Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas is for Kids; Christmas Eve is for Us.

I don't know about everyone else, but having a toddler this time of year is exciting. Last year, he really couldn't open presents and wasn't all that interested in their contents anyway. We set up his set of alphabet peek-a-blocks and a blow up bobbing penguin thing and he spent maybe ten minutes playing with them. And almost never touched the blocks again. He is terrified of the penguin even when you turn off the sounds. But at 6 months old, we had no real idea of what he would like.
This year, I expect playing Santa to be much more fun.
We are going to help him put out a cookie for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer, explaining to him again how the whole thing works. I assume he will promptly forget, sleep like a baby for the last time on Christmas Eve until he outgrows Santa, and wake up in the morning to see his brand new Little People Farm set and a stocking full of fun little toys and goodies. But, sadly, because of some recent over indulgences and the resulting refusal to eat anything and demands for cookies and candies, he won't be getting any candy. A clementine and goldfish crackers will have to do. We have some great little stocking stuffers I know he will love.
But the fun part for me isn't necessarily the Christmas morning.
Christmas morning is for the kids.
But Christmas Eve is for the adults. For the next however many years until our last little one ceases to be impressed by the fanfare of a nocturnal visit from a fat man in red with a hankering for cookies, Kenny and I get to play the best role any parents can ever play. We get to be Santa. Santa is purely fun. You don't have to give timeout or say no to another cookie. You just do something fun with no strings.
We can sip something cheery, munch on gourmet gift basket fare, and yell at the kids to get back in bed or Santa won't come. We'll stay up late, even though we are guaranteed to be roused early by footy-pajama-clad children. We'll stuff stockings with small, thoughtful gifts and a couple of fun snacks, maybe a little candy. We'll do silly things like use reindeer-hoof shaped kitchen sponges to make muddy paw prints all over the kitchen floor. We'll argue about who gets to eat the cookie and who has to eat the carrot. We'll drink Santa's hot cocoa and giggle like children on Christmas. Because for parents, the best part isn't being a kid on Christmas anymore. It's watching your own kids be kids. We'll be sure to take our time Christmas morning so that everyone takes time to appreciate their gifts, play with their new toys, and have a good time together as a family. But Christmas Eve, we get to be a couple. We're in it together, for better or worse, and Christmas Eve is one of those betters that make the worse not quite so bad.
There may be years when Christmas has to be really creative. There will be times when one child or another will throw a tantrum or get overwhelmed and the whole day will be trying. But no matter what, my husband is the person I want beside me while we navigate the difficult times, and the person I want beside me for the happiest times. And I just can't imagine playing Santa without him beside me for that, too.
I love you, SMcC-B.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being Green v. Saving Green (A Christmas Story)

I struggle a bit as a first time mom with the idea of used baby gear. Most of the used items I have purchased I have loved, and what has held me back from buying almost everything used is safety combined with the wear and tear I see on items at consignment sales. But I was confident that I could buy Jack's Christmas presents (or at least some of them) used this year.

One thing I knew I wanted for him, but was willing to be flexible about, was a Little People set. I wanted to farm, but would have gone with a good quality used set with another theme if it had the pieces and wasn't too banged up. The price had to be right, too, of course.

I was hoping to save both money and a tiny little bit of space in a landfill, eventually.

However, I was unable to find such a set. In fact, I found tons of Little People sets at consignment shops and sales but not one came with the pieces. What is the point of a Little People play set with no Little People? I had to assume the sellers had bagged them and tagged them separately, hoping to make an extra dollar or two on the sale. But it appears that buyers are happily buying the pieces but not the sets.

So when the Little People farm set with extra bonus pieces went on sale for $29 at Target, I snagged it. The best deal I had seen used was half that for just the farm.

His other major gift is toy pots and pans and dishes and felt food I made, along with some wooden food toys we bought and a set of mama-made spices, salt and pepper, and a bottle of hot sauce (he loves hot sauce). I did look for used kitchen toys but the only ones I found were the cheap plastic kind that come with a bunch of cheaply made cardboard food boxes, usually in a really poorly made plastic shopping cart with wheels that don't work… Although I did find a few pieces that go with a kitchen that makes sounds when you put the pans on the stove or something along those lines (the seller wrote this on the tag). I was not thrilled with these options. I had been sure there would be hordes of eco-minded parents out there selling their much loved wooden play food that had made it through 4 kids and still looked just fine. But I was evidently setting myself up for disappointment.

So once again, I kept my eyes open for a good deal and even up saving a lot of green by buying new. The Green Toys cookware and dish set went down to about $20 on Amazon, where I had a gift card on file, and I snagged it for him. I know he will get lots of use out of it, and I imagine his siblings will as well (when he has them…eventually). The best part? Even though it's new, it's kind of green because it's made from recycled milk jugs. It's also gender-neutral – something of an issue when you are looking for a toy for your son that is sold in the aisle next to the barbies.

I've also been looking for a good set of wooden blocks for Jack and have failed to find them used for more than about $5 less than the price for a new set, and usually the used set is somewhat dirty and missing pieces. To me, it's worth $5 to have a clean, new set, especially since we are talking about wood, not plastic.

Have you been able to score some good deals on used toys? Or do you prefer to get a great deal on something new?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Holiday Spending a Non-Issue

In years past, we have not done much planning for Holiday spending and that tends to lead to some headaches. This year, we decided to do things differently. My husband had inquired about Christmas accounts at our bank and they didn't offer them and for a while, it never occurred to us that we could do it ourselves. Then one day I realized that we don't have to keep our money in the bank. So every week we put a set amount of cold, hard cash into an envelope marked "Christmas".
Before we started, we determined how much we expected to spend on every person on our list, using the higher amount of the price range we usually aim for, and added everything together. We assumed, for example, that we would spend $100 or less on our son, since he is only 18 months old. He is also the only grandchild for my parents, the youngest by 10+ years on my husband's side, and the newest great-grand child by a similar margin all over. This means that he will typically be spoiled rotten by just about everyone, so there's no reason for us to spend even that much.
We then added all the amounts together and divided by 50, assuming that we would need to be done shopping by mid-December. The number was shockingly low. We don't have a huge number of family members and friends to buy for, so we were able to put that money aside without missing it at all. We expect to be able to do this in 2011, even with our coming mortgage payments, without any issues.
In mid-November, we assigned envelopes to each person, noting the amount we intended to put in each envelope, and started filling them. The idea here is the same as with any budgeting system that relies on envelopes – when the money is gone, it's gone. You can't over spend. You also don't forget anyone. We also had an additional envelope to cover holiday portraits and frames, which were gifts in addition to whatever else we give.
I cannot tell you how liberating it is!
We had never had trouble paying for holiday gifts (although we are still not at a stage where we are tempted to buy an expensive "it" toy for our son…) and have never used credit cards so we haven't had to face a big bill in the mail in January, but we did have certain anxieties about holiday spending. We tended to buy as we went, holding out for another paycheck when needed to finish shopping. Sometimes we spent more than we intended because we shopped impulsively. And I always hated when I discovered the last few days before Christmas that I forgot to get something for someone and had to go to Target and pick from the leftover gift baskets, which I generally find kind of boring and impersonal.
So this year, we finished shopping early, were under budget, and haven't forgotten anyone, thanks to our envelope system. We also were actually able to shave several weeks off and combined with what we had already put aside, we bought new laptops as our gifts for each other and don't feel the pain of the expense.
I'm planning to add birthday envelopes and do more year-round shopping in 2011!
How do you simplify your holiday shopping?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Clothing your big cloth-bottomed baby

If you were to get hold of your own old baby clothes, you'd probably notice they were a big roomier in the back than baby clothes are today.  This is because back when you were a baby, cloth diapers were at least still used a lot if not the primary and preferred method of diapering.  Around the time I was a baby, disposables were just begining to gather steam and my parents used cloth only with my older brother, but a mixture with me.  Seems I suffered the same affliction as my little guy - yeast rashes.

