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I feel like today was the first day of school, except for the first time in forever, I didn’t have to schlep off on the bus.  It was a wonderful feeling to listen to the buses putter past our window, and not have that constant feeling that I was going to miss the next one.

I have to admit, I’m having a slow start this morning.  Hold on…Jack’s eating electrical cords.

Ok, I started this post at 10:30 a.m.  If it’s any indication of my first day into this whole work at home/freelance realm, um, yeah, I’m finishing this post 12 hours after the fact.

*

So, let me backtrack a bit.  Wednesday, Oct. 15 was my very last day at my former company.  (It feels good to actually type that!)  Most of my colleagues were out of the office, only the underlings were around.  I spent the day cleaning up my computer, filling 3 large boxes of papers, notes and mementos of stories and trips I’ve covered over the past 7.5 years and of course, saying my farewells.  I only got teary once, which is good for me.  And quite honestly, those were tears of relief.

The few coworkers that were around that day were so sweet.  Knowing I love cupcakes and vodka, they gifted me with both.  Nice.  So, yes, I had a Seabreeze and a cupcake to bid adieu to my very first job out of college and the first “real” job in NYC.  No more free work cruises, no more wining and dining by various companies, no more events where I’d run into Rudy from Survivor (haha!)  No more unnecessary drama.  No more.

There’s nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake. (Well, besides a celebratory mango margarita!)
There's nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake

*

So now, it’s time to put the plan(s) in motion.  Per usual, I have more ideas than I know what to do with;  aren’t all creative types the same?  I told Jeff that I would give myself a day or so to acclimate myself with this new juggling act.  Jack, apparently, did not get that memo.

To spice things up, my adorable son decided to go on strike today.  What kind?  All kinds, actually.  He’s not eating like a voracious animal like he normally does.  Instead, he dutifully plucks and smooshes everything into his hair.  Considering he came home with sticky, spiky hair almost every afternoon, I imagine this is what he did at daycare, too.  As for naptime when mommy aimed to get in quality Facebook writing time, um yeah—that never happened.  So not only did he not eat anything of substance, he did not sleep at all.  He looked a lot like me by dinner time with the bags under his eyes and total incoherence.  I’m chalking the out of whack behavioral deals to him being sick ONCE AGAIN and the excitement of us being home together.

So, yeah, day one, just like everything else, didn’t happen as smoothly as I envisioned.  I, never for a single moment, thought this would be easy.  oh no.

I’m desperately crossing my fingers that Jack feels better, to have less banana’ed hair and more naps all around tomorrow.

So sorry for being so MIA.  Like Jack, I really haven’t been myself lately—more on that next week.  My last day of work is next Wednesday.  It’s bittersweet.  Onward and upward.  Speaking of which, have you met my 1 year old?

My sweet, sweet little boy.  How did you get so big so damn fast?

These days, I’m completely exhausted.  I’m tired from wiping snot, exhausted from chasing this boy, doing dishes by hand, picking up wooden blocks, chasing this boy and fishing random objects out of his mouth.  I’m sure there’s more, but I’m too tired to think.

Oh dear God.  This child is into everything.  Anything that was of importance, uh, is no longer important.  He continues to destroy everything.  This weekend, we discovered that our DVD player is no longer working, and it has our WI trip slideshow in it!  Yeah.  Guess whose little fingers like to poke at the DVD player? uh huh.

When he’s not breaking electronic equipment, Jack can be found climbing furniture and TOYS.  Note to self:  leave all plastic toys that double as ladders at mom’s house in VIRGINIA.  Together with the climbing, he is walking– yay!  As of early last week, Jack’s been walking about 85-90% of the time.  He showed off a few of his skills for family and friends when we were back home, but now he’s really on the go.  He gets a big kick out of it when we cheer and clap once he’s made his destination.  He totally “gets” the whole walking thing!

