It’s like the Bible…. except you use it more.

A long, long time ago, around the turn of the century, my now-husband proposed. It was wonderful, we were excited about getting married, yada yada yada. Then we realized we didn’t know how to plan a wedding.

So what did I do? Since I am a giant dork, I trotted off to the bookstore. It was there that I picked up the first in a series of books that would help me in my quest to pretend to be an adult. The magic book? “Bridal Bargains” by Denise and Alan Fields. Not only did this handy book help me save money, as the title indicates, but it told me what was important when choosing venues and vendors and all sorts of fabulous things.

Fast forward a few years to when I saw two lines on the ol’ pregnancy test. I, of course, didn’t know the first thing about parenting, so what did I do? Headed to the bookstore, of course. I told you I was a dork. Imagine my glee when I discovered that the Fields had written another book, this one titled “Baby Bargains.” Their product reviews and advice on what is needed (car seat) and what is not (wipe warmer) were invaluable to me. The best part? The night I sat with “Baby Bargains” on my lap and Amazon user reviews on my computer screen for three hours crying because I could not figure out which of the 924 strollers to purchase, I finally emailed the Fields through their website, desperate for help. Sure enough, they quickly emailed me back and said “Buy this one.” Ok, that’s paraphrasing, but you get the idea. Since then I’ve emailed them more than once and they’ve always sent a very prompt and helpful response.

Then along comes Kate… born without an instruction manual tied to her arm. Good thing Denise Fields paired up with pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown to write “Baby 411.” Everything you need to know about babies in paragraphs short enough for new mothers who, if they are like I was, have the attention span of a gnat. When to call the doctor, how to swaddle your baby tighter than a burrito, getting the baby to sleep – this book has it all. Jenny and I both give “Baby 411” as a gift at every baby shower we attend. I often inscribe it with “This book is the only reason Kate lived to be a year old. Enjoy.”

An avid fan of these books (in case you couldn’t tell), I waited with bated breath for “Toddler Bargains” and “Toddler 411” to come out. They didn’t disappoint. I still refer to both of these frequently. Kate got sick once when we were on vacation, so I immediately called Jenny and had her read me what “Toddler 411” had to say about fevers. Now I don’t leave home without it.

If you don’t have the complete set, click here to buy one of each. Seriously. Do no pass go, do not collect $200. Buy them now.

I just hope that they are busy working on “School Kid 411” and “Teenager 411” as we speak.

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Playing “Peek-a-Boob” at the Poshest Spot in Town

I’m doing a lot of things differently with my second child than I did with my first. One of those things is breastfeeding in public. I have pretty much decided that I am DONE nursing a baby while balancing on a restaurant toilet seat. So I have bravely nursed Sophia in a variety of public places, being careful not to show my goods to the world. However, now that she is a tall, chubby, and very grabby seven-month-old, nursing in public has become far more complicated.

Today I had to nurse Sophia at a very public, very posh spot. A spot I probably am not even classy enough to frequent, but hey, I can dream.

This particular location was outside the Panera Bread at an upscale outdoor mall here in our area. I can’t afford to shop in most of the stores and their target demographic probably thinks I’m “quaint,” but I like it there because it’s a beautiful space and perfect for a stroll with the kids. They also have a fabulous, ginormous bookstore with a train table that Joshua loves. But I digress.

Yesterday I met a friend and her son there so the boys could play and we could catch up. We stopped at the Panera on the way out to bribe Joshua with a cookie so my friend and I could get in some more “mom talk.” I was trying to hold Sophia off, but she was tired and hungry and I had to give in and nurse her – right there on a metal patio chair at the outdoor seating at Panera, which just happens to be at the very front of this mall. I was sitting about ten feet from the edge of the parking lot, and about three feet from the road everyone drives in on when they’re circling for a space. AND I brought the WORST blanket one can use for nursing – it’s all satin on one side and therefore very slippery and hard to keep on myself even when Baby So’s not pulling at it. Add to this that she was super fussy and kicking and crying, and we have a possible peek-a-boob situation. If my friend hadn’t been there, I might’ve been in big trouble! Sophie was so upset that my friend had to help me get situated so I wouldn’t flash all the Beemers & Mercedes that were slowly cruising by in search of that one elite parking spot that would show us riff-raff who was boss. She also had to hold the blanket on for me a couple of different times when it got slippy-slidey.

The point is, it took me and a friend (a very close friend, obviously) to protect the innocent eyes of mall patrons and get my daughter fed. But, we did it! And I didn’t even have to sequester myself on the Panera potty. Yes! Score one for Mommy!

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Numero Uno

For the past couple of weeks, my three-year-old, Joshua, has been practicing making the numbers two and three with his fingers. So when you ask him how old he is, he proudly displays three fingers. This morning, we were in the bathroom and I was brushing my hair (after my shower, which I did not get until almost noon, thank you very much) with my back to Joshua. He said, “Hey Mommy, look!” I turned around to see my beautiful son giving me the bird, his middle finger raised proudly in the air. “I made a one!” he announced with glee.