These days, we have so many cloth options out there that the only problem is finding clothes that fit your little one.  Chances are, t-shirts will be true to size, but pants are another issue.  When Jack was a bitty thing, onesies were an issue.  There are, as I see it, two main options.

First, buy a pack of onesie extenders.  We have them.  We hated them.  But many, many moms swear by them for cloth and sposie bums alike as a great way to extend the life of your child's wardrobe.  For us, we turned onesies into t-shirts after about 15 months and haven't looked back.  For a pretty tiny price, you can give them a shot.

Second, buy the next size up.  This is what we did for a long time, until somewhere around 15 months when we suddenly found that Jack's clothes fit better than they used to.  If he weren't so tall for his age, he could still be in 18 months size.

As far as where to shop, I have found that the 5-packs of Carter's onesies are longer and stretchier.  Knit is your baby's friend!  They have some great little knit pants that come in two packs.  I have also found that their onesies with snaps ont he shoulder are not as long or stretchy.  If your little ones is on the shorter side, you may find that they fit well in Children's Place and Osh'Gosh.  Thesir clothes all seem wider to me and shorter, so I imagine they are great for cloth bums on shorter babies.

We didn't even try to put jeans on Jack much before the last few months.  Because he does seem to fit in his size better (he's 90th for height, 50th for weight), we are able to get by with one size up IF the jeans have those adjustable waists.  I have to yank them all the way out to make the waist fit, then cuff up the bottoms.

Another option is Baby Legs!  They are perfect for cloth bums, great for diaper changes and potty training, and look adorable.

Because of our current situation of being half moved and not at all settled, we are waiting until we ARE settled to get Jack potty trained.  All the experts seem to agree that in the middle of something like a move, its best to put it off.  So we have the groundwork laid and I have high hopes that this year's clothes will fit next year, too, once we get rid of that big bottom!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A used toy that taught me just how much my son knows....

A while back I found a listing on Craigslist for one of thsoe big blown plastic play kitchens from Step2.  It was $20 and I couldn't turn it down, and while it tends toward a fair bit of purple, it's fairly gender neutral.  I figured it would be a good way to see if it is worth investing in a bigger one, new or used, in the future.  I thought he was too young, but would grow into it.  I was delightfully wrong.

He loves it.

He started putting his sippy cup on the "water dispenser" in the fridge door almost right away.  He was about 14 months old when I bought it and I had no idea that he realized we were getting drinks from the door in the big fridge.  But he was watching more than I realized.

Since then, I have been amazed at what he understands about the goings on in the kitchen, and the rest of the world around him.  He brings his toddler plates (which he steals from the dishwasher when we are unloading...or loading...ew) and "washes" them in the sink.  He will put his cup or snack in the fridge when he is done with it, and if I'm not paying attention, it might just stay there a day or two...yuck.

We bought him a set of Melissa and Doug "Pantry Food" when he was about 15 months old and he knew without being told what most of them were.  My dad held up the box of "frozen waffles" and asked him what it was and he said, "faffles," before I had ever heard him say the word before.  If we asked him to go get the juice from his fridge, or the butter, or the milk, etc., he would go in the play room, open the fridge, find it, and bring it back.  And he closes the fridge door, which I love.  He understood right away that it was play food.  I made him felt cookies and he pretended to nibble them without actually putting them in his mouth.

While Jack was saying many of the early toddler words by his first birthday (mama, dada, nana, papa, etc), I didn't think he was ahead of the game.  And I had no idea how much of a sponge he was.  By 14 months, he was regularly using at least 2 dozen words.  Now, at 18 months, he can repeat just about anything and is speaking in 2-4 word sentences frequently.  He is no longer using signs unless, for example, his mouth is full of food and he wants his sippy cup.

He is learning the alphabet and numbers.  If you say the alphabet, he will usually say the next letter rather than repeat the one you say.  It blows me away.  His pediatrician told me that this language skills are very advanced.

There is the unfortunate side effect of having him repeat what I say in frustration at another driving in the car.  No cussing, but a fair bit of impatience and not-so-niceness.  But the benefit is that I told him that cars say Hi by beeping their horns and if you ask him, "What does a car say?" he responds with, "beep beep! hi!"  Adorable.

He knows the animal sounds for about a dozen animals, thanks in part to Sandra Boynton's "Moo, Baa, LaLaLa," a personal favourite.  If you don't have any of her books, you need them.  A big step up from Goodnight Moon.

Today, we waited in the car while my mom ran into a store and he kept saying, "Hurry, Nana. Go, Go, Go! Run! Come on, Nana, Come on, Nana," and when I asked him why Nana should hurry up, he said, "Guggle."  Guggle is his word for Snuggle, or Hug.  He wanted to give Nana a hug.  Sweet, no?  He's going to be sad when we move.

But I think the best thing is that when I say, "I love you, Jack," he says, "I love you, Momma," and kisses me.  Melts my heart every time.  I'm trying to pretend this age will last forever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

So I've been kinda busy...

I knew I had more or less abandoned my blog but I didn't realize it had been so long.  I have been on a serious crafting streak and that, combined with the mayhem that is my husband's management interview process, has led me to just not make time.

But I am hoping to be back, especially since I am now in possession of my very own, my very first laptop.  I have had many computers over the last 15 years or so, but this is my first laptop and I am loving it to bits.  My husband and I each have our own (non-matching) laptops so I can organize photos the way I want and have the icons I want on my desktop and the mouse speed is perfectly suited for my fingers :)

At any rate, here are some of the projects I have been working on:

Made little man some PJ loungy pants.  I don't let him sleep in them yet because of the whole fire safety thing.  I also refuse to buy flame retardant materials (unless they are naturally so) so he sleeps in snug fitting jammies and wears these on those lazy Sundays.  I used Alexander Henry's 2D Zoo in Pool.  Loves it.

He's real pleased with himself for climbing up on the chair WHILE getting pants put on him.

Close up.  I made the cuffs nice and long and hid extra elastic in the waistband for my growing toddler
I searched high and low for more of this fabric.  I bought a yard at JoAnn with no particular plan for it.  Then almost immediately determined that I would do his bedroom in a jungle-y theme when we move and went back for more.  They were out.  So were the nearest stores I could concievably drive to.  So were my favourite websites.  And finally, I decided I was unwilling to pay inflated prices and gave up.  Then I found 2D Zoo in Chocolate and fell even more madly in love.  Not too much blue.  So I found a good deal online and ordered 5 yards, plus 3 yards of the Teeny Tiny Zoo in Chocolate.  So far I have made him a duvet cover, but since we never bought a crib bedding set, I also had to make a duvet.  That was the hard part!  Got the tute for the duvet cover from Prudent Baby.  Incidentally, I also got his pants tutorial at Prudent Baby.  I love that blog.  I wish they had more little boys!

