Food For Thought Friday: The Lindstroms and the Swaddle: A Love Story

Here’s a story, of a girl named Brady… my firstborn, to be exact. Who, like most babies, was sprinkled on the way out of the hospital with the dust that makes nighttime sleep a myth. Before we left the hospital, the nice nurses taught us this lovely method of wrapping her up like a little burrito, approximately the size of those they serve at Chipotle.  We had also learned that method in our baby birthin’ classes. I was confident that if given a blanket, I could wrap a baby. Only, nobody had explained to me why. They said things like, “this will calm her down” or “this will keep her warm,” but I thought there were so many other things that would keep her warm or calm her down, and while baby wrapping seemed to be a neat party trick, I wasn’t sure when or why it was important to use it.

Fast forward to about a week after we’d arrived home, and approximately that long since we (and she) had last slept.  I was at my wits end. In fact, I was beyond my wits end.  I was writing postcards to my wits end telling it how much I missed it.  I called my mother in a full-blown panic, “MOM, SHE WON’T SLEEP! WHY WON’T SHE SLEEP? FIX THIS!” My mother, who is accustomed to this type of alarm from her youngest (and most dramatic) child, went immediately to the nearest bookstore and raided the baby sleep section. I don’t know if that section exists, but it should. It should exist for this exact type of situation.  She dropped the books off for me and they sat on my coffee table staring me down. I knew  the answer to how this baby was going to sleep was hiding somewhere in those pages, but I was tired. I called my husband who was on his way home from work, and gave him his assignment: “Read these books for me, and tell me what to do… I am going to try to sleep right now, because the baby looks groggy.” While I logged about 45 minutes of fitful rest, Mr. Lindstrom skimmed each book looking for what was going to work for us. When I opened my eyes, he shook a book at me, The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. “Colleen, we need to swaddle her.  Not just that, there are four other things that start with S that we need to do, too!” I swear to you, if he had told me that we needed to hang her from a crane by her toenails, I would have called the first 24-hour crane rental service I could find in the Yellow Pages.  Suddenly, swaddling and these other S words sounded much better than the one S word I was saying.

And thus the love affair began that very evening with our first successful swaddle.  A good sleeper was born. And since, we have produced many good sleepers, all thanks to Dr. Harvey Karp.  In order to get the true essence of swaddling and the five S technique, you really must read the book. I also recommend reading the book because it gives you very important guidelines for swaddling safety. Adhere to them. Take them seriously. Swaddling is a wonderful tool in helping your child adjust to life outside the womb, but just knowing that is not enough, you must learn about it to be sure that you are using it properly.  I am so passionate about the swaddle, that my gift to new moms in my life (sorry to blow the surprise) is a swaddle blanket, and swaddler (I prefer the Summer Infant Swaddle Me brand, which I layer on top of a swaddle blanket for security), and a copy of the Happiest Baby on the Block. Without fail, every mom gets this from me, along with a handwritten note promising that I will school them in the ways of the swaddle. Each and every hour of sleep I have logged since 2005 is credit directly to Dr. Harvey Karp.

See, the Twinstroms in a restful sleep while swaddled exactly one week old.  I probably should have been sleeping, myself, but instead I was taking pictures. (Another of the 5 Ss is "sucking," which you can see, they are doing blissfully on their pacifiers.)

Here’s the greatest news for you today, you can enter win a Swaddle Blanket for your own baby or a baby in your life just by heading over to It’s My Baby Blog and following the directions. It’s easy, I promise, and goodness knows, the gift of sleep is priceless! Good luck!


Food For Thought Friday: Time To Get Over It...

I'm going to get out the soap box.  Luckily it's not very dusty...

As of May 16, the City of Forest Park, GA has banned public breastfeeding of children over the age of two.  I don't even care what your opinions are about how long a child "should" be breastfed, here is what you should be angry about (if I may be so bold as to point out what should be upsetting to you): This law was passed as a stand against public nudity.  By that rationale, the age of the child should not matter.  It's only the first step toward taking away the right of a child to be fed in public. We should be outraged.

