Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Humpty Dumpty Problems

Have you ever noticed that, like, half of all kid songs and rhymes include something about somebody or something falling down?

London Bridge is falling down.
Jack fell down and broke his crown.
When the wind blows, the cradle will fall.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out (he totally fell off the water spout)
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
One fell off and bumped his head.

if the look on his face doesn't say "I'm plummeting to my death," I don't know what does...

Then there's Humpty Dumpty.  Who, depending which version of the story you subscribe to, might or might not have been reassembled by the King's horses and men.

My kid is obsessed with Humpty Dumpty ("hunky dunky") and everything about him.  Well, three things in particular.
1) He's egg-shaped.
2) He climbed up high to take a seat on a wall.
3) He fell down and broke apart.

See where I'm going with this?

We climb on things and try to fall off.
We put our toys and other items on top of high surfaces and knock them off.
Or sometimes it's food from the dinner table that has a great fall and needs the king's horses and men to come to it's aid.
Sometimes we combine stories and talk about how the monkeys fell off the wall and bumped their heads, or hunky dunky was jumping on the bed and had a great fall.

All in jest, to identify with the story, of course -- and always adorable, with a sincere "Oh noooo, fell dowwwn!"    

But it's exhausting for this mama.

I'm not so concerned about her safety as I am the obsession with destruction.

We've turned our other favorite songs into falling down stories; for instance, with play dough we often create a (baa baa) black sheep with three bags of wool, who then in turn climbs up on a play dough wall and crashes down breaking its legs off.

Puzzle pieces and crayons aren't safe from the falling either, Pennyzilla crashes them down to the floor, often citing that the king's horses and men might come to their aid as well.

Baby doll sits on the wall of Penny's crib and falls down multiple times before Penny will get out of bed.

"Oh noooo! Baby fall down!!"

I'm trying to work in some teaching moments about the seriousness of hazard and injury (like if she tries to climb the wall above our basement stairs "Penny could get a BIG BIG BIG owie") without revoking creativity or intercepting physical playfulness that I believe is so important for toddlers.

It's just a phase.  It's just a phase...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Lil Snacker Bib by Neat Solutions

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to try out new products that I might not ever think to buy in a store on my own, but that end up being a welcome addition to our stash of gadgets and go-to's.  Thus is the case with this snacker bib.

You can read all the cool specs and environmental material details on the Neat Solutions website.  I'll just tell you about my experience with this hybrid of a bib and a snack container.

I introduced this pink and green device to Penny (22mo) at home as her new "special bib" to be filled with fruit snacks.  I was able to take a shower and get dressed while she played by herself and ate said fruit snacks without spilling any.  Five stars.

Later that day, I brought it with us on an ambitious two-errand shopping trip, using it to stash raisins and keep Penelope occupied while I braved the aisles of both the grocery store and Buy Buy Baby.  Again, self-sufficient contentment from my toddler for an impressive amount of time.  Five stars.

My Random Thoughts:
  • Is it comfortable? It doesn't look like it would be comfortable, but then again Penny wore it for over half an hour (twice) with no complaint.  
  • It's super easy to clean.  A must for any item that wants to avoid the garage sale pile at my house.
  • This thing is great for instances where hand-held containers with similar style lids might be dropped (like out the shopping cart or car seat).
  • I wish it was more foldable/portable. I loved having it at the grocery store but didn't love packing it in my diaper bag. 
  • For us, I think this item will best serve our needs not as an every day item, but a cool special thing that we will use in novelty situations when Penny needs a distraction or something to elongate (and contain) her snack time... i.e. every week when I power through my woe-is-me-it's-so-hot-and-I'm-so-pregnant-and-my-toddler-is-so-squirmy trips to the grocery store.
  • It is constructed well.  It's not going to be one of those things that is cool at first but eventually falls apart, it's sturdy.
  • I like that it can be used with or without the snack trapper top. 
  • I liked it because Penny liked it.
  • I didn't use it in its traditional "bib" sense (during meal time, etc.) but I think it would be good for younger babes in this instance.  Label says ideal for 6-24 months so will definitely hold onto it for when baby #2 starts eating solids... my brain can barely go there right now but the time will come!
If you are interested in getting your kiddo one of these bad boys (they also come in blue), you can find 'em at your local kid-supply stores, or of course, my favorite, you can buy it on Amazon here.

