Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm trying not to give you cancer.

Kids, I'm trying not to give you cancer.

I just want you to know. For the love of brown apples and bud-riddled potatoes, dammit, I'm trying with all the mom-love I have in me to spare you.

From what I gather, it's a losing battle. I refuse to believe that people want to give you cancer - carelessly smattering our household goods with body-rocking chemicals. I do believe, though, that people are competitive. And in this competitive market where shelf-space comes at a premium, I believe people who own products - simple products like apples and potatoes, or more complex ones like detergent and wet wipes - find it difficult to gain an edge on their competitors. So they try to make their product better by creating a "problem" with the product that most consumers didn't even know existed.

Apples turn brown when you cut them. To most, that's not a problem; that's just the nature of an apple.
Potatoes grow buds. To most, that's not a problem; that's a mother-freaking potato, for crap's sake. But even potato farmers need to be competitive. There are lots of potato farmers, I guess. So some guy comes up with some chemical that will solve this budding "problem," and they go sell it to the farmer under the guise that it will make their potatoes more desirable to buyers at big name grocery stores.

The buyers think that carrying these "problem-solved!" potatoes will make their store the more desirable destination for consumers (Why, what problem-free potatoes you have!) and there's not another thought about it. Well, that's not true. There's probably some thought. I'm sure the potato people have to prove their product is safe for consumption within certain parameters.

But, here's the thing - with your grandmas and great grandmas having suffered through a couple rounds of cancer and as a parent who is responsible for your well-being, I have to consider the problem is (ehem, the REAL problem is) that sometimes these parameters just aren't good enough. Really, they're not good enough for ourselves, let alone our kids.

Kids, I don't know if any of this is true. About the apples, the potatoes, soy milk, the baby wipes, yellow dyes, red dyes, arsenic in rice milk and apple juice... I have no idea. I'm a writer, not a chemist. Until a couple years ago, I trusted brands to make products that won't give you cancer. Then I read about these unnatural new apples that won't turn brown when you cut them, and I literally laughed aloud at the article: What store would stock these apples with this big trend toward organic produce?! Then, just today, I walked over to our kitchenette and saw pre-sliced, store-bought apples that were sitting out for hours with not a shade of brown on them. Well, hell. They've made it into circulation. 

So the more I read, the more I guess the duty falls on me. Which brings me back to my initial point:

I'm trying.
  • I've swapped our plastic containers out for glassware.
  • Only microwave glass.
  • Traded soy milk for rice milk, then swapped rice milk for almond milk.
  • Buy some organic stuff. Fruit mostly. Yogurt.
  • All organic for baby food.
  • No more diet pop.
  • Try to buy dye-free detergent, but I don't know. There are a lot of ingredients listed in those bottles and I have no idea what in the world-of-washing-machines I'm looking at.
  • Hormone-free, specially fed, something-or-other chicken and beef when it's available.
  • Your soaps, ugh. I hope they're fine. I steer clear of the ones that suffer vicious public floggings.

It's not going to be perfect. Frankly, and sadly, I don't think our home has the budget to be 100% cancer-free. I just hope it works.

We're still going to eat canned stuff and pizza and for now, GASP, American cheese (you freaking love it). And if that undoes all the afore-listed efforts, well then... crap. I'm sorry. And at least you know we tried.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Things I want my daughter to know before I forget them (what with the red wine and all).

Dear Sweet, Squishy Daughter of Mine,

I need you to know something. And I have to share it now, else I risk forgetting when it really matters. 

There are a lot of people, females in particular, who will be sending you messages across your lifetime. Trend setters. People who think they know what's wrong with the world, how to close the gender gap, and people who think they know how to fix everything. 

Let's get specific. Lately, there have been extensive discussions, blog posts and campaigns around outward appearance. In one camp, people want you to know every corner of your body, of your face is beautiful no matter what. (It is.) They want you to unlearn how to spot physical characteristics that females have been trained to see as imperfections. This is, without a doubt, a beautiful way of thinking.

To accomplish this "flawless" vision, there are a number of instructional blog posts I can reference that will help me convince you to not care about your appearance because your "full self" is so much more than that. In fact, several people have outlined ways for me to compliment you on your skills, talents and accomplishments exclusively without mentioning your outward appearance at all. Some even ask me to tell other people not to compliment you on your appearance in any way, shape or form. 

And then, there's another unrelated campaign. It's a monster-sized movement that will encourage you to be physically active, eat natural foods and be healthy, avoid obesity and "get out and move." This message will be directly targeted at you throughout your youth. 

These two very significant messages are not necessarily conflicting, but to a young person, they may be confusing. Do I love myself the way I am, or do I need to go sweat it out to be right with the universe?

