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I Did Nothing for My Baby’s First Christmas (and I’m OK With It)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

babys-first-christmasGrowing up, Christmas was a huge deal in my home. My sisters and I spent hours obsessing over the catalogs that crowded our mailbox and circling the toys we wanted in heavy black rings (adding stars and exclamation points to the ones we really, really wanted). We pestered our mom nonstop for weeks about what we were getting for the big day, so much so that she finally broke down and instituted a new tradition where we could open one gift on Christmas Eve. The morning of, we’d watch our clocks until they struck 6 o’clock, then we’d bum rush our parents’ room and wake them up by demanding gifts. Norman Rockwell it wasn’t, but the holiday was ours and I loved it.

So when my own baby was born, I had visions of pretty garland, nicely wrapped gifts and a bright, sparkling tree dancing in my head. This was in September, when I received a “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament in the mail. This was also a week before our son gave up on sleeping through the night, a phase that lasted a staggering 18 months and upended every aspect of our lives. By December 25, my husband and I were in anything but the holiday spirit. We were cranky, tired, and exasperated — we couldn’t even muster the energy to buy a tree. All we really wanted for Christmas was a dark room, a warm bed, and 48 hours to catch up on sleep.

I wish I could say that we rallied the day of, that we at least hung a stocking and sang a Christmas song to our kiddo. Instead, I remember us snuggling on the sofa with our boy, watching the yule log on TV, and trying to spin our bare-bones day to excited (and well-rested) family members as something magical. We swore that we’d put more thought into the holiday next year.

Still, part of me felt like a failure. I read the articles about starting traditions, saw the awesome crafts I could make for him, remembered the parts of my childhood holiday that were most meaningful. And yet I didn’t do a single one of them. My role in the holiday had changed — from receiver to giver, from wide-eyed child to magic-making mom — and I was too tired to realize it.

My guess is that I’m not alone. In fact, just this morning, I called my best friend Dana, a wildly creative mom who’s constantly coming up with cool things to do with her two kids. I asked what she did for her first-born’s inaugural Christmas, figuring that if anyone was going to make it special with a capital S, it would be her. Instead, she giggled and said she only remembers that her father built a doll-sized crib for her daughter and even tracked down a Cabbage Patch doll for it. “We were too tired to do anything else,” she says.

So I’ve too decided to cut myself some slack. Sure, Joshua’s first Christmas wasn’t the storybook day I had pictured, but it was reflective of who we were at the time: overwhelmed, sleep-deprived new parents who were just trying their best. Looking back, that’s much sweeter than anything I could have wrapped up in ribbons and bows.

Tell us: What are your plans this holiday season?

How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Image of baby in Santa hat courtesy of Shutterstock

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OMG! 3 Women Lose It Over a Crying Baby on a Plane

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

air-china-fightFlying the friendly skies isn’t always so friendly when you have a baby in tow. For every veteran parent on the plane who gives you an understanding “I’ve-been-there” smile as you and your kiddo squeeze down the tight middle aisle, there are plenty of other passengers who roll their eyes, shoot you a dirty look, or try to swap seats so they’re nowhere near you and your child at 30,000 feet.

Of course, none of this is comfortable if you’re the harried parent who’s juggling a squirmy infant and all of her accoutrements in a space the size of a sardine can. But I’ll take a nasty scowl over what happened on a recent Air China flight to Hong Kong.

It started out as most things with a baby do: with some crying. Though most parents are inured to the grating sound, the two female passengers sitting in the row ahead were definitely not — and they asked the mom, Chang Juan Sung, to quiet down her child. Sung, who was clearly at the end of her rope, yelled right back at them. Incensed, the women retaliated using the best gun in their arsenal: they reclined their seats all the way back.

It was tantamount to a declaration of war.

In a scene right out of Jerry Springer, the mom stood up, leaned over the seat and began punching (!!!) the women, a fellow passenger told the Daily Mail (h/t Mashable). The #BabyRage brouhaha caught the attention of the pilot, who threatened to ground the plane ASAP if the three grown-ups didn’t stop brawling.

