December 6, 2012

Siblings Class at the Hospital

waiting in the lobby for class to begin!

I first heard about this from a friend who's hospital offered this class, so I asked my OB if ours did. The date it was offered at our hospital didn't work for both hubby and I to attend, so we found one (looking online) at another local hospital we could attend.

I think this was more for parents than kids, but for an hour or so of our lives, it was worth it. M brought his own baby doll (the one that my dad balked at me buying for him when hubby and I found out we were pregnant).

We started with a tour of the maternity ward - got to see some brand new babies through the glass getting their first baths. The instructor talked about how this would be where mommy would come have her baby.

holding a shirt for his baby
Then we walked to the classroom to watch a video, Silly Siblings (got some giggles from the kiddos)

Some of the highlights were:
- baby will enjoy watching you dance
- you can help with the baby (bring things to mommy or daddy, bathe)
- babies only drink mommy's milk, or formula (this got some "ew's" at the breastfeeding scenes)
- babies cry - a lot
- feelings (briefly) and what you might do (safely) to express them

Then the kids got to take items out of a diaper bag and talk about what they were called and what they were used for (wash cloth, nose bulb, diaper, baby wash, clothing, teething toy, rattle).

They got to practice holding a baby (sitting, with crossed legs, pillow in lap, mommy brings baby to you, use gentle touches). She pointed out how heavy the baby was (demonstrated with a weighted doll)

taking off a diaper

The kids also got to practice helping with the bath for their babies.

The instructor pointed out that us parents should cut our kids a good amount of slack in the first while after baby is born. She equated it to getting a new Sister Wife (you know, like the TV show?), and having her wear your clothes and use your kitchen - how would you feel at first?
- don't expect a kid under 5 to behave and reason like a 7 or 8 year old
- don't always resort to time out for minor infractions or as a first reaction
- greet your older child first (and without the baby) in the hospital when s/he comes to visit, and when you get home from places. This goes for visits from grandma and grandpa - and others - too. Even though the excitement is around the baby, greeting the older child until their attention wears out won't really take long. Then see the baby.

- keep a few small toys, wrapped, on hand in case a guest brings something for the baby, but forgets something for the older sibling (they are too young to really appreciate why this is)

holding the real-weight, real-sized baby,
while sitting cross-legged, with a pillow...
 supporting her head (sort of)

- get something for the older sibling as a gift from the baby on the first visit to the hospital

- Expect some regression - potty habits, wanting to use a bottle, asking to nurse. These will all be short lived, especially if you don't make too big of a deal about it.
- Learn to talk to your kids so they know what they expect, and you don't have to be threatening.
- She recommended reading the book, Siblings Without Rivalry. Its on our wish list!!

- Also, the 'new' thing is to care for the umbilical stump by keeping it clean and dry, and not by rubbing it with alcohol (which is what they told us to do for our son, two and a half years ago).

December 1, 2012

Must Haves for Baby #2

So I admit, I am writing this post more for me than you :). It's crunch time and I am starting to nest, and I want to make sure I am thinking of everything I need to have on hand for Baby Sister, but of course, I have much less time to daydream about (er, obsess over) than I did with my firstborn! Please let me know if I have included anything ridiculous, or left out anything obvious!!

Baby Tracker - we used this pretty religiously for the first 2-3 months until we got our rhythm.
disposable diapers and wipes (if you plan to use them),
new nipples for your bottles
storage baggies for breast milk
replacement parts for your breast pump (new tubing? any other parts that need replacement... you may have to contact the manufacturer for this one)
baby wash and lotion and cream (especially if you have favorite brands by now)
nursing bras (I wore my old ones out - I wore them through the second half of pregnancy and for a year of nursing. I figure with what I saved on formula and replacing regular bras during that time, it's totally justified.)

All their own.
-Get another of anything you had monogrammed or personalized for your first child (that you actually liked/used). For us, we love these handy bottle/cup labels for daycare, so we'll be getting more for baby #2.
-Also in this category are loveys that won't be passed down, and maybe even 'coming home outfits' (depending on if you are in the camp that 'each child should have their own' or the 'my kids will wear the same dressing gown my great great grandfather wore'). For us, this also includes a new kids Nalgene bottle, since we feel our son is pretty attached to his. Oh- I guess this also includes the growth chart I hand painted for M. Now to brainstorm design ideas for Baby Sister... And a hamper.... and a trash can to replace the diaper genie... (I guess as I keep moving things from M's room to Baby Sister's I will add more here, too)

The 'other' gender gear -  do you need to shift from blue to pink (we do!)?
- Luckily our main gear (car seat, stroller, bedding, most blankets) is gender neutral, but if yours aren't you can buy or make covers for these things, or trade in your versions for a discount on something more fitting.
- clothing. I think people tend to like to gift clothing for cute little babies, so its probably best not to spend a lot of time adding what you think you might like here, because people will likely give you whatever they want, anyway. If you are IN LOVE with something jot it down, of course. However, in case I am wrong, and no one gives you a single stitch of clothing, make sure you have a few plain white onesies on hand. Or keep your daughter in her brother's clothes, but wrapped in a pink receiving blanket at all times (this is our plan, anyway).
- cloth diapers. We used cloth diapers with our son, so of course we have zero pink diapers in our 'stash' as they say. I think I'd like at least one or two... :)

You wish you had more ___
... and just never bothered to get it. Now's the time to build in convenience, and since you don't have to invest in ALL new baby gear, you may as well splurge on a few backups to make your life easier. For us, we loved our newborn swaddle, but only had one of them, so I think we'll get a second this time. Also, it will be nice to have a few more hooded baby towels (for some reason we have a plethora of washcloths, but never enough towels! And for now, we are still using the ones we can find with the toddler). Also this means a second camera for the baby monitor. Though I have a friend talking me into replacing the whole monitor with webcams. We'll see how she likes hers first...