So, when you are of the age where all of those messages make sense to you in one way or another, here are some things I want you to know. I'm going to be real with you. I'm not going to try to come up with some crafty mind trick that I think will shape you into becoming any more excellent than I know you already are. So, here goes; let's get real.: 

1. Dare I say, sometimes it's nice to look "nice." Other times, it's great to not give a flying crap. It's my job to raise you as the intelligent person who can determine which times call for which ensemble. I will not encourage you to attend an interview in your favorite sweatpants nor will I encourage you to wear a suit for Saturday morning breakfast. Presentation is a part of life. And it's okay to embrace it.
2. Looking "nice" has exactly nothing to do with your physical body, features, etc. With a pair of slacks and a tie, Snuffleupagus can look "nice." When the occasion calls for a decent outward appearance, "nice" is all you need to do. 
3. When you look "nice," I'm probably going to tell you. Some "experts" would tell me not to. I, frankly, don't care. I love every single thing about you, and I can't hold back compliments of any sort. Be it smart, cute, witty, awesome. If you're it, I'm gonna tell you. 
4. While I'm in charge of getting you ready every day, I only care that you look "loved."Love can look like a lot of different things. In the winter, it can mean you look warm. Or it may mean that your hair isn't in knots. Or it could mean that, on a hot day, you look like you're dressed like a watermelon.  You're a reflection of my love. And I love you a freaking lot. 
5. This one's arguably most important: The ONLY thing that matters is how you feel about yourself. This may mean more to you when you get older. No ad campaign is going to tell you how to feel about yourself (unless I wrote it; then you will surely find it very convincing). Do not allow anyone or anything to affect how you feel about your body. Just make sure YOU freaking love it. If you have trouble thinking of things to love about it, please see me. I have a running list in my head at all times. If there is something you think you do not love, share it with me. We will make sure it's because YOU do not love it. Not because you think someone else will not love it. I will tell you you're wrong about every flaw you see for a number of reasons. We can see where the discussion goes from there.
6. Do things that make you feel great about yourself. When it comes to being active, don't follow trends or friends or whatever. Some people need to run a marathon to feel great. I only need to run for about 30 minutes to feel like I've done something spectacular. You are the only one who can determine what the standard is here. 
7. Do not rely on other people or other objects to make you feel great. They're simply unreliable. This is a little "cheese-factory" here, but it's a very simple truth: do things that make you feel great, do not rely on things to make you feel great. Helping someone who needs you, kicking butt on an assignment, reaching a goal, becoming an Olympian, whatever... This is about DOing things. Not having things. 
8. This list is not for girls. It is not for boys. It is for people. Your brother needs to know these as much as you do. But seeing as though everyone seems to be talking to girls specifically, I thought I'd intercept you before you can understand the messages you're receiving. 

I know I'll have plenty more. Unfortunately for you, I like to write, and by the time you're of age to read it, you'll have a lot to catch up on. So, to be continued. Love, Mom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day from Someone Who Gets It

Sometimes even a writer can't write it better. And so, I offer you this gem that I've lifted from The Makeshift Mom's Facebook page.

Happy Mother's Day. If for only a moment, may you find a little corner of the world free from puke, poop, dishes, detergent and tumbling dustbunnies.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Easy, Heartwarmin' DIY Mother's Day Cards or "Don't Touch ANYTHING with those paint-dipped mitts!!"

Oh, Mother's Day. I can only imagine the masterful plan my husband is whipping up to ensure mine is steeped in sweet stress-squelching bliss.

In the meantime, it's my job to ensure all of the mothers in our family experience the ultimate "Awwwww"-worthy experience for their own celebratory day of do-nothingness (finally!). And, since we're hundreds of miles away from our family and delivering hugs from the kids is an impossibility, I figured we'd deliver some hands.

I started with some blank cards and envelopes that I picked up from Michael's a while back. Value pack came in counts of 50. First, I thought I'd trace the kids' hands on ornate scrapbook paper, cut them out and Mod Podge them to the front of the card. HmHah. That's funny.

Have you ever tried to steady a 6-month-old's hand long enough to trace it with a pencil?

Five seconds into the job he was trying to eat the pencil and crinkle the paper between his little snausage fingers. I was able to get one decent trace job in before I abandoned the mission. I cut out the first hand and traced two additional before I realized maybe this whole idea of minimizing the mess was over-rated. For these three cards, I Mod Podged the hands to the front of the card. Mod Podge isn't great on paper. Wilts it a bit before drying as stiff as a 2x4, but all in all they ended up very cute. Next time I'd probably just glue them though.

Well that was fun. And by fun I mean way too much cutting and pasting. At this rate, I'll be here 'til next Tuesday and I have very little Sunday left before cranky gets all bundled up in the kid-pants.

Grab the paints. We're goin' in.









I would recommend using quality oil paints for this job because the paint dries in peaks so you can not only see their hand print but also feel it. I liked this effect for the far-away relatives. Felt more personal and real.

 I had our daughter put her handprint down first. Waited for it to dry. Then had our son go at it.

