1st Book To Read Before Baby: “The Happiest Baby on the Block”

Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on the Block is a must-have because it does a great job at VERY SIMPLY explaining how you can make that new baby of yours stop crying his eyes out.

Even better, it does it in tiny little short paragraphs, is printed in big type, and even contains a line drawing or two. This makes it a particularly manageable read for women in the throes of pregnancy-brain and men in the throes of … well, every stage of their life.

(I am not saying this to be mean to men. Men are lovely. If they weren’t, so many of us wouldn’t have gone and married them and had their babies. Men are not as stupid as we often claim, either. But ladies, I have said it before, and I will say it again: in general, Dads aren’t that interested in reading all this parenting crap as Moms are. They don’t like being told what to do, or how to do it, even when that “it” is taking care of a baby, even when, and especially if, they haven’t a clue how they’re supposed to do that.)

Anyway, back to the book.


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4 Best Books to Read Before Baby (Or: Why To Do Your Homework Before You Have That Kid)

Just ask MrBigIdeas (Image via c.buyoly.com)

By now you will have noticed that I’m a little bit OCD. Not enough to counter-act the effects of housing four kids in my personal space — I can count seven choke-able, non-appropriate-for-children-under-three-items on the floor right this moment just begging the boys to eat them (POLLY POCKETS, I AM CALLING YOU MOTHAF****S OUT !) — but enough to believe that there is a RIGHT WAY and a WRONG WAY to do most things.

This is NOT to say that MY RIGHT WAY is the same as YOUR RIGHT WAY. As far as parenting choices go, we are all basically in this thing alone (despite what the great big wide kumbaya-mother-blogging world would have you believe), especially when it’s 3 am on a Tuesday night and you are up for the fifteenth time servicing water or potty or “my nightlight stopped working” requests … so who am I to say you shouldn’t a) do whatever it takes to soothe your kids back to sleep or b) lose your temper all over them and let them sob their eyes out for the next three hours because you just don’t have another ounce of Earth Mama left in you?

Can you tell which one I’d choose?


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(AKA: The Biggest Fight We Ever Had)


This diaper bag came from LeSportSac about a million years ago. You can't beat a LeSportSac bag for LIGHT and LARGE ... but chic is as chic does, I guess.

This diaper bag came from LeSportSac about a million years ago. You can’t beat a LeSportSac bag for LIGHT and LARGE … but chic is as chic does, I guess.

Yep — that’s right.

The biggest fight we EVER had was over packing a diaper bag.

Seriously.  And I say this after nearly eight years of marriage, four renovations (one still in progress), and four kids.

We have had a lot of fodder for fighting — right back to the blow-up we had three days into our honeymoon when I literally got so angry at Mr. Big(Ideas) I left him standing on a street corner in a small town in Denmark, shouting after me as I marched purposefully towards the train station, trying to figure out exactly how I could get back to LA and annul our short marriage without having to turn around and get my passport back from the Big(A**hole) I’d gone and idiotically yoked my life to.

At which point we would have been saved all this Kardashian madness and they could have just called it a ChecklistDivorce.


Back to the diaper bag.

It was sometime around Halloween 2008, not long after Gaga was born. Gaga was not the easy baby Diddy was — unlike her sister, Gaga liked to eat. Because she ate more than her sister, she pooped more than her sister. She also slept for shorter periods of time — because she was starving and pooping and working up massive cases of diaper rash. Oh, and this was a kid who wanted to be hugged, oh, I dunno, 23 out of 24 hours of every day.  (Still does. This is a hell of a lot cuter now because she can actually say “I want a hug” and not just scream her head off.)

So as you can imagine, ChecklistMommy had her hands full with Baby Gaga, and Diddy was Daddy’s problem.

Luckily for me, Mr. Big(Ideas) is an intrepid soul, and got it into his head that he would make life easier for me by getting Diddy out of the house all day and taking her to Disneyland. I was all for this plan, especially because it didn’t require me to go to Disneyland.  I was ready to hand Mr. Big(Ideas) a nice big “Dad of the Year” trophy …

… right up to the moment when he asked me, his amazing wife who’d been up all night nursing his newborn Gaga every 75 minutes or so while he slept the blissful sleep of Ambien Controlled Release that I had been jonesing for since, oh, I dunno, I had to give up sleeping pills because I was busy growing our babies in my uterus and then feeding them from my boobs, TO PACK THE DIAPER BAG FOR HIM.

I lost it. I mean, really, I completely lost it. Had I not been walking around the house nursing Gaga — I used do to that, walk-and-nurse, really, I was a super-hero back then — I would have picked up that diaper bag and thrown it at him.

Instead, I said in a truly awful and horrible way, “Dude, Diddy’s almost two. You’ve been caring for her for almost TWO years. How do you not know what goes in a diaper bag after TWO YEARS?”

He then proceeded to throw the tantrum that I am pretty sure Diddy and Gaga have used as their reference point for every single meltdown they have had since.

(Image via eonline.com)

It was epic. I was screaming, he was screaming, all manner of flowery and not-so-flowery language was bouncing off our walls. It was not pretty. It finally ended with me agreeing to GATHER the items he would need, as long as HE did the actual PACKING of the bag.

After that, I wrote a list.

Then I stuck the list in a luggage tag — this one, in fact —  and attached it to the diaper bag, and we haven’t had to fight about anything that sort of stupid since.


Obviously, a list like this isn’t rocket science.

You can easily write your own, stick it on a luggage tag, and call it a day.

But as long as we’re talking about MY list, you might want to check out a few products  that I never leave the house without:

* MediBuddy – First Aid Kit by me4kidz

This is indispensable. It’s about the size of a glasses case, and it’s awesome. I have one in the diaper bag, one in each of the kids luggage cubes (fodder for another post), one in my purse, one in all our cars. Gaga in particular believes no scrape can go un-BandAided, and these bandaids have zoo animals on them that the kids love.

* My Little Seat Infant Travel Chair

Believe it or not — and it is shocking — mine are not the only babies on earth. Either are yours. At some point, you are going to go to a restaurant where someone else’s kids are hogging the high chairs. Or you’re going to stupidly stroll into a place that doesn’t HAVE high chairs (like every single steakhouse in LA). Or, like us, you’re going to REALLY moronically have so many children in so few years that no matter where you venture out to eat, you will upset that establishments expected children:highchair ratio just by showing up. For times like that, you want a My Little Seat. It’s light. It’s washable. It scrunches up and is easily stuffed back into your diaper bag. You want it, I’m telling you, you really want it — you want it in every cute fabric it comes in. Which is why you will start giving them out as shower presents the moment you see them, promise.

Click here to download:

ChecklistMommy Diaper Bag Pack Lists

I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

A Blog Is Born, Thanks to My Newborn Essentials List!

Before there was a blog, there was a list — the first ever, original, one-and-only:

ChecklistMommy Gearing Up: Newborn Essentials List

I started writing this list almost five years ago, shortly after Diddy was born. Diddy was that classic, easy first baby, the one that nurses on schedule and sleeps through the night and pops all her teeth without a whimper, the kid who makes you think you ought to have more of them. The kid who makes you think parenting is easy, the kid who makes you think you’ve got it all figured out.

Until one day you look around your house and it is filled from floor-to-ceiling with useless baby crap.


I'm Just Looking for Some Grown-Ups to Talk To ...

Sarah Kate Levy

Once upon a time I wanted to be a novelist in NY. FOUR KIDS LATER I'm a
screenwriter in LA who blogs about parenting, partnering, and the decline of civilization / my home.

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