Who Knew Potty Training Could Be So Bittersweet?

Tonight was a parenting first for me. Since my son was born 2 and 1/2 years ago, I’ve looked forward to him getting older and appreciated each gain in independence without hesitation. Sleeping through the night. Eating real food. Walking. Ditching the paci. Sitting at the table. Climbing in and out of the car himself. Playing independently. Going to Preschool. Expressing himself with English I can understand… Each step he took toward independence filled me with pride, SO MUCH PRIDE, but also relief that this demand would no longer fall on me.

Then today in Target, I realized my baby is potty trained! My baby… except… if he’s potty trained, is he still a baby? For the first time, I paused and questioned whether this was a good thing. You know that moment of mom panic when your mind races with questions like, what have I done? Where did my baby go? When did he get so big? Am I ready for this? Is it too late to change my mind?


January 31, 2018, Accessorizing in Target

Tonight as I did laundry, washing all his little underwear, I felt a sense of relief and excitement to also be washing some newborn outfits to get ready for our little one due in April. This will be our last baby. Our last one who will cry to be with me. Our last one who will depend on me for food. Our last one who will wear those teeny tiny diapers and be comforted by a simple pacifier and some gentle rocking. He will be our last baby who will want nothing more than to spend the day in my arms soaking in the mommy snuggles.

When you first hear, “enjoy these moments because they go so fast,” you can’t help but stare blankly at the well intentioned kind old lady and think she’s bat shit crazy. In that moment, you are baffled and want to point out the vomit on your shirt, poop on your pants, the fact you have not showered in, well, it must have been sometime this week, and that you appear to be growing garbage bags under your eyes, but you are far too tired to comprehend words and it’s been almost two hours since your baby’s eaten, so instead you smile politely and hope your baby doesn’t lose his shit in the store. It’s only after those moments become a memory and you realize this not so small person will never need you in that same way again, that you begin to understand. Only then do you long for those moments of utter exhaustion when that sweet tiny baby knew nothing in the world but you.


June 16, 2015, when all he needed was Mommy

So for now, I’ll hold on to these moments just a while longer. I’ll take advantage of reading Dinosaur Rumpus for the 100th time by hugging him close and resting my face in his baby soft hair. I’ll enjoy hearing him sing songs at the top of his lungs until puberty begins to steal away his little voice. I’ll insist on holding his hand tightly as we cross the street until he’s taller than I am. And I’ll smile as he calls, “Mommy!” for the millionth time today.

Because someday, this too will be only a memory.


Why I Regret Not Getting A C-Section

Before having my son, a vaginal birth seemed like the only choice. I tsk-tsk’d “medical intervention” and argued my uneducated opinion about how birth is “so natural” and should be experienced that way, mostly to cover my fear of major surgery (aka a c-section). Sure, an emergency could arise requiring a c-section, but of course, that should be avoided at all costs, right?

I had heard from other women and read articles outlining the slow recovery from c-sections. I heard about women being sedated through their child’s birth and waking up hours later to meet their child. I read about not being able to sit up, needing to wait to shower, risk of infection, six week recovery, blood clots and other possible complications. And most of all, I was terrified by the idea of being sliced open. I decided early on that a c-section was not something I would consider.

What I hadn’t heard about were the potential long-term side effects of a vaginal birth. I went into my birth expecting that I would be up and moving that same day, showered, and on my way to being fully recovered in six weeks. I wasn’t prepared for the level of tearing that would occur, for those first moments with my son to be distracted by being sewn back together, for the amount of blood loss, for the discomfort that can come with using the bathroom after, or for the level of internal and external damage.

Now I’m obviously not saying all vaginal births result in these issues (Does Vaginal Birth Damage The Pelvic Floor?). In my case, my son’s heart rate began dropping drastically and the doctors and nurses became focused on the goal of getting baby out safely. The doctor told me I was only at 9 centimeters dilated and would need an emergency c-section if we could not get my son out fast. I agreed to begin pushing. The doctor used her hands to attempt to manually dilate the cervix to 10 centimeters and then attached a vacuum to my son’s little head, pulling so hard that her arms were shaking while I pushed as hard as I could to force my son out. After two strong attempts, he did in fact come out.