* Opinions herein are my own and I was not compensated for this review beyond item(s) being provided to me at no cost

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 Confessions of a Second Pregnancy

As I find myself finally entering my third trimester, I've taken some time to chuckle over the epic differences between this pregnancy and my first go 'round.

Remember that pregnancy when any given day I knew the exact countdown to my due date, and I completed arts and crafts projects for the nursery (even though I was still working!) and did mental visualizations and relaxation exercises almost every night to prepare me for birth???  

Yeah.  This time I have a toddler.

Sometimes I forget that I'm even pregnant while Penny and I play puzzles for half an hour on the floor, until I try to get up to make lunch and I lose my balance and almost fall over.  Oh that's right, the watermelon in my shirt.

Ten confessions of a second pregnancy:

1.  Vitamins. I haven't taken a single prenatal vitamin.  I was too sick in my first trimester to take anything, and then it just kind of escaped my brain.  This is probably why my 28-week glucose tolerance blood screen revealed that I am slightly anemic.  I've just started on an iron supplement and will not let that one escape my mind.  I'm not proud of it, it just kind of is what it is.

2. Nutrition. I haven't followed any special pregnancy nutrition plans like the Brewer Diet I did last time around.  I was so diligent with my checklist and protein counter with my last pregnancy.  I scanned the label of every food product checking for certain preservatives.  This time.... I just eat.

3. Avoidances.  Along those lines, I've been more lax about the pregnancy no-no's.  I've eaten deli meat. And tasted raw cookie dough (and liked it).  I've had sips of wine and other alcoholic drinks in very small amounts. Of course, I've done these things with caution and conservatism, but I've done them nonetheless. Two years ago when I had Penny in my belly I would not have touched a single one of these things. 

4. Name Game.  This baby does not (secretly) have a name yet, or even a short list of names she might one day be called.  You're welcome to ask what we are going to name her but please believe us when we say we have no idea.  Little babe will have a name within her first two days of life but possibly not a minute sooner.   With Penelope, Dan and I talked about baby names a little bit every day I think.  With this one we've brought it up a couple times, and I think we both have casual lists of names we like, but with no overlap, and no real ongoing discussion (yet).

5. Exercise.  I'm not doing any special exercises to prepare me for birth.  I assume that some of the physical therapy I'm doing for my back and hips -- oh have I not mentioned here that I'm back in PT again? -- will help some of those birth muscles, but it's really nothing compared to the women's workout routine I had last time around.  My exercise is raising a toddler.

6. Rest. I'm not getting enough sleep or rest time. I think I used up my "special pregnancy rest" quota in my first trimester when I was sick.  Yes, yes, "people" (ahem, husband) give me a hard time because Penny sleeps in until about 8:30am every day, and I don't get up a minute sooner than she, but what most of you don't know is that about four nights a week I am awake until about 2am working at the computer.  In this "rest" category I would also say I'm not getting enough back rubs and foot rubs.

7. Tracking.  I haven't been logging pregnancy progress or feelings or milestones.  I've been blogging and journaling less about pregnancy and more about life outside of pregnancy.  I don't read my 'What to Expect' app daily, in fact some weeks I can't remember how far along I am.  I'm not reading any books.  We aren't taking any classes, or refreshing on the birth-class material from last time (although this is something I really want to do in the next month).   I just looked it up and I'm 82 days from my due date... so much for that "100 days" post I was going to do like last time!

my insta-bumps every two weeks are about
all the tracking I've been doing. #babygriffinbump

8. Preparing.  Other than #10 below, we haven't done anything really to prepare for baby number two to come live in our house.  We kind of figure we have most of the stuff we'll need, and the rest we can get as the time comes.  I haven't organized Penny's hand-me-down clothes yet, but I will soon, I promise.  This time we know that all you really need in the first month is diapers, swaddle blankets, tiny shirts, and a safe place for baby to sleep.
To my second daughter who might be reading this later on in her life... I want you to know something.  Right now, while you are whirling around in my belly and pressing on my bladder and keeping me up at night... I LOVE EVERY CELL OF YOUR BEING and I'M SO EXCITED FOR YOUR ARRIVAL.   Your mama acting differently during your time in her belly than she did with your big sister's doesn't mean anything about how loved and special you are.  It just means she's done this one time and is a little bit more relaxed about it.  Some day, you might appreciate NOT being around for mom and dad's first time around at something.