Jack's big boy conforter in all its glory.  He just woke up form a nap but I think he was kind of wanting to take another.
 I didn't want to waste yardage so I used that soft and comfy blanky stuff in long strips on each side, which made it more difficult to line up perfectly.  And can I just say that I love snaps?  I had no idea they were so easy to apply.  I could have been making onesies!  Makes me want to have another baby just so I can make onesies.  But, alas, a good friend is pregnant so come January when we find out if its a girl or a boy, I'll be ready!

I also made Jack an I-spy bag with the Pool and I swear I took a picture but I can't find it.  Possibly because I haven't yet moved all my pictures over yet.

I made some things for the above mentioned friend but they are a Christmas gift so I can't post them.  I also already wrapped them and never took pictures, but it was nothing terribly impressive I'm afraid.  My original plan didn't pan out and I had to improvise.

And I have been making loads of felt food for little man for Christmas, but I think I will post those in one separate post.  I haven't taken pictures of everything just yet.

I have a bunch of handmade Christmas gifts planned but since my husband just got a promotion and transfer and is supposed to start on December 16th, I'm not sure I'll get things done.  But it looks like we may jsut hang on and move after the new year, with him doing a lot of commuting in the mean time, so I'm hoping I can get as much use out of my mom's clever little serger as I can before I have to kiss it goodbye (but let's face it, we are moving 3.5 hours away so I can always come visit).

I had big plans for a handmade felt advent calendar but it looks like it may be next year.  I'm hoping to at least get our stockings done, though.

Anyone out there planning handmade holiday projects?  I love to see the massive increase in craftiness this time of year!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Yes, I'm "still nursing"

In this country we  have cultivated ideals about parenting that are simply not beneficial to children.

For example, I have never been terribly fond of the baby entertainers and I skipped registering for them.  I bought a boucy seat at a consignment store so I would have a safe place to put my son that was easily portable and visual for me, but I believed they were not a healthy place for a baby to spend a lot of time, especially asleep, so I didn't try to put him in it a lot.  Mostly just so I could take a shower every now and then.  He hated it and I would have all of five minutes to shower if I was lucky before he flipped out.

Why?  Because babies are not hard-wired to want to bounce in a seat alone, strapped into a harness, with some silly little stuffed animal dancing around in their faces.  They're hard-wired to want mama (or maybe sometimes dada) and they want her all the time.

All.  The.  Time.

And that's normal.

Maybe there are a lot of babies out there who are perfectly happy to sit contently in a bouncy seat or on a play mat/gym or in a jumparoo.  My kid is not one of them, and I never really expected him to be.

He wanted to be held.  So I held him. 

I held him while he slept because by his third day, I already knew he slept better and longer if he slept beside me.  I held him 90% of the day at least and at night he slept beside me - first in a cocoon, but soon enough in bed with me.  In the cocoon, he slept okay, but I didn't.  I fretted all night.  Beside me in bed, we both slept well for many months.

People told me he needed to learn to sleep alone.

People told me I was spoiling him. 

Personally, I find it hard to believe that an infant has the capacity to manipulate, so I responded to his needs.  I couldn't imagine anymore why I ever expected him to spend time alone, especially when I was right there beside him.  It felt natural, and right.

It reminds me a little of what I dislike the most about disposable diapers.  Yeah, of course, I WOULD find a way to bring that up!  But in all seriousness, the new Pampers Dry Max is touted for being dry for up to 12 hours, giving babies more uninturrupted play time.  But is 12 hours in a wet diaper a good parenting choice?

I like to think that most parents, at least those who can reasonably afford adequate diapers (disposable or otherwise) do not limit diaper changes to 2 per day.  No one believes this is ideal.  And yet, I kind of think parents who use disposables sort of expect to get a lot of milage out of each diaper.  They don't want to change it and throw it away if it isn't, well, "full".  Other moms have told me this in person so I'm not making it up in my head. At about 25 cents a pop, you're spending money every time you cahnge your baby.

But my point is illustrated nicely in this because many parents these days seem to think that parenting is largely hands-off.  Babies sleep in cribs, play in play yards or on mats or in contraptions they cannot escape, and get carried around in their infant seats, which are now often referred to as "carriers".

But it all comes down to our need to control things we cannot control.  If you force your infant to sleep alone and play alone, s/he won't "need" you there all the time and you can have your hands free.  Wean, and you get your body back.

But the fact is that babies should be in control of what they need.  Parents are there to meet those needs in the way they feel is best.  Ignore the diaper and formula commercials, the huge list the baby superstore gives you for a regisrty guide, even forget what your mother tells you.  No one else knows what is best, and no product in a store will make parenting easier.  They may even do more harm than good!

Raise your children with love and care.  They are precious and before you know it, they will stand up, take a few steps, and start an all too short journey away from you.

As for Jack?  I have a 14 month old son who is quite secure.  Yes, he is "still nursing" and he's happy as a clam about it.  So am I!  He also wanders off and explores his world.  He isn't attached to me all the time anymore, but it's up to him.  Boogie decides when he needs to be near me and when he can explore.  But he has limits, which he tests constantly.  But I live day by day, secure in the knowledge that my son will continue to test me for as long as it takes to him to see exactly where the boundries are.  It's a journey we are taking together.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Baby's Favourite Banana Pancakes

Finally getting around to posting this.  I've been tinkering with a few batches, but since we generally freeze them and they  last a while, it's taken time to get it just right.

Please note that there are several substitutions and I have tried no more than one at a time.  So doing all at once may cause a mess for all I know...

Baby's Favourite Banana Pancakes


1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 T sugar (optional)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c milk (no to dairy? try apple juice)
2 T melted butter (I assume, but don't know, that oil or a veg. butter substitution would work.  Haven't tried this one though)
2 eggs (or just egg yolks, or omit them and add a little more banana, or applesauce)
1 ripe banana, mashed (as ripe as can be!)


Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Don't over-mix!

Too wet?  Add a little more flour at a time.

Too dry?  Add more milk a little at a time.

Allow the batter to sit while heating a griddle or pan to med-low/med. heat.  I butter the pan before each new batch, but feel free to use the pan lubrication option of choice.

Drop 1/4 c at a time into hot pan, flipping when the edged are dry and any bubbles have popped.

Should make something in the neighborhood of 16 pancakes, but my batches seem to vary from about 12-18.  Feel free to make smaller or larger for your child's preference!

We serve them up plain and then freeze teh rest, layered between wax paper sheets.  They reheat in about 30 seconds in the nuke, or toaster "frozen" cycle if they are big enough.

Enjoy!  Next up will be our new favourite, Apple Cinnamon Oat Pancakes!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Parenting advice/ parenting someone else's child

Now that I have my son, I am confronted with parenting issues all over the place. If it isn't my own child, sometimes it's someone else's.

There are as many ways to parent as there are parents in the world, so I expect to rarely run into a parent with very many of my ideals. I'm also somewhat outside the box as far as modern parenting goes.

But sometimes I see something so bad I think...can't I step in?