Throw on an oversized t-shirt, dress your kid in his classiest diaper-only attire and dip his pudgy little paws in that paint. Again, keeping his hand still enough to avoid a circular blurred blooble of blue was a challenge. Some prints were better than others, but I think that's what adds that heartwarming homey feel.


I Googled "Mother's Day Card" messages and found ones that we liked for each person. We printed these and glued them to the inside of the card. Our daughter wrote personal messages on the inside.





All in all, happy with the end result. Happy Mother's Day "Ya'll" (When in Rome...)



Friday, April 20, 2012

Part 3: Items 23-27 Must-Have Items for Moms or "Baby Shower Registries are supposed to be fun, right?"


Continued from previous post...
It's the day you've been waiting for: baby registry day. A store clerk hands you the scanner wand, a folder of miscellaneous papers about child rearing, coupons for already overpriced items and a list of recommended things the store says you should add to your registry. All the good moms add these items; you're a good mom aren't you? So you take your wand and your enormous prego belly and with a false showing of confidence you pretend to know what you're doing. You scan the shelves trying to remember what your sister/mother/best-friend-who's-a-mom told you as you scout out what you think could possibly maybe be something like what you heard was good that one time. Half way through the first aisle you're totally overwhelmed, and underfed. As you reach into your purse for a granola bar to power yourself through to aisle #2 you can't quiet the questions swimming through your head: Why is a butt thermometer 50 dollars? How many gadgets do I need to accessorize my stroller? Do I have space for a play mat, play walker, exersaucer, bouncy chair and automated swing in my home? And who is this Bjorn guy and what makes him so great?

I can't promise that I have all the answers. No one person can pretend to have all the answers to our mom-related questions. But I have a list of items that I wish I would've had when I was registering. And if not when I was registering, I just wish I would've had them in general as I was starting out in my infant-care quest. And so, I bestow it to you. Hopefully this will help. 

Now where were we... right.


Find Part 1 and Part 2 of this post here.

23. Board books

Being a writer, perhaps I have loftier expectations of children's books. And maybe I wasn't thinking sensibly about the grabby-handiness of babies. But let's just say, I didn't get the whole board book phenomenon at first. For starters, the story selection was terrible. "Guess How Much I Love You" and "Goodnight Moon" were the best of the bunch. But then the other miscellaneous titles with stories that literally went like this: "Cake. Sun. Butterfly. Apple." Um, I don't need a book to randomly call out names of unrelated items. And will this be my son's new standard for stories? As a writer this is a potential disaster. I had visions of his school projects coming home: "Bird. Hat. Shoe. Snorkel."


Dear Mrs. Mom, Your son's thoughts seem to be a little disjointed this week. Please work on reading real stories that don't suck. Love, Teacher


So for his first few months I only read him stories from real books like "Diary of a Wombat" and "My Mommy Hung the Moon" or whatever that story by Jamie Lee Curtis is. But then something started happening with the kid. He got a case of the Grabby Hands with an acute case of Is This Food? Let's Taste It and See! He would literally lunge toward the books we were reading, grab the pages and try to tear them off and shove them in his mouth.

The result? He's currently being punished by being forced to read board books. I just can't have him grab-handing these beautiful books and tearing them apart. Clearly he just wants to eat the stories anyway. So, "Pear. Cow. Grass. Fart." it is. My advice, register for some real books, but definitely get the board books too for your kid's grab-handy stage. You'll be happy you did. Here is a link to all the board books available at Babies R Us. They're much easier to see and choose online than they were in the store.







24. Boppy Pillow
Surely someone has told you this before me, but you need this. You'll attempt various ways to prop your kid up off the ground, laying down with his head elevated, sitting up but not quite stable, napping in your presence while congested, etc. This is what you need to do all of those things. I can't tell you the number of times we've used this thing and are still using it.

Apparently many mothers use this as a pillow for breastfeeding as well. My thoughts on that: hahahahaahahhahahahahahahha. You want me to fit my deformed post-prego belly in that little circle? That's funny. Is this a campaign to make me feel worse about my new less-than-awesome body? A technique for helping me yearn for my once pretty spectacularly flat-ish stomach? A partnership with Weight Watchers? Well aren't you a big jerk. Again, just an opinion. This pillow may fit around your post-preg waist just swimmingly in which case, You also are a jerk. Just kidding. Kind of.

Oh, so how many accessories do you need for you boppy pillow? In truth, you need exactly one Boppy pillow cover. At most, you can do two in case one is in the wash. Do you need the plastic lining cover for it? Maybe this could possibly be useful if you do use it for nursing, but honestly, again, probably not. I had one Boppy pillow cover. It never got dirty, spit up on or anything. I washed it, it was clean again within the same day. The pillow itself is still in like-new condition. We got this set, Boppy Pillow with Heirloom Lamb cover (pictured here is the Heirloom Tree design). The Heirloom covers are very, very soft and awfully adorable. I would highly recommend them.

