Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On baby books

For my baby shower, all my friends were very sweet and got me a lot of baby books to read to Emi. We've started reading to her pretty early on, to the point where she's now absolutely obsessed with her books and won't go to sleep unless we read between 5 to 7.
After a year or so, reading the same books over and over can get old, especially the baby books that don't have a lot going on. Like "I love cupcakes!", or "Big, versus small!", "Yellow!". I always picture those writers coming up with new ideas for their next baby book and how they may pitch it to their publishers.

Baby Book Writer: "Hey! I wrote a new baby book! It is about 5 pages long and it is about all the things a little baby loves, such us ice cream, family and cupcakes".
Editor: "I think this can be a huge hit, how did you even come up with that ingenious idea?".
Baby Book Writer: "Well, I am a mom myself!".
Editor: "That makes total sense".

What a great idea to write my very own Baby Book Series, right? (right?).

The first one is about a Very Hungry, Frumpy Mom. Read on:

Mom was trying to lose the baby weight, but dieting was making her very hungry. Her fashion choices weren't helping either.

On Monday, Baby refused to eat her Cheerios for breakfast. So Mom ate all the leftovers, despite having just finished her piece of toast.

On Tuesday, Baby decided she wasn't really into oatmeal. Mom was quick and ate it all without any regrets.

By Wednesday, Mom was definitely not losing any baby weight.

On Thursday, baby was eating meatballs. But... they were too delicious to pass on, so none were left for Mom. Mom had to cook a few for herself, and also added some rice and parmesan cheese for good measure.

By Friday, Mom was certainly not losing any baby weight. So Mom decided to eat a nice big green smoothie and felt much better.

The green smoothie diet was definitely doing wonders to her bod, so she decided to keep it up for two more weeks, in addition to taking spinning classes.

Then she went on a shopping spree and got a few items on sale. She also got a keratin treatment and a mani/pedi.

But now, she wasn't hungry anymore and the frumpy old mom days were long behind.

She had turned into... well...  (certainly not a butterfly)... not entirely hot, but hey, this is hard work, you guys. Maybe we need a few more months.


*All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Monday, July 21, 2014

On employee performance reviews

I've been out of Corporate America for about about eight months now and I still often get people asking me if I miss it.
I have friends who would go bananas working from home alone, while I seem to thrive in an environment where I can lay all day on the couch wearing the finest frumpy-Old-Navy-momma ensembles.
But there is one thing I miss about working at a large company: the twice a year 360 reviews. That time of the year when the sh*t hits the fan and both peers and superiors write a detailed performance review that later on is analyzed and delivered to you in person during a painful 1:1 meeting with your manager.
Since that is the only thing I miss from working every day at an office 9 to 5, why not just do it at home and get the pure benefit from it?
I figured I would not only feel great about seeing all my achievements in one page, but I would also be able to get my deserved praise and help my family work toward perfection.
To get a head start in the process, I have completed Emi's first performance review, while I wait to receive hers. She seems to be taking a long time completing it.

Name: Emilia
Age: 16 months

Performance Rating Definitions

Outstanding                        Performance is consistently superior
Exceeds Expectations         Performance is routinely above job requirements
Meets Expectations             Performance is regularly competent and dependable
Below Expectations            Performance fails to meet job requirements on a frequent basis Unsatisfactory                     Performance is consistently unacceptable

Performance Factors

Knowledge of Work Below Expectations
Emi tends to know by now what is expected from her but still acts surprised when I attempt to leave her with her beloved nanny and little friend. After a while, it would be nice if she would just happily wave goodbye at me.

Communication Below Expectations
Despite my efforts to teach Emi both Spanish and English, she still only says a few words, including (but not limited to) agua, banana, mama, daddy, Emi, más, puffs and happy.

Teamwork Below Expectations
It would be great if Emi could start taking on some household tasks such us cooking, laundry and groceries.

Decision Making/Problem Solving Below Expectations
Emi seems to have trouble deciding which outfit to wear and which books to read. 

Expense Management Below Expectations
All those toys and baby gear are preventing us from buying a mansion.

Safefy Below Expectations
Despite my efforts to teach safety around the house, Emi continues to climb her high chair and every piece of furniture around the house. Power outlets, drawers, trash and staircases are still extremely attractive to her.

Employee Strenghts and Accomplishments
Emi is a happy little toddler. She enjoys reading, playing hide and seek, going to the playground, dancing and bath time. She loves puppies and babies, meatballs and orange juice. 

