Why baby won’t stop crying

When we were sleep-deprived, rookie parents with our first little bundle of joy, my husband — desperate with a crying baby in his arms at 3 am — actually googled: why baby won’t stop crying.

He got the usual answers and remedies: hungry, wet, gassy, tired. Feed, change, Gripe Water, rock. But now that we’re on our third and we’re TOTAL pros (ahem), I though I’d share some words of wisdom for other new, late-night googling parents.

Here are some common, but often unknown reasons why your new baby won’t stop crying.

#1. They want you to sing in two-part harmony.

Kids these days are easily bored. They’ve heard Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Baa, Baa Black Sheep plenty of times in their first few weeks of life. What they’re looking for at 3 am is a little Lady Antebellum-like harmony. I sing the melody — Matt jumps in with the harmony in the chorus. Works like a charm.

#2. They want to projectile vomit on your face.

They’ve spit up on your clothes, your sheets, their bed, and the livingroom rug. But nothing delights a newborn more than when you make that utterly disgusted expression of “Ugh. I have spit-up dripping from my chin.” They think that’s funny.

#3. They want you to get an ab workout.

Newborns are empathetic. They know that you’re a bit concerned by your postpartum belly flab and they have an interest in helping you tone. So forget the soft and gentle rock, rock, rock in the cozy glider — they want a full-on 6 Flags ride where you stand, bump and vibrate like you’re doing the Robot. Or maybe like an aerobics instructor. This soothes them. And once they’re sound asleep, you’ll be feeling the burn.

#4. They want you to change them – so that they can have a blowout.

Diapers are binding. When you start to change your newborn and give their wittle bitty body room to breathe, then they feel comfortable enough to let go of whatever liquidy substance was bothering them. All over you, of course. And whatever they’re laying on. It’s very freeing.

#5. They want to sleep in your spot.

You get your newborn perfectly to sleep, lay them down slowly in their bassinet… and then, BAM! Crying! It’s no surprise. They don’t want the baby bed. They want the King Size — and more specifically, your warm, broken-in, soft place where the mattress has been perfectly molded to your adult-size body. They’re even happier to see if you and your 200 lb. husband can spoon as far to the edge as possible without falling off.

If you’ve exhausted all of these possibilities to no avail sweet parents, well… call Grandma and Grandpa and try 4-part harmony. [If they can’t sing harmony, at least they can hold the lil’ baby while you get some sleep.]

Happy parenting!

How to play poker with a 3-year-old

I have to admit: being a parent requires developing a pretty good poker face.

Over the few years I’ve know my 3-year-old, I’ve had to perfect the art of calling his bluffs — and not letting him call mine.

Every once in a while — due to frustration or being tired or, well, sheer desperation — I make threats I know I won’t follow through on, promise things I don’t really want to give and over all, get myself too far into the game with a weak hand.

[Really?? If I quit screaming “poop out of my butt” in the Target checkout line, then Mommy will let me have this King Size Snickers bar even though it breaks all the rules of good parenting???]

And so, here are my main rules of playing poker with a 3-year-old.

Disclaimer: All poker players are different. These rules have been built from years of playing with my miniature opponent. Also, I really don’t know anything about poker.

Rule #1: Always call a toddler’s bluff at dinner time.

My toddler’s favorite food is bread. And sugar, but for the sake of this conversation, we’ll stick to bread. So often times, our game of poker goes like this:

Me: What do you want to eat, honey?

Toddler: A tortilla.

Me: How about a tortilla and cheese?

Toddler: No, just a tortilla. Flat.

Me: Well can you eat a banana or some dinosaur nuggets first?

Toddler: No, just a tortilla.

Me: I need you to eat something healthy first, honey.


Me: I would love to give you a tortilla. As soon as you eat a banana or dinosaur nuggets.


Me: (Unphased.) When you’re ready to eat something healthy, just let me know.

[2 minutes of silence.]

Toddler: (realizing I had four aces) … Can I have some dinosaur nuggets?

