Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moves Like Jagger

Macie has always responded to music. In the womb she would kick and roll as I listened to music and danced around my house (yes, I’m a dork). When Macie was a newborn I spent HOURS each day dancing and swaying to music- the only thing that would soothe her fussy periods or lull her to sleep. When Macie started fussing all I had to do was turn on Beyonce and dance with her- that’s all it took to calm her down (most of the time).  When Macie needed to sleep we turned on Michael Buble and swayed with her until she passed out. Beyonce and Michael were our lifesavers. They helped make the scary newborn phase a little less frightening, as we didn’t have to endure many consecutive hours of inexplicable tears.  Sure, Macie’s modern day lullabies are a bit questionable lyrically, but when you are dealing with a crying newborn you don’t question positive results.  
Macie’s love for music and rhythm has continued throughout her life to date, but she does not react equally to all musical genres. She has little to no reaction to country music or anything slow paced (such as my current favorite- Adele). Macie occasionally bounces and bangs her head to rock music (especially Aerosmith), but she reacts the most enthusiastically to pop/dance music. Anything that hits you over the head with a beat and makes you feel like you are in a nightclub for 21 year olds gets the best response from Macie.  While I enjoy my fair share of pop/dance music (especially when I am in the right mood), I typically prefer country or alternative music. Despite my preferences, I always keep pop music in the car for Macie. As a parent your preferences no longer matter- you do what makes your child happy. When Macie starts crying in the car I turn on dance music and she usually calms down, which makes car rides so much less stressful.

Family members have also noted Macie’s love for music. When Macie was still a newborn my mother-in-law came to the house and watched Macie for a few hours. Inevitably, Macie started to fuss inexplicably and, as suggested, Ann rushed to the computer to turn on music. At this point Macie had gotten used to hearing Beyonce as the soundtrack to soothing, so as soon as she heard the familiar music she stopped crying. My mother-in-law was amazed at Macie’s immediate reaction to the music. When Macie was considerably older (around 9 months) my mother kept Macie overnight and also noted her reaction to music with a beat. Macie was in her highchair in the kitchen with her back turned to the TV. When Ray Charles’ came on she immediately turned around to find the musical source. Clearly this baby likes music with rhythm- she is so much cooler than me!

Again, being the dorky person I am, Macie has often observed me bopping around and singing along to music. As Macie has gotten older she, too, bounces her little round body when she hears a pop beat. Lately she doesn’t even need encouragement to dance- she hears the music and immediately starts to move. After she shakes it a few times she looks to me for reassurance or confirmation that I am observing her dancing (with a big grin on her face), which is ADORABLE.

Macie physically and verbally shares her enjoyment of music by dancing and singing along. As Macie’s physical coordination has developed, her dancing skills have greatly improved. Macie dances by bending her knees and bouncing, often holding onto furniture so she can really get deep in the knee bend. Lately she has also started swaying or pumping her arms in the air. If Macie is really into a song she occasionally tries to “sing along” in a loud, monotone voice- her mouth wide open and her eyebrows raised high. 


Macie’s Current Favorite Song: “Moves Like Jagger” 
by Maroon 5


 Checklist of MUST Have Music 
(based on my experience)

1. Beyonce (“Get Me Bodied” is her favorite)
2. Michael Buble
3. Kesha
4. Lady Gaga
5. Maroon Five
6. “Toxic” by Britney Spears
7. Fergie

**Anything else with a bouncy, poppy beat will suffice.

Not your typically nursery rhymes and lullabies, I know, but you can’t argue with results.  J

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hurricane Macie

 The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Hurricane” as the following:
1: a tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes.
2: something resembling a hurricane especially in its turmoil.

When Macie is in destruction mode (which is pretty much her constant state) she resembles a hurricane. She can turn a spotless room into a disorganized, chaotic mess. She leaves heaping piles of wreckage in the wake of her whirlwind of devastation without concern for the damage and disorder she has caused. In the process she leaves piles of drool behind her, a side effect of her open mouthed giggles- a clear sign of her glee. Once Macie has completely devastated a space she surveys her work with satisfaction and eagerly toddles towards the next room.