Performance Areas which need improvement
Emi has been known for biting other babies' cheeks, climbing unsafe areas and for having an unhealthy obsession with Curious George. Table manners could certainly use some improvement.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My tips on sleep training

A poor night of sleep can set you and your family for failure. It is important that both mom, dad and baby get a proper rest, to be able to fully enjoy your day. As many of you know, I have read virtually all books about baby sleep, along with taking a few classes and hiring a very expensive Sleep Consultant. The advantage of having read so many books is that I have been able to pick and choose the best of each theory to come up with the ultimate top 10 tips on sleep training:

  1. Babies need to sleep a lot. But they just don't know how to do it. That is why it is your job as a parent to sleep train your child. The first step is to let them cry. Don't respond quickly to their needs, as they are simply testing you (and you don't want to fail any parenting tests).
  2. During specific times of your child's first year, you will encounter what is called the "Wonder Weeks". If you are facing a Wonder Week, just go with the flow. Forget about all the advice you've received so far and go ahead and co-sleep with your child. Extra soothing will be required to go through that difficult time.
  3. The key of success is consistency. Always do the same routine, and make sure you never change any step of it or make any concessions. Otherwise your child will be very confused and you may need to start all over again.
  4. Never wake a sleeping child.
  5. Make sure your baby doesn't sleep too much during the day, otherwise she won't sleep at night.
  6. If your child has been sleeping for more than 2 hours in the day, you surely need to wake her up. 
  7. Your baby knows best: let her lead you to her own rhythms. She will tell you if she's ready for a nap or if play is more appropriate. Tune in to her needs.
  8. Babies thrive on a set schedule. Make sure you always feed your baby at the same time, followed by play time and a nap. Never put a baby to sleep on the breast or bottle. If your child is happily playing, but it is time for a nap, close the curtains and place the baby in his crib. Remember, you are in control.
  9. Some babies respond well to a cry it out method, while others may become incredibly upset, even vomiting from so much crying. If that is your case, scratch all and try a different method. Remember, consistency is key - it is important to always do the same thing and never change any step of your routine.
  10. By 4 months, all babies are technically equipped to sleep through the night. It only takes a few days to sleep train a child, and if you do a good job, your baby will consistently sleep soundly every night for the rest of his life. Don't believe on teething, illness or travel as reasons for poor sleep. Hunger and separation anxiety are also big myths. Again, you are in control. If your child is 16 months old and still wakes up in the middle of the night a few nights a week, scratch all and try a different method but don't forget about consistency - changing things up all the time may be your problem.
Seriously, people. You should stop writing books about baby sleep. You're confusing poor sleep deprived moms like me who believe in any promises you make. And the websites and blogs.... don't get me started on them!

Friday, July 18, 2014

An intervention

Dear San Francisco Mom,

I want you to know that I admire you and respect you very much. Your genuine love and interest for your child goes above and beyond any other parent I've ever met. You inspire me to be a better mom myself, a goal I'll probably never fulfill, since other lifetime goals have taken a big toll in my life, such us working towards becoming a MILF.

My dearest, I can see that being an alpha mom is causing you significant problems in your life. The DYI deodorant you use to avoid passing on harmful aluminum to your child is producing a less than desired scent. Your strict screen time forbiddance is depriving your little one from the biggest joy ever invented: a break for you. You have dangerously high bonds with your child and co-sleeping makes it worse.

Mom, last month I was at the playground. As my child was climbing the slide, you saw how your toddler pushed her and you came screaming "SHARE, FORREST!", "YOU HAVE TO SHARE!", "DON' PUSH THAT LITTLE GIRL", "SHE'S JUST A BABY!". Later that day, you insisted on only communicating with your child in baby sign language, followed by only feeding him organic steamed vegetables with water. Your kid saw my child was sipping freshly squeezed orange juice and tried to push my kid again to take the sippy cup from her. Again, you used sign language to tell your kid that he doesn't get to drink OJ due to its high sugar content. I offered you some and explained it was 100% organic and hand squeezed by my laborious hands, to no avail.

I care about you, I want to see you get better. Will you please accept this offer of addiction treatment? The treatment consist of a weekend in Vegas with your closest childless friends, followed by a week observing french moms in their natural habitat of Paris (everybody knows how the french have their parenting shit all figured out). Upon your return, you will be forced to live on a minimum wage, where you'll experience the costs of living a truly organic, sustainable, farm to table life. Within a month, you'll receive a shipment of 8 additional children who will teach you the art of truly juggling a work/life balance. A Costco membership will be provided, along with a folder with coupons.

