How to Trim a Baby's Nails

A new parent's biggest nightmare: trimming a baby's nails.

A new parent's biggest nightmare: trimming a baby's nails.

With a new baby, everything is scary. 

Driving. Leaving the house. Folding laundry six feet away from your sleeping baby who is totally breathing. She is breathing, right? I'm just going to go check really quick. But I'm pretty certain there's one task that strikes fear in the hearts of all new parents: clipping your newborn's fingernails.

We welcomed baby Arlene Helen Katt on July 14. She's 7lbs 9 oz of adorableness... with one exception.

She was born wielding 10 tiny weapons.

Like all babies, her itty bitty fingernails are paper thin, and yet so sharp you'll need to be peeled off the ceiling after one minor poke-- usually on your naked boob as you're trying to figure out breastfeeding and already sobbing in pain. I thought about cutting them a lot, but using clippers seems too risky. So I Google "trim baby nails" and learned that you can file a baby's nails, or even bite them with your teeth. I tried both, and neither really worked.  

However, once the baby horribly scratches her face, you realize you're the parent and keeping the kid safe is your job. 

Time to trim the nails or call CPS on yourself. 

About a week after her birth, I finally mustered the guts to trim baby Arlene's nails. We ended up really liking curved cuticle scissors (these ones are perfect). They're easier to control, and control is key when you're trying to not physically and emotionally scar your child for life. We later discovered it was easier for the person who was holding the baby to trim her nails.  

Here's what happened when I attempted to trim our baby's talons. I didn't even cry! And bonus points to me for posting a video of myself 11 days after having a c-section, swollen as can be and barely able to move. Oh, the things we do for kids!

Doing most things with a baby scares the crap out of me, but that's been the driving force behind Hey Eleanor all along. If you have a suggestion of a scary task to tackle with a baby, share it in the comments. Flying cross-country, leaving her overnight with a babysitter... I am alllll ears. 

On a somewhat related note, remember press-on nails?

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How You Give Birth Really Doesn't Matter

Do you think this monkey talked about how she gave birth? Probably.

Do you think this monkey talked about how she gave birth? Probably.

Tomorrow, I become a mom.

A lot of people say I became a mom when I became pregnant. But aside from the fact that I haven't eaten raw fish in nine months and said no to Dolly Parton AND Metallica concerts (both coming within weeks of this baby's arrival), I haven't felt like a parent.

Parents, especially to little kids, don't get go to the gym when they want. They can't just wing their day, maybe working for a few hours in the morning, then meeting a friend for lunch. They don't go on spur of the moment dates with their significant others. They don't get to sleep in until 9am. I've enjoyed all these things and more for the last 34 years.

Tomorrow afternoon, everything changes.

Our baby is breech (head up, butt down, legs constantly kicking my left side). She's not budging, so she's coming out in the operating room.

When I've told people about this upcoming, very medicated birth, I've had a lot of people ask,

"Are you disappointed?"

I'm not.

I kinda feel relieved. There are no guarantees in childbirth, but with a scheduled c-section, at least the element of surprise is mostly ruled out. I have a date and time, a good idea of what to expect and what recovery should look like. Does it feel like cheating? A little bit, but it feels a lot better than having a breech birth the old fashioned way, which often left baby and/or mom dead. So yay for modern medicine! 

That said, I've been mindful of sharing my c-section news. 

Once you're pregnant (heck, even way before depending on who you hang out with), you'll quickly learn there's a lot of conversation about birthing. Are you having the baby at home, at a birthing center or in a hospital? Drugs or no drugs? Doula or no doula? Midwife or doctor? Water birth or scheduled c-section? And let's be honest: no matter what your personal answer is to any of these questions, you'll feel judged.

Birth is regarded as grand finale. 9.5 months of training, culminating in human physiology's greatest marathon. Moms write elaborate plans explaining exactly how the race will go, how much or little intervention they'd like, and how they want to cross that finish line, down to the music they want playing over the loud speakers. 

That's fine, but why do we spend so much time talking about this stuff? 

I'm pretty sure birth is the easy part.

No matter how you do it, you most likely will be surrounded by people who deliver babies every day. They know exactly what to do, exactly how to fix problems, exactly what to anticipate next. There are only a few major interstates barreling toward Destination Birth. But once you hit parenthood, it's alllll spaghetti junction.  

I've had so many new parents say to me that they were so caught up in the birth stuff that they barely even thought about breastfeeding, or sleep schedules, let alone being a parent for the next 5, 10, 30, 50 years. It reminds me a lot of people who get so entangled in wedding planning that it's not until the vows have been said that they realize, oh shit, I'm married to that guy! Sure, planning a wedding is fun and all, but it's just one day in what's supposed to be a lifetime. 

