5 Things That Make Me A Better Parent

Time away from my baby
I went 30 days without being separated from my child for a single second last month...and it resulted in a feeling of frustration which, inevitably, I took out on my husband. Babies are babies. They will have nights when they are fussy, days when they cry for what seems like no reason, and stretches of time when they only want Mommy to hold them; it's what they do as they develop. I find all of these things exponentially easier to deal with if I've had a couple hours without my baby.

There is just nothing like sweating to make me feel good and ready to take on the day. It's a little me time, even though my baby comes along and sits in her bouncy chair. It's also a way to be social and connect with my friends. I love to get those good endorphins flowing. Exercise is also one of the ways that I ward off anxiety and who the heck wants an anxious mommy?

Do I love my child more than anything? Of course I do! But that doesn't mean there aren't downsides to parenthood. Nothing gets under my skin more than parents who act as though they literally have nothing bad to report about the experience. <<LIARS!>> Venting about these things, and often being able to put a humorous spin on them makes them sort of *poof* go away.

And if you're in denial about these things, well then, I can't help you. What I can say is that bitching about breastfeeding made getting through the first six weeks a possibility. Joking with my mom about how my daughter was the "hugging terrorist" who wouldn't let me put her down last week made getting through those four days much easier. So go ahead--vent! No one is judging you (except maybe you!)

Makes me feel like a woman, not just a mom. It's essential. I know that there are a lot of women out there who don't resume sex right away (after the 6 week break of course), for a variety of reasons. For me, I need to reconnect with my husband because our marriage comes first. Happy marriage= happier child, and sex is a major part of that equation!

A drink here and there 
I am NOT trying to be a mommy martyr. And yes, I am breastfeeding. But a glass of wine or a beer here or there isn't going to get my baby drunk, nor is it going to hurt anything. What it will do is keep me from feeling deprived and resentful, which ultimately makes me a better parent. If you cut out drinking totally while breastfeeding, good for you, I hope it's a-working. It wouldn't work for me. 

Marriage After Baby

The path of parenthood is wrought with uncertainty, and not just where the baby is concerned. For me, before I became pregnant, I worried endlessly about what would happen to the state of my relationship with my husband if we were to introduce a third party (the child) into our marriage. Some of my fears turned out to be founded and others, well, they didn't pan out at all. Here's what I have found out in the first three months of having a baby as it relates to my marriage.

Fear: We would fight all the time
Reality: We fight about the same, which isn't all that much 
I was scared that the stress of having a child would cause us to fight more than normal...the truth is that my husband was very understanding of my stress postpartum. So when I had my two week melt down because I was feeling overwhelmed, (and unceremoniously attacked him for "going on runs" and "living life") it didn't turn into a fight at all. Why? Because my husband was extremely understanding that it was a difficult time.

Other than that, we haven't been fighting any more than normal, which really isn't all that much. The biggest thing here for any couple is having a constructive fighting style that allows you to resolve problems quickly.

Fear: We would never have sex again 
Reality: We have sex about the same, but like sexual ninjas 
Now we have to sneak away in our own home to have sex because our child seems to have this super stellar radar for whenever we are about to get busy and starts crying. So it's off to the living room, or bedroom, or whatever room we can stealthily sneak away to where our little one won't notice we've gone for a few moments of intimacy (usually while she's napping). Ninjas.

Does it sometimes take extra energy at the end of the day (or beginning of the day), yes. But it's also worth it to have those moments of carnal reconnection that are essential to a marriage. And the unexpected quickie here or there reminds me that besides being "mom and dad" we are first a couple.

Fear: Our social life would dry up, which would make us unhappy. 
Reality: We've never been busier. 
Our social life has blossomed with parenthood, which is a very unexpected surprise! People who have children are always willing to socialize, and now I understand why: adult human contact is sooo important. But I don't want to discount our friends who don't have children, but have been extra conscious about reaching out to us. The village has surrounded us, and it's amazing. Thank you, village.

Fear: We would turn into these super cheesy parent people. 
Reality: We haven't changed, we were already those people to begin with. 
We already sang silly songs about each other, stayed in on the weekends, and liked playing with toys (and gadgets) so honestly, not all that much has changed. We still have our strange senses of humor which I assume we will pass on to our child, and but for a few new child-oriented things, we are mostly the same. Turns out, we were already those cheesy parent people only we didn't know it!

Fear: I would be doing all the baby stuff and would resent my husband. 
Reality: We both do a lot, it's possible I do a bit more (breastfeeding), but we have different strengths. 
If a mother is staying at home while the husband works outside the home, and that same mother is breastfeeding, then it's cut and dry; mom is gonna have a little more work in the beginning. But I have been able to keep my resentments in check because my husband has been very helpful and loving toward our daughter. He changes diapers like a champ, and even dances for her when she cries.

Any time I have felt overwhelmed, I try to explain it to my husband, and he tires his best to help in any way he can--even if it's not baby related. The thing I have learned above all about my marriage since having a child is that we are truly a team. We bring different strengths to the table, which ultimately makes for a more well-rounded household and hopefully a well-rounded child.

