Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

What’s a Green Bean?

A funny thing happened at the grocery store this weekend.  Our cashier held up a bag of green beans and asked me what they were.  Really?  She may have only been a teenager, but she really didn’t know what green beans were?  I get it, some of those produce items can be more obscure, and it’s understandable that someone may need to ask for help.  For example, how many of you know what what Jicama looks like?  Or the difference between Collards, Kale or Mustard Greens?  Steve and I walked out both thinking the same thing, even Gavin knows what green beans are.   That’s when I realized that I think that I might be doing something right.

Grocery shopping with kids is not always a great experience, especially when your kids are no longer content to sit in the cart and people-watch.  Gavin is 3 now and Skylar is 17 months.  My usual approach is to put Skylar in the top of the cart and throw Gavin in the back.  As we get near the end of the shopping trip, that area gets smaller and smaller with our purchases and understandably, Gavin wants to get out and walk.  I usually let him.  In anticipation that this will happen, I try to plan shopping trips for times of day where there will be less people at the store.  Gavin is starting to listen pretty well and understands that he needs to stay close to me, but the urge to run down that open aisle is sometimes just too much to resist.  I try and keep him occupied by having him help me pick out food to buy.

He is especially excited to help in the produce section.  We buy a lot of fresh produce, especially in the summer months, and Gavin has developed some strong opinions on what we should put in our carts.  He never seems to like my picks for blueberries or bananas, but I have been successful in steering him in the right direction.   In the last couple of shopping trips, he has actually made requests for certain produce.  This past week, he was very upset that we did not buy any grapes, in the starting-to-cry upset kind of way.  It’s because of him that we got the green beans in the first place.  He thought that I forgot to get them.  He was also very particular about which heads of broccoli to bag.  I’ve been using his assistance in my produce selections purely to keep him occupied and close by me.  It’s hard to pick out the perfect potatoes when you have a 3 year old running towards the carrots, but it dawned on me that I’m offering an education of sorts that I never realized. 

He is learning about all the different types of fruits and veggies that are available.  He loves to ask what certain items are and wonders why we aren’t buying them.  Prior to this phase, we used the produce section to practice naming colors.  We also talk about preferences.  For example, it’s ok that Mommy only likes the red grapes, but it’s great that I’ve tried the other colors too. It’s because of Gavin’s curiosity that we bought a broccoflower a few weeks ago.  I do have to be careful because he likes to sample things before they are bought and washed.  A few weeks ago, I bent towards him to hear what he was saying to me and got a huge whiff of cilantro on his breath.  He was snacking on cilantro leaves!  (He also loves basil and mint.)  Most importantly, buying produce is a regular part of our shopping trip, and he is engaged and aware of these purchases on a weekly basis.  He is learning that fruits and vegetables are a standard and expected part of our diets.  Hopefully, these early lessons will not only teach my kids what the different produce items are but that it is the norm to include them in your weekly shopping trips.  Now, if only I could get Skylar to understand that the ear of corn needs to be cooked before she can eat it, everything would be perfect.


Your 1st Pregnancy versus Your 3rd

Last night, I was thinking about how different my viewpoints are on pregnancy now that I am on my 3rd set of 9 months compared to the first time around.  This whole self-reflection was triggered by a blog post and a doctor’s visit.  Yesterday, I had a maternity checkup and when the doctor asked me how I was doing, I told her that I have a lot of round ligament pain now and frequent backaches.  For those of you that don’t know, round ligament pain is a feeling like you’re being stabbed with a knife on your side just above your hips but below your belly  It’s pretty common in pregnancy as the ligaments stretch but have been quite excessive for me this time around.  As for my backaches, my doctor was realistic and said, “I don’t expect you not to carry your kids around.”  She did suggest that I invest in a maternity support belt to help with both issues.

Now what does this conversation have to do with a blog post?  I had just read a blog post written by a woman who is 1 week further along in her first pregnancy than me who bought a maternity belt to help with her own aches and pains.  I don’t scoff at any woman’s pregnancy aches and pains, but I had to chuckle a little bit at this one.  She is very physically active and her baby belly is as small as mine was at 12 weeks.  I can’t believe how tiny she is!  She looks like she’s bloated from eating a Big Mac and large fries for lunch.  How is it possible that she could need a maternity belt?!  That’s when I started remembering how your perspective changes with different pregnancies.

Take morning sickness for example.  In your first pregnancy, you survive morning sickness and think that you get it.  You really understand what morning sickness is all about.  The truth is you have no idea the severity of your suffering because you have nothing to compare it too.  Morning sickness sucks no matter how bad it is, but you may not realize that it really wasn’t that bad until you’ve gone through it a 2nd or even a 3rd time.  How annoying and insensitive is it when a mom can’t show sympathy for someone with morning sickness because she went through it and survived?  Maybe that mom’s experience wasn’t as bad as hers.  It’s hard to really understand the varying degrees of morning sickness until you have felt something different.