What is wrong with our culture? Why are we STILL not able to separate nudity from the job of a breast.  Not to mention the fact that we really contradict ourselves when we say that breast is best (it's actually a public health issue), and then say, "but not in public..."

When I get hungry, I eat in public.  I eat off a fork usually. Sure there are other options, I could use a spoon, or even a spork, but really, forks are best for the types of meals I eat. I don't know if it 'offends' anyone but I really don't care, because when I'm hungry, I eat. With a fork.

When a baby is hungry, they need to eat, even in public. They may take their food from a breast. Sure there are other options, but for the type of meals they eat, breast is the best.  It may 'offend' people, but I really don't care.  Why should a baby not be afforded the same rights I have when I am hungry in public?  The right to eat.

Can we please be done with this, now? Can we please just let babies eat and realize that it isn't about nudity, it is about a baby getting their basic needs met.  This is about adults being uncomfortable and unable to act like... say... adults, and taking rights away from children.

Soapbox being put back in soapbox closet, now.

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!



About three years ago, our dear friends had their first baby. A group of our friends, most with children already, had gathered together, and were laughing about the adjustment that the new baby brings. The new father was visibly uncomfortable as we revealed things he would encounter down the road with their new bundle of joy. Cutting through a room full of uproarious laughter, my good friend said of our uncomfortable new dad friend, "Oh, let's stop teasing him, he's just trying to keep the baby alive." (Cue record scratch sound effect.) Suddenly all the eyes in the room were on Mr. Lindstrom and me.

When something painful and unexpected like this happens in my life, my emotions are almost exactly like a dyke breaking. All the pain I've been dealing with, slowly but surely, and in manageable chunks comes bursting through in unmanageable ways. I know my friend meant no harm to me. I know that the moment those words parted from his lips, he wished he could grab them back. That moment is in the top five defining moments of my life. It was the very first time, two years after the death of my firstborn, that I felt guilt and failure. It truly was the first time I realized that the world's first expectation of a parent is that they will keep their children alive. I failed.

I frequently hear other people laughing about this Rosanne Barr quote, "If they’re all alive at the end of the day, then I’ve done my job." It's been touted as one of the best takes on motherhood. Ouch. That's my only response. Because I have had to go to bed at night with the knowing that they weren't all alive. I have failed.  I have not done my job.  

I feel like the world sees it as my personal failure that I dropped my first child off at daycare, and picked up a dead body. It is my personal failure that I had a pregnancy that was so full of complications that my child was literally incompatible with life. I miss my girls, and I miss my life (in some ways) before I knew this brand of pain. Sure, there have been abundant gifts. Among many things, I would not have the children I have had my first two girls lived.  These children I have here today are here because my girls aren't.  There is never a moment that I am not trying to reconcile that in my heart.  But I feel guilty. I feel like the ink is all over my mom hands. I didn't keep my children alive.  I failed at the very most basic requirement of parenting. Then, knowing that, I went on to procreate again and again without insurance that I wouldn't fail again... that is guilt.

Here's what I want you to know: It probably seems like losing a child is the most horrible thing that could possibly happen. It is... almost. Here is what would actually be worse; if that child left this world without feeling fully loved beyond what the heart can possibly hold. 

So, my babies died.  I could not keep them alive.  I failed.

But, they left this world having never known anything but pure love and joy. 

I am going to go ahead and chalk that up as a success.  


Wordless Wednesday: This Is Four-Year-Old For Love

When you're done oohing and aahhing over this beautiful arrangement, head on over to It's My Baby Blog to read my post about going back to school as a mom.  


Manic Monday Blogarrhea - The Marketing Edition

I am of the opinion (and I'm not naming any names...) that if you are a retailer that is moving to sell items to women and hopefully make them feel beautiful rather than like, say, a cow or some other such animal, you may want to avoid using the word "barn" in the name of your store.

To that end, stores that cater to mothers and fathers who are advertising their sales, may want to refrain from using the word "blowout" in their declaration of great savings. To a parent, specifically of babies, "blowout" has a totally different meaning and it does not conjure up a feeling of excitement.

