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May 2008

Life at one year

What are we going to do today? It's raining, it's 8 in the morning and who knows when this kid is going to take a nap.

Oh, NAPS. You thought I'd MOVED ON, hadn't you? HA. If "moving on" means "given up", then yes, I've moved on. After months of Nap Clockwork we're now into months (months!) of Nap Randomness and nothing I've done has made any difference. One day I'm swearing up and down he's transitioning to one nap, another day I can't see how it's possible, since he slept two hours in the morning.

Yesterday at his one year appointment the pediatrician said, "You know, it can take three to four months to transition to one nap." The only thing that kept me from bursting into tears in the exam room was the tiny bit of relief. Because now? I really do think he's transitioning to one nap. And when I told the doctor that a lot of times he'll take one nap, but it's a MORNING NAP (kill me now) she nodded her head, said her son did the same thing, and you just have to deal. Maybe try to push it back. Do your best. Good luck with that.

My only hope at this point is that he settles into some kind of nap schedule by the time the new baby gets here. PLEASE GOD.

The lack of routine is hard on ME, people. For instance, today I would like to email my favorite moms and insist they meet me at the indoor play area at the lake, but WHO KNOWS WHEN I CAN GO? I understand that some people just do their thing and when the baby gets tired they fall asleep in the stroller or they make it home in time or something like that. But I'm not sure how to do that. I know. I am a huge baby-is-in-charge-of-my-life dork, but REALLY. I don't want to drive to the playroom, park, go inside and have to turn around twenty minutes later because someone needs his nap. And planning anything in advance is impossible. I just have to guess. I scheduled the Celebratory Second Baby Party for 11 am, thinking at least the other babies will get home in time for THEIR naps, who KNOWS what MY kid will be doing. Most days I just assume that if he takes a morning nap it will be an hour later than it used to be, back in the Glorious Napping Days, and that he might not take it at all.

This parenting thing is determined to make me one of those Flexible People and I am fighting it EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

I guess you could say that except for the nap thing and the really annoying eating habits he developed OVERNIGHT, I am enjoying the one year old stage. We bought him one of those little water tables over the weekend and ooh, that was a hit. He loves being outside, he wants to walk everywhere by himself, even his opinions and demands and insistent noises are fun. I mean, I could do without the whining, sure, but it's super fun having a little PERSON around the house. He's not saying any words (unless you count "DA!") but it appears he's beginning to understand English and HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Although right now he is watching the Let's Learn Spanish show on TV. Don't tell Phillip I let him play with the remote.

Okay, sorry for one of those Updates On The Small Person posts. But I was writing in his baby book last night and MAN does my hand get tired. Blogging is so much faster!

When Target ISN'T the most joyous place on Earth, I KNOW!

Jack has his one year appointment today. I have a list of questions a mile long. He will also get shots. So we're not going to talk about it.

Instead, let's discuss my weekend, which included a sunburn (O GLORIOUS SUNSHINE), about fourteen trips to Target and significant Alone Time. By which I mean, shopping at Target all by myself.

A while ago Phillip and I made a deal where Saturday mornings are my "day off". It's just understood that on Saturday mornings Phillip does the morning routine, with breakfast and bath and getting dressed (we do baths in the morning in our house, I'm too tired by bedtime) and I get to do whatever I want. Sometimes I make plans with friends, sometimes I go shopping, some mornings it means I just stay in bed. But for the last couple weeks we've been busy every Saturday and so I FORGOT that I had a morning off this weekend until Phillip reminded me. He kept pestering me about it too. "What are you going to do? Why don't you do [all sorts of things that require appointments waaaay in advance, BOYS, they know NOTHING)?"

But Saturday morning was gorgeous. It was going to be nearly 90 degrees and if you didn't know already I am a morning person (mostly) and sun just turns my Morning Cheer up to Truly Obnoxious. Phillip was talking about taking Jack down to the playground at the lake and he was going earlyish (early for Phillip, anyway, who prefers not to be aware of mornings) and I WANTED TO GO TOO.

Which sort of defeats the purpose, don't you think? I mean, it's not like I haven't taken Jack to the playground at the lake. Or spent time with the two of them. And I knew Phillip was excited about just him and the baby and didn't really want me to come.

So I didn't go. I went to Target and tried on everything that could possibly work as maternity clothes.

