Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Learning "No"

When Fiona was about a year old, she was heading towards our cat Pepper's food bowl when my Mom was visiting. My Mom saw this, pulled Fiona away and said, "No, No, No."

Fiona would proceed back to the cat's food bowl, babbling, "No, No, No."

We think she must have thought "No" meant "Cat food."

Today I was trying to teach Paul the meaning of the word, "No."

He was crawling towards my folded laundry attempting to pick up some folded shirts. I would pull him away and say, "No."

He would try again.

I would pull him away again, and say, "No," and then I would give him some socks and say, "Play with socks."

This continued for a while. The third time I told him "No," he looked at me and smiled as if to challenge me. While I admired his determination, he made my job hard.

Finally I put him in his saucer, which I realize he is getting way too big for, but I find convenient, just like his car seat / carrier, which I am still using because he hasn't hit 20 lbs. yet.

He didn't like that at all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Much Food Flinging Ensues

Paul is fast approaching his first birthday. That first year is amazing. One of my favorite aspects of the first year, is the introduction of first foods. I am a foody after all, and I don't like to limit kids to standard kid fare - even as babies.

I was also amazed at how quickly both of my kids wanted to feed themselves with a spoon. I think they were both only about 9 months old when my babies grabbed the spoon from me and attempted to maneuver the spoon to the mouth.

Fiona at least let me help her guide the spoon, but not Paul. He pulls the spoon away from me, resulting in much food flinging. Then he becomes more interested in playing with the spoon than eating.

He seems to be consuming less and less food from the jars, and insists on finger foods.  As a result I have been throwing out more half eaten jars of baby food. I would be OK with just finger foods, except I have jars of baby food to use, and he should learn to eat with a spoon anyway.

I've tried starting out with just half a jar, and giving him the jar before the formula and finger food, and have found a little more success, meaning he'll eat about 75-90% of the half jar, but I still end up throwing out some food. And since he used to consume an entire jar, I'm concerned he's not eating enough.

He seems perfectly content to play with the spoon. I try to take the spoon away and put some food on it, and he will tightly clench the spoon, forcing me to prey it from his little fingers. He will get very irritated, and start wailing. I'll give the spoon back and often he will manage to get the food in his mouth. Other times he just flings it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fairy Dust

Fiona loves playing dress-up with her fairy costumes. She is all about fairies and mermaids right now. She found some Crystal Light powdered pink lemonade mix in our pantry and decided it was "fairy dust."

I can't help but chuckle, and try to remember that this cute phase won't last forever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Beef With Cultural Expectations & Child Care

I read this article at the doctor's office and it really hit a nerve:

Finding Childcare for Sick Kids: A Working Mom's Guide To Sick Kids

Reading this article from Parents, I had remembered why I am so frazzled, and why I had canceled my subscription. Just read this snippet from the article:

Marijean Jaggers cringes when she thinks about the time she strapped her vomiting 4-year-old daughter into the backseat of their car, gave her a towel and a bowl, and then drove 45 minutes to her office to pick up work she had to turn in that day.
Halfway there, she came to her senses, called the office, and asked them to e-mail the files to her at home instead. The message from the boss? "He said I needed to find backup child care when my kids got sick -- and that I should get my 'a-- into work.'"

Yeah, I cringe too. My advice to this woman, after the steam had released from my ears, would be: Get that resume updated. In fact this is the kind of comment from a boss that would urge me to walk - economy be damned. I would figure out the finances somehow. But I'm not like most people and wouldn't recommend someone do that - I'm just trying to illustrate that the Mom's inability to come into work that particular day is not the real problem but rather the boss's inappropriate, unprofessional behavior, and that parents always have options. Sure the options may involve sacrifices, but there are options.

The article's advice to this poor Mom is to provide suggestions for backup childcare. Maybe some will read this and feel the article takes a more realistic approach to the situation than I do. The family needs the money - right? But what message are we giving our kids: that we are so desperate for money that we will bend over backwards and take such abuse from a boss?

The overall point of the article is summed up here:

Sound over the top? Yes. But these women's situations illustrate the lengths working parents must go to when their carefully calibrated child-care arrangements fall apart. Many use all of their resources to get through a typical day and have little flexibility and no Plan B -- no grandparent, friend, or neighbor to step in if a child is ill.

To me, there is a bigger problem here, besides a lack of a plan B, that the article is missing. The problem is, since when have we become a society that places a higher priority on our jobs than our sick kids - shuffling them off to whoever will take them while we tend to more pressing matters at work?

Compounding the problem is that daycares, paranoid about spreading illness, will send a kid home for even a minor ailment, which really leaves me steamed as well. Our employers expect us to be at work when we have the same ailment. How are we preparing our kids for this reality when we send them home from daycare or school with the sniffles?

What the daycares don't seem to realize is that most illnesses are contagious before the symptoms even appear, and by the time the kid has that 100 degree temperature, sending that kid home is too late - the kid probably already spread the ailment. At least the article acknowledges this.

But when a kid is truly seriously ill that kid needs her mother. And if a daycare won't watch the kid for fear of spreading illness, why should we expect our family, friends, and neighbors to expose themselves to that same illness?

