Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go!

HoCo Parents Tell You FB

Navigating a new area is never easy, but navigating a new area with a small child can be downright exhausting. You have to figure out where to go for their 852 doctors appointments, dental exams, and hair cuts. Of course, you will need all these same services for yourself, but lets face it, as parents we tend to put ourselves last. Sometimes we spend so much energy trying to find “the perfect” doctor for our child that we forget to find one for ourselves, until it can’t wait. This blog post will be the first of a three part series full of parent recommendations for where to go to meet the needs of your child in Howard County, Maryland (HoCo).

After moving to HoCo, I spent months sorting through recommendations from parents I met as well as recommendations posted by parents on Howard County Mom Hub, Columbia MD Moms Group, and Howard County Moms Talk About It and comparing these to Best of Howard 2014 and Best of Howard County 2015. I tend to be pretty thorough and follow the “measure twice, cut once” rule in all areas of life. So if you are nothing like me, then please enjoy my slightly neurotic insights that will hopefully save you valuable time and energy. If you are like me, then you will probably continue on to do your own research anyway, and in that case, I hope I at least gave you some leads that will send you down a good path.

Please know that there are many other resources here in HoCo, some of which are just waiting to be discovered as the next best thing. If you do not see your favorite on here, it does not mean that it is not completely awesome – I just haven’t heard people raving about it… yet.

A Pediatrician: I saw this request made time and again and it was certainly my first concern when we moved to the area.

  • 30+ moms recommended Klebanow & Associates in Columbia, MD, stating they have weekend hours, an on call doctor 24/7 and 364 days of the year, and you are able to speak with your doctor on the phone when concerns arise. Parents described the doctors as kind and reported them to have good report with the children.
    • Voted Best of Howard County 2015 and 2014 
  • Twelve moms recommended Howard County Pediatrics. One mom described Dr. Lee as very personable. Others recommended Dr. Peggy Martin, Dr. McKay, or Dr. Mailander.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015
  • Twelve moms recommended Dr. Zaneb Beams, a family doctor, in Columbia, MD. One mom explained that Dr. Beams comes from a family of physicians; her mother is a pediatrician. [She is] very knowledgeable and extraordinarily accessible. One of the comments was from a mom who said they switched from one of the larger practices and it was the best decision they could have made -she described Dr. Beams as “wonderful and caring.” Another mom expressed satisfaction with the nurse stating she has a “gentle touch” when giving vaccines. It was also pointed out that Dr. Tessie Aikara in this office sees adults as well. I did come across one negative response from a mom who said she did not agree with Dr. Beams’ “political agenda” and got a bad vibe there.
  • Eight moms recommended Columbia Medical Practice Pediatrics (four Dr. Kari in particular). One mom commented that the doctors are good and the wait time is never long.
  • Eight parents recommended The Pediatric Center in Columbia, MD. Two expressed preference for Dr. Saini.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • Five parents suggested Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, Dr. Michael Lasser or Dr. Naseem Dawood.
  • Three moms recommended Catonsville Pediatrics in Catonsville, MD.
  • Four moms recommended Dr. Aruna V. Khurana in Columbia, MD. One mom explained that Dr. Khurana is the only doctor and does not have nurses so she gets to know the children very well.
  • Four moms recommended Dr. Paul Ambush who has a private practice in Ellicott City, MD. One mom described him as gentle and good with the kids.
  • Three parents recommended Dr. Duniya Rebecca Lancaster at Lancaster Pediatrics in Ellicott City, MD.
  • One parent suggested Dr. Jennifer Landsman at Ellicott City Pediatric Associates.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014
  • 25+ parents recommend Kindermender as an urgent care when your child’s PCP is unavailable!
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015 and 2014

A Pediatric Dentist: the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the first visit occur around age one, but some parents choose to wait as late as age three.

  • Twenty+ parents recommend Shiny Chompers in Ellicott City, MD. One mom reported that her three sons don’t mind going to the dentist as they have televisions at the seats, iPads on the wall for kids who are waiting, and they get a little prize after their appointment.
  • Six parents recommended Kids Super Smile in Columbia, MD. There was one negative response by a parent who expressed dissatisfaction with the dentist their child saw at this practice.
  • Three parents recommended the Pediatric Dentistry of Columbia.
  • Three parents recommended Smiles4Children in Ellicott City, MD.

An Orthodontist:

  • Two parents recommended Dr. Choti Jahnigen, D.D.S. of Smiles4Children in Ellicott City, MD, for orthodontic needs.
  • Two parents suggested Dr. David Bonebreak of Flagship Orthodontics in Hanover, MD.
  • One mom recommended Dr. Sandra Selnick at OX Smiles located in Ellicott City and Clarksville, MD.
    • Best of Howard County honorable mention 2015

A Child’s Hair Cut: there really was no clear cut answer here, but some great ideas none the less.