As you can see, Macie’s favorite activity is to destroy. Macie likes everything to be out on the floor where she can see it and take inventory. When Macie sees a stack of blocks she immediately knocks it over and takes it apart, like a mini-godzilla knocking over high rises in a city.  She is going to be one of those adults with a desk covered in paperwork in disorganized stacks so that she can “find” things easily. If she sees a clean, picked up room she immediately gets to work “correcting” the situation.


Hurricane Macie in Action

Macie’s Bedroom

Macie literally pulls EVERYTHING onto the floor- shoes, bibs, books, bows, toys, stuffed animals, diapers, everything on the changing station, clothes, etc. She usually begins her destruction with the bookshelf. Once all the books within her reach have made it safely to the floor she moves onto her toy chest. When all of her toys and stuffed animals are on the floor she moves onto the drawers and pulls out bibs, shoes, socks, and bows. Finally, she moves onto her changing table and begins to pull out diapers, wipes, and miscellaneous baby items. At this point it is difficult to walk around Macie’s room without stepping on her possessions. When I try to clean up her room I have to put her in the crib because the minute Macie sees me trying to clean her mess she immediately starts undoing my progress.

The Bathroom

Out of all the rooms in the house, Macie spends the least amount of time in the bathroom. Typically the room is closed to her except during bath time and tooth brushing time. Occasionally she finds her way into the bathroom a step ahead of me and she takes the brief moment she has to pull all the toilet paper off the roll, eat a bit of toilet paper, and dig in the wastebasket. As I pull her out of the bathroom (usually kicking and screaming) she often has toilet paper wrapped in her hand- a souvenir of her exploration.

My Bedroom

Like the bathroom, Macie spends minimal time in the Master Bedroom. The room is not well child proofed and lacks play space and toys. The little time that we spend in my bedroom Macie spends pulling clothes out of laundry baskets and removing my shoes from the closet one by one. I don’t know why or how, but Macie is definitely a shoe baby- she is fascinated by heels, flats, and running shoes alike. Macie carefully inspects each shoe, tastes a portion of it, and then moves to the next.

The Kitchen

Macie's Evil Laugh
A baby gate separates my kitchen and living room with the purpose of keeping Macie out of the kitchen. Obviously, the kitchen is full of hazardous and dangerous items- chemical cleaners, knives, heavy dishes and appliances, etc. Therefore, Macie has limited access to this space. I guess it’s true that we want what we can’t have. Any time the baby gate is open Macie toddles into the kitchen as fast as she can and makes a beeline for the food cupboard. With pleasure written all over her face, Macie opens the cabinets, takes a second to analyze the situation, then carefully pulls the food items out one by one.

The Living Room

Macie spends most of her daily playtime in the living room. This is the most childproofed space in the house and is furnished with comfortable couches. The space is open and light, with baby height windows for Macie to stand and observe the world. Best of all, I control the quantity and type of toys, books, and stuffed animals that Macie plays with in this room. I weekly rotate a selection of toys from her bedroom to the living room to change things up and give Macie variety. Because there are fewer items in this room for Macie to destroy she quickly moves on to the “grown-up” items in the room- remotes, DVDS, cell phones, etc. It’s pretty funny to watch Macie play with Josh’s Blackberry and pretend to send a text message and talk on the phone (usually in a loud, rambling tone).


As you can see, Macie moves from room to room wreaking havoc and leaving destruction in her path on a daily basis. Although she revels in these activities (they are the highlight of her day), it adds at least an extra half an hour of cleaning to my workload. Sometimes I wonder why I even try to clean up- Macie will just reverse all of my work the next day. Then I recall Macie’s quirky smiles and erratic laughs as she goes about her acts of devastation, like a mad scientist shrieking with delight, and it makes the picking up process a little less tedious (remember, I’m not really the domestic type- housekeeping is not my thing).  

 Before Hurricane Macie


After Hurricane Macie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mommy's Little Helper (Hindrance?) Part II

Hardly Working

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to work part time. I work in the office two days a week and a few hours from home the remainder of the week. Basically, I get both the benefit of being a stay at home mommy and the uninterrupted professional time that I need to stay sane. It’s the best of both worlds.