One of the suggestions in this article for overcoming this objection is bartering with other Mom's by offering to pick-up kids from school or provide dessert for a child's birthday party. I'm reading this and thinking sarcastically, "Yeah. That's a fair trade."

And, since we live in such work obsessed transient culture, chances are most of our family live out of state or our local family, friends, and neighbors have their own jobs, and aren't available.

Luckily, according to the article, there is sick childcare, which sounds great, except, maybe I'm the sucker who agreed to this, but most of the daycares in my area, require payment even if your kid is sent home sick. Therefore, sending a sick kid to backup childcare, may result in paying for both regular childcare and backup childcare, at least doubling childcare expenses, possibly to the point where that day's wages are eaten up by childcare costs.

For some reason I'm struggling to sum up this post, and I feel a responsibility to tie all of my posts up in a nice pretty bow. Perhaps this comes across as a rant because just yesterday I was called to pick up my sick daughter and just last week I was called to pick up my sick son, and this has become my new normal the past three months.

I guess the best way to summarize this post is to say I feel this article is unintentionally encouraging parents to give the wrong message to our kids, which is:  Our kids are not our first priority, even when they are sick and need us most.

I also feel the article fails to place enough responsibility on the daycares. I would encourage parents to refuse payment to daycares on the days the they refuses to watch their kid - for any reason. I suspect if more parents did this, fewer daycares would send home a kid with a 99 or 100 temperature, which my pediatrician says isn't even technically a fever. Parents should not be expected to pay double-daycare costs - paying the primary daycare for NOT watching their kid AND paying backup daycare - when their kids are sick.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why I Stopped Making Homemade Baby Food

Or at least stopped making homemade baby food daily.

Before my second kid was born, I had all of these ideas of what I would do differently the second time around. One of these ideas, along with nursing baby number two the entire first year as recommended, was that baby number two would never ever consume food from jars. Oh no, homemade baby food was much more superior, being more pure, and less expensive. I am working half the hours I worked when baby number one was, well a baby, and I felt I could manage it. I have a mini-food processor and a Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker - which is awesome BTW - and that was all I needed.

At first I was enthusiastic. And most of the food tasted pretty good. And then, while in theory, making baby food wasn't hard; all I had to do was zap the food in the microwave, dump in the mini food processor and whiz, the task just became one more mundane task.

The idea was that I would make extra ahead of time so that I didn't have to make food every day. That sounded good in theory. In practice I would make baby food on my "days off" which still required me to do one hour of work remotely from home in the morning, run errands and take kids to playgroups.

Life is about priorities. I could have given up the playgroups in exchange for feeding Paul homemade baby food, but I decided Fiona appreciated the playgroups more than Paul appreciated the homemade baby food and therefore, playgroups became my priority.

Maybe making my own homemade baby food saved us a few dollars here and there, but I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends. There were busy mornings where I would have to get breakfast ready for Fiona and myself, nurse Paul, do my remote work from home, and then realized I still had to chop, peel, steam and whiz food for Paul, and feed Paul, before running the kids to playgroup. Sometimes I just wanted to grab a jar of food for him. And that is what I started doing, and the world has not stopped spinning. I will still make homemade baby food occasionally, but only when I feel like it, and he eats a lot of finger food now such as Cheerios and sliced bananas, but I buy mostly baby food in the jar and I'm fine with that.

One thing I still do and highly recommend, is that I usually don't buy baby applesauce. The "natural" or "unsweetened" applesauce is the same thing. Just check the labels to be sure there are no more than three ingredients: apples, water, and ascorbic acid. Ideally the ascorbic acid shouldn't be there, but I checked a jar of Gerber baby applesauce and even that has ascorbic acid so it's OK for your baby. I have a very difficult time finding applesauce that only contains apples and water. Buying unsweetened applesauce in a bigger jar saves a little money over buying baby applesauce, but is no less convenient.

Sometimes us Moms compare ourselves to other Moms, maybe the Moms who make their own baby food and maybe we feel a little inadequate, but maybe those Moms have different priorities, and that's not necessarily good or bad, just different.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nursing Musing - Part 2

As I had mentioned in Part 1 of Nursing Musing, nursing was very difficult with my first child in the beginning, but then nursing seemed to get easier. I never got around to loving pumping however, and when my daughter was 8 1/2 months old I weened her because I got tired of pumping at work.

Nursing my second child was much easier. I still had late milk in the beginning, probably due to having  c-section, and had to supplement with formula for a week. But at least my milk came in on the 4th day instead of the 5th day so it wasn't quite as late.

What I didn't have the second time around were the sore cracked nipples. Nursing didn't take nearly as long either. Where my daughter would nurse 20 minutes on each side, my son was done in half the time, which was convenient since I had a 3 year old to look after. Remembering the time I spent nursing my daughter in the beginning, I wondered how I could possibly nurse my second child at all, but I really wanted to do it.