For example, we recently went to a children's museum in another town nearby.  My son loved best the room reserved for infants and toddlers, dubbed "The Gentle Zone".  While in there, we encountered several parenting issues that I wanted to confront, but didn't, for various reasons.  The one that bothered me most, of course, involved disposable diapers.

A little girl was playing on the little bitty slide.  She had a very short little baby dress on, which I don't really object to in general (although I would have had a diaper cover of some sort on my child, but whatever, she was about 18 months).  However, it is relevant because I could see her diaper from every angle as she moved about the room.  She was in the same area with Jack and it was inevitable to notice that her diaper was pretty soaked.  You know how disposables look when they are saturated?  For boys, its mostly in the front.  Girls tend to be more in the middle, but this one was full up to her waist.  At one point, she bend over and I could see the tell-tale lumpiness of poop in the back.

I was pretty horrified.  See, mom and dad weren't standing to the side, barely watching.  No, they were interacting with their daughter constantly!  They were having a blast!  This of course could explain why they didn't notice - we are blind to some things when we are highly tuned into others - but I was sort of tempted to draw their attention to it.

I didn't.  Not because I feared the kind of ugly, defensive confrontation that the first scene could have caused, but because hygiene is so...personal.  Even for a baby or toddler. Parents who are obviously so head over hills in love with their child that they brought her to an awesome museum and are interacting with her so throughly shouldn't be the kind of parents who don't notice that their child is soaking wet and has pooped her diaper.  But we also live in a country that has come to think of diapers as "hygienic" for some reason.  We believe that disposable diapers are "clean and dry" even after a child urinates in them.  So telling another parent that it's time for a diaper change seems invasive in some way.

On top of that, some parents just don't think diaper changes are that important.  I have met women who have told me that they wait as long as possible to change diapers because they are so expensive.  One woman told me that she knew that it was "bad" but that her baby didn't seem to mind being wet and it was one less thing to do so she only changed on a schedule unless he pooped.  And in this incident at the museum, its entirely possible that these parents view the fun their child is having and the positive learning environment as more important than stopping all that for a diaper change.

And its possible that they just didn't notice.

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Potty Training - Day Whatever

Not sure why I was numbering those posts.  I have no idea what day we are in.  I do know it has been over a week and I have changed only two poopy diapers.  Once, I knew he was going but thought it was too late.  I then went to change him immediately when I thought he was done and found that he wasn't!  So I hurried him to the potty.  Which was delightful, as I then had to both empty the poo from the potty AND dump/spray a diaper.  The worst of both worlds, eh?  The second time, I wasn't watching him (as in, I was elsewhere and someone else was watching him who did not know the signs).  That time, it was also someone else who changed the diaper, so technically I have only changed 1but there have been 2.

He is starting to understand the ASL sign for potty, which may or may not be the real ASL sign.  Someone I spoke with today showed me what she believes if the correct sign.  However, we do not employ daycare or anything like that so it is really only our family that needs to know the sign so we are going to use the one we started, which is almost the same anyway.  At any rate, he looks toward his potty when I sign and ask if he wants to sit on it.

Since we have been having trouble finding signals that he is going to soon pee, we are concentrating on #2 ont he potty for now.  I feel like by the time he does learn the sign and associate eliminating with the potty and then use the sign to tell me he needs to use the potty, etc., he will start to associate urinating with all of that as well.  He DOES however still look down at his boy parts area whenever he pees, diaper or no, so I suspect that just having this diaper-free time has been helpful in learning to recognize the sensations.

Another small update - this morning, he sat down on his potty (fully diapered and jammied) and played with a toy for a minute or so before getting up.  So I think he is getting more comfortable with the potty in general.  I also think it may be somewhat novel for him to have a seat other than his high chair/booster or sitting on a couch or chair with an adult.

My expectations?  I think that over the next 4-6 months he will slowly learn to make these associations and let me know when he needs to use the potty.  I expect that by the time he turns 2, he should be using the potty and hopefully out of diapers at least most of the time - although I am not holding out hopes that he will be completely out of training pants.  When we are ready for trainers, I'll stick with cloth of course.

I'm thinking that once he is signing or vocalizing his need to eliminate, he can switch to trainers.  This way, we can bypass the fancier pocket trainers that are, ultimately, just a diaper that pulls on and off and go right to something that isn't waterproof at home and maybe some that are when we go out.

I've also read that a lot of kids respond well to a system of having to go back into a diaper if they wet their training pants.  The extra incentive sounds effective and not at all cruel.  Boogie is not in love with wearing anything, let alone a diaper, so I suspect that this method will work well for him!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Potty Training - Day 2ish

So Boogie has definite signals that a #2 is coming, but his pee signals are not clear yet.  He seems as surprised as I am when he suddenly stars to pee!

We had some outside naked time Wednesday and he only peed once, and was thoroughly amazed when he crouched down and saw himself pee for the first time.  He then proceeded to play with his little boy parts for a bit, but that's nothing new...boys, right?

So we have been having daily naked time in the kitchen and he seems to enjoy it, since we have not really ever let him spend much time in there.  Our cocker spaniel is pretty incontinent and that's where he spends most of his time, so it was always easier to gate him in and keep Boogie out.

For right now, we will be sticking with some daily naked time and try to get him on the potty often and whenever we see signs of impending elimination.  However, of the 5 times he has so far peed while naked, twice he has crouched down first, but three times he hasn't.  I haven't recognized any other signals but I'm going to just keep watching until we do.  Eventually it will happen.

My goals for now are to learn his signals and teach him the ASL sign for "potty".  He did well with the ASL sign for "milk" and has started signing again after a hiatus of pulling on my shirt instead.  We re-instated the milk sign recently and he took it back in really fast, so I have high hopes that we can learn the potty sign within a few weeks and at least learn to associate the sign with the potty itself.

Fortunately, he seems more than able to eliminate without a diaper, which I credit to his being in cloth.  However, he is still not bothered at all by a wet or dirty diaper, so I'm also hoping he will start to feel the wetness and signal to me that he needs to be changed.  I think this will help in the process if he can learn to be uncomfortable with a wet or dirty diaper.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Potty Training - Day 1

So we have started the earliest stages of Potty Training.  Although, to be fair, many would claim that teh earliest stages should mean starting at about 3 months of age.  Personally, while I believe that Elimination Communication (or Natural Infant Hygiene) can and do work for many families, cloth diapers worked well for us.

And they still do!  I'm not parting with diapers anytime real soon, but I noticed recently that my son does not seem to be bothered by wet or dirty diapers and I believe this is problematic.

Back in 1961, when Proctor and Gamble were first developing disposable diapers, they hired a pediatrician to do their dirty work.  He was hired to convince parents that disposable diapers are cleaner, dryer, and safer than early potty training.  In the early 1900's, even in the US babies were potty trained from very early ages and most children started by 9 months.

Now, the average age of potty training is around age 3!  Many parents are waiting longer and longer to potty train, waiting for a mystical, magical "readiness" that may not actually exist.  Pediatricians are telling parents that waiting until their child is older is fine, but the reality is that as kids get older, they crave stability, control, and schedules.  So I've asked myself, "Does it make sense to wait until Boogie is older to teach him to use the potty?"

