Where My Chubby Babies At?

 

I’ve noticed a recent (and very cool) trend for men to be on the chubbier side.  Women who used to hang posters of Chad-Michael-Murray-toned boys on their ceilings are now flocking to indie rock shows to swoon over bearded dudes with beer bellies. The holly jolly look is indeed “in,” and I think that makes this an awesome time to be alive.

Perhaps this stems from an even more significant trend in this great generation: the idea for both genders to be proud of their body types and flaunt who they are. I’m all about this trend.  This is one of the very best trends.

But sometimes I wish this could extend more into the baby-sphere.  Hear me out.

As I concluded in a post of mine a few months back, mothers are unfairly burdened with the worry of their babies gaining enough weight in the early months.  It’s a very stressful time for mothers because they are pressured to get their babies up to birth weight as soon as possible.  But then once baby gets a little bit too far past that birth weight, things start to get very tough for him.

Heftier babies start to grow out of all of their clothes pretty quickly.  While their mothers are unpacking the handful of post-nine-month outfits they got at their baby showers, their babies are left wearing the same sleepers for days when they used to get their choice of entire closets full of them.

Not only are they limited fashion-wise, but bigger babies also suddenly can’t do as many fun things, like swing the day away (because plenty of swings have an impractical weight limit) or be carried by their mommies (because carriers, too, can only carry so much).  

It sounds silly and I say it mostly in jest, but lately I feel like my son is getting the short end of several sticks because he is on the tall and chubby side.  Initially he was praised at the doctor’s office for gaining weight, but now every trip there just means one more thing he can’t enjoy (whether it be an outfit, a toy, a bed, an accessory, etc.).  We have one toy whose box reads “use only with babies who are able to sit up on their own” but also says “26 lb. limit.”  My son can’t sit up on his own yet, but is somewhere near 22 lbs or so.  So he will most likely be able to use that toy for something like five minutes.

I say we start a chubby baby movement in which people continue to be stoked about big babies past the early stages.  I say we make products for babies who want to still be treated like babies even when they are past a certain weight class.  I say we extend this own-your-body-type attitude to our littlest ones.  Because, after all, who doesn’t love some adorable rolls on these tiny bodies?  

No one, that’s who.

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Clarification and a Poem

I think I led a few of my readers astray with my last post by using the term “sleep training” a little loosely. What we were doing last week was a combination of “The No-Cry Sleep Solution,” by Elizabeth Pantley and just generally soothing our son more to sleep. We are super not about the CIO method, so please don’t think that I was encouraging that for my friends with babies. I know it works for some families, but it’s definitely not the only solution out there.

Anyway, more what I think happened was that we just waited out the whole “sleep regression” bit and now we are back to getting bigger chunks! By bigger, I mean 3 hours sometimes! Huzzah!

Now onto more important things. Like, of course, books!  We are not reading so many adult books at the moment (save for parenting books, which aren’t the most exciting). But some children’s books will always be sort of ageless (and timeless) in my mind, so we try to read those as often as we can. I’m thinking Milne (is this becoming a Milne blog now? I’m not sure) and Tolkien, for example.

I keep reading that babies rely so much on sound that it’s great to read them things that have a rhyme scheme to them. And, since we are all Alexander Pope fans around here, we can all get behind “sound being an echo of the sense,” and all of that. So lately we are going with poems that have more of a sound quality to them (which have always been my favorites anyway).  Here’s a poem that we play a lot of in the car lately:


As Freedom is a Breakfast Food

BY E. E. CUMMINGS (via poetryfoundation.org)

as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame


as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald mens hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
—long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung


or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common’s rare and millstones float
—long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late


worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

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Rainy Mood and a Little Stuffed Piglet

I don’t know if I’ve told everyone on the planet about it yet, but we are sleep-training at the moment. I told five separate baristas last week, so, as Morrissey says, “Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before.”

So when you’re extremely sleep-deprived it starts to take over your life pretty quickly. You’re constantly thinking about when you will get a chance to sleep and how you can get away with sleeping instead of doing other things (like eating or showering, for instance). And with a baby, you have this mental checklist of things that the baby needs in order to sleep going through your head at all times. In our case it looks kind of like this: active playtime during the day, fresh air, solid naps, no dairy at all ever, etc. So we are always trying to get those things done and little by little we get back into the swing of things again and remember what day and night are and all of that.

Two things that are helping us a ton right now are: RainyMood and a little stuffed Piglet.  Also cosleeping, but I don’t want to get into that whole debate on here, so I’ll just say that cosleeping is only cool if done 100% safely (which is something I didn’t really think possible until I read a bunch of Dr. Sears books).  Dr. Sears is the business.

But what’s not the business is that it’s really difficult to find a photo of the old-school Piglet.  What’s that about?  Ernest Shepard is weeping somewhere.