  • Many parents recommended Floydds 99 located in Columbia and Ellicott City, MD.
  • Other parents recommended Sport Clips for boys in Columbia, MD or Elkridge, MD.
  • Four parents recommended the Hair Cuttery in Maple Lawn, Columbia, MD, and one recommended the one in the Chatham Mall in Ellicott City, MD.
  • Two parents suggested Mr. Diggs or Rob at Robs Barber Shop in Ellicott City, MD.
  • Okay so Cartoon Cuts is last because numerous parents recommended Cartoon Cuts in the mall (one specifically mentioned Amanda) while others expressed dissatisfaction with Cartoon Cuts and were specifically searching for something different.

A Pediatric Eye Doctor:

  • Seven parents recommended Dr Dankner and Fiergang practicing out of Pediatric Eye Care of Maryland in Clarksville, MD.
  • Two parents recommended Dr. Patrick Tong in Columbia, MD.
  • Two parents suggested Dr. Dean Glaros in Columbia, MD.
  • One parent recommended the Wilmer Clinic in Columbia, MD.
    • Voted best of Howard County 2015 and 2014

Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (ENT):

A Speech Pathologist: Howard County offers a free infants and toddlers home visiting program for children under the age of three who are in need of services. Once a child turns three, s/he can qualify to receive services through the local school.

  • One parent recommended Margaret Hargrove of A Sound Beginning for private speech services.

To Have Blood Drawn: I will never forget watching my son have his first blood draw at just a day old. He was so tiny and helpless. I honestly feel like it hurts me more than it hurts him. That is why it is so important to choose a facility you can trust when your child needs blood drawn.

  • Seven moms reported having good experiences with LabCorp. Three moms swear by the LabCorp on Knolls Road and described the staff as patient and kind. Two recommended LabCorp on Teague Road specifically. One mom recommended the one in the Dorsey Medical building (9501 Old Annapolis Rd).
  • Three moms highly recommended Howard County General Hospital.
  • Four moms recommended Quest and one mom discouraged Quest. One mom specifically suggested using the Quest on Chevrolet Drive in Ellicott City, MD.

An Allergist: I’m hoping my son will not need this, but the way my husband and I keep Claritin D in business, I have a feeling he will!

  • Eight parents recommended Allergy and Asthma Center of Central Maryland located in Columbia, MD. Three expressed satisfaction with Dr. Monika Korff. Two parents suggested Dr. Neumann. Two parents expressed a good experience with Dr. Goldman. Another recommended Dr. Zheutlin.
  • One parent recommended Dr Akan of Entaa Care in Columbia, MD.

Now that we’ve got the kids covered, part two of Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go will provide information related to caring for yourself (referrals for an OBGYN, an adult primary care doctor, an adult or family dentist, a family photographer, and real estate agents).

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to bookmark the page for later reference and also follow my blog and/or like MommyLoCo on Facebook so you will be the first to know when future articles are published!

Howard County Parents Tell You Where To Go (part 2) ->


From Child Protection Worker to Mommy: Learning How to Let Go

I always said that working in child protection was like living the news. I somehow managed to maintain a sincere love for my job despite the looming mound of paperwork, unrelenting demands, constant feelings of inadequacy, and the roller coaster of fear, apprehension, and anxiety that I rode on a daily basis.

Anytime I told someone what I did for work I received the same response without fail, “wow, that must be really tough [hard, difficult].” How do you explain loving a job that has all the characteristics of a truly undesirable job (low pay, high stress, long hours)? I sought a job in child protection simply because I wanted to help kids, but that’s not the reason I loved it. Sure, I developed relationships with some pretty great kids that I will never forget, but it was my ability to relate to the parents that led to my unexpected love for child protection. The parents I developed relationships with weren’t uncaring people intending to harm their children. Just the opposite. They were people who loved their children and were doing the best they could with what they knew. They were people with amazing stories of childhood struggles, lives of hardship, and attempts to overcome parenting challenges. Some of them succeeded in overcoming those challenges. Some did not.

There were times when I found myself saying, “this situation could happen to me” or “this could happen to anyone.” The statistics became so ingrained in my mind that they haunted my dreams. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the age of eighteen, usually by a family member or someone the family knows and trusts. I saw parents struggle with feelings of frustration and anger that led to events that would impact their children forever. I saw relationships falter under the stress of having children and crumble, leaving the children lost in the debris of a broken home, a struggling mother, and custody disputes.

I left child protection to be home with my son after five years of service. Though I am removed from the day to day of child protection, I struggle to let go of the fear, to forget the statistics, and believe that my son will be okay despite the dangers that exist in this world. I recently read an article entitled, Our Children Are Safer Than They Have Ever Been, and it really struck a cord with me. I have been trained to anticipate the danger and to evaluate the worst case scenarios. It is so deeply ingrained in me that it feels natural to worry about the dangers that don’t exist in my son’s life rather than focus on the safety that surrounds him.