Cool, New and Improved.
Anything that is the new, cool must have since your last kid was born. Or a splurge you didn't get with the first baby. I will say I am willing to shell out for a good, fast, forehead or behind-the-ear thermometer. Because, I admit: I never actually personally took my kid's temperature rectally - and I really really really don't want to. Also my friend is telling me these rock n play things are where it's at these days... but I am skeptical.

Some suggestions from our readers:
- The rock n play got several thumbs up, especially for fussy/colicy babies (who need to be slightly inclined), or those with medical issues. I guess we'll see if Baby Girl is as 'textbook' as her brother.
- The Go Pod (available in other colors, though I do like orange...) for a quick thing to pack up and take to the beach or a friend's house (I can see this being less intimidating than an entire exersaucer!)
- If you don't already have a good baby carrier, the ErgoBaby is recommended (and comes in many color and fabric options). We do have one-and love it, too! We haven't tried it on anything smaller than a 1 year old, though. I will report back first hand :)

Double stroller? I am not sure if we need this or not... feedback? If we do need one - what kind?! Hubby and I are very divided.
Reader feedback - the Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon as an alternative to a double stroller.

This is all I can think of for now. Y'know, before Baby Sister actually arrives. I may be totally off - and I'll update this post a few weeks after she arrives, if so :)

Oh - and if you are like a dear friend of mine, and this is your second kid but you adopted an older one the first go round, you can consult my other post about baby registry 'must haves' to cover the basics.

Please leave any feedback/comments!! Thanks!!!

November 26, 2012

Reusable Squeeze Pouch Review!!

The cute Squooshi packaging
(and my anxious toddler's hands!)
My 2 year old loves puree pouches. We use them sparingly for a few reasons, though. 1 - they seem to make him 'go', 2 - they are a lot of packaging waste for a quick shot of snack. To solve problem #2 I started looking around for some reusable pouch options and came across two: The Sili Squeeze (with Eeeze model) and Squooshi!

I decided to try them both at the same time, and do a head-to-head comparison:

The two items arrived on my doorstep just a day apart from each other, the Sili first. My son seemed to know what to do with it (since the nipple is very bottle like) but lit up when I told him that we would put 'applesauce' in it (his term for all flavor combos of purees... and sometimes even yogurt). I had perused the websites of both companies, and was excited to see that Squooshi had a blog that, though new, had several recipes (upon further research, I see that Sili's website has some recipes, too). So the next morning, I grabbed the un-carved pumpkin from our front porch from Halloween and blended it with apples and spinach to make our first toddler puree, filled our 'citrus'-colored Sili and we headed to the playground, with the toddler begging to eat the applesauce along the way.

As soon as we set foot on the playground he inhaled the pumpkin puree. He did need some help getting the last bit out of the pouch, but he often does with even the disposable models. The rubber on this is very pliable and allows you to get almost everything out. I was quite pleased with our first experiment. My husband did point out that the orange color we got + the green-hued filling made the pouch appear brown, which was a slight turnoff (light-colored fillings we've tried don't seem to have this issue). I read online further that we could also put the next day's oatmeal in the pouch, since we were getting up early for an hour drive to spend the day with Thomas the Train. I hadn't thought of oatmeal in a pouch!

Squooshi smoothie for breakfast!
When we got home, our Squooshi package was on the front porch! I admit, the packaging is rather nice to receive (to keep in mind for gift-giving) with a modern white box, and a little linen drawstring bag inside that holds the pouches and caps. My son instantly recognized what the pouches were and wanted to hold them. He was giddy with the cute animal designs, too. The package contained 4 pouches, 2- 4.5 oz pouches and 2-3.5 oz pouches, with 4 total different animal designs (lion, bird, panda, and walrus). I got to work again on a fruit-yogurt combo from the Squooshi recipe card that came with the pouches, and put them in the freezer.

Sili at the playground!
We forgot to pack a frozen smoothie or oatmeal for our trip the next day (I was especially sad, given the county-fair-like food options at our train event - this would have provided a much better option), but we did have some for an after-nap snack when we got home! I found the Squooshi's easy to give a quick scrub with the bottle brush, but there were a few more nooks and crannies in the Sili, so we wanted to run it through the dishwasher (which is allowed). Drying the Squooshi was a bit tougher, but I wedged the green cap in the zip-lock-like opening to allow some airflow, and later put some freshly washed ones on the dishwasher tines as the other dishes were drying. If you keep a bottle drying rack on your counter, this would be another convenient place to dry these. All options worked just fine.

Every day this week, I packed a frozen banana-strawberry-orange-Greek yogurt - kids' echinacea smoothie  in M's lunch - replacing his usual yogurt!

- Ease to Fill: at first I was frustrated with spooning smoothies into both models, until I realized I could just pour our concoctions right from the blending cup. The threads on the Squooshi tend to catch a little more, but its not a deal-breaker - just wipe before you zip it up.

squooshi smoothie as a snack at the kids' museum!
- Ease to Wash: The Sili Squeeze can go in the dishwasher after disassembling, but the Squooshi is an easy rinse and once-over with a soapy bottle brush. We do a pretty even mix of both for our regular dishes, so neither is more or less convenient. You do have to reassemble the Sili before using it again (much like a baby bottle- put the collar on the pouch before filling!! I did find that out the hard way!), whereas the Squooshi is ready to go.

- Fit and function in little hands: M needed zero help and zero instructions to break into the Squooshi. This may be a drawback if you rely on your kid having to wait for your permission before starting in on a squeeze pouch (we know the imminent dangers), but in our case, we find this a positive. On the other hand, the M tried to take off and put on the cap of the Sili and had an explosion in the car one day. It does take some firm pressure to snap the cap on, and to a toddler this can also mean getting a grip on the base while you do so... and spilling the contents.

