New Mommy Survival Gift Guide

You might remember a last month I hosted a coffee themed baby shower for my friend Ginny. Well, allow me to introduce…

{drumroll please}

Charlotte “Lottie” Anne Gum.

I saw this picture last night and I almost stopped breathing. Not only do I get to brag on my friend’s gorgeous kid, but allow me to take this moment to feature the photo genius of my dear friend Emily Chidester. She’s brilliant and inspiring and almost as much of a Harry Potter nerd as I am. Be sure to check out her blog for her latest work.

I have so many friends getting pregnant and having babies that I’m beginning to think there really is something in the water. All of these babies got me thinking about creative gift ideas. What does every new mother need but can’t afford? The correct answer is: time and sanity. Unfortunately, you can’t exactly register for either at Babies R Us. So, I did a little brainstorming on my morning run, and this is my best attempt at what I like to call a New Mommy Survival Gift Guide.

Survival gift idea #1: Meal coordination. New mothers are oftentimes less concerned with cooking than they are with eating. After I had Mia, all I cared about was if she was getting enough to eat. If someone didn’t remind me to grab some grub, I would have opted for a long nap instead. I have world-class friends who arranged for home cooked meals to arrive every two days with left overs to spare. True story. I don’t think we bought groceries for a month. Takethemameal.com allows you to coordinate meals online and it does most of the work for you. This is priceless. Literally.

Survival gift idea #2: A housekeeper. I’m not pregnant nor do I have any desire to be in the near future, but I still fantasize at least once a week about a fairy housekeeper gracing my front doorstep. I never wanted one more than right after I had my babies. I knew it was bad when I noticed that Clark’s bare feet were sticking to the wood floor. Seriously, I thought he was going to strap on a biohazard suit before entering the shower– that’s how long it had been since I gave it a good scrub. If you’ve got the money, do your friend a favor and pay for a couple of visits from the housekeeper. She may just name her unborn child after you. Oh, and don’t forget laundry. Do a little research to find a local wash & fold service that delivers, or for major friend points, opt to provide laundry service yourself.

Survival gift idea #3: Counseling. Don’t furrow your brows at me. Baby blues don’t lift after 2 weeks for every mama. Take me for example. I wound up on the shrink’s couch 3 months after Salem was born after I woke up from a nightmare where I had confused him with the oven pot roast. I wish I was making this up. Postpartum depression is a terrifying thing for mommy, daddy, and baby, and sadly most women don’t seek help when they should because they are either embarrassed or they simply can’t afford it. I’d say, if you are a family member or a close enough friend, perhaps include a voucher in her baby shower card that says, “Redeemable for post-delivery counseling and/or margarita therapy”.

Survival gift idea #4: Child care. Babysitters are not cheap, and most likely after a few weeks, mom will be ready for a little break to go out shopping or to have tea or to have a good cry {refer to survival gift idea #3}. Again, slip a couple of coupons for “free babysitting” into her shower gift. Follow up a few weeks after delivery to remind her that you still intend to make good on your gift. Then again, if you’re my friend, you won’t have to remind me.

Survival gift idea #5: Stamped and addressed thank you cards. Speaking of shower gifts, this is a thoughtful and inexpensive one. Showers are wonderful. Mommies and babies are loaded up with diapers and burp cloths and onesies and nipple shields. {Okay, perhaps the nipple shields are not that wonderful.} But, how many of you post-shower mommies took months to tend to the seemingly insurmountable task of sending gift thank you’s? I know I did. And who has time to go buy stamps when you’re too busy with nipple shields? {I just want to see how many times I can say ‘nipple shield’ in a blog post and get away with it. There ought to be a limit, right?} You can make the task less daunting by putting together a little basket complete with cards, envelopes, stamps and a pen. You can even go the extra mile by having some return address labels printed with baby’s name included. Again, friend-points will be awarded.

Survival gift idea #6: Professional newborn photo session. {Such as… Ahem… Emily Chidester Photography}. Just think, a little piece of your thoughtfulness frozen in time on their living room wall or above the fireplace. I believe there’s a few things in life that you shouldn’t get for a basement bargain such as Lasik or plastic surgery. Photography is one of them. Don’t skimp. If you have the money to get a quality gift, opt for a family photo session with a professional, not your cousin Ralph who promises to give you a “sweet deal”.

Survival gift idea #7: Moms on Call. I’ve said it before, these ladies are God’s gift to mothers everywhere. If you live in or around the Atlanta area, they will come to your home and give you a personal consultation on everything from feeding, to bathing, to getting your newborn to sleep. If you have to choose between the fairy housekeeper and Moms on Call, take it from me. Give the gift of Moms on Call. If you’re not fortunate to live within driving distance, they offer online seminars that are just as helpful. You mama-friend will thank you.