25. Changing Kit

I'm just going to the supermarket for an hour, why am I packing like I'm taking my kid to Guam? Sure, you'll register for a diaper bag. My diaper bag was adorable and it actually came with a changing pad, little pouches for diapers and wipes, a bottle cover thing... And that's great. But what I realized after 6 months is that I didn't want to haul this enormous diaper bag around everywhere with me. Even the fancy pants expensive ones that look like an oversized Coach purse... UGH. No. I wanted to leave it in the car in case I needed it.

I wanted to progress to using just a really cute tote that I could put my purse items in along with just enough baby supplies to get me through a single shopping trip:

  • I don't need 4 diapers. I need 2 at most. 
  • I don't need an 8 oz. bottle, I need a 4 oz. at most in case the kid decides to have a spontaneous growth spurt.
  • I need a single extra outfit in the event of a pooplosion. 
  • And pacifier wipes (oh, we'll talk about those next). 
And that's it. Plenty of room now for the rest of my stuff.
I found the solution to the short trip from another mom I saw at Easter mass. I had forgotten an extra diaper and asked her if she had one and she handed me this awesome Carter's changing pad. It had pockets that wrapped up into the pad and a ziploc cover for wipes that folded flat. She had the whole thing stuffed in her purse tote. It was magic. And it's here for you to enjoy: Carter's Changing Kit

I'm sure there are several other brands that offer a similar convenience. Doesn't matter which one you get, just get one.


26. Paci Wipes
No-brainer on these. When your kid drops her pacifier on floor, or between the seats, or under her butt in the carseat... you're going to have to de-germ and de-fuzz it. If you're me, you're not sure running it under the sink is really exercising the demons. As a mom you'll ask yourself a million questions: what's a safe way to clean it? Can I just use a baby wipe? Is that like feeding my kid butt cream? What if I put it in my mouth? Do I have a trillion germs in there? Finally, all that's left is your coffee cup, and one quick plunge in there and your kid will be awake for the next six weeks.

Solution? Paci Wipes. They're safe. They're food grade. They don't leave you asking questions about whether the paci can safely go back into your kid's mouth, they don't leave fuzz on the paci and they kind of taste like apples (I always taste test the stuff that goes into my kid's mouth to determine whether or not I'm going to allow him to reject it). Questions, answered; crisis averted. I bought these ones.


  • Safely cleans pacifiers, bottles, cups, and teething toys
  • Natural cleaning for items babies put in their mouth
  • 100% food grade

27. Swing
Meet landing spot #3 for baby. The path of your baby will go like this: Arms. Bouncer. Arms. Mat. Arms. Swing. They love to be rocked and cradled and swung and swooped. It's nice to have help doing that. Kid loves this thing. It is SO soft. And now that he's older he really likes to grab the little rotating lambs and clouds. Recommended to me by my sister of three kids. Only drawback is that it makes a sort of hee-haw donkey sound as it swings. Kid doesn't mind, so neither do I. We got this one: Fisher-Price Papasan Cradle Swing - My Little Lamb


Monday, April 2, 2012

Part 2. Items 16-22. Must-Have Items for Moms or "Baby Shower Registries are supposed to be fun, right?"

Continued from previous post...
It's the day you've been waiting for: baby registry day. A store clerk hands you the scanner wand, a folder of miscellaneous papers about child rearing, coupons for already overpriced items and a list of recommended things the store says you should add to your registry. All the good moms add these items; you're a good mom aren't you? So you take your wand and your enormous prego belly and with a false showing of confidence you pretend to know what you're doing. You scan the shelves trying to remember what your sister/mother/best-friend-who's-a-mom told you as you scout out what you think could possibly maybe be something like what you heard was good that one time. Half way through the first aisle you're totally overwhelmed, and underfed. As you reach into your purse for a granola bar to power yourself through to aisle #2 you can't quiet the questions swimming through your head: Why is a butt thermometer 50 dollars? How many gadgets do I need to accessorize my stroller? Do I have space for a play mat, play walker, exersaucer, bouncy chair and automated swing in my home? And who is this Bjorn guy and what makes him so great?

I can't promise that I have all the answers. No one person can pretend to have all the answers to our mom-related questions. But I have a list of items that I wish I would've had when I was registering. And if not when I was registering, I just wish I would've had them in general as I was starting out in my infant-care quest. And so, I bestow it to you. Hopefully this will help. 

Now where were we... right.

So, until your kid is self-propelled by his own little legs, you'll spend an inordinate amount of time plopping him in a variety of different places in an effort to keep him entertained. From mat to bouncy to swing to saucer and back again. Here is one of the must-have destinations for your soon-to-be-mobile baby. The exersaucer. These things help them strengthen and tone their little Michelin Man legs and there's typically an array of distractions that keep them busy for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Or, long enough for you to make a friggin sandwich and maybe even pee without toting them over your shoulder while you one-hand-palm the Charmin. We got this one which is great, except that my kid's way of playing with it is to disengage the toys from their base. He really likes to tear off the bird, try to eat it, then throw it on the floor. I can't distinguish if this is a design flaw in the exersaucer or the kid. In retrospect, I'd also like one with a few lights.