- Price: One 4oz Sili is $7.99. A 4-pack of 4.5 oz. Squooshis are $19.99. For the price, you certainly get more of the Squooshi's. However, the Sili's certainly seem a little more substantial (not sure if that also means they will last longer?). I've only been test-driving for a little over a week, so I can't say how long I think the Squooshi's will hold up (Our Panda seems to currently be missing already... and I hope that since it looks so much like the store-bought versions, that it didn't get tossed in the trash at school?).

- Sizes: The Squooshi comes in 3.5 and 4.5 oz sizes. The Sili comes in 4 oz and 6 oz sizes. For our two-year-old, the 4 and 4.5 oz sizes seem to be perfect. We may enjoy the 3.5 oz more when Baby Sister arrives? Or the 6oz for older kids or grownups?

a look at the inside of the Squooshi (from the bottom)
- Durability with Toddler & Likelihood to Explode/Leak: the toddler was more than happy to help me test here - and I didn't even have to ask! He squeezed the Squooshi while I filled another and promptly dropped it on the floor, and later anxiously massaged it in the car waiting for the green light to eat it. He twirled the Sili by the string that held the cap to the bottle... and then promptly flung it by accident. Everything stayed in tact. Nothing leaded.  No leaks or holes.

- Options:  Squooshi's work with the Boon Spoon, in the same way store-bought squeezes do. In fact, they will soon be releasing their own version. The Squooshis currently come in 4 cute animal designs - two for each size. The Sili offers two nipple types for their pouches - one with a star "no spill" tip, and one "with eeze" tip which is more like the store versions, and easier for kids to figure out. The newly redesigned cap keeps either from leaking into the cap. Both sizes of the Sili come in 4 colors: Red, Orange, Blue, and Green.

I am excited to soon test out some other more grown up ideas for squeeze pouch fillings including mashed potato-veggie and sweet potato combos and oatmeal!!

** note: Squooshi supplied their product for our family at no cost, but requested honest feedback on our experience. Keep an eye out on Facebook for a giveaway where you can get a set for free, too! **

*** giveaway is now closed ***

November 8, 2012

Grown up songs for kids!

Not sure about you, but my toddler has recently gone through a cling-to-Mommy phase, and he likes to suck his thumb and hold my hand. And about the millionth time I heard him whine, "I want to hold your hand, Mommy" I couldn't help but break out the Beatles tune. And he seemed slightly annoyed, "That not a song!"

Whoa: how am I letting this happen? Some of my happiest memories are of singing along with my parents in the car to their music - and to this day there are certain songs that just (happily) remind me of one parent or another. My mom seemed to only have two tapes in her car - kids songs and the Beach Boys greatest hits. My dad was definitely a classic rocker, and would - annoyingly- rewind songs so that I could be clear on the exact lyrics (and when I was older, give me some of the 'hidden' meaning behind them). But now I really love all kinds of music - thanks to them.

So I broke out the iPad and found a video of the Beatles big break into rock n roll, and then we were on a mission to find more songs that were fun for both of us.

This morning (a few weeks later) when he asked again, "I want to hold your hand," I replied with, "And when I..." He responded, "touch you, I be happy..." This made me happy, and a little teary (I am sure some pregnancy hormones are at play) that I was getting to pass along a little family tradition.

So below is a list of songs that I think both parents and kids can enjoy and find fun. Maybe I will put them all on a CD for the car (to replace "Wheels on the Bus" for the millionth time), or just to have handy to hit up YouTube while we wait in the doctor's office (there are some kid friendly videos to go along with many of these, too!)

I want to hold your hand - the Beatles
Octopus' Garden - the Beatles
Yellow Submarine - the Beatles
At the Zoo - Simon and Garfunkel
Me and Julio - Paul Simon (the Sesame Street performance is cute, too)
ABC -  Jackson 5
Rockin Robin - Jackson 5
Wild Thing -  The Troggs (because we have a little Max at our house)
She Drives Me Crazy - Fine Young Canibals
Dance, Sister, Dance (Baila Mi Hermana) -Santana (get some Spanish lessons in, too!)
Puff the Magic Dragon - Peter, Paul, and Mary

Other suggestions-

Curious George Soundtrack - Jack Johnson
Cheeseburger in Paradise - Jimmy Buffett
Your Personal Penguin - Davy Jones
Mocking Bird - Carly Simon & James Taylor
Happy Face - Destiny's Child
Father and Daugther - Paul Simon
Camp Grenada - ?
Johnny Cash children's songs
Not for Kids Only - Jerry Garcia and David Grisman
Bob Marley
If I had a Million Dollars - Barenaked Ladies
Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da - The Beatles
Take me Home, Country Road -?
Kiss Me - Sixpence None the Richer
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen (the Muppets on this YouTube!)
Somebody to Love - Queen
Penney Lane - The Beatles
Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
We will Rock you - Queen
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
Don't Worry be Happy - Bobby McFerrin
One way or Another - Blondie
Jump - Van Halen
Another One Bites the Dust - Queen
They Might Be Giants (adult and kids's albums - Here Come the ABC's, 123's ,Science or No!)

September 28, 2012

Toddler Travel Checklist

Are you going on a trip with a toddler any time soon?

If so, here is our checklist that makes us at least feel prepared and get to our destination pretty successfully (which means we can actually enjoy said destination!).

And we have used ALL of the items listed below for the reasons listed below... I am not just being a worrywart!

