Saturday, December 20, 2008

"I Have a Conflict"

One of the best ways to manage work / life balance is to learn one simple phrase.

"I have a conflict."

When you are invited to a dinner after work...

"I have a conflict."

When you really need to work through lunch, but you have a questionably important meeting you've been invited to...

"I have a conflict."

When necessary, you can beef it up a bit...

"I'm SO sorry, but I have a conflict."

It works remarkably well in many situations. And it's not lying, just being vague... my conflict is that I have a commitment to spend that time with my son.

Now just don't tell anyone my secret.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dessert to Go, Please

Last night, we took the little man out to a special meal at our favorite restaurant. Our favorite restaurant is a fancy but cozy modern American place where it takes weeks to get a reservation. We had never considered taking the little man, but the last time we ate there the sommelier told us we should definitely bring him next time. He was very adamant - he just said, "make a 5:30 reservation... we've had other kids here." We were a little dubious, but excited, and decided that the weekend after Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to celebrate as a family.

If you couldn't tell already, we really love food. And we really want the little man to love food too. Our plan is to expose him constantly to cooking and eating, and not just any food, but good food. I try to never feed him food that I don't like myself (even if it is all mashed up, the flavor has to be good). We take him out to eat a lot. We give him a spoon and a bowl and a colander to "cook" on the kitchen floor while we cook up above. We set him on the counter when appropriate to watch what we're doing. And we figured this was the ultimate - take him out to a really nice dinner.

While he did have a side of Mott's that we brought as a delay tactic, he tried several yummy things from the restaurant: fresh house-made apple cider, delicious warm crusty french bread, and risotto with leeks and mushrooms and a veal jus. When he got too sick of sitting at the table (after an hour and a half which I think is amazing patience for one so little), I got up with him to go watch the kitchen. When I got tired of holding him, I traded off with the big man, and sat back down to finish my wine (a wonderful pinot noir from Sineann). I requested the bill, and looked longingly at the desserts being served to the table next to us. That was when genius struck. Order dessert to go!!

While our desserts were being packaged up and I was sipping my wine, my two men were invited INTO the kitchen, to watch the action and chat with the chef. They were both in heaven. And the chef invited the little man back "anytime." It was a wonderful night. We plan to do it again... next year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happiest Baby

We read a lot of books prior to our little man's birth. I think one of the most important ones was The Happiest Baby on the Block. I do not recommend rushing out to buy this new - just get it used or borrow it from someone. You need about 20 minutes to read it, but it gives you simple, wonderful tools to help calm your fussy newborn. And they really worked! Even though the little man has not responded to any of these methods for quite some time, I still remember the "Five S's" - shush, sway, suck, swaddle, and side. Yes, I promise that will make sense once you take a look at the book.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stokke High Chair

When it came time to get the little man a high chair, we decided to go with a less traditional choice. We bought him a Stokke Tripp Trapp (shown above), and we've been really happy with it. He sits right at the table like everyone else, and is not off in a corner with his own tray. It's adjustable so that he'll use it for many years (eco-friendly!), and then we can pass it on because it is so well made. With the removeable rail, he was able to start using it before he could really even sit up. And in addition to eating, it's great for art projects and other activities at the table.

We were a little worried about the mess, but even that hasn't been a problem. Yes, he does make a mess, but not anymore than I think he would if he were in a traditional high chair. We also got a couple of these silicone place mats, which really help keep his stuff in one place and are easy to clean up in the sink.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Pregnancy Journal

This is a great book to have during pregnancy. You get a daily update on your baby's development, as well as the things that are happening to you and your body. There are also places to track your thoughts and experiences as you go through your pregnancy.

The Pregnancy Journal: A Day-to-Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy
by A. Christine Harris

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pasta a la Popeye

Orzo is a great first pasta - the little man loves it. I made him this simple pasta dish with it the other night.

Pasta a la Popeye

2 cubes frozen spinach, defrosted/warmed
3 TBS ricotta
1/4 C cooked orzo

Mix together and serve! It was so good I finished what the little man didn't eat! All it really needed to be perfect was garlic...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Birth Plan (or Not)

So when we asked my doctor about a birth plan, she said that in her opinion, a birth plan was like a guaranteed ticket for a c-section. She recommended keeping an open mind, and going with the flow during the birthing process. That is not to say that she recommended we be ignorant or uneducated, rather that we should not have strict expectations about what would happen that day.

In the end, I wrote up some "birth preferences" but used them mainly to make sure that the big man and I talked through the possibilities and what we might do in different situations. We didn't show it to anyone else, and we kept an open mind. For instance, I didn't know what I would decide about the epidural until I'd been in labor for 8-10 hours. And I didn't know that the final deciding factor would be sleep! I went into labor in the late evening and by the time I was seriously considering a epidural, I'd been up all night. I don't do well with lack of sleep. The doctor told me I could take a nap if I got an epidural, I was in! I slept for about 4 hours - right through transition. Nice!