Also, there was the Guilt. Do you have the Guilt? The Guilt that is all about "Oh my goodness, you've left your husband alone with that baby and what if the baby won't eat like yesterday and what if nap time is a struggle and you totally forgot to empty the dishwasher and now he's going to have to do that AND entertain the baby and you should feel really baaaaaad."

The Guilt is there for all sorts of reasons. I am dying for Phillip to get home from work every day so I can be on a Baby Caretaking Team instead of doing it solo, so I should feel bad for leaving HIM to do it solo. He's worked hard all week, doesn't he need a break too? I'm the one that deals with feeding and nap struggles 99% of the time so I should be there to help out.

There is also a bit of Control Freakishness. I've recently realized that Phillip has a different strategy for dealing with the Dinner Time Meltdowns and I'm not sure I like his strategy. And if I'm not there to supervise, how do I know he's doing it my way?


I went to Target and bought a few things I'll probably end up returning today. I thought about buying some tomato plants at Home Depot, but by that time I was too tired from navigating Saturday Morning Target Shoppers and I went home. Where Phillip had successfully fed, dressed and put the boy down for his nap. All by himself. And probably without the massive amounts of impatience I usually expend.

Later Phillip went to play tennis, leaving me to do dinner alone with the boy. The boy who, since turning one, has decided that all the foods he used to eat without incident are now worthy only of a quick swirl around his mouth and a disgusting display of pushing them out of his mouth and down his bib. DRIVESMECRAZY. Oh, and then Sunday I went to a street fair with a friend (ELEPHANT EARS YUM YUM) and I had a good time, but not before I ran through the whole slew of "Are you SURE you're okay if I leave for a few hours? I mean, I already had my Saturday morning, are you SURE?"

I feel like I am getting at some angle of the Stay At Home Mom Conundrum dealie that other people have written about with heaps more intelligence. Which is good, because it's not like I will be writing about it intelligently.

Well, maybe some day. Not today. Today I have to clean up the kitchen and take a shower and stuff the diapers and plan my How Will He Get A Nap When We're Getting Shots And Dropping Phillip At Work Afterwards strategy. Because that is my job.

Thursday walkies

Up at today I have written about Feeding! A Timeline! Of Annoyances!. Only without the exclamation points. I'm feeling sort of kicky this morning.

Maybe because the boy has FINALLY started walking? He was taking three or four steps at a time before we all got hammered with the stomach bug, and that seemed to put him out of commission for at least a week and a half. (See: recent woe-is-me posts containing 97 instances each of the word "whine".) He wasn't really getting back into the walking swing of things either, not until his birthday party when he had an AUDIENCE cheering his every little MOVE.

You will have to trust me on this one. Let's hope our parents got better pictures than we did.

So. I KNOW. What a HAM. Then someone had the great idea of giving him the strings of two helium balloons to hold (oh yes, hats AND balloons, I throw a rockin' good time people) and it was like he thought he was holding on to something, so he walked all across the room! Amazing! And now he is a little walking fiend. He walks just because he can. And also because I have opened the pantry door and oooh, boxes of cereal and half used bags of chocolate chips!

(What? Maybe I had to USE half. Don't automatically assume I ATE half.)

(Although you would be correct.)

I am enjoying this new walking thing. When I bring him downstairs to put shoes and coats on, I can just stand him up instead of feeling guilty about sitting him down on the never cleaned entry way floor. And the So Proud of Me! look he gets on his face is priceless. We are also practicing watering the flowers. I fill up my pink elephant watering can about a fourth of the way, hand it to him and we are off to water the primroses and petunias and the geraniums still sitting in their Home Depot cardboard box. He loves this. When my back starts to hurt and I'm ready to go back inside, he whiiiiines and takes the elephant over to the faucet because THERE IS MORE WATERING TO BE DONE!

I don't have a picture of that either. Sigh.

Anyway! I was pleasantly surprised to note that all of you feel as passionately about your grocery stores. For the record, I might be willing to switch grocery situations with Italy if I also had bars and gelaterias and giant Saturday markets where you can buy produce and cheese and meats AND some skimpy underwear at the same time.