This poker game is one that I have mastered. My 3-year-old has a predictable bluffing pattern for dinner-time poker, so I know that if I hold out long enough, he will fold. And Mommy will prevail. The key to dinner-time poker is maintaining a calm demeanor, offering likeable alternatives — and in the end, knowing that you have the upper-hand: food.

Rule #2: Always call a toddler’s bluff at potty time.

My son is fairly new to the fully potty-trained club, as of a couple months ago. So when his extra-large chocolate milk at a restaurant meets our extra-long car trip home, I know that it’s time to go potty. Even if he bluffs that he doesn’t have to. The trick here is taking him before it’s time to leave so that I can use that as part of my bluff. It’s all very scientific.

Me: OK, let’s go potty before we have to get in the car.

Toddler: I don’t have to go potty.

Me: That’s OK. Let’s just go try since we have to leave soon and will be in the car for awhile.

Toddler: I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go potty.

Me: That’s fine, but let’s just go try.

Toddler: I don’t want to.

Me: Well, we can go potty now and stay a bit longer — or we can just leave right now. Which one would you like?

Toddler: (seeing that I just laid down a “straight flush”) … Go potty.

I find that offering rewards that are things we’re going to do anyway, like “stay a bit longer,” or “order dessert” is a great way to motivate. {Motivation, people! Not bribery! Ahem.}

Rule #3: Let him win when it doesn’t matter.

Toddlers hear “no” a lot. Which is mostly necessary, because left to his own devices, my toddler would run around wearing underwear on his head, flailing Daddy’s power drill and eating spoonfuls of brown sugar all day. I guess I don’t really care about the underwear on the head part — but the power drill might be a little disconcerting when neighbors stop by.

However, I find that if I let my toddler win when it doesn’t matter — then he’s a better sport when I have the better hand. And plus, sometimes he’s just right.

Toddler: Mommy, can we go swimming?

Me: (nursing a baby, needing to clean the house and fold clothes and make lunch and.. and.. and….) Sure, baby.

Toddler: (surprised by his great hand) WE CAN?????!! YAY!!!!!!

This game is best — because really, we both win.

Stay tuned for my next How-to series titled, “How to play Hide and Sleep with a newborn.”

It involves hiding and sleeping while Daddy takes care of the kids.

Lots of strategy in this one.

“You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

— Kenny Rogers

Birthdays: then and now

I was googling birthday theme ideas for Kate’s 2nd birthday party.

And as I came upon the lavish, awesome, over-the-top birthday ideas (which look really fun — and time-consuming — to create), I thought back on pictures from my own childhood birthday parties. They were fun, homemade and very special — but they’re a bit more mellow than the Pinterest-parties of today.

But maybe that’s because our moms didn’t have the internet when we were little. [Oh I would love to see Pinterest of the 80’s.]

From Birthday at Jennifer’s to Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Photo credits: left and right.

I also wondered if moms of the 80’s spent as much time brainstorming nursery-decorating ideas. Or at least they didn’t spend as much time browsing baby chandeliers.

Photo credits: left and right.

But even if 80’s moms had less societal expectations when it came to things like party-throwing or decorating — they have modern moms beat in the hair category.

Those bangs were a LOT more high maintenance.

And they had to keep up with that every day.

[The picture on the right is from my anniversary date a few weeks ago — my bangs are disgracefully flat.]

But I guess when it comes down to birthdays, kids only really care if there’s cake and love. And no matter what generation you’re from, all mamas are pretty good at those details.

Frumpy shmumpy

Today I attempted to do an exercise video on my freshly-vacuumed living room rug.

Jillian Michaels and her abs-of-steel counterparts ordered me to do all sorts of circuit exercises — and so I did, in between moving my 22-month-old daughter away from the 3 1/2 week old, who she kept poking in the eye while she restfully slept in her bouncer.

Of course I had to pee a couple of times during the jumping jacks and then there was the fact that Kate wanted to crawl on my face while I did crunches. And my hair rubber band wouldn’t stay in my hair. And my doubled-up nursing mom sports bras were too tight and cutting off my circulation.

Half-way through, I ditched the video and we had a full-out dance party, which was way more fun for all of us.