I got some template off the internet and modified it for us. So here in all their glory are my birth preferences (is all this detail TMI?). It's funny to re-read them, as some of them were absolutely followed, and some were pretty unimportant in retrospect. My retrospective comments are in ALL CAPS.

My support
My support person is my husband and I would like him to be present during labor and delivery. IMPORTANT.
I would like to be free to walk around during labor for as long as possible. MEH.
Before any medical interventions, I would like the opportunity to discuss the benefits, risks, alternatives and timing of the medical intervention. IMPORTANT.
Labor Augmentation/Induction
If labor is not progressing, I would like to have the amniotic membrane ruptured before other methods are used to augment labor. DID THIS.
I would prefer to be allowed to try changing position and other natural methods (walking, nipple stimulation) before pitocin is administered. NOPE. WENT STRAIGHT TO PITOCIN.
Anesthesia/Pain Medication
I would like to work with the doctors and nurses to choose what pain relief, if any, I need once my labor has started. IMPORTANT.
If I choose to have an epidural, I would like for it to start with a low dose of medication, which can be increased if I desire. I GOT AN EPIDURAL WHERE I COULD PUSH A BUTTON IF I NEEDED MORE DRUGS. I NEVER PUSHED THE BUTTON.
Unless absolutely necessary, I would like to avoid a Cesarean. SCORE! NO C-SECTION.
If a Cesarean delivery is indicated, I would like to be fully informed and to participate in the decision-making process.
I would like my husband present at all times if our baby requires a Cesarean delivery.
I wish to have an epidural for anesthesia if our baby requires a Cesarean delivery.
If our baby is not in distress, our baby should be given to his father immediately after birth.
Per Dr. Sander's recommendation, I would prefer a small tear to an episotomy, and I would prefer an episotomy to a large tear. DEFINITELY TMI.
I would like the chance to touch our baby's head when it crowns. DID THIS! HOW COOL!
We do not know the sex of the baby. I would like for my husband to be the one who announces it. ALSO SUPER COOL.
I would like to have our baby placed on my stomach/chest immediately after delivery. I WASN'T REALLY WITH IT AT THIS TIME... THEY SHOWED HIM TO ME AND I HELD HIM, WHICH WAS AWESOME.
Immediately After Delivery
I would like to hold our baby while I deliver the placenta and any tissue repairs are made. HUH? I DON'T REALLY REMEMBER THIS PART EITHER.
If our baby must be taken from me to receive medical treatment, my husband or some other person I designate will accompany our baby at all times. YUP - THE BIG MAN WAS WITH THE LITTLE MAN.
I would like to donate the umbilical cord blood if possible. DID THIS.
I would like to see the placenta after it is delivered. SEE ABOVE - THIS WAS THE LAST THING ON MY MIND.
I would like a private room, if available. GOT ONE.
I would like to have our baby 'room in' and be with me at all times, unless I request otherwise. YUP - THIS HAPPENED.
If a normal private room is not available, I would like a suite. THIS WAS SPECIFIC TO OUR HOSPITAL - THE OTHER ALTERNATIVE WAS A SHARED ROOM.
I plan to breastfeed our baby and would like to begin nursing very shortly after birth. DID THIS... PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON THIS LIST.
Unless medically necessary, I do not wish to have any bottles given to our baby (including glucose water or plain water). HE DID NOT GET ANY BOTTLES.
I do not want our baby circumcised. (INSERT STUPID JOKE HERE.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Best Baby Name Book

I'm an engineer, and that is applicable to this recommendation. My hands-down favorite baby name book is The Baby Name Wizard by Laura Wattenberg. The book has popularity trend graphs for every name (appeals to the nerdy engineer in me!), as well as recommendations for sibling names to go with each name. In the back, there are lists of names by genre, such as "Antique Charm," "Brisk and Breezy" and "Bell Tones."

To go with this book, also check out the two related websites for hours of baby name fun:

Name Voyager

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Apricot Porridge

One more recipe that's all my own. The other day when I was pureeing some brown rice for the little man, I realized it reminded me of the porridge I'd seen at Whole Foods earlier in the day. Hmm... porridge... what would make this more porridge-y? Dried apricots! Cinnamon! So here's the recipe.

Cook brown rice as usual
Chop a handful of dried apricots
Place brown rice, apricots, and some cinnamon in food processor
Process until smooth enough for your baby

You could also puree the rice a bit, and then just add small chunks of apricot without pureeing, if your baby is into that sort of thing. The little man LOVES this. It is pretty sweet.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plum and Berry "Crisp"

I was making crisp one night, and realized that it would be super easy to make a "crisp" for the little man. Here's my recipe:

Fruit: Whatever is good at the farmer's market / grocery store, including plums, nectarines, blueberries, peaches, whatever. You need enough to pretty much fill the pan you're going to bake them in.

