Belly to Belly: Sing Like No One’s Listening

Perhaps one of the more unexpected roles of motherhood is The Lyricist.

It starts out innocently enough. You’re home by yourself with baby, narrating everything you do aloud (“We’re washing the dishes,” “Putting away the knives,” “F*ck that’s sharp! I mean, frick!”). Then, the narration evolves into a sing-song ditty not unlike the musical stylings of Marhsall Eriksen. I come by this naturally. My grandfather was a happy-go-lucky  guy who sang to himself all the time. And on both sides of the family, we wrote songs, poems and skits for every occasion.

My mother took the nursery rhyme route. She changed the words to popular melodies and even created some of her own for songs about changing diapers, bath time and going potty. I still use these. Pure gold.

And I’ve taken it a step further, adapting some of my favorite current songs and a few disco hits:

“Voodoo Lady” by Ween > “Doo Doo Baby”

“Super Freak” by Rick James > “Super Stink” (He’s super stinky…)

“Boogie Nights” by Heatwave > “Boogie Wipes”

You might not think you have it in you. But you’ll be surprised what sleep deprivation and long spans with no adult contact will do to a person. Like when you see a homeless person pushing his shopping cart and muttering to himself nonsensically? That will be you at the grocery store… only with a baby.

Any moms out there have some musical gems to share? We want to hear from you!

 

Belly to Belly: Going Up Against Mother Goose

Whether you’re into the cool, hip children’s books like Goodnight iPad and Go the F**k to Sleep (okay, hardly a children’s book) or you’re a fan of the classics like Goodnight Moon, one lady will be unavoidable in your child’s literary rearing: Mother Goose. She’s gifted at showers, she’s at preschool, she’s at friends’ houses… and she’s got issues.

Reading them to my child revived certain memories of my own childhood: my favorite nursery rhyme book, the way the stitching in the illustrations rose off the pages. But some of them I don’t remember. And others that I loved now look completely different in the light of adulthood. Perhaps my brain protected me from the more violent rhymes by blocking them out. Or maybe my mom skipped over them, because she, too, was shocked at the brute force of these tumultuous tales. Or perhaps the same mind that searches the entire house for the cell phone that’s in her pocket could also have conceivably forgotten a few of these over the years.

At any rate, for the more offensive ones, I’ve taken to rewriting some of the words. For other questionable rhymes, I know that Jed’s too young to really derive anything devious or sinister, so I let it slide. But that doesn’t mean I don’t stew.

Here’s a closer look at five nursery rhymes that get my goat goose:

“Goosey Goosey Gander”

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stairs

My line: I said, “That’s okay ’cause I really don’t cares.”

My take: I chose a message of religious tolerance (and tolerance for Royalist sympathizers) over correct grammar.

“There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

My line: Then read them a story

My take: I get that she can’t afford to feed them, but the beating seems unprovoked. Two is too young for gratuitous violence.

“Rub-a-dub-dub”

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

My take: I don’t have any alternate verses. This one was more about the concept, and in particular the illustration that accompanied the rhyme in our book. Think about it: three old men taking a bath together, each holding a very phallic-shaped object (sausage, baguette and candlestick respectively). Not exactly suitable for small children, but totally over Jed’s head, so we read it anyways.

“Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater”

Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well.

My take: Not only does this scream domestic abuse, but Peter is also obviously a sociopath, possibly a serial killer. Can you imagine the media madness that would unfold modern day if it was discovered that a woman was being held captive by her husband? In a pumpkin? “Peter was the nicest man,” said their neighbor, “He helped us clean our gutters every fall.” Freak. Show.

“Humpty Dumpty”

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

My take: I love that this is one of Jed’s favorite rhymes as I’m obsessed with anything and everything Alice (HD makes an appearance in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass). But Jed gets sad when Humpty Dumpty falls. Well, first he thinks it’s funny, and then his face turns sad, followed by an “Oh no!” and “What to do?” I hate that I don’t have an explanation or happy ending for him. I suppose I could tell him Humpty Dumpty underwent multiple major surgeries, but even if he recovered, I can only imagine what his hospital bill would look like (debt — an entirely different unhappy ending). Is there a tangible lesson that he can learn from Humpty’s misfortune? It’s always good to know not to climb on walls. The best lesson to learn from this rhyme is a simple one. It’s never too early to learn that sometimes, shit poop happens.

What are your favorite nursery rhymes? Do you think some are too violent?

Belly to Belly: Planning a baby shower that doesn’t suck.

With Jed out of school this week and an influx of freelance work (yay!) it’s been tougher for me to make time to post. So, again, I bring you a re-post from my Blogs of Yore. I wrote this one about three years ago when I was planning a baby shower for my other most favorite Emily.