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“I just sort of assembled it:” A Celebration of My Mother

My mother is an incredible cook. She always uses tons of vegetables and fills the house with wonderful smells that will always remind me of home. She has a way of making healthy foods seem actually appetizing, and I am grateful to her for shaping my diet as it is today.  Of course, that’s not the only thing I am grateful to her for, but I’ll get there.

My mom has this phrase she says whenever you thank her for feeding you one of her amazing meals.

“Oh,” she says, “I just sort of assembled it.”

This response highlights some of the things I find most inspiring about my mother. She does great things, yes. But what’s more significant to me is that she does those great things with an unmatched sense of grace and humility. She makes light of her achievements not because they are light, but because she doesn’t want people to focus on them. She is confident enough in herself to know that she is doing right and she doesn’t need anyone else’s affirmation. Of course, I’m sure she enjoys being appreciated, but gaining the attention of others has never been the motivation behind anything she has done.  I know this because, all things considered, I know very little about the things that she has done in her life.

My mom is a fantastic violinist, who played in bands and orchestras all the time when I was growing up. People came from very far to hear her play and it became one of my favorite things to hear as well (and I got to do it for free any time I wanted!). She also worked at a violin shop when I was a kid, where she helped people all over southeast Michigan get started on the right instrument for them. She also spent a lot of her free time teaching bratty kids to play and instilling a love for music in her own somewhat bratty kids. I am obviously quite thankful for that.

Here’s a shot if her playing her violin at my wedding:

(Photo taken by Ashley Waite)

My mom heard another calling later on in her life and decided to go back to school to become a nurse. Knowing how hard it is to get a job in the first place nowadays, we can all see how courageous it is to change careers entirely. But she did just that, while still caring for my siblings and I every day as well.

My mom is a very skilled nurse. In fact, just last week she spotted some suspicious signs in one of her patients that others had missed. She managed to get the doctors to the patient quickly and save the patient from a potentially serious condituon. Everything worked out, but who knows what would have happened if my mom hadn’t been there. The other nurses and the patient’s family called her a hero, but she of course didn’t brag about it for a second. In fact, the only reason I even got the story out of her was because I was fact-checking with her about something I saw on “Scrubs” (like you do). In a world where people post their every little achievement on Facebook, my mom is saving lives and not mentioning it until it comes up in conversation.

She is the best woman I know.

I hope to one day know all of the things my mother has done for others, but in the meantime I know only what she does for our family, which is, in a word: everything. While growing up, she inspired me to play and have adventures and learn new things. She taught me to enjoy the little things in life, like classical music, long walks, and a good cup of coffee. She always pushed me to try my hardest, a quality which she encouraged in me by simply being there for me without question every time I failed. Even now, she is always there for me with open arms and a helpful hand. I am overwhelmed by her generosity towards my little family on a daily basis. She is always predicting things we will need and just picking them up for us when she sees them at the store. She learned how to bake tons of vegan desserts when my husband decided to change his diet. She is willing to come over pretty much whenever I ask her to to take care of my son so that I can get a nap in. She’s the all-time best. Seriously.

I could go on and on about what my mother has done for me but there isn’t enough room on the internet.

I say “My mom is x and y” a lot like I know everything she is. But my mom is so many things. Lately I’m realizing that our mothers are like our schoolteachers in that it’s hard for us to think of them as having a life outside of their relationships with us. But they do, and I think we should all take some time out on this Mother’s Day to think about the many facets of our moms.

My mom has always put my siblings and I (and our dogs) first, so it has been easy for me to focus on that part of her in my own mind. But the truth is she is many things to many people: a musician, a teacher, a cook, a baker, a nurse, a coworker, a team member, a student, a daughter, a wife, a friend, and on and on. I don’t get to know all that she is, and sometimes that really bums me out. But I do know that in all of those roles she is an inspiration to me because she gives and asks nothing in return. And most of the time, at the end of a long day of doing all of those things, she will claim that, instead of creating that beautiful world for so many people, she merely “assembled it.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you awesome mamas out there!

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We’re Not Where We Went to College – And That’s Okay

I don’t talk much about my passions and interests on my blog, for two reasons: firstly, I don’t like to harp on things I’m doing because it almost always sounds braggy, and secondly, I like to tell stories about daily life more than about long-term goals and suchlike. I am working toward things in my life and pursuing my interests on a daily basis, certainly, it’s just a pretty boring thing to talk about. But, for the sake of this story, I will talk about something about which I am most passionate in my life, and that thing is this: writing poetry.

Obviously I am passionate about writing in general, but poetry is the thing I write most often and with most dedication in my life. In college I won poetry awards and was published in student publications and the school newspaper. After college I continued writing and my voice grew and changed. Recently, I heard about an opportunity to be a part of a poetry feature on my undergraduate institution’s website. Poets would have their poems featured on the page along with a bio about who they are and what they have achieved poetically. So, I figured, “Why not send them some of my work? After all, I started writing poetry while I was there.” And I sent it out.