Oatmeal: Rolled whole oats

Put a layer of oats across the whole bottom of the pan. Cut up and place fruit (skin on) over the oats. If the fruit isn't too juicy, either add some water or cover with foil. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until fruit is cooked and oats have soaked up the fruit juice. Transfer to blender or food processor, add some cinnamon (and/or some nutmeg or cloves) and puree to desired consistency. This makes a great breakfast or "dessert"!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Homemade Baby Food

When it came time to start feeding the little man solid food, we started with Earth's Best Rice Cereal, like basically every other baby I know. After that, it was time to start veggies and fruit. Since we cook pretty much everything from scratch for ourselves, we decided we should treat the little man just the same, and make his food, too. It's actually quite easy (if you are used to cooking).

Our favorite baby cook book, and the one that gave us the basics in a helpful and well-organized manner is Le Petit Apetit by Lisa Barnes. We're still using it, since it has recipes for babies AND toddlers.

In addition to a good cook book, there are a few other essential tools to make your own baby food. You need a blender and/or a food processor, and you need at least two ice cube trays. A steamer is helpful, too, as steaming the veggies and fruit is a great way to cook them. And yes, you should cook more tart fruit such as apples and peaches too make them a little sweeter. I figured that one out the hard way!

When you make the food initially, you process it until it is all the way smooth. As your baby gets older and starts being able to have a little texture, you can leave it more lumpy. Once you've cooked and pureed/smashed to desired texture, you put the food in the ice cube trays and freeze it. The frozen cubes keep in freezer bags for quite a while, and you can put a few cubes in a bowl and microwave them when it's time for baby to eat. You can even mix and match cubes for more interesting meals.

To get the little man used to lots of flavors, we try to give him a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as a little meat. We also use spices in his food (we've been gradually increasing the additional flavors as he gets older).

Here's a (not comprehensive) list of the foods he eats regularly:
  • Bananas (no need to cook - just mash with a fork; they freeze great)
  • Peaches / nectarines (with skin included)
  • Plums (skin included - good for digestion!)
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Apples (no skin - with cinnamon!)
  • Zucchini (with curry and/or chili powder)
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green peas (with butter and curry)
  • Spinach (with nutmeg)
  • Brown rice (sometimes I throw a bay leaf in with the rice)
  • Black beans
  • Poached chicken
I also have a couple of my own "recipes" that I'll post soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Diaper Choices

A while ago (OK ages ago) a reader requested a post on diaper choices. There are TONS of good resources out there, so I won't try to duplicate them. I'll just explain our personal choices, and my view of some of the pros and cons.

We are currently a 100% disposable diaper household. This does cause some eco-guilt among the adults in the house, but we console ourselves slightly by using Seventh Generation.

  • Easy easy easy
  • Can use at day care (our day care required disposable diapers)
  • Rarely if ever leak
  • Not too expensive, especially if you buy using Amazon Subscribe & Save
  • So much waste!!

When the little man was born, we used G-Diapers. These are partially disposable, partially cloth diapers. We liked them, but stopped using them for two main reasons - 1) could not use them at day care, and 2) as he grew older, they tended to leak unless you changed every hour or two. They definitely did not work over night, even with two liners.

  • Much less waste, and all the waste is flushed down the toilet
  • Cute cotton covers looked great with just a t-shirt
  • DO NOT USE the flushing option if you live in an old house or have touchy plumbing (you can just throw out the liners)
  • I suspect that if everyone used G-Diapers, the sewage treatment plant would not be happy, therefore it's probably a sustainable option only if not too many people use it (which is kind of dumb)
  • Initial investment required, and disposable liners only available at certain stores (eg Whole Foods) or online
We have not used cloth yet, but I am definitely considering going to part-time cloth diaper usage. This is an idea I got from my neighbor. It's less intimidating than full-time cloth diaper usage, but still reduces waste. Now that the little man's bowels are more predictable, we could use the cloth during the times he's only likely to pee, or times when we need to change his diaper, but it's only a short time until his bath or something.

I can't really speak to the pros and cons of this since we haven't done it yet. I can say that the initial investment for these is quite high, too, but I believe you'd save money in the long run. Here are some good websites that I will consult before choosing any cloth diapers.
What are your diaper experiences?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Buying a Couch

I know, this isn't a furniture blog. But I've been thinking about my couches a lot lately. They are the couches that the big man and I bought right after graduating from college. One is from Ikea and the other is from Pier One (bet you didn't even know that Pier One made couches, did you?). And they are faded, spat up upon, saggy, and generally in need of replacement. Not to mention that the Ikea one has been detested by one member of our household virtually since the day it was purchased. Even I admit that it doesn't really go with our style anymore.

OK, so we obviously need new couches. But every time I look at all the spit up stains on our current couches, I think, well, maybe we can keep these for just a little while longer. You know, until he gets big enough to stop ruining upholstered furniture. When is that? When he's 18?