Having kids is the same, only there are no backsies.

So I say have your baby in a warm bath in your living room. Or on a cold, sterile table in a hospital on the day of your choice. Or at a birthing center while huffing laughing gas with your entire family looking on. Or in a hospital bed, completely numb from the waist down. Or in a galvanized tub in the woods with nothing but the stars as your midwife and the moon as your doula. Do it whatever way you want.

Because guess what?

It's not about the birth, it's about the baby. Who turns into a toddler, who then becomes a kid, who morphs into a teenager, who later becomes a 20-something and then 30-something and maybe a parent themselves, and then one day picks out your nursing home. 

Yeah, I'm scared about having a baby cut out of my body tomorrow afternoon. But that's nothing compared to the fact that tomorrow I meet the person I'll love more than anything, who'll inevitably expand and sometimes break my heart. A person my husband and I will be in charge of shaping and caring about, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

It's a huge responsibility, and while it scares the ever-loving shit out of me, I hear it's amazing. But I don't really know about that yet because today, I'm just Molly. 

Tomorrow, I'm mom.

* * * 

Like this mom crap I've been writing lately? Here's more of it-- like the 25 things that scare me about having a baby, plus 28 things that will make your pregnancy better.

Rather read non-mom crap? Here's a post about the time I went to a concert by myself

Giving birth is really just the beginning.

Giving birth is really just the beginning.

Date Whoever You Want, but Marry an Engineer.

Date whoever you want, but marry an engineer.

Date whoever you want, but marry an engineer.

I remember talking with a friend in high school about boys. Because obviously, what else do you talk about at 17? (or 27... or 37...)

We both decided it would behoove us to date a wide range of people.

Why not date a starving artist? A jock? A nerd? An older man? Some dude with an accent? I'm inherently curious by people who are different than me, and my 20s seemed like the time to date whoever the heck I wanted.

So I did.

And you know what? Dating through that lens was really hard. I spent nearly a full decade looking for people who were interesting to me, but not a good fit for me.

There was Art Guy who actually wore a pair of Levi's featuring a two-foot shlong he'd screen printed on them himself (Does it surprise you that the same guy also did this?). There was Long Distance Relationship Guy who always took my calls, but could never call me. There was PHD guy, who was a great conversationalist, but then disappeared for days on end (turns out he had a major secret drinking problem).

These relationships always made me feel unsettled, sad and crappy about myself. But I didn't know better.

I believed relationships were inherently challenging.

Most of the ones I grew up around sure seemed that way. I knew very few married couples who struck me as happy. My parents, many of their friends and family were either divorced or constantly complained about their relationships. Much of the marriage advice I absorbed was to "wait as long as you can to get married," "get a prenup" or"don't even bother." One adult person actually told me, a tweenager at the time, that they "hoped I married an asshole so we'd have lots to talk about when I got older."

Nice, right?

It took me years to realize that I was actually ashamed about wanting a healthy, happy relationship. At 27, I decided to actively seek one. I had awesome relationships with family, friends and coworkers-- why should a boyfriend be any different? So, I did something really revolutionary and actually thought about what I wanted in a partner. Then, I wrote it down. 

A few of the 30+ listed items?

  • Is kind and courteous 
  • Likes my friends and family; wants to spend time with them
  • I like their friends and family; want to spend time with them
  • Has car
  • Can fix things
  • Calls/texts me back

Some things on the list might strike you as duh, that's the bare minimum, but as someone who dated four guys in a row who didn't have cars (they claimed it was for environmental purposes or they just "liked" biking or taking the bus... but hey, can I borrow your car again, please?), getting basic was needed. 

One week after I wrote this list, I started dating Josh. 

He wasn't like the other guys. First of all, he's a super-smart engineer, and passionate about his job. He picked me up for our first date in a vehicle he owns (!). He's ambitious. Kind. Funny. Responsible. Thoughtful. Handy. And he really, really likes me. Josh hit on every single one of the points I listed, and so many more I never even knew I wanted.  

While things haven't always been easy for us (like the time he moved to Mexico for two years, nbd), we've always been able to talk openly and honestly. I've never had a romantic relationship like that. With Josh, I always feel heard and supported. He sees me for who I am, and loves me because of it (or maybe in spite of it).

I love him sosososo much. 

Today, Josh and I are celebrating our second year of marriage (and about eight years together?). Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it's not like 50 years or anything, but it's something. The biggest lesson I've learned? 

With the right person, love doesn't have to be so hard. 