If you want to treat your loved one to a housekeeper or a photographer, but you don’t want to break the bank, perhaps you can invite a few friends or relatives to go in on the gift with you. The best gift is one that you’ve always wanted, but you’d never splurge to get it for yourself.

Let’s add to this list. What are some of your favorite new mommy survival gifts?

Mother’s Speak: You are what they eat!

It has been an eventful week in the Beasley house. Not only did Amelia officially start to crawl on Monday, but she also nursed for the last time. I wanted so much to breast feed her for a year, but the last 6 weeks or so have been quite the struggle. She has mistaken me for not only one of her teething toys {ouch!} on more than one occasion, but lately she’s taken to using me more as “finger food”, if you know what I mean. She will un-latch after 3 minutes or so {if we’re lucky}, curiously play with me like I’m a piece of bubble wrap, and then look at me with that gummy smile as if to say, “Thanks for the new toy, Mom.” I’m no nursing expert, but that combined with the occasional grimace face and the arching of the back in utter refusal, something tells me that this child is ready to wean.

Last week when I introduced “Mother’s Speak”, I addressed the “guilt” mill. Most mommies I know are on it for one reason or another. If I’m honest, I’ve struggled with guilt with both of my babies when it comes to feeding. Breast is best, right? Therefore bottle {formula} is….. not? Let’s consider the breast pump for a moment. Every time I’m hooked up to the milking apparatus, Clark gives me a pitiful look as thought I’m subjecting myself to cruel and unusual punishment. I’ve dared him to try it, but he flat refuses on the grounds of it being a form of medieval torture. He says he’s scared that if he does actually try it, something might actually come out! Men are hilarious, aren’t they?

Let’s be honest for a moment. Is there any part of you, even the smallest part like me, that opts for breast or bottle out of guilt or comparison to other super hero mommies who nurse until somewhere around the child’s first day at Kindergarten? Bear with the exaggeration, but I think you get my point. I loved my nursing experience with Mia, and there is a part of me that is sad knowing that season is over. But at the same time, I had to ask myself if continuing to nurse was best for me or for her. She’s soaking up the world around her at such a wondrous pace. Every time we would stop to nurse her, she would look at me like, “Aw, Mom, do I have to do this again?” and then…. play time with bubble wrap.

So, I ask you… Breast? Bottle? Both?

Weekend Highlights

When I said I was giving up blogging for Lent, I had no idea that it would be this difficult. Sundays allow for what is otherwise abstained from during Lent, so I’ve been preparing a highlight post in hopes to give you a glimpse of the past week. You may want to grab a drink and a light snack. There’s no telling how long this might take. Kidding…. no seriously.

Let’s begin with a pop quiz, shall we?

Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, you went to the market on Monday with both of your children in tow and purchased a week’s worth of groceries. As a reward for saving, oh, say $51.52 being the diligent coupon-clipping shopper that you are, you treated yourself to a six pack of your favorite adult beverage. With one child wiggling inside the baby sling and the other demanding yet another free sugar cookie meant for valued customers only, you kindly refuse the bag boy’s offer for help with loading your groceries into your vehicle because, quite frankly, you don’t want to feel obligated to give him a tip. This being your first mistake, you realize only after you’ve made it home, unloaded the car, restocked the fridge and the pantry with your carefully selected merchandise, that, sadly, you have unknowingly abandoned your prized beverage. Perhaps you were distracted by a toddler with a sweet tooth, but nevertheless, there it lies, stranded in a shopping cart miles away instead of safely tucked in the bottom shelf of your refrigerator door. Do you…

a.) Chalk it up to a “mommy moment” and promise yourself another “sugar cookie” (or six) at your next visit

b.) Take that as a sign that you should have given up alcohol instead of blogging for Lent?

or

c.) Return to the market with your receipt (sans children), explain what happened, and reclaim your orphaned refreshment

Let’s just say, you choose option “c”. You return to the market with proof of purchase, and explain to the new-hire behind the customer service desk that you’ve come to pick up your deserted brew. She makes a phone call, no doubt to someone with more power than she, and you hear her say, “No, she looks like a mom”. Gee, is it that obvious? A few moments later, a portly gentlemen with a pocket protector and a rather large set of keys appears to confirm that you do, in fact, “look like a mom” and that your story is plausible. You are cleared to enter the over-21 aisle and off you go with your drink of choice carefully stowed away in the front seat of your minivan.

A few days later, your husband leaves town. You get ambitious and decide to clean out that overstocked storage closet that could single-handedly clothe a small village in Africa. You’re feeling pretty good about doing your part– removing the excess, giving to those less fortunate, finding your center… and so on. You open the hatch back to load your minivan with the bounty of sheer benevolence, when what is that peeking out from underneath a stack of CDs and a pair of jumper cables, but the original six-pack that you supposedly abandoned at the store on Monday’s market venture.

