Friday, October 27, 2006
Now that Peanut is in baby school and regularly hangs out with a group of other toddlers, I have a need to have her sippy cups, plates, spoons/forks, etc. labeled with her name. Ideally, the label should be different enough from the other children's labels so I can see from across the room if she is drinking from her cup or her friends. Also, the labels would be dishwasher safe.
I currently just use pieces of freezer tape and handwrite her name with a permanent marker. Not pretty. And, not very practical since I have to re-do it every time. They have been easy to distinguish though.
I found several companies that sell labels, but wonder if they are really so durable:
Label It or Lose It
Thursday, October 26, 2006
"No, Bau-bu!" says Peanut in a commanding tone as she lifts her leg up to nudge an awaiting Mauku aside when we come in through the garage door to the kitchen.
"Tii-tu, No!" a stern Peanut says as our other cat Miuku puts a paw on the kitchen table. BAM! goes Peanuts little hand on the table to startle Miuku into obedieance.
"Bau-BU! Bau-BU!" we hear Peanut yell as she chases Mauku across the living room.
I think Peanut's mama & papa need to work on using a gentler tone of voice when talking to the kitties and focus more on showing how to also be kind and loving towards Miuku & Mauku.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Since fall is prime planting season in Texas, we decided to get our yard into shape. At the same time, we're very interested in using native Texas plants that need less water and are better suited to the climate.
Peanut's papa even attended a Texas Smartscaping seminar to learn more about the plants and techniques for maintaining them. He's also keen on using less chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
So far, following the advice of the Dirt Doctor, he's rolled out a cornmeal-based formula as a pre-emergent and a week later, a molasses-based formula to help the lawn grow. The better condition your lawn is in -> the less weeds can grow -> the less chemicals you'll need goes the theory.
He's also using yard clippings and trimmings as mulch around the bushes.
The biggest projects have been refurbishing, or rather creating new, flower beds. Out came some corniferious ground cover. In went organic soil, a layer of wet newspapers topped off by a few inches of mulch. Now, it all needs to settle for a few weeks before we plant. The newspaper layer is there to prevent weeds from growing up and will decompose and be tilled back into the new flowerbeds.
As this is our first yard in Texas, the Natural Gardner website was also helpful in clueing us into what should be done each month. Another piece of advice I got was that around every big holiday (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day), you do something with your yard!
If it was deep-fried, we probably ate it. Fried Coke (yes, the drink!) was supposed to be the big hit this year. It certainly was a creative idea, but the stand selling it was oddly quiet and even somewhat depressing. I would've imagined excited employees whipping up batches, loudly proclaiming its wonders and serving it up with a big smile. But, no. There was no chatter, no big showmanship, no smile. We even tossed half the battery slush away.
Onto Fletcher's Corny Dogs... and deep fried cheesecake. Peanut's papa being Dutch was designated as our official lead taster. He thinks the cheesecake would be excellent if served cold. Rounding it out, the classic: funnel cake with powdered sugar. This even Peanut dug into heartily.
We cruised through the car show hangers checking out what's new. Peanut's papa 'tried on' a couple of cars. Peanut was busy pointing out all the wheels - one of her latests words.
Then we wandered into game row where all the balloons, basketball hoops, targets and other tests of your skills called us in. We couldn't walk through there without winning something for Peanut! $10 got us 7 darts to throw at a wall of balloons and a chance to win a toddler-size stuffed Curious George. Alas, we walked away with a glitzy frog pulled out from beneath the counter, but Peanut loved it anyway :-)
She even tried her own luck at a game where 'everybody is a winner!'. All you have to do is grab a floating duck from the whirling waters. She added a little stuffed butterfly to her prize collection that way.
The Fair also had a Petting Zoo (complete with kangaroos), displays of Texas agriculture, arts & crafts and all the other goodies that make a Fair. We had to skip the Midway this year since Peanut's too small and mama's belly is too big. Perhaps next time we'll get a sunset view of the Dallas skyline from atop the giant ferris wheel.
Fall is such a fun time in the US. First, here in Texas, the weather cools to wonderful degrees. Then, the holidays begin - Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. There's so much to look forward to. Little ones of course make it all that much more fun.
Fall in Finland was more of a time to get serious again after the frolicking of summer. It gets cooler and then cold. It gets darker and then really dark. But, I still enjoyed the opportunity to bring out the candles to warm the rooms with light and the chance to enjoy the gorgeous fall nature.