Things you maybe didn't know that I have now turned into blog fodder

*I've been married nearly five years and I still get completely weirded out when someone calls me Mrs.Cheung. Mrs.? Really? I'm also not a big fan of being grouped into "The Cheungs" (even though I do this frequently on my website, see: Camp Cheung, Cheung Household) but The Cheungs sounds like... I don't know. Like we have fourteen kids and have been married so long we've morphed into the same person. But Mrs. is the one that I can't handle. MRS. UGH.

*I've bitten my nails since second grade. I've tried everything short of hypnosis to stop, but at this point in my life I've simply accepted my man hands and gnawed-on nails. EXCEPT. Pregnancy makes my nails grow so fast I am momentarily so awed at their length that I manage to stop biting them for a few days. Well, in groups. Like, "Oh, my pointer finger looks awesome, I'll try not to bite that one" and then my pinky finger gets bitten down to the quick. Whatever. But someone in the moms group wants to go get manicures and now I am panicked because what are the manicure ladies going to think when they see my man hands and shredded nails? Gak.

*Pregnancy also made the calluses on my feet go away. I know! Weird!

*When I found out my family was moving to Italy I was distraught. Why? Because I hated tomato sauce. HATED. Did my parents want me to STARVE? I still hate tomato sauce, unless it is the kind they make in Italy. You have no idea how much effort I've put into finding stateside tomato sauce to equal Italy's. I've even tried making my own (bad idea). The closest I've found is Pomi crushed tomatoes.

*In the same vein, I would not eat pizza or drink pop when I was little. Tomato sauce! Carbonation! Ick! All the parents at the birthday parties would ask my mother how she got me to drink milk instead of orange pop.

*I wanted to adopt kids until I started reading adoption blogs. Turns out I hadn't thought about things like ethics and paperwork. Actually, I still want to adopt, I think, someday, but I am not so rose-colored-glasses about it anymore.

*I am secretly grateful that I had a boy first and am having a girl second. Because I am the first and also a girl, see, and maybe this way I won't have expectations of my daughter. Or, at least, the expectations will be different. And more than the expectations I worry about what Oldest Girl Issues I would pass on to my own Oldest Girl and, let's be honest, she's not starting out with excellent mental health genetics in the first place. I worried that I would compare my own Oldest Girl experience to hers. But now, it's not at all my experience. And so: secretly relieved.

*I think I would be perfectly happy if we bought a bigger Seattle-area house in the next few years and I lived there for the rest of my life. I'm a little ashamed to admit that, as my one goal in life not so long ago was World Traveler, but I sort of don't care anymore. I like it here.

*I love American grocery stores. The nicer ones, with the giant produce sections and prepared food cases. Maybe this makes me a Spoiled American, but you try shopping at 50-year-old military commissaries and European "grocery stores" for years and not feel a sense of amazement when you walk into your recently remodeled neighborhood Safeway. I don't always like having to GO to the store, but I always like being IN the store.

*My aunt made my senior prom dress and my wedding dress. I am pretty sure that if I had tried those dresses on again in the months before I got pregnant with Jack, they would have both hung on me like tents. Knowing that makes me happy and sad at the same time.

*Even though I was one pound away from losing all the baby weight when I got pregnant the second time, I'm scared I'll never be that size again. It's weird to think that I never really had body image issues until I lost weight.

*I can't drive stick. All right? JUST DEAL WITH IT. And not for lack of trying, either. I think I have some mental block. I think about driving stick through downtown Seattle and my brain just shuts down. I mean, I barely figured out how to drive an AUTOMATIC.

*I put ads on my website. Maybe you noticed. I have this crazy idea that maybe they will pay my hosting fee and I'll no longer feel a twinge of guilt when we go through the budget looking for things to cut. Because cut my Typepad fee? Um, no.

In preparation

What do you think about baby showers for second babies? And third and fourth and fifth babies? Being the sort of person who has read every Miss Manners book in print and who had serious arguments with her fiance over whether or not to register for the wedding, you'd think I'd be all, "Well, now, that simply isn't done." Except, when I think about it, it just doesn't seem very nice to the second (or third or fourth or fifth) baby. Not necessarily the lack of presents, but the lack of celebration. And, as I'm finding out, the second baby starts getting less attention in utero.