What has changed for you and your husband since you brought home baby? Let me know in the comments sections below!!

Spicy Asian Noodle Recipe

There is a restaurant in Rehoboth Beach called Confucius, which is one of our very favorites. When we go we always get these spicy noodles, which are served cold and are amazingly flavorful. Nowadays, oddly enough, my husband and I are lucky to get away on dates fairly frequently (for having a 3 month old) but getting to Rehoboth in the summer between the traffic and the distance, not to mention the cost, can be a little impossible. 

But I had to have these noodles. Had. To. Have. Them. Because I can't have dairy. I must have the noodles. So, I had to figure it out and make them myself. I started working on a recipe and after a couple of tries, I'm really happy with what I've come up with. My friend Paul says that's pretty identical to what they serve at Confucius, which made me ecstatic. 

Either way, even if you've never tried said noodles, if you like spicy and you like Asian style cooking, then these noodles are for you. Not sure if I mentioned this, but they also take about 10 minutes. These make a great side dish or a main dish even. Great to bring to parties, and impress the pants off your friends with. And when they ask you where you got the recipe, you can tell them "Bossy Italian Wife." Because even if they are Asian style, they are still noodles, so as far as I am concerned, they're Italian in even the smallest of ways.... haha. 

I made a big batch of this recipe, but you can easily half it. It's really so yummy, though, that I don't suggest halfing it because leftovers are the best!!! A word about the chili paste, you can generally get it in the Asian section of the grocery, where you can also find the noodles. 

Spicy Asian Noodles 

Time: 10 minutes | Serves 6-8 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

2- 8.8 ounce packages wheat pasta (you can also substitute linguine if you can't find them) 
4 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
4 tablespoons chili paste 
A heaping handful of sesame seeds (I used black and white version) 


Cook noodles according to manufacturer's directions, being careful not to overcook them. Drain and then rinse them in cold water. Place them in a big bowl. 

Add the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste and sesame seeds. Toss with tongs and taste, adjusting spice if your heart desires. 

Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Enjoy!!! 

Bossy Italian Book Review: Bebe Day by Day By Pamela Druckerman

Oh, parenting...it's an eventful journey I can tell you that much. If you are a parent you probably know that there are forty-seven million different books devoted to the subject of how to be the perfect parent or raise the perfect (most happy) child in the whole wide world. This is not one of those books, thank goodness.

I read Pamela Druckerman's first book, Bringing Up Bebe, while I was pregnant and I loved it. It gave me the sort of "I can do this, don't freak out" kick in my pants I needed to feel like I would be able to handle being a parent. Which is important, we all need that, right? But now I am an actual parent. And I can't, for the life of me remember what was contained in that book that I loved and wanted so badly to implement. That is where this book comes in.

This is the synopsized, shorter, easier to digest and read when you have a baby and don't have a single to second to think about reading version. I have referred to it several times already and read it to my husband, and, eh-hem, read it on the loo several times. It's got the 100 most important points from the original book without all the story bits.

I love the little reminders that it contains...about getting your groove back and not giving up your coupledom and all that jazz. And with this book, and the very useful information it contains,  I can now implement my hybrid Attachment Parenting/ French Parenting system, which I hope will work and then I can share with all of you.

Bottom line? If you loved Bringing Up Bebe and you now find you can't remember what the heck was contained in the book, but desperately want to implement the French parenting guidelines, then this book is for you. Also, if you have a friend or family member who is pregnant and liked the book you could get this for them--I am sure they would be endlessly thankful!!!

Fresh & Simple...The Tomato Sandwich

Tomato season. I melt. I just love the freshness of a ripe tomato. It's such a simple pleasure, like watching my child sleep or looking over at my husband and feeling in love. The simplicity of it just can't be beat. Which is why I am in love with the ease and simplicity of the tomato sandwich.

It's funny because I ate these nonstop last summer, on rye bread. And this summer, maybe it's my mommy brain or perhaps I've actually been that busy, but I plum forgot about them! That is, until one day when my husband said "I keep seeing this thing on the Internet and it's a Southern thing, I guess...a tomato sandwich with mayo?"

Now, the fact that he wanted to try this made me so excited because I never thought in a million years he would be interested in such a sandwich. The next day, I made them up and *surprise* he loved it! I am a happy person. We ate it on Split Top Wheat bread, but I think the original is on white bread. Whatever...work it if ya got it. As for me, I am back on the tomato sandwich bandwagon and happy to have remembered how much I love because it's not easy to find non-dairy options that feel so pleasurable.

If you, like my husband, have never tried this, for the love of Pete, go out and get a big juicy tomato, slather some (okay, more than some) mayo on two pieces of soft bread and enjoy the heck out of a simply wonderful sandwich! Oh, and for an extra yummy experience, throw some capers up on that party (your tastebuds will thank you!)

Happy Summer everyone!!! 

I'm An Accidental Attachment Parent

I had seen the phrase "Attachment Parenting" (also knowns as AP) several times before I became a parent...but I didn't bother looking up the meaning, or reading up on the subject. In fact, I read little in the way of parenting books (unless you count Bringing Up Bebe) while I was pregnant. I like an intuitive style, so that was what we planned on using.