A few days later I heard back from the people in charge of the page. They said the bio looked good, but “would I be able to offer them something more similar to the genres in which the other poets wrote?” I was instructed to read the other poems that they posted on the page, and they were as I predicted they would be: well-written, formed poems that Tennyson would have been proud of. They were good poems, but they were absolutely nothing (I repeat, nothing) like the poetry I write today. I have written poems in many forms, but my best poetry is in open form, or, essentially, no form at all. I appreciate poetic forms, but I have always thought that meaning should come first, so I didn’t have much to offer by way of structure. I am, in fact, unstructured.

But I didn’t used to be. Like I said, my poetry used to actually be pretty popular at my alma matter. So I dug around to see if I could find something I had written after graduating that maintained some of those more traditional elements. I found some and sent them over. And of course, several days later, I got a response with some sort of “we just don’t have the time to put it up” excuse. Look, I don’t know a lot about web design, so maybe they really didn’t have the time. But I get the strong sense that I wasn’t what they were looking for as a poet. I wasn’t brag-worthy among their graduates.

So I felt sad. Like, I actually beat myself up over it for a few days. I wasn’t what they were looking for. And that stung more than many other times I haven’t been what someone was looking for. But I wasn’t sure why. This rejection started to cloud the fact that my writing was ever what someone had been looking for. It almost made me forget the fact that those same poems that I sent to them were the reason I had been accepted into the Yale University Writers’ Conference last summer. They were the same poems that were lauded by many people I truly respected. So why did I care? Why was I getting so down on myself for this one hiccup?

Well, I suppose I got down on myself for not being what I used to be. I got down on myself for changing since my college years. I got down on myself for progressing.

Let me say that again: I got down on myself for progressing.

That’s when you know you are doing it wrong.

After much thought, I realized three very important things. Firstly, I realized that my poetry is better now than it used to be. I focus much more on my poetry now, and don’t just try to mimic poets I love. I only recently started to develop my own voice, something that was seriously lacking in my previous poems. Secondly, I realized that I am better now than I used to be. For instance, I would never have had the courage to start up my own writers’ group and host meetings while I was in college, but I recently did just that with many of my local writer friends. Furthermore, I didn’t even have the confidence to call myself a poet when I attended college, because I felt I wasn’t as good as everyone else and that I should be focusing my efforts on my schoolwork instead. Now I know that I am a poet and I don’t need other people to praise my work for it to be so. Thirdly, I realized that exactly zero of the poets I love and admire most would have been published on the website of one of the most conservative colleges in the country. So that made me feel a little better.

I had gotten so down on myself because I had too closely associated myself with the school I attended and I thought that, by getting further from that lifestyle, I was getting further from myself.

Now, I’m not trying to bash Hillsdale. I’m really proud to have gone to such a prestigious college, where the strong majority of my experiences were and continue to be inspiring ones. I’m really glad I went there for many reasons, though perhaps they aren’t the same reasons others are glad they went there. For example, I am proud that I got a great education, was challenged, learned from some wonderful mentors, and met my amazing husband while there. But there are several reasons I am not proud that I went there, and this experience highlights many of them. I am often saddened to see that they are stuck so far in the past that, not only do they play a miniscule role in most presents, but most people haven’t even heard of them in the first place. Their unwillingness to allow for change (even in their own students, as they progress beyond college) is also one of the characteristics that makes me not so proud.

But we all know how it feels to be unfairly placed into a group of people of which we don’t feel we are a part. So it’s important that we all understand the need to view college as what college is supposed to be: a part (and not a whole) of us; a tool for preparing us for the real world (and not a replacement for it).

So I want to encourage two things in my fellow recent graduates. The first is that we don’t associate the things that make us good with the place where we lived for four years. It’s incredibly easy to be the person you were in college for the rest of your life. You can let your collegiate pride and lifestyle be a huge part of who you are forever and you will probably be just fine. They were the best years of your life, after all, so why not hold onto them? But truly, when we all get right down to it, where went to college means next to nothing in the grand scheme of our lives. Sure, I’m glad I went to Hillsdale (and others will say the same about their universities), but the reasons I listed above for why I am glad I went there are things that can be found in many other places. Ultimately, there are great educators everywhere if one puts in the effort to look hard enough, and if one isn’t challenged in one’s life, it’s their own fault. As for my husband, I like to think that God would have given me my husband no matter where our tuition money was going. The college we attended did not define the goodness in our lives. College is college is college, and it’s college all the way down.