The answer I have come to is a resounding no.  But, I do understand that modern life means not everyone can potty train their young babies and toddlers.  Day cares are not always able to help working parents and it just isn't always feasible to potty train based on watching your child like a hawk to see the often subtle cues that signal impending elimination.

However, I am fortunate in being able to stay home with my son.

And this morning, I got him on his potty in time for #2!  Not that he understands yet, but he will.  Naked time is fun for him!

I'd post a picture but...uh...ew...

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Useless Baby Gear

One thing I tried really hard to do while pregnant was block out all the useless baby items.  I knew we didn't need a wipes warmer for our baby to be happy and healthy.  But there are soo many items we either purchased or were given that turned out to be a waste of money.  We didn't buy a swing and by the time I decided I needed a bouncy seat, I found one for less than half of retail (in good shape, too!) at a consignment store.  My son barely used it, preferring to be held.  But while we didn't bring home every kind of plastic entertainment center or soothing rocker or whatever from the baby store, we did bring home a few duds.

1) Disposable nursing pads.  I went through a dozen boxes of these at least and with that money, I could have bought a dozen pairs of nice cloth ones and been done with it.  I never had to run out for diapers, but I did have to run out for more of these when I ran low and it irritated me to be doing that.  But I never knew when I would stop needing them.  Boogie was about 5-6 months old when the leaking slowed down to a mere trickle and I switched to a set of 6 cloth nursing pads.  Almost immediately after making the investment, I stopped needing them altogether.  But next time, I'll know.  And I'll be investing in cloth from the start (with maybe a box of disposables just in case).

2) Sleep Positioner.  I thought this was vital.  I mean VITAL.  Turns out that babies who can flip themselves over well enough to do so in their sleep don't need to stay on their backs all night to stay safe.  However, babies who can't...well, they won't!  There's no need to use these positioners and frankly, ours was a pain in the butt to clean.  If you feel you must have one, find one that does not have a back piece that goes under baby's head or you will be washing spit up off of it frequently.  And ours couldn't go in the dryer so that was fun, too.  I gave up on it fairly quickly.

3) A second car seat base.  My son has never once ridden in my husband's car.  The base didn't fit well and we never needed it, really.  Eventually, it went in my mother's car, but because I had a two door car, we were using her car 95% of the time anyway and could have easily only used hers, or (with more difficulty) only used mine.  Thankfully, I now have a 4 door car and we've more or less ditched the infant seat anyway!

4) Car seat toys.  Those adorable little toys that hang from the car seat handle for baby to play with?  Boogie never cared for them at all.  Besides, the handle should be back when the carseat is in the car, so when is he supposed to play with them?  I never liked for him to spend a lot of time in his seat when it wasn't in the car, so he got zero use from the toys. We recieved a ton of them and bought some ourselves and Boogie just never cared for them.  Now they collect dust at the bottom of his toy bins.

5) 9 Months size clothes.  Boogie was in and out of this size in maybe a month, and yet he had an entire complete wardrobe in that size.  Next time, we'll skip right to 12 months.

6) The breathable bumper.  Boogie didn't sleep in a crib until 7 months (we didn't even buy one until then!) but I put the bumper on it and found that within a month, he was pulling himself up to stand on it  and it really wasn't serving any purpose.  So down it came.  I'm pleased that we never bought a crib bedding set for $150 or more, since they seem to be almost entirely useless.  He sleeps on plain blue fitted sheets that were about $10 for 2 at IKEA.

Fess up!  What did you bring home for baby that was completely useless??

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Birthday

Today is Boogie's first birthday.  While he is climbing around the living room (walking! already!), pulling things off the shelves and unfolding laundry for me, I can't help but be mystified as to how we got here.  A year?  Really?  It just doesn't seem that long ago that he was this little bitty bundle of a thing.

I was a mean mama and scheduled his 12 month check up for his actual birthday.  This morning we went and crawled around the exam room for a while.
That was great fun.  Then the nurse came and took a finger prick blood sample and that was actually kind of interesting.  He was more fascinated than anything else.  The stethoscope was also a hit.  For the record, a BumGenius is pretty easy to use at the pediatrician, where the diaper goes off and on and off and on.  One piece is handy :)

Then came the big V.  Vaccination time!  He didn't like that at all.  For a toddler, he sure took it like a baby.  But he's still my little baby so it's okay.  I was an extra mean mama and took a picture of him crying afterwards.  Then we had some mama milk and it was all better.

He has always been a happy baby.  I don't know if he is naturally happier than average or if we are just fantastic parents who meet all of his needs.  I suspect its at least party a natural disposition but I like to believe it is at least partly my doing.

A year ago, I was terrified that he would never learn to latch.  The first week of his life was arduous, as I suspect it is for all new parents.  My husband and I were completely overtaken by a 7lb 9oz creature that seemed to be under the mistaken belief that we knew what to do with him.  I clearly remember the sloppy lists and lists of notes on feeding times and duration, diaper changes, etc.  I also remember throwing it in the trash and deciding that I would be a lot happier if I didn't have to look at a list of the times he failed to latch.  I also remember throwing a nipple shield at the night table and deciding firmly that he would latch when he got hungry enough.  And he did.  Pretty quickly, in fact.

As it turned out, we did know what to do.  We just had to put the books down and listen to our intuition.  I know it took longer for my husband to hear his than it did for me to hear mine.  But that's fairly normal, I suspect.  After all, I was home with him and learned his cries sooner.

So here's a few things I wish I had known before I became a mama.

1) Don't let anyone convince you to send your newborn to the nursery for the night.  You won't sleep better.  You just had a baby!  Is he okay?  Is he hungry? Is he crying?  What if they give him formula, even though you ask them not to?  What if he gets a paci, even though you ask them not to?  My son had a lovely sign on his bassinet asking that he not be given formula, pacis, or anything else without our permission.  He came back from the nursery twice with a paci shoved in his mouth.  No wonder he wouldn't latch!  I wish I felt 100% sure they didn't give him any formula.  I do feel 100% sure that his needs were not adequately met there, as they would have been with me in our room.  If they didn't bother to read and obey our sign, why would they respect anything it said?  I probably wouldn't have laid there wondering if he was okay if he had been 2 feet away, either.  Oh, and then the bill came.  Turns out the nursery isn't a free service provided out of love.

2) Babies don't come with schedules and they don't really care about the one you thought up for them, either.  The fact is that you just cannot schedule a newborn.  I would venture to say that you cannot really schedule a baby at all for several months at least.  Boogie took to a sleep schedule at about 7 months and I don't think he would have gone for it even a few days earlier.  He's never been one to nurse on a schedule and he only just now wants his solid food meals on one.  The best thing I could do for Boogie was to meet his needs when he needed them.  And I look back now and feel confident that I have not taught him to eat when he isn't hungry or to eat more than he wants, nor have I made him wait to eat because it wasn't "time".  And this is a good thing!

3) You just do not know your capacity for love until you have a baby.  You can love your spouse, your parents, even your adorable puppy.  But you really just can't fathom how overwhelming the love you will have for your child is until you meet him (or her) and feel it for yourself.  Which bring me to...

