Archive for April, 2012

What Pregnant Women Don’t Want to Hear

Every pregnant woman has received a comment that makes them think, “Did you really just say that to me?” It’s annoying and disappointing. It might make you feel bad about yourself or even angry. I always wonder why this person didn’t think before he or she spoke. I admit that coming from a man, it’s more forgivable but coming from a woman, especially a woman who has experienced pregnancy, it’s shocking. Here are some of my favorites that have either been said to me or to others:

Me: I’m pregnant!
You: Oh no.
Seriously, did you just say “oh no”? I don’t care what my tone is or what I’ve said before this moment, but you should always be happy for someone who is pregnant. If not already, the pregnant woman will be excited for this new baby, but she won’t forget your reaction.

I knew you were pregnant. Your face looked fuller.
No pregnant lady wants to be told that she has gained weight in a part of her body other than her belly. Weight gain is mentally difficult to deal with even in pregnancy. Never make comments on a pregnant woman’s growing size unless it is to tell them how cute they look.

You’re just as big as [insert name here]. (and yet you’re 2 months earlier in your pregnancy)
Again, no pregnant woman wants to be told they look big. She knows how big she is.

You shouldn’t be picking up your kids.
Pregnancy is not a disability. Of course, I’m going to pick up my 1-year-old daughter. I’ll pick her up whenever she wants to be picked up.

You’re too sensitive. It must be the pregnancy hormones.
Yes, that first trimester is a bitch when it comes to fluctuating hormones. Beyond that, you’re pretty much the same person. Everybody has good days and bad days. It’s not because I’m pregnant. It might because you just told me how huge I am.

Are you trying for a girl? (said to the mom of multiple boys)
Yes, no, maybe but mostly just none of your business.  This comment is so rude.  Most people I know do not taking having a baby lightly.  It’s a decision that is made not based on a desire for a son or a daughter but a desire to expand their family.   Who cares if they have a gender preference.  If they want to share it with you, they will.  Don’t make assumptions.

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Patience and 2 Year Olds

Who’s 2 year old has a problem with listening? As a parent, this act of defiance has to be our first introduction into frustration with our children. Up until now, everything is excusable – they’re too young, they don’t understand, etc. Then suddenly one day, they do understand and they ignore you anyway.

Stop drinking the bath water.                                                            
Don’t flip the light switch on and off 80 times.
Don’t throw food. Don’t throw toys.
Don’t push your sister.
Don’t sit on your sister.
Don’t hit your sister.
Don’t hit the dog.

The list of requests and instructions that are just blatantly ignore have us frequently asking, “Are the tubes in his ears really working?” Every once in a while, he’ll do exactly what we ask. We’re comforted that there isn’t a problem with his hearing but more frustrated the next time he doesn’t listen because we know that he can. I guess this is what is known as the terrible twos. It’s frustrating and draining and an intense exercise in patience.

I know that it is a phase that will hopefully end or ease soon. In the meantime, I need to dig deep and find that unending pool of patience that will help me keep my cool and not yell (so much). When I’m really close to losing it, I try to remember the sweet moments – the way he always runs over and gives you a kiss when you say ouch, the way he wakes up from a nap and climbs into your lap for a never-ending hug , the way he crawls into bed with you in the morning to snuggle, the way he is constantly picking up his sister’s sippy cup off the floor and handing it back to her. He’s a sweet, sweet kid, and I love him to bits. I just wish he would keep the water in the bathtub.

*Picture source

The Things We Do for Charity

Ok, so maybe we didn’t make a huge personal sacrifice yesterday, but it was still not something we were looking forward to.  Every year, my sisters, my husband and I walk in an MS Walk.  It’s always around mid-April when the weather is a little bit questionable.  We’ve been blessed with a beautiful day for the walk in the past. We’ve had cold years.  We’ve had windy years.  This year was our first cold, windy and rainy year. 

After weeks of drought, the rain returned with a vengeance on one day where we really needed it to stay away.  We all secretly hoped the others would say let’s just not walk this year, but no one stepped up and off we went.  Dressed in a windbreaker and poncho, I spent the first half of the walk holding my poncho hood up to keep the cold rain from hitting my face.   It was an easy decision to only do the short loop – 2.7 miles and get out of the rain as fast as we could.  After the walk, it took a good 45 minutes before my hands would work properly after being frozen stiff.

I’m either proud of myself for sucking it up and participating or embarrassed that I actually voluntarily walked in the cold rain for so long.  I haven’t decided.  At the end of the day, the National MS Society got our donations, and we have a good story to reminisce about during next year’s walk.  Hopefully, yesterday’s experience will be the worst we ever have.