So my advice (this IS an advice blog, after all), is BUY NEW COUCHES BEFORE YOU HAVE CHILDREN. Get rid of the Ikea monstrosity. Buy a nice couch while you can enjoy it spit-up-free for a few years. Then when it gets all messed up, at least it's not 15 years old. And you actually can imagine keeping it for a while. And then you can use the spit up (and juice and chocolate milk and dirt and finger paint) stains to justify getting a nice new couch when your little one turns... 12?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Threat Advisory Level

After my first plane trip alone with the little man, I have created my very own Threat Advisory System. This helpful system was inspired by Homeland Security, and similar to our national threat level, the advisory rarely goes below Yellow...

Baby is asleep, or perhaps having a bottle. There is a LOW RISK of loud noises, crying, melt-downs, major squirming.

Baby is currently occupied with a toy, or perhaps looking out the window. There is a GENERAL RISK of loud noises, crying, melt-downs, major squirming.

Baby is starting to squirm, throw toys on the floor, whine in progressively louder tones, and will not accept his pacifier. There is an ELEVATED RISK of loud noises, crying, melt-downs, major squirming.

Baby is only consoled by playing with parental possessions at significant risk of permanent / expensive damage (e.g., sunglasses, cell phone, iPod) or personal injury (e.g., keys, jewelry). There is a HIGH RISK of loud noises, crying, melt-downs, major squirming.

Nothing will pacify baby, leaving parent to consider why did they make this stupid trip in the first place, how can such a sweet creature make cry so loudly for so long, and what is that loud grinding sound? Oh, it's my teeth. There is a SEVERE RISK of loud noises, crying, melt-downs, major squirming.

NOTE: Do not accidentally proceed directly to Code ORANGE by forgetting that your sunglasses are on top of your head, well within arm's reach of any baby who knows his stuff. Once the sunglasses are in the baby's hand, removal removal of said glasses causes immediate escalation to Code RED.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Traveling Alone with a Baby

Two weeks ago, I made my first solo airplane trip with the little man. This is the first of several posts on the things I learned on the trip. Overall, it went really well, and the little man was a little prince nearly the whole way. For the record, he is 10 months old, and not yet walking.

The trickiest part of traveling alone is navigating from the car to the plane, and from the plane to the rental car. Here are some of my tips.
  1. Minimize the large bulky items that you take with you. If you're staying with family or friends, have them borrow a pack n' play, stroller, etc, so that you don't have to lug that with you. If you're staying in a hotel, nearly every hotel will provide you with a crib.
  2. Use curb-side check-in. This is a little tricky with only one driver, so you have to have two car seats. One to check at the curb, and one for the little one to ride in on the way to the parking garage. If you have more than one child, well, I guess I'll have to figure that one out when I get there. This was also nice when we returned to the car on the way home - I didn't have to install the car seat with the little man on my back, or sitting on the front seat getting into stuff he wasn't supposed to.
  3. Use a baby carrier. In #1 above, I recommend leaving the stroller at home*. My ergo baby carrier got us through the airport in a breeze, and you get lots of nice smiles from strangers who like to see a cute little baby riding on your back.
  4. Pack only one wheeled suit case, if you can. I used our bigger-than-the-ones-that-fit-in-the-overhead wheeled suitcase. Then check and see if you can hook your car seat onto the handle of the suitcase somehow. Our Britax Roundabout has a strap near the top that works perfectly for this. I hooked the car seat over the handle of the suitcase, and was able to make it to the rental car bus pretty easily. I didn't even need a Smarte Carte. If you need more than one bag, then you'll probably have to go the Smart Carte route.
  5. I was committed to taking only the diaper bag onto the plane (and checking everything else), so I had to put food, blankie, toys, my wallet, diapers, changing pad, bottles, etc, etc, into the one bag. I packed a little bag of little toys, which were variously successful. Also successful as baby entertainment was the in-flight magazine, the silverware from my lunch, the three people sitting around me who were making faces at the little man from time to time... All back to the Fun for Nothin' concept. You don't need to bring a ton of toys, and you can't if you only want to bring one bag on the plane.
*Note that if you leave the stroller at home, you may have issues using the restroom! I found I had several options (listed in order of preference): 1) Go with the little man still riding on my back, 2) Go in the airplane bathroom, holding him carefully up as high as I could (elastic-waist pants recommended, as the belt buckle was the biggest challenge), 3) get a flight attendant or the nice lady sitting next to you to hold your baby while you go, or 4) put your baby on the floor in the bathroom (ew). I only tried #1 and #2.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Supply Irony

So I think it's ironic that you spend months and months and months worrying about your milk supply, and doing everything you can to keep it as high as possible... but then when you're ready for it to go away, it takes forever!! I just spent the last two weeks aggressively protecting my chest! I was full, in pain, and all lumpy. Why didn't anyone tell me about this?? I went from feeding the little man once a day to not at all, so it's not like I quit cold turkey. I found I had to pump once every day or two. And then, just when I thought it was going to be like this forever, it just stopped. One morning, I woke up, and was back to normal. I had kind of gotten used to that nice bra size, but the three glasses of wine I had last night helped me forget those lost cup sizes. I think I might take an aspirin today just to celebrate.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Forgot One

I forgot one of the REAL reasons to breastfeed.