Now that Jack is officially everywhere, he’s also become extremely conversational and sociable as well. No real words, just made up ones.   When I call for him, he’ll try to say his name (DDDDaaat!) or just lots of mamamamama right back at me.  When we read, his “words” are much MUCH louder than mine nowadays.  His signing has really flourished.  More, eat, drink, book, dog, hot, sleep and thank you are the main signs that we use for now.  It was so cool when he finally grasped the signing and would tell us what he needed without us even initiating.  Jeff said, the other day while I was out shopping, Jack was in mid-play then crawled over to him, signed sleepy and curled up on his daddy’s shoulder.  Too cute.
12 Months
Jack’s social skills are flourishing so much more now, too.  He flirts and tries to befriend kids of all ages every chance he gets.  Last Sunday, he freaked out the poor little girl behind us because he was trying to touch her hand to make nice. haha.  I definitely attribute his friendliness and outgoing nature, not only to family, but to the great teachers at his daycare.  He loves the other kids and teachers, it’ll be sad to say goodbye for now.

Jack’s size has pretty much stayed the same from last month.  He’s mainly in 24m, but still wears some 18m clothes.   The belly never seems to fit–poor guy.  He’s still in size 4 diapers, and I assume he’ll stay in that size for a few more months.  He’s still heavy, teetering in the high 20s.  We missed his 12m appointment, so we’ll have to update those stats.

The boy likes to eat, but it has to be timely.  If we get home too late from daycare, he pitches a fit and goes on strike.  He eats any and everything, with pizza, pasta, chicken, mango, bananas and peas as his faves.  We just started giving him juice a few weeks ago, but milk and water are still #1.  We have yet to switch over to cow’s milk at our dr’s suggestion.  Jack’s still trying to fight off that upper respiratory infection, so until he does, we were told not to change his diet too drastically.

Separation anxiety is big right now: he’s still a mama’s boy and loses his mind when I leave the room. He started with the toddler tantrums a few weeks ago. It’s so hard and frustrating, but signing has really helped us out. I heart baby signing.

In spite of the meltdowns (from both him and me)  Jack is such a handsome, active, lovey and bubbly little dude.  Those little boy hugs remind me how much I LOVE love LOVE being a mom.  Now that I’m closing one chapter and Jeff and I are both embarking on our own separate and new(ish) professional journeys (new responsibilities for him and freelance for me), it’s only fitting that it coincides with another year of Jack’s growth.

Jack’s slowly but surely shaking this URI, though still hacking and sneezing more often than not. He lost a few pounds, but is definitely working back to that hearty appetite of his.

I finally got around to organizing my photos and thoughts about Jack’s first birthday, so I thought I’d share.

Jack's 1st Birthday Party

The boy’s birthday itself was definitely a momentous occasion for our little family. It not only marked a year into this funny adventure called parenthood, but it was a time to reflect on Jack’s colorful first year.

As we do for big holidays and occasions, we did the 350 mile trek down to VA to celebrate with family and friends. Because our life here in NJ has been so hectic with work and the pending transition, I quite honestly didn’t do too much to prepare for this shindig. While I love entertaining and partying in general, Jeff and I agreed that we are in that school of thought where over-the-top orchestrated parties should be reserved for bigger kids aka the non-shoe-eating crowd. To each his own, but for us, the drive down, alone, was a financial and time investment, not to mention a physical and mental sacrifice for the three of us.

The party was much like family parties that we’ve had in the past, except this one was all about our boy! There wasn’t really a theme per se—well unless you count exuberant chaos as a theme. I invited family members from both sides and a handful of friends in the area. Overall, it was an overwhelming turnout. From high school buddies and their kids to various giggling aunts, so many people came out to celebrate. The food, like most of our family parties, was abundant. We all ate, drank, watched Jack play with cake and cheered for cool little boy toys.