Oh for the love of savings. Here's the thing. Why spend eleventy-million dollars (seriously, the smallest, saddest storebrand ones are about 60 to 70 cents each and your kid will eat several a day) on jars of baby food when you can make your own with just a few minutes and for the price of a few sweet potatoes? If you're having trouble locating any additional free minutes in your day to do things like puree stupid fruits and vegetables, and this sounds like another claw-my-face-off kind of task that you have to complete at the end of a day already stretched as thin as the low-budget toilet paper you now have to buy thanks to the cost of daycare and diapers, then this item is for you. The Baby Brezza is a handy little machine that asks you only to chop your fruit and/or veggie and put it in the container. Then, if you can find the .001 seconds it takes to press a start button, this thing actually steams it and blends it in one hands-free effortless step. Brilliant. Then, you just pour your freshly pureed foods into these little containers and plop 'em in the freezer for future use.


From my experience, this thing is a magical must-have. Get the containers, storage system, cutting board and the spatula to accompany it.
SHHHHHHH SHH! The baby's sleeping!!!!!! One un-smooth move and you could be in a crap storm of a cry-baby cringe-fest. One villain of sweet sleepy baby silence? A cold, hard surface on a warm, soft butt. Get the changing pad for extra cush, but get the changing pad cover for extra "shush." I purchased two which is nice when one is in the wash. But not all covers are created equal. The one I bought from Target is far more plush (and shush) than the one I got at Walmart. Like the difference between berber carpet and a 1-inch shag. We got this one in blue: http://www.target.com/p/Circo-Khaki-Fleece-Changing-Pad-Cover/-/A-13878115.
19. Spoons
It took me four different spoon trials to figure this out, and so I bequeath this knowledge to you. Turns out there's an intricate science to spoon-feeding babies. Here's the basic rule to follow: The bigger the kid, the bigger the bowl at the end of the spoon. Right, seems obvious now, but when you're standing there with 27 different types of spoons merchandised before you, you begin to think... surely they can't be all that different. To which I would say, WRONG. "X" GETS THE SQUARE. You will want to register for two different types of spoons. One with virtually no bowl, like these Gerber bad boys, and then ones with a bigger bowl for when they're a little bit older and able to dip their little lip into the bowl to fish out all that delish pureed mishmash. These ones with the bigger bowl also change color when the food is too hot. Not sure what dimly lit parents aren't finger-testing their food before Chugga-choochooing it into their kids' mouths, but sure, I'll play along. We bought these by Nuby.

So here's another bit of new-mom know-how for you. When your kid is in Stage 1 and 2 diapers, go all Swaddlers all the time for the reasons that I mentioned in my first post. However, once your little pee-pod crosses over into the 3s, you're going to want to change it up. For some reason, those little Swaddlers just don't hold through the night like they used to. And for some reason, my kid pees more at night than any other time throughout the day. That's going to be fun when he's older. Anywho, register for Size 3 Pampers Baby Dry diapers. These things really pull the wetness away from the kid's skin and almost feel dry to the touch even when they're wet. Why is this important? Because having your kid wake up in the middle of the night screaming because his butt is swimming in a cesspool of pee can really make you feel like the worst parent in all the land. Take it from me and avoid that feeling with some friggin' Baby Dry diapers.


Note: Recently received some intel (see the comment section) that once the little stationary butts start scooting, you're going to want to graduate to the Pampers Cruisers. After that, the tide swells and you'll be begging for Huggies Goodnights. As far as registries go, you probably don't need to register for anything past Stage 3. Save yourself the storage. And by then, you'll have a good handle on momhood. The moral here: Diapers grow with the baby. You can't go exclusively by the weight on the side of the package to determine whether they will work the way you want them to for your munchkin. 

IF you are planning to nurse your baby AND you are planning to leave your home at any point during the next 12 months, you're going to need yourself a breast pump. If you're like I was, all of those items in the picture look very complicated-alien-contraption-like to you right now. But don't worry. You will become very familiar with them very soon. I'm not going to get all graphic about it and tell you how one brand of pump suckles better than the other because the truth is, I've only tried one. It was recommended to me by my sister who has three fab kids. And I will tell you, this one is expensive as H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, but good Lord is it worth it. I am not just a nursing mom, I am a working, nursing mom so this thing is the second must-have thing I grab after my colossal cup of coffee every morning. (What's that? Caffeine can be transferred through breast milk? Raspberries! Wet, sloppy, spittle-projecting raspberries.) So, register for this magical milk maker: The Medela On-The-Go Tote. You will not (NOT) be sorry. It comes with a little cooler to conceal your milk when you want to place it in the fridge next to Steve-the-Intern's lunch. And a battery pack for pumping on the go (like in the car while you're tailgating!). I can't say it enough: this is the one you want. Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump. Get it, get it good.