Do you…

a.) Determine that you somehow convinced yourself you must have dreamt that Shock Top was running a Buy 1 Get 1 special.

b.) Go back to the store with an oversized tote and pray the camera doesn’t catch you re-stocking the shelf with stolen beer

c.) Consider it manna from heaven and invite some friends over for some laughs over a few drinks

{Note: When in doubt, always choose “c”}

In other news….

I was nursing Mia on Saturday afternoon when my son decided to use my arm as a crash cymbal. I told him, “No drumming on mommy”. I think he’s clever enough to figure out that I am helplessly land-locked while I’m nursing because he did not heed the warning. I said, “Salem, go to time out”… thinking, “no two year old in their right mind is going to willingly put themselves in time out, much less the smelly trash corner.” Our time out zone is the hallway leading to the back patio where we keep the smelly trash before garbage day. I try to make the point that our smelly attitudes belong in the trash. I know. God only knows how much a therapist is going to bank out of that one day. Still, without so much as a fuss…. he went! I hear him from the back of the house saying, “Don’t hit mommy”… along with “I tooted”. Gotta love boys.

My Unfinished Projects Party was a success on Saturday. I made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, and I worked on this…

After the above-mentioned “hypothetical situation” with the re-claimed six-pack, I hardly expect you to believe that I did not collect all of these wine corks by myself. This particular wine cork board is for my church to post community announcements. I’m pretty sure we are going to be the only church in the history of churches everywhere in Charlotte that has an announcement board full of wine corks, but its like I always say, “Friends don’t let friends in ministry drink…alone.” I did not complete my project, but I did, however, learn a new word from my friend Kellie of Little Nummies blog. Have you ever heard anyone use the word “natty” ? According to Webster “natty” means, “neatly or trimly smart in dress or appearance; spruce.” Perhaps Kellie and I will start a campaign to bring back in style. Will you support our word cause?

And finally, I’ve been doing a little site-snooping. Here’s what’s been happening around the web:

More fun with long hair

Some great advice from the blogging experts…

DIY silhouette art

A “natty” new magazine

Adorable country wedding photo shoot…

Stay tuned for another highlight post next Sunday! Until then… pop a cork (and send it to me), put your feet up, and surf the above sites. I know you’ll enjoy. See you next weekend!

Ta-Ta Tacos

I flashed my waiter last night. It wasn’t because of the added twist of lime in my guacamole either. There we were a family of 4 eating out for the first time since Ameila was born. It was apparent to everyone that we don’t get out much. My toddler is tossing tortilla chips on the floor while Clark is trying to explain the difference between a tostada, an enchilada, and a chimichanga. It was a rather enlightening way to pass the time until Miguel returned with my beer and Salem’s milk. We had chosen an end booth so I could discretely nurse Mia who was curled up in the baby sling. Yes, I am a nursing mother who occasionally partakes of adult beverages. I’m not saying I do belly shots after the kids go to sleep, but the 4oz prenatal tonic served me well during pregnancy and I have two healthy and thriving children– so don’t judge me. Anyway, in the middle of Salem’s chip throwing tournament and Clark’s dissertation on the proper way to order Mexican food, I didn’t notice that my nursing shawl had….er….“malfunctioned”. There I was in all my mama glory at the exact moment Miguel came to deliver my Miller Light. In an impromptu round of charades, Clark is frantically trying to communicate to me that I am no longer “kicking it family style” if you know what I mean. He began to shout in a whisper, “Below! Below!”… to which I, being deaf in one ear, responded, “Blow what?!” It was too little too late. Our safe for the whole family affair ended up turning into a happy hour peep show for Miguel, Miller, and anyone else who happened to glance up from their tacos at the perfect moment. What’s worse is that Clark has always been a little uncomfortable with nursing in public regardless of all efforts at discretion. I had assured him that I was not one of those women who abuse the privilege… whipping out their maternal bounty in shopping malls, at ball fields, and in airport terminals. I just have to say it. To all nursing mothers everywhere… Not everyone adheres to the motto that “breast is best” in public settings. Please be considerate of the innocent passerby who glances in your feeding direction and gets more than they bargained for especially if that passerby is of the male persuasion. There I said it. I understand that from mama’s point of view, she has gone from 9 months of feeling about as sexy as Aunt Jemima to feeling like Pamela Anderson from the chest up, and it is tempting to want to share her voluptuousness with the rest of the class. But on behalf of the non-lactating community, please…. Cover those things up! Well, I guess it serves me right. I certainly took a tumble off my soap box evidenced by my Janet Jackson escapade over Mexican food. Do you think this has anything to do with why Miguel didn’t charge us for the guacamole?

I would love to hear some of your most “revealing” nursing experiences.