My son was blue, but he was alive. My eye and one of my son’s eyes were both red with broken blood vessels from the pressure. I had level 3 (out of 4) tearing that took a significant amount of time to stitch up. I was sore for weeks, and as the weeks and months passed, I continued to experience a level of discomfort. I didn’t think anything of this at the time, other than, why doesn’t anyone tell you about this!?

We want to think of the vagina as this amazing elastic organ that can stretch to accommodate a 8 pound baby and return to normal six weeks later as though nothing had ever happened. Maybe that’s why it hadn’t occurred to me that this wasn’t the typical recovery experience until a year had passed and I was still experiencing pain and discomfort. I had been checked by an OB/GYN for my six-week follow up, my primary care who is a nurse practitioner when I expressed these concerns, and an OB/GYN my primary care then referred me to, none of whom found any reason for concern. The OB/GYN expressed belief that the symptoms I was experiencing were due to my IUD and scheduled to have it removed, but the symptoms persisted. It wasn’t until I was seen by a specialist at the Women’s Center for Pelvic Health and Reconstructive Surgery two years after my son’s birth that I finally started to get some answers.

While a vaginal birth may be entirely natural, the vagina does not come out unscathed. After suffering in silence for several years, I finally learned about things like high-tone pelvic floor dysfunction, vulvar vestibulitis, and Levator Ani injuries, which occur in more than 30% of vaginal births. Many women experience symptoms such as urinary or fecal incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and/or vaginal pain after birth.

Why must women suffer in silence? My husband and I took several birthing classes through our hospital. What to expect AFTER the birth was never discussed. While we seem to have no trouble discussing c-section surgery, postpartum depression, or breast feeding, the vagina remains entirely neglected. Again, at the six-week follow-up exam, postpartum depression and breast feeding were discussed at length, while the possibility of long-term damage or improper healing of the vagina was never even mentioned.

If my experience can help just one other woman, I’m willing to put myself out there to tell you that my vagina is broken because I refused to consider a c-section. My vagina is broken because the doctors and I forced my son out in such an unnatural way, just so I could have a “natural birth,” and now I regret it.

The good news for any woman who may be suffering is that these injuries can be treated, often with internal physical therapy and time, but first they must be diagnosed.



Ways to engage your tot this summer

It’s funny, in the winter my days are filled with story times, crafts, and educational activities. Then summer hits and its like all my creative juices melt away in the summer sun. Throughout the late spring and start of summer, I embraced days that were filled with hikes, swimming, and playdates with friends. But as the temperatures have heated up in the afternoons, often driving us inside, it hit me that I miss sitting down with my son to do an activity together. He will only be little for so long, and this time is more than fine motor skills and lessons in colors and counting, its time shared away from the distractions of the outside world.

I recently found a great website that has numerous activities you can do with kiddos of all ages. Here are a few activities from education.com that I love.

  1. In The Toothpaste Experiment, kids learn about how sweet treats can stain our teeth by soaking a hard boiled egg in soda. I love this experiment because it shows kids exactly why we need to brush our teeth. The second part of this experiment really drives this point home because kiddos will actually see the stains coming off of the egg when they brush it with a toothbrush. I think this is a great way to show this lesson and can’t wait to try it with my little guy!brush-up-a-toothpaste-experiment-slideshowmainimage
  2. Post Office Pretend Play is all about using the things you have in your home to create a pretend post office. My son has spent so much time at children’s museums just sorting the mail. I could see him having a fantastic time creating a mail center and sending letters to everyone in the family. Plus, what child doesn’t want to receive a letter from mommy reminding him to clean up his toys?
  3. Play the Rainbow teaches skills like color identification and mixing as well as sound. I could see my guy really getting into this because he loves banging his spoon on his dinner tray, bowl, and anything else that will drown out mommy and daddy’s conversation.play-rainbow-preschool-slide
  4. I think we need to try egg carton goggles, but mostly because I want to see my son wearing these! They are too cute.
  5. I love the idea of creating a paper plate wind spinner! This idea is so simple, yet would add a lot of beauty and conversation to our back porch.
  6. And finally, the make your own Pull-Along Canister Train! I love this idea for so many reasons. For one, the sound of the tin can on pavement could add a great element of noise. You could also add small rocks or treasures inside the tin can for the train to pull along. How about hooking several tin canisters together to create a longer train? This is such a great activity to perk their creativity and get kids looking at the things in the recycling bin a little differently.file_629246

So on the next hot, muggy day when water play has lost its appeal, I will try one of these activities and spend some time connecting with my toddler.