Sleep is another great example.  I actually don’t have sympathy for a first time mom who complains about her lack of sleep.  In your first pregnancy, your only sleep interruption is you.  Maybe you have to get up and pee, maybe your uncomfortable, maybe you wake up because you’re hungry, but you never wake up because another baby is crying and screaming for you at 2am.  You never have to start your day at 5:30am because your kid is awake and ready to play.  You never have to wait until you’ve put your child to bed for your own bed time.  You can nap or lie down and rest whenever you want.  I remember in my first pregnancy, I took a nap every day leading up to the arrival of my son.  This time around, I’m terrified that I will be exhausted before those nighttime feedings even start.

Waiting for you baby. Here is where I do have complete sympathy for the first time mom.  Waiting for your first baby can seem like it takes 9 years not 9 months.  The time just cannot go by fast enough until you can hold your baby in your arms.  In this 3rd pregnancy, I would like time to slow down a little bit so I can start preparing for having a new little one.  I felt like I blinked I was starting my 3rd trimester.

Everybody’s pregnancy experience is unique, special and exciting.  I try very hard not to tell a new mom how it’s really going to be because her experience is her own and shouldn’t be tainted by other’s stories.  I can’t help but look back on my own experiences and appreciate how much wiser I feel for having been there done that.  Although, I’m sure something new will pop up that will make feel just as inexperienced as I was the first time around.

The Importance of Sleep

We all know that sleep is important. A restful night’s sleep enables us to perform our best cognitively and physically. It also helps us to maintain a healthier body weight. As every parent knows, sleep is sometimes elusive. We’ve all been there. Those first 3 months of a newborn’s life can make you feel like you’re going to die from lack of sleep. Then teething starts. Your kid gets sick. He has a bad dream. All sorts of scenarios crop up that interrupt your night of sleep, but these scenarios also interrupt your kid’s good night of sleep as well. For babies, that’s ok. They’ll make up for it during the day. For older children, the repercussions are more challenging.

Gavin is going through a transition. Some days, no nap is needed. Other days, it’s required. On the days, that he won’t nap, the result is a lot of crankiness at bed time and difficulty going to sleep and/or staying asleep. On the days that he does nap, the result is an extremely difficult time going to sleep and a very early wake up. On the days we get it wrong and he ends up overtired, he is whiny and has very low impulse control, which translates to lots of time-outs due to hitting, kicking and pushing his sister, throwing toys and talking back. Those nights might also yield a night terror and an eventual request to sleep in our bed. My mom-guilt gets me on these days because I get so frustrated with him, and yet, I know that it is the exhaustion manifesting itself.

I am trying to enforce at least a ½ hour of quiet time at nap time in hopes that maybe if he is tired enough, he’ll fall asleep or just get some rest. The last quiet time he had, after about 20 minutes he called for help. When I got into his room, all of his lights were on, the fan was on high, his books were strewn all over the floor, his closet doors were open, and he had his snow pants on. You can see that it is going well.

As we deal with this transition, I’m trying to find some patience despite my own over-tiredness. I know that these difficult moments will eventually pass. Until then, I’ll celebrate every night of uninterrupted sleep that lasts past 6am – for him and me.

Johnson’s Baby Wash is Toxic for your Baby

The frugal consumer that I am attempts to buy non-perishable items in bulk as much as possible. We are Costco members, and until recently, I have bought my baby wash at Costco. Costco used to sell Aveeno Baby Wash and recently switched to Johnson’s Baby Wash. We decided to give it a try. What an awful mistake that has been!

We’ve been using the product for about a month, and it just clicked that recent skin issues with both of my kids can be linked to the product. Both Gavin and Skylar have keratosis pilaris, which is a very common, no-big-deal, skin condition. We moisturize their skin and ignore it. I’ve noticed that it has gotten really bad with Skylar in the last few weeks and have been a little surprised because it usually improves when the weather gets warmer. Then I noticed that Gavin developed a big patch of dry skin on his side. Next, Skylar has developed a rash on her chest and knees. At her well-check last week, I asked my dr about it. The first thing that he asked me is if I used Johnson’s Baby Wash.

When I said yes, he wasn’t surprised. He said that it is the worst product you can use on your little ones. He has seen more skin issues with that baby wash than anything else on the market over the years. The rash is the result of severe dry skin from the baby wash, same with Gavin. I immediately went out and bought our old trusted Aveeno Baby Wash and will not use any J&J product on them ever again.

Even more disturbing is that some of J&J’s baby products, including the Baby Wash “contains the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens.” Apparently, this information isn’t new, and J&J has gone as far as to phase it out of their products in some countries. Guess what. The US isn’t one of them. To get the non-toxic product, you need to but the J&J Natural Baby Wash. J&J’s response to this study’s results is a commitment to phase out these chemicals in the next 2 years. That’s a long time to wait for non-toxic soap.

Am I relieved that Gavin and Skylar’s sensitive skin have flared up in these rashes? Yes! If not, we would still be using carcinogenic soap on them. Stay away from J&J’s baby care products. Despite their fancy slogans and cute baby pictures, J&J is NOT committed to what is best for our children.

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.

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

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.