Which is why I emailed a friend yesterday and asked if I could throw her a Celebrate The Second Baby party. I mean, I think there should be SOMETHING. I know she's got all the necessities, but she's having a boy this time around and maybe we could give her some boy outfits and dude, everybody needs packs of diapers and I certainly don't see anything wrong with eating copious amounts of treats because YAY there is going to be a NEW BABY.

And, you know. When have I ever NOT wanted to have a party? Although, don't expect a Theme Cake. I swear, that Fat the Bunny cake nearly killed me. If my little sister hadn't promised to entertain the boy while I obsessed over how to cut the pieces, Jack would not have had a cake. Oh, and also the part where she kept shrieking at me to "TAKE A CAKE BREAK!" (to which I replied, "NO! That just means this whole ordeal will TAKE LONGER!") and also the part where she said disgustedly, "Do you want ME to do it" and I said, "I thought you would never ask." I used this frosting recipe and I don't care that it has twelve million positive reviews, I HATED IT. It would not stick to the cake and it tasted like pure powdered sugar, which is GROSS.

[Small Tangent: I love baking. I do. But I like baking things that are EASY and FAST and TASTE GOOD. This is why Baker's One Bowl Brownies rock my world and why Tollhouse Cookies are part of my repertoire (if only I had an oven for every cookie sheet, think how fast it would go!) and why I have made only one recipe from the fancy shmantzy Chocolate cookbook a friend gave me for my birthday a few years ago. If I have to buy an ingredient I will only use once, that costs $40 and comes in a four ounce tube, NO THANK YOU.)

But I was talking about second (and subsequent) babies re: Lack of Attention.

This morning I started cleaning out more drawers in my old dresser now Jack's changing table to make room for the new baby. I'm giving 90% of Jack's clothes to the aforementioned friend having a boy mainly because we're pretty sure we're not having a boy this time and I have absolutely no more room to store his clothes. I'm saving a few memorable outfits, but the rest can vamoose. Tiny pink footie pajamas are starting to appear and I need a place to put them. I managed to clean out one drawer and dumped all the girlie things inside, but I know that's not going to work. I'm thinking about looking for some kind of wardrobe type thing at Ikea because the dresser is full of Jack's stuff (and assorted baby accessories) and the closet is full of The Junk I Do Not Want In My Living Room.

My mom keeps asking me what we need for the new baby and other than a place to store her stuff, I can't think of anything. I wanted to buy a sling this time around (which I did, yesterday, from Peanut Shell, use MOTHERSDAY for 20% off! if it still works?!) and we will need some sort of bouncy seat/swing for shower taking purposes, but other than that... I have no idea. The baby will be sleeping in a pack 'n play and my mom thinks I should get new sheets and blankets and seems roundly disappointed that I can't find Bedding Sets for pack 'n plays (they don't exist, do they?) I think I'll end up buying some pink cloth diapers (DYING to buy the pink ones) and if the outfits we have already are a good indication of things to come, I don't think we'll have any problem in the clothing department. If it weren't for my mom this baby wouldn't get many second thoughts.

Which might sound like we are nonchalant about the whole thing and not terribly excited, but nothing could be further from the truth. This baby moves more than Jack did, which means I am not allowed to go very long without being reminded of her. We talk about names all the time (and it's decidedly less stressful this time around, maybe because I know I get the Last Word? Perhaps!) and we've started talking up Baby Sister to Jack. He sees Phillip put his hand on my tummy and he gets a big grin on his face (do your babies get all happy smiley when they see you and your husband hugging or anything like that? I think Jack must be thinking, "HEY, that's FUNNY, the people who feed me are hugging EACH OTHER! I thought they only did that with ME!") He pats me on the tummy too, but I think this is because it now sticks out embarrassingly far and is the closest thing in reach when he's standing up in the crib waiting to be picked up.

I know stuff is just stuff and the baby doesn't care about matching sheets, but it seems symbolic somehow. Like the gathering of stuff is the physical sign we're preparing for the baby, and excited about her arrival. Without the gathering of stuff - and the washing and putting away and arranging - I'm not sure what to do.

And so, I am in favor of Celebratory Parties for Second (And Subsequent) Babies. Big time.

A Retrospective

...or, No More Baby, WAAAAHHHH, or, My, That IS A Red Couch!

May 2007, eight days old 

One month old  Still working the old man look

Two months old  Fattening up

Three months old I see this picture and hear my mother say, "You can't take pictures of babies in overalls! You can't see their faces!"