I love you too much to watch you hurting yourself any longer. If you chose to refuse this offer of treatment then you can no longer call me for playdates and I will no longer support you emotionally.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Traveling with a toddler

Nothing excites my husband more than going on trips around the world. He has this thing about doing a major international trip about every other day or so with a minimum of at least three times a year. He buys the Lonely Planet book and plans to visit EACH and EVERY touristy spot recommended by the guide. Days are packed with adventure, public transit rides, map reading, taking photos and checking things off the list. At the end of the day, he's the happiest boy on the block if he was able to tackle between 5 and 10 recommended areas and restaurants. 
Now attempt to do that with a 15 month old. For two weeks. In England and Italy.
Traveling through Europe with a toddler for two weeks is, simply put, a very bad idea. But we also need to keep the marriage fresh and happy and compromise what each of us wants to do and who they are. And since I'm a great wife, I agreed to put myself through adversity to make this man happy.

No matter how many blogs I had read about "tips for traveling with a toddler", "how to deal with jet lag and babies" and "how to survive a big international flight with a toddler", nothing prepared me to endure long airport lines, an overtired child wailing on packed buses and trains, a hungry child waiting for an italian meal to be prepared and brought to the table, the hurry to pack every day each essential item we may or may not need during our long journey out (will it rain? how many extra outfits we'll need?) and the desperate and unfruitful need to take a nap after lunch.
Yes, we visited some beautiful places (that were also packed with millions of other tourists. Hello, high season!) and yes, we ate really delicious meals and Emi was, for the most part, a champ.

After three international trips and several domestic journeys, here's my top five advice for parents planning on traveling with babies and/or toddlers:

 1) Don't do it. Please stay home with your baby/toddler until he/she is old enough to enjoy family traveling. Maybe when Emi is 7?
2) Again. Home is safe, the neighborhood playground is your friend.
3) How about reading books and singing nursery rhymes? Fun at home! Definitely say no to international travel.
4) If you are considering international travel with your baby: just don't. If your husband insist: insist on divorcing.
5) If everything fails, then load your ipad with as many episodes of Curious George, Barney and Dora as you can possibly fit, trade your trendy diaper bag for a useful backpack, get a good stroller with great sun coverage, pack plenty snacks and small toys and books and go with it.  Jetlag is hard, but it will take you and your child about 2-3 days to naturally adapt. Try not to pack too much. Unless you are going to the jungle, chances are everywhere you go will have baby supplies. You may find yourself even having fun!

Walking around Florence

In Siena (I'm very tanned because... I forgot to apply sunscreen. Thankfully it didn't hurt too much at night)

This little girl loves big gardens in big palaces. We should get her one.

Our daily diet in Italy consisted in pastries in the morning, followed by pasta or pizza for lunch with cheese plate appetizer, afternoon snacks and pasta or pizza with vino and more cheese at night. Needless to say, I'm on a very strict diet right now.
London continues to be one of my favorite cities in the world.

Yes, they do have crappy weather. But it is a really beautiful city.

Siena is beautiful. While still touristy, I didn't find it as crowded as Florence. Smaller and slower - great place. I got this dress on sale. I swear I'm not that fat in person. Say no to elastic waistbands adding extra volume on places where your body doesn't need any extra volume. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Irreconcilable Differences

I have a really unhealthy obsession with strollers.
It is the most ridiculous thing I've ever been obsessed with.
When I see parents at the park, all I look is at what stroller they have. I analyze its features, and consider buying one. I look them up online and compare them against other contenders. Would it fit behind the small space behind my door, at the bottom of the staircase? Does it have a decent sun canopy? If I force Emi to ride it for five years, then my ROI definitely looks positive. That basket really sucks. I bet they need to use two hands to fold it. Two hands... that's absolutely unacceptable.
I think this is what men think when they obsess over cars, right? I wonder what they think when they fantasize about buying a fancy sports car. Noise level? Speed? But why care about speed when there's a speed limit one must obey? Brand? Durability? Are they really going to keep it for 30 years?

My friend Maria came visit today with this little number and I SO WISH I HAD ONE! But I'm not going to spend $600 on a stroller that will likely cause me a divorce. Rob has really strong opinions about my obsession with strollers and my need to constantly buying and selling strollers (see, at least I have the decency of selling my old stroller when I buy a new one, so I only have one at a time). And I think there are better reasons to divorce over. Reasons like "irreconcilable differences", "snoring issues", "not supporting my artistic career" or "simply having grown apart" are far better than "she just bought too many strollers".