A Little Lead in Your Lipstick

The FDA examined 400 lipsticks to determine their lead content.  The average content was 1.11 ppm (parts per million) with a range of <026 ppm – 7.19 ppm.  To give some perspective, the FDA’s limit for lead found in candy (why is there lead in candy?!) is .1 ppm, and California states that 5 ppm is the maximum safe limit for lead in personal care products.  Products in lipstick are absorbed through the skin and ingested every time you lick your lips.  We may be talking miniscule numbers, but if you’re using a high lead content lipstick, consider how often you reapply throughout the day or how many times you may lick your lips.  Maybe you should find out how much lead is in your lipstick.  While organic may not be in your budget, you can at least use the results from this study to make healthier lipstick choices.

The New Price of the Light Bulb

Everybody has heard that incandescent light bulbs are going away.  For many years, we have seen compact fluorescent light bulbs in the market and now there are many options for LED lights.  If you are still buying or even stocking up on incandescent bulbs, you’re throwing away your money.  CFL and LED bulbs use only 25% of the energy of an incandescent bulb.  CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than the old bulbs and LED lasts 25 times longer.  With the lower energy usage, you can save about $6 per bulb if you leave them on for about 4 hours a day.  The industry estimates that by switching to CFL or LED bulbs, you can save approximately $50/year.    Check out the analysis below of a comparison of a CFL and incandescent bulb.

$16.45 to buy and operate a CFL for 10,000 hours:
13 watts x 10,000 hours = 130 kWh
130 kWh x 11.5 cents per kWh of electricity = $14.95
$14.95 + $1.50 for bulb = $16.45

$74 to buy and operate 10 60-watt Incandescent bulbs for 10,000 hours
60 watts x 10,000 hours = 600 kWh
600 kWh x 11.5 cents per kWh = $69
$69 + $5 for 10 bulbs = $74

source

My husband is all about cost efficiency when it comes to electricity usage, especially since we have gone solar.  We don’t generate electricity to waste it, so believes in energy-efficient lighting.  Our house has been outfitted entirely with CFL bulbs (except for our foyer chandelier that is quite difficult to reach).  We are in the middle of renovating our kitchen and put in new recessed lighting.  We went with LED bulbs.  At $40 a bulb, it was a little difficult to pay that bill, but I know that in the end they’ll save us money, and the lighting is gorgeous!

Now there is a new light bulb coming on the market.  Philips won a $10 million government contest to generate a replacement to the 60 watt incandescent bulb.  The goal was to create a bulb that more closely resembled that glow of the incandescent bulb while being energy-efficient.  It will use only 10 watts of power and lasts 30 times longer than the comparable 60 watt incandescent bulb.  At a price tag of $60, I doubt many consumers will be buying them, but Philips promises to reduce the price using utility rebates to bring that price down to $20-$30.  Utility rebates seem to be a pretty common way to reduce prices of these new bulbs.  You’ll have to shop around to find a good deal, but they’ll be out there.  I’m sure we will buy some too, although we’ll either have to wait 10 years until a CFL burns out or buy a new lamp.

Would you Buy a Hybrid Car?

I would – in the right circumstances.  With a family of 4 (soon to be 5), a Toyota Prius or a Honda Insight aren’t really options for us.  The SUVs that could accommodate our family are out of our price range.  For example, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid runs about $10,000 more than the non-hybrid.  The Chevy Tahoe hybrid is $13,000 more, and the GMC Yukon hybrid is $12,000 more than its non-hybrid counterpart.  More importantly, I couldn’t find one mini-van, which is what fits our needs the best, in a hybrid version. 

What is interesting is that recent review of hybrid registrations by Polk has shown that only 35% of hybrid owners are replacing their hybrid cars with new hybrids.  If you factor out Toyota Prius owners, who show the highest brand loyalty, that number drops to only 25%.        

You can make a lot of assumptions with this statistic.  The cost differential could take too long to make up.   Previous hybrid owners could be turning to electric or natural gas cars.  Maybe the recent improvements to fuel efficiency in vehicles are more appealing than paying the extra costs related to hybrid cars. 

Whatever the reasons, the number of hybrids being purchased is declining.  I find this disheartening.  I had assumed that as the popularity of hybrids increase, the costs would drop for these vehicles.  There would be more hybrid options, and they would become more main stream, thus reducing our dependency on gasoline as a nation.   It doesn’t look like this is what is happening.  Hopefully, automobile makers will continue to inject some ingenuity in car design to make even further advancements in fuel efficiency to help the average consumer like me.