But, back to gearing up for Halloween! Our neighborhood has been steadily filling up with pumpkins, scarecrows, tombstones, spider webs and other assorted ghouls over the past month. Some more than others. Peanut's a bit afraid of the bigger contraptions saying "no, no, bye-bye" as she desparately looks to her mama & papa to take her further away.
We just went this past weekend to pick up some decor. We were virtually too late! All the shops had shelves stripped clean of their frights and were quickly making way for Christmas tree ornaments.
Watch out though - Peanut's papa is hooking up the fog machine and lining the walk with glowing skulls and jack-o-laterns come next Tuesday!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
In Finland, there's now a big uproar about TV license fee records being made public so you can see who has and who hasn't paid the TV 'police'. In Finland, if you own a TV, you are required to pay an annual fee/tax than goes to fund the national broadcaster YLE. The license costs 208 EUR a year. I would get so angry everytime we got our quarterly TV fee bill - I didn't like being forced to pay for something we didn't even neccessarily watch or listen to. Or programming we didn't like. Or, it was just a matter of "principle" I liked to rant.
And, the only reason we were paying was because the TV police came to our door one day and I stupidly opened it. Yes, there really are TV police - OK, license inspectors - who go door to door to investigate if people have a TV and if yes, are you registered and paying your tax. See, doesn't that idea get your blood boiling!?
Now, in Dallas, where I consume loads of programming from National Public Radio (NPR), I feel good that we support them. We choose to. We give them an amount we think is appropriate and we can afford.
But, thank goodness our local NPR affiliate, KERA, was able to wrap up its fall fund raising early. At first it drives me crazy that the programming is cut short to let the announcers ask for money, beg for money, give oodles of reasons why people should call in and pledge. The, after a while, I begin to take pity on them. Its amazing programming and they have virtually plead that their audience toss a few coins their way to keep them on the air. They guilt listeners. They shame them. And, eventually, the reach their pledge drive goal and we are free for another season.
There must be a third way.....
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Back in Finland, I did enjoy the Friday afternoon Power Stretch session hosted in the basement/fall-out shelter of the Nokia Research Center. But, once I moved to NHO, it was just me and the TV again.
With Peanut, I picked up Shiva Rea's Prenatal Yoga DVD. There were three ladies - one for each trimester - in all the segments showing how to modify the movements as your body changed. Before I got there myself, I always felt so sorry for Poppy, the woman in her third trimester, who ended up sitting for half the poses.
The program was really an energy booster and made me feel much more comfortable with all the changes taking place. Who knows what impact it had on the actual delivery, but I diligently practiced my kegels and yogic squats in hopes of preparing myself.
I've now dusted it off again and try to get in two sessions a week while Peanut is at Baby School. Its not quite as soothing as the first time around. My body is much achier and doesn't appreciate the stretches as much. Perhaps its just a matter of persistence.
If you can get your S.O. into it, there is a nice segment on pregancy massage techniques!
I didn't use or enjoy the Postnatal Yoga DVD as much. And, after a couple of months, I was back to the regular workout version.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
According to the Dr. Sear's latest book "The healthiest kid in the neighborhood" - the "terrible threes" to avoid in foods for you toddlers are:
- high-fructose corn syrup
- hydrogenated oils, or "trans fats"
- Any color additive with a number symbol attached to it (e.g., blue#1, yellow #5, red #40)
High Fructose Corn Syrup has been on my hit list for some time already, but it is hard to avoid! Insidious! In just about everything save for water. I know sugar isn't great for you, but at least I know that. The "sugar free" lable on so many foods should sound alarm bells rather than tempting you to reach for this supposedly healthier food.
Hydrogenated oils are also very common in many foods as are the color additives he lists. Even though we try to be aware of what the food we eat contains and try to make healthy choices, it isn't easy to find processed foods (including such things as pasta, breads, pasta sauce, waffles, vitamins, salad dressing and other everyday staples I won't be making anytime soon) without these three ingredients. They are cheap for manufacturers to include in foods and so they will continue to do it. I am encouraged though by the growing number of organic products available from local grocery stores and even Wal-mart and Target. You still pay a premium, but its just a matter of economic laws taking hold to bring the prices and costs down.
Monday, October 16, 2006
But, no. Turns out Peanut has an ear infection, sinus infection AND conjunctivitis! Now, the last part, I did notice. When she awoke this morning both her eyes were puffy and had goop in the corners. The ear and sinus infection were a bit sneakier as she hadn't run a fever and had been generally in good spirits.