Four months old   This is before we pushed the couch back to the wall to make more space, Camp Cheung circa Pre-Mobility

Five months old  The beginning of a tender love affair with his feet

!!!! There is no November bunny picture! Horrors! How about a picture wearing his chicken hat?

Seven months old   Fat is starting to taste good

Eight months old  No longer in the same weight class

Nine months old  Sort of over this whole bunny thing

Ten months old  I thought I'd eaten that ear already...

Eleven months old  We took all of 10 pictures in April so we're lucky we got any bunny picture at all



Twelve months exactly  Ah, yes, THIS is how I like my bunny

Never too busy to blog

There will be no One Year Photo Retrospective today due to the fact that I spent all of my internet time last night poring through MY OWN ARCHIVES and getting all sniffly about ONE YEAR AGO WAAAHHH. And you guys, I'm sort of embarrassed at my, uh, output one year ago. I mean, on one hand it's sort of mortifying that I felt compelled to hammer out blog posts in between contractions (and then put my husband to the task once I was out of order). On the other, I'm so happy to have it all documented. I honestly didn't remember half of it, and all night I was saying, "Phillip! Remember blah blah blah?" and "Phillip? Can you believe blah blah blah?"

The Retrospective is ALSO postponed because Annie left a comment that was all, "Dude, why are you making a giraffe cake when you could be making a FAT THE BUNNY CAKE" and then I was all, "Dude, what was I THINKING?" and now I have scrapped the giraffe plans in favor of bunny plans. Good thing I didn't do that trial run, ha! I think the bunny cake might be a little easier, seeing as how I don't have to deal with coloring the frosting or making different colored giraffe spots, but I'm going to freehand this thing and my suckitude at drawing is beyond comprehension. So we'll see. I've got one cake in the oven right now, I've got another lined up to go and then this afternoon my sister is dropping by so I can create the bunny magic without a small person clinging to the back of my legs demanding to be picked up.

That is, if I make it that far. Someone thought he'd treat his parents to about 497 wake ups last night and I had an extra hard time getting out of bed this morning. I could hardly bear the thought of shopping for party food at Costco when I was fully rested- I'm not sure it's possible now. We might just be eating cake! (FINE BY ME!)

Anyway. In short: I have a one day less than one-year-old baby, I am as tired as I was back in the days when he never slept through the night, I am on the hook for a Creative and Fabulous Cake and my floors need to be sparkling by the time my mother shows up here tomorrow at 8 am. Oh yeah, did I tell you that Phillip and I have a big churchy obligation tomorrow morning? Which means I have to get 95% of the party done by tonight? OH YES.

But first I am going to nap while the baby naps. I've learned something this year.


Down at the grandparents' today. We left early, due to the rental car that Jack and I both hate (Jack could sleep on the way, I didn't have to freak out about not being able to see him because there's nowhere to put the carseat mirror) and now my dad is upstairs giving him a bath. I am reading blogs and eating Hershey's Kisses. It's only 10 in the morning, but it's never a wrong time to eat chocolate at my mom and dad's house.

I actually have a couple of posts brewing (although now that I've said that, I'll probably never write them) but today I leave you with Preparing For The First Birthday Party, Oh Dear God over at (Dear Mom: I might have made a tiny bit of fun of you, but hopefully I made up for it by extolling your Mad Rad Cake Decorating Skillz. Love, the Daughter Who Exploits Her Family For Blogging Purposes.) And also, do you know what I was doing exactly one year ago today? BLOGGING THROUGH LABOR. (Okay, early labor, but people it took for-freaking-ever.)

Tomorrow: A Year with Fat the Bunny!


Down at the grandparents' today. We left early, due to the rental car that Jack and I both hate (Jack could sleep on the way, I didn't have to freak out about not being able to see him because there's nowhere to put the carseat mirror) and now my dad is upstairs giving him a bath. I am reading blogs and eating Hershey's Kisses. It's only 10 in the morning, but it's never a wrong time to eat chocolate at my mom and dad's house.