I did, however, have a successful run yesterday with the dog while my husband watched the children on his lunch break. And when I got home, I asked him: “Do you want me to be hot or a good mother and wife? Because I don’t have time to be both.”

[Of course that was a joke. And of course exercising and taking care of yourself is part of being a good mother/wife. I was being exaggeratory. And I know exaggeratory is not really a word.]

But I do think it’s funny how quickly the frump factor creeps in. And I’m not alone. I googled “new moms frumpy” for the sake of this blog post and the sweatpant-sportin’ sentiments started.

As a young mama on my third baby, I’ve lived in the postpartum “uniform” for the first couple months or so until I could fit into my old clothes. I’ve made the trips to Target with dirty hair and no make-up and spit up-clad yoga pants to pick up some milk. And I’ve also gotten back into fairly good shape, felt good about myself, and not worried too much about it.

Because what I’ve realized is, for me, the frump doesn’t come from caring less about myself — it comes from caring more about something other than myself.

Suddenly, these new little people have taken over my life — and I’m content realizing that my ever-changing body is growing people, feeding people, and caring for people in important ways. I may not be in the best shape, but my capable body is helping shape them. (And it helps having a husband who never makes me feel anything less than the most beautiful woman in the world.)

So, I’ll keep working out because it makes me feel good and healthy.

But in the meantime, I figure God knew what he was doing. After all, abs of steel aren’t very comfy to snuggle on.

Relax your face

Six days past due date and going strong. There’s a chance she may be gaining 2 lbs a day. Or maybe my chocolate-eating has just increased. Either way, she’s a biggun’. (That’s how you say “large and in charge” in Texan).

I’m thinking of going au naturel this time. (i.e. no epidural or other pain meds.)

I was blessed with two very easy, beautiful labors with my first two — had epidurals with both — and have thought that I would like to try going without it this time for several reasons. I’ve mentioned this to a few people lately.

One (who had a natural labor recently) said, “It was euphoric.”

Another said it was miserable and she would never do it again.

Another said it was miserable but that she’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Another made a constipated face and just looked at me strangely.

I stumbled upon this post from perhaps the world’s most popular blogger, The Pioneer Woman, in which she wrote in a Q&A:

Dear Pioneer Woman,

I’m due to deliver my first baby (a girl!) on July 10th. I’m a little nervous about labor and delivery…any advice?

Gestating in Georgia


Dear Preggers:

You shouldn’t be nervous. You shouldn’t be afraid. Women have given birth for centuries.

That said, labor is TERRIBLE. The pain—the crampy, all-encompassing abdomen-and-beyond experience is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. The sheer intensity of it blew my mind. I felt helpless, desperate, and alone when my first labor kicked into gear.

THAT said, my most wonderful childbirth experience was my third, when I pushed through and made it without an epidural. I felt every single contraction and I got to scream a primal scream when my boy finally burst forth into the world. It’s the birth I think most about, and, ironically, the one I remember most fondly.

THAT said, it really does hurt. But it’s not a sharp pain kind of hurt. It’s an I’ve-never-experienced-this-sensation-in-my-life kind of hurt. In the throes of labor, I would trade it for needles being driven into my eyeballs.

But don’t let that scare you.

Lotsa Love,

My husband and I have been enjoying a fun banter about him coaching me through this au naturel thing. Mostly because we googled a popular “method of husband-coached natural childbirth” and found a funny Cliff’s Notes-like blog post where they give you the 5-minute rundown.

The first tip:

Coach is to remind woman in labor what muscles to relax
(head, face, arms, legs, hands, back, abdominal, shoulder, etc.)

Matt: “So I’ll just remind you to relax your face? I can do that. Relax your face.”

(He’s been practicing this phrase a lot the past couple of days.)

Me: My feet are swollen.

Matt: Aww, just relax your face.


The second tip:

Coach is to remember that the first need of a Laboring Woman is Darkness and Solitude

Me: Please don’t leave me alone in a dark room.

Matt: Shh, just relax your face.


All joking aside, it is something that I’d like to try — so we’ll see. I’m just hoping the hospital is stocked on those yummy frozen rainbow Popsicles. Though it may make it harder for me to relax my face with brain freeze.