Please let me know if you have a unique activity that you love to do with your toddler. I would love to hear your ideas!

Quick and Easy Activities for Your Tot

I could spend hours on Pinterest just perusing and pinning creative ideas that I will probably never make the time to do. Some of the activities for children are so elaborate that I start researching the materials and skill needed and find myself falling short. Take for example this magnetic travel tin… magnetic-traveling-farm-toddler-game-04 I stumbled upon this blog post by Meredith at UnOriginalMom. Let me tell you, she should get the “most crafty mom” award. She laid out the steps she took in her blog post, which went something like this. She purchased a package of DVD tins ($94.75 on Amazon), magnetic paper (13.28 on Amazon), and Etsy clip art ($6). She opened the Etsy images in Photoshop, traced them in Silhouette Studio, and reorganized the images to fit on one page, printed the silhouettes on magnet paper using an electronic cutting machine, had the color copies printed professionally on glossy paper, used Photoshop to crop her background image… Oh gosh, I’m exhausted just reading this.

Maybe I’ll just pour some wine and order one of these travel tins off Amazon for $8-$15.

Then of course, there are the ideas that seem really great until you try them with your child. I can’t tell you how excited I was to make this Homemade Color Book.


I had the idea pinned for months. Finally, after a trip to Home Depot and gathering up all our colored stickers, I sat down to do the project. I had this vision of my son and I sitting side by side talking about the colors and putting the corresponding stickers on together. In reality, he stuck some stickers on his shirt and our floor, then ran away. I pressed on and finished the project while he reorganized his toys around the room. I was still excited, convinced that he would be much more interested in the finished product. That was dashed when he immediately pulled the stickers off and crumpled the cards before throwing them on the floor, and stepping on them. At least it kept him entertained for a minute.

So here I am putting together a list (with images) of the activities I think are practical for us average moms with average budgets and an average amount of time (which with a toddler is basically none).

  1. Putting objects in holes. We have this simple pom pom push activity that my son loves. It only takes a few minutes and minimum dollars to make and has kept my son entertained time and again. I recently came across this option using straws and a grated cheese container over on The OT Toolbox that is pretty fantastic as well. This post on Wildflower Ramblings gives a few more ideas for sorting pom poms and pushing lids through cut outs in a cereal box. PomPomPush
  2. Sponges in water is absolutely my son’s favorite activity at the moment. I put just a small amount of water in a large container and hand him a pile of dry sponges. He likes to watch the sponges expand as they soak up the water and see the water drip down as he squeezes the sponge. I have various colors cut into shapes so we can practice his colors and shapes as well, but you could use any clean sponge cut into tot size pieces. You can add “tools” such as tweezers, chop sticks, or a spoon to have your LO practice picking up the sponges in other ways.IMG_4945
  3. Wrap stuff in foil. Seriously guys. Wrap your kiddo’s toys, wrap books, wrap a kitchen spoon, wrap the cat, all in foil. This seriously takes seconds and pennies to keep the kiddo entertained. I found this idea over here on Munchkins and Moms and I have to say it is pretty fantastic. Foil
  4. Printables! Go for the easy ones, like this caterpillar counting activity, this shape one, or this magnetic clothing printable. Even easier, color yourself a rainbowPrintables
  5. Along the same lines, practice brushing! I quickly drew Elmo, laminated, and gave my son a yellow whiteboard marker and a toothbrush. He loves “brushing Elmo’s teeth.” If you do not have a laminator you could also use these reusable dry-erase pocketsBrush Elmo
  6. Thus far my son has not taken a huge interest in the oh so popular discovery bottles. He has actually preferred shakers (noisy objects in a jar or bottle with no water). However, this oil and water discovery bottle described on Play Trains! adds a science element that might just be enough to capture his interest.Two-Color-Oil-and-Water-Discovery-Bottles-pinI feel like sensory exploration has been hyped up as THE THING you need to do for your toddler. No toddler is complete until they have dug their paws into a container of blue noodles. Here’s the thing, some kids just like to eat their food. I managed to stop Booboo from eating the blue noodles in his bathtub by convincing him they were dead worms, but smashing cereal with a hammer definitely turned into a second snack time. It’s funny, we spend so much time at dinner convincing our children to eat their food rather than play with it, then we sit them down for an activity where we tell them the opposite.
  7. Activities that include science, mixing, and creating have been more positive for us. You can find simple recipes for moon sand, play dough, or play snow to entertain the kiddos without creating food confusion. And if that fails, just let them eat dinner with their fingers.SanDoughSnow
  8. For anyone looking for crafts without having to actually do a craft, I suggest going the old fashioned route with a coloring book, crayons, stickers, stamps, and paint, or these fantastic reusable stickers, which can be used in the book provided or on any window or mirror (great for travel!).

