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Keep your mitts off my baby name, HBO

My husband and I never share what we are naming our babies until after they are born.

Our theory is that nobody will criticize a baby’s name while they are holding the baby or hypnotized by the charm of a photo. Plenty of people have no qualms trashing a particular name while the baby is still in utero, though.

Also, how am I supposed to know the baby’s name until I see his or her face? What if she doesn’t look like a Priscilla or he doesn’t exactly fit Merlin? We go to the hospital armed with a couple of possibilities and chose the name that softly clicks.

The danger in keeping potentially perfect baby names close to our hearts is when someone announces their new baby has been given our top name contender. It’s happened before, but we don’t find ourselves angry or terribly jealous that we were beat to the birth certificate. There are hundreds of other perfectly wonderful names, and I’ve learned that tastes change over time.

When our first child was born in the olden days of 1997, we gave her a predominantly boy’s name. We liked the meaning—little fire. It was so obscure at the time that most people had never heard of it and we were proud of our clever creativity.

I have one thing to say about this:

Are you a morning person or a night person?

I used to think I was a night person, but it’s become apparent to me since adding my third child to the mix that I am most definitely a morning person.

In the mornings I’m refreshed, even if I haven’t had any sleep. I haven’t had to listen to anyone (except maybe a baby) crying. I haven’t had to refill a sippy cup three times within one hour. I haven’t had to mediate arguments over who’s the rightful owner of that headband or those crayons.

That stretch of darkness, even if it’s only a few hours long, is enough to revive my sanity. I awaken (or not) with sufficient patience to chase children in and out of the shower, brush tangled hair carefully, and start refilling sippy cups once more. And I can do it all with a sense of humor.

The witching hour still exists even when kids aren’t babies anymore. By late afternoon, everyone’s hungry and tired, and at least one of us wants a glass of wine. It’s even worse when I have to cart them all to activities like swimming lessons and soccer practice. By the time we get home, my patience is long gone, along with my sense of humor.

I try so hard to maintain

The Family Pet: To Have or Have Not?

Growing up, we always had pets. There was Peppery the Tomcat who enjoyed knocking up the neighborhood felines and who, despite his amorous inclinations, was a fighter not a lover (I had the battle wounds to prove it). Then there was my beloved Lacey who I trained for the Bichon Frise Summer Olympics against her cousin, Missy. One day on a run, portly Lacey faked an injury.

I had no idea dogs even knew how to do that.

I loved and cared for my pets even when they did not love me back. I always assumed when I had a family of my own, pets would become a part of our life.

Except they’re not.

My 4-year-old daughter Hadley adores animals and constantly begs us for a pet. I think if we already had one when we became parents, it would be different. But my husband issued a decree we would not get one until “everyone in this house is potty trained.” At the time, there was only him, my daughter and me.

Do you think he was trying to tell me something?

I have to admit

Whatever the outcome of the election, the grandkids will not live with me

It is the Sunday night before the election. It’s hard to tell what this coming week will bring. These ramblings will post the day after the election. I am hoping that there will be a clear-cut winner. I don’t want a repeat of the ambiguity we went through during a previous election. Come Wednesday(today) I want to be either shooting fireworks off my roof or drowning my sorrows in what is left of the Halloween candy.

Just like this election, it’s also hard to predict how my kids will turn out. I want them to be happy, successful, productive adults. But, if my grown-up kids aren’t sending me on exotic trips and paying for my cataract surgeries, I, at the very least, hope that I raised them well enough to take care of their own kids.

I don’t want to raise my grandkids, I don’t want them to live with me, and I don’t want to ever be in a position where I have to discipline them. I just want to be the kind of grandma that spoils them, sugars them up, and sends them home.

My grandma drove a taxi cab, played the organ, and taught me how to play Bridge. I remember that she always had a dish of Jolly Ranchers on the kitchen table. Even to this day, I can’t smell coffee or watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers without thinking of her.

My kids are only nine, nine, and seven, but I don’t think it’s ever too early to explain what’s expected of them. I expect them to

Car Seats Suck

Oz Spies, who started blogging while pregnant with her son Axel, spends her days working in the nonprofit sector, chasing after a very active baby boy, and trying to find time to paint her toenails, walk the dog, feed the cat, and kiss her husband. You can read more at Knocked Up.

My eleven-month-old son Axel hates the car seat. He loathes being strapped in with every last ounce of his skinny body. He curses the heavens in baby babble almost every time we go for a drive. If he had his way, I think he’d get a hold of a couple of phone books to sit on and take the wheel himself. We’d go wherever he wants to go – probably someplace with mounds of graham crackers and all you can eat Cheerios and unlocked cabinets, where babies crawl free and gnaw on bark without meddlesome adults telling them it’s filthy and will give them splinters in their mouths.

I give him his sippy cup, which usually means that he’s quiet for 60 seconds, and the car seat is getting soaked with milk for 10 minutes. There’s now an attractive milk stain circling the base of the car seat. Stains are good for resale value, right? I pack toys around him – a rattling caterpillar, a purple crinkly hippo face, a wooden ring adorned with a pirate and a compass and a bell – and he throws the toys over the side, too. He’s bailing out the car seat, to keep it light in case it suddenly needs to float, which is very good thinking in the high alpine desert of Denver.