4) There is nothing cooler than when your baby says "mama" and means you.  I remember when he started saying "baba" and my dad said he thought he was talking about me.  I remember realizing that baba meant, actually, my boobs (or maybe the milk in them? Still not sure but he still says baba when he wants milk)  Then one day he started saying "ma ma ma" and it seemed random.  Until he pulled himself up to standing at the baby gate and called a string of "ma ma ma ma" and reached for me.  My heart almost exploded.  He loves me!  He really loves me!

5)  It really truly does not matter if his outfit matches.  What matters is that after he nurses in our bed in the morning on Saturday, Daddy takes him downstairs and I sleep for a while longer.  So what if I come down at a cool 8:45a and he's wearing the shirt from one outfit with the pants from another?  Or still in his pajama shirt and pants that don't match?  Or no socks?  Or nothing at all?  He's happier naked anyway.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm nothing if not frugal

I love frugality.  I was a hard-core drugstore game playa for a solid year and a half before I had Boogie, and then I sort of started to leave that behind in favor for more natural products over the ones I was getting free or cheap playing with CVS freebies.

However, natural products are very rarely had for the kind of deals I was getting on, for example, shampoo or shaving cream.  These were free, in fact.

So, I take what I can get.  I recently posted about how I buy Boogie's yogurt in the larger container and portion it out, freezing some, instead of buying the individual packs.  In general, I prefer to buy the plain whole milk organic yogurt over the packs because they have added sugar and I prefer to give it plain or add my own fresh fruit with no added sugar.

However, a week or so I came across a deal that was too good to pass up.  Whole Foods was running a coupon in their Whole Deal Newsletter for $1/1 4-pack of YoBaby 3-in-1 Meals.  I had snagged a few $1/1 Manufacturer's coupons from a blinky at another grocery store, and our Whole Foods allows you to use both a store and a manufacturer's coupon.  Since the packs were on sale for $2.69, I picked up 4 packs of 4 for $0.69 each, or about $0.17 per cup.

He loved them and enjoyed them until we ran out yesterday and had to buy a new tub-o-yogurt.  But that's a good savings over regular price on the larger tubs as well, which puts more money in our grocery budget for fresh foods.

So a little added sugar isn't going to kill him, really.  Especially since he has hadly had any kind of added sugar in anything.  The exception is Annies organic bunny grahams.  Love those.  I mean, Boogie loves those.  Okay, I eat most of them.

This is just one example of how you can make organic work for your budget.  I firmly believe that it doesn't have to be all or nothing.  Do what you can and be an informed consumer, especially when it comes to the products you put on or in your body.  Once we run out of the stocked up items I have from Drugstore game days, we will switch to more natural products, including and especially those we use for Boogie.  I recently picked up some California Baby products on clearance at Target for about what the conventional Johnson's stuff costs so I'm looking forward to emptying the current bottle of baby wash to make the switch.  We have already dropped the baby lotion in favor of Coconut Oil and it works better!  But I can't bring myself to throw away what we have in favor of spending more on something else, so we're making gradual switches.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Flip Diapers Review

We recently purchased a couple of Flip diapers from BumGenius.  I was looking for a better cover to go over our Mother-Ease diapers and inadvertantly fell in love with an entirely new diapering system!  Flip diapers are everything I have been looking for and more. 

The covers have snap closure, which is ideal because velcro covers were coming undone with all the vigourous crawling Boogie has been doing - and now, as of Saturday, he is walking, too!

I love that these diapers have a stay-dry liner that wicks the moisture away from Boogie's little bum.  Since he has been having some problems with yeast rashes, I have been looking for a way to keep these at bay and these liners seem to do the trick.  We have been using them for about a week now - with a mixture of Flip liners and prefolds - and they are working great for us.

Another bonus?  The liners take up less space in the diaper bag, so I can carry more with me for longer trips without having to over-stuff an already packed-to-the-brim bag.

Right now, Boogie is in the middle size of these adjustable diapers.  Since I am planning to start potty training in the fall/winter, we should find that these diapers are the last covers we will need to buy.

Plus, they are super trim and haven't leaked at all.  Here's an action shot -

Couldn't get him to hold still long enough to get a clear shot!

Because a day pack (2 covers, 6 inserts) can be had for $50, any parent can afford to use these diapers.  I would think for a newborn, you might need two day packs per day, but if I were buying these from the start with no other diapers in my stash, I would buy 4 day packs for $200 and plan on washing every other day at least until Boogie was 6 months or so.  After that, you would have plenty of wiggle room for washing - no time every other day? No problem!  We currently have 4 covers, 8 stay dry liners, a handful of prefolds, and the liners from our Mother-Ease dipes, which I have found work well for at home if we stack two liners in the covers.  I haven't really tried these liners out and about because I haven't needed to, but I'm confident they would work just fine.  I'm going to hold out and see if they have more new colors for covers before I buy any more, but I can certainly work with what we have without buying anything else until we are done with potty training.

And as for the math?  We are still far beyond the point where we broke even on diaper costs against what disposables would cost, even though we are back to disposables at night most of the time.  We are at least 4 months ahead!

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

My First Mama's Day Card

There is a part of me that wants to keep this all to myself, because it makes me so incredibly happy.  But as I was writing my last post just moments ago, I decided that I just had to tell the world (or the maybe 6 people who "follow" me at this point haha) how thoughtful and loving my husband is.

Today I recieved my first Mama's Day card and this is what Boogie "wrote" inside:

Dear Mama,
Thank you for my swimmin pool and my superman shirt, and my squishy frog, and for snacks and panacakes, and for not letting me eat Whimbly's food.  But most of all, thank you for showing me that, even though we're both new to the whole thing, Mama loves me, and I can rely on that for the rest of my life.
I love you,
P.S. Red boat get sinked.

Whimbly, by the way, is our cocker spaniel.  The boat thing is a bathtime reference.  I wouldn't have included it except that if I ever lose the card, I like to think I could look back here and see it.

My husband rocks.

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A look back for my first Mother's Day

Today was "Mama's Day" since Boogie calls me "mama".  Interestingly, he calls me "baba" when he wants milk for hunger or comfort, which has led me to wonder if babies who are bottle-fed are really calling their bottle a "baba" because it's the same consonant sound, or because many babies learn to say that sound first...but that's besides the point.

Just over a year ago I became a mother and I was thrown into a world that I could not have prepared for in any real way.

We bought a super fancy infant seat (okay, its a graco so its only so fancy but it was the fanciest graco infant seat) and by the time Boogie was 6 months old he hated it as much as we did.  Not only that, but I learned rather quickly that Boogie didn't want to spend his time in his infant seat.  I had seen babies toted in infant seats everywhere for years and just sort of assumed it was what babies liked.  Nooo...not Boogie.  He wanted to be held always, and while at first this seemed like a bit of a burden, I now thank my lucky stars because all that closeness has made him happier, healthier, and more secure.  And I feel like a better mom for holding my baby close to me as much as possible.

I read books about breastfeeding because I was so incredibly terrified that Boogie and I wouldn't be able to make it work.  The first week was rough, full of tears and frustration.  My poor husband, bless him, was terribly confused when I cried profusely because Boogie wouldn't latch without a nipple shield.  Now, nearly a year later, Boogie is still nursing at least 5 times a day and recently he has started giggling and smiling and shrieking in delight when I ask him if he wants milk.  It is The. Most. Adorable. Thing. Ever.  I love that he now crawls to me, climbs on my lap, and tries to latch on through my shirt.  Okay, so that is sometimes not so adorable but I do love that he is so excited to drink my milk!

