Changing tables … and laps and tailgates

This. Is. Beautiful.

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Baby Girl wasn’t with me on this particular outing, but she’s been with me many times when there was not such a nice option.

Sometimes, even if a changing table is available, it’s so dirty or rickety that we opt not to use it anyway. Often, Jared’s or my legs are the changing table and she’s had her diaper changed in a middle school hallway, on a ski lodge table, on toilets, on gym bleachers, in dressing rooms, in between sinks on wide counters, on top of a cooler, on the car hood, on the tailgate, and on old faithful — the back of the car.

So when I saw this I did a happy dance.

I may or may not have poked my nose in the men’s room, but suffice it to say that they have a similar version.

Other public places take note: men’s restrooms should have changing tables too. Let’s reward them for being involved by making it a little easier on them!

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Early bird groceries

Are you OK, Jared asked.

Yes, I’ve been awake since 3:44 a.m., I said.

My body had gotten more than four hours of sleep and was tricked into thinking that was enough.

Welcome to motherhood, Jared said, laughing.

Yeah, yeah. Since I’m up, I’m going to run to the grocery store, I said.

Are you sure you want to go now, Jared asked. It’s 5:30.

Yep, I said. Saves me from bundling up Baby Girl to do it later (there was a wind chill warning in effect). I’ll be back before you go to work.

Have fun on your outing, he said. Hurry home.

Gee, thanks, I thought.

At the store I found everything I needed to make my new stuffing recipe for an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends that night.

Then this …

We don’t sell alcohol before 8, the clerk said.

What, I asked, dismayed.

Don’t look at me, she said. It’s state law.

So much for the white wine part of the recipe.

I slogged back to the car, some groceries in tow, and checked my phone only to read: “She’s awake and hungry. Hurry home.”

You see, we can’t get Baby Girl to take a bottle, which means I can only be gone for a few minutes at a time unless she takes an epic nap.

Are you OK, Jared asked for the second time in an hour when I got home.

No, I said, holding back tears. I couldn’t buy wine for my recipe and now I have to go shopping again later.

It’s alright, babe, he consoled me. Just don’t use the wine.

No, I have to use the wine. It’s part of the recipe. It gets all the good bits into the sauce, I explained. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t sell me wine before 8. It’s not like I was going on a bender.

Well, you look like you could use a drink now, Jared said as he left to shower.

About a half hour later he returned to the kitchen, still dripping water.

How long before you would start looking for me, he asked.

Huh, I said.

I fell asleep in the shower, he said. Luckily I leaned against the wall instead of falling over.

Welcome to fatherhood, I quipped, and it’s only 7.

**Let it be noted that I did get wine later in the day because Baby Girl and I ventured out to help my sister-in-law make lefse. Let it also be noted that I realize — now — that just using a different recipe would have made the most sense. In my defense, it was 5:30 in the morning.

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Our other halves

OK moms,

We all know that motherhood wouldn’t be possible without fatherhood (at least on a fundamental level).

For Father’s Day, we’re asking readers why their dads are the greatest.

So fill in the blank:

My dad’s the best because ________________________________.

Email responses, your name, your dad’s name and a photo to newsdesk@missoulian.com and we’ll use some of them in our Father’s Day coverage!

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Nesting

My fall earlier this week must have scared Jared as much as it scared me because I came home Thursday evening to find this …

jared paints

Either that or he felt really guilty about going fishing today.

Not that I’m complaining – the nursery is now primed and partially painted and he can no longer make fun of me for the pink, polka-dotted stool I bought when we first moved into our house. Turns out it’s pretty useful (and sturdy) after all.

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In case you were wondering, here’s how it turned out. (Spoiler alert: It’s BRIGHT!)

We like it so much we spent a half hour just sitting — and what my mother would call “processing” — in the room last night. Bella cat also poked her nose in and sniffed around at the new set up.

Granted, it’s not really finished. I’m still searching for a rug and curtains and the closet needs to be filled with diapers.

But I’ve got to say, having it mostly finished took the edge of my anxiousness.

Kuddos to Jared!

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How to help Jake Massman and his baby boy

Jake and LucasOn Sunday, the Missoulian brought readers the story of Jake Massman, whose wife Teresa Veltkamp died shortly after giving birth to their son, Lucas.