Once the seat is empty, he screams. He pulls against the car seat straps. He beseeches other drivers to bust him out of his safe, dependable, Japanese-engineered station wagon prison. Sometimes, if he’s really tired, he’ll give in and fall asleep, but other times he yells and sobs for 40 minutes. He’s immune to the charms of NPR and Modest Mouse. Even the adored toys that are really trash, like empty plastic water bottles, lose their power when given to Axel in a moving vehicle.

The car seat hatred is similar to the stroller hatred and the being carried hatred and the shopping cart hatred – he’ll tolerate all of them, but usually not for long. Try to link them up together – car seat then stroller then being carried – and you’re asking for a writhing baby fit of fury.

The Preemptive Haircut Discussion

As we sat in swimming lessons today, the mother of a friend of Declan’s leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Did you notice Asher’s hair?” I honestly hadn’t, but on closer inspection, it appears that he and a pair of scissors had had an argument. And the scissors won. Asher recently had had a fairly short haircut, so it really took a trained eye to see the gaping hole. But there definitely *was* a gaping hole. Apparently Asher became bored in class he decided RIGHT THEN was the time to get creative. With his hair.

Asher’s parents had discussed it with him at length, just once, and decided to not bring it up again. That if he gets bored again, they were sure his teacher had *plenty* of things to occupy his time. That since they had recently paid for a haircut, he would have to live with the consequences of his beautician-for-a-day antics, and they would not go back and spend more money to fix the issue. But also that, kids will be kids, hair grows, he learned his lesson, so be it – and most importantly, to repeatedly discuss it would intrigue Asher’s very strong-willed and long-haired younger sister.

So we whispered about it quickly in the echoey chamber of the swimming hall and quickly shut up when the boys came near.

But my friend also mentioned

Learning Curve

Just like the name of her blog, The Casual Perfectionist, Momma is an admitted perfectionist, but she’s trying to be casual about it. She and her husband have a little girl named Claire, who will be 3-yrs old at the end of November. Momma is a firm believer in the fact that if you haven’t laughed really hard today, you weren’t really paying attention.

Any parent will tell you that parenthood is full of surprises. There are joys and challenges. For me, as a perfectionist, I knew what a lot of those things would be going into this project. I studied enough books and various forms of information on the subject to complete a Master’s Degree in it. I gleaned as much knowledge as I could from friends and family members who had been there. And, I’m just enough of a perfectionist to know that I’d have to jump in with both feet, not look back, and go with the flow.

(Apparently my Master’s Degree came with a concentration in Cliché Usage.)

I couldn’t wait to experience the challenges and see if I could handle them.

There were the obvious challenges ranging from “how to maintain an adult conversation after having only two hours of sleep” to “how to take a relaxing shower when you’re home by yourself with the baby” to “how to carry a baby in a car-seat-carrier and the groceries at the same time” to “figuring out the best way to maneuver over kiddie gates without tripping yourself.”

But hidden beneath the surface are the things that you don’t read about; the things that make you question whether you’re cut out for this kind of work; the things that you only discuss with your best girlfriends, in a hushed voice, and you only talk about them if someone else brings it up first. These are the things that make you wonder if anyone can ever take away your real college degree, because there’s obviously been some kind of mistake.

There’s the morning at 3 a.m. when

Your Opinion: How do you handle problems at your children’s school?

I love teachers. I have many good friends who are teachers and out of all the professions on this earth, I think they are among the most praiseworthy.

But I am having problems with teachers.

Because of my admiration, I always thought I would be the Teacher’s Parent Pet. You know: that go-to person who volunteers at every opportunity and who is loved and adored by all.

It ain’t happening.

It started last year when a little thing called cocaine surfaced on the playground at my daughter’s preschool and parents were not informed. I only found out because I read about it in the Police Beat. My issue was not with the teachers but with the way the administrative staff handled it and I ruffled more than a few feathers. I still feel I was justified but in so doing, I became one of those parents in their eyes.

And I hate that.

Another issue surfaced last week when

Poor Parenting?

The following conversation occurred between my kids and a not-so-nice child in the somewhat recent past:

“Do you have an XBox360?

“No.”

“How about a PSP?”

“I… don’t think so.”

“A PS2?”

“Nope.”

“A PS3?”

“Negative.”

“How about Guitar Hero?”

“No, but we have Rock Band!”

“Man, you guys are poor.”

As you can imagine, I was shocked when I heard that the definition of poor had changed so drastically over the last twenty years. When I was a kid (cue the violins and collective groans) it meant

Following Up on the Denver Preschool Program

[photopress:dpp_logo_color150.jpg,full,pp_image]I am a big fan of preschool. Or rather, my daughter is a fan and has blossomed both academically and socially since she began last year. I am just the grateful recipient of the fruits of everyone else’s labors.

And the three hours I get to myself every day isn’t so bad, either.

Mile High Mamas recently touched base with James Mejia about the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) who is a father of a preschooler and CEO of DPP.

What is the Denver Preschool Program (DPP)?

Denver Preschool Program (DPP) is the result of a ballot initiative approved by Denver residents in November 2006. Currently in its second year of existence, DPP offers tuition credits for families living in the City and County of Denver to assist them in sending their children to quality preschool programs. The program is open and voluntary for all families with children in the last year of school before kindergarten.

DPP also provides quality improvement grants for preschool providers. All licensed providers that agree to participate in the DPP quality-improvement system are eligible – for-profit, non-profit, public and private providers operating centers as well as family child care homes.

How can a family find out if their child(ren)’s preschool is enrolled in DPP? Does the preschool have to be in Denver?