Toddler Discipline

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Oh how I hate the title of this post. Obviously it’s not about music, as this website was SUPPOSED to be about. Today I (tried) to take Zoey with me to the thrift store. We ended up only being there for about 10 minutes before a major toddler meltdown, leading me to google “toddler discipline” when we returned home and to stew quietly about not getting to peruse the isles of junk stuff. My disciplinary action was, “If you don’t sit down in the cart, we are going to leave right now.” And because I am a mom of my word, we did. I called MY mom afterward, and she pointed out that I rewarded Zoey and punished myself. She’s right.

After reading about several different discipline ‘programs’ and ‘plans’, I really think that each child is different. And for each child there will be a “best” approach. Now the secret is finding the best approach for MY little heathen angel.

To spank? Not to spank? Time outs? 1-2-3 magic? Too many choices.

At Linvilla Orchards last week, I ended up picking up a whole organic pecan pie off of the floor with my fingers to pay for it and throw it away. “Please stop running” and “Here, please help mommy with the okra” and “NOOOOO! Don’t touch that PIE!” are lost on toddler ears. Even after the pie and the Me: “Please tell me you are sorry.”  Her: “Sorry!!” (big smile) …there was a huge tantrum because she had to return to sitting in the cart. We fed animals, played on the playground, and threw away a pie. It was a great day, sort of.

I’m coming to the conclusion that there are some things that just can’t be enjoyed with a toddler. When I was invited to have dinner and cocktails at Winnie’s Lebus earlier this week with the moms, I knew not to bring my 2 year old. The girls brought their babies, who were pleasantly confined in car seats and occasionally held, but a 2 year old would simply not be able to resist running around and touching everything, exploring the building and ignoring her mother,…at least mine wouldn’t. So, I didn’t bring her. Wise choice.

But today, all of my wisdom was for naught, and I brought my 2 year old into a thrift store, of all places, hoping that she could contain herself and be content to play with things I gave her from her seat in the cart. I was wrong.

I’m just babbling on endlessly…..rambling on and on and on…  My point is that I’m not bringing my kid with me to the thrift store again until she is old enough to not break things, which may be never, we’ll see.  I’m 3exhausted at trying to find discipline ideas for out-of-the-house use, so the easiest solution would be to remove the opportunity.

 

:P

Baby Alive vs. Real Baby

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I still remember her big painted blue eyes, her blonde hair that was pulled into two cute little pigtails at the top of her head, and her strange o-shaped gaping mouth that would “chew” when I pushed on it with her hard plastic bottle. Oh, the glorious memories of “Baby Alive”, the doll that promised to be just like a real baby for millions of little girls across the US. “Baby Alive” provided me with hours upon hours of entertainment. OK, maybe 2 hours. Because after her food packets ran out and her diapers ran out, she was just a doll with a weird mouth and a suspicious-looking derriere. A child of young parents in the 80’s, my family didn’t have a lot of money to feed the extra little robotic mouth at the table, so “Baby Alive” didn’t see much food after her first week. She eventually went with a small group of other toys out to a “hideout fort” in the woods behind our house, where she and the other toys were thrown to the top of an abandoned railroad car by suspected child vandals.

Now that I’m grown and have a real baby, I can say with absolute certainty that “Baby Alive” does not live up to it’s promise of being “so real”.

– Real babies have horrendous gas. Baby Alive has airless passage of food.

– Real babies get constipated, and cry nonstop until they are finally able to go poop-poop. Why doesn’t Baby Alive do this?

– Despite the stories of Baby Alive munching up little girl’s hair in a dangerous fashion because of her “digestive gears” (older models), Baby Alive doesn’t ever grab handfuls of hair and yank them repeatedly while laughing as mommy yelps in pain.

– Baby Alive always keeps her hands and legs still. To make her more like a real baby, her arms and legs need to be constantly kicking, flapping about, clapping,  and slapping anyone who is holding her as they struggle.

– Baby Alive was only a couple of pounds, yet she talks. The typical talking 1 or 2 year old weighs between 20 and 30 lbs. Baby Alive should also raise her hands up in the air and whine, “Pick me up! Pick me up!”

– Baby Alive has soft plastic fingertips. Real babies have ultra-sharp little fingernails which they use to scratch themselves and others, leaving red scratches (and sometimes blood!) in their wake.

– Baby Alive doesn’t cry. This has to be the biggest downfall of this product. If they want her to be “so real”, they need to make her cry A LOT. Especially at night.