Travel - Airport/Flight/Car Trip -

Snacks. Bring your sippy cup for filling with water once through security, and refill it whenever possible. Flights are long, and you never know when you will get delayed or hit traffic on the road.
Also pack favorite snacks. For us that means cheese, fig newtons, goldfish, raisins/dried fruit, PBJs (still taste good smushed). Throw in an apple or other hearty (as in you won't find it smushed at the bottom of the bag later) whole fruit/vegetable for good measure (apples, baggie of grapes or melon chunks, carrots, snap peas). Pack twice as many as you think you'll need because you may get delayed, or hungry yourself, or they may just be the thing that keeps your toddler from melting down. We often enjoy Delta's fruit and cheese plate... but you may not want to wait - or pay - for it. Consider milk boxes because milk on a plane or in an airport, or even at your destination, may be scarce, and these don't have to be refrigerated.

Toys. Bring the iPad if you have it, and preload it with some of your toddlers favorite videos, games and apps if you can. Spring for the internet on the plane if its a long flight, and watch YouTube videos. Pack toddler headphones if you have them, too. Not everyone loves Elmo for the 18th time.
Play doh - my son got some mini cans of play doh as birthday favors and valentines. They are the only play doh we own, and works pretty well on an airplane tray. You could also make your own and pack it in a sandwich baggie.
Toys with few parts - pick some of your kids favorites that are small enough to be packed in a diaper bag/carry on and have few parts so you don't lose them or spend a lot of time fixing them. Polly pockets are out. Travel magna doodles are in (I think my mom us got a much less fancy version for my son's Easter basket from a dollar store and it has been a fantastic toy for travel and restaurants for over almost a year!).
Restaurant crayon pack and coloring book - you know that 4-pack of crayons you get every time you go to your favorite restaurant? Save a couple of them (my husband is cringing) and throw one in your travel bag. You won't care if you lose them and your toddler won't care that there's not a full 8 or 64. Throw in a coloring book for good measure if you have it. If not, a pad of paper, or use in flight napkins if you have to. Coloring is a 'together' activity!
Other books - besides regular entertainment, books are handy to have to protect nap routines in-flight AND to have at your destination for bedtime, too.
Cars or the like - for hours of driving around airports, rest stops, gas stations, grandma's, on armrests, practicing colors. I hear girls like playing with cars, too, right?
A new Toy - or book. Some people even wrap them. But something novel always cheers up a little one. Doesn't have to be big or flashy or expensive. Just different from the regular stuff he plays with.

Blanket - planes are chilly! Plus a blanket can cover a dirty floor for your little one to get some tummy time. Or it can be a sunshade on the plan or in the car. Or it can be another toy. Our plane was delayed HOURS on our last trip but our toddler thought it was fun to lay across some seats at our terminal and cover himself up and then 'wake up' over and over. We like an Aden & Anais because its big, but packs small and is plenty warm.

Clothes I dress myself and the toddler in convertible pants (the kind that can roll up and be buttoned there) because it can be hot in the airport and cold on the plane/car, etc. Pack at least two changes of clothes for the kid, and at least one for yourself. $h!t happens.

Diapers - 'cause of all that water you've been offering. And you will need more than usual because things just happen... but also because you'll change one last diaper before strapping the kid back in the carseat, or boarding the plane, which will be 5 minutes before they decide to poo... and again... you never know about delays or traffic. We use cloth, but we always carry at least one disposable on top of double the diapers we would normally go through in the same amount of time. AND WIPES. FOR EVERYTHING. Hand sanitizer, too.

Your child's suitcase - We usually bring our son's suitcase as one of our carry on's for the plane. Our luggage has been lost recently, and we think its most important to have his stuff in that event. Also, its handy in case you thought my diaper and clothing estimates were over the top, to have more wardrobe and diapers to fall back on. :)

Trunki - Also fun for a toddler to scoot around in the airport or at Grandma's. Ours only comes out for traveling, so it's a novelty. And we stuff all the toys and the blanket listed above in it! (trunki at Amazon)

Destination -
Diapers. If you are packing cloth, check with your host ahead of time to see if they mind you using their washer for diapers. They will likely let you, but at least this gives them time to adjust to the idea, if they may privately be thinking, "EW!". Bring your own detergent (I stock up on freebie samples when I make my diaper purchases and pack them just for trips) because its polite, and because they may not have the cloth-diaper-friendly variety.
If you are using disposables (because you won't be able to wash at a hotel, or because you use disposables all the time :) ), consider mailing a box to your destination ahead of time (or ask grandma buy some for you and have them ready), so you dont' have to pack this on the plane or car. And make sure the box contains more than you would usually use... because of Murphy's law. Don't depend on buying some when you get there because who knows when your first opportunity to get to the store will actually be. And you will have used all of your travel stash while traveling. Promise.

Clothes. Suitable for your destination. Will you need a swimsuit (and swim diapers)? Will you need pants? Shorts? A coat and hat? Dress clothes? Special colors for a family portrait? Should you pack that outfit so-and-so gave you that you really never let him wear but she would love to see Junior in? Don't forget socks and suitable shoes.

Toiletries. Toothbrush and toddler toothpaste. The others stuff can probably be subbed in a pinch, but just for completenes: baby wash, lotion, diaper cream, other ointments... and our mini-first aid kit of a thermometer, tylenol, bandaids, and neosporin. Maybe you need vitamins or some other prescription, too?

SUNSCREEN. enough said.

Pack n Play. If you a driving, you may have room for this in the car, but you may also check to see if your host has one or can borrow one for you to use (if your little one still fits in one... ours is too big for our mini-crib, so we are going to try a camping mat -that we already own- in a few weeks... fingers crossed)

Stroller or baby carrier. If you think you'll be out and about a lot. The stroller can be handy for naps on the go... we usually only get an hour tops (and we prefer more like 2 hrs) but its better than nothing if you really can't be home in a bed. A carrier is good for long walks or crowds.

Booster seat. If your child needs one. Grandma keeps one at her house and offers to bring it if we meet at an alternate destination. Just ask your host.

Potty Chair.We are just now starting a potty routine and I don't want to mess it up, so I purchased this travel potty seat recently to test out this weekend... I'll let you know how it goes.

