Daniel Tiger made me a better parent


Despite my earlier (pre-baby) insistence that screen time would be non-existent in my household, we’ve watched plenty of the ol’ tube. We don’t have cable or television service, but we do have YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime hooked up to our Roku.

This at least realizes my childhood fantasy that I could have all my favorite show seasons on VHS and show them to my kid per my own schedule without them seeing any of the shows I deemed “stupid” (e.g. ‘Ren and Stimpy’ don’t exist because ‘The Magic School Bus’ is all there is) or be troubled by pesky commercials. We’re truly living in the golden age. Also… does this make me an odd 4th grader? Continue reading


Top 5 Toddler Kitchen Tools. Including Skills and Recipes for your burgeoning chef

Essential Toddler Kitchen Skills and Tools

When high school ended, and I was thrust (almost literally) into the riggers of “real life,” without any skills, funds, or safety net to experiment in the kitchen. My meager 50$ per month budget could not be risked on flopped meals. Off brand, bulk food cereal, powdered milk, and 2 for 1$ frozen pot pies were in my cart, and then it was on the bus to my minimum wage job at the airport. I ate very little, but gained a lot of weight on cheap processed foods and acquired no skills. I knew that when I became a parent, I didn’t want this burden for my own child.

When I got older, and left behind the job for a career, I splurged on two cooking classes at a culinary school in Portland, OR: (1) Knife Essentials (Food Prep and Knife Skills) and (2) Flavor Essentials (how to blend and use spices, when and how to add them). It was a pivotal moment for me. Nothing was un-cookable, nothing was a flop. No cuisine unattainable. My confidence soared, and I eventually I even started a food blog (Thought on a Roll) to catalog my favorites.

Now, exotic international meals just came together with pennies and a decent spice collection. I could eat better than I did out of highschool on the same budget. It almost made me bitter, but luckily I learned how to balance that flavor.

As the soft aroma of my milk tart mingled with the powerful presence of ye’abesha gomen, I realized then how unprepared my parents (and high school) had left me. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen except for Christmas cookies, and learned no basic kitchen skills. To lack this skill is intimidating and overwhelming when you’re hungry most of the time and on a meager budget. My high school no longer taught any basic living skills like cooking, so by the time my son arrived into this world I had already categorized “kitchen skills” under the job description for myself as a parent. Continue reading


Toddler DIY: Washable Art Wall

DIY Toddler Art Wall for Under 30$!

We first saw this idea at the Sacramento Children’s Museum. It was a giant plexiglass wall setting on concrete and you could just paint allll over it and then they would come by and wash it off. Baby D loved it! I loved it too. So I set out to make my own.

I looked around for existing ideas, but all of them were made using wood. I didn’t want wood, because I didn’t want it to start rotting after getting wet from washing or because I was planning on storing it outside.

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Baby Love (Month 11): Diwali and Turkey

Haiku Summary:
Travel bunny hop
East to West Coast
Yay for Thanksgiving

11MonthsI’m 11 months old!

After a relatively calm October, we had to prep for a long flight first to Florida to visit baby D’s great grandma (my grandpa passed away in June, and this was the first Thanksgiving alone), then back across the country to Oregon to celebrate Thanksgiving with the rest of the family.

Continue reading


Baby Love (Month 10): Pumpkins

Haiku Summary:
Halloween is fun
Dressed up like an old man
Mom laughed at me.

10monthsI’m 10 months old!

After our family trip / babymoon / anniversary, we didn’t do much in October. But we did participate in Halloween, by dressing up…eating at a Vietnamese restaurant instead of trick of treat… and then throwing a pumpkin carving party with lots of pumpkin-based foods.

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Baby Love (Month 9): Travel!

Haiku Summary:
Flying far away
Four hours cross the ocean
Lovely Hawaii


I’m 9 months old!

The ninth month was a great deal of fun. Baby D was predictable and compliant–the perfect time for a belated babymoon and to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. The flight to Hawaii was a solid 4-hours, and was PACKED with kids. I was feeling like everyone felt like Hawaii was a good idea, and we were placed every other row because only one lap infant was allowed per row (due to some availability of life saving resources). It was a good flight, if you didn’t stand up you couldn’t hear the cacophony of crying babes.

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My Top Five Gadgets (Months 0-3)

Top Gadgets

Every baby is a little different, some like this, some like that, some hate the world. The biggest question we asked in the 0-3 month range was, “what stops the crying?” seriously.


We bought *a lot* of items trying to answer this question. Not really in desperation, per se, but definitely in confusion at what would work. Let’s just say we had five different places for our son to sleep.

However, it became apparent that of all the gadgets we bought–several were of high importance for those first 3 months. Let me know! What were yours?