Yes, hard things happen. We've had our fair share of hurdles, and I know there are biggies in our future-- stuff I can't even imagine. And next month, things are about to get a whole lot realer when we add a baby to the mix. But I feel confident knowing that I picked the right person to slog though the tough stuff with.

So for anyone out there who may be lost in the dating world: Kiss all the frogs (or DJs or guys without cars or artists with shlong jeans) you want. But marry an engineer. At least that's what worked for me. 

* * *

PS Here's the photos from our boxing gym wedding two years ago. Makes me smile. 

This Week's Best Stuff on the Internet

This video about young Bulgarian women being bought and sold at a bride market was absolutely fascinating. It's a bit of a longer watch, but I walked away feeling differently than I expected. Still, you should never be able to BUY A WIFE. Come on.

Whilst driving back from the cabin last weekend, we encountered some major construction traffic that required us to merge into one lane. "Luckily", some "good samaritan" in a mini van sat in the soon-to-be-closed lane, forcing people to merge early. GUYS. NO. You're supposed to do the zipper method. Apparently, my fellow Minnesotans are so bad at this that WIRED magazine called us out. Ugh, shame shame shame.

Think ladies like to receive unsolicited dick pics? We don't. Here's what one of us did about it

Why you might want to think twice before buying those super cheap jeans.

Planning on traveling internationally? Here's 3 important things you need to know about your passport, according to travel expert Samantha Brown. 

File this under embarrassing: 78-year-old dad takes out full-page dating ad for single son. Awkward.

If you're at all paying attention to the blogger/ecourse/webinar world, you've undoubtedly seen people claiming they can help you make 6-figures in a matter of weeks. Ha. Riiiight. Thanks, by Regina for speaking the truth about this nonsense.  

Thanks to Mike Laninga for having me on the Twin Cities Podcast this week! Fun conversation about Hey Eleanor, what I love about the Twin Cities, plus my favorite "sport."

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How to Always Find An Awesome Restaurant

My secret weapon for finding the best restaurants when traveling. 

My secret weapon for finding the best restaurants when traveling. 

I love food.

When I travel, I could pretty much skip any museum or landmark and just hit up restaurants. And coffee shops. And dive bars. And ice cream places. 

I think good food makes or breaks a vacation, a birthday, a celebration, or just a meal away from home. It bums me out when people come to my city and eat at an Olive Garden instead of Matt's Bar or Hola Arepa. Come on, you work hard for the money, so why not spend it on delicious food you can't get anywhere else?

Outside of this blog, I'm primarily a food and travel writer. I get peppered with emails and texts from people seeking restaurant recs all the time. While I'm well-versed in many U.S. city's greatest hits, I often find myself double-checking my work. 

There is a place I can almost always depend on for good restaurant advice. 

It's certainly not Yelp. (Who even knows who's writing those reviews?!)

It's not TripAdvisor. (Ick.)

It's not a New York Times review from 1996. 

When I'm traveling, I turn to Eater.

If you're not familiar, Eater is website all about food, restaurant and chef news. They do have a national site, but also city-themed micro sites that get updated daily. The best part? They actually rely on local writers who know things and are passionate about their city's food scene, not just average joes who want to bitch about a restaurant experience online.

Eater is great for travelers looking to find awesome restaurants.

You can pretty much get an overview of the an entire city's food scene through their Eater 38 lists (aka the best 38 restaurants in a particular city), Heat Maps (lists of what's hot right now; not always winners, but definitely the buzziest!), plus roundups of best places to cocktail, brunch, grab a coffee (<<< I actually wrote this Minneapolis one for them, NBD) and more. Each listing is short and sweet, perfect for getting the vibe of a place without having to dig through 2,000 word reviews from the local monthly magazine. Plus, they feature hoity-toity spots next to down and dirty dives, so trust me: there's something on Eater for everyone, not just people swimming in money. 

If the city you're visiting doesn't have a dedicated Eater site yet, use their search function to see if they've written about wherever you're going. For example, Madison, Wisconsin doesn't have one, but I searched "Wisconsin" and found this super-helpful list, which prompted my husband and I to grab a drink at Graft & dinner at Estrellon. Both were great. If you're traveling internationally, try there search function-- they do offer some, but not tons, of global recommendations. 

So, if you're traveling in the near future and want to impress your friends or coworkers with your restaurant expertise, check out my secret weapon. You won't be sorry. 

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What's your favorite way to find places to eat, sleep and hang out when you travel? Share in the comments. PS Here's where I ate while in Nashville. Guess where I got many of those recommendations... 

How I always find amazing restaurants when I travel. 

How I always find amazing restaurants when I travel. 

How I Quit My Fear of Flying

Are you afraid of flying? Read this. 

Are you afraid of flying? Read this. 