The mere fact that I know what could happen means that I will spend my energy ensuring it doesn’t. I am my son’s protective factor. I believe it’s the knowledge we have and the individual steps we take to protect our children that has impacted our communities and created safer environments for our children to play and grow. We know the dangers. We know ways to build their protection. We know how to teach them to keep themselves safe. Now, we just need to learn how to let them go. We need to learn to trust them and trust that the lessons we are teaching them will keep them safe. We need to let go of the statics, of the fear, and learn to trust humanity again.


Photo credit: Journey Photography

Postpartum Depression; A Question And An Answer

I recently had the opportunity to meet Caroline Kwash. Caroline is a beautiful, bubbly, and outgoing stay at home mom to a little girl named Marley. Upon meeting Caroline, you would never guess that she was struggling with postpartum depression. Caroline admits that she, herself, did not think postpartum depression was something that she had or needed to worry about. Sure, she was asked about general feelings of sadness at the doctor’s office, but she brushed these questions off, giving it little thought. It wasn’t until her daughter was nearly five months old that she realized something was wrong.


Caroline with Marley

Caroline noticed that she was doing everything to care for her daughter and was no longer caring for herself. She watched as her friends went out and continued to live their lives as they wished while she was home caring for her daughter. Her daughter was screaming to be fed, but Caroline wanted nothing more than to have her body to herself, to have her time for herself, and to have her old life back. Caroline felt alone. She felt as though she had no one she could talk to about this. She sought help.


Caroline with Marley

I believe many new moms struggle to see the signs of postpartum depression (PPD) and instead brush the feelings off as the “baby blues.” The “baby blues” affect up to 80% of mothers and differs from PPD in that they only last one to two weeks with symptoms that can be described as somewhat mild. PPD, on the other hand, occurs in about 15% of births and includes symptoms such as worrying or feeling overly anxious, feeling sad or overwhelmed, crying more than usual or for no apparent reason, feeling moody or irritable, feeling anger or rage, having trouble bonding with the baby, etc. PPD lingers and usually requires diagnosis and treatment by a professional (NIMH).

As Caroline spoke, I felt a sense of relief as I could relate to many of the things she was saying. I have also struggled with the stress and frustration of feeling like my body is not my own. The feeling of just not wanting to breast feed for one day of my life. Unlike Caroline, I also struggled with feelings of anger boiling inside me like a pot on a stove, threatening to boil over. The anger I felt would come on so suddenly and so intense that it horrified me and I found myself scared that I would do something regrettable. As a child protection worker, I could never understand how someone could physically harm a child, and now thoughts of seriously harming this baby who I loved more than anything were flooding my mind. I remember asking my husband one time, “do you ever want to throw him out the closed window or just… throw him?” My husband stared blankly and responded, “no.” We decided that it was just the hormones causing me to feel these things and was probably normal. This was not normal.

with Baby Co

with Baby Co

Other than a conversation with my husband, I worked through my feelings in silence. I assumed other mothers didn’t warn me of these feelings, not because they weren’t normal, but rather, because it was socially unacceptable or would appear ungrateful to express negative feelings related to my child. How much easier things would have been if I could have talked about it.


with Baby Co

Caroline is in the process of developing the answer to this struggle for moms throughout Maryland, with the dream of expanding nationally in the future. Happy Mama is a website and app where moms can seek information and support for PPD, can make childcare arrangements with local moms for a few hours at a time, and can schedule playdates and events with local moms. Essentially, Happy Mama is an online mom tribe waiting to happen. Caroline is in the fundraising stage of her venture, but after just 11 days, received enough donations to start a basic website. I, for one, can’t wait to see this website unfold as I believe it would be a truly valuable resource for moms throughout Maryland who are silently struggling to feel the joys of motherhood and receive support like only a mom tribe can offer.



* The views expressed in this article are simply my own. They are not intended to diagnose or promote self-diagnosis. Please seek professional support if you feel like you may be struggling with Postpartum Depression. For more information and/or support, visit Postpartum Support International and information on HelpGuide.

My Baby’s Pillowtalk

Each night we tuck our son into bed and hand him Bunny; a lovey from my own infancy. He always holds bunny closely as he waits for us to exit the room and then begins a conversation that I have to imagine goes something like this:


  • Baby Co: Geesh, if I have to smile through one more round of Old McDonald I’ll poop myself!
  • Bunny: [stares blankly]
  • Baby Co: Speaking of that, I learned a new trick I have to tell you about. You know how Mommy is always sniffing my tush to see if I’ve made poop? Well, I wait for her to flip me over to check and then I let out some gas! Gets her every time!
  • Bunny: [flops over in apparent amusement]
  • Baby Co: Mommy is learning though. Just today I taught her and Daddy how to cheer on my command. I make clapping gestures with my hands and every time they get all excited and start cheering and clapping. They’re so funny.
  • Bunny: [stares knowingly]
  • Baby Co: I’m sorry you couldn’t come to lunch. I want you to know that I smeared banana on my pants in protest.
  • Bunny: [stares appreciatively]
  • Baby Co: I know you’re afraid of getting lost, but you really should come to the mall with us next time. Mommy and I play this great game where I take my sock off and throw it out of the stroller. Then get this, Mommy has to find the sock and put it back on me, it’s a hoot! Mommy loves this game.
  • Bunny: (silent)
  • Baby Co: [lifts and slams Bunny down several times onto the bed] Don’t fall asleep on me Bunny, I haven’t even told you the best part.
  • Bunny: [stares with interest]
  • Baby Co: I got that naughty cat back for laying on you the other day! I pretended like I was going to be gentle and then when Mommy wasn’t looking, I pulled his hair out and ate it!
  • Bunny: [look of sleepy admiration]
  • Baby Co: I don’t know why you’re so tired bunny; you sat in bed all day! I’m not at all sleepy. I could read Curious George all over again. I could sing twinkle twinkle. Watch how many sheep I can count… 1… 2…


Finding My Parent Tribe in Howard County, Maryland

Becoming a stay at home mom was the first time I didn’t have friends forced on me. In high school and college, I saw the same people every day in my classes, so just figured why not make friends? I did not want to be that one awkward person in the cafeteria who’s hovering over a half-eaten sandwich and reading a textbook with bated breath. After grad school I got a “big girl job” and spent the entire day perched at my desk where I was literally surrounded by wonderful people who were eager to offer support and advice. As annoying as that was, I decided it wouldn’t kill me to make a few friends. Surprisingly, the popularity of a child protection worker ranks right up there with telemarketer and tax collector. The stress of the job forced workers to band together for sanity, validation, and support. I looked forward to the day when I would become a mother and be able to relax at home all day (seriously, that’s what I thought I’d be doing).


So we had little Co and all my dreams came true. For the first few months I ‘relaxed’ at home mopping up the mess that kept spewing from this angelic being, stuffing my face, and binge watching the Bachelorette (did Kaitlyn seriously just have sex with Nick!?!?). 74 days later, we left our comfortable friendships and supportive family to pursue a life in Howard County, Maryland (AKA HoCo). Somewhere around this time, relaxing at home with my BFF/ baby Co stopped being so relaxing and started to feel a little isolating. Thats when I came across this amusing article, 10 Rules for Membership in My Mom Tribe on Scary Mommy and it all clicked. I needed to have more fulfilling conversations. Ones that didn’t involve repeating the same syllables half a dozen times and making farting noises with my mouth. For the first time in my life, it was completely up to me to form a tribe with other members of the parent culture.


Photo Cred: Indie Nook

This seemed like a slightly daunting task given the roughly 287,085 people within HoCo’s 253 square miles compared to Strafford County, NH, (our previous home) which has roughly 123,143 people within its 384 square miles (according to Wiki). After six months of intense research observing the HoCo parents in their natural habitat, I have discovered great resources for following their migratory patterns and prime opportunities to stage meetings. I can’t say baby Co and I have a fully formed tribe after just six months, but we are meeting a lot of people who can relate to ‘our situation’ and we are having a lot of fun along the way. In case you were wondering… these are not groups or places that have given me money, or gifts, or cookies to promote them (but how awesome would that be!?) and I’m sure they have no clue that I am doing so.