I learned from my pumping experience the first time around, and created a better system for pumping at work. For some reason, the first time around, I felt I needed to rent a hospital grade breast pump. The thing was huge, and I couldn't bear to lug it around. I kept the thing locked up in my office at night. I rented the pump for 5 months up front since that was the most cost-effective, but when the 5 months were up, I couldn't justify renting the pump for 5 more months or paying by the month, which was part of what caused me to ween. My manual pump was hardly practical for work. The parts of a hospital grade pump are expensive, costing around $40, and therefore I couldn't purchase an extra set of parts and I didn't realize I could buy wipes to clean the parts. I would spend about as much time cleaning the parts as I did pumping.

With my second child I finally realized I was better off buying an electronic breast pump and that is what I did. I splurged on the Medela Freestyle. At least I didn't pay the full $360 price for it, but I still paid like $270 after doing some searching online for discounts. I felt it was worth the extra cost. The thing is a great size, and for my situation worked well. The only downside is that this pump does not accommodate the Pump & Save Breastmilk Storage Bags, which allow one to pump directly into the freezer storage bags. I bought a spare pair of breast pump parts, and wipes for cleaning the parts. This cut down on the time I spent pumping. The fact that my job was a little less demanding - by choice - the second time around also helped.

I saw no reason why I couldn't breastfeed Paul for the entire year, which was my goal. Unfortunately, some health problems, caused me to reluctantly ween him at 10 months. Weening was harder on me than him. He just took right to his learner cup and doesn't even seem to miss nursing. Me on the other hand, I sort of miss the experience.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pulling My Hair Out - Part 2

I'm a little late, but I intended to finish my story about my run-in with lice so here goes...

And another thing, this lice incident ended up being the first of a series of bad incidents, which have made the past 3 months very trying, which is why I am so late with my update. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

I can just picture my Mom now, mortified that I shared this lice experience on the Internet. When I first found out my kid had lice, my first instinct was to keep it to myself; sort of as if my kid had leprosy. But then, we were amazed at the number of people who knew about Fiona's predicament tell us their kids or even they had lice at one time. And these were not dirty people. One of these people was one of my oldest friends, who I have known over a decade, and I had no idea she had lice as a kid.

Nevertheless, Fiona's school would assure me there is no stigma, and at the same time insist she must have gotten lice from playgroup. Fiona's playgroup insisted she got lice from school. For a condition that isn't supposed to have stigma, people were sure eager to point blame, and perpetuate denial.

I concluded Fiona could have gotten lice anywhere and went about my business as if she could have gotten it anywhere. This made me a little on edge. I was paranoid about hats, and her coat touching another kid's coat at school. Finally I did some research.

Let's dispel some myths, shall we?

Lice can fly and jump - Lice do not have wings and their legs are short. The kids' heads must be literally touching for lice to spread. The chance of getting lice from sharing hats is possible, but remote.

To get rid of lice, you must vacuum constantly, launder everything and bag all pillows and stuffed animals for two weeks - Lice rarely leave the human head, and when they do, they only live for maybe 20 minutes unless they find another human head. The eggs don't leave the human head at all. They must be combed out, and believe me, combing them out is a b1tch. Time is better spent removing all lice and nits (the eggs) from the kids' heads.

Only dirty kids get lice - Lice don't care whether a head is clean or dirty. In fact, lice only leave a head once it gets too crowded.

My Mom did some research and found out there are actually professional nit-pickers who will de-lice your kid's head. I thought the idea was a little overboard for me, more suitable for yuppies living in the tony suburbs with money to burn. And then, after about a week of combing Fiona's hair, and still finding lice, and then finding lice in my own hair - the horrors - I found myself packing the kids up in the car and driving two hours to the only nit-picking service in the state. I just knew Rob lacked the patience to comb the lice out of my hair.

My friends thought I was a little crazy, but I'll tell you, I actually missed a couple of days of work due to this, and I wish I would have done it sooner. The money was worth it for the education, and now I know what to do if we should run into this problem again. More importantly I learned about prevention.

I was told to comb through Fiona's hair once every month until she was through with 8th grade. This is about in 10 years. Do you think I have done that? Hah - no. Especially with the past 3 months I have had. But I have learned proper combing techniques, and I know what to do once I get a notice from Fiona's (or Paul's) school that there has been a lice spotting.

A note about over the counter products - I used Nix at the recommendation of my pediatrician as my first attempt. I found it absolutely useless. Next I used Lice MD, also at the recommendation of my pediatrician, and found it worked pretty well, but while the label claims there are no pesticides in it, there must be some sort of chemical in it, and I found it irritated my skin. The best home remedy I found was to coat the head in olive oil and cover with a shower cap overnight, and then comb with a good de-lice comb. I used a brand called, "Nit Free" which is the best I have found. Then comb again with a de-lice comb and conditioner.

And knowing what I know now, I have to vent a little. These "no nit" policies at school are unnecessary and quit a hassle. A "no-live-lice" policy, I can understand, and nits will become live lice if not removed, however, nits never leave the hair unless manually removed, and manually removing them can take a week of combing. To remove a kid from school and disrupt the kid's learning for a week due to nits is completely asinine. Lice itself is not something to be ignored, but not a serious health problem, but rather a nuisance.