22. Pump it up pt. 2. Extra Medela Bottles and a Few Lansinoh Bags
So six months into this whole pumping process and I'm still learning. What did I learn this week? I've been wastefully squandering money on breastmilk bags that I've been purchasing every 2 weeks. Previously I was purchasing Lansinoh Breast Milk bags which are about $10 for a box of 50 bags. And if you pump about 4 times a day (if you're working) then that will cost you about $20+ per month. So I would pump into those little bottles pictured above, then dump the bottles into these glorified ziploc baggies and give them to daycare. 
Then I realized, why not just buy more of  those little bottles? They come with caps. I can pump into those, cap them and give them to daycare. Then if there's any left over at the end of the week, I can certainly pour it into a milk bag and put it in the freezer. This substantially cut costs. So, here's what I would recommend. I think 2-4 bottles come with the set above. But make sure you have a total of 10 to 12 little Medela bottles. It'll save you tons of money in the longrun. Then buy the breastmilk bags (whichever brand, (I bought Lansinoh b/c they were less expensive than Medela's) and only use them when you need them. There. Much smarter. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Things I want my son to know when he's 16 and peeling out of the driveway in his father's nice car with his hair-flipping gum-chewing girlfriend in the front seat.

1) I sucked snot out of your nose with my mouth and a tube and just a sad little foam filter between me and a mouthful of... sorry. I'm gagging. I can't finish the thought and hold down my breakfast, but the important thing to know is, if the only thing standing between me and your comfort level is a mouth-powered snot-sucking hose, you can count on me to do it every time.

2) At 2 a.m., I changed your crib sheets and vacuumed your room in hopes it would help rid you of congestion, while you watched, half asleep, from the changing table. Funny, just over a year ago this was about the same time I could be found ordering my last beer and closing down the bar with your father.

3) I thought you may have allergies so I spent all of my special Christmas money I had received as a gift from your Great Grandmother to have the air ducts cleaned - only to see a 0% difference in your level of comfort. And strangely, I can't say that I entirely regret it.

4) I've taken you to the doctor no less than 5 times in 7 weeks because the sound of your stuffy little nose breaks my big Mama-heart. (Distinctly different from a big-mama heart.)

5) I want you to be comfortable, so I sometimes loosen the waist on your diaper so it doesn't cinch your belly on long car rides.

6) When you're sick, I ask your father no less than 101 times to please not kiss you. My request is typically denied within moments, often times based on the rock-solid argument that "you're just too cute."

7) No one is a better buddy to you than your dad. He watches you like a kid watches an unwrapped gift at Christmas: bursting with anticipation. He has bought numerous toys well beyond your appropriate age group because he's concerned these clearly aMAZing playsets may not be available when you're old enough to play with them. And he repeatedly asks when we can anticipate developmental milestones like crawling, walking and talking so he can finally play with you.

8) Your sister cannot keep her hands off you. She repeatedly asks, "How did you make him so cute?!" I tell her that we took a little cuteness from all of us and gave it to you.

9) To aid in your digestion, I've committed to omit dairy from my diet. I love milk, and ice cream is my freaking favorite. Just remember that you were a little bit more my favorite than anything else in the world.

10) Your sister is dangerously beautiful, which is no doubt going to make for some pretty vicious years for your parents. By the time you're a teen, we'll be exhausted. Please be nice to us, make smart choices and ask yourself if that hair-flipping girl in your front seat just looks good or actually makes you look good for being the one who won her over, because those are two very different things.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Must-Have Items for Moms or "Baby Shower Registries are supposed to be fun, right?"

It's the day you've been waiting for: baby registry day. A store clerk hands you the scanner wand, a folder of miscellaneous papers about child rearing, coupons for already overpriced items and a list of recommended things the store says you should add to your registry. All the good moms add these items; you're a good mom aren't you? So you take your wand and your enormous prego belly and with a false showing of confidence you pretend to know what you're doing. You scan the shelves trying to remember what your sister/mother/best-friend-who's-a-mom told you as you scout out what you think could possibly maybe be something like what you heard was good that one time. Half way through the first aisle you're totally overwhelmed, and underfed. As you reach into your purse for a granola bar to power yourself through to aisle #2 you can't quiet the questions swimming through your head: Why is a butt thermometer 50 dollars? How many gadgets do I need to accessorize my stroller? Do I have space for a play mat, play walker, exersaucer, bouncy chair and automated swing in my home? And who is this Bjorn guy and what makes him so great?

I can't promise that I have all the answers. No one person can pretend to have all the answers to our mom-related questions. But I have a list of items that I wish I would've had when I was registering. And if not when I was registering, I just wish I would've had them in general as I was starting out in my infant-care quest. And so, I bestow it to you. Hopefully this will help. 