MUCH less stinky poop.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Fun for Nothin' Ideas

I just found this great blog with lots and lots of free/low cost fun activities for little: No Time for Flashcards. I can't wait to try some of the ideas!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fun for Nothin'

You may have noticed a new link on my side bar... Fun for Nothin'. I was reading my blogs the other day, and came across this much more eloquent version of the same idea I talked about a while ago. The flickr group has even more ideas, and for more ages.

I also really enjoyed this article in Wondertime about parents who take their baby to some fairly remote destinations. On these trips they have a "no toys" rule, both because it would be hard to take toys from a practical point of view, and also because their baby seems perfectly happy to explore the world at hand... even when it doesn't beep or light up.

I think the key is to develop your adult creativity so you can find "toys" anywhere you are, and/or let your baby find their own toys, since they are so curious and creative by nature.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sleep is for the Weak?

I recently heard of a new book by several mommy bloggers called Sleep is for the Weak. I've been thinking about that title a lot lately. But I think they got it a little wrong. I'd call it "Sleep is for the Self-Disciplined, Well-Organized, Worry-Free, Non-TV-Owning, Non-Blogging, Super-Lucky Moms Whose Babies Supposedly Sleep Through the Night." Qualities which I possess none of.

The one night the big man and I had a little getaway without the little man, I STILL WOKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

The one night the little man slept until 6 am in a vaccine-induced sleep-coma, I STILL WOKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. (Why is it that I have to run in and check to make sure he's still alive? Humans beings are known to sleep through the night on a fairly regular basis.)

Every night at 8:30 when I say "tonight I'm going to get to bed early," I STILL STAY UP blogging, watching TV, doing chores, and getting ready for the next day, only to sag into bed 5 minutes before the little man wakes up crying. Then I sometimes want to cry a little, too. But did you see that super-cute picture of the little man that I posted over on my other blog?

Counting the time I was pregnant and getting up to pee every night, I'm at well over a year now without a full night's sleep. And I haven't been in a car accident, or gotten fired at work (actually, I just got a promotion!), or gotten into any major fights with any of my family members, so I guess I'm doing OK. Maybe the succinct answer IS the right one: Sleep IS for the Weak.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The REAL Reasons to Breastfeed

As my time of breastfeeding draws to a close, I've realized there are some very persuasive reasons to breastfeed that they really don't emphasize in breastfeeding books and classes. When we were planning to breastfeed, we had all these lofty reasons to do it... of course it's wonderful for the baby's health, it's great for bonding, reduces food allergies, yadda yadda yadda. But what I really love about breastfeeding is not nearly so noble. First, I love not having billions of bottles and nipples to wash. Next, I love the FREE source of whole nutrition for my baby (have you seen how EXPENSIVE baby formula is??). I also love not having to warm up bottles - breastmilk is always available and at just the right temperature. Another great thing is how easy it is to travel because you have much less equipment to take along. But I think the thing I love the most about breastfeeding is that it is the BEST DIET PLAN EVER. I heard someone on some TV show said that breastfeeding is like having a treadmill strapped to your butt. Well, let's just say I'm down 2 dress sizes from my pre-pregnancy size. And I eat like a pig. Cake? Sure! Donuts? Sure! Gigantic Texas BBQ lunch? I'll be hungry again by 3! All this talk of food has made me hungry. I've got to go get a snack.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Finger Foods - A Partial List

Finger foods that work:
  • Cheerios
  • Gerber Graduates Fruit and Veggie Puffs
  • Homemade mini ciabatta rolls (hard crust, soft crumb - good for teething, as long as baby chews up the chunks he bites off)
  • Baby Mum Mums
  • Shredded cheese (he likes mozzarella)
  • Smallish pieces of sliced bread
  • Teething biscuits (until he started biting off huge chunks and nearly choking)
  • Fruity Booty (the smaller pieces)
Great ideas that my little man thinks are gross:
  • Black beans*
  • Blueberries*
  • Carrots*
  • Avocado*
  • Peas*
  • Shreds of poached chicken
  • Bits of fried egg
  • Any small bits of vegetable from my plate
*He likes these items just fine when they're pureed.

