random, I know, but fresh in my mind).  And our condo association pool, where they indicate you must take baby to the bathroom to change a diaper.  Well, guess what - until they put in a changing table, I'm not taking her there to change her diaper.

I've gotten quite adept with changing her on my lap when needed, but to the chagrin of anyone who's witnessed the phenomenon and think Cece's going to launch off my lap and crack her skull.  She's totally fine and we've done it a million (well probably not a million..) times.  I realize that you don't always need a changing table to change a baby, but it is nice.  I do wish that so many weren't made of plastic, but I'm not sure what the best alternative would be there.

Being a mom with a stroller made me all the more aware of the wheelchair accessiblity or lack thereof of many places.  It also made me grateful that I had the option to sling my baby rather than using the stroller all the time.  While in a department store in the mall or at Target or Kohls for example, (oh - Kohl's also has a chair in the bathroom for nursing - purposes as does Macy's) it is much easier to navigate the racks with baby in a sling instead of a stroller.  You can't even get through the aisles with a stroller, so I have a tough time imagining what that might be like in a wheelchair.

Throughout the post, I've mentioned places where one might nurse a baby as well.  When Cece first arrived, I was very conscientious of being discreet while nursing in public.  I've gotten to the point, personally, where I find it more discreet to just feed her when needed (which isn't often in public at this point anyway).  She covered the area better than any cover might and most people do not realize what is happening unless they are waiting for me to feed my baby.  With that said, it is nice for places to offer a private and comfortable area for mothers, especially when baby is young and might eat for 45 minutes or more.  To sum up those places: Ikea, Whole Foods, Babies R Us, Neshaminy Mall, any Motherhood Maternity store, really any store with a fitting room, Kohl's bathroom, Macy's bathroom (both of these were just a regular chair in the corner - better than nothing), any department store with a "waiting room" just inside the bathroom - with a comfy couch or chair.  And really, remember you can nurse your baby law.

And thus finishes my rant - this is a post that had been brewing in my brain for quite some time and I'm glad to have "gotten it down".  Hopefully it is a help to someone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Walk This Way

Cecelia has made the very gradual move from baby to toddler as she toddles all over the house now.  She's always been a mover and a shaker, but yesterday was the first time I'd say she walked more than crawled.  She even walked the entire length of our home.  Now, we're in a 2 bedroom condo, but still - impressive nonetheless!  I'll do my best to upload video of this phenom.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Cece

On Saturday, we celebrated Cecelia's 1st Birthday at Everybody's Playground.  Even though it was a hot day, there was a nice breeze under the pavilion.  Cecelia made her grand entrance from the trail because she and daddy walked to the party.

Cecelia's cake was double chocolate zuchinni cake and she loved every bite of it.


and family were able to join us for the festivities.

Cecelia didn't really like mommy's idea for the balloons the day after the party. 

But she warmed up to the idea.