Now, Items 1-15 in no particular order:

Why didn't anyone tell me I needed these? So your baby is going to have razor sharp dagger nails that can mar his face something fierce. And when he mars, he screams and nobody likes that. 'Course, people tell you to get the little mittens to go over their hands, but they don't tell you about the clippers that actually solve the problem. You don't need anything fancy pants. We just picked up these from Walmart (after our first marring episode).

2. baby blankets, specifically stroller blankets 
So, so many baby blankets. You can never have enough. You'll need to cover the car seat and the stroller on windy and chilly days. And you'll need one to leave the hospital with. Why so many? Because they'll almost inevitably find their way to the floor of the supermarket, and there's gross stuff down there that you don't want snuggling into your baby. Especially when the kids reach about 4 months old and they're really kicky little things - their sole mission is to dirty all the clean things by kicking them onto the floor. My absolute favorite is this Chamois Stroller Blanket from Pottery Barn Kids. I didn't register for it, but someone bought it for me and I can't get enough of it. It's soft, weighty enough so that it won't blow off your car seat when you're walking through the parking lot, and it's long enough to completely cover the stroller and/or carseat from end to end. 

3. sleep sacks, two to three
Magical magician of baby night outfit engineers. This thing is magic. You don't have to worry about putting a blanket into the crib. This thing keeps the kids cozy sans all the blankety danger. And, they zip from the top down. So in the middle of the night when you're changing diapers, you don't need to unzip the whole thing. We grabbed this fleece one by HALO called a HALO Fleece SleepSack.

4. Mirror for the car or as they're called, "Auto mirror" 
Something else no one told me about. Turns out, when your kid's in the back seat launching his vocal chords into next week, you're going to have the opposite reaction of any other normal human being on the planet; you're going to want to look at him. Because, as a mom, it's your job to define the line between a scream that needs your immediate attention and just an arbitrary scream about his crappy view of a headrest. We got this Fisher Price Rainforest Baby View Mirror from Target. Wow, did I really pay $40? That must've been my first week on the mom-job. No time for bargain shopping; just get me the damn mirror before I blow my mush-for-brains out. 

I know, let's add a few more descriptors into the name of this thing. Looks like a case of "too many cooks in the kitchen" at the name-this-toy brainstorm. Either that or it's an SEO project in beta (and is anyone really searching for a "projector soother"?) Anywho, the kid loves this thing. The songs lull him to sleep and the projection of the cartoony ocean scene on the ceiling has quieted even the shrillest cries. Literally quieted them on the spot. Like screaming baby --> sister grabs projector, turns off the lights and turns on the music and projects the ocean scene --> crying stops immediately as his attention is directed to the lovely ceiling seascape. Magic. In addition to the music, it also has "ocean sounds" of the sea-sloshing kind if your kid's a big fan of white noise.

6. Grass Drying Rack - "Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack"
No, okay. This isn't a must-have. You can totally use a towel or a dish mat. But it looked all disorganized on the countertop and you constantly have to switch out the towel so it doesn't get gross, and then there go the bottles rolling onto the floor again! So here. Look at this cute little plastic grass patch neatly sitting next to the sink. That's better, isn't it? This thing is spectacular because, unlike the bottle tree-like drying racks, this can hold everything! You can wedge nipples, bottles, caps, spoons, pacifiers, medicine spouts... anything in between the blades of this thing where they will be suspended neatly in place until the water drips away (away!) from your baby items. Rather than letting them sit in a pool of their own soap scum-water. Brilliant. And adorable. I bought this on Amazon after trying the whole dish mat charade.

7. Bathtub with Net Hammock Thing - The First Years Newborn-to-Toddler Tub with Sling
Well this is an unexpected adventure... Turns out giving a baby a bath is a lot like wrangling a jellyfish with a wet noodle. First I tried teetering the baby on my left arm while swiping his head with a wet rag on my right. As safe as that seemed, I followed this by an attempt to Jenga the baby into a seated position in a hand-me-down baby bath tub without a sling...  Slippery little things, aren't they...  The solution? These 3-stage bathtubs take your munchkin from wet-noodle-newbornland to seriously-please-stop-splashing-mama toddlerville. And when it comes to the juggling act of baby-bathing (without the help of another set of hands) this little hammock is a day-saver to say the least.

8. Nosefrida - The Snotsucker Nasal Aspirator
Meet your new BFF, Frida. When your baby gets a stuffy nose, he's not gonna have the wherewithall to blow it into his sleeve (they save that adorable practice for kindergarten). Which means it's up to you to get the snot out. So you'll squirt some saline drops up his nose, he'll try to swat at you like a pestilent house fly, then you'll stick your sad little bulb suction up his nostril. While he screams like you're sucking his brains out through his face, you'll successfully clear out about 1/100th of the snot situation. So you'll complain of this useless ritual to your friends and they'll tell you about the Nosefrida. (Look at all the steps I'm saving you!) Seemingly the most archaeic of contraptions, it's also the most logical. At one end of the tube is you; at the other end is your baby's snot-stuffed nostril and in between is a foam filter (thankfully). Start steering clear of smoke-swamped bars now because this thing is powered by good old-fashioned wind power (yours). So you suck, and like bird poop into the wind vacuum of a 747 jet, your baby's nose begins to release the demons. Strange, but as gagworthy a practice as this is, it never really strikes you as disgusting. Rather, a challenge that you're eager to master, and nothing is quite so rewarding as helping your little You breathe easier.