9. Beauty.  I don't feel glowy this time.  I brush my hair about three times a week, usually twisting it into a tangled mess of a bun or braiding it to the side.  I haven't been diligent with lotion or stretch-mark oil on my stomach.  Or worn any shape-wear that makes me look smoother in my maternity garb.  Or gotten a single pedicure.  Or exfoliated my blotchy browning forehead.  And I feel totally ok about it all, but these are all things I did differently last pregnancy.  

10.  Guilty.   I confess, I registered.  I'm embarrassed because I totally judge other people who register for a second pregnancy when the first child is still in diapers.  I mostly did it because I was at Buy Buy Baby anyway and I really wanted the baggie of coupons and free samples that you get when you register there, but I also did have the thought that I'd like to have a list of everything that we need/want for kid number two to be organized in one place, even though (for the record) I do not expect other people to buy anything for us or anticipate a baby shower to be a thrown for me.

I wonder how 'lax I'll be with a potential third or fourth pregnancy.  How have you done things differently in your pregnancies? 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Swim Lessons Have Taken Over Our Lives

(and why that's a good thing)

It's been a mental priority for me to get Penelope into swim lessons for quite some time now.  Surprisingly, we swam very little last Summer, and then Fall came and went... and before I knew it, I had an almost-two-year-old and this swim season was upon us.

Here in the "Valley of the Sun" there have already been 24 drownings this year alone (source).  It's not even July yet.  And if you know my family well or read my sister-in-law's blog, you probably know that we had a serious scare with my nephew Huxton two years ago right here in our community pool.  That day at the pool and the emergency Cesarean birth of my child have been the two most frightening days of my life.

Swim lessons. I needed to get on it.  No excuses.  This is a no joke deal.

I did some research on local swim schools and private teachers, different philosophies -- fear-based and fun-based alike -- and came upon one particular in-home teacher that came highly recommended by two of my Mommy-friends.

I emailed her.

She sent me the details.  The next session would begin on June 10th and would be half an hour, three days per week, for four weeks.

THREE DAYS A WEEK?!?  For a month???!  That would CONSUME our schedule. 

Ain't nobody got time for that, I thought.

Then I read on in her email about the importance of repetition and routine for pool safety and swim basics.  It made sense, and she's taught more kids to swim than I have, so I bought in.

We would do it. I would commit to packing up the towels, putting on sunscreen and a swim diaper, grabbing my big floppy sun hat and my big pregnant belly, and driving to this lady's house -- every morning, three days a week, for four weeks in a row.  In the name of safety.

We started this Tuesday.

day one:
I expected the first day to be tough.   I knew this wasn't going to be the type of swim lessons I remembered from when I was a kid... mom in the water with baby singing "loop de loop, loop de lye" and blowing bubbles.

Although not as traumatic as ISR (which I decided a while back just wasn't for us), I'd been warned that her style would be a little bit more "aggressive" than the typical swim school instructor.

Truthfully, that was what I wanted.  In my researching, I felt like we were past the age of blowing bubbles and singing songs -- if water safety was to actually be the goal.

Nevertheless, Penny probably wasn't going to like it... and it was probably going to be hard for me to watch.

Check, and check.

Penny basically screamed in agony the entire half hour.   I wanted to cry too, every time she pointed at me from the water desperately "Mommy!" between sobs... but I forgot my sunglasses that day and didn't want to be that mom.

I liked the teacher a lot. She was positive but firm. She didn't waste any time and she knew what she was doing. She assured me that this sort of first day was totally normal. Others also assured me that it would get better quickly. All I could do was believe them.

relieved to be out of the water and in my lap, but not willing to smile.

day two:
I was mentally prepared for the drama from day one.  At teacher's suggestion, I sat on the steps this time to be a slight comfort for Penny -- and to prevent her from climbing out of the pool by herself when it wasn't her turn.  Still lots of tears and anxiety and fingernails digging into poor teacher's neck and arms.  But, at the end, she didn't cling to me like a leach as I wrapped her in her towel, and she was just fine by the time we got back in the car.

uneasily anticipating the beginning of her class time.
day three:
Something miraculous happened.  Penny didn't cry.  Penny willingly went to the teacher in the water for her drills.  Penny held her breath.  Penny nodded "yeah" when asked if she wanted to go one more time.  Penny got home and told Daddy about her big arms and closing her mouth under the water and being a monkey going back to the steps.  