The birthday boy, much like his mom, was not the greatest at being the center of attention. Ok, so he hated all the attention. He whined and cried more times than I care to admit, but he absolutely adored being around all those kids. I know it’s so cliche to say, but Jack really wasn’t himself on his birthday. As I tried to grasp his crankiness, I told friends that he “realized” how much he missed my mom, which could’ve been the reason he lost his mind every time she left the room. Or, it could’ve been the big crowd or it could’ve been he was exhausted from the drive down. Who knows? There were times when I couldn’t even console him! He didn’t cry the whole day, he was just obviously having an “off” day.

Cranky pants aside, it was a fun day, thanks to our many friends and family. (Thanks again to all of you that came out! As I’ve learned over this past year: always expect the unexpected, even if it includes a sometimes uncooperative birthday boy. I’ll say it again, but I definitely look forward to celebrating holidays and birthdays in the state that we reside—wherever we end up! Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?

A year ago today, I started out the day looking a LOT like this and ended looking more like that.  Despite my obtuse exterior, I truly had no idea how much my heart–OUR hearts–would grow that very next day.

As summer fades to fall and we start putting away the shorts and pulling out the long sleeves, our family is inevitably going through a transition of our own.   As much as I possibly can, I’m savoring the last few days as the baby phase officially winds down.

But alas, with a kid whose nose is like a running faucet and the overwhelming temperament to match, the past few days have been hard to enjoy.  Like most families with kids in daycare/childcare outside the home know, if your kid appears contagious, he or she is banned!  Since Jeff’s been working crazy hours and I’m faced with monthly deadlines (my last for this publication!) the daycare logistics have been less than desirable.  Jack has been with me at work 1.5 days this week, home with me another and home with Jeff for half a day.    In those movies where they glamorize magazine editors, they don’t show the part where their baby completely MELTS DOWN on Park Avenue during lunch hour for every Suit on the east side to see.  To get even more graphic, since I wear black almost every day, I’ve started to look like a walking chalkboard– you know, with the runny nosed, clingy kid and all.

And to think, I once considered black a forgiving color!

But, it is what it is, right?

In a few hours, we’ll be on our way to Va. to celebrate Jack’s first birthday with family!  Yippeee and ughhhh!  And quite honestly, it’ll be, what we hope, the last major celebratory event outside of the state in which we live—aside from major holidays, of course.  Interpret it how you will, but times are a changin’.

We’re throwing a smallish family party on Saturday at Lola and Lolo’s house.  And from the looks of it, we may have the tailend of a storm for even more excitement!  Cross your fingers that it won’t rain!  Of all the things that haven’t been working out in my favor, I hope my kid’s party will be spared!  We are not driving 700 miles just to have waterlogged Lumpia and soggy cake!!

Either way, it’ll be a happy day!!  I can’t believe our boy is going to be 1!

As I shove a handful of Golden Oreos into my mouth for dessert, it’s so fitting that I stumbled across this insightful article from the yesterday’s Times: 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make.

The Times highlights the mistakes as:

  1. Sending children out of the kitchen
  2. Pressuring them to take a bite
  3. Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach
  4. Dieting in front of your children
  5. Serving boring vegetables
  6. Giving up too soon

As I quietly tell myself, stay away from the cookies, for all moms and dads of good and picky eaters alike, I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety.

It’s so coincidental that this article should come out just days after a recent discussion with girlfriends about kids and picky eaters.
Spaghetti face
Is my kid picky? Not sure yet–too early to tell. What I do know is, not too long ago, I read that I was already feeding Jack one of the “kid foods to avoid.” Despite the due diligence in trying to feed healthy alternatives and steer clear from over-processed crap, it feels like my learning curve is waning a bit. What else am I doing ‘wrong?’ Sheesh.

On a regular basis, Jack’s diet consists of waffles or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, steamed peas, spinach, brocolli or carrots and a protein for lunch; grapes, bananas or melon for snacks; and whatever we’re having for dinner, which ranges from pasta to chicken breast to stir fry.

Lately, when I try to introduce something new, the guy has this new thing. If he’s unsure about the new food he’s eating, particularly if it has a new texture, he’ll give a blank look, open his mouth and simultaneously reject the food with a very discriminatory “Eeehhhhhhhhhh.” In slow mo: feed boy, open mouth, looks at mom and releases.