Cups and cutlery. If you are visiting a place that doesn't have kids living there.

Other things to keep in mind:
Try to stay on schedule, even/especially if you've changed time zones. We live on the West Coast and our family on the East, so we operate like teenagers when we visit (staying up late and sleeping in). It so easy to let friends and family lure you into letting the little one stay up 'just one more hour'. Or maybe your extended family is like ours and eats late breakfasts, or skips some meals entirely. I personally have trouble with this, but the poor toddler really can't handle it. So I try to be up front about our 'plans' for the day, and ask ahead of time what friends and family have planned, so we can work in naps (and pre-nap energy expenditure) and meals, too.

Did I leave anything out? What are your travel 'must haves'?

September 8, 2012

Review of the BumGenius Elemental

Overall rating: 4/5 stars.
The bumGenius Elemental is our workhorse diaper, mainly because it makes up the bulk of our stash and seems to be one of the easiest to grab, since its all one piece. It's also a pretty good option for grandparents and daycare and husbands, but they all have to have a few tips on getting the right fit (see below).

This is a one-size diaper, which means it will fit your baby from about 10 lbs to 35+ lbs. BumGenius claims a range of 7-35 lbs. I can't speak to the low end, since our guy didn't start wearing cloth until he was three months old and well past 7 lbs. However, he's now 33 lbs, and has plenty of room to grow.

The many combinations for rise and waist settings help get a good fit. Before hitting toddlerhood we were on the highest rise, and I was concerned we would outgrow these, but he has since slimmed down and we are on the medium rise again and still have plenty of snaps on the sides, too. There aren't any gussets, so its key to make sure there is no gaping at the legs. Also, you do have to take care to make sure all the cotton at the legs is rolled inside the diaper or you will get wicking (meaning the wet fabric will touch baby's clothes and get them wet, even if the diaper isn't full). The elastic in the back keeps in what disposables typically wouldn't with an explosion.

This diaper is really trim! Another mom once commented about just how trim they looked in jeans! In all honesty, though, a one-size diaper will be bulkier when your child is on the smaller weight range. The extra fabric that is folded under or otherwise hidden when in the smallest setting does take up space, and for a while we just sized up our little one's pants. But now he is in his regular size and these don't take up any more space than a disposable.

The Elemental does take a while to dry, and I have found that no amount of time in the dryer will really get it all the way dry in the seams where the inner is sewn in. Our general routine is one cycle in our (gas) dryer, and then hung up to dry outside for a day. This does mean they are out of commission until after the obligatory drying period, but this doesn't cramp our routine style, since we have about a day's extra worth of diapers in our rotation.

This diaper comes in a wide range of solid colors (half pastel, lighter colors, and half more vibrant options) and a only a few patterns at this time (but the Albert pattern is worth having in your stash even if you want to just try this diaper).

This isn't the cheapest diaper out there, but its pretty typically priced for an AIO (all-in one) at $24.99. Again, they fit for a solid two years, and my estimate (while there are other things to consider, I use a rule of thumb that a disposable diaper is about 23 cents, and that you would use a cloth diaper about twice a week) is that they pay for themselves in about a year.

Pros - easy (nothing to figure out for dads, grandparents and daycare - most like a disposable)
Cons - take care getting a good fit around leg openings, takes a while to get dry, especially near where the inner is sewn in.

Use for daycare: 4.5/5 - have to have good communication with them about getting the fit right, and the edges rolled in.

Daddy rating: 4/5 stars - "These could be better if they had the velcro of my favorite diaper [TotsBots EasyFit]. I really like the all-in-one part, though."

Front view: unsnapped (highest rise setting)


Front view: medium rise setting
On a 31 lb, 37" tall toddler (24 mos)
On a 31 lb, 37" tall toddler (24 mos)

September 4, 2012

Hot Air ballooning, Pregnant and with a Toddler

So I felt compelled to write this post right away due to the lack of research I was able to find on this subject.

Riding in a balloon basket at Pennypickle's Workshop,
the award-winning Children's Museum in Temecula
We have renewed energy to beef up our 100 Weeks list as baby #2 will join us soon! As a part of a weekend trip to Temecula, CA (partly to celebrate our anniversary, though we didn't taste -much- wine and M joined us) we decided to go hot air ballooning. It seemed like the "other" thing to do in Temecula, if you weren't visiting all the wineries. So we called and made a last minute reservation for the three of us Sunday afternoon for the next morning. But then later that evening, a friend on Facebook asked, "Are you allowed to do that when pregnant?"

getting ready to take off!
we flew with 15 people (including the pilot).
 luckily the basket was compartmentalized,
and our family got a compartment to ourselves. 
Hm. The balloon company never asked (and it was me, a woman, who called). They didn't seem to have any concerns over us bringing the two-year-old along (in fact, they had a toddler aboard the day before, the man said). But better safe to do some Google-ing. Between hubby and I, we came up with post after post that said, "DON'T DO IT". Some, with no reason at all listed, but some said that a rough take off or landing could be dangerous for baby. Some also said the altitude might mean less oxygen for mom and baby. Still others suggested that the stress of being afraid of heights would be detrimental. Some just said that many companies had policies against it. Only one poster said that they'd actually asked their doctor, who said they were fine with it.
watching in fascination as the
 crew sets up the balloon, rocks and sticks
 were also fun to play with while we waited.

But I REALLY didn't want to have to cancel our adventure. So I called the balloon company back and asked if it mattered if I was pregnant. They said, "How pregnant?" About 4 months. "Hm. This is probably a question better asked to your doctor. But we aren't expecting it to be very windy tomorrow, so we don't anticipate very bumpy landings. If it were February or March, we'd say definitely not." OK, thanks for the information. Doubtful I'll hear from my doctor before 6AM tomorrow.