Things I plan to try:
  • Bits of toast with spreads (hummus, avacado, etc)
  • Chunks of watermelon and other fruits
  • Torn up pancakes, muffins, etc
  • Bits of cooked fish
  • Bits of cooked pasta
  • Macaroni and cheese - put it in the fridge, and when it solidifies, cut it into bite-size pieces
  • Little balls of mashed up beans and rice
  • All of the above "gross" items again - I heard it sometimes takes up to seven tries to get a baby to like a new food

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pregnancy Survival Kit

If you're looking for a good gift for someone you know who just found out she is pregnant, these are my recommendations.
  1. The Pregnancy Journal
  2. For her husband: The Baby Owner's Manual
  3. Thank you notes (for all the baby gifts she'll soon start to receive)
  4. A HUGE bottle of Tums, preferably also with a to-go case so they are always at hand
  5. Belly oil (I used this)
  6. A Bella Band (for the awkward time between when your old clothes don't fit and maternity clothes still seem tent-sized)
  7. Dark chocolate (which is definitely good for pregnant moms, if not physically, then mentally)
  8. Good non-alcoholic soda (for moms who will miss their beer/wine/cocktails)
  9. A great baby name book (such as The Baby Name Wizard) and/or a good funny baby name book (any book with 50,000+ names - buy it used)
  10. A good big water bottle (drinking LOTS of water is very important!)
All of these items were much appreciated in my house during my pregnancy. Let me know if I missed your favorite!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Buy Baby Gear on Craigslist

As soon as you get pregnant, you all of a sudden become aware of the gigantic baby product industry. If you're not careful, you'll end up with all manner of "must-have" baby items that will get used maybe three times if you're lucky. So when I get that urge to get my little man something else, I look on craigslist. His swing and his Bumbo were both second-hand purchases. I'm now in the market for a jogging stroller (maybe). And best of all, when you're done with them (even if you only used them three times), you can just give them away, or sell them again on craigslist, and there's no heartache. This process is not only economical, it's also very sustainable.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Favorite "Toys"

Toys do not have to be purchased. Many of my little man's favorite toys are not toys at all. You could go out and buy all the latest and greatest toys, but these have the double advantage of being cheap/free and readily available. Here are some of the best "toys" in our house:
  1. Cereal box
  2. Sippy cup with something rattling inside
  3. Mailing tube
  4. 6-Bottle wine carrier (cardboard)
  5. Water bottle with colored water inside
  6. Water bottle with macaroni inside
  7. The Dishwasher
  8. Remote control
  9. A spoon
  10. A magazine
  11. Empty beer bottle (supervised of course!)
  12. The tupperware cupboard
  13. Easter egg with rice in it (taped shut)
  14. Anything on the coffee table
  15. Those springy door stop things
  16. Pack of cards
  17. A piece of paper
  18. Can of Little Puffs/Gerber graduates finger foods
  19. Empty cardboard box
What does your baby play with?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Best Baby Carrier Ever

The Ergo Baby Carrier is the best baby carrier ever. I can carry my little man with it even when my lower back is out of whack and killing me. Awesome!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Fat Feet!!

So I have a good friend who just told me that she's pregnant for the first time, and it's bringing back many memories of my pregnancy. One of the things she asked me about was the effect of pregnancy on your feet... A very good question.

First of all, you do know that there is a decent chance that your feet will PERMANENTLY grow a half size or more while you're pregnant, right? Yikes! I already wear size 11, so that was not an option. So I set out to prevent foot growth. According to my totally unscientific theory, if you can prevent swelling, you can keep wearing your normal shoes, and therefore keep your feet in their normal shape.

Based on my theory, I followed these FIVE STEPS to prevent swelling:

1. Drink lots of water (keeps your body flushed out and reduces water retention)
2. Wear shoes with good support for your feet (lace-up tennies work)
3. Walk
4. Walk
5. Walk

I found that when I walked EVERY day (usually at least two miles), I felt so much better and my feet were so much less swollen. If I skipped even one day, it was so obvious. As a result, I was a pregnant walking fool. In addition to our daily 2-mile walks, we went for 5-mile walks pretty often on the weekends, including one about a week before my little man was born. We even went for a 1-mile walk while I was in labor (with little stops for contractions). And I am proud to report that my large feet are not even larger following my pregnancy! Clearly proof that my FIVE STEPS work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Clearly, They Grow Up Too Fast

My little man is only 8-1/2 months old, and I already can hardly remember what he was like when he was a little little baby. Therefore, I have made a resolution. I will NEVER say, "I can't wait until he..." WHATEVER IT IS, IT WILL BE HERE TOO SOON! I will enjoy this moment, with all it's challenges, joys, frustrations, and wonder. I can wait.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Excitement of Finger Foods

So do all babies choke when they eat their first non-pureed solid food? When my little man first started with his Little Puffs (rice puffs that dissolve easier than cheerios), there was a decent amount of choking and gagging involved. He'd get a piece of something stuck on the back of his tongue and gag until the item (and probably some other stuff in his stomach) came out. He's getting much better at mashing stuff up with his gums and front teeth now, and I haven't seen him gag in quite a while. However, I am still pretty nervous about finger foods, even though he seems to have a real interest in them.