– It seems like Baby Alive comes with SO many accessories. Mine came with a bottle, bibs, a spoon, diapers, and little packets of food. She may have even had a hairbrush. I’m not sure. However, if she is going to be like a real baby, she needs 100 times more stuff. Each delivery of a Baby Alive doll will require a subsequent dropoff from a freight truck full of accessories. Crib, toys, 10 diapers a day, 5 different kinds of bottles because baby Alive will refuse the other 4 brands, swingy dangly toys, rolly toys, stuffed toys, pacifiers, gas drops, tylenol drops, strollers, carseats, stroller accessories, and carseat accessories. She will need food grinders, mesh self-feeding snack gadgets, food storage systems, multiple spoons, special BPA free bowls, vitamin D drops, multivitamin drops, lotions, bubble baths, bath toys….and more.  Much more.

 

I imagine a more accurate “Baby Alive” doll being similar to the movie “Chucky”, only with more accessories.

Change of Focus

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I had so many interesting things I wanted to write about this week. However, the only thing I can think about at the moment is my little angel sleeping next to me. It’s so strange. I had so many thoughts about interesting blog topics…but then when I sit down to write them, everything fades away. And all I’m left with is the constant thought of her. Maybe it’s because I am slightly anxious that at any moment she may wake, and then I will have to click “Move to Trash” on this blog, as I have with so many other entries this month. I used to save my drafts…but that made my website’s homepage a wreck, so I decided it’s either “Publish” or “Trash” with no in-between.

Baby Zoey is about 4 1/2 months old now. She has grown so much in these past months…it’s unbelievable. The whole process of growing a human being is pretty amazing in itself. I remember very clearly the feelings that overwhelmed me that first week with her. I had seen her on ultrasounds almost every week as she developed – it wasn’t like I didn’t know there was a baby inside me. I could feel her kicking me, responding to my music and the music my students played on the piano. I was fully aware that there was a little person growing inside of me. But it wasn’t until she came out that this feeling of “oh wow” took over. I mean…inside my body, there was only me…and then from one of my eggs and her daddy’s “seed”…another whole human being was formed! That is SO cool!

I have a newfound respect for my body now. Before this experience, I spent more time cursing my body for not being perfect than admiring all of the cool things it does without my conscious mind ever controlling it. My body formed this little human being…this perfect little person. My body knew when she was ready to be born, and began the process of labor to bring her out of the womb. And even when I thought “I don’t think I can do this” in the middle of it all…my body proved me wrong. It was nothing special that my brain did. Usually, my mind is the stronger of the forces…I’m a musician, a songwriter, an artist. Not an athlete.  I like to work with my mind and my hands, and the rest of my body is usually just there to provide a base for clothing and to transport my mind from one place to another. But…this time, my body showed me that it is of use too…and the stuff it can do far outweighs my brain’s ability to make my fingers play diminished 7th chords in 2nd inversions.  The birth of Zoey was like a spiritual awakening and realization of just how amazing and precious life is. I’m not saying that every person on earth’s sole purpose for being here is to bring another person into the world. But at this moment, being Zoey’s mother is the most defining characteristic about me.

And so, it seems funny now that I have written so much music about tragic love, partying, heartbreak and cat fights with girlfriends. I don’t regret those 200+ songs that all seem to fall into one of those categories. They tell a story of where I’ve been, like a photograph in time. And oddly, as soon as that first album was completed, a new chapter of my life had begun – a chapter that included this new little character, Zoey.

It seems that many of my songs now are about and for her. I haven’t been writing as many songs now – probably 1 or 2 a week – but the feeling is so different to write songs about where I am at right now rather than where I have been. I treasure my old songs, and I believe in their quality. I worked hard arranging instrument parts and revising the lyrics over and over again, and I feel excited about presenting them to the world because they are my best songs thus far.  But these new songs, they are something from deeper in my heart. A place where the lyrics need no revision, and I don’t need layers and layers of instruments to show any technical mastery. Most of them I “wrote” in my head while caring for Zoey. They have become our everyday songs that I sing to her while we are playing/eating/bathing etc.

As I said…I have so many interesting things to write…but for now, this little one is the most important of all.

Opinions…Everybody Has One

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You know the riddle: Everybody has one…and some of them stink. (Opinions) During my recent visit back home to Indiana, the preacher’s sermon on sunday was about opinions – and how as faithful people we should look to the Bible for our answers rather than the internet. While I appreciate his opinion…the Bible doesn’t say much about breastfeeding, getting your child to sleep through the night, or what to expect in the first week of life. After having my first baby, I’ve done a lot of searching Google for various reasons – Why is my baby crying? Should I co-sleep? When should baby (insert skill set here; hold a bottle, crawl, roll over, smile, laugh).  What I’ve found is that everyone has a lot of opinions. While one person will passionately advocate for the benefits of co-sleeping, another will say that it’s a risk for SIDS. Breastfeeding is a very heated debate among women. Many doctors and “experts” say that “it’s rare for women to suffer from low milk supply”. But then if you research “increase milk supply”, you find many women who are trying to do just that – and of course, a plethora of opinions about how to achieve it.