So hubby and I discussed. I am not afraid of heights, and had been ballooning before, so I didn't think stress from that would be an issue. Bumpy landings were less of a risk, given the weather, but we (and the company) were willing to subject our toddler to that already, right? Less oxygen? Hm. Didn't seem like a real risk since they didn't ask if we had any other health conditions... 

So we did it. And while I am NOT a medical professional, nor have I consulted mine about this (yet), here is what I will tell you:

up in the air! with a bunch of other balloons!
With respect to being pregnant, bring snacks and water and a hat. We each had a banana before heading out at 5:45 AM and didn't have another chance to eat until 9AM (we didn't think we should bring our whole bag along for the flight, given the space and exact weight being calculated). Too long for me to go, and I did start to get really tired. You stand the whole time (it was about an hour and fifteen minutes for us) in the basket (except the breaks I took with M) and beforehand while they set up. I declined to wear M, or even pick him up (not that that would have been very safe in the air anyway). We could have easily brought a bottle of water and some Nutragrain bars with us. Actually, we did have a champagne/OJ toast to celebrate the safe flight after we landed (about 8:30). But still, a little OJ over three hours later was cutting it close. The hat is because, while it is sunny up there, you are also really close to the flame throwers that heat the air in the balloon. And they are hot on your head! I guess pregnant or not, another layer between me and that would have been nice. They did actually tell us to bring hats, and everyone had one except me, because I didn't pack one on the trip. So just saying, they are serious about that.

watching the balloon come down after our ride
With respect to bringing a toddler, bring snacks and water and a hat... and a cell phone. Again, guess who else needs to eat frequently and be protected from heat? And gets cranky if they don't have these things? M loved watching the balloon be set up, and the first 20 minutes or so of the ride. He rode in our Ergo carrier with his daddy for takeoff, and for those first few minutes, but then wanted to get down. He sat in the floor of the basket (where it was further from the flames and cooler) and looked out of the foot holes, or flipped through photos on my iPhone. Every now and then, either Daddy or I would squat down and help point out mountains or lakes or trees or other balloons we could see out of the holes. Only twice did he complain that he was "all done". At the advice of our pilot, we didn't put him back in the Ergo for the landing and while it wasn't very bumpy, we did have a bump and he hit his face on the basket, right where there was no padding. A little whining, but fine after a kiss, and no mark.

All-in-all we were happy with our decision!
the traditional post-balloon ride toast (just juice for me and M)

August 27, 2012

Placenta Encapsulation Workshop

Saturday I attended a Placenta Encapsulation workshop, hosted by a local healthy/eco-baby boutique, Granola Babies, but encapsulation services and information were offered by Confident Beginnings.

So, Placenta Encapsulation actually means making your placenta into pills.You request to keep your placenta after giving birth (the hospital will store it for your until you are discharged) and deliver it to this service (or they can pick it up for a fee). The service will then remove the umbilical cord, steam it (with adding only spices - ginger and myrrh), and dehydrate the placenta, pulverize it and fill (vegetable) capsules with the results.

According to Angelique, who gave the workshop, humans are the only mammals that don't eat placentas after birth (although some obviously do). She also said that the placenta contains iron, B6, and protein that can help lift your mood and renew your energy after birth.

Depending on how quickly you can have your placenta released to you (could be as late as 72 hours after discharge if you give birth in a hospital, or as soon as immediately if you deliver at home) Confident Beginnings can have it made into capsules in most cases in 24 hours. Which means you can begin taking them 4-5 days after birth, preventing the onset of "baby blues" that usually settles in around 3 weeks. They also touted to help promote lactation (and are thought to add B6 to mother's milk, too). The capsules come with instructions on how often to take how many for the first few weeks, and then they can be taken as needed, or, according to Angelique, some women are storing any remaining capsules in the freezer in hopes of helping later with menopause.

Encapsulated placenta isn't meant to replace taking a prenatal vitamin after birth (as is often recommended by your doctor), but rather to complement. Angelique estimates that the average placenta makes between 120 and 150 capsules. The service costs $150 ($100 additional for pick up of placenta). Her business partner, who does the encapsulation, is certified to do so, and is also certified to handle food, and is trained in blood borne pathology and infection prevention.

If this is something you are planning, and you are giving birth in a hospital, you may have to be very persistent in your request to keep it, since the normal routine is to discard it, it would be easy for any person involved in the birth to be out of the loop or forget. Angelique suggests bringing a small cooler with you to the hospital, and a Tupperware container and delivering the placenta to them this way, with an ice pack.

She mentioned that this topic was recently on the Dr. Oz show, and his opinion was actually that there wasn't benefit to eating the placenta. Angelique suggests that other ways to try to keep up your energy and ward off baby blues include eating when your baby eats, sleep when they sleep, and limit the number of visitors you have.

I googled around a bit and couldn't find any real scientific studies or papers to support the benefits of eating one's placenta (if you come across one, please share!).

What do I think? Husband is still highly grossed out by the idea, so pretty against it. However, many of the women attending the seminar had experienced baby blues or full on postpartum depression after previous birth and were pretty desperate to avoid it with a current pregnancy. While I can say that I felt that having a newborn was certainly different than anyone could have described to me, and pretty involved and draining at times, I fortunately didn't experience postpartum depression, so I am not the same is at stake for me. And given all that is involved with a newborn (that will be coupled with the toddler we have), I just don't see us taking the time to deliver a placenta to have it processed. I still find the idea to be intriguing. An organ that was so valuable to my baby, that is still intact after birth, seems like a shame to waste...?

What do you think? Did you eat your placenta? Would you?

My first Bluum Box is here!

My first Bluum box arrived on Saturday. It's theme: "Puttin' on the Ritz"
the box. actually, this shipped inside another box that at first glance made me think Netflix.