There is an actual restaurant called Pink Taco. I don't want to eat at Pink Taco. If I have to explain why that is to you, then you are a classy person. That is all you need to know.

Can anyone help me figure out what this ad is for? Let me fill in the blanks: It was found in the ladies room on a stall door. The text says, "Deer Run Golf Club. Enjoy the cruise." No website, no phone number, nothing. I don't get it. What am I missing? What is Deer Run Golf Club? What is this cruise I am supposed to enjoy? Is there a number I should call? A website? What???


Food For Thought Friday: More of a "Reminder"...

I try to keep it all together. Really, I do. I try to be the kind of mom that is two steps ahead of everything and can take those two steps ahead while continuing to spin all my plates. That is always my intention. Sometimes, though, I meet failure in a dark alley, and failure has it's way with me.  It's never pretty, but I always learn from it.

The four-year-old, before he was four, before he was in a traditional preschool, went to a nursery school program, almost like a pre-preschool at our church. He started going a couple of days a week for a couple of hours a day when he was 9 months old.  This is where he learned his alphabet (mostly), how to count (mostly), how to go potty (pretty much totally), and most importantly, how to interact and cooperate with kids his own age.

That first year, on the last day of "school" (we have always called it "school"), I watched all of my fellow parents come in carrying gifts and thank you notes.  Guess who was empty handed. Yup. I was embarrassed and horrified at myself.  I mean, I read Dear Abby, I read Dear Prudence, I LOVE etiquette.  I apparently just don't have any. Ugh. I felt like I had a tattoo on my forehead that said "ROOKIE MOM." You can bet I wasn't going to do that again.  In fact, I was going to start stockpiling gifts like a squirrel preparing for a long winter (like the one we are just now emerging from). I was going to bring gifts to school every day - just to be prepared. Okay, that's a stretch, but I made special note on my calendar of the important gift giving occasions for teachers and even added a reminder for the prior week, so that on my Target rounds, I could make sure I had all the necessary wrappings and accessories. Phew. I was going to totally OWN the teacher gift thing!

Fast forward to now, I don't take it quite so seriously, but the sting of that day and the embarrassment I felt are still present. Teachers are such amazing people. They give so much from their heart, and they shape and change our kids. The growth I have seen in my own children from those few hours a week they spend with their teachers and classmates is amazing, and I want to appreciate it. I want to show my gratitude.  Of course I love my kids, but I so appreciate the fact that THEY love my kids, too.  So, a gift is such a small and easy way to say thank you.

After polling teachers, I have found that teachers really appreciate the gift certificate. Specifically to a place like Target or Barnes and Noble. A place where they may decide whether they want to buy something for themselves, or for the classroom. I have found myself at the Caribou drive thru thinking, "maybe I'll just pick up a card for the teacher," and then I panic because, "what if they don't drink coffee. Or what if everyone in the class gets them coffee certificates. I mean, how much coffee can one person drink?" (Note: I think I could probably shock you with my personal answer to the "how much coffee" question.)

So, as the school year draws to a close, remember your teachers. They are doing beautiful work with our children, and they deserve our thanks! (Mostly I blog this for that embarrassed "rookie mom" that I was so many years ago.)

Now, head on over to It's My Baby Blog for some ideas of fun ways to gift your kid's teachers.


Is "Housewife" In This Job Description?

The other day, while conducting my morning routine of drinking copious amounts of coffee and spelunking the internets before the children stir (this is a routine that I have yet to shake since my days doing a daily radio show), I happened upon this article written by Jessica Anya Blau. The Cliff's Notes: In her novel "Drinking Closer to Home," Blau introduced a fictionalized character inspired by her own mom.  Her own mom, when Blau and her siblings were 11, 8, and 3, announced that she "quit." She went on to teach her children to do the daily chores of the house, including (but not limited to) learning how to use their own alarm clocks to wake themselves in the morning, and doing their own laundry. She continued to be their mother, but ceased in being their maid. When the author read reviews of her book, she saw this character touted as "abusive" and the children were referred to as "survivors." Blau goes on to describe in this article that her mother could not have been less abusive. She defends her mother by saying that her mother was an excellent parent (giving love and support) even though she did not pack lunches for her kids or hem their pants. (To truly get the gist - you'll want to read the article, my retelling it loses so much of the essence.) My impression as a reader, was that the author's mother was not quitting being a mom, she was quitting being a "housewife." She was fed up with carrying the brunt of the "work" of the family, and she wanted to delegate some of that work so she could enjoy the mommy ride a little more and give her children the gift of responsibility.  

