Thursday, July 30, 2009

jersey all the way

I work in Philadelphia, but I live in South Jersey. Although my commute is less than 20 minutes and Philly is only separated from Jersey by a river and a few bridges, the popular opinion of many Philadelphians is that Jersey is a whole other world… especially when it comes to its women… often not so affectionately referred to as Jersey Girls.

Earlier this week I was a few minutes late for a meeting and walked into a conversation between three slightly younger female co-workers. One, a recent transplant from Florida, was describing a woman she had seen somewhere the previous weekend. Her description included too much makeup, too little clothes, excessive amounts of jewelry and ridiculous hair. She finished by labeling the woman as “sparkly”. One of the other females in the room responded, “oh my god… so Jersey.” The conversation then continued on to all of the wonderful stereotypes about women from New Jersey, only heighted in recent months by The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Miss Florida proceeded to ask, “Why are all of the women in the state so excessive and cheesy?” Ok, wait a minute… this is where I jumped in.

I am Jersey all the way. Born and raised off exit 8 of the NJTP (those from here know that a turnpike or parkway exit can clearly describe where you live). Aside from short stints in upstate NY for college, England and Spain after college, California, and Philly for a bit, New Jersey has been home. I now live a bit further south from where I grew up, but still in the great Garden State. I don’t have big hair (haven’t since Jr High), wear excessive makeup (I barely have time for any makeup since my little guy came along), I dress fairly conservative and I have never had any designs painted on my nails. The same can be said for all of my girlfriends as well. In fact, the same can be said for pretty much all (ok, most) of the women I know. You will from time to time come across the stereotypical Jersey Girl in this great state of ours, but honestly people, that is not the norm.

Beyond just the Jersey Girl stereotype, NJ is often the brunt of many jokes. The “armpit of America” nickname is one we can never seem to shake. During the above referenced work conversation, one female, a current resident of Philly whose parents live in Virginia, mentioned that her parents often ask her, “Why on earth would you ever go to the Jersey shore? Isn’t it dirty?” and “Is there any way to avoid the state altogether when driving from Virginia to Boston?” Wow people. Trust me… the state is not that bad. Granted we do not have the splendor of California or the natural beauty of Colorado for example, but this state does have quite a bit to offer. We are smack in between two great cities, New York and Philadelphia. We have many wonderful small all-American towns and our shoreline is filled with great beach towns that come alive in the summer and offer quiet retreats in the off-season months. All in all, New Jersey is a pretty great place. I am proud to call it home and I wear the Jersey Girl label with pride.

the greatest blessing

Last night was a long night with our little guy. He has a third tooth coming in up top and the pain has made him quite miserable. He awoke at 3am and wanted to be held and cuddled. Finally after about two hours of holding him, he fell back asleep. As I sat with him for those two hours in the rocker in his nursery, with the dim light from his nightlight barely illuminating the room, I found myself welling up. The tears were not those of frustration or exhaustion, but rather those of pure joy. With him snuggled closely into me, I reflected on what a true blessing he is in my life and the magnitude of the love that I feel for him. Before becoming a mom myself, I never fully understood the depths to which a mother’s love for her child goes. It is a feeling unlike any other. Our children are our greatest blessing and gift from God. As you hold your little ones close, cherish all that they are and all that they have brought into your life. Make the hug last a little longer and enjoy the quiet closeness.

Friday, July 24, 2009

best is what's best for you

In the months leading up to our little guy’s birth, the question “are you going to breast feed?” came up quite frequently. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just docs or my mom who did the asking… but rather what seemed like anyone and everyone. I had read all the baby books, so I knew “breast is best”, that you “should” nurse until a year, that you should not supplement with formula, that bottles and pacifiers could cause “nipple confusion”, etc, etc. Choosing to breast feed was not really a decision for me… I just kind of always knew I would do it. As with most mothers, the thought of it before baby was completely bizarre, but regardless I planned on giving it a go. Andrew latched right on after birth and my milk came in just fine. I was one of the lucky ones, for whom breast feeding came really easy. The first few weeks went great. I enjoyed the extra quiet time we got to spend together and secretly loved knowing that only I could nourish him.

As the weeks passed, I started to feel trapped… I needed to be able to get out and get a little time for myself. I needed to be able to get out for dinner with my husband. So, I did what all good breast feeding mamas are supposed to do… I got a pump. From day one, I hated pumping… actually, I despised pumping. It is hard not to feel like a cow when you have a machine extracting milk from you… ugh. I could not stand it. While breast feeding had gone really well for me, pumping did not. I could barely get any milk and the whole process of freezing it in baggies was just too much for me. Also, because I obviously had to be pumping in between feedings, I could not help but feel like I was either nursing or pumping around the clock. I just could not do it. So I made the difficult decision to… gasp… supplement with formula. It was the best decision I ever made. It allowed my husband to be involved in feedings, and gave me the opportunity for a little “me time” when I needed it.