In the hospital, we took full advantage of the kangaroo care which is supposed to help with bonding and breastfeeding. It's also a really gentle and loving way to spend your first moments of life, and I was so happy with the outcome; my daughter latched onto the breast within 20 minutes! Right from the start, we knew we were breastfeeding...even though it was a little emotionally challenging at first. I stuck with it and learned to love it, feeding on demand (which is a lot because my Ruby is a snacker!)

When it came to sleeping arrangements, I was fully prepared; I had the co-sleeper nest, the bassinet, AND the crib and planned on using whatever one worked best and felt right. Turned out, none of them quite fit the bill and baby ended up in the bed with us from day one. Then I discovered that putting my baby down was, well, not really going to happen all that much. So, I became a babywearer (you can see my review of my babywearing gear here) and found that it made for both a happier baby and a happier me.

Then one day, a reader from my blog, Maria, sent me a link to her blog, Mia Cucina, Mia Famiglia, Mia Vita and while I was checking it out I saw that she was into Attachment/ Natural Parenting. That was when a bell went "ding" in my head...was I also practicing AP without knowing it?! I looked up the principals of AP and not only was a practicing it, but I had bought THE babywearing sling, The Balboa Baby!

There are basically four principals included in AP which are: 1) Cosleeping (safely, of course), 2) Feeding on demand (most often but not always breastfeeding), 3) Holding and touching (which includes babywearing), and 4) Responsiveness to crying. You can read more about it HERE if you are interested in a more in-depth profile from Psychology Today. What's great about AP is that it isn't a set of rules, but more of a set of guidelines. What I like about it is that it is intuitive, which is why I was essentially practicing this type of parenting without even knowing it!

While parenting styles will vary from parent to parent, even within a household, I feel that following our instincts as parents is paramount. For me, that meant that having my baby close at night, and allowing her to integrate into my world through babywearing. I think feeding on demand is just a given, though I see the value of a feeding schedule but I don't feel that at this age it's appropriate right now. Are there times when I'll deviate from the AP style? Undoubtedly. I've read some stories from people who said that AP style was ruining their lives, and I have to say that above all you've just got to do what works for you.

Ultimately, my daughter is likely to be raised on an AP/ French parenting style hybrid system, which are sort of contradictory. I think that will help provide balance, which is something that AP style also advocates. For instance, now that my girl is almost 3 months old, we've begun to have her start the night in the bassinet rather than in the bed with me. In time she will learn to sleep in her own bed through the night (my goal is by 6 months) and this will help us (hopefully) avoid the cry it out method...though if it come to that, well, I guess we'll have to do what works, right?

So tell me, what works for you? Did you accidentally fall into a parenting style or did you deliberately find one that worked for you? Share it with me in the comments section below!!! 

Friday Fuzzies: Be Happy, Not Skinny

Body image is always out in front for me as a woman and a writer. It consumes me, but probably not in the way that you think. That is, I am not consumed by thinking I am overweight. I don't worry about what I look like naked because I have never had a problem getting laid. My self image is, for all intents and purposes, very good. I feel womanly, and happily curvy.

I like to work out vigorously at least a few times a week. I like Zumba and a new workout my mom instructs in called "Pound" as well as walking and occasionally some Ballet Beautiful which is a lot harder than it looks. I wish my hamstrings would unfurl themselves so that I could take up running because it's cheap, but alas, I don't think the universe has a plan for me to be a runner anytime soon.

So, in all this working out, I have come across many types of women...many of them talking about the food they ate, or didn't eat, or will soon feel guilty for eating. I have never had this problem...I don't feel guilty for eating fatty foods or overindulging sometimes. I don't believe that is a problem or that in 50 years I will look back with regret. But myself aside, food seems a common (unhealthy) preoccupation of the American woman. And when I think of working out in terms of trying to stave off a craving or obtain a certain weight, it makes me feel icky.

During a recent Zumba session, I was going through the steps, having a great time, but finding my mind wandering. Of course we all want to look good, but looking good really means FEELING good, and that is all I try to accomplish through my work outs. Work outs give me mental stability--a great feeling that I can only seem to achieve through sweat equity. Clearly, this is not the case for everyone, but shouldn't it be?

I may be running the risk of sounding like I'm babbling here... what I am trying to say is that more women should be doing things because they are trying to be happy, not skinny. Don't work out to be thin, work out to be happy. While some will argue that skinny makes them happy, I am willing to bet that deep down that is not the case--that's an emotional bandaid and you've got to get to the source. As mothers, wives, sisters, and friends, we women have got to stick together and we have got to demonstrate to one another that it's OKAY to look different and be comfortable with it.

The human body, in my eyes at least, is a celebration of atomic energy and the universe coming together in a unique way to form what is "you", inside and out. Let your soul shine and treat your body well because it makes you happy. Demonstrate that happiness daily and feel good about it. Stop worrying about what the scale says (or doesn't say) and concentrate on cultivating love for yourself.