Do you have an easy activity that your little one loves? Please share in the comments below!!

Is social media bringing you down?

I rolled over in bed and immediately picked up my phone to sort through the day’s news while giving my brain a moment to wake up. When I picked up my phone, I felt optimistic about the day, about humanity, about this life we are living. As I scrolled, I felt that shift. I began to worry about the state of our earth. I started to feel frustrated by our politics. I could feel the stress of parenting weighing on me. The diapers, the food battles, the messy house… and I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet.

I put down my phone and let the negativity preoccupy my thoughts. That’s when it hit me. Am I sabotaging myself?

I have tried to live by the saying that life is what you make it. Only today did it occur to me that my social media feed is exactly what I have made it. I have followed, liked, and commented on pages and posts about these frustrations in life. I have either gravitated to or actively sought negativity and here it is, showing up day after day, pulling my focus and thoughts away from all that is right.



These are not my intentions. I do not want to choose a negative mind set. I want to improve our planet, not continuously mourn it’s loss. I want to build up the politicians who share my common interests, rather than attack the people whose goals I do not share. And most importantly, I want to bask in my son’s laughter rather than wish away his childhood.

I realized that I need to make a change if my intention is to greet the world with a happy heart each day. I must unfollow the pages that do not align with my intentions. I must tell social media that I no longer wish to see negativity, anger, fear, and criticism in my newsfeed. I realize now that I need to make a conscious effort to seek out opportunities that will support my goals in a positive way.


Moving forward, I will choose to use my news feed as an opportunity to fill my soul with all things good rather than allowing it to be a black hole that drains my time and energy, and impairs my outlook on life.


If you have found a page or resource that you feel has been a positive inspiration for you, please share it in the comments below!

The effects of over-parenting


Today I read an article called, How Do I Know When I’m Over-Parenting? Licensed psychologist, Michael W. Anderson and Timothy D. Johanson, M.D., talk about the parent’s tendency to dote on children beyond those first 12 to 15 months, beyond what the child needs, oblivious to the children’s hints of, “I got this.” They talk about over-parenting as the tendency to over-do it in any one area: over-talking, over-complimenting, over-criticizing, over-interfering.

I initially started thinking about this concept after I was called out at a public park for not hovering. My son was a new walker and had toddled about 10 – 15 feet away from me. He was moving at an extremely slow pace and exploring a large grassy area. A nosey passerby stopped and called out, “whose watching this child?” I was baffled. I was hurt. I was standing just feet away watching my son enjoy his new skill while exploring the grass. I immediately felt defensive. I’m right here. And for the first time, I began to question, who does helicopter parenting benefit; the child or the surrounding strangers?

The article mentioned above does not contain groundbreaking revolutions. In fact, there are numerous studies and teaching strategies that focus on the benefit and necessity of fostering independence in children. One example is Maria Montessori (1870-1952) who stated, “When dealing with children there is greater need for observing than of probing” and “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” Today, over 4,000 Montessori schools have been developed in the united states, operating on these concepts, and there are thousands more throughout the world.

Whether they realize it or not, I often hear other mothers complain of what I would call the effects of over-parenting or helicopter parenting. Let me explain.

  1. Exhaustion.

    Parenting is tough, but over-parenting puts unnecessary pressure and stress on a parent. Just the act of dragging yourself out of bed and getting yourself ready in the morning while simultaneously caring for and preparing another human being is a learned skill. This alone can be exhausting. New parents often struggle with this advanced form of multitasking and joke about the last time they showered. I get it. During that first year it seems like you can’t get away. The moment you try, baby spits up, or blows out, or starts screaming inexplicably. However, one day this changes. Sometime after baby turns a year, baby can handle himself a few minutes in a safe environment. If you have safety-proofed then now is the time to let go. Get clean. Eat hot meals. Sit back and watch your budding toddler in amazement. The constant managing becomes exhausting and it is not good for your health.