Cooler heads must have prevailed because the plane ended up pulling in to Hong Kong right on time. Security greeted the fighters at the gate and fussed at them for their highly inappropriate behavior, though no arrests were made.

No word on whether the baby ever did stop crying.

Tell us: Are you traveling with baby this holiday season? How are you preparing?

How to Soothe a Crying Baby
How to Soothe a Crying Baby
How to Soothe a Crying Baby

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Image of women fighting courtesy of Steve Herman via Twitter

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Kanye West Spent HOW MUCH on North’s Christmas Gifts?!

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Baby North West

You can say a lot about Kanye West — that he never ever smiles, that his love of leather pants is almost illegal, that he’s a genius at avoiding E! cameras. But one adjective never hurled in his direction is “cheap.” The man deals in the currency of lavish. No gesture is too over the top, especially when it comes to his family. See: his proposal at a rented-out baseball stadium, a vase wall of flowers for wife Kim, diamond starter earrings for baby North. Why would we expect him to show restraint around the holidays?

An in-the-know source told Heat magazine that the rapper has splurged on his favorite baby this Christmas. If the reports are true, then Nori is in for a stellar day. Among the loot is a tot-sized replica of Yeezy’s black SUV and—wait for it—a diamond-encrusted tiara so that she “when she plays dress-up, she can be a real princess,” the source says. (That’s not exactly how it works, but whatever floats your boat, Kanye.) Those two gifts alone supposedly set the artist back a cool $74,000, the Daily Mail reports, a figure that made me feel slightly dizzy but mostly relieved about my own kid’s holiday haul.

Full disclosure: I didn’t buy him a holiday gift until he was nearly 2. I wasn’t being stingy — I just wanted to avoid the present trap, where everyone becomes more focused about what’s under the tree or what comes after the menorah lighting than on the true spirit of the season. Though my husband and I gave him a few treats last year, this year is the first where he’s expecting and anticipating gifts. Like a lot of parents we know, we’re trying our best to keep the excess in check by only buying him a handful of presents he really wants. We’re also beginning to emphasize the idea of giving to others, both through our conversations about the holidays and by picking out toys together for children in need.

Which all sounds great in theory, but honestly, controlling the glut of holiday gifts can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. After all, our son is an only child in a home that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, and is the only grandchild on my side. We also have a circle of generous friends who give him goodies, too. Translation: Much of his December is spent tearing open something shiny and awesome.

My guess is that I’m not alone in wondering how much is too much. Even Kimye seem to be feeling that one out. Kim recently said her daughter will have to work for what she wants; meanwhile, Kanye (allegedly) dropped five figures on gifts for the 18-month-old. As a mom who’s also trying to balance celebrating and spoiling, I take some strange comfort in the fact that even celeb parents are figuring out where to draw the line.

Now it’s your turn: What are your gift-giving plans this holiday?

How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Toys on a Budget

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+

Image of North West courtesy of Kim Kardashian West via Instagram.

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Is Your Nursery Making Your Baby Sick?

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

baby on new carpetWhen most of us were setting up baby’s nursery, there were certain things we knew to avoid: loose bedding, lots of toys in the crib, anything with sharp edges. But a new study has found one more potential no-no for baby’s room, at least during the first year of life: new carpet, rugs, or laminate.

According to an article in The Telegraph, researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Germany have discovered that the chemicals in the glue used to install brand-new flooring can be toxic for babies and make it difficult for them to breathe. Their study involved 465 moms and babies living in Leipzig, Germany, two-thirds of whom made some kind of renovation to their home and a sixth of whom replaced their flooring. During the home improvements, the scientists regularly assessed the babies’ breathing and monitored the air quality in their homes. The findings were published in the journal Environment International.

Though not all flooring requires glue — area rugs are a classic example — researchers still warn parents to hold off on laying down the new stuff in the nursery. “Although the concentrations of these volatile chemicals are lower if no adhesive is used when installing the flooring, even then the concentrations are still high enough to significantly increase the risk of infants suffering from respiratory complaints in their first few months,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ulrich Franck.