Although I do most of my work at home while Macie is napping, I usually do between thirty minutes to an hour of work while she is playing. Macie, being such a curious baby, is very interested in all things work related. As soon as I get my laptop, paperwork, and pens out she drops her toys and toddles over to get in on the action. Macie giggles and grins as she bangs on the laptop keys and tears up any piece of paper she can get her hands on. The end result is that I sometimes spend half my time pushing Macie’s fingers away from the keyboard and trying my best to keep documents out of her reach. Some people are notorious for spilling coffee and/or food on work they do from home. I’m known for bringing work from home that is crumbled, has milk on it, or a corner eaten off. Is the “baby ate my homework” excuse as lame as the “dog ate my homework” excuse?

In addition to helping me advise students, Macie also thinks I need assistance with my homework. Macie adores books of all shapes and sizes so anytime I bring out a textbook she sits in my lap and listens to me read aloud. The problem with this is that she gets bored after I read two sentences and turns the page. As you can imagine, I don’t retain a whole lot from these read-aloud sessions.

Cooking and Cuddles

To be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time slaving away at the stove. No one would accuse me of being Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, or Rachel Ray- cooking is not really my shtick. I don’t relish time spent in the kitchen, carefully plan out detailed/laborious meals, or take much pride in what I produce on a day-to-day basis. I am fortunate to have a husband that does at least half of the cooking (if not more), and when I do cook it is just to avoid having to eat out.

Macie, on the other hand, is very interested in the cooking process. She wants me to hold her when I am stirring, mixing, scooping, etc. so that she can see exactly what I am doing. Her big blue eyes carefully take in the process and her mouth is set in a determined line (usually she bites her lower lip), as if she preparing for an exam on each step later that evening. Unfortunately for Macie, I can’t always pick her up while I am cooking- some tasks require both hands. Unfortunately for me, Macie doesn’t usually take this denial of involvement well. This often results in at least a stage one or two meltdown- she even bit my inner thigh once in retaliation. Although cooking one handed can be a little difficult, cuddling with Macie and watching her learn how things work makes the chore slightly less disagreeable.

Cleaning and Clinging

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m not exactly a “Suzie Homemaker” type. I’m not your stereotypical 1950s style stay at home mom, Stepford Wife, that takes care of the children, cleans the house, and cooks gourmet meals all while looking effortlessly glamorous.  On the contrary, I can do only one of those things well at one time and I always choose Macie over cleaning, cooking, or primping. I view domestic work as unfortunate tasks that cut into my “me” time (what little of it there is these days between Macie, work, and homework).

When I do clean the house it is often with the assistance of my “little helper”. Macie always wants to be doing what I am doing. If I play with her toys, she plays with her toys; if I do homework, she does homework; if I cook, she cooks. Cleaning is no different. When Macie notices me picking up, folding laundry, sorting mail, doing dishes, dusting, and cleaning the floors she wants me to hold her so she can “help”.  I make it a game by letting Macie hold things we are putting away, and encouraging her to clean up her toys. I am looking forward to the day when she can really help me domestically instead of just creating messes to be cleaned.

Makeup with Macie

Since Macie started crawling and cruising she has been constantly on the move, but now that she is walking I can’t keep her still for a moment. She loves walking from room to room, leaving destruction in her wake, and objects to being confined in any way. When I shower each day I have no choice but to put her in the crib….and I have to hear her protests, yells, and bored ramblings as I make myself presentable to the world. In order to limit her “suffering” I usually take speedy showers and let her “help” me with my makeup (the little that I wear on a daily basis). Macie eagerly grabs my makeup brushes and moves them along my face then leans back and inspects her finished product with a satisfied/proud grin. She wields my makeup brushes with about as much coordination as she does coloring with markers. The results are similar- lots of sporadic and random lines and streaks.

Bootcamp for Babies

I’m sure you have noticed a theme by now. Anything I can do Macie can do better J. Clearly this baby always wants to do what I am doing- at all times. Working out is no exception...which, again, makes the process more difficult but more entertaining. I have been working out with a personal trainer at my local gym for almost a year now and Macie has become a regular at the in-house daycare. My bubbly, cheerful baby gets a huge pout on her face as we near the gym’s daycare and she clings for dear life when I try to leave to work out. When I finally break away from her grasp she often wails as if I have abandoned her. Usually my trainer, Sam Patryn (AWESOME, by the way), peeks in on Macie to say hello, which usually results in more tears from Macie. I think she blames Sam for taking her mommy away.