So did your baby choke and gag when he/she first started finger foods?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Learn Your Baby's Language

This really works: Dunstan Baby Language

I am not kidding. It is SO cool. Get it when your baby is just a few weeks old, and you will be so much less frustrated!! It's totally worth the $40 to have a clue of what your baby needs!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Buy Good Nursing Bras

Buy good nursing bras. For one thing, you have the biggest boobs you'll ever have, so what better time to get a sexy bra? And yes, they do make pretty nursing bras. For another, making a little bit of an investment is a good way to commit to nursing. Maybe that sounds a little weird, but for me, spending a couple hundred dollars on bras is something not to be wasted (for instance by wimping out and weaning early). Finally, I think that my nursing bra shopping trip was the first outing we made after coming home from the hospital. It's a good excuse to get out, since you have to go about a week after your milk comes in so you can be fitted properly. And pretty much any store that sells nursing bras will LOVE to see an adorable newborn come through the door.

P.S. While I still really do want to keep up this blog, the month and half hiatus since my last post does not bode well. We'll see...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Choosing an OB-GYN

I wish I'd known that when you choose your OB-GYN, you're also actually choosing your hospital, too. And hospitals have policies and procedures you need to be aware of when you're making your choice. Things to know about your hospital:
  • Does your baby stay with you at all times? What are their policies on exams, etc? Are they done in your room, or off in a nursery somewhere? Can you go with your baby to these exams?
  • Do they have shared or private recovery rooms?
  • Do you share a nurse with another mom during labor and delivery, or do you have a dedicated nurse?
  • Do you labor and deliver in the same room that you recover in, or a different room?
  • Do they have REALLY GOOD anethesiologists on-site 24/7? (Even if you think you don't want an epidural, you might... and once you decide you want one, you want it NOW!!!!!)
  • Are the hospital's policies consistent with your birth plan, or if you haven't written that up yet/you don't ever plan to write it up, are the hospital's policies consistent with the way you envision the birth to take place?
  • Do they have lactation support onsite? What is their policy on bottle-feeding newborns who are having trouble nursing? What help do they provide to get breastfeeding off to a good start?
  • What is the NICU like (heaven forbid you might need it)?
  • Do they offer classes on birthing, breastfeeding, etc? How much do the classes cost? If they are not offered, what are your alternatives?
  • Do they offer non-traditional birthing or laboring options such as hot tubs, birthing balls, meditation, etc? Do you want that sort of thing?
  • Does your pediatrician have rights at that hospital? Your baby will need to see his or her pediatrician (or a designated alternate) in the hospital for regular new-born check-ups.

The best way to get an answer to these questions, and probably a lot of others I haven't thought of, is to take a tour of the hospital. We knew exactly what to expect after the tour... it was just kind of too late to change hospitals had we wanted to. In the end, we were really happy with the hospital and the services we received, but next time I'm going to ask these questions before settling on my OB-GYN.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Pumping Supplies

I've been pumping at work for five months now, and this is my must-have list of supplies for success.
  1. A good pump (I use the Medela Pump-In-Style Advanced)
  2. Hand towel (I put this on my lap while I'm pumping to keep any stray drops of milk off my pants)
  3. 1-3 sets of extra breast shields (so you don't have to wash them at work, or every single night at home)
  4. Bottles that you can pump into and then send directly to day care the next day (any standard neck bottle will work with the Medela)... I just bring the tops with nipples, so that each bottle is 100% ready to go when I've filled it up.
  5. A little lunch box or cooler with some ice packs, so you don't have to put your milk in the office fridge
  6. Big bright Do Not Enter sign for your door, even if your door locks (and it helps if it's REALLY obvious, so you can relax knowing that the maid or a secretary isn't going to use her universal key to pop into your office at any moment)
  7. And perhaps MOST important: a zip-up, strap-on hands-free thingy (see here), which I thought was the goofiest thing ever when I bought it! However, since it allows me to use my computer while pumping, I'd have to say it's really the key to my success as a pumping-at-work mom! (But isn't that photo on the website the cheesiest thing ever?? I hope I don't look like that!!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Working Mom's Job Satisfaction Index

Based on personal data, I have created a new index. The Working Mom's Job Satisfaction Index is based on data I carefully gathered after night-feedings, early-morning wet beds, late-night blogging, too many chores, working at night, etc, etc, etc. What I have discovered is that there is a direct correlation between my job satisfaction and how much sleep I miss. When I'm well-rested, I realize that work is very satisfying, and that being a good parent has very little to do with whether you work or not. When I'm tired, it feels like the sky is falling. I dream about becoming a stay-at-home mom. I forget stupid stuff. I get behind at work. I worry about whether I'm making the right choices. I make really bad decisions. And yet, here I am blogging instead of sleeping!! I must be over-tired.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let the Baby Sleep!!