  2. A disconnected relationship.

    I do not think there is anything that causes as much strain on a marriage as having a baby. With lack of sleep, whose turn it is to tend to the baby, differences in parenting styles, strained finances, and loss of freedom, there are just so many great topics to choose from when picking an argument. Some couples merge out of the first time parenting fog and reconnect rather quickly, finding strength in this shared experience. Other couples continue to struggle beyond that first year. Often I see this happening when the child is still the first priority and a primary focus over the marriage or the family as a whole. Now is the time to stand back, hold your spouse’s hand, and marvel at the small human you are creating.

  3. Lacking confidence.

    I have noticed that many children of helicopter parents seem to be less confident in themselves. These are the children still clinging onto their parent like a life preserver. They haven’t yet developed the confidence to explore the world on their own, or maybe, the reassurance that you wont be far away if they need you. I have tried my best to give my 19 month old son the encouragement he needs to have confidence in himself. Just today he walked straight up to a little girl his age and said, “Hi, I’m Apple.” Now, that’s not his name, but close enough and I had to just stand back and admire the confidence he showed by putting himself out there to make a new friend. That’s something that a lot of adults still struggle with.

So maybe can we agree that helicopter parenting isn’t the best? Can we find the strength to stand back and let our children explore the world around them so long as they are safe? Even more, can we let go of our fear and judgement to support other parents in this challenging step of letting go just a little?

A more relaxing playdate

Is it inappropriate to say that I don’t want to be up my kid’s ass all the time? When he was learning to crawl or walk, sure, I was there to catch him when he fell. And now, when he wants to climb up a tall slide where there is a danger of him falling and getting hurt, I’m right there ready to offer up my face as a pillow. But, if he is toddling around a baby-proofed play date, I have no desire to stand over him and direct his every move.

That’s great that you want to be there and soak up every precious moment with your little one, but I find helicopter parenting stressful and so does my guy. I can already see his little eye on the ball of independence. For at least a few minutes, he thinks, I can do this all by myself. To see the look of pride on his face when he manages something all on his own makes my heart soar. I am ready to be his cheerleader. I am ready to give him support and encouragement. I am ready to let him be a toddler.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love those baby thighs, breathing in his baby-fresh scent as we cuddle up for a book, and when he comes in for a hug gushing my name, “Mama.” Those are moments I cherish and look forward to, but wouldn’t it be great if we could go to a play date and just let our kids play?

I wonder if some moms struggle to let go because they aren’t comfortable having regular adult conversations? Sometimes we find our children playing independently by accident and ignoring our attempts to play with them, which always leads us to the dreaded mom talk. My child is not walking, my child is not talking, my child is not sleeping, because you know, to talk about the positive would be bragging, so instead we talk about what our children can’t do. That should lead to a healthy self-image.

Yes we are moms 90% of the time, but I’m pretty sure there is more to us than that. We led lives before babies. We have husbands. We live in neighborhoods. We read books, watch tv, or have other hobbies. So why can’t we think of anything else to talk about?

I’ve noticed that a lot of stay at home moms struggle to take time for themselves. They seem to lose themselves in parenting. It’s usually the more seasoned moms that make the time for book clubs, moms nights out, and regular date nights. I wonder if the older moms share a wisdom that we haven’t yet found?

If we can’t or won’t make the time for ourselves after the kids go to bed, maybe we could make the time for ourselves during the day, toddlers in tow. I would love to have more relaxed play dates where the kids play while the moms chat. One where, when you leave, you do not feel like you were plowed over by a swarm of bees.

This is not a new concept. There are so many places in Maryland that are starting to create that very environment, such as Play Date Junction in Elkridge, MD, or Play Cafe in Baltimore, MD. The challenge is not finding a location. It’s finding a group of moms who can let go of the reins and let their kids play, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy some adult conversation.


Can I Afford To Go Back To Work?