Goodbye, BabyZen. You are gorgeous and we had an amazing platonic affair, but unfortunately this isn't happening for us. 

Now I need to think of how am I going to walk the streets of Europe with my horrible stroller the next two weeks. Life is tough, you guys. I should just buy myself a Bugaboo Bee and get it over with. I think I'd like it in yellow. Maybe red. The blue is super cute. But people would think Emi is a boy and I'm so done with people complimenting me on my cute little boy! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The case for more singletons

I often times question my decision of not bringing any more babies to our little family of three.
People love to comment on my poor decision making in regards to this topic-and a few others- and undeniably, some of the reasoning these people use seems to me quite compelling. Having a companion friend through childhood, being able to share the burdens of caring for aging parents and making sure they don't become selfish entitled assholes.
But my instinct and science tell us otherwise. Ok, maybe not exactly "science" but googling.

There are a number of situations when I think having more than one children might be a dreadful inconvenience:

  1. Traveling: nothing can be more tedious than traveling with your child. Gear, snacks, books, iPads, the need to use a public restroom at the most inconvenient time, motion sickness, boredom, jetlag, the need to buy expensive unnecessary items at any gift shop, my need to sleep, my boredom, my need to get my hands into that ipad. Now try multiplying this by two, three, four.
  2. Sleeping: Sleeping before having a child was awesome. Sleeping with one infant child is a miracle. Sleeping with two children qualifies your case for beatification. Sleeping with three children puts you on the door for canonization. Anymore than four and you are going straight to hell because there's no way you are remotely paying any attention to four children at a time. You barely remember their names.
  3. Cooking: While it is fairly easy to trick a child into thinking that something as gross as green eggs or plain steamed broccoli can be not only edible but "delicious", that task becomes increasingly challenging as there's nothing children enjoy more than comploting against their tireless mother, as she slaves in the kitchen to make sure the little youngsters eat their vegetables. If you have found yourself in this situation and are looking for advice, all I have for you is a very comprehensive list of restaurants in my area that deliver for free. If you came here looking for the recipe for green eggs, stay tuned.
  4. Watching tv: I used to love Netflix. Its recommendation engine was very accurate and it got better and better with time. Their children's selection is outstanding. You can watch it anytime, anywhere, no commercials! Now think of that poor algorithm as it attempts to serve to the little viewers in the house along with the adults and any friends I may have shared my password with. I tried creating profiles one day but the damage was done and there's nothing else to do but to watch Curious George, Barney or Dora the Explorer. Actually, scratch that. No more Dora on Netflix. Sorry, children, these people are obviously childless.
  5. Taking public transportation: I haven't attempted this myself, besides airplanes. But not even in the name of science I could drag myself to try riding MUNI with a child and never in a million years with more than one. 
Growing up, I never had a real connection with my sister. She loved to stay home, and I wanted to fly away. She was a great student, while most of the time I forgot to do my homework. She never stayed out late when going out with friends, while I always stayed at least two hours longer past my curfew. I was a rebel, she was the good one.

Science also tells us that there are many rich and successful celebrities that have been raised without siblings. Take David Copperfield, for example. One can only image the delight of his parents as he worked diligently at perfecting his magic acts as a young child at dinner every night. Think of the proud look on his mom as she proceeded to remove the dead pigeon body left behind or patiently sewed capes and trickery shirts for cute little David.
Think of luminaries like John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Anthony Hopkins, Frank Sinatra, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Leonardo Da Vinci and Suri Cruise.

Sibling jealousy and bullying is another thing I fear may happen if I ever get the baby fever again. I was the youngest, and my sister never recovered from the day I came to this world and took her throne away from her. She was the very first grand-child to both set of grand parents and I can only imagine the excitement that all of her accomplishments brought to our family. Enter me, a -reportedly by my mother- very colicky baby who used to "cry and cry and cry with no reason at all". Having my own baby now, I can't imagine how hard it must have been to juggle a crying child and a jealous toddler. 

Having an only child is also proven to be eco-conscious, budget friendly and overall the best value for your buck. 
So call now. Limited Supply. While they last!

*Money-Back Guaranteed: Due to the unexpected number of requests received, we are unable to respond right away. We appreciate your patience as we study each individual case.

Bringing Up Emi

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