Then, I thought about it. I had heard her cry out during the past two nights and she was waking up earlier than usual. She usually sleeps like a log. I mentioned it in passing to Peanut's papa, but just passed it off that she was excited papa was home after a trip.
Ding, ding, ding. Hello, mama radar!
We decided to go ahead and treat with pencillin (amox and an eye drop formula) since she's been sick already for 2 weeks and waking at night. The doctor thought we'd probably be looking at another 2 weeks to wait & see if it clears up.
Otherwise, the 18 mos visit went just fine. Our doctor has a check list of developmental milestones she runs through at each visit. This time it was questions like
- does she climb stairs if you hold her hand?
- does she kick a ball?
- throw a ball overhand?
- use a fork/spoon?
- eat veggies/fruits?
- does she "help" around the house?
- off the bottle?
- how many words does she use (Peanut has about 15 unprompted - the dr thought it was plenty)
The doctor also recommended that Peanut begin taking a chewable toddler vitamin (1/2 tablet once a day). The shelves at the store were filled with brightly colored packages featuring Dora, Pooh, Disney Princesses and the classic Flintstones among other characters. There are chewables, jelly ones and even powdered ones. We went with Pooh since Peanut loves him and Tigger so (plus they were two4one and have stickers in the box -- i know, i'm a marketeer's dream shopper!!!).
As for potty training, she said don't even try yet. Keep the potty out, but no real effort until Peanut is two. We'll see. The potty is out. Peanut often tells us when she needs a diaper change. And, it'd be nice to not have two in diapers. But, I realize she'll do it when she's good and ready.
We also got a quick run down on how to use time outs since Peanut is now officially of time-out age. Getting a special stool and a timer were the keys.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Kiddin' Around is a place where you can drop your kids off for a couple hours of supervised play. Basically instead of the babysitter coming to you, you go to the babysitter. Its a great concept -- you don't have to plan in advance and there's always room for one more.
However, it is leaving your child in the care of strangers who don't know you or your children. There is supposed to be a very strict policy about showing ID when you pick up your child. This only makes sense in this day & age where sadly children are snatched by strangers or estranged family members.
For the safety of all the children, they must be signed into and out of the facility by a parent or an authorized adult. Authorization forms are available at the time of registration and picture I.D. will be required when picking up your child.My friend recently took her 20-month old son to Kiddin' Around for the first time. Disturbingly, when she picked him up, no one asked for her ID. It hadn't been checked when she dropped him off either. They just asked for her son's name and went in to find him. The employees at the desk were different from the ones who had been there when she dropped him off so there was no way they could have known her.
She fired off an email to the owner letting her know what had happened in detail.
The owner responded promptly apologizing and promising to bring the issue up at an upcoming staff meeting. She then offered my friend a complimentary pass for another visit.
My friend took her up on the invitation as her son had enjoyed Kiddin Around immensely. Sadly, her second experience was no different. No sign-in procedure. No ID checks. No sign-out procedure. Again, the most basic security guidelines had been ignored.
She's awaiting a response from the owner of Kiddin' Around to her latest email highlighting the lack of adherence.
I haven't taken Peanut to Kiddin' Around and now am even more hesitant about it. Its no minor infraction to overlook the check-in and -out procedures that are the only things ensuring that children are taken away by the rightful person. Kiddin' Around is very popular around here, but I think anyone using it should consider the risky behavior of the staff and how it may endanger their children.
Monday, October 09, 2006
"We started preparing a year and a half ago," says Mr. Dunn, 31, who has a joint professional counseling practice with his wife in Frisco. "It's amazing what percentage of income we're losing."
But they're committed to providing their baby with a full-time parent and are preparing to move from a two-income household to one with a sole breadwinner.
Many families dream of being able to do what the Dunns are planning, and financial planners say anyone should be able to do it if they're willing to sacrifice.
I wonder how many people plan so well for this big decision? And, is really "anyone ... willing to sacrifice" able to do it? Or does the financial sacrifice just seem too much?
Since we had committed to the idea that I would be home with Peanut for her first year, I continued to focus on being mama. Certainly, we considered the financial impacts of continuing on just one salary (and me not getting the KELA benefit), but did not have time to practice and save as the Dallas Morning News article suggests.