  • Meetup is a very popular way to join local parents at various events. Howard County Parents Of Little Ones (HoCo POLO), is free for parents due to local sponsors who cover the annual costs of hosting the site for the opportunity to offer the parents information on programming for their children. There is also a private Facebook page for this group, Howard County Parents of Little Ones. Another local group, Columbia Moms, involves a $12/ year fee and offers regular opportunities for local walks and small group socialization.
  • Columbia Families In Nature (CFIN) has a website and a Facebook page where they offer weekly outings that emphasize play and education in and about nature. What I really like about this group is that they have a smaller group of “seedling” events specifically designed for babies through age two.
  • Facebook is generally a great way to learn about events and resources in the area. Some of the Facebook pages I have found useful are the Columbia Moms Group, Macaroni Kid, Howard County Moms, Howard County Moms Talk About It, Howard County Mom Hub, 365 Things To Do In Howard County MD, Local Kids Day OutHoward County Recreation and ParksHoward County Toddler Playgroups.
  • There are several options in Columbia, MD for paid structured classes with the littles.  Gymboree has various class options including play and learn, music, art, sports, family fun, and school skills as well as opportunity for free play with equipment that is safe for infants and young toddlers.  Similarly, My Gym offers weekly classes that incorporate music, dance, games, and free play to support overall development in a setting that provides equipment geared toward slightly older toddlers and preschoolers.  Kindermusik is a weekly music class that includes song, dance, imaginative adventures, playing instruments, and reading stories that is well suited for young babies and toddlers.  Music Together is a more formal parent-child music class offered through the Olenka School of Music where sheet music is provided and the focus is on developing a basic understanding of music (notes, melodies, rhythms).  Musik Garten is a more casual music class for infants and preschoolers that focuses more on having fun with music (such as though singing silly songs).  The Yoga Center of Columbia offers drop in classes or full session options for every stage, age and ability.  The Happy Yogi offers both prenatal and mommy and me yoga classes in a smaller class setting.  My Spanish Academy, in historic Ellicott City, has classes for 0-2 (Hola Bebe) all the way though 15+ (Adultos). MANY OF THESE PROGRAMS OFFER A FREE TRIAL CLASS!
  • There are also a few groups/programs I am aware of that offer parent/ family support. Healthy Families is a program that offers support to first-time parents from prenatal through the first three months. Parents as Teachers offers in-home support to educate and support parents in their roles as their child’s first teacher. La Leche League has a chapter that offers breast feeding support group meetings in Columbia.
  • The Columbia Association offers (for a cost) a full list activities in addition to 3 fitness gyms with childcare: Columbia Athletic Club, Columbia Gym and Supreme Sports Club with 4 indoor swimming pools and 23 outdoor swimming pools including two Mini WaterParks • Columbia Art Center • Columbia DogPark • Columbia Ice Rink • Columbia SportsPark and SkatePark • Fairway Hills Golf Club • Haven on the Lake • Youth/Teen Center at The Barn. It’s worth noting that these activities are mostly geared toward older children, preschool and up, and membership requires a contract that you can not get out of even if your child is not responding well to the program. Other popular options for fitness facilities include Life Time fitness in Columbia and the YMCA in Ellicott City.  In the summer, many parents have talked about the Roger Carter Community Center for their indoor/ outdoor pool, which has a $5 drop in fee.
  • There are a few websites/email lists that will keep you informed of local happenings if you are just looking to get out of the house. Baltimore’s Child has become one of my go to magazines for events and entertainment! The best part is that the full monthly issue is available online (scroll to the bottom of their website where it says “our digital magazine… read online now).  Totally Hoco lists a lot of local community events and offers an email list.  Chesapeake Family Magazine usually advertises events a little bit further away, but I sometimes find gems in their monthly email. The Columbia Flyer is our local newspaper and usually lists the week’s events just before their sports section.
  • The Robinson Nature Center is a great resource as it offers a children’s discovery room with activities and live aquatic animals and reptiles, interactive exhibits, a domed theatre, an outdoor play area, trails, and scheduled events. The cost is $5 per adult and $3 for children older than 3 (Wednesdays are no longer free).
  • The Howard County Library System offers daily classes and events throughout its various branch locations, including the very popular Play Parters: stories, games, and activities for infant through 23 months.
  • The MOMS Club and MOPS are both support groups for stay at home moms. The groups provide opportunities for regular meetings, play dates, and moms nights out with a small, consistent group of local moms who have young children. Both groups have local chapters in Howard County.

So there it is, what I believe to be a stellar list of resources. Probably not every resource. I would love to hear more in the comments section of this post! After all, the point is to help and support each other on this crazy journey of parenting.

The parenting secrets that I learned from Disney

As a child, Disney movies offered lessons of friendship and possibility, sing-a-longs with beloved characters, and catchy phrases that I would repeat 800 times over because it was funny every time (I’m sure that wasn’t annoying at all). Fast forward twenty years to parenthood. I now live in a home that is under the rule of a 20 pound dictator and no longer hold the dream that I will magically transform into a flawless princess and inherit a 30,000 square foot castle with a talking cup.

Watching Disney movies as an adult still provides entertainment and lessons to be learned, but the perspective has changed and I find myself repeating the parenting advice that is hidden within these movies like mantras to propel me through the tough moments.