All said and done, I breast fed exclusively for about 2-months, then slowly began supplementing with formula, and completely switched from breast to bottle by 4-months. In the eyes of the La Leche League or the other hard core breast feeding coalitions out there, I guess maybe I was a failure. I could care less. I feel like a success. I gave it a shot, and it was a great for a while. I then made a change that was great for baby and me.

In a recent issue of BabyTalk, author Paul Spencer shares her take on breast feeding in, The New Breast Feeding Rules. Her piece is light-hearted and realistic. I think it is a great read for any new mommies out there.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My First Award... Yay!

After being up all night with a teething 9-month old and feeling beyond exhausted, I dragged myself into work this morning. Before getting into the actual "work stuff", I logged on here and found out some exciting news... I have received a ‘lovely’ blog award! While my blog is still very new and I am working to build it out, through the process I have found some truly inspiring blogs from other moms out there. The connections are wonderful! The 'lovely' award was given to me by Heather, from Theta Mom. Stop by her blog, she always has something great to say!

The rules of the “One Lovely Blog Award” are:
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
So here are my 15 newly discovered 'lovely' blogs…
Heather, thanks again for giving me this award! Thanks also to all the other mommy bloggers out there. I look forward to connecting with and learning from all you fabulous women!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Like most first-time parents out there, we have documented nearly every stage of our little guy’s 9-months. By this point I am sure we have bored all of our family and friends with the endless stream of e-mails announcing a new album on our photo sharing site. Today I came across Animoto (, a fantastic site that allows you to create free (yes, FREE!) 30-second video montages, complete with music, from your favorite pics. The process is as simple as uploading your photos and choosing your music (from either your own personal collections or their library of 100’s of songs). Animoto then works their magic in putting the video together and sends the link to your personal email. The video can be shared via email or posted on Facebook. At least now our family members and friends will be bombarded with actual videos, as opposed to just our static photos.

Friday, July 17, 2009

the must haves and the completely unnecessary: some tips for expectant mothers

As a first-time expectant mother the idea of registering is exciting... yay stuff! Cute little baby stuff! Then you actually get to Babies R' Us and you quickly go from excited and enthusiastic, to overwhelmed and confused. Your more experienced friend, who has agreed to show you the ropes and tell you what you “really really” need, drags you from aisle to aisle talking about bouncers, diaper pails, breast pumps and wipe warmers. What you thought would be a fun hour spent zapping away with the scan gun, turns into a three hour ordeal and leaves you feeling even more unprepared for your coming bundle of joy. If I don’t even know what I need for this baby, how am I going to know what to do for it? You survive the registering adventure only to make daily changes to the registry online after reading countless reviews and customer ratings.

I will not claim to be the all-knowing expert on everything required to be “ready” for baby. However, in the 9-months since my little man arrived, I have found that there are some baby products that you absolutely cannot live without when you first bring baby home and others that are completely unnecessary:

The Must Haves…
· Plenty of onesies and sleepers – both newborn and one size up, because some babies come out a little bigger than others
· Diapers and wipes to get you started when you come home from the hospital – so your husband avoids a frantic rush to an all-night pharmacy
· Receiving blankets and burp cloths – lots of them
· A comprehensive newborn / infant resource book – you will need something to turn to with middle of the night questions
· A soothing sound machine for baby to sleep to – aaahhh… the comforting sounds of the womb
· An odor minimizing diaper pail – either the Genie or the Champ works, just have something
· A dual-motion swing – the side-to-side and back-and-forth option has helped soothe many a fussy baby (and saved the sanity of their parents)
· A bouncer, ideally with vibration and music – you cannot possibly hold baby all the time in those first months
· A stroller that really is easy to open and close – be sure to practice before bringing baby home and trying to open it with one hand, while holding baby in the other
· An infant car seat with easily adjustable straps – again, practice before baby
· Formula if you plan on bottle feeding
· Bottles and pacifiers (if you plan to use them)
· A first-aid / grooming kit complete with nasal aspirator, thermometer and baby nail-clippers
· Pack n’ Play with changing table that ideally can be set up in whatever room you will be spending the most time in
· An exersaucer or jumper – once baby has good head control they will love being able to be upright to play (plus, it can give mom a few minutes to get something done)

The Unnecessary…
· A wipe warmer – many a baby’s behinds have been wiped with un-warmed wipes, and they are just fine
· Shoes – if you do not yet walk, you do not need shoes
· Fancy outfits – honestly, the simpler the better
· An overabundance of toys – for the first few months, you will be your baby’s favorite entertainment

And for the breast feeding mamas…
· Lansinoh nipple cream – trust me… if you are breastfeeding, you will need it
· Nursing bras at least one size larger than either you or the lady at the bra shop thinks you should get
· A couple of bottles and a small can of formula, just in case