It isn't always easy. We have significantly scaled back and often can't do all the things we want simply because its not possible financially (though isn't that the case for most people anyway -- one paycheck or two??!!). We occassionally worry about how to save up for Peanut & Tex's futures as well as my retirement. But, we see the immeasurable benefit of having mama at home for Peanut in these short and formative years. And, I trust that the coming years will give us even more prespective on this decision and we'll be even more thankful for having the will to stick it out.
Friday, October 06, 2006
On his desk was a large plastic bag that looked to be packed full of papers and samples. I thought to myself a drug company rep must've dropped off the latest goodies for the dr while he was out.
It turned out the bag was for us! It was brimming with coupons, free magazine samples, prenatal vitamin samples and other booklets and papers telling us all about what's out there for baby.
Now, I, like most people, enjoy getting a bag full of free stuff :-) Especially when its appropriately targeted.
What was interesting was the amount of ad space dedicated to the formula vendors. The bag was sponsored by Infamil and carried several marketing pieces about baby forumulas. I noticed that in UK, for example, all infant formula ads have to marked with a notice that highlights that breastfeeding is the most complete nourishment for a baby up to 6 mos. Here in the US, there is no such requirement. Our bag also had mail-in cards to sign-up for the formula clubs promising formula coupons, free toys, a free diaper bag, free formula samples and more, more, more. Who can resit?
Enfamil Family Beginnings
I also got free issues of American Baby (sign up online for free subscription), Fit Pregnancy (the swimsuit issue), Baby Talk (another free subscription available online) and Women's Health and Fitness. (Where was my sample of Cookie!!??) I flipped through all of them when I was feeling queasy in the early days and now often go back to look for decorating ideas, find out what all is available in baby strollers and to cut out pictures of infants for Peanut's photo book.
There were coupons and product brochures from Baby Depot, Babies R Us and a local guide to what's what for babies in the metroplex. All complete with lists of 'must have' items for baby -- some over the top, but I know I would have appreciated the ideas for my first baby. And, there sure is a ton of gear, clothing and what nots that you can pile up if you want.
One of my favorite pieces is the "as your baby grows - from conception to birth" magazine. It has the most amazing photos from inside the womb of how a baby develops. Incredible color images of this tiny miracle! The photos are from a book called A Child is Born.
In contrast to all this, in Finland, I didn't see a piece of promo materials until I received my KELA box. In it were some free diapers, baby lotions and condoms. No coupons. At the hospital they had also tucked away, out of sight, on a shelf some small purple bags from the diaper brand, Libero. I just happened to overhear a nurse answer another mom that yes, you can pick one up if you want to, you don't have to.... Never anywhere were there any materials promoting formula.
Also, once Peanut was born and registered in the national population registry, we received some promotional mail at our home for her.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
What medications are safe to take during pregnancy - OTC
Here in the US, at my first prenatal visit my doctor gave me a sheet with a list of safe to take over-the-counter medications:
- Tylenol or Extra strength Tylenol (ie, acetaminophen) for minor aches, pains and fevers. NOT aspirin or ibuprofen unless approved by dr.
- Sudafed or Robitussin for cough. Robitussin DM for cough suppression.
- Benedryl for allergies
- Mylanta, Maalox, Riopan, Tums for upset stomach and heartburn.
- Milk of Magnesia for occasional constipation.
- Panadol (paracetamol) was OK for aches, pains and fevers
- Renni for upset stomachs and heartburn.
- But she didn't like the idea of taking anything for allergies and even suggested avoiding the anti-histamine eye drops I used during summer.
I was fortunate not have any morning sickness with Peanut so I don't really know what the stance is toward morning sickness medications in Finland. I did have a dear colleague (Hi K.S.!) who suffered immensely for many weeks with powerful morning sickness and she never mentioned any medications.
The info packet my doctor in the US gave me states there are no medications for morning sickness, yet I know of several moms here who have taken various pills to help alleviate the nausea and vomiting.
Its that time of year again. My US doctor told me at the last visit their office usually gets a supply of flu vaccinations for pregnant mothers and it is a recommended shot. He said I can get it elsewhere, but just to make sure its not a live virus.
My midwife in Finland was opposed to me getting a flu shot during pregnancy.
The flu shot seems to cause a large amout of debate over the thimerosal (a preservative which contains mercury) it contains, its general effectiveness and belief that it can actually cause the flu.