Jasmin Charlotte is a blogger who focuses on technology, adventure and travel. That last part is rather notable, given that she has a serious flying phobia. However, she wasn't about to let a little hysterical crying, sweaty palms and pre-trip nausea keep her from seeing the world. She decided to actively work on overcoming her fear, and for the most part she's succeeded. 

Here's how Jasmin quit her fear of flying.

* * *

Do you remember when your fear of flying began?

I definitely didn't have it when I was younger, I slept blissfully! I think it started when I was a teenager and I had quite a big gap in between when I had been on planes. This led to me building it up in my mind and eventually the fear starting. My mum has always had a really bad fear of flying which I think contributed to it as well!

What did the fear feel/look like in the days leading up to the flight? What about on the flight?

It would consume me for the days before hand and it was all I would think about, slowly getting worse and worse as I thought of more scenarios. It would wiggle its way into my dreams and it was guaranteed I wouldn't sleep the night before. I actually made myself sick from it once! On the flight, it was even worse, usually crying, lots of nervous jumping and grabbing onto seat arms at the slight move of turbulence. Not fun!

Despite the fact that flying terrifies you, what was it that made you decide the prospect of travel was worth all the scary stuff?

As I was living in New Zealand, I didn't have much choice - if I wanted to leave the country I had to fly!! My family moved away to Aus and the UK as well. I really love travel, it is something that means so much to me and I made a pact to myself very early on that despite how horrible the flying was, I would never let it stop me from exploring the world and doing the things I love.

What was the first step you took to conquering your fear?

I went on a mission to find more information and to get help for it. I visited the doctor, who really helped me in those early days to calm down. Then, I listened to podcasts and bought some free ebooks which ran through the fear itself and let me be able to rationalise it. It was a gradual process and I definitely do still get a bit of anxiety running up to the flight, but nowhere near as much as I did. I haven't shed a tear on a flight in years!

What do you do prior to the trip to deal with your anxiety?

It is all about not letting it snowball. If I sit and dwell on it, then I know I will continually worry. I try and keep busy all the way up until the trip and also try and book something nice the day before. I usually go for something like a massage as they are one of my favourite things. I know that if I have that booked, whenever I start thinking about flying I can distract myself with thoughts of my amazing massage. Doing a whole lot of holiday planning and researching is a great distraction too!

What do you do once you get to the airport?

It's key to make sure you don't get stressed here as then it puts you in the anxiety mindset. I always try and get to the airport early, leaving plenty of time for bags and security. There's nothing worse than getting stressed out and worked up right before the flight. This also leaves time for a bite to eat and to buy some bits and pieces to take on the plane. Again, keeping busy is key, need to keep the mind ticking over! Make sure you take an interesting book to bury your head in as well.

On the plane?

I have certain things on the plane which make me more anxious. I totally hate take off a lot more than the rest of flight. I always make sure that I either block my ears or have music on and am reading a book or magazine. I get more worked up when warm, so try and keep the fan on and where less clothing on this bit - I always get really sweaty palms!

I know that once the seatbelt signs are off and people are wandering about that I will start to feel a bit calmer. I also really recommend looking into some breathing techniques and yoga for the plane and that is essential at calming your bodies reaction.

When I was still very scared, I would also inform the flight attendant before the plane took off, this way they will usually come and check on you which always did a good job at calming me down! I still don't enjoy turbulence, mainly as it reminds me I'm in the air! But I have done more reading around it which has made me feel better, it's always described as a bumpy road, and we all know that the journey to the airport has a whole lot of bumpy roads, so it's bound to happen in the sky too!

Since you’ve deliberately decided to face your flying fears, have you noticed a big shift in your brain and body when it comes to flying? What do you think made the biggest difference?

Definitely! I'm no longer weeping from check in until my destination! I can fly and finally look like everyone else on the plane, calm and normal. I think it's really a combination of all of the tips above and really working on techniques to reduce anxiety. It's also been key to fly regularly and more often. My fear will build up if I leave it too long, so I always try and fly a couple times a year at least, which is a lot easier now with all the cheap flights in Europe!

Advice for someone who’s afraid to fly?

Do your research and find some good books on the topic, research anxiety and breathing techniques, pinpoint your key anxiety points and work on mitigating those, and always make sure you just get on that plane!!

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Big thanks to Jasmin for sharing her story. Learn more about her & her adventures at She's also on Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Are you afraid of flying (or have some other crippling fear)? How have you been able to overcome it? Share your tips in the comments!

PS Here's a fantastic interview about how my friend Beth overcame her fear of rollercoasters

A few practical tips for overcoming your fear of flying. 

A few practical tips for overcoming your fear of flying.