  1. Fake it until you make it. When my son was first born, he found great joy in waking up at 5:00 a.m. bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the day, or at least the first few hours of the day. I, on the other hand, was like, “I warn you, child. If I lose my temper, you lose your head! Understand?!” (Alice in Wonderland). His defense was usually a goofy toothless smile that threatened to melt my heart and forced me to surrender any lingering alliance with my bed. That is when I realized I needed a new strategy. With Genie’s help, Aladdin pretends to be a prince, marries Jasmine, and bam; he’s a prince! Surely if Aladdin could become a prince simply by pretending to be, I could become a morning person by doing the same. From that point on, I found solace in the mantra “fake it until you make it, to be the happy, bubbly parent I wanted to be in the morning. And whenever that fails, theres always coffee; making dreams come true since 1582.
  2. A little fun makes life pleasant for everyone. It didn’t take my son long to learn the art of protest. There is nothing more enjoyable than trying to put pants on a baby who is violently kicking his legs and turning into a purple-faced siren. By some happy accident, I learned that my son actually enjoyed these same activities if I simply made them into a game, and I often found myself singing, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go dowwwwn, the medicine go down!” (Mary Poppins). To get him dressed I simply put a twist on the hokey pokey, to get him in his car seat I did a seatbelt song and dance, to file his nails I pretended I was a beautician, accent and all. To my amazement, he suddenly completed these activities with joy and I soon found myself cherishing these moments. It’s as if my son was saying to me, “Come with me where you’ll never, never have to worry about grown up things again.” (Peter Pan).6f8d42efcb1b134fe3389ac8b97fee99
  3. It’s okay if we have different goals. My son’s goals at this stage are often quite simple; feed self, inspect object, and stand up, but even at this early stage there are times when our goals conflict. For example, his goal of feeding himself undoubtedly conflicts with my goal of keeping things clean. I swear it looks like the kid was trying to force-feed the highchair by the time he is done. Another great parenting lesson from Disney. A Goofy Movie teaches us not to be a Pete. Demanding that he let you feed him with the spoon the way you want to do it is only going to create a battle of wills. Take it from a Goofy, “Once I eased up, things just clicked.” So I do myself a favor and just “Let it go, let it gooo!” (Frozen).2a8897895551092c6f7f005de1a56ac5
  4. Trust your child to figure things out. After spending months growing this miniature person from nothing but cells in my body, I was handed this fragile helpless blob that depended on me for everything. I knew instantly that I would do anything to protect my tiny blob, and I did. At some point, that helpless tiny blob grew into the little boy I have now. He grew interested. He began to explore. He began to move. He began to scare the living daylights out of me! How was I supposed to protect my tiny blob who was now moving dangerously toward the edge of the couch with a wild look in his eyes!? Disney teaches us that you have to let little Nemo/Chico/Elmo/Bingo/Fabio figure things out for himself sometimes. So although he may always be my squishy and I will always do what I can to keep him safe, I will TRY to give him some space to figure things out on his own. I’m sure living this lesson is only going to get harder as he gets older, but I’ll always have Finding Nemo to reassure me. 6b6b9166f45b0c60493401d68146144d
  5. Every day we are making memories. I watched Inside Out recently with complete awe and appreciation for the whole concept. The way emotions and memories were depicted as they interacted and influenced the developing personality was just inspiring. This weighed heavily on me for days as I thought about the memories I am making with my son and how our life decisions are and will impact him through his development. Once I dug myself out from the crushing pressure of the responsibility that implies, I thought of the numerous lessons learned from the very wise Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne). Lessons of how love, friendship, and quality time are the very best gifts we can give.br_winniethepoohquotes_14
  6. Love is almost always the answer. Love is the magic that can turn a beast to a prince, wake a princess from from an eternal slumber, and stop a young girl from getting hypothermia. The ultimate parenting secret, the answer to almost any question, is showing love. If I can manage to show my child love and compassion, even when he is screaming in my face and wiping his snot in my hair, then I feel I am succeeding at this whole parent thing, at least for that moment.

Bedtime Stories That Don’t Suck

My husband and I love reading to our little one each night as part of our nightly routine, but one can only read Curious George Goes to the Zoo so many times before going a little apeshit. Although we would prefer books geared toward a slightly older crowd, such as Dr. Seuss, our infant still struggles to grasp the concept of saving Whoville.

With all the research that has shown that reading to children from birth through kindergarten develops language, literacy, and social-emotional skills with long-term benefits (American Academy of Pediatrics), I want to make this nightly tradition something that doesn’t cause my husband to hide in the bathroom with an imaginary case of the shits every night.  Luckily for us, the Howard County Library System is simply amazing and should have no problem supplying us enough books to last a few billion years (if we live that long).

Below you will find a list of LoCo approved books for story time. These are not the baby proof board books that we give our son to slobber all over. These are the sometimes delicate books we read together each night, the ones that won’t kill us to read a few dozen times.