From what I've read, here's the scoop:
Thimerosal - Yes, its in there in most vaccines, but in trace amounts, says the CDC:
Is it safe for pregnant women to receive an influenza vaccine that contains thimerosal?General Effectiveness - that is, will the vaccination prevent you from getting the flu?
Yes. A study of influenza vaccination examining over 2,000 pregnant women demonstrated no adverse fetal effects associated with influenza vaccine. Case reports and limited studies indicate that pregnancy can increase the risk for serious medical complications of influenza. One study found that out of every 10,000 women in their third trimester of pregnancy during an average flu season, 25 will be hospitalized for flu related complications.
Not entirely. There are hundreds of strains of the flu virus each year and the vaccination is made to prevent what is guessimated to be the most widely spread. This years vaccine actually contains three strains.
The CDC claims:
With the flu shot, when the "match" between vaccine and circulating strains is close, the vaccine prevents influenza in about 70%-90% of healthy persons younger than age 65 years.
Can you get sick from the vaccine?
Its a killed virus so its not possible to become infected by the shot itself. Any illness that you get after the vaccination is coincidental.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
As my belly begins to swell with Tex, I've been looking forward to using my belly oil again. I picked up a bottle while we were in the Netherlands though it seems you can find it in the US as well with a little work.
Weleda, a German company specializing in natural products, makes the Pregnancy Body Oil I love so much. It just smells so delicious and I swear it makes my belly warm and tingly.
I found it in the apteeki in Finland when I went to look for a refill for my Palmer's lotion. There weren't many lotions so I decided to give it a try. I was pretty skeptical of a body oil at first thinking it would be greasy and messy. It wasn't and the warmth it generated (I'm sure it does!!!!) felt extra wonderful during the frigid winter mornings and evenings. Whether or not it helped with my skin - who knows - I didn't have any stretch marks and felt reasonably comfortable in my skin even as Peanut grew to her largest size.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
I figured it was an easier for Peanut to understand that "today is a Baby School Day" rather than "today you are going to Mother's Day Out".
While there isn't much formal learning going on -- and I don't think that there needs to be for an 18 month old -- Peanut is learning about socialization, independence and creativity every Baby School Day.
When she went for her first day, mama also had to learn another lesson about separation and how independent her baby is. I managed to only go by the "school" twice that day to peek in through the two-way mirror. Every time I looked in, Peanut was busily engaged with caring for a baby doll, eating or playing with the fun toys they had for her. She looked happy to see me at the end of her five hour day, but was also pretty glad the next time we pulled up to the "school".
Now, Peanut cheerfully goes to her classroom, gives mama a kiss and takes off to check on her baby dolls. I'm so glad that she enjoys her time there. I'm certainly enjoying my time to browse the book store, do some yoga, take a nap, make dinner, make phone calls, paint my toenails......just catch up on life! I think everyone around the house has been much more relaxed since Peanut started Baby School.
In our community, many Mother's Day Out programs are hosted by local churches. Some begin as young as infants and have classes through pre-school. The 'teachers' are often members of the congregation who have their own children enrolled in the MDO program. 'Teachers' recieve about 15 hours of training, including first aid and CPR, during the year, but don't need to have any other qualifications. Prices for the programs vary, but most are around $150 - $200 a month for two days a week, five hours a day programs.
However, not all MDO programs are licensed by the state of Texas. In order to be licensed a center 0r home-based care program must meet a list of minimum health and safety requirements and be subject to reviews. You can search their database to see the current standing of programs. If a program is not licensed, they do not have to follow the minimum requirements - frightening because they are pretty basic guidelines!
When I looked at the programs in the Coppell area, virtually every one of them had a citation of one sort or another. Some just one paperwork related one, others a whole series of repeating offenses. One got cited for an incident of toddlers on the playground looking at each other's bare bottoms....
Just came across this tidbit in the latest issue of Wired magazine.
In an article called "Good, Green Livin'" highlighting that even if Gore's Inconvenient Truth has you reviewing all your choices to make more environmentally-friendly ones, its not as easy as you might think.
On the issue of cloth diapers vs disposable diapers
Citing Rachel Olive, University of Queensland, Australia
Annual water consumption (gallons):
Annual solid & water waste (pounds)
- disposable: 761
- cloth (home wash): 6,946
- cloth (service wash): 17,908
- disposable: 1,308
- cloth (home wash): 699
- cloth (service wash): 686
Verdict: Cloth, if you can wash at home. Despite landfill issues, parents in drought