Throwing a shower for a friend? Or perhaps someone near and dear is throwing one for you? You have an idea of what you want, but don’t want to step on toes. (After all, she’s nice enough to throw the shower, right?) How about oh-so-subtly sharing this post with your friends on Facebook with a “Read this! So clever!” note. She’ll take the hint:)

Can't find a pic from the shower I threw for Emily, but she in turn threw me a shower six months later (which also didn't suck).

My mom and I are throwing a baby shower for a close, second-sister friend (you know, the friend who you bought that BFF broken heart necklace with at the mall in middle school). It’s on Saturday and I’m determined to make it a shower that I would actually enjoy attending. Next to having your fat circled with a magic marker as a sorority “new member”, I can’t imagine anything more painful than your friends using measuring tape to guess how large you are around the middle. No games of any kind, thank you very much.

I was excited about putting together a baby shower playlist for background music and burning it to CDs as favors, until I had this conversation with the shower honoree while home for Thanksgiving.

Me: Don’t worry, Friend. We aren’t doing any tacky shower stuff, I promise.

Friend: Oh good. Because for your sister’s shower, they made me make this CD of songs with the word “baby” in it. I didn’t want to, but they made me, and it was so tacky. And then they didn’t even use it… thank God.

Ummm. Uhhhh. Okay then.

At first I was going to completely back off, but then I remembered that I’m the hostess, and who am I to deprive our guests of my superior mix-tape making skills? I stayed up late into the night on iTunes to put this “Mother of All Baby Shower Playlists” together for the cool, urban, hipster mom-to-be:

“Mother and Child Reunion” – Paul Simon

“Stay Up Late” – Talking Heads

“Baby Please Don’t Go” – Van Morrison

“Baby” – Rufus Wainwright

“Baby’s Got Sauce” – G. Love & Special Sauce

“I Can’t Quite You Baby” – Led Zeppelin

“Baby” – Iggy Pop

“Jack” – Widespread Panic (she’s naming her son Jack)

“Cry Baby Cry” – The Beatles

“Baby Boomerang” – The Shins

“Kooks” – David Bowie

“Little Baby” – The Rolling Stones

“Baby Hold On” – Leftover Salmon

“Put A Straw Under Baby” – Brian Eno

“My Baby” – Janis Joplin

“Baby” – Dave Matthews

It was actually easier to find beautiful songs about abortion than birth, but even I realize that “Belly Button Window” by Jimi Hendrix and Bend Folds’ “Brick” would be in poor taste. My playlist might not resonate with the baby boomer partygoers, but my too-cool-for-baby-songs friend will appreciate it.

Then there was the issue of party favors. I don’t have time to burn 25 copies of this CD and create cute labels. And everything online needed to be ordered 4-6 weeks ago. When I Googled “last-minute baby shower favors,” the only articles that popped up said things like “don’t leave the baby shower favors until the last minute.” Um, yeah, thanks. I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on something that’s going to get thrown away… and they all get thrown away.

After days of online obsessing, I took the philanthropic route. My  first instinct was to find a baby-related charity, but as I researched, The Louisville Zoo continued to pop up as one of the highest rated non-profits. The shower’s in Louisville, KY, where we grew up, so after investigating further on the zoo’s website, I decided to adopt Baby Elephant Scotty in the mom-to-be’s name in lieu of favors. My friend will get an adoption certificate, her name on the website, and a picture/info card of Scotty. I ask you, how cute is that?

What are your tips for planning a shower that doesn’t suck?

Belly to Belly: Simple Things to Savor Before Baby

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, it’s a countdown to the moment you will no longer be just you. Even if you’re married and already consider yourself a “we”, the single-to-married transition’s got nothing on the world-rocking metamorphosis into motherhood. You’ll still be you, just a new version of you. You 2.0.

You’ve probably already anticipated a lot of the You 2.0 features, such as the ability to operate on little to no sleep and an innate indifference to any and all substances coming out of  your baby’s orifices. But with the conversion, comes some adjustments. There are so many things to love about being a mom. So, so, so many. But (and it is a super cute baby butt), I want to share a few things you should savor before your bundle of joy arrives:

1. Showers. What you now just think of as part of your daily routine will later feel like a luxury spa treatment (if and when you get to take one in the bathroom by yourself. Not having an audience for everything is something else to savor). Enjoy the fact that you have time to soap, shampoo, condition and shave everything all in one shower. Take your time, sit under the water, sing songs that aren’t nursery rhymes, do a salt scrub. Linger until you get all pruny and the hot water runs out. Forget water conservation. You’ll make up for it soon enough.

2. Shoes. My mother gained a foot size and lost a cup size with each child. I lost the cup (boo), but was lucky that my feet remained at their already sizeable 9.5. This is not the case for many people. I have one friend who’s feet grew two sizes with one child. The point? Wear all of your favorite shoes while they still fit. You don’t know if you’re gonna grow!

3. Stairs. Once a stroller is involved, stairs become this evil video game-like obstacle (I almost expect an angry monkey at the top hurling barrels down at me). More often than not, you’re relegated to a very out-of-the-way elevator or ramp option, making a simple trip to any store involving a parking garage a total pain. Whenever I’m without Jed now and I need to take a flight of stairs to get where I’m going, I get so giddy, it’s kind of sad.