Pregnant women aren’t off the hook, either. UFZ researchers believe the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in new flooring and adhesives can affect developing babies in utero and even boost their chances of developing allergies, especially if you or your partner already suffer from conditions like hay fever or asthma.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study is to hold off on installing your new flooring until after baby’s first birthday. That’s because the study found that home improvements (and all the airborne chemicals associated with them) that occured after baby was born didn’t impact baby’s respiratory functions as much as ones that took place during pregnancy. “According to our results, exposure to these volatile chemical compounds seems to be more critical in pregnancy than in the first year of a child’s life,” says Dr. Irina Lehmann of he UFZ.

Tell us: How was your experience setting up baby’s nursery?

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Nursery Ideas: Design a Modern Nursery
Nursery Ideas: Design a Modern Nursery
Nursery Ideas: Design a Modern Nursery

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+

Image of baby on a carpet courtesy of Shutterstock

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The Top 10 Celebrity Births of 2014

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

When we weren’t busy watching ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos, tracking the missing Malaysian Airlines jet, or downloading Beyoncé’s secret album, we were talking babies – especially the famous ones! Lucky for us, there were plenty of first-time (and second- and third-time) celebrity births this year. Here are the ones that had everyone buzzing, including some cute baby photos that celebs shared!

1- Esmeralda Amada Gosling
Born: September 12
Parents: Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling
Best compliment: ”That’s going to be the most beautiful, bilingual, part-superhero, well-dressed, romantic baby ever.” - Ellen DeGeneres

Step aside, Jolie-Pitt kiddos — there’s a new genetically-blessed baby in Tinseltown. Not that we’ve seen a picture of Esmeralda yet (though good try, Ellen DeGeneres!). The famously private couple may be keeping her away from prying eyes right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re not spilling some details about life with baby. Eva told VioletGrey magazine that she sympathizes with how tough it is to be an infant (“Everything is a struggle for her. For instance, I haven’t thrown up since the ’90s and she’s thrown up twice since we started this interview.”) and how exhausting motherhood can be (“I thought my wild nights were over, but these are some of the wildest nights I’ve ever had.”).

 

Born: September 30
Parents: Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
Best compliment: ”As soon as this child was born, I immediately wanted to call my parents and just apologize because I never knew how much they loved me.” - Ashton Kutcher

First came love (on TV), then came love (in real life, years later), and then came baby. Baby Wyatt’s arrival seems to be the brightest spot in what has already been a pretty blindingly bright year for the That ’70s Show alums. The engaged couple have been hands-on since the birth, eschewing nannies for long, sleepless nights and countless diaper changes. But the one-on-one time sounds like it’s working out well so far. The baby has already accompanied mom and dad on date night and has recently discovered her own reflection. Proud Ashton told Ellen DeGeneres, “She found herself in the mirror and realized she was able to control the thing in the mirror.”

 

3- Rose Dorothy Dauriac
Born: September 4
Parents: Scarlett Johansson and Romain Dauriac
Best compliment: ”Euphoric.” - Scarlett Johansson on how her daughter’s scent makes her feel

The Her actress didn’t announce her pregnancy until March, around the same time she broke the news that she was engaged to her French journalist boyfriend. So small wonder that she has kept a low profile since giving birth to baby Rose in New York City this fall. We’ve only seen the tot once – all bundled up and snuggling on mom’s shoulder — but ScarJo has opened up recently about being a mom. She told the German magazine Gala that it’s “exhausting” but in “a wonderful way,” joking that she didn’t realize how much she enjoyed sleeping through the night until Rose arrived. (We hear you!)

 

Born: September 27
Parents: Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky
Best compliment: ”Their vision starts to get out, and she almost doesn’t have time to laugh, she never cries, she just soaks things up. I think if my mind worked like that it would be so great.” - Billl Clinton

She’s not even out of diapers yet and Charlotte Clinton is already a power player: Before she was born, President Obama offered the use of his motorcade in case mom Chelsea went into labor during an event. Charlotte counts a former president as her grandfather and a former Secretary of State (and probable 2016 presidential candidate) as a grandmother. Even her exit from the hospital had panache, borrowing heavily from none other than Prince George’s. Is it too soon to start talking about her plans for 2048?