As I read through this article, I thought, "what an awesome mom! I want to be just like her!" (Maybe minus the dramatic, "I quit" moment, but definitely PLUS the part about making the kids responsible for housework and getting themselves together, and making time to be a family.) Then, I made the mistake of reading the comments. People who had just read the exact same article that I had (you know, the one that was describing the type of mother I want to be) had such a poisoned reaction. Calling the mother of the author "lazy" and "irresponsible." For only a moment, I second guessed myself. Is refusing to be the housekeeper for your kids and expecting that they care for the space that they live in "lazy" or "irresponsible" on the part of the mother?

Just over a week ago, I had tweeted something like, "How do moms clean? Every time I DO something, I have three little "un-do-ers" undoing." A friend tweeted back, "I always said I'd be a terrible stay at home mom, my house would be a disaster, but my kids would be happy."  I was immediately sick to my stomach. I frequently make apologies to people about the mess in my house, but I do have extremely happy kids, am I a bad mom? Is this what our culture expects of mothers? That our job description is to keep an impeccable house and raise happy, well-behaved, intelligent kids?  Is it the 1950's? I'm all for the happy and well-behaved kids, but the impeccable house thing falling solely on the shoulders of the mother... that could drive (and probably has driven) a mommy (or two) to madness. I know it would me. Listen, I'm not saying that it's not possible to have both. I am not saying that if you are a person who can make it all work, and your kids aren't suffering for it, and you're enjoying your relationship with your children and your role as their mother that it's not perfectly fine or that you are not a good mother. I am not saying that a clean house is an indicator of a good OR a bad mom, I am saying that our priorities are screwy if we allow a judgement on cleanliness or tidiness or willingness to delegate in terms of the aforementioned to be a blanket judgement on someone's mothering.

My house, while not entirely a disaster, is never all the way clean unless we're hosting a holiday, and when it IS all the way clean, you better damn betcha that everyone who lives here has chipped in to do their part (some people's "parts" around here are smaller than others due to age and size). There is usually some form of mess in each room. While I may complain about it, I am not willing to change it at the expense of the quality time I spend with my kids. The mess bothers me, but not enough to drive me to change my personal routine within my family and the time I devote to being engaged with my kids.  For me, it is important for my children to remember the love between us, and not how tidy the family room is. We do not live in layers of filth, but a mess, heck yes. My kitchen floor is not always clean, and I would rarely pass the white glove test, but if we do a 10 minute once over and tidy up, our house is passable for guests. But, I signed up to be a mother, not a housewife. Beyond that, if teaching your appropriately aged children to be partners in the keeping of the house is considered abusive or lazy, then so be it.  If requesting that the people with whom you share space to take care of that space and themselves within it makes me a bad mom, then I'll have to be comfortable with that.  In my opinion, if I make it my business to do it all, I will both become burned out, and I'll end up raising children with no sense of responsibility. Neither of which entices me in the least.

So, while my house can feel like a land of chaos, my children are brought to and from their activities promptly, they make all their doctors appointments, their boo-boos are kissed, and if hugs and snuggles could create world peace, we'd have it ten times over. They are read to, bathed regularly, they are kept warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. They have a roof over their heads, they are fed 3 square meals per day and snacks, and they wear clean clothing (unless they get it dirty mid-wear, in which case, they are fortunate enough to have a choice of clothing into which they may change). We spend time as a family, our children socialize with other children, and we value our faith together. We laugh a lot, we cry sometimes, we are boisterous sometimes, and quiet others. Through positive reinforcement and discipline we show right from wrong, and sometimes my children really have to exercise their patience while I take care of some business, do a little (yes, I do enough to maintain) housework, or take care of one of their sibling's needs. Even in challenging times, we have a lot. We have a whole lot. We may not have the cleanest house, but I'm willing to let that go - and also let go of the expectation that that is solely MY job as the mother to keep the house.  We have a LOT. If I'm failing somewhere in my role as mother, it is NOT in the area of lovingly nurturing my children, and at the end of the day, if you ask me, that is the most important role of the mother.