Macie finally got her chance to work out with me when we went to one of Sam’s Saturday morning bootcamps, which are usually outdoors. I did not have a babysitter but I figured Macie would play in her pack n’ play with some books and toys. Wrong. The five minutes Macie spent in the pack n’ play were spent sobbing and reaching for me. I felt bad for Macie, as well as the other boot campers having to hear her cries, so I ended up doing the workout holding Macie. At this point Macie weighed a good 19 pounds, so she slowed me down considerably, but I was doing lunges and squats up and down the basketball court with the rest of the girls. Macie was having a blast giggling and kicking her legs in excitement. Now anytime I work out at home and Macie is around (which occasionally happens due to time constraints) she yells “UP” and wants to be held while I sweat along to Jillian Michaels style torture. While I don’t prefer to work out holding a 20-pound baby, it’s better than not getting any exercise in at all. Sometimes you do what you have to do- and Macie really enjoys the movement. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mommy's Little Helper (Hindrance?) Part I

Macie is a jack-of-all-trades. In her mind, she can write a paper, mop the floor, bake a cake, wield a blush brush, and do a lunge like a pro. She’s at that age where she wants to do everything you do.  When Macie demands to join me in daily tasks I know that she is either fascinated by what I am doing or annoyed that I am giving my attention to something other than her majesty, but it seems that she thinks I need her help with everything. Obviously I am not doing things to her satisfaction.

Macie often demands to be held when I am cooking, cleaning, working (homework and work-work), applying makeup, and working out. If you don’t give into her demands she stands at your knees and yells “UUUPPP” in baby talk until you comply. She also wants to eat and drink everything that you put in your mouth. If you don’t give her a bit of your food and drink she makes throaty/nasally noises similar to the sound a cat makes while watching a bird out the window.

The problem is that you can’t do anything well while Macie is “helping” you- she is really more of a hindrance. It takes longer to complete any task Macie is involved in and the job is never done as well as I would like. If you don’t let Macie “help” she will throw such a fit that you won’t be able to finish the task anyway. On a positive note, it is entertaining to watch her grin and giggle as she acts like a big girl and simultaneously wrecks your progress (imagine a one year old applying eye shadow to your entire face). I can’t wait until Macie is old enough to do chores on her own- then I will happily encourage her big girl helper moments.


Food Sharing

Macie likes to eat. Preferably what you are eating exactly when you are eating it. She will spit out what is in her mouth just to make room for a bite of what you have in your hand. Macie expects you to give her a bite of your food and throws a huge fit until she gets a mouthful. And don’t think that you can just get away with one nibble- she verbally reminds you that she wants more while chewing so you don’t forget to keep it coming. Lately I have had to trick her into eating broccoli and other healthy food by pretending I can’t get enough of it. This is a win-win because we both eat healthy and I end up loosing weight.

Macie, being the helpful baby that she is, wants to make sure that I am eating enough as well. So she feeds me food that has been sitting in her watery high chair tray (she ends up with as much water on the tray as in her mouth). Her amusement is evident as she throws her head back and laughs hysterically after successfully placing a soggy piece of food in my mouth.

While the food sharing is a common practice in our household, we do very little liquid sharing for a number of reasons. First, Macie drinks mostly formula- which smells like a bad case of athletes foot (or my dog Sophia). Second, I drink mostly caffeinated drinks (coffee and diet soda) that would have her zipping around the house like a hummingbird on Red Bull. Third, and most importantly, I cannot give her the alcoholic beverages that I occasionally consume. I don’t think the Division of Family Services would like it if I had a tipsy toddler streaking through the neighborhood mooning people (I automatically associate a drunk baby with Will Farrell’s streaking scene in Old School).

What Macie looks like when she sees food:

What Macie looks like when she doesn't get food fast enough:

What Macie looks like when she is offering you food:


Come back next week for Mommy’s Little Helper (Hindrance?) Part II
Subtopics Include: Hardly Working, Cooking and Cuddles, Cleaning and Clinging, Makeup with Macie, and Bootcamp for Babies

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