What could I do? He was so proud of himself! I just grinned really big and said, “Good job buddy!” Now if he does it in public, then we’ll have to talk!

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Rewind…. 12/22/04. Ow, nose!

Date: 12/22/04
Time: 9:56 a.m.
To: Jenny
From: Emily
Subj: Ow, nose!

You are never going to believe what happened last night. I am going to try to give you the abbreviated version of the story, but bear with me.

Kate and I took my grandma over to Target last night and we got Kate some dried blueberries. On the way home, she was eating them, and I heard her say indignantly “Ow nose!” as though her nose had hurt her, so I asked her if she picked it too hard and she said yes.

So we get back to Grandma’s and I notice that her snot is bluish. She had Oreos on her face, and I thought it was just mixing in with that… but it kept happening, so sort of jokingly I said “Kate, did you stick an Oreo up your nose?” and Grandma said “I bet it was a blueberry.”

To make a long story somewhat shorter, Andy and I were getting ready to get the tweezers, but Grandma said she didn’t think that was a good idea and maybe we should call this 24/7 nurse line her insurance has. So I called (GREAT invention btw, I’m going to put Anthem’s nurse line on the fridge) and the nurse said NOT to use the tweezers, because of her eyes and brain being so close to her nose. She said to take Kate to Urgent Care because the blueberry needed to come out in 2-8 hours. I don’t know what happens after that time period expires – perhaps the blueberry would start to sprout.

We decided to go home and call Kate’s doctor to see if we should take her that night, or if we could wait until his office opened up. He said it needed to come out lest she suck it into her lungs. A blueberry in the lungs is apparently worse than a blueberry in the nose. So we were putting her in her jammies around 9:30, getting ready to go to Urgent Care, and she sneezed. I glanced down and said “Andy, there’s a blueberry on my pants!!” She had sneezed it out.

The crazy thing is that even though it was a tiny dried blueberry when she stuck it up there, all the snot and everything made it expand back to the size of a regular blueberry.

Andy and I were sooooo glad she sneezed it out! I was really not looking forward to the idea of a straight jacket.

So the moral of the story is:
A) Check to see if your insurance has a nurse line because it’s awesome, and
B) Don’t use tweezers when Joshua pulls this stunt.

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Mission: PoopPossible

Author’s Note: I originally wrote this in February 2007 after giving up potty training my son for the 4,000th time. I am happy to say he is now trained (only took 4,028 times). But I couldn’t resist sharing this part of my potty-success journey with you!

Two weeks from today, my beautiful son Joshua turns three years old. He’s smart, he knows all his letters, counts to 15, and navigates the PBS Kids website like a pro. But homeboy will NOT go poop in the potty! Or pee, either, but he used to go pee before I gave up on potty training because he wouldn’t go POOP! So now that he’s about to be three, I’ve started thinking about starting up Mission: PoopPossible again. While perusing the glorious world wide web for help with this particular endeavor, I stumbled across a website called On the front page of the site, there’s a quiz to help us clueless parents determine whether or not our little poopers are ready for potty or not. And I’d be honored if you would come along with me as I put Joshua to the potty-readiness test.

1) Does your child relate to and imitate older children?
Yes, he loves his older cousins and is very monkey-see, monkey-do. He DID try to imitate his 4 -year-old-cousin Alan the other day after Alan went potty at our house, and wanted to wear big boy pants, but that lasted approximately 2 hours before Joshua remembered that it is MUCH more convenient to pee in one’s pants.

2) Can your child safely walk to and from the toilet?
Yes, that is a dumb question. He can also run, dance, and hop safely to and from the toilet.

3) Is your child starting to understand where his or her toys and other possessions belong?
Yes, I already said he was smart! Didn’t you read that part? I’m interested in him understanding where his POOP belongs!

4) Is the number of times your child says “no” or responds negatively decreasing?He only says no when he doesn’t want to do what I tell him to do. So, if I were a cooler mom, I am sure the number of times he says no would decrease. But since I am a giant Buzzkill, I would have to respond negatively to the question about him responding negatively.

5) Is your child interested in trying to do things by him or her self?
Yes, one of his favorite phrases is “NO I WANT TO DO IT!” Unfortunately this has not yet applied to going in the potty.

6) Does your child know that some of her peers are successfully using the potty?
Yes, and he is very happy for them, cause he is a nice kid. But don’t start telling me that peer pressure is a GOOD thing or I am going to totally have to re-educate him, and I think I’m too tired for that.

7) Can your child understand what you mean by “using the potty” and “no more diapers,” and can he or she talk about this with you?Me: Hey Joshua, do you wanna wear diapers or big boy pants?
Joshua: Um, I wanna wear diapers.
Me: Why do you wanna wear diapers?
Joshua: I don’t know.
Me: Do you wanna go poop in the potty or in your diaper?
Joshua: Um, I don’t wanna go poop in the potty, cause I wanna stay here with you.