9. Saline Nose Drops
While practicing the above ritual, it helps to loosen up the demons. Our doctor recommended Ayr, but I'm sure there are a variety of options.

10. Infant Gas Drops
Your baby will come equipped with a variety of bodily functions. It's your job to help usher them along. Do yourself a favor and minimize the screaming fit that comes along with a stubborn fart. Grab some Infant Gas Drops before you bump out that baby; you will thank me, and so will your husband (who will otherwise be flooring it to the Walgreens for these things circa 2a.m.). They don't solve all the world's baby burps, but when you're in the throes of figuring out how to comfort your kid, you'll want to give the gas dropper a chance.

11. Bottle Brush
For the love of laziness, we have a dishwasher. Surely there will be no time for handwashing. And what's the difference between this and my normal dish brush? There's gonna come a time when your dishwasher is a good day and a half away from being full and you really just need one friggin' bottle to throw some nourishment in. Surely there has to be ONE clean one SOMEwhere. Enter, bottle brush. Why not your normal dish brush? Because chances are you've plunged that thing into a crockpot full of an acid playground of chili or dragged it across a raw poultry party hosted by Sam and Ella. We just grabbed a cheap Munchkin one from Walmart, but when this one wears out I'll grab this Munchkin Bottle and Nipple Brush Combo. Mine didn't come with a nipple brush and it's tough to get those clean.
12. Play Mat - Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym
Marvelous Magical Mastery of Playmats. Those Einstein people really know what they're doing. Kid loves this thing. He's spent hours swatting these dangling sea creatures around, and an equivalent amount of time using this mat for tummy time. All the dangling sea things are attached by movable plastic links so you can move them in a variety of different positions. I've also used the links to add on other toys like his colorful plastic key set or other toys that I had dangling from his carseat handle. The ability to reposition and attach toys to loops on the mat or loops on the whale pillow is key. You won't be sorry for hovering your registry wand over this mer-mat.

13.  Diapers - Pampers Swaddlers, Size Newborn, 1 and 2
Eleventy billion diaper types are stacked to the ceiling and, if you're like me, you haven't the slightest clue of whose "super exclusive patented leak-free, dry-all-night, never-change-their-diaper-again-until-they're-graduating-from-college" design is the very best. I've tried. I've tested. I tried the organic ones because I liked the idea of them. I tried the cheap ones because I like to save money  (how bad could they be?). The organic and the cheap ones were a lot like wrapping my child in paper origami underwear. Way too rough. And then he pooped. And then they leaked. And then I never bought them again. Pampers Swaddlers come with a color strip on the outside that changes from yellow to blue when they're wet. This is great if you don't want to plunge your hand into potentially muddy territory. They're soft, comfy, have velcro-type fasteners so you can adjust and readjust, and they work great at holding in all the stuff you don't want to come out.

14. Vibrating Bouncer
There's not a lot to say here. Sometimes babies want to bounce. Sometimes they want to swing. Sometimes they want to listen to tunes while their chair gives them a vibrating massage. You, however, will just want your baby to be happy. Or neutral. Whichever comes quickest and quietest. We registered for this one: Kids II® Bright Starts™ Comfort & Harmony™ Cradling Bouncer - Biscotti Baby. It vibrates, plays music, it's cushy and the Kid loves it. And it washes up really, really well.

15.  Bottoms Up Thermometer - Vicks Baby Thermometer Rectal

So, we registered for the mega expensive ear thermometer (this one) because it seemed easy and non-invasive. But as you'll find out, it turns out baby ear canals aren't big enough for accurate readings. So your doc will tell you that you need to take a rectal temp. Oh, good thing we have a 60 dollar thermometer. Right now we're just using a regular thermometer, but that's a little scary because (gross alert) you just don't know whether it's too far in, too far out and if you're getting an accurate reading. If I could do it again, I'd definitely get this Vicks one. Seemed to be the only one with good reviews on the Babies R Us site.

To be continued... stay tuned for more additions to the list.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Facebook Post: How much do you suck at motherhood?

Had a lovely visit with the pediatrician this morning regarding my very congested son. For any mothers whose pediatricians have ever made you feel like a dimly lit lamp post, just know you're not alone.
 


We had considered giving our son a pet spore for his 4 month birthday, but looks like that's out of the question. After checking my son's lungs the doctor said, "His capacity is at 100%. I mean, that's really as high as it can get." Really? It's a wonder I made it through college not knowing 100 was the national standard. As a solution he mentioned wood floors as an option (you know, if I didn't want to vacuum). But the Claritin prescription seemed like the lesser of two expenses.