We are all subject to bad advice from time to time. We're especially vulnerable when it comes to advice from our doctors. So when our little man's pediatrician said, "Don't let him sleep during the day or he won't sleep at night!" I of course became paranoid about his long newborn naps. In retrospect, what glorious times those were. What I know now that I wish I'd known then was LET THE BABY SLEEP! (Disclaimer: please don't let your baby sleep through important feedings.) All of a sudden, night and day just snapped, and our little man started sleeping more at night and less during the day. No paranoia required.

There were some things we did do that may or may not have made a difference. For instance, we were really careful about making sure his sleeping area was dark and quiet at night and not dark nor quiet during the day. We instituted a bed time routine right away, though it evolved over time (does that count as a routine?). I didn't nurse him to sleep every night (though I did sometimes). There were probably other things, too, but you can read them all in books. We're by no means sleep experts, as our 7 month old is still, well, not an ideal sleeper. But he knows what night is, and he knows what day is, and he is super easy to put to bed. So I wasted all that paranoia when all that was really required was patience.

Please remind of this later when I'm paranoid about something else.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Working Mom Manifesto

The week I started back to work, I came up with my Working Mom Manifesto. It's pretty simple.
  1. I will make my little man feel important.
  2. I will not feel guilty.
Of course, the day after I decided on my Manifesto, I started feeling guilty for not feeling guilty enough. Ironic. Anyway, I've now been back at work for five months, and I'm still sticking to it. I think the key is that I never become complacent, but continually check in with my heart and my gut. I hope I can read this post a few years from now and still feel that I am true to the Manifesto.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This Too Shall Pass

My little man is growing up so fast. And I know it won't stop. Some of the things that are already gone are:
  • Milk comas
  • Wobbly neck
  • Sucking on my finger
  • Hands that won't uncurl
  • Loooong naps
  • The jiggle chair (our way of rocking the little man to sleep on our laps)
  • His soft dark baby hair
  • That little baby cry
  • His 0-3 month footie pjs
  • Swaddling
  • His first little smiles
I'm sure there are many others, both joyful and otherwise. There are things he's doing today that I'll miss next month. Every day is precious.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Papertowl Alternative

Paper towels are incredibly handy when you have a baby, for wiping faces, floors, furniture, hands, counters, etc. etc. However, after going through a lot of rolls of paper towel (I even wrongly accused the maids of using up all of our paper towel before I realized how quickly we were using it), I starting feeling eco-guilty. So when my big man was getting rid of some of his old undershirts, I cut them up into a bunch of smallish squares and put them in a drawer in the kitchen. I think I need to work on the size a little (these are too small, but I think the full size of a paper towel would be too large) but they work great and are easy to just throw in the wash with any other laundry. Woo hoo! Put some gold stars on my tree-hugger chart!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Must Have Baby Items That You Won't Get at a Shower (Part 1)

So there are some good but boring things that you're going to need when the baby arrives. These are not the show-stopper amazingly adorable outfits that fit for two seconds if you're lucky, but rather the unadorable stand-bys that you'll use for months if not years.
  1. Hydrocortisone cream (used for every baby blemish and highly effective)
  2. Aquaphor (petroleum jelly based intense lotion)
  3. Lap pads for on the changing table (reduces the number of messes that end up on the changing table cover)
  4. LOTS of cloth diapers (assuming your baby is a spitter - and BONUS if you get cute embellished ones)
  5. Good baby nail clippers (I like the ones in this kit)
I'm sure I'll think of more but I can't remember right now. Unfortunately you can't put sleep on this list. Lack of sleep makes you so forgetful.


Medical Interventions

At one of our birthing classes, the teacher told us to remember this list of intervention questions, so that when medical procedures or medications were suggested during labor, we could make well-informed choices. I've thought about this list a lot since then, because it really applies just about every time you talk to a doctor.
  1. Is this an emergency?
  2. What is the procedure / recommendation?
  3. Why is it suggested?
  4. What are the alternatives?
  5. How could this affect me (or my baby)?
  6. Can I think it over?
Now if I could just remember to actually ask them!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Breastfeeding and TV

When I was a really new mom, I worried about whether it was bad to watch TV while breastfeeding my baby. The experts said that breastfeeding is a joyful time for bonding with your new one and that you should spend the time looking lovingly into your baby's eyes.

Well, 1) newborns look at your booby, not your eyes, while they're eating, 2) they're usually half asleep, and ignore the rest of the world, and 3) you're NOT going to have much time to watch TV once they get a little bigger. So now that I'm wishing I could catch up on my DVR while bfing, I'm instead trying to get my squirming 7-month-old to pay attention to eating for JUST A FEW MORE SECONDS, and TV is totally out of the question. I wish I'd just watched TV (which I did) and appreciated it (which I didn't).