Thursday, July 16, 2009

thirtysomething is fabulous

To this day I can still remember, as an awkward middle-schooler, thinking that my friend’s older, high school-aged sister was just so cool… and so mature. From my perspective at that age, the kids in high school were all-knowing and wise. They had it all figured out. I so wanted to be them. I thought high school was the prime of life, college aged kids were old, anyone in their 20s was ancient, and once you hit 30… forget it, it was all over. Obviously this thinking evolved as I made my way up in years and entered each different “life stage”, as opposed to just looking at them through the eyes of a 13-year old. High school was great, college was better, my 20s were amazing, and then as my 29th year neared the end, I looked ahead to the dreaded big 3-0. What would turning 30 really mean? Would I look back longingly to younger, more youthful times? Nope. Not at all. In fact, I find myself loving being 30-something. I am accomplished. I am fulfilled. I know who I am and who I aim to be. I have built up a killer group of friends and snagged myself my perfect husband. Together, with our 9-month old son, we are building a wonderful life. My 20s may have been amazing, but my 30s are turning out to be truly fabulous.

For most young women today, their 20s are a time of experience and self-discovery. They are excited to leave college behind and make their way in the “real world” that everyone speaks of, but they are not quite ready to be an “adult”. They are struggling to figure out what their BS in Communications or BA in English translates to in the career world, while also developing an enviable social life. Frat parties and dive bars have been replaced by cocktail hours and wine bars. Their girlfriends become their second family and support each other as they find careers, get their first great non-college apartment and date a series of Mr. Wrongs. As they near their higher-20s, some have found their Mr. Forever, established themselves in solid career paths and… gasp… actually start feeling like a true adult.

For me, my 30s have ended up being much more stereotypical then I ever would have imagined… got married, had a baby, made the dreaded move from the city to the suburbs. I have had younger friends recently ask, “Don’t you feel like you are missing out? Don’t you miss your old life? Isn’t there more that you want to be doing?”. In all honesty, no… I am quite happy with exactly where my life is now.

Living life to the fullest and experiencing all that you can during your 20s, allows you to enter your 30s feeling very satisfied. I never look back and think, “wish I did that”… because I did it all. I have gone, been, done, seen and experienced more than I can even begin to recount. When I see a group of 20-somethings out for a night on the town or rushing through an airport to make their flight to some far-off destination, I just smile. Been there, done that, loved it. My killer friends and I still enjoy plenty of times out together, just now instead of looking for the cheapest bottle of red on the menu, we are ordering our favorite Bordeaux.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

shake it baby, shake it!

Andrew has no shortage of toys. He is the first grandchild on both sides, so you could easily say that he might be a bit spoiled. He has quite a collection of stuffed animals, books, soft blocks, stacking rings, driving things, etc. You name it, he has some form of it. They all manage to hold his attention to some degree, but nothing entertains him nearly as much as his beloved maracas... yes, maracas. Put on some of his favorite music and he shakes his maracas like the best of them. If you try to use of them to play along to the music as well, he will grab it right of your hand. Shake shake shake... shake shake shake. For only 9-months he's got some rhythm!

When he was just 6-months, we enrolled in a 10-week class through the Music Together program ( I thought he might be a little young for it at the time, but he loved it. As part of the class, there was always a "free jam" period during which the babies all got to bang, shake, rattle and roll a collection of different musical instruments. It was here that his love of the maraca first came to be. To continue his musical interest at home, we bought an instrument set from Melissa & Doug ( The set is fantastic... some pieces he is not quite ready for yet, but we will get there.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

where did you come from?

As Andrew nears 9-months, I sometimes looks at him and wonder... "Kid, where did you come from?". Everyone always said the time would fly and that the months and years would pass before I knew it... but I never fully realized how true it is. Seemingly overnight, Andrew went from my little little one, to a crawling, laughing, babbling almost toddler. Each "stage" has been amazing, but this one now is increbily fun... and exhausting. Andrew is so full of life and personaility that barely a minute passes without him making me laugh.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

long weekend

Long gone are the days of throwing a couple of things in a bag, jumping in the car, and heading off for the weekend. Now a simple 4thof July weekend trip to my in-laws requires packing lists and schedule/timing discussions... do we leave right when I get home from work, even though Andrew will likely doze off during the 1 hour ride and then his whole sleep pattern will be thrown off? Or, do we wait until close to Andrew's usual bedtime in hopes of being able to transfer our sleeping 8-month old from car to crib once we reach our destination?
Packing is a whole other story. I love my dear husband to death, but sometimes he can be completely clueless. He is home for the day, so volunteered to get most everything packed up so that getting out of the house will be easier tonight. Great, right? Well no, not considering that I had to write up a detailed packing list for him so he would have an idea of where to start... diapers, formula, food, clothes, bath toys, sunscreen, swim diapers, booster seat, stroller, and on, and on. As an added source of confusion for my husband, some of the listed items required him running out to our local CVS to pick them up. After writing up the list, pulling most of Andrew's clothes together and putting out two bags out for hubby to use to pack things in, I finally gotmyself ready for work. As I was running out the door, hubby asks, "What kind of formula do I get?"... Really? Where have you been the last 8-months? Ugh. I am exhausted already and the long weekend hasn't even started!