4. Driving. Alone. With the music (your music) blasting. This is still one of my favorite “me” time pastimes. An open highway and “Life is a Highway”. Who knew the road to sanity could be so simple?

Moms, what would you add to the list? 

 

Belly to Belly: Baby (Link) Love

There are so many sites on which to shop and seek advice. I have dozens that I love, but I’ve narrowed it down to my very favorites in the following core categories to take the guess work, and Google work, out of your online time. Like everything else in life once a baby comes into the picture, I say it’s best to keep it simple!

OH, SHE GROWS: Emily updates her readers at 40 weeks.

Baby Names: Nameberry

By far the most engaging (read: time-sucking) baby name site on the Internet. Beyond the usual searches, meanings and popularity charts, Nameberry offers fun, quirky lists like Yupster Names for Girls and Antique Names Ready For Restoration. I almost want to have another child just so I can have a reason to spend time on this site. Because right now, I’m spending way too much time on Nameberry for no good reason at all.

Online Registry: Baby Earth

Austin-based BabyEarth, like its name indicates, incorporates green business practices. But eco-conscious products are only a portion of what they offer to customers, making them both planet-friendly and practical. No Babies-R-Us breakdowns here: their selection has plenty of options, but isn’t anxiety-inducing. Their Ready-to-Go Registries offer a great jumping off point for your own. You can choose one that best fits your lifestyle—Classic Baby, Eco Baby, Posh Baby or Second Child—or find inspiration from a mix of all four! And their customer service? Top notch. Honorable mentions to: Land of Nod, Giggle

Pregnant Bloggers: Emily Malone at Daily Garnish and Caitlin Boyle at Healthy Tipping Point

Emily just had a baby boy, Cullen, six weeks ago, and did an amazing job of documenting her pregnancy experience. The vegetarian chef primarily blogs about food, health and fitness, but has invited us into her life as a new mom as well!

Tagged under BabyHTC and Pregnancy, you can find Operation Beautiful Founder Caitlin Boyle’s belly updates (now at week 13)—a perfect pregnant pause from your busy day! Her pregnancy proves thus far to be just as inspirational as Operation Beautiful.

Both also share(d) their pregnancy experiences on the Babble blog, Being Pregnant (and Emily now contributes to Babble’s Baby’s First Year.)

Online Community: Babble

It was a close call between Babble and BabyCenter. They both offer loads of helpful information from moms and experts, but Babble, as counterintuitive as it may seem, just speaks more clearly to me. While you hear from gobs of contributors who offer all kinds of opinions, the overall site has a unified voice that’s fresh, tangible and entertaining.

What’s your favorite pregnancy or baby-related website? 

Belly to Belly: A “Getting Ready for Baby” Guide

Belly to Belly: Pregnancy pointers from a mom-in-progress.

My best friend is pregnant! She is having a girl, due April 19… one day after my birthday. I am so, so excited for her that I’m already thinking of gift ideas, even though she hasn’t registered. Mothers of boys will understand the tantalizing anticipation of shopping for sugar, spice and everything nice. Girl stuff is just so freakin’ cute!

Pregnant me, right before pumpkin time.

Parenting and pregnancy are like politics. They are touchy topics on  which everyone has an opinion, and unless I’m asked for mine, I keep my mouth shut. Well I happen to know that Emily actually wants my advice. She gets me, she trusts me, and if she thinks I’m totally off-base, she’s not afraid to speak up, or at least smile to my face and then ignore it later as a nice, Southern gal should.

I figured as long as I’m writing these tips out for Em, I might as well share them with you! So I decided to create a guide — a series of posts that I’m going to call “Belly to Belly”, dedicated to imparting my motherly wisdom to Emily and any other expecting parent who cares to take a look. This won’t include anything scientific or biological stuff (“Week 19: Your baby is now the size of a rutabaga and has the cognitive ability to start judging you.”). But I will touch on everything from belly-touching etiquette and registries to swelling solutions.*

For this first installment I’m going to re-post an entry I wrote from a previous blog when I was about as far along as Emily:

May 20, 2009

We found out we’re having a boy! And boy does he love showing off his pee-pee. I was really freaked out because his genitalia looked to be the size of his head (his dad was so proud), but then the technician informed me that she’d blown up that part of the screen so we could see it better. Almost had a circus freak on our hands. So my sex dream was wrong. I just hope the dream where my son ends up in jail is wrong, too.

So far, Jed’s stayed out of prison, although he’s been frequenting the “thinking chair” quite a bit.

Look for Belly to Belly posts from now through April!

She's a natural! Emily holding my baby boy.
*This guide is solely based on my personal experiences as a pregnant woman and new mother. I am not a licensed parent. Please consult your common sense before following any advice.