It takes some convincing—often at the his dad’s taste buds expense—to assure him the new food is just as delicious as the peas or pasta.
For the most part however, he’s generally a good eater–sometimes too good. When I take him out of his high chair, before I can grab those pieces of dinner he’s purposefully thrown on the floor…he’ll vacuum them up with his own fingers.

Like Jack, I’m still learning here. I’m so sure I’m not the only one still trying to figure it all out. There are many mistakes to be made, in terms of fostering healthy eating habits. Along with my older brother (who I like to compare to Drew Barrymore’s brother from 50 First Dates minus the lisp and steroids) as someone who habitually hid boxes of Twix in my mom’s grocery cart when she wasn’t looking, um, I’m aiming to fine tune my eating AND feeding habits, in hopes that my kid’s trapdoor release reverses itself or stays shut when the good stuff goes in!

Jack hit the big 1-0 on Sunday. Ten months seems so “old” but still so young…
Nevertheless, our baby has become quite the little boy–a mischievous and curious one at that. As in, he takes pride in finding the smallest speck of dirt in our almost daily-vacuumed carpet and shoving that small speck into his mouth the minute all three of look away. Just yesterday in fact, he took it upon himself to reach up onto our entryway table to snatch a small section of a paper towel and chew it like cud. Of course, he crawled away as fast as he could, clearly defining his guilt. After trying to calmly retract it with my finger and then fish it out, he freaked but knew exactly what he did was a no-no.

10 months old

Speaking of no-no, Jack has become quite the copycat even moreso than before. Since we seem to say no-no or not for Jackson more times than we can count, the kid knows what is, and what is not a no-no. What I mean by that is, he doesn’t always understand the concept of no, but he “gets” that when he reaches for certain things, mom or dad will immediately say no-no or not for Jackson. And in some cases, we just do the finger wag and shake our head. So every time he reaches for the low-lying cable box, he’ll turn around and wag that little finger of his…right before he lunges forward and pushes all the buttons with that same wagging little finger anyway. Better yet, since flowers around the apartment are inevitably off limits, he knows mama will wag her finger if he even looks that way. So when we were in Trader Joe’s the other weekend, as we passed the floral section, Jack smiled and wagged his little finger. haha. Besides no-no, he’s grasping a few signs, including drink, eat and some more. The best of all, he loves to blow kisses. Even though he gets the concept of blowing kisses, he kind of forgets to release the actual kiss. He “gets” it. Well, almost!

As a family member candidly said to me the other week, “He’s a real human being now!”
Why yes, yes he is 😉

His appearance, to me at least, changes daily. He looks like a little boy and is so far removed from the baby stage. His hair is long, much lighter and shaggy-like. People are starting to ask if he is a boy or girl–or if we had his hair cut like that? He’s still very fair-skinned, much like his father. We think he still sports equal likenesses of the both of us. However, I see so much of my older brother in him. He has 8 teeth as of today which, we’re often told by other parents that it seems like a lot for his age. Alas, we were assured by Jason’s brother who is a pediatric dentist that all baby teeth grow in at drastically different paces.
Jack, for the most part is a great eater. I usually make things for dinner that he can have and feed him smaller bits and pieces. Well, as of last week, he demands that he feeds himself. Slivers of chicken breast, pasta, squash, peas and brown rice are his favorites for mealtime. Bananas, Smart Puffs, mangoes and Goldfish crackers are his idea of fun snacks. Jack still drinks 3 or so bottles/cups of formula a day. When I get home, he nurses in the evening and early morning. My fears of inadvertent weaning never happened while we were apart. He actually picked it back up, without skipping a beat. Since he doesn’t nurse too frequently anymore, we’ll more than likely observe baby-led weaning by his first birthday.

