Ballerina Gear

I never imagined putting my daughter in ballet classes because I was such a tomboy growing up, and planned to put her in martial arts classes instead. But Olive received ballet shoes for her birthday from a friend, and she is in a super girly, pink, princess, stage right now. She instantly fell in love with the shoes, having already read about ballet in some of her books, and I got her the whole outfit so she could play dress-up. Of course she asked for ballet lessons, and I couldn’t resist. She went to her first ballet class yesterday, and I swear there really is nothing cuter than seeing little girls in ballet outfits!


If you have a little budding ballerina in your life, here are some of the things we’ve purchased and love!


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“Purposeful” Parenting: Our Approach

A few months in to this parenting gig, I can safely say the I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. And yet, I feel pretty good about how Will is being ‘raised.’

There are a number of approaches to parenting. Some titled quite intentionally (free range parenting, for example) and some that are categorized upon reflection (helicopter parenting – the euphemism given to a parenting style of my childhood). Mr. Milk and I regularly have discussions about the type of parenting we see around us, what we were raised under, and most importantly, what we want to be. In early days, before Will arrived, this manifested in choosing a book or two to read about parenting and kid-raising. Now it mostly revolves around speaking with other parents, in person or virtually, like on our Hellobee boards, and very specific Google searches (which, let’s be real, the latter really rarely helps any parent make a sound decision).

I would deem that the approach that Mr. Milk and I – and, I would hazard a guess, so many of you all, my parenting peers of the 21st century – have chosen should be dubbed ‘purposeful parenting.’  Purposeful parenting, by my definition is this: we try to go with our gut, minimize Google search storms, rely on a few chosen books for general advice, listen to one or two trusted sources for most decisions and constantly facilitate discussions with our partners about the kind of parents we see around us and what we strive to be. To Mr. Milk and me, it’s this last part – those ongoing discussions – which is the most important aspect because it helps us come to consensus and find the middle ground if, say, our gut goes against what our chosen trusted source is recommending.

For what it’s worth, our personal identified trusted source in this approach is our pediatrician. We met all of the doctors in our pediatric practice and one doctor quickly became our favorite. It was his demeanor, his practical advice (rooted in his learning and experiences as an Osteopathic Doctor and his time as a hands on parent of two little girls, one of which was born just one month after Will), and the general vibe we had when with him. We decided in Will’s first weeks that we would start with his advice and answers to our questions as the root and beginning of our decision making, and go from there.

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Team Green and Farewell to a Name

As we did with Drake’s pregnancy, we are going Team Green again. With Drake the decision to be surprised was easy; he was our first, and Mr. Chocolate and I were both looking forward to the idea of hearing those words, “It’s a …” in the delivery room. As it happened, after an extended labor lasting well over 15+ hours resulting in 4 hours of pushing, pure exhaustion and using a vacuum to assist, we never did get our Hollywood birth announcement like we had expected. After Drake finally made his entrance into the world, he was immediately whisked away to be checked on the table by a specialist due to the vacuum birth. I looked up at Mr. Chocolate, who I think was more relieved everything was over rather than focusing on the idea of becoming a father for the first time, and said, “Well what is it? What did we have??” I guess since most parents find out the sex during pregnancy, my doctor and all the nurses assumed I already knew, so no one thought to announce it out loud to the lady who had just spent four hours dying to know who was actually being born. After I uttered my question, Mr. Chocolate quickly gained some sense, ran over to check for me, and came back with those words, “It’s a boy.”

This time the choice to be Team Green again seems easy because we already have a boy and a girl. Truthfully I would have loved to have been Team Green for all of them, but I was pregnant with Juliet just as we were moving houses. In the end the rational side of me realized that unpacking boxes of Drake’s old things, which were all already nicely packed away for the move, seemed silly and overwhelming to do on top of the million other things I was dealing with at that time. I got really excited about finding out the sex a different way than we had with Drake. I had heard some really fun stories about other parents finding out together at a scan, and was blissfully waiting for that moment with Mr. Chocolate and Drake. But it seems our family is a little jinxed when it comes to these things, as all we got was, “I think it’s a girl.”

Think?! I asked at each appointment afterwards, but “think” and “it is” really convey different feelings. Up until her birth I was still a little unsure about whether Juliet would surprise us all in being a boy, which would have been fine had her room and wardrobe not already been planned.

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Celebrating Little Rays of Sunshine

Our early intervention OT has focused on eating for the past few visits, since D’s oral control is way behind where it should be. This is no surprise, given that his mouth got to just relax for the first 8 months of his life, where in a “normal” baby he would have been using it many times a day since the beginning! So, manipulating food in his mouth is probably pretty difficult for him. On top of that, he probably very rarely feels hungry (since the vast majority of his calories are from formula through his tube) and thus he only eats if he’s enjoying the process, not due to some underlying motivation to stop feeling hungry.