A greater mistake still than thanking college for all that is good in our lives is our tendency to let it define what comes next. We are quick to use those qualities that make our college unique to also make ourselves unique (possibly more often with some schools than others). Whether it’s a sports team, a diverse student body, or a foundational mission statement, we cling to those things which made our college great as things that now have become a part of who we are. We have the option of maintaining those qualities as our best ones for the rest of our lives or trying always to attain more and better ones. And I truly believe we should always go for the second option.

I encourage my friends to step back from the tendency to associate themselves and others with institutions of higher learning. While plenty of good things come out of every university, plenty of bad things do too, and it’s not fair for us to be viewed through the lens of an institution whose walls only contained us for four years.

So how can you be proud of your institution while also accepting the fact that they might not always like who you have become since you left? The answer to that is easy. And NECESSARY: You take your college years, and, like those old wool sweaters in your closet, you grow out of them. You bow to them, saying, “thank you for that part of my life,” and you pas de bourree the heck out of there. You keep your momentum after graduation and let yourself learn now from experience itself instead of dusty books. Then you reflect on who you are and instead of asking, “Am I making my college proud after graduation?” ask, “Am I making myself proud after graduation?” If the answer is yes, don’t think twice.

It’s easy to leave your college years behind. And in my case, I actually do it all the time without even thinking. In fact, some of the things I am happiest about in my life are things that my college doesn’t really support or like. I have never been politically Conservative, for example, and don’t think I will be anytime soon. I don’t think literature went to shit after the Renaissance. I use “shit” in passing in my writing and it’s an okay thing. I like living in the present world and am not constantly trying to make it more like the past. I could go on and on. But a huge part of me still knows that if I did everything possible to make the people from my college proud of me, I would be half the person I am today. And I would be far less happy than I am now too.

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In an MMMBop you’re gone.

  

This week’s #tbt childhood crush will hopefully make up for the one I missed last week because it is one of the crushiest crushes of all-time: none other than the babest of lead singers, Taylor Hanson (of, of course, Hanson).

Jordan Taylor Hanson was the Hanson everyone found lovable. Sure, there were some girls in the second grade who thought shooting for the younger Hanson, Zac, was more realistic, or some more edgy barritone-loving chicks who realized the idiosyncrasies of Isaac, but mostly people liked their porridge just right in those days. And just right was Taylor Hanson. He was cool in an earthy, sepia-toned, choker-wearing way, and his voice was the kind that you heard and thought, “Well, that must be a girl singing.” All of these qualities were extremely popular in 1997, when “Middle of Nowhere” came out and everyone peed their pants. It was the coolest and best album to ever come out if you were a girl at that time. And the single, “MMMBop” isn’t even the best song on the album by a long-shot, but don’t get me started on that. It was the first CD I ever had (purchased from Harmony House, obvi) and I still have my copy and love the heck out of it.  

I hold that Hanson was the best band of the nineties for SEVERAL reasons, but most notable is the fact that they had the bodacious elements of boy-bandom, but actually knew how to play instruments and sing harmonies. They were incredibly talented musicians in an age where that was starting to be very difficult to find. And it was adorable that they learned how to play music from their parents in their smalltown Oaklahoma home-a. 

So anyway, Taylor was the “shy one,” so, I mean, need I say more? If you’re not convinced that he deserves a spot on the list, just go listen to “Thinking of You.”

Also, if I remember correctly from the Hanson calendar that I used for a solid six years of my childhood (because it’s not like I actually used a calendar in elementary school), it was Taylor’s birthday recently. Happy Birthday, darling.

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Scott Wormer, Head Wormer

  

  

In the always timeless (heh) film, “Now and Then,” there was a crew of teenage boys called The Wormers. It wasn’t really a clever title based on the way they acted or anything, but just that their last name was Wormer and they were all brothers. Anyway, Scott Wormer was the dreamy oldest brother, which meant that he rode his sixties-looking bike in front of all the others and had literally every single line spoken in the group. He is this week’s tbt childhood crush.

One of the coolest things about Scott Wormer was that, while he came off as kind of a prick, he actually ended up being really sweet and having something of a relationship with my favorite girl character in the movie, Roberta (played by Christina Ricci, my teen idol). 

Oh, and later played by Rosie O’Donnell, my adult idol. Roberta rules.

Anyway, I had a crush on Scott Wormer when I was in kindergarten, which means that I had no idea that I had a crush on him. Instead, I had myself convinced that I wanted to be him, so I started doing Wormer-like things, such as wearing horizontal stripes and playing baseball. I took it even farther (that is to say “too far”), when I asked my sister to cut my hair super short and give it a bowl-like cut so I could look like him. And of course, being the sweet older sister that she is, she did just that. So then I spent the first half of kindergarten having girls question my gender in the bathroom at school. One time a girl made me leave the bathroom altogether because she was convinced that I was actually a boy. Ah, childhood.

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