I actually have a couple of posts brewing (although now that I've said that, I'll probably never write them) but today I leave you with Preparing For The First Birthday Party, Oh Dear God over at (Dear Mom: I might have made a tiny bit of fun of you, but hopefully I made up for it by extolling your Mad Rad Cake Decorating Skillz. Love, the Daughter Who Exploits Her Family For Blogging Purposes.) And also, do you know what I was doing exactly one year ago today? BLOGGING THROUGH LABOR. (Okay, early labor, but people it took for-freaking-ever.)

Tomorrow: A Year with Fat the Bunny!

The answers! Sort of!

My my, internet, you are fabulously helpful.

I shot an email to my newly pregnant friend (whose pregnancy I am not allowed to talk about, GAAHHH) and told her to check out the comments section. And I managed to send this email without adding the obligatory STAY AWAY FROM THE PREGNANCY BOOKS! Because it turns out I CAN help myself after all. Perhaps it is finally dawning on me that not everyone is better off in my preferred state of Ignorance Is Bliss!

Okay, so, first problem solved! Thank you!

As for the Egg Allergy issue, I appreciate all attempts to calm me down. It seems like the reaction to eggs got worse and worse, which would correlate with the frequency and amount he was eating. He started out eating only a few pieces of scrambled egg at a time and as of last week he was eating an entire cheese omelet all at once. Since all of you and everything I've read says that babies almost always grow out of this, and since some friends I talked to yesterday said they noticed some sensitivity to eggs based on frequency and amount, I'm feeling almost nonchalant. And you're right- if he was allergic to dairy I would positively die. I happen to know a handful of babies who are not only allergic to dairy, but pretty much every other edible thing in the universe, and I KNOW I KNOW count my blessings, la la la.

Now, the shower issue... it's just one of many things where I'm all HOW DO I DO THIS WITH TWO BABIES? Which, I know, I'll figure it out like every other mother of two kids, it's not like you stop being a person with a brain, right? (RIGHT?) We haven't bought anything for the new baby, but I think we're going to need a bouncy seat so I can stash Jack in the pack 'n play (all the bouncy seats we had for Jack were borrowed) and I also like the TV Babysitter option. You guys are such smarties. We have exactly one children's DVD, but man has it been a lifesaver through this Whiny Stage. (Which, if you are interested, seems to be tapering off. He can still be an annoying little whiner, but now we can usually identify a REASON (as in, the remote is out of reach OH THE TRAUMA) rather than the inconsolable pick me up put me down waaaahh I'm so depressed whiny that we were dealing with earlier. I blame the sickness! Also: eggs!)

I forgot to add an important detail to my doctor issue, that being that she is actually not supposed to be in that office. She's supposed to be in an office on a different floor, but because she is newish and there isn't enough space at the moment, she's kicked upstairs until the summer. At least, she said "summer" when I first met her, but you never know with these things. So it's sort of ridiculous for me to ditch her when she's potentially moving offices (and nurses!) in the next couple of months. I don't think I was ever planning to leave, but I did want to take the opportunity to moan about it. So thanks.

And! I do believe you have named my new baby, Internet! Sort of. In the way that none of you mentioned the name at the top of my list, and yet it is very much the style of 99% of the names you suggested, which makes me think you would like it, and SO. Still at the top of my list. And I would tell you what it is except it might be new baby's name and shouldn't SOME things be a SURPRISE?

Anyway. Yay you for not suggesting a single name that made me cringe, even in the slightest. Well done, internet! But some of these names I have to reject outright. We can't have a Kate or Katie or Katherine because of Immediate Family Members with those names. We can't have an Ella or a Hannah or a Sarah because good friends have taken those and while I am not at all a Don't Take My Baby Name, You Name Stealer! sort of person, I imagine my friends would think it's kind of weird. We can't have a Charlotte, even though I love Charlotte, because the "Ch" at the beginning of her first and last name is too matchy matchy for me. I can't tell you how many names I have to reject outright due to Unfortunate Connections (television characters, kids we knew in second grade, annoying coworkers from our first jobs) and how many names I have to reject because as soon as I say them out loud Phillip belts out the Pop Culture Reference. (Although, in the case of Stella, which I love, his pop culture reference isn't 'A Streetcar Named Desire', it's the SIMPSONS' take on 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. GAH.) Also, any name that is obviously from another country (there's that pesky Chinese last name to consider).

But that leaves Elizabeth and Mary and Grace and Abigail and few others I really liked...

And now, the mommyblogger segment on the Today Show is airing so- see ya!