As you may recall from reading my post, So and So’s Mom, my little one is now 15 months old and I am feeling ready for the next thing. Naturally, this led me to thoughts of returning to the workforce. Now that we live in Howard County, Maryland, away from our families, returning to work would mean daycare for my little guy.

In-home daycares tend to be a less expensive option (roughly $150 per week), but to me, this feels more like glorified babysitting. This option would require me to trust a complete stranger to prepare my child for preschool by managing their daily schedule, nutrition, physical development, and education with absolutely no formal oversight or support. Some of these in-home daycares have 4, 5, or even 6 children at a time, while the Maryland state licensing standards require a ratio of no more than 3 children under the age of two per teacher.

A licensed daycare also has minimum education requirements for their teachers, which includes a 90-hour training in early childhood education, often in addition to a college degree in early childhood education or related field. The teachers in a licensed daycare also have the support and oversight of other teachers and directors. There are schedules, meal plans, recess and sports programs, and a curriculum. I like this option because the children flow seamlessly from the daycare classroom into the preschool classroom since they remain in the same building and on a similar schedule. However, the security and benefits of a formal school setting come at a cost. A cost that rendered me and my husband speechless.

Now, I will say, a lot of these schools do not publicize their costs and some were even reluctant to inform me over the phone, insisting on a tour. I think they worry that parents will shy away from the formal school setting, not fully realizing the benefits, until they have seen it for themselves. My intention with posting the information here is not to upset the schools, but rather, to help inform other parents who may be considering returning to work. Therefore, I must present all of the pros and cons as I see them.

We have toured five childcare centers at this point (Columbia Academy preschool at Maple Lawn, MKD Kids Learning Center, Cradlerock Children’s Center, Eco Tots, and Childtime Learning Centers) and we have three more scheduled (Child’s Garden, The Young School, and The Goddard School). There are several things that have really surprised us.

  1. The price. Just considering that three children need to cover the cost of an infant/toddler teacher’s salary prepares you for the thought that a preschool setting will not come cheap. However, you only need to spend a few minutes on a job site such as indeed.com to realize that these teachers are only being paid $8-12 per hour. So if you take the average, $10, that teacher is making only $400 per 40 hour work week. The most expensive of the daycares mentioned above cost $457 per week ($1,828 per month or $21,936 per year) for an infant/toddler (under the age of two). The cheapest daycare was $368 per week ($1,472 per month or $17,664 per year) for an infant/toddler. Sure, this cost goes down as your child gets older and the requirement for a 3:1 child to teacher ratio grows to 6:1 then 10:1, but what if you have a second child? Many of these childcare centers offer a 5% or 10% discount for a sibling, but still, our calculations told us we would then be paying just under $3,200 per month ($38,400 per year) at the most expensive daycare and $2,444 per month ($29, 328 per year) at the least expensive. To give you a comparison, current in-state tuition at the University of Maryland is $10,180 per year ($1,131 per month for 9 months or $282 per week).
  2. The waitlist. I realized that there may be a waitlist for some of the really nice schools and started calling around three months before I was hoping to return to work. I was quite surprised when our current top pick told us that they would not have space for us until June 2017 when my little guy turns two (in nine months). One of the other schools, which we have yet to see, told us they would not have any openings until August 2017 (almost a year from now). So we had to ask ourselves, if I wait until my son is two years old to return to work, how far apart in age do we want our children to be? Is it worth returning to work only to have another baby six months or so later and have to leave the workforce again? Could we guarantee a spot or the income for our second child to join the daycare?
  3. The benefits. I knew that our child would be well cared for in a formal daycare setting, but I was still surprised by the way these schools are preparing children for their formal education. The directors told us about sports programs, Spanish programs, and writing programs the children are offered as young as age two. We watched the children working quietly and cooperatively around a table and learning to follow direction at just two and three years old. I watched all this as my little boy ran around the room, pulled puzzles off the shelf, and talked loudly about the clock, puzzle, and other children. I honestly don’t know how the teacher had all six children playing so quietly so I must conclude it was some form of witchcraft. Nonetheless, I am feeling as though I need to do even more to prepare my son for preschool, to be able to sit still, and to begin learning a second language.

Through this exploration of daycare options, my husband and I have started to feel as though my returning to work now would make it difficult for us to have a second child and then would result in my working to pay someone else to raise our kids, with very little financial benefit for our family.