My mother-in-law shared this part of a poem with me once, and I love it so much. I think of it often when I am having a moment of mom-guilt with the chaotic mess. It provides me the perspective and personal forgiveness I need: 

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

~Author Unknown

Where are you on the idea that a mother who expects her children to participate in the housework and meeting their personal needs is "lazy" or "abusive"? I welcome respectful and thoughtful comments, if you have one, please leave it. 


As Seen On TV

Apparently I am easily marketed to. I recently took a mental inventory of everything I've bought as seen on TV:

...and this is just what I can think of off the top of my head. I chalk it up to the fact that for the past few years of parenting, I've spent countless hours in the middle of the night watching infomercials and convincing myself that I need these things to get by in life. Sometimes I am baffled at the notion that I got through without even one copy of Girls Gone Wild. The one thing I cannot believe I haven't fallen for (yet) is this: It's called Hook Line and Stinker. It is literally a fishing game that you play... wait for it... on the potty.  Yup. Classy. 

As a follow up to that... this is not something I've seen on TV, but rather was told about by my great friend Liv Lane from Choosing Beauty. She is offering an e-course on How To Build a Blog You Truly Love, and if anyone knows about building a blog you love, it's Liv. She has spent the past few years becoming a true guru in the blogosphere, and is ready to share what she has learned. If you have a blog, want a blog, have thought about starting a blog, or are just starting a blog and need an extra push, you'll want to take part in this awesome e-course. Here's the best part... ready? Through tomorrow (Wednesday 5/11) you can sign up for this e-course for an early bird special of 20% off the registration price. This 6 week course starts June 5 and if I know Liv (and believe me, I do) it's going to rock your face off.  I'll be having my face rocked off, too. So, join me in learning all about building a blog you truly love!


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary about the sewer system in New York City. This is the kind of thing that fascinates me.  Here's the bare bones, all the waste goes to a plant which separates the solids from the liquid.  The liquid is washed away, but the gas from the solids powers the entire plant.  That's amazing. Is there any reason why I can't power my house that way???

I love Chipotle, but it really challenges my portion control.

On Friday I saw a show on TLC called "Make Room For Multiples." The episode I saw featured a family who had twin boys who were four-years-old, and found out that they were expecting twin girls. Whoa. Then, when the girls were born, one was 6 lb and some change, and the other was 7 lb and some change. This woman is my new hero.

I think one of the worst smells in the world is when you're walking outside in real nature, and someone on the curb opens their car door and out wafts the smell of one of those pine tree car air fresheners.  When fake nature smells get all mixed up with real nature smells.  That's the worst smell in the world.

In 2005, a storefront opened up in the Mall Of America called MinneNAPolis. A simple concept, rooms where people can nap. It was equal parts brilliant and ridiculous.  It didn't last long as I recall, but I kind of thought the name was good, and it's a total shame that I have no reason to say it anymore.  In that vein, I was thinking of some other ideas of stores that could be incorporated into the name of my city.  Like, a grocery store that only sells snack food, MinneSNACKolis. Or, a store that sells little trinkets, MinneCRAPolis. Or my personal favorite, a gynecologist's office called MinnePAPolis.  I could go on for days, but I'll put you out of your misery by just stopping.


Food For Thought Friday: It's a Mother of a Day...

I know it's a Hallmark holiday. I know that it was created to sell sell sell, and we are programmed to buy, buy, buy.  I know that we should not need a day dictated to tell us to appreciate our mothers, but as a mother, it feels darn good to be honored on Mother's Day. It feels really nice to open up a card that says everything you always wished your family was thinking about you and all you do, but they never put into such poetic words.  It feels really nice to be waited on hand and foot and have an excuse to do or not do whatever you want. For someone who is accustomed to putting the needs of many before her own, it is nice to have a day to be honored for that. It's different from a birthday, because on this day, it's all about your role not just as a human, but as a MOTHER.  The most important job you do.