On the mobile front, in order to efficiently get into absolutely everything, Jack loves to cruise and stand. If he can’t get somewhere, he doesn’t bother with the uncertainty of cruising, but instead, relies on the swiftness of crawling. The minute he hears the bathroom door open–otherwise known as the outlet to his duck tub– he sprints for it! It doesn’t matter where he is, if that door is open, by the time you’re done washing your hands, Jack is on the other side banging for you to let him in.
Size-wise, Jack is hovering in the 24-25 lb. range. He seems to be much taller, but weight-wise I don’t think he’s changed much. He’s still wearing some 12m clothes, but moreso 18m-24m. One of the brands that I like for t-shirts, he’s actually in 2T already.

His personality continues to blossom as quickly as his babbling turns into more definitive syllables. He seems to make friends almost everywhere we go with both, the young and old. He waves hi in that coy school boy sort of way. Just the other day, as we were perusing through the fruit section of Whole Foods, Jack quickly befriended any lady that gave him attention. By the time we got to the bread aisle, he was giving googly eyes and professing his love to another nice lady. And now, if you can imagine, Jack is punctuating this charm with blowing kisses. If I didn’t know any better, I think our kid is quite the flirt. On the other end of the spectrum, however, he get pretty frazzled when other kids are aggressive or too loud for his comfort level. He knows what he likes and what he does not like and expresses it all in such a way that makes sense to me. In line with knowing what he wants, the kid continues to be such a thespian. If he’s thirsty or wants more water after I’ve taken away his sippy cuppy after he’s flung it on the floor for the 25th time, he will let out the most obnoxious fake cough. As if the fake cough isn’t enough, he now does an exasperating release and will bury his head onto the floor if something doesn’t go his way, such as mommy and daddy leaving.

Oh boy, separation anxiety. This topic deserves its own post. Separation anxiety, at the moment, is definitely a major struggle. It’s something that has surfaced in the last few months, but definitely became more prevalent once he came back from Va. As guilty as this makes me feel, my friend promises me that all kids go through this stage, some more than others. As much as I think this 25 growth on my leg, hip, arm is cute, it does wear on me and tends to be a bit much when he doesn’t want anyone else! On the bright side, I do enjoy those days when I am the center of his universe. In a few years, like we were told, there will be a day when daddy walks on water and he’ll be like, “mommy who?” For now, he’s a mama’s boy.

Without a doubt, that clingyness solidifies my path in life and the importance of balancing it all. And not just for my sake.

What's THAAAT?

and there’s more:

Barricades
Barricades

and fuzzy pink slippers

slippers

This, folks, is what our life has become.

I just wanted to emerge through this ridiculous pile of papers that, sadly, is to blame for my continued absence this week.
Happy Friday, all! It’s supposed to be a scorcher in our area this weekend. It’s not even officially summer yet and we’ll have our ACs on high, for sure. Let’s just hope my flammable husband or the equally combustible heatbox baby both stay cool. I hope everyone else stays cool, where ever you may be!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a product review, so I thought I’d take the chance to free my mind from my “real” writing and discuss something yummy.
While we were home the other weekend, one of my girlfriends came over to visit with her baby. Jack and Gavin are typically in similar developmental categories. And so, Tanya and I love to share with each other new finds. When Jack wasn’t trying to shake Gavin out of his carrier or pummel him with kissies , he was snatching poor Gav’s snack out of his hand. (Crikey. Sorry, buddy! We’re working on our social skills.)

I noticed the snack was something I’d never really seen before. Its white packaging resembled something I probably would have found at our local Japanese grocery store. It was small, flat and portable, somewhat similar to a shorter version of a fruit roll up package. When Tanya opened the package up for Gavin, it was an interesting snack that looked like a flat, airy half of a Milano Cookie (minus the chocolate) or cracker-like surfboard. “It’s a rice rusk and he loves it.” she told me. She went on to tell me that she found the package at a store we no longer frequent.
damn!