After just one week, Penny was no longer afraid of entering the water face-first, and had learned how to come up to the top and grab the side of the pool and make her way back to the steps.   I could not believe it.  I was expecting weeks of drama and agony, but she turned a corner in three days.

Of course I'm not saying she's a "swimmer" or that she's "all set" for pool safety... but I walked away from lessons this day confident in my decision to do this, as I held hands with my happy and confident little fishy.

After just one week, I already feel better about bringing my child into the pool with me.  I feel like we have a game plan and are on the right track.  A nervousness that plagued me before, how is my child ever going to learn how to swim, is gone.  I have tools and safe things to do with her in the water at home that will reinforce what she's learning and further her progress.  I feel so. good. about. this.  [and I hate it when people type periods between every word in a sentence. that's. how. good. I. feel. about. these. swimming. lessons.]

This progress would not be happening if we weren't committing so much of our time to this.

So, despite the burden of having wet towels all over the house and the smell of sunscreen lingering in my car, I am pressing on.   Our mornings revolve around eating a good breakfast and getting ready for swimming; and our afternoons revolve around showering off the chlorine, hydrating our skin, and -- thankfully -- taking really good naps because we are so tired.   And on the days she doesn't have lessons, I'm going to pack up our stuff and get our butts to the pool as often as possible.

Repetition and routine.  There is no other way to do this.  And this is important.

our swim stuff lives on our kitchen chairs, drying and ready to go for the next day.

I cannot wait to see what Penny is capable of in the water at the end of four weeks.

Between swim lessons, photography, and the obvious (growing a human in my womb), I may be blogging slightly less (or throwing in some lay-up posts) this month.  Please forgive me but continue to support this blog, if you so choose, by voting for me every day on Top Baby Blogs.  You can do that by clicking on this link:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Yeah. About that.

I like to think I'm one to admit when I'm wrong or when I speak too soon.

The no pacifier thing [see yesterday's post]... at BEDtime... did NOT go very well last night.  Well, regular bedtime routine went great, but when we finally remembered to turn on the monitor about half an hour after Dan put her down, she was still frantically searching her crib for it, so tired, almost hallucinogenic, with a scratchy voice and desperation in her every move.   She was talking like a baby schizophrenic, I couldn't understand what she was saying, but I knew she was confused and I didn't feel right about it like I had earlier at nap time when I wrote you all those paragraphs...

It seemed like torture, and certainly not something to congratulate ourselves over.   Dan felt even worse about it than I did.

It wasn't a power struggle... for her it was just a struggle.


We couldn't take it.   So we changed our tune and she got a pacifier, and 5 more songs and cuddles with Daddy.

I think we're going to continue with the gradual pacifier weening, with plan #6 [maybe y'all shouldn't take tips from me anymore] being to cut it out at nap time first (like yesterday)... building up to a bedtime ween, with the goal of having it completely gone before her 2nd birthday.

I'm not calling it a failure, maybe how about a stepping stone instead of a milestone.

Ah motherhood.

Just wanted to publicly disclaim my well-intentioned yet premature announcement from yesterday.

hashtag nevermind.  hashtag worstparentsever.

Monday, June 2, 2014

No Mo Pacifier: How it Happened

Breaking News.  At this very moment, my daughter, aged 22 months, is napping without a pacifier.

Due to dentist/orthodontist recommendations, I always knew I wanted the pacifier out of her mouth for good around the time she turned two.  I'd heard of tactics such as the pacifier fairy or the toy-trade-up or cutting holes in the suction part of the actual pacifier so kiddo gets frustrated with it and rejects it themselves, but I never really had a set strategy in mind.  I figured when the time came, we would know what to do.

Today, when I went to put her down for a nap, I couldn't find the pacifier in her crib.  Normally I would have gone upstairs to grab another one from the cabinet, or looked under the crib where they often fall and retrieved one for her, but something about today told me to let it be.  