I think my favourite part about being a mom is when Boogie calls me Mama.  He started out calling me Baba and still calls me that when he is unhappy or wants milk.  I think it may be my breasts he is referring to and not really me as a whole, but soon enough he started calling me Mama.  Then he started calling his daddy Dada.  We've since taught him "Nana" and are working on "Papa" (for his grandpa).  But once he learned Dada, he chatters that syllable over and over all day whenever he is happily playing.  It seemed he only said Mama or Baba when he was upset.  But last weekend while my mother and I were in NJ for a bridal shower, Boogie stayed with her while I attended shower preparations with the rest of the bridal party.  Apparently, he said Mama over and over the whole time he was with her!  So it isn't that he likes Dada better - he just misses Dada during the day.  Which is fine with me!  I know that my husband wants to have a close relationship with Boogie, and I want that for them, too.  But it's nice to know that we're both equally loved.

I'm pretty sure that his relationship with me will be based on comfort and having basic needs met, while Dada will be the "fun" parent most of the time.  I just don't "get" GI Joe and dump trucks so Dada will be a lot more fun for that.  However, I look forward to nurturing his creativity and imagination whenever I can with art projects, lots of reading and writing together, and cooking together.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Nightime diapering "demystified"?

After another bout of yeast rash, I am reconsidering our nighttime diapering solution.  We have been using two of our regular diapers, one on top of the other, and Boogie sleeps well through the night.  He isn't a heavy nighttime wetter, but it seems the yeast rash cold be related to the wet diapers.

I do change him very frequently during the day, sometimes even leaving the cover off all day so that I can see as soon as he is wet and change him promptly.  So this leaves me with nighttime diapering being the problem.  For now, we are going back to the dreaded disposable at night and are currently using Seventh Generation after having such a great response from their customer service.

I have heard that Fuzzi Bunz are the way to go with nighttime diapering, but the thought of putting down so much money for yet more diapers is somewhat hard to swallow.  We already own 30 Mother-ease contours, a few of the new Flip diapers, 2 Swaddlebees pockets, and one new Bun Genius.  I haven't tried the Bum Genius out at night yet because I haven't washed it enough.  I'm not looking to wash them over and over jsut to be able to use them, so I have only washed them with my regular loads.  It should be ready after another washing but I'll also need to use it durring the day a few times to make sure, and that will mean another week or two at least.  My plan is to stuff it with a prefold. (We also own a few prefolds in addition to those from our newborn diapering days.)

My preference from the start was natural fibers only but after 11 months, I'm ready to look at some of the newer stuff, like the Bum Genius, to find a nighttime solution that will work for us.  I've weighted the pros and cons of natural v. man made fibers against using disposables at night and even with the chlorine-free disposables, I feel like ultimately I would be paying off a few month's worth of disposables in a couple of nighttime diapers pretty quickly anyway.  And since we are planning to have more kids, we'll certainly use them.  But what if they don't work for nighttime?

I enjoy cloth diapering so much and I am hoping to find a good solution.  Has anyone out there found night time diapering to be challenging?  How did you solve the mystery, or at least make peace with 7 disposables a week in your trash?

One of my newest favorite-ist bloggers has a post with insight into cloth diapering your second baby here.  Emily also has posts on anti fungal baby wipes, diaper liners, and more linked on that post.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Customer service can be really fantastic so complain when you don't get you way.

I have three customer service stories I would like to share, and commend the companies for their efforts at rectifying the situation.

A few months ago, I purchased a package of Seventh Generation diapers and found that about 90% of the diapers were cut improperly and barely functional.  We were using them at night some and on trips, etc. Not often, but enough that I felt like I was losing money on that pack.  So I contacted the company via email and complained, while also letting them know that I had previously used their products (a variety of them, not just diapers) with complete satisfaction, which increased my disappointment.  As I was writing it, I recalled that I had also had a few packs of their wipes that dried out almost completely within days of opening them several months before - back when Boogie was a wee little thing - and mentioned it.

I received a response within hours with follow up questions.  One email led to another and before I knew it, I was offered a full reimbursement for the diapers AND the two packs of wipes!  I had figured they would offer coupons or a voucher for a free pack, or even possibly replace the pack itself.  I was shocked that they were so willing to stand by their product that they were going to give me my money back without na reciept, UPC, or even one of the faulty diapers to prove there was a problem.  I was so pleased when the check arrived that I used the enclosed coupon to buy a pack of diapers (when they were on sale of course) to have on hand.  We have used a few and the new design is fantastic.  They are 100% back in my good graces and while buying disposables is rare for us, we are now open to Seventh Generation diapers where I had been paying more for Earth's Best.

Next up is Munchkin.  I bought one of their little insulated bottle totes for carrying Boogie's food around when we are out but recently one of the gell packs that go in the freezer busted open and gell got all over it.  I contacted the company and complained, asking for a replacement.  Again, within hours I had a response from a real person asking me to take a picture of it and they would replace it immediately.  By the end of the week, I had a new gell pack!  They even offered to reimburse me for shipping with an "age and gender appropriate gift" for Jack if I preferred to mail the entire product back for a full replacement.  However, I was able to clean it well and I didn't think it was neccessary.  But knowing that they were interested in doing anything to keep my company loyalty was nice.  I'm not a huge fan of their products, but I have a good reason to choose them over another similar product in the future because I know they stand by their products.

Finally, I have had an issue with Enfamil vitamins.  I have been looking for a suitably priced alternative to Boogie's vitamins, and have even considered not giving them to him at all because in general, I'm not a big fan of vitamins.  However, I suffered from a severe vitamin D deficiency as a teenager that caused me to miss half of my senior year in high school, so I worry a lot about him getting enough vitamin D, especially since sunscreen blocks the natural absorption of this vital nutrient.  So I have been buying them but in the last few months, two bottles have been faulty in their "child proof" caps.  Boogie was able to open them by twisting the bulb, rather than the plastic cap, and dumped them on himself and the carpet within moments when I was only a few feet from him and not paying 100% attention.  I now keep them much farther from his reach (once is a fluke, twice is a problem!).   At least, after playing with the bottle, this is how I assume it happened.

I believe there is a problem with any children's medication that a child can open themselves, especially at less than 1 year old (the first time he was about 7 or 8 months!).  So I contacted them about a week ago and today received two replacement bottles and a prepaid shipping label for returning the faulty bottles.

The moral of the story?  If a product doesn't meet your expectations, complain!  You may not get a refund or replacement, but you will definitely get a good idea of how the company's customer service works and know whether to buy anything from them again in the future.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Making Popsicles is easy and I'm sure just about anyone could figure it out but I wanted to share my son's first Popsicle recipes because I really just need a good reason to show off these adorable pictures of him getting Popsicle all over his face.

First, cut up your strawberries (oh, well wash them first, then cut) and bananas.

Dump in a blender, mini prep, or food processor.  Or for older kiddos, just mash them up really good.


Scoop/pour into molds.  I made half with strawberries and bananas and half with yogurt added to the fruit.

Finally, freeze them overnight and share with the Boogie in your life.  That's a shot of the actual first taste!  He ate about half of it, which is not a small amount for him.