But lo and behold, last weekend, when we went to our neighborhood organic grocery store, I found a green box–vegetable flavor–that looked strikingly similar to Gavin’s snack! sweet!

babymummum

After we picked up diapers, some fruit and cereal, Jack and I started the walk home. Since it was just about time for a mid morning snack, I pulled out the Mum-Mum rice rusks to entertain him for the 20 minute walk. I normally don’t let him eat in his stroller because, well, he likes to make art out of it. But thankfully, it was virtually impossible for him to paint any new masterpieces with his snack because 1) the rick rusk was practically crumb-less and not mushy like other teething biscuits 2) he devoured the rusk in the blink of an eye.

I knew it had to be a good if the snack since it had a mom-friend’s approval. But even better, it has the kids stamp of approval, too!

As I’m trying to foster positive eating habits, in hopes our kid won’t inherit my horrible sweet tooth and snack addiction, I try to stay away from all those big brand, markety snack-pack for babies and kids. {We’ll package this product all pretty and convenient for you and charge double or triple than what you can get on another aisle.} For the most part, I consider it consumer brainwash. I have a hard time paying extra for convenience when in most cases, that convenience is the antithesis of being green. So, I tend to pack a banana (best snack ever since it has it’s OWN natural packaging!) or whatever frozen fruit we have onhand.

Back to the Mum Mum rice rusk. The company originates from Taiwan and has permeated to other asian countries. Their presence in the U.S. and Canada seems fairly new, but I think they’ll do well against the big name baby brands–especially at the inexpensive price tag. A box of Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk runs about $2, and that’s here in northern NJ. Like I mentioned before, we bought ours from our local organic store, but I also saw them at a gourmet grocery store and at Whole Foods for about the same price.

The ingredient list is as follows: Japonica Rice, Sugar, Skim Milk Powder, Salt

the company touts the mum-mums as

  • dissolving easily
  • no artificial colors or vlavors
  • no preservatives
  • wheat, egg and peanut free
  • cholesterol free
  • baked, low in fat & no trans fat
  • no added fats or oils

The downside, to me, is the excess packaging. Two rice rusks are paired and packaged as individual snacks. As convenient as it is, I could do without the individual packaging. Other than that, the mum-mums don’t offer much sustenance. But from experience, I can tell you, they’re great as a time-killing distraction for a bored baby or a great way to keep them occupied until meal time. Considering these are the only snack that Jack can feed himself without destroying his clothes in the process, I consider them a mainstay in our diaper bag.
They also offer Toddler Mum-Mum, SuperSlim Brown Rice Crisps, SuperSlim Rice Crisps and Rice Crisps.

Like I playfully chant to Jack, “yum yum for the bum bum.”


I prefer chips

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

We had a very lovely family weekend– one that definitely recharged my very drained batteries. Just a quick hola and happy Cinco de Mayo! Years past, we’d either be slinging margaritas or chugging them. This year, surely, neither of those will be happening.

Just like every other curious kid who has mountains of toys, Jack prefers to play with the mundane. Here’s a fun video (click on the link above) of the boy who loves bags of chips almost as much as I love my sour cream and salsa. Nope, he doesn’t eat the chips; he just loves the sound of the bag. If I had only caught the moments preceding all of this. Jack was playing on his blanket with a myriad of toys, but as soon as we sat down for lunch, he eyed the bag of chips and went full throttle for them.

Very interesting. According to various news outlets,

Women can influence the gender of their child with what they eat before they conceive, according to new research that lends scientific support to age-old superstitions about pregnancy.

The study of 740 women showed that higher calorie intake led to a higher probability of a male birth.

The discovery shows higher calorie intake prior to conception can significantly increase the chances of having a son while women on restricted diets are more likely to produce daughters.

“We were able to confirm the old wives’ tale that eating bananas and so having a high potassium intake was associated with having a boy, as was a high sodium intake,” research leader Fiona Mathews, a specialist in mammalian biology at Exeter University, told the Guardian newspaper.

Cereal and bananas, huh? FYI, I don’t like bananas. I wonder where sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches fall in this research .