I’ve been experimenting with different food textures, temperatures, and oral exercises to see what helps to “wake up” his oral muscles more. I rub his lips, stroke his cheeks, use an electric toothbrush, rub his cheeks from the inside, mimic chewing movements… I’ve come to the conclusion that while my raised awareness of his struggles is good, the goal of micromanaging them and hyper fixating on them is not helping either of us. When he likes what he’s eating, he’ll mash it a bit (I won’t go so far as to say he’s chewing things yet) and swallow it pretty effectively. If he’s not feeling it, it’ll pool in his mouth or just fall right out. He sometimes stores food in his cheeks like a chipmunk, or gets it stuck on the roof of his mouth from trying to suck on it. Seeing his peers able to handle biting and chewing complex textures (like pizza!) just makes me sad.

I read a great blog post the other day from a fellow tubie mom, although her tubie is a few years older than D. She talked about celebrating the small victories, and putting aside the more basic goal of weaning off the tube completely. There are SO many steps between where D’s at now and where he’ll need to be for us to get the G tube taken out permanently. Right now my stock answer is at least two more years – maybe by the time he’s in Kindergarten, if we’re lucky. I’m going to try more to let it all go (let it go! let it go!) and celebrate all of D’s wonderful accomplishments.

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Make a No-Sew Hedgehog Bag

Make a No-Sew HedgehogPurse

Children carrying around little bags filled with their most precious items are just the cutest. They want to be like their parents, but they get to do so with the sweetest looking purses and pouches. This little no-sew bag will hold the essentials (tiny dolls, chapstick, cars, etc.), and is designed to look like a hedgehog! As an adult, I’m not sure I could get away with carrying this as a purse, but I’m inclined to enlarge it a bit and give it a try!

Hedgehog Purse Finished

With just a bit of simple hand embroidery and the magic of fabric glue, you can put this bag together in an afternoon! My little sister chose the pink fabric for her hedgehog, but you can use other colors for the felt and fabric to better suit your child’s tastes.

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Favorite organic or gentle skin care products

I have become much more interested in gentle face products after I realized how much I snuggle and kiss Baby Pencil. He also loves grabbing my cheeks, chin and absolutely loves fish hooking my mouth. (Ouch but aww.) I realized that since he’s quite literally “up in my face” all the time, I should maybe consider some gentle products.

After the lady from Bloomingdales rolled her eyes when I asked what good baby safe products there were, I realized I would have to just research on my own. When I asked this same question to many different Sephora stores, I always got puzzled looks. There’s not a great market in this area, which was surprising to me. In the end, I simply just had to look at the ingredients.

Some of my favorite current products are:

gentle skincare for momw

1) Ahava mud soap – How much more natural can you get than putting mud on your face? Okay, it may not be just 100% pure mud, but the key ingredients are minerals from the Dead Sea that help with all skin types. Simple and safe!

2) NuSkin Soap-Free Boday Cleanser – This soap helps balance your pH levels so that your skin will be left feeling clean but not uncomfortably dry. I use it in the shower for my face and body. The ingredients include aloe vera, jojoba oil and vitamin E, which are great, safe ingredients for your skin.

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On Body Image and Motherhood

A couple of weeks after discovering I was carrying our second child, I attended a bachelorette party for one of my very best friends. We started the day at a pool at a hip Brooklyn hotel. I was in my new one piece with an ever so slight baby bump, because that’s just what happens the second time around, at least for me. I sat around with my beautiful unmarried, baby-free friends as they day drank and I recall noticing for the first time how hard everyone was on their bodies. All the little self-conscious jokes. So I shared with these ladies my empowered post-pregnancy and childbirth outlook on body image. How ridiculous it suddenly seemed to be so critical of something so powerful. I felt a real sense of not having the right to disrespect my body in that way after all it had given me, all it had been through. I remembered being in that phase of my life, fearing what motherhood would do to my breasts, my stomach, my skin and how trivial those fears felt after my son was born.

I went home that week and started a blog post. Then a few weeks into the pregnancy I noticed my pants fitting tighter. I was gaining more weight than in my first pregnancy and I caught myself constantly remarking negatively on my body. Sharing my disgust with myself to my husband, whether to fish for compliments or make sure he was aware that I was aware that I wasn’t looking too hot, I’m not sure. (Which is ridiculous because, just to be clear, my husband could not possibly do a better job of making me feel beautiful and desirable, even when I haven’t showered all week or hid my dark under eye circles in months.) I never finished that blog post; how hypocritical it would have been to boast of my new-found self confidence. It just wasn’t that simple. The new perspective was real, but forging onward with that outlook would not happen magically; it would take conscious choices each and every day. The real revelation: when it comes to body image it’s about more than a shift in perspective, it’s about re-training your brain.

I feel so strongly about this issue. I think the level to which women’s bodies are being photoshopped in magazines and advertisements is a straight up crisis. Happiness with our bodies should not be an unattainable state residing just beyond a certain work out routine or new fad diet.  Yet that internal voice is still there, picking myself apart. I recently started listening to Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar revival podcast, and the second full episode deals with this issue of the conflicting nature of our values with our culturally saturated brains and internal voices. I listened and I thought of that old post and decided to rethink it.

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