  1. Otter in Space by Sam Garton
    • This book is the perfect combination of colorful and entertaining illustrations (such as an image of the slumped-over teddy bear with a description, “Teddy took his space suit off. He didn’t seem to be taking space travel seriously.”) and story that really captures the imaginative practicality of a toddler.
  2. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
    • So there are a few of these. We have read Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck’s Beep Along Book. We found both books entertaining and a nice way to practice our animals without torturing ourselves with another round of Old MacDonald.
  3. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
    • With vibrant images and language that flows, this is one of those books with a lesson, “sometimes if you’re different you just need a different song.”
  4. Dinosaur Rumpus! by Tony Mitton and Guy Parker-Rees
    • Okay, so this one is not so much a bedtime story, but it is a lot of fun. The rhymes and repetition keep my son’s interest and we tend to start moving and dancing to the “Shake, shake, shudder near the sludgy old swamp. The dinosaurs are coming. Get ready to romp.” As a bonus, it has a lot of dinosaur names included (now if I can just figure out how to pronounce them before he is old enough to understand the words I garble).
  5. I’m A Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian
    • My son absolutely loves this book. The pictures, rhythm, and rhymes in this book capture his attention and make it another fun book to read. The concept is simple, but provides opportunity to point out body parts, dance to the rhythm, or just snuggle up and enjoy the watercolor pictures.
  6. Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook by Anne Vittur Kennedy
    • The illustrations of Ragweed demonstrating the examples are just as funny as his thoughts (“Cows eat grass all day and make milk. That’s their job. That’s not your job. Don’t eat grass. You will really, really want to eat grass. But don’t eat grass. If you DO eat grass, you won’t get a biscuit. But you will throw up a biscuit, and you can eat that one again.”)
  7. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore
    • A good one for parents to read to their children as it reinforces the message of unconditional love. It is also quite amusing with some of the mother’s responses (child asks, “Would you still love me….if I were a big scary ape?” and mother replies that if he were a big scary ape, she would build his birthday cake out of bananas… touché mama).
  8. Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
    • This is a true classic (1960) that has stood the test of time. The illustrations are of simple things that young babies can recognize (bird, dog, cow, plane, etc.) and yet the story is amusing enough to read time and again.
  9. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    • There are numerous articles criticizing this book. Parents are creeped out by “a quiet old lady who was whispering hush” and the baby bunny saying “goodnight nobody.” Parents detest the color choice and decor of the little bunny’s 1940s style bedroom and his failure to take care of his dirty dishes. Despite this, Goodnight Moon was written in 1947 and currently sells 800,000 books annually. Young children love this book because they are currently eating up new words for dessert and love matching images to words that they recognize i.e. Mom just said mouse and I see a mouse right there! I am F*&K@$! awesome!  And you know what, I’m going to put myself out there and say I like it! It’s classic. It gets my little one to settle down for bed. That’s the key, right?
  10. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
    • This book has a great rhythm and teaches children not only colors, but that accidents happen, shoes get dirty, and life goes on. It is a very positive and fun book that both children and parents can enjoy. As a huge bonus, you can access Pete the Cat songs and videos for free at:
  11. Little Green Peas by Keith Baker
    • I really love all of the little green peas books including LMNO Peas by Keith Baker! This book is actually what got my son eating his peas at dinner. It is full of adorable illustrations that teach things like colors, the alphabet, and numbers. The books also include seek and finds as there is a little lady bug and paper airplane hiding on each page. The images really encourage children to use their imaginations and include so many small details for them to notice.
  12. Bear Sees Colors and Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson
    • Although many of the bear books are good, these two have really stood out to us. These books have a good rhythm and rhyme, but not to the point of becoming obnoxious. In bear sees colors, the beautiful pictures include so many things toddlers can begin to name and at the end, the illustrator puts the images together so the toddler can pick out the colors once again. Bear’s New Friend introduces the characters that are consistent throughout the series and explores meeting someone new and welcoming them as a new friend. These two books have really cute stories without some of the annoying repetition found in some of the other books in series.
  13. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
    • This is a somewhat silly book about a bear who finds a little boy in the woods and convinces her mother to let her keep him as a pet. Our son absolutely adored this book and found it very funny. The illustrations are classic and simple. This is a fun one to do the voices and can encourage a lot of dialog about responsibility and taking care of pets.
  14. Eight Animals Play Ball by Susan Middleton Elya
    • This is a fantastic read about sports, cooperative play, and friendship. The story has a good rhythm and rhyme, which certainly helps the reader as Spanish words are incorporated throughout. The story is simple, yet engaging, and has been a huge hit with our little baseball player.
  15. Gossie and Friends books by Oliver Dunrea
    • The characters in these books are sweet and relatable and the phrases are simple enough to be easily understood and remembered. Our favorite is Booboo, which is about a gosling who likes to eat, and subsequently eats (and burps) bubbles, stating, “good food.” I don’t think I have to explain why my 2 and 1/2 year old son thinks this is hilarious.
  16. Elephant and Piggie Books by Mo Willems
    • There are several books in this series that have really stood out to us, but thus far, we have enjoyed all of them. Definite favorites are Waiting Is Not Easy! and Listen To My Trumpet! These stories are carried by their dialog and very simplistic illustrations that portray the emotions (often excitement) the two characters are feeling and do a wonderful job of teaching big ideas in an easy to understand way. I love reading these stories before bed because they always spark great conversation with my little one.
  17. Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson
    • Though some may consider this a Halloween story since it is about a witch, it really could be read year round. The story is about a witch who lets various animals ride along with her on the broom who ultimately save her from a dragon. The story has a nice little rhyme to it and kids two and older seem to really enjoy everything about it.
  18. Duck & Goose, It’s Time For Christmas! by Tad Hills
    • So let me start by saying, the Duck & Goose books are very simple and definitely geared toward young infants and toddlers. Many of the Duck & Goose books we read a time or two and are ready to move on. However, what makes this particular book different from the others is the silly nature of the story where Duck tells Goose, “it is not time for catching snowflakes… it is not time for throwing snowballs… [etc.].” Then of course we giggle and say, “silly Goose!” My son loved this book at 18 months and the following year at 2 and 1/2 was still interested, but I would be surprised if he reached for it next year.
  19. It’s Okay To Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
    • There are quite a few Todd Parr books easily distinguishable by their unique and colorful illustrations that have more of a 1960s feel to them and most, if not all of which deliver a heavy message. It’s Okay To Make Mistakes is certainly our favorite and has helped my son to say, “it’s okay,” when he messes up rather than being overwhelmed by his emotions. This is a great read and never seems to get old.
  20. Rosie Revere, Engineer and others by Andrea Beaty
    • Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect are wonderful stories about children pursuing their talents despite some setbacks or discouragement. The stories are more lengthy and geared toward toddlers and children who have a basic grasp on language, but still have a good rhythm and rhyme to help them along. There is a third story in this series, Ada Twist, Scientist, which is also a cute story, but can be off putting to some parents because little Ada is seen causing some mischief and destruction in doing her experiments. Overall, we enjoy these stories as much as our little guy and do not mind reading them time and again.