Bluum is a subscription service that will send a box of 5-6 baby- or mommy-related samples each month. The idea is to discover products you might not otherwise have come across, and they even have options to give a subscription as a gift. A 3-month subscription is $33; 6-months, $60. Bluum is one of a growing number of subscription services where you can surprise yourself with something in the mail each month. At first, this seemed silly (maybe desperate?) to me, but then it started to grow on me! I love getting packages in the mail. Currently the boxes are aimed at babies (or moms of babies) and I have a 2-year old (and baby on the way), so I wonder if I will be able to utilize all the samples coming my way. But we will see. I signed up for a 3-month subscription through Plum District for only $8 (Maybe I'll do another post on Plum District.. I also just booked a 'steal' for a weekend trip to LegoLand in Carlsbad!).

Saturday, 8/25 - My first impressions: the box was smaller than I was expecting. Upon opening, I think there is only one sample I'll really be able to use (Mary Kay mascara - who couldn't use more mascara?). I may gift the eczema cream to a friend. The hair gel (intended for my kid?) might get a try. The soap samples may get thrown in the diaper bag for out and about emergencies (unless I decide the explosion risk is too great). I will use the Prime face product samples. Also the coupon for Wittlebee has piqued my interest again, but I am pretty picky about my kid's wardrobe (we tend to stick with basics from Children's Place), so unless I try for just a month... for the new baby... I'll share the code for $15 off your first order with you, though!!: BLUUM (see photo below).

After the arrival of this, I am thankful my 3-month subscription was on super-sale...

Monday, 8/27 OK - reassessment. I have already used the Amalou PRIME face samples (a scrub and a 'tonic'), and so far they ARE pretty amazing.

I did use the Mary Kay mascara today, just so I could tell you about it. I really like the wand! Even though this is a sample size, I am assuming the full size has the same spiny wand that lets you get the goop right where you want it. And though I have long lashes already, this really gave them extension (more than my usual brand). I also replaced my nearly empty eye makeup remover in my travel bag with the sample they sent.

I also intended to use the HIPpeas hair balm on myself this morning, but I am not much a pomade user, and frankly, I forgot.

I did throw a Caldrea soap sample in the diaper bag for our day trip yesterday, but we didn't have the occasion to use it.

Still no concrete plan for the eczema creme? Maybe good for preventing stretch marks as this belly grows?

August 21, 2012

Transitioning to a Big Kid Bed!

first night in the new bed! reading with Daddy!

As you may now, we have a new addition to our family on the way. So to start making preparations we decided to start testing out the 'big kid bed' concept with our 2-yr-old.

After nap time this past Saturday, we took M into the guest room and asked if he would like to move that big bed into his room to sleep on. He excitedly said yes and climbed up on it and pretended to start sleeping.

Moving the rocking chair into the
guest room to make space.
M carried out another chair, too, to help.

We told him that he would need special big boy sheets for it, and that we could go shopping to pick some out. He agreed, but we had to do some reminding that he couldn't sleep in it as it was, so could he please get up and head downstairs so we could buy sheets. He got distracted by the bin of baby toys I have already squirreled away in that room, and had to stop and say hello to some old favorites (empty water bottle with wine corks was instantly re-appreciated. This was an idea we borrowed from our childcare center! something like this, but without all the stickers - just a simple empty, label-less water bottle bottles with any filling from beans, to beads, to shells, to colored water - whatever you can think of. We have several different ones. Just make sure the lid is on tight or glued shut.). He even found a bunny lovie/blanket that one of my colleagues had knit for him and told me very seriously that it was his (as in, I will NOT be sharing this one) and took it into his room. Even though he hadn't see it in months.

help moving the bed in - high five!

We headed to the little boy bedding aisle of Target and pulled out every option of full-sized sheet sets they had and placed them side by side. We asked which he liked best. Mys husband was pulling for the sports-themed, I was hoping for the rocket ships. But M chose bulldozers/dump trucks. We even got the little matching decorative pillow (a dump truck) and he hugged it while we did the rest if our shopping.

When we got home, he excitedly helped me put the new sheets in the wash. And then helped Daddy move the rocking chair out and the new bed in. Right now, we don't have a bed rail (it and a mattress protector are on their way from Amazon), so the box springs are just on the floor until then. The crib is still in the room, too, for backup.

When the sheets were dry, M helped me put them on and move his stuffed animals over from the crib.

washing the new sheets!

He was giddy pretending to sleep on the bed, and we had to quash the instinct to make repeated running leaps onto it. The bed is for sleeping. Eventually we decided that we needed a break from the bed excitement altogether, because he was thinking it was a little too fun (throwing his stuffed animals, etc.) he cried when we went downstairs to eat dinner ("I want to keep sleeping!").

After dinner we did the normal routine of teeth, shower, and read him his books (Elmo Big Enough for a Bed, included) on his new bed instead of the chair.

After, he laid down on his tummy as usual, but head towards the foot of the bed. We covered him as usual with his blankie, and he didn't move or make a peep. All night long! Success!!

pretending to sleep

Night two he did fall out of the bed (still no rail) but I just picked him up and put him back, and he didn't even notice. Night three he had a random middle of the night cry, but settled down, and somehow ended up with his head at the head of the bed (opposite the way he'd started) by morning. So far so good (fingers crossed). We haven't had any playing or coming out of his room (yet). We did finally break out our baby gate (we hadn't used it since our move!) for the top of the stairs just in case, though. 

He is still very excited about his bed. I'll post back in a couple of weeks and let you know if the going is still good!!!

Eventually we will have to move the changing table out, too and replace it with a real dresser, but, one step at a time!