I know that there are other options out there. Many families find in-home daycare options that are a perfect fit for their family. Some families are very lucky to have relatives or friends available to provide childcare while they work. Other families are able to hold work schedules that can be accommodated by a nanny. Some stay-at-home parents are able to work from home while providing care for their child. It really boils down to finding the best option for your own family.

Obviously, the decision to return to work does not begin and end with numbers. We see our son thriving with the individualized attention I provide and wonder whether he would continue to thrive in a daycare setting. We see the close and loving relationship he has with us and wonder if that would change if given much more time apart. We see his joy and excitement each day as he spends hours just exploring the world around him and wonder if that joy would fade with so much time spent inside the same building day after day. In some ways, after giving it some more thought, leaving him to go back to work when I have the option of staying home with him seems crazy.

And then other options don’t seem so crazy after giving them some thought. I laughed out loud when a fellow blogger suggested having another baby after my post So and So’s Mom, but interestingly enough, the more we talk about it the less crazy it seems.

Who knows.



  • Eco Tots had the healthiest meal plan out of all of the schools. I was very impressed by their meal plan. Not all childcare centers provide lunch and snacks, and if they do, its not always nutritious.
  • Some of the childcare centers are now providing parents with real-time updates using tablets to upload photos and even videos of the children during the day!
  • Many of the childcare centers cited low pay as the reason for high turnover rates among daycare and preschool teachers, who make roughly $20,000 per year. One director stated she just cannot compete with an elementary school’s salary and these teachers are qualified or on their way to becoming qualified for elementary education.


Photo Credit: Laura’s Left Hook

Pinterest fails: Why family photos are worthwhile

These moments are forever fleeting. Each time I blink an eye my little one has grown taller, his face has gotten slimmer, his hair has gotten longer and then shorter. The moments are going by so quickly that I don’t dare look away because I know my little boy will be a little man, a teenager, and then a man before I know it. I try desperately to hold on to these moments and that sweet face by capturing photo after photo on my phone. Of course, the photos can’t compare to the beautiful and joyful face I see in front of me. I spend probably way too many hours perusing Pinterest for unique photo ideas to try with my little one. Problem is, and why we have so many hilarious Pinterest fail articles, is that the photos I’m attempting to replicate with my little point and shoot iPhone were expertly set, coordinated, and documented by a professional photographer, and a professional photographer I am not!


view all photo fails: Parenthood

Some parents just don’t see the importance of having family photos. As a social worker, I have seen the value family photos can have for children. In a time where many families go through difficult times, struggles, divorces, and loss, children hold tightly to the pieces of the whole family. Those pictures where mom and dad are embracing the family as a whole can become a comfort and can offer understanding to a child who needs reassurance in that moment. I have that picture. My mom and dad smiling at the camera with their arms around each other and me. The picture was taken before divorce, remarriage, and times when we were apart. As a child, I would often look back on that picture, that moment, when our family was whole and in love. Somehow, it provided the reassurance of the love and support my parents had for me. Now, at 30 years old, that photo hangs in my own home beside another photo of my family today.

As a permanency (adoption) worker, I saw foster families using family photos as a way to provide pre-adoptive children the reassurance that they were an important member of the family. Seeing the photos hung on the walls sent a message of love and acceptance. A message of permanency. Don’t all children deserve such a message?

Despite the unyielding importance of family photos in the home, I see more and more families letting time slip by without family photos or settling for these comical Pinterest fails, arguing weakly “why pay for a professional photographer when iPhones can take just as good pictures.” Really? Is this really just as good?


view all photo fails: Parenthood

As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. In Howard County, Maryland there are hundreds of photographers to choose from, so how do you determine which photographers are worth the money? Here are some important things to consider:

  1. Experience. Obviously, as these Pinterest fails show, there is an art to capturing breathtaking photos that can be used to enhance your home decor while reflecting the love and happiness within your family. Too often I see “professional” photos where part of the scene is cut off of the page, the subject is not engaged or looks uncomfortable, or the emotion is missing completely. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Marlayna Demond of Marlayna Photography, who grew up fully emerged in photography with her mother, a high school art and photography teacher. Marlayna studied photography for four years at The University of Maryland (UMBC) before starting her own full time photography business five years ago. The formal training she received plus experience she has shooting and developing photos has allowed her to perfect the art of utilizing available lighting and enhancing the photos with professional software. These skills have gotten her featured in magazines such as Baltimore Bride and Her Mind Magazine, and for publications related to UMBC. When you book a session with her, you are not just paying for the number of photos you receive, but rather a photographer who has the training and experience that allows her to produce the professional grade photos you are pinning to your boards and failing to reproduce.