Like the way he kissed up to mommy at the end there? Told ya he’s smart!

8)Is your child’s diaper staying dry longer?
I don’t know, how often are you supposed to change them again?

9) Does your child frequently wake up with a dry diaper?
Negatory my friends. He frequently wakes up reeking of pee-pee though.

10) Is your child stopping play to squat for a bowel movement?
He only poops when playing computer. That’s right, nothing relaxes the bowels like or We refer to all of Joshua’s bowel movements as”computer poos”, cause he poops exclusively while playing games online. So, um, Yes?

Allright, score Joshua with me.

Scoring: One point for each “YES” answer

8-10 points: Your child is probably ready to begin potty training
5-7 points: Wait a month and take the quiz again
1-4 points: You have some time. Wait a few months and retake the quiz

I don’t know what you got, but I’m going to give him a 7, and wait a month and then try potty training again. Now please read with me the part at the bottom of the quiz that’s supposed to make me feel like I’m not a bad mother.

According to the Children’s Hospital Guide to Your Child’s Health and Development, 40 percent of 3 year olds still use diapers. Potty training requires calm, time, attention, and readiness, not a magic point on the calendar.

I don’t know if I’m buying it, but I DO promise to still love my kiddo no matter when he decides to take that magic jumbo dumpo in the pot. I’m putting that little disclaimer in here cause it sounds like the gold folks at might be concerned about that. However, I’m only going to give him til age 5 to start wiping himself. After that, my love becomes conditional!

Thanks for taking this journey in potty education with me. Now please excuse me, as my son’s just finished playing computer, and I have to get my HAZMAT suit on.

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Rewind…. 9/16/04

Remember when I said that Jenny and I used to be able to talk to each other like regular people? Well that idea went out the door a long time ago. But we have had some, um, entertaining conversations and emails since then, and we thought we’d post some of them from time to time. This is the first installation of our “Rewind” series.

Date: 9/16/04
Time: 8:31 a.m.

To: Jenny
From: Emily

When I got to work this morning, I realized I had Kate’s poop under my thumbnail. Just thought you should know.

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Spit, Splatter, Splatter

Spit, Splatter, Splatter

I am her. I am she. She who I did not want to be.

If I sound a little like Dr. Seuss, it’s because my three-year-old Joshua has just discovered the good Doctor and we’ve been reading him A LOT lately.

But back to me. Today was a messy one for me in the annals of Motherhood. Today I was that mom, the one I hate to be, the one who has CRAP all over her, who is just covered in messy, sloppy, dirty stuff.

I made it to noon pretty clean, but we had lunch at Wendy’s after a play date with Joshua’s friend Conner (and my friend Megan) and I made the mistake of letting Joshua drink his chocolate milk straight out of the little bottle it comes in. Sure enough, while he was doing his usual playing-instead-of-eating trick, he knocked the open bottle off of the table and on to the floor, where it splattered ALL over my right leg and foot. Since I was wearing my Lands End Trellos (think Crocs with square holes instead of round ones), my entire foot was soaked in chocolate milk! It was lovely to say the least. Four hundred napkins and a couple of baby wipes later, my foot and shoe were fairly clean but my capri pants were still pretty milky. Which reminds me, I reallllly need to put those in the washer!

The next act of splatter to occur was my own klutzy fault. I was heating up my daughter Sophia’s baby food carrots, and I dropped the jar lid on the floor, splattering carrots all over my poor right foot again. Once again the holes in my Trellos subjected my toes to said flying food product. Carrots a-squishing between my toes. Yummy!

Five minutes later as I was feeding the carrots to Sophie when she spit a mouthful back out at me, projectile-style. This time it was my face and chest that got splattered. I didn’t really mind, though, as this meant I could skip my nightly application of bronzing lotion.

As I got Sophie ready for bed, I pondered my general grossness and thought to myself, “At least I don’t have anyone else’s bodily fluids on me.” That was something to be thankful for!

Then I laid her on my lap to nurse. She smiled and sneezed all over my face. Mark “bodily fluids” off the list. I wiped my face off and cried “Sophie!!!” with much consternation. She smiled angelically at me. I unhooked my nursing bra. She sneezed all over my face again.

I guess I can also skip my nightly moisturizer application.

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Not so long ago…

Not so long ago (relatively speaking), Jenny and I could have normal conversations with each other. We could chat for an hour at a time and not be interrupted once. We could email each other 148 times a day (when we worked in the same office, I might add) about what we bought at Target the night before or what we were doing for the weekend. We were your standard working twenty-somethings.

And then it all changed.

We got knocked up.

Not at the same time, exactly (our scheme to take over the world didn’t pan out precisely as planned), but within eight weeks of each other.

Needless to say, our conversations were suddenly laden with “My boobs are leaking” and “I just threw up in the shower” and the like.

Our “babies” are three years old now. Jenny has even added another baby to the roster. And though from time to time we look back wistfully on the days when we could, you know, go to the movies, one thing is clear…

We didn’t know what we were missing.

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