July 17, 2012

Camping: take two! O'Neill Regional Park

helping assemble the tent
(consequently one of our poles broke this trip...
 i'll have to see if coleman offers replacements...)
This weekend we tried out camping again! (see our Back Yard Camping post)

We went to O'Neill Regional Park, which came recommended by FunOrangeCountyParks blog as one with nice amenities (showers... bathrooms that don't absolutely require hovering...) and she was right on. We had running water at our campsite, and a picnic table and grill tray and plenty of space (could have fit at least  three tents) and some decent pockets of shade to beat the heat.

Overall it was a good trip.
Things started out a little frustrating because the dry rocky soil wouldn’t bite the tent stakes (and was bending them) so hubby was getting frustrated (he did 95% of the assembling)… and M wanted to ‘help’ :)

Then it was pretty darn hot outside the pockets of shade… I wish we would have brought our bikes with us, because we could have gotten farther with much less effort and a breeze to boot! And maybe another toddler nap in the baby seat. We ended up driving back up to the park entrance, after we made camp to play in the playground and at the nature center. I felt so un-eco friendly…

checking out the animals at the nature center.
I actually jumped at the snakes though i knew none of them
was alive. eesh.
We had ended up pitching the tent in a place with receding shade, so the only nap that occurred was the too-short one in the car on our drive in. I tried to rest myself in the tent but it was sweltering… and with the tent stakes being finicky we didn’t get good ventilation on the sides (which was perfectly fine ... after about 6PM)
We packed the new Stomp Rocket (an early birthday gift for the toddler from a friend) and his baseball tee which kept us busy for a bit, too. And I realized we had a water spigot at our campsite, so we filled a bucket and flung water at each other for a little while, and relaxed in our chairs in the shade. That felt pretty good.

commemorating his first s'more
We brought our tailgate grill to cook with (no real fire… :) even though a little ground grill thing, with a grate and everything, was provided at the campsite) and had hot dogs with canned green beans for dinner and a s’more for dessert. We had grabbed a few ketchup and mustard packets from our fast food lunch to take with us. Graham crackers proved to be a favorite snack (even without chocolate and marshmallows), especially paired with the grapes or bananas we had too. We had a picnic table at the campsite. M was a little squirmy in it, but it mostly worked out.

We packed Horizon organic milk juicebox things that don’t have to be refrigerated, and they worked out well. We got the last tiny bag of ice from Target, and it barely kept until we had to leave.

So the sleep thing:
how we ended up waking up...
We were very close to the bathrooms and showers (you’re getting the idea that we didn’t really rough it, right?) so we did the same nightly brush teeth/take a shower routine as usual. We got him in his diaper and PJs and realized we’d forgotten to pack books, but read him a story on the iPad (which we did remember :) ) and laid him down in the pack n play. That went well for exactly ½ second and he stood up and said, “all done!” and “I don’t want to” and got weepy. I kept trying to reason with him about how it was bed time and how he should just lay down and he kept standing and saying no and crying. I laid down next to the crib for a minute but he kept standing and trying to climb out. Every time I tried to lay him down he wailed louder and finally I just did it… and he rolled over intending to get up, but miraculously kept his head down just a few more seconds and I patted his bum and shushed. He sucked his thumb for a minute, and then finally tucked his arms under him and ‘assumed the position’ of sleep. I patted lighter and lighter and then just stayed in the tent until I could see regular even breathing and then snuck out. Felt like an hour… but hubby said it was probably 10-15 minutes and that the noise was no worse than the shrieking kids in the neighboring campsites (the outside noise didn’t really seem to bother M, which was nice, since we could hear not only screaming kids but other adults talking and cars and motorcycles driving by on the main road). Whew.
saying hi to the horses... and the pretty ladies,
 who were pretty tickled with him, too
Since we had no campfire we decided to turn in rather early ourselves (~9) which was good because M woke up around 3. Not totally awake at first, just sort of wimpering and moaning “Mommy” so I wasn’t sure if he was having a dream or what. I finally just said “shhhh… shhhh” and he quieted down again. But 15-20 min later he did it again. This back and forth went on for an hour or so. I finally took him out of the pack n play and put him on the sleeping mat between me and hubby with his blanket. By now our tent was plenty warm and he sucked his thumb and played with my fingers for a bit, but finally rolled to his tummy and was out until his normal 6:30 wake up time.

One of our "walks", stopping to play the drums on the rocks 
He was his usually cheery happy morning self when he got up. He liked rolling around the floor of the tent and snuggling with us. I changed his diaper and put on a hat and jacket, since it was chilly in the morning outside the tent and he was only sleeping in his footie pjs, and morning went on as usual (though we were all beat by nap time when we got home). We made sausage and pancakes and fruit and had coffee (Starbucks Via - instant!)

We tried to take a few walks during our stay but didn't get far from the campsite because sticks and rocks and leaves and bugs were too interesting for M, which was fine. I was glad he enjoyed the outdoors. There was a horse path that ran by the site, too, so we got to see several riders just by staying in one place.
good morning!
We had our Blue Heeler with us, and considering there were dogs at the campsites on either side of us, she was pretty good. She was in a shady spot where the trees blocked most of her view of them and only got riled up when a dog walked by on the main path or some nearby dog barked. Oh, and she slept in the 2 square feet of free space in the tent... with us. Helped keep it warm!

We were there just 24 hours, but I think we are up for doing it again, and for two nights even. A friend of a friend out here is interested in joining us (with her husband and 5-year-old). I think we are probably ready for that given our few tips from this past time.

I say success! :) And I will be looking into the toddler sleeping bag that a friend recommended soon since I think we can do without the pack n play next time.

helping Daddy with dinner
the playground
tent pitched!
helping choose sleeping mats. this was our big addition to this trip... and well worth the splurge! the nice man at REI talked us into 2.5" thick extra large mats because space wasn't an issue and because they were on sale. the mat pictured here probably cost 3x's what the ones we actual got... but kept M occupied while we shopped