  2. Equipment. SLR cameras can range in cost from $199 to $6,499. In addition, professional photographers will pay for additional memory, a variety of lenses, backup batteries, lighting features, computer editing software, etc. A higher-end camera is going to have the capability to shoot faster, clearer images, and a professional photographer who has thoroughly studied their tool is going to have the knowledge of how to shoot raw images that capture every ounce of emotion to eliminate shading and darkness where it is not wanted without washing out their subjects.

  3. Professionalism. If you are hiring someone to provide a service for you, you should be able to contact them during business hours and receive a quick response. Too often I see photographers who are simply taking photos on the side to earn a little extra cash and are not prompt or professional in their replies. This is an immediate red flag to me because rain or some other unforeseen issue could arise the morning of the shoot where I need to be able to connect with them straight away.

  4. Final product. Marlayna made a great point to me that colors, contrast and saturation are almost never consistent or accurate when photos are simply printed at home or at a chain store. For this reason, she opts to use a professional photo print lab that ships prints directly to her or her clients within just a few days. She finds that the prints remain true to the photo as it was taken and edited.

Families can almost always find great deals with truly professional photographers by taking advantage of mini sessions (usually 30 minutes instead of one hour) or booking a series of sessions at a time (maternity, newborn, 1 year old). Although there is no hard and fast rule about how often you should have family photos taken, I say do it soon, while the kids are young and your wrinkle free body still looks amazing!

Just for fun, here are a few of my Pinterest attempts!


* I received permission from Marlayna Demond and the families photographed to use the beautiful photos included in this post, which originally drew me to contact Marlayna Photography for my own family photos. Marlayna was gracious enough to answer my questions and allow me to include her responses in this blog post. This information was included for the purpose of providing information and I in no way profit from sharing Marlayna’s information. I simply think her work is amazing.

So and So’s Mom

Do you ever ask yourself, “who am I?” We often define who we are by what we do. I am a stay at home mom and so by that definition, I am “Booboo’s mom.” It seems so simple and tells so little about me, and yet, it sometimes feels as though I have dissolved into nothing more.

I clean the house, but I am not a house keeper. I make dinner, but I am not a cook. I run errands, but I am not a concierge. I manage our schedule, but I am not an event planner. I take care of the cats, well, because they demand it. I am a wife. Maybe I could be described as “Mrs. Co.” That’s how one would describe Santa’s wife, I’m sure. Does that adequately describe Mrs. Claus, or me?

There was a time when I was a young twenty-something with a career in social work, a passion for travel, and plenty of interests to talk the ear off a dog. I looked at my husband with wide eyes and far off dreams. My passion and excitement would electrify our conversations and I could tell that I fascinated him.

At first, we were overwhelmed with the whole parenting gig, the crying, and the giant bowl of exhaustion we had for breakfast. Eventually, all that became less overwhelming and more normal.

I woke up this morning and thought to that twenty-something, “now you’re just somebody that I used to know.”

That twenty-something seems like such a distant memory that I can hardy believe we are the same girl. This is not that body. This body belongs to a little man who needed it’s youth for his life. This is not that blood. That girl had allergies and was at peace with the world, while this woman has no allergies and feels a constant flutter in the chest of humming concerns. This is not that life. That girl floated where the wind took her and was as carefree as a bird. This mother has responsibility, a mortgage, a family. That girl loved traveling, scrapbooking, gardening, photography, camping, hiking, yoga, fairs, cooking, restaurants, motorcycles, concerts, dancing, plays, culture, and trying new things. This woman doesn’t have the time.

I have friends who I would also describe as so and so’s mom. We get together and talk about our little so and sos. In a sense, that’s what we talk about because that’s who we are. So and so’s mom. But maybe, I’d like to think that is not where we end. Maybe this is just where I start. A new adventure to discover who I am after becoming Booboo’s mom.

I need a new adventure.

Where do I start?