* Photo from Toyota’s website

Adventures in Potty Training

My son will be 3 in less than 2 months, and ever since his second birthday I have been excited to move him from diapers to underwear.  Obviously, I have been more excited than he is.  Everyone’s advice to me was to wait until he was ready to move out of diapers.  It will be so much easier than forcing him to potty train, so for 10 long months, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for a sign that he was done with diapers.  In the end, I have discovered that despite how easy people make it sound, potty training can still challenging and time-consuming.  Here is my experience.

Be forewarned…there will be discussion of pee and poop ahead.

This adventure all started with the purchase of a potty seat.  My mom had given us a little kid’s potty that played music when pee hit these nodes at the bottom of the bowl.  We wondered if it would motivate Gavin to pee on the potty to hear the music or the scare the crap out of him (no pun intended).  We didn’t wait to find it.  The stupid manufacturers put a button underneath the potty that played the music when you pushed it.  Of course, that potty was always flipped over so that Gavin could have access to that button.  Steve also had a good point with the portable potty…one benefit of moving out of diapers was to reduce the mess we had to clean up.  With a potty, the mess was just in a different place.  One day while I was at Target, I bought a potty seat and the portable potty disappeared from our living room into our basement.

Gavin was very excited about the potty seat and loved to sit on it.  We couldn’t get him off of it.  Of course, we encouraged him to use it by bringing the iPad in the bathroom and letting him watch videos.  It seemed like a great idea until we realized, he was only interested in being in the bathroom to watch videos.  We stopped bringing in the iPad and guess who didn’t want to spend any time on the potty?

We waited for a couple of months until he was older and one day we caught him getting ready to poop.  We grabbed him, threw him on the potty and success!  He was excited, we were excited.  I thought – this is the start.  And it was –on and off.  Now that he knew half of what to do, he told us when he had to poop and off to the potty we would go.  This success was a phase.  Despite rewarding him with M&Ms, he would lose interest after a week or 2.  We would go back to diapers until he suddenly  became interested in using the potty again.  I would get excited that maybe this was it only to watch him again lost interest after a week.  It was a vicious cycle but still we remained patient and didn’t push it.

One day, something very exciting happened – he peed while sitting on the potty!  At this point he was old enough to start putting things together and understood what we wanted him to do.  Every time, he sat on the potty, he would pee.  I got excited again thinking that this was it.  We went out and he picked out some underwear, and I repeatedly explained that to wear the underwear, he needed to use the potty every time he had to go to the bathroom.  The underwear lasted maybe a day.  What a disaster.  I concluded that he wasn’t ready and back to diapers we went.  Eventually, I invested in Pull-Ups, thinking that it would be a good transition to underwear.  Another mistake made.  The Pull-Ups were Cars themed, and he loved them and didn’t want to wear anything else. 

Around this time, I started hearing a few stories about people whose kids just didn’t show interest and they had to actually potty train them.  Here I thought potty training was basically not practiced.  You didn’t push your kid but educated them, and they would figure it out.  I started talking about underwear with him again, and he actually asked to wear them one day.  He had an accident about an hour later and immediately asked to wear a diaper.  I obliged him but realized that this was the first time in all experiments with underwear that he seemed upset about the accident.  We tried again the next day with the same result.  Back to diapers we went, but I had made up my mind.  We were going to potty train.  I prepared him extensively for about a week of what was going to happen and got him excited about it.  Starting on a Thursday, he began wearing underpants all day long.  Every 1-1 ½ hours, I would take him to the bathroom.  The first half of the day went well but then he got tired of being taken to the bathroom and started resisting.  I persevered and amply rewarded him.  The next day was more of the same, but by the 3rd day, he stopped resisting and used the bathroom when we told him.

It has been 2 weeks, and I am happy to report that it is working.  He is starting to figure it all out.  He frequently tells us when he has to go.  We still need to make sure he goes regularly so that he doesn’t forget.  Despite a few accidents, he hasn’t once asked to go back to diapers.  I wouldn’t call him fully potty trained yet, but he is doing great.  We are proud of him, and he is proud of himself.  I believe that he was ready, but it still took some work. While we are all excited about his success, I freely admit that potty training is hard.  It takes perseverance, patience and commitment.  It is also time-consuming with all those trips to the bathroom.   So, whenever someone tells you that the transition from diapers to underwear is easy once the kid is ready may not be telling you the whole story.