As always, we read a book in the rocking chair.  We sang a few songs.  She clutched her Raggedy Ann doll.  I walked over to her crib with her wide awake as I always do...

I'm going to put you in your crib... and you can lay down... and feel the soft... and close your eyes... and say 'Night Night'.  I love you.  Night Night, Penny.

But no pacifier.  She didn't ask, I didn't offer.

I left the room, shut the door, and waited for the crying.   

No crying.

In the video monitor, I could see her arranging her crib and burrowing herself into her teddy bear as she always does.  She rubbed her ear and clutched her doll and fidgeted her feet beneath a muslin blanket until she was just right.   And she went to sleep.  The only difference was that I couldn't hear the suck-suck sound of the silicone through the monitor speaker.

I called Dan at work to talk through it and make sure he was on board, since the nighttime routine is kind of his thing.  We hadn't planned on taking away the pacifier for another couple months and I didn't want to throw a wrench in any plans that he had for his special time with her every night before her second birthday, or overrule any ideas he had for weening.  

Together we decided that today would be the day.  Penny's pacifiers are gone, and we will not speak of them again.

The pacifier is not the enemy.  It also can't be the cure-all.

For anyone looking to me for ideas on having a pacifier kid, here are a few things we did along the way to enable a very gradual and painless weening:

1. We never bought her new pacifiers for her according to her age/size.  They have pacifiers in different shapes/sizes that are for preemies or newborns, all the way up to bigger ones that are specifically for kids up to 18 months old.  I always thought that if we kept getting her new bigger ones as she grew, she would feel a more permanent attachment to them.  Not sure if that's sound reasoning, but it saved us a few bucks.  And never promoting to a larger pacifier perhaps made it so the little 6mo silicone ones she's had from the get go might have become old hat.

2. We never dignified the item with pet names or gave it special emotional powers.  Probably ninety percent of the time, Dan and I referred to it as "your pacifier."  Every now and then it would get called "binky" or "paci" but always matter-of-factly, not an endearing reference.  The pacifier certainly served a purpose (especially when she was an infant, golly, I don't think my boobs could have survived without it) but it wasn't a beloved item in the house, I don't think there was much of an emotional attachment to it.  It was there for the sucking reflex and soothing that resulted, that was it.  I gotta think there's a psychology around this stuff, although I've not researched it.  Maybe my sister learned something about it in her college child development class last semester.  I'll have to remember to ask her.

3. When she turned one we set a policy that the pacifier would no longer leave her crib (except for the book-reading step of her bedtime routine.)  This meant that by the time she was walking, she only had it to go to sleep, but never ran around the house with it, or had it in public, or used to sooth her daytime trials and tribulations.   Every morning and after every nap she would give the pacifier to her teddy bear (in the corner of her crib) to keep it safe for her until next time she got it for bedtime.  "Give your pacifier to the bear" became a fun thing, usually she would carefully tuck it under his armpit for safekeeping or sometimes even lift him up and hide it underneath him completely.  This routine made it very easy for the pacifier to be out of sight / out of mind during the day.

4. We introduced and started rotating a few other "security" options like soft lovey blankets and baby dolls that have become good choices for cuddling and soothing during sleepy time.  I've been cautious not to encourage ONE specific security item, like a certain blanket or animal, because the thought of her having an attachment to just one item, and then me losing or ruining that item, freaks me out.  We've tried to promote routine with flexibility... she always has something in her crib to cuddle, but it's not always the same thing.  We always read books and sing songs before sleep time, but it's not always the same book or the same song.  This has worked for us, although more particular children might need more consistency than what we've afforded our fairly easy-going toddler.

5. We recently started talking about how sweet little babies get pacifiers but big girls don't need them.  If we'd see babies out in public with a pacifier, I'd use it as an opportunity to talk up how Penny is going to be a big girl soon and her baby sister will need all the baby things like diapers and pacifiers. [We'll save the potty training topic for a later conversation].  It helps that I'm pregnant so there will soon be an obvious distinction in our house between who's the baby and who's the big girl (or maybe I will eat these words). 

So during nap time today, I collected pacifiers from places in the house where she might find them.  Then I patted myself on the back, I think I did at least this one thing right.

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