And finally, check out this clever way to make a healthier version of those sugar filled otter pops your kids will beg for.  Love the name of her blog!

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The Sweet Potato Method

I was at Whole Foods the other day when I saw purple sweet potatoes, which not only intrigued me but also reminded me that we are fresh out of sweet potato cubes in the freezer.  Sweet potato is one of Boogie's favorites so I grabbed one for him to try.

Here's how I do it.
Take your sweet potato and wash it off.  Place it on a piece of foil, or on a cookie sheet.  Preheat the oven to 350 and go ahead and stick it in there.  Once the oven is heated, set the time for 30 minutes.  That's about how long it takes for a medium sized (not too fat) sweet potato for me.  I also threw in a regular sweet potato at the same time.

Since you are heating up the oven anyway, take a head of garlic, chop off the top half inch or so, sit it on its own foil sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and EVOO and wrap the foil up around it.  Toss it in the oven with your potatoes.  You will be handsomely rewarded.

The potatoes are ready when they are nice and smushy and give easily.  They will bleed purple sugar all over the foil.  This is one instance where I prefer to throw a small piece of foil in the recycling than wash the sheet pan covered in sticky sugar.

Peel the skin off and...Mash!

Add the regular sweet potato and mash some more!

For a really smooth puree, you can use the blender.  But if they are really cooked well, you can probably mash them well enough with a fork or potato masher.

Your garlic will take a bit longer than 30 minutes.  45-60 minutes should do it.  It will be easy to squeeze all the garlic out.  Just push it into a small container, cover with EVOO if you aren't going to use it in the next day or so and stick it in the fridge.  Or, add some to Boogie's mashed sweet potato because he likes garlic!

Now just spoon into ice cube trays and freeze.  This is one of my fancy Tupperware ice cube trays.

There is it with the lid on it.  That's my husband on his way to put it in the freezer for me.

Oh, and Boogie loved it.  Forgot to get a picture of his purple-covered face but thankfully, it didn't stain.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goals for the next year...or so

So far in my journey I have made a few minor and a few major changes to the way we live that hopefully will impact not jsut our health, but the environment as well.

Using cloth diapers was never an environmental choice, but I love that something we chose to do anyway is so good for the earth.  And even better for the earth is my recognition that I can get rid of all disposable products (ah...except toilet paper.  Let's not go there).  So my first goal is

1) Stop using disposable paper and plastic products (except said TP).

Perhaps my biggest goals, though, are related to health and nutrition.  I have been researching how contaminated produce can be and have focused on buying organic produce for Boogie.  But I also buy him only free-range organic chicken, organic tofu, beans, grains, etc. for him.  I have had a hard time convincing myself that I deserve the extra cost of organic foods, too.  And since I am perfectly capable of making just about everything from scratch, my next three goals are

2) Buy only whole, organic foods for myself and my family.
3) Make all of our bread from scratch using the recipes in my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
4) Eliminate as much processed food from our diets as possible.

One thing I want to mention.  Before getting pregnant and having my son, I never really thought much about organic foods.  But I did always kind of hate carrots.  They always tasted weird to me.  Since I switched to buying only organic carrots (which are quite affordable - they are the same price at my local grocery store as conventional), I have noticed that they never have that weird taste.  Which repulses me because now I feel like I have been eating pesticides my entire life.  My son will hopefully never know a carrot that tastes like chemicals.

My husband likes the diet soda so we have talked about ending his relationship (at least on an everyday basis) with this chemical-laden beverage.  I know it is asking a lot of him to change his lifestyle so much, so I'm planning to go easy on this one.  I won't be buying it but if we go out to eat, I'm not going to begrudge him a little caramel colored artificially sweetened water.  For now.

And, finally, I have one more goal that will make our budget a bit happier.  Other than avoiding impulse spending and using sales, coupons, and a rather large freezer to save money, when we get relocated I am planning to

5) Buy used and save the difference.

The now-famous Duggar family (of 19 Kids and Counting fame, for those who haven't seen TLC in years) have been known to use that phrase to describe how they lower their carbon footprint with such a large family, and how they afford the everyday expenses of life.  I believe this can make a big difference in many aspects of our life.

So, for now, we are still camping our with my folks until my husband's career relocates us at an undetermined point in the hopefully near future.  I believe we will be moving in the next 3 months or so, so some of these goals will take a little longer.

Does all this mean that my child won't ever blow his nose with a tissue or enjoy some store-bought graham crackers?  No, of course not.  But I'd love to raise him in a world of handkerchiefs and homemade, wholesome snacks because I believe that he will continue into his adulthood to consume less, spend less, and love the earth that yields so much for us.

If I can manage at least most of this over the next year or so, I'm hoping we can add in an organic garden next spring/summer...wherever we are...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Store-bought options for baby food. Organic still wins in my book.

Although Boogie more or less refuses to eat anything we have offered him from the Gerber Organic line, or from any kind of "jar" food, he has accepted some of the new pouch foods.  He is especially fond of the fruit pouches because he can suck the fruit out himself and literally sucks it all down in about a minute, with a couple of small breaks to catch his breath.  Plum Baby are our favourite for a quick "toss in the diaper bag" option.

A facebook friend recently noted that although she makes her own baby food, she tried Sprout foods with her daughter and she loved them!  So I thought I would give them a whirl.  Because let's face it - it isn't always easy to carry around a cooler bag full of cubes of baby food and babies need veggies, whole grains, and proteins in addition to fruit.  So when Sprout foods finally went on sale, I bought a few to try.  So far he has tried the Roasted Sweet Potato and White Bean, which he loved, and the Butternut Squash (also loved).  These products are made by Tyler Florence, of Food Network fame, and are organic.  And delicious.  I tried them and I can honestly say that I would eat them.  But at the regular price of $1.39 each, they are certainly not an every day option.  More something to toss in diaper bag when we are in a hurry.

We also tried the Pasta with lentil sauce flavor and Boogie regfused to eat it.  This may be because he is already eating small pasta shapes with real sauce and the pureed version could just be a turn off.  But, then again, I tasted it and found it kind of gross.

We are also fans of Happy Baby products.  Boogie loves their organic puffs and they have half as much sugar as the Gerber brand.  And here, they tend to be on sale fairly often for about $2.50.  By joining the Happy Baby mailing list, I get coupons for $1 off 2 products and that makes them $2.  Gerber puffs run about $2 on sale and the package is smaller.  Again, twice the sugar in Gerber so this is definitly a cheaper, healthier option.

Boogie loves the Happy Baby yogurt drops, but since he does eat yogurt every day, we don't indulge in these often.  I generally mix a couple in with the puffs for a "snack mix" kind of thing.  I add freeze dried fruit bits, as well.  I haven't found a budget friendly organic freeze dried fruit marketed for babies, but freeze dried fruit bits can be found in the dried fruit section of some grocery stores.  Larger pieces can be broken into smaller ones.  Boogie likes mango best!

Still, our favourite snacks are homemade.  We usually do carry a small bottle cooler which holds a yogurt and a small container of fruir or veggie cubes.   I have found that most restaurants are more than happy to bring a cup or bowl of hot water, which I can then sit the container in to thaw the food slowly.  Apparently, they do this all the time for parents who need to warm bottles.

And there's always the universal portable baby snack - the banana!

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