I’ve been baby-wearing Zoey nearly every day for the past 2 months. Baby-wearing is the practice of putting your little one in a sling or other carrying device and taking them along with you everywhere you go. This doesn’t work for everyone. Some mothers have back problems because of it, some babies hate it, and there is also a community of moms of the opinion that it neglects the child’s development of independence. I was told by some that it is “great” and that I’m “spoiling the child” by others. Baby-wearing worked for us until the hot weather of summer came along and we both found it uncomfortable to be wrapped up with so much extra fabric.

When an opinion is directed toward a specific person, it is called advice. . . .

The musical crowd of today is more opinionated than ever. I recently went to a music conference in Lancaster, PA where they played songs that were submitted and the panelists discussed whether the song “sucked” or not. In their opinion, most of the songs did suck. Their reasons were sometimes very technically sound, and other times based upon personal preferences. Music is one of those artistic expressions that begets preference and opinion from its audience. You develop into a listener who likes certain sounds and has certain expectations for songs that you listen to in order for them to be accepted into your realm of what you find enjoyable. Even if one person hates what you are creating, another person will find it to be wonderful.

I’ve read so many independent artists’ T shirts, comics and bumper stickers that “bash” on the popular music of today that I’ve finally begun to see how silly it is. Most of what they say about the popular music of today is true – “It’s all autotuned.” ..Well yes, it is. Vocals are edited on every commercial release of every genre of music released after 1990. They have been tuning vocals for years, and the technology has gotten so good that even LIVE autotune is affordable for everyone. If you are reading this, you probably have an opinion about whether this is good or bad use of technology. It’s a heated topic.

They also say of today’s pop music – “It all sounds the same.” ..Right again. That’s the idea of music fitting into a specific genre. It has characteristics that make it similar to other songs of the same genre. You could say that all classical music sounds the same, and all rock music sounds the same, and all techno music sounds the same…because in some way, they do.

I hear this a lot – “The stuff they are playing on the radio is crap.” What an opinion! If all music is just self-expression, can we really call one song “crap” and another song “art”? You could say that the major label artists aren’t choosing songs that focus on self-expression but rather making money…but isn’t that also a reflection of self? (See Madonna’s Material Girl) …

The bottom line…whether the musical opinions are right or not, is that everyone has an opinion. As a musician, it is your own opinion that matters most. Don’t let the opinions of others prevent you from making your own choices.

This goes double for parenthood.

Beauty for New Moms

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After giving birth hormones make your skin erupt like Mt. Fuji, hair from your head falls out and hair everywhere else sprouts like a forest. With all of this going on, it may be difficult to conceive the notion of ever looking pretty again. Besides not being able to fit into any of your pre-pregnancy clothes just yet, you might not even be able to find time to take a shower, let alone put on makeup!  I did a search the other day for “Beauty for New Moms” and was led to a website that recommended tips for beauty based partly upon what celebrity moms are doing to get prettied up in the weeks after delivery. I’m not saying that beauty tips can’t be ascertained by observing celebrity moms, but the “tips” I found seemed to be the most unreasonable suggestions for new moms. I got the impression that the writers either forgot what it is really like to be a new mom or they have never been one themselves.

While celebrity mom suggestions are nice, I’m not trying to get fancied up for the grammys.  I just want to get myself together enough so that I can go to the grocery store without people looking at me like I just crawled out of a cave. I don’t have the money or resources to hire a team of people like JLo did to get my pre-pregnant body back in 2 weeks or less. One of the makeup tips from the site recommended the smoky eye, under the premise that if you play up the eyes, you don’t have to spend makeup time on your lips. These women obviously don’t really have newborns, do they? This must be some kind of joke. The Smoky Eye?? I can’t even accomplish the smoky eye with much success when I am fully awake…let alone sleep-deprived and using a baby wipe to clean the grease off of my eyelids because I didn’t have time to shower and my hormones are pumping enough oil out of my face to fry an egg with. The smoky eye? I think not. Mascara? maybe.

Cover Girl does have that new dual-ended stick that is supposed to make the smoky eye super-easy to accomplish. That MIGHT work for my time budget.