 

5- Baby Disick
Born: December 14
Parents: Kourney Kardashian and Scott Disick
Best compliment: ”It’s going to be perfect for our family.” Kourtney Kardashian

The third child of reality TV’s favorite on-again off-again couple nabbed headlines long before his birth. Mom Kourtney was barely showing before rumors started swirling that she was expecting again, and a camera crew was, naturally, on hand to capture virtually every moment of the pregnancy. And then there was that nude photo shoot where her bump was cradled and covered in feathers. Though the baby was due around Christmas, he arrived a little early, on older brother Mason’s fifth birthday. #scenestealer

 

6- Otis Alexander Sudeikis

Born: April 20
Parents: Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis
Best compliment: ”A pretty cool name for what will presumably be a pretty cool kid.” - Vulture.com

We were swooning over baby Otis the second we found out his name, and then we laid eyes on him (and his cheeks) and promptly fell in love. Since then, we’ve been taking in all the tot’s adventures: strolling like a boss through New York City with mom and dad, breastfeeding in Glamour magazine wearing Air Jordans. Is there anything this kid does that isn’t hip?

 

7- River Rose Blackstock

Born: June 14
Parents: Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock
Best compliment: ”Watch out Lady Gaga!! River Rose is on the scene!!” - Kelly Clarkson

Being the child of the very first American Idol can’t be easy, but River Rose seems to be taking it all in stride. A mere two months after being born, she was whisked to Chicago, bedazzled headphones in tow, for a Garth Brook/Trisha Yearwood concert. She’s also accompanied mom backstage before concerts and even visited the set of her latest video, “Wrapped in Red.” But the entourage may get bigger in the near future — Clarkson has said she wants to try for another baby sooner rather than later.

 

Kelly Rowland's baby Titan Jewell Weatherspoon

8- Titan Jewell Weatherspoon

Born: November 4

Parents: Kelly Rowland and Tim Weatherspoon
Best compliment: ”There’s no better feeling than holding my beautiful nephew. I thank god for the honor of witnessing my sisters journey into motherhood. I’ve always dreamed of our little ones growing up together. I’m so thankful for our bond. Baby Ty, I love you so much.” - Beyoncé

When the Destiny’s Child singer and her manager-husband welcomed a little boy last month, you could practically hear the collective cheer among her fans. After all, Kelly shared much of the nine-month journey with us through lots and lots of photos. We’re looking forward to hearing how motherhood is inspiring the musician. Already the proud mom has written a lullaby for him, including the line, “You will always be/Mommy’s little baby.” Aww.

 

9- Briar Rose Christensen
Born: October 29
Parents: Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen
Best compliment: “I know she’s going to be the best mother.” – Jamie King on Rachel Bilson

The Hart of Dixie star made no secret of her desire to start a family, so she was understandably excited when she found out she was expecting. She told Health magazine, “I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I have always wanted kids. I can just see this little toddler waddling around the house.” The notoriously low-key couple have asked paparazzi to refrain from taking baby Briar’s photo and are staying mum about how parenthood has been so far, but our guess is that things are extra sunny in the Bilson-Christensen home.

 

10- Jaxon Wyatt Cutler

Born: May 7
Parents: Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler
Best compliment: ”They always say the second one is harder and that’s very true. Jax is a little bit more difficult. But he is still the sweetest and the best. So it’s fine.” - Kristin Cavallari

Baby Jaxon is a dream come true. Literally. While pregnant, the former Laguna Beach star said she’d like to have another boy — she and NFL quarterback husband Jay Cutler are already parents to son Camden. And it appears as though the adorable brothers are already inseparable, even drinking their milk in tandem!

 

 

Tell us: Which celeb baby were you most excited about this year?

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Our Favorite Celebrity Babies of the Year
Our Favorite Celebrity Babies of the Year
Our Favorite Celebrity Babies of the Year

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+

Images courtesy of Kelly Rowland via Instagram; Ashton Kutcher via Facebook; Chelsea Clinton via Facebook; Kelly Clarkson via Instgram; Olivia Wilde via Instagram; Kristin Cavallari via her official Kristin Cavallari app

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