It's nice to open a handmade gift from your child that they made at school, whatever the modern day clay ashtray is these days (at our house it was a jewelry box made from an Altoid tin painted gold and adorned with colorful gems and shells. It is divine.) It's nice to be celebrated by not just your family, but by an entire culture that values the role of mothering (and a card company that thinks it makes a really great holiday).

But, Mother's Day really provides an amazing opportunity for this: Opening yourself as a mother up to all the love that is coming your way, and getting in on the fun.  Not just feeling loved by others, but loving yourself for the amazing work that you do each and every day even when nobody is showering you with flowery cards and little trinkets. Wrapping your arms around yourself and giving yourself a big ol' bear hug, and thanking yourself for doing what mom's do so well, which is... well, really... everything.

So, how are you going to celebrate yourself as a mom this Sunday? I want to know!

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!


Hooray For Damages and Flaws!!!

There is an outlet shop in the suburbs of Minneapolis that sells high end brand name items that have small flaws or damages. On most of the items, you can't even see the damages or flaws, but you get them at a ridiculously affordable price. My friends who shop there swear by it.  They LOVE the steals and deals they get at this outlet store.  I hardly ever shop there, myself, but I drive by there almost once a week, and my favorite thing about this store is a sign they have on their window so small you could miss it if you didn't look.  It says, "hooray for damages and flaws!"

I am deeply in love with this sign.  So much so that I want to replicate it and hang it in my home. Perhaps in every room (a little overboard?).  Here's why I love it so much. The worst thing you could ever say to me is that I think I'm perfect (one time a woman said that to me, trying to hurt my feelings. It worked).  I am SO not, and I am SO glad!  I have spent the better part of my 33 years here trying to get good with my damages and flaws.  Here's the important distinction: I have been trying to accept my OWN damages and flaws, not get others to accept my damages and flaws (when I have gone the direction of trying to get others to accept them, it's always backfired).  In many ways, those damages and flaws are exactly what make us each unique.

So, while I don't want to be sold at an outlet store, I would LOVE to write all over my personal windows (and big enough for everyone to see), "Hooray for my damages and flaws!" Without them, I'd be pretty darn boring.  Psssssst, you would be too.


Manic Monday Blogarrhea

The movie Cars has ruined me. If I haven't had enough coffee, and I'm punchy enough, I will look at the cars on the road and find myself wondering what they are thinking, and what their voices sound like.

I don't know if this is normal, but in my mind I'm a lot younger than my chronological age. I know it's rude to ask other people their age, so I have a trick. First of all, I will tell you my age, I am 33.  I was born in 1977. When I was a young Sesame Street watcher, I remember when Snuffleupagus was known to the other inhabitants of Sesame Street to be Big Bird's imaginary friend.  Shortly after my prime viewing days, everyone had the opportunity to meet Snuffy (in 1985), and see that he was indeed real.  So, I'll ask people, "do you remember when only Big Bird knew about Snuffleupagus?" And if they look at me like I'm crazy (a look I am quite familiar with), I'll know that they are younger than 30. Really, the only reason age is at all relevant to me is that it informs me as to which pop culture references I can use in conversation with people. Yes, I really do think about that kind of stuff...

I believe that there are 2 types of moms in this world, those who want to spend Mother's Day with the children who made them mothers, and those who want the day to themselves. Guess which camp I fall into.  Listen, I love my family, but I have no qualms about using a Hallmark holiday as an excuse for a day off.  This will probably change when my children are a little bit older and can sit through a meal without fighting, screaming, or pooping themselves, but for now, I'm good with a little time to myself on Mother's Day.

I find it really hard to be a good mom and a good friend at the same time.  I have lists of people I need to call back and get together with. The thing is, I have tons of time at, say 3:00 a.m. when I'm up with insomnia because I'm trying to keep a mental list of all the balls that are in the air... anyone want to hang out then?

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