Most striking, to me, is how Massman’s positive attitude shines throughout this tragic story. For instance, consider these words from Massman, talking about spending time with his newborn son:

I’ve cried myself to sleep a number of times; but during the day, when I’m here with him, it’s amazing how that’s not overwhelming. He doesn’t need me feeding him sadness and anger and resentment. It’s really easy for me to be who I need to be with him. In the end, I feel like I’m getting more from him than he’s getting from me.

Anyone who feels moved to help this new father and his baby – or to do something in Teresa Veltkamp’s memory – should consider making a donation to the Teresa Veltkamp Memorial Fund at the Missoula Federal Credit Union, or check out http://www.indiegogo.com/Fund-for-Lucas-Hiram-Massman.

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It’s Tiger Mothers against slacker parents in the mommy wars

My daughter wants to take swimming lessons, learn karate, practice the guitar, go to gymnastics class and oh! so much more. Her interests are as varied as they are deep. At the moment, however, she is doing none of those things.

Why aren’t I pushing her to excel in any of these areas of interest? The reasons are many: Because we are still getting into the rhythm of kindergarten. Because when I look at our family calendar, every day is already filled with play dates, birthdays, and other events. Because I don’t want to flatten her self-driven desire to learn into a parent-driven mandate. And because I want that time with her – all to myself.

Clearly, I am no Tiger Mother. I will just have to learn to live with the possibility that my daughter may never play piano at Carnegie Hall – let alone do so by the age of 14.

This opinion piece by Kansas City Start editorial board member Barbara Shelly reassures both Tiger Mothers and “slacker moms and dads” that regardless of whether we embrace an overzealous or underachieving parenting style, most of our kids will probably turn out OK.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Big role for a little guy

In this weeks’ Nickell’s Bag, Missoulian arts and entertainment journalist extraordinaire Joe Nickell describes how his 3-year-old son landed a role in “Madama Butterfly.”

And thus, a star was born. Break a leg, Julian!

– MM

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Babies and daddies

What I was trying to say about my daughter’s muffin man, syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. says much better in today’s column. It’s also available in the print version of the Missoulian, on the Opinion page.

– MM

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The Muffin Man

One of my daughter’s great joys in life is to help her dad make muffins. As they bake in the oven, she will spread a blanket in the living room, and when they are ready we will have ourselves a late-evening picnic of tea and oven-fresh muffins.

Whenever she hungers for this special time with her father, she will dance up to him in that half-skipping way she has and ask, ever so hopefully, “Dad, will you be the muffin man?”

And I will suddenly feign deep interest in whatever I’m reading as I furtively watch them over the top of the page.

I can see his struggle. He can’t be the muffin man tonight. He has 101 things to do and they all need doing before he can rest. He worked at full tilt all day long; he is tired. He is constantly pulled by the needs of others, and needs a minute to himself before he can give more.

And yet.

It never fails to stir my heart to see my weary husband dig deep within himself and respond to his sweet, shining daughter in a terrible French accent: “Tonight, we hava ze bloo-bear-wee muff-eenz.”

Then he will change out of his uniform and wash the grime of the day off his hands. I will put on some tea and find the tiniest cups in the house. And we will have a muffin party late at night in our living room.

It never fails to remind me that many men, and fathers especially, feel tremendous pressure to be bullet-proof. Even during a recession, they are supposed to be great providers. At all times, they are expected to be more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It seems like they strive to be Superman.

But my daughter never asks for a superhero. She loves her muffin man.

– MM

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This one’s for dads

The Children’s Museum in Missoula regularly hosts a “dad’s night” that invites fathers to spend an evening socializing with other fathers – and let their kids mingle, too.

And if that’s not enough incentive, take note that it’s a totally free event – and food is provided.

The e-mail from Families First promises plenty of “interactive entertainment and good old fashioned playtime,” with food from Mackenzie River Pizza Co. and entertainment provided by Tangled Tones Music Studio’s Matt Nord and Caleb Van Gelder.

But you have to sign up before you show up. The next Dad’s Night is tomorrow night (Thursday) from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and word is that there are still a few slots open. Call 541-7529 to register to attend. The Children’s Museum is located at 225 West Front Street.

Any moms needing a night off might want to make sure this info makes its way into the hands of the dads in their lives.

– Missoula Mom

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