 

Even celebrity moms can look less than stellar when deprived of sleep.

Tired new mommy Heidi Klum with dark roots showing and unkempt hair
Gisele Bundchen sporting ruddy skin and drab hair
Salma Hayek carrying a messy head of hair and a few extra pounds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular website also recommended creamy, brightly colored lipstick. Can I go a whole day without kissing my baby? Some doctors say that mommies have an uncontrollable urge to kiss their babies because it is a natural bonding process. Other doctors say that I’m checking the baby’s temperature. And some say that I’m sampling all of the germs on the baby’s face so that I can create the antibodies and deliver them to the infant in my breastmilk. Whatever the reason, brightly colored lipstick would certainly make fulfilling that urge difficult. Not to mention that most of the celebrity moms I saw wearing bright red lipstick were going to red-carpet events. I may go to the mall to walk around with my stroller. I might stop by the grocery store. Red carpet? I don’t think so. I would look ridiculous walking around with bright red creamy lipstick while I push my baby’s carseat in my grocery cart with one hand and double-check the stipulations on my coupon for prune juice with the other hand.

1. Lip Stain Instead of a lipstick that will prevent you from kissing your baby and make you look as though you were getting ready for a red-carpet event, a lip stain is light, will stay on your lips instead of all over baby’s face, and might even give your lips color for up to 3 days if you choose the right brand. Besides, new mommy, you aren’t sleeping anymore anyway, so why take the time to scrub your lips before “bed” when you’ll only be lying in bed for 2 hours. Scrub your lips when you finally get a chance for that long-awaited shower. Until that moment, you can have a color-stained pout that makes you look and feel prettier. Probably not JLo-at-the-grammys pretty, but prettier than “cave dweller”.

I know that Drew Barrymore really makes that Cover Girl lip stain look fantastic, (I secretly think she may have had some work done on her face this year, or the camera guys did a lot of tape editing)…anyway….the Cover Girl lip stain is not good. First, it isn’t a stain. It washes off with water. It’s drying. If you read the reviews for it, there is a lot of defective product out there. The lip staining pen dries up really quick. The strawberry colored one I had was actually more of a dark red hue than the color that was shown on both the display and the tube.

Maybelline’s lip stain actually DOES stain the lip without rinsing off in water. However, I hear that there are a lot of good lip stains out there to be tried. I have a slightly raisin-colored Maybelline lip stain that has a clear balm stick at one end. Just be careful with darkness of hue and staying power when you buy your lip stain. It might be worth it to ask someone who works at Sephora what they would recommend and try before you buy if you can.

2. Sunglasses. There’s one thing that the celebrity moms above all have in common that I would agree is a good tip. Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses will hide the most tired part of your face; your eyes. It seems that many of us have a hard enough time making our eyes look pretty when we have gotten a decent amount of sleep. Trying to salvage their youthfulness after several weeks of bad sleep seems to be a fruitless endeavor.

Sunglasses come in a variety of different hues, and you might find that a pair of lighter, colored sunglasses works better than a blackout pair if you will be going indoors. It feels a bit silly walking around indoors with dark sunglasses on, so you’ll probably take them off…which defeats the purpose of wearing them to hide those tired eyes.

image from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" Youtube video
Click here to see my sunglasses collection on YouTube

In one of my Youtube music videos, I actually used a lot of colorful non-black sunglasses. You c

an check it out by clicking this picture if interested. If really colorful sunglasses are not your thing, there are also many places that sell more conservative tones of gray and beige.

(Target, Sears, and believe it or not Five Below are my “go to” places for affordable, stylish sunglasses.)

 

3. Hair Texture. Last season, straight hair was the must-have style. I even fell into the trap of getting that side-swept bang cut into my hair that everyone gave tutorials for on YouTube. The side swept bang is nice, but it requires an incredible amount of prep time to make it “sweep” just right, and then an incredible amount of hair product to make it stay in that swept look. While this isn’t a huge burden on girls that have time for daily showers, this amount of hair-time is nearly impossible for you, new mommy. In the odd chance that you DO get to shower, perhaps you’ll have time to dry your hair, but dry, straight iron AND style it? pfft. Straight hair also looks like a rats nest if you pull it into a ponytail and then later decide you want to wear it down. It also doesn’t fare well if you sleep on it. Not that you will be getting a lot of sleep as a new mommy, but what little sleep you get will most likely destroy your hairstyle. Hair with texture is making a comeback, which is helpful for us, because unwashed hair can lend itself well to having texture! The trick is making the hair look stylishly textured without looking greasy or dirty.