Although I do not encourage TV watching at this age, I picked up the Baby Signing Time DVD at our local library and lo and behold, our son loves it! It’s 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted showering, cooking, or cleaning time and as a bonus, we have picked up a few basic signs. I know recent research has shown that baby signing does not improve long-term literacy, but if my little guy can learn a way to tell me he is hungry other than screaming in my face, that would be great.

Honorable mentions:

*It is my hope that I will be able to update this post in the future with additional favorites. Please feel free to add your own favorite bedtime story books in the comment section of this post!


So you think you’re ready to have a baby?

After spending months in a sleep deprived fog, swimming in feelings of both love and inadequacy, it’s as though I have just completed an intense seven and a half month journey through recovery. I stare with mild amusement at the words “dare I say we are ready.” The words I wrote just one week before our son was born. How naive I was. I’ve come to recognize that one is never truly ready to become a parent. Parenting, like war, is something you can prepare for, but can’t fully comprehend until you have experienced it for yourself.

I have gone through several stages during my aforementioned recovery. The first stage was shock from the trauma my body had just experienced. Of course I knew birthing a child would be difficult, but I wasn’t prepared for the mental drain one experiences when primal instincts take over and the response is fight or flight. Although I did not run screaming from the room or take up arms against the nurses (despite considering both as viable options), the birth plan went out the figurative window as I fought to get baby out, and as with any good battle, walked away nursing my wounds to begin the slow process of healing on my home turf.

The second stage of recovery was frustration. I had years of babysitting and working as a family social worker to prepare me for being a mother. Visions of me holding this small sleeping bundle of sweet smelling baby snuggles danced in my head as we approached his birth. IMG_6387_FotorHowever, these visions were quickly torpedoed by his violent wails. My husband and I frantically swaddled, bounced, hushed, and did anything else we could think of to satisfy his needs, but still he cried. He would cry if we put him down. He would cry in the car. Sometimes, he would just cry. I remember asking myself things like “Why is he so unhappy?”, “What are we doing wrong?”, and “Why did nobody tell me it would be this hard?”


Once I started to learn some techniques that worked well for my son, and as he got a little older and began to realize that living on the outside was not so bad, the fog lifted and there I stood. What I found was a little horrifying. Is it just me, or does having a baby put ten years on? All of a sudden there was this mom body. I began to question whether I should just give in and buy myself a nice pair of mom jeans, grannie panties, and an oversized sweatshirt and call it a day. I eventually settled on yoga pants. Enter stage three, transitioning into the mom role. My priority was no longer myself. A quick shower, brushed teeth, and some deodorant was the new morning routine. Why waste time on makeup, outfits, or styling my hair when I’ll be adorned in spit up, pee, and poop within mere hours (sometimes minutes). This not-so-glamorous life as a mom made the pre-baby days (four or five months ago) seem only a distant memory which I reflected on nostalgically like a long lost friend.

The fourth stage is where I find myself now. As my son gains some independence by sleeping through the night (mostly), exerting better control over his bodily excretions, and learning to do some things on his own (i.e. spending a total of five IMG_7202minutes playing by himself while I do a few dishes), we have begun to find a new normal and here I am. Not just a mom, but a woman and a wife. No longer overwhelmed by the daunting task of learning to be a mom, I am able to revel in the sweet baby snuggles, tiny hugs, and contagious giggles. I’m still not sure I’m ready, but with basic training behind me, I am once again bursting with excitement for everything this amazing little human has in store.