If I had to do it all over, here are the ones we would buy again: Continue reading


Diaper Doodie: Diapers for 0-7 months

Number of Diapers for the first 7 months

For my niece’s baby shower, I did the auntie equivalent of buying socks for Christmas–I bought 6 months worth of diapers. For my own wee one, I bought 7 months worth of diapers, and as we have opened up our final baggie a mere 2 weeks after 7 months, I’ll say I have a fairly reliable system down. Continue reading


The Labor & Delivery Bill


I don’t understand why medical costs need to be so murky, everything has a code associated with it. How on earth does one plan for a “$3,296 to $37,227” variation?

Our local NPR station is doing a series called “Price Check,” that is striving to make healthcare costs transparent in California. I always held an interested ear during my commute while pregnant, hoping beyond hope they would do a segment on childbirth costs before I gave birth. They didn’t, but I resolved to hold onto all my billing statements so when they inevitably did this segment–they would find at least the benefit of my Labor and Delivery information (here is the article).

What I did do pre-birth was call the billing center, and they put me off for an entire 4 weeks until giving me a rough figure with “this might not be accurate” thrown in every fifth word. SO many things would make *my* birth totally unique. The doctors were billed separately, my child was billed separately, room & board didn’t include ibuprofen which would also be billed separately. So much for preparation.

My final step was to “prepare for the worst.” Since I DO have insurance, who covers 100% of my prenatal (pre-birth) exams, and 80% of maternity I felt like I could be reasonably assured of my final bill. My insurance has an out-of-pocket max including the deductible of 4,200$…assuming I don’t have a child I need to add on for the date of service (birth) which would put me on a family plan (my husband uses his own insurance)…hmm, well, in THAT case, it’s an out-of-pocket max of 8,400$ for me and my babe. So even if my total bill was the maximum 37k, that would still be below this out-of-pocket max. Yay?

Time to hold on for reality. Birth!

My labor story was not particular unique, from a billing standpoint anyhow. I had a normal vaginal birth, and I used no medicines–in fact, I almost gave birth in the Hyatt because the midwife on staff refused to admit me on the grounds that no one gives birth in under 24 hours for their first child. I arrived with twenty minutes to spare, 5.5 hours after my first contraction.

Billing doesn’t care about these details, so here’s the dirt: Continue reading


Baby Love (Month 3): Lessons

Haiku Summary:
as maternity leave ends…
separation pain.

11084602_10152808490883517_2095015502_nI’m three months old!

Month three signaled the swan song for my maternity leave, and suddenly everything felt rushed.

I dug out all my pre-Baby D research and notes on the day cares, Montessori schools, and other schools promising to both care and educate my child while I worked to pay for it. I schedule walk through after walk through, and deliberate on the the facilities. I finally choose one, and my husband joins me on an additional tour to shrug and say, “I guess.”

I waffle on returning to work. We do the math… it’s an impossibility. We exist in that sweet spot where our living expenses (including daycare) are still too much (and simultaneously not enough) for me to quit. I think this is called “golden handcuffs” or my job, like it or not, is too good to quit. In desperation, I do the math on part-time…but no, now the cost of part-time daycare plus our expenses makes working no longer worthwhile. I would be working for the amusement of employment alone at that point.

If I quit my job, baby D would get a full time parent. Someone who knows all his buttons and is expressly interested in his personal well being above most any other human on the planet.

But…if I quit my job, baby D also no longer has parents with the financial availability to travel to the rest of his family located in the pacific northwest and of Tamil Nadu, India. He’d exist in a bubble of pictures and Skype. Sure, family could come to us…but if my grandfather in Florida is any indication, that is a one-sided effort and once every four years was never enough.

Baby D’s parents waited until everyone was quite old before asking him to join the family, and now 24-hours of plane travel takes its toll on grandparents in their 60’s.
The selfishness of wanting to quit comes to light, and sadly I sign the forms at the school we’ve chosen. “They teach baby sign language and he’ll learn to be more social.” I say with a smile, adding, “Oh and Mandarin and Spanish too, when he’s older.”

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Baby Love (Month 2): Light!

Haiku Summary:
baby smiling coo
some tummy time exercise
small arms reach and flail

5x7I’m two months old!

Month two is an entirely different world. Suddenly your night is broken into two, four-hour segments…his eyes focus. He smiles. Your fake “achooo!” is funny. You’re a source of joy. This is what you signed up for.

Once we figured out he wasn’t getting enough milk from me alone and started supplementing, he basically stopped crying. He didn’t go through a “purple crying” or “colic” phase, rather he became “predictable.” His cries meant one of three things:

  1. I’m pretty frustrated that I’m still awake—also, I don’t want to sleep
  2. I told them 30 seconds ago I was hungry…omg, they are starving me! CALL CHILD SERVICES!!!
  3. I want to poop, but my fart scared me 😥 Continue reading