TRY: Dry shampoo spray. There are lots of different brands of dry shampoo spray out there. Before being a new mommy, you probably even thought, “Eww…why don’t people just take a shower?” Well, here is our chance to have a little empathy for those who just don’t have time to shower every day. Dry shampoo spray is meant to absorb the extra oils in your hair, leaving it looking less greasy. If your hair is dry or frizzy at the ends, you may find after using this that the ends of your hair need some smoothing. Enter product #2..

A Spray Bottle of Water. I use an old bottle that once had detangler in it and just fill it with water. I’m poor and cheap-o like that. They do sell spray bottles for water though. You can find them in the hair or travel sections in most major retailers. Sometimes spraying your hair with a bit of water and combing it into place looks just as good as if you had a shower. I like the idea of trying water first before any major products like mousse or pomade, because whatever product you put in your hair may very well be there until you have your next shower…and who knows when that will be!

One of the tips from the websites I researched recommended braiding my hair before bed and taking it out in the morning for a soft, wavy look. So, I thought I would try it…

I dampened my hair with water, and worked in a bit of gel. I separated my hair into 4 sections and french braided it. This took more time than I probably would have spent just taking a shower, to be honest. And I needed to braid the top part of my hair so that my hair wouldn’t be curly on bottom and straight on top. I had to keep dampening my hair as I braided, as it took a while. Once all of the hair was in braids, I patted more of the holding gel on the braids. In the morning, I took out the braids and poof! my hair was curly. I “combed” through my hair with my fingers, trying to get it to lay in such a way as to not keep re-parting itself where I had parted the original braiding. My ordinarily side-swept bangs were incredibly poofy, and made me look like I belonged in an 80’s hair band. I sprayed a bit of water on my scalp and rubbed it in with my fingers to help lift the roots a bit, being careful not to get the curly parts overly damp. Despite my best efforts, the top part of my hair was still straight. So, I pulled out my old crimper that has been collecting dust in my closet since the early 90’s and used it to make the top of my hair blend in with the rest. I went through several stages of crimping my bangs, hating them, wetting them with water and waiting for them to dry…then crimping again…until I finally got them to look almost normal. Unfortunately, babies like to get their hands tangled into mommy’s hair. So, I pulled the curly mass into a ponytail on the right (since baby’s head is usually on my left). Keep in mind while scanning these pictures that I am a very tired new mommy who is not wearing makeup. :P

CLICK AND DRAG TO VIEW

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For the amount of time that I spent fussing over this hairstyle, I do not feel like it is a good “tip” to save new mommies time. It may have worked if I had a different hair texture, or if I didn’t have bangs. The day that I took the braids out the hair looked pretty “decent”, but was not a style that you could comb easily, making it look a bit more dreadlock-like by day 2 (another day without a shower, by the way) and by day 3 I HAD to take a shower because I just looked like a frizzy mess. I think I will stick to my spray bottle of water and dry shampoo.

4. Wear makeup products that have a built-in applicator. There are so many new products out there that have the applicator built-in for truly one step application. But Beware some of the Loreal products with those brushes that are built atop the lid. They LOOK like built-in brushes, but are actually not all that convenient. The more convenient types are like the Neutrogena Mineral Sheers, where the powder actually flows through the brush. It won’t cover imperfections as well as liquid foundation, but it’s better than nothing at all if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.

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5. Use a nail buffer.

Now that your hands are constantly on your baby, the last thing you want is for her to accidentally ingest some nail polish. Let’s face it – you’re going to be sticking your fingers into her mouth on a daily basis now…so nail polish is (for now) a thing of the past. Put a nail buffer on the back of the toilet tank and use it each time you go to the loo.

6. Wear Casual Anti-Wrinkle Dresses if it’s warm. There are a few reasons for wearing dresses. The right cut can hide parts of your new body that you are uncomfortable with. Some dresses are very comfortable for napping in. It is easier to find dresses than tops that have easy access to the milk-factory for breastfeeding moms. Certain cuts of dresses will still fit after you get your pre-pregnant body back, unlike jeans which are very size-specific. It’s takes less time to throw on a dress than to match up tops and bottoms.  

Hopefully some of these tips will give you back your confidence and help get you out the door to enjoy the world. And if all else fails, throw caution to the wind and hit the town as you are; with your new jiggly bits, with your hair that cries for a product to fix it, and skin that looks very far from Dove-commercial ready. Remember that you are beautiful just as you are, and when your baby smiles up at your face, she really doesn’t care whether you have the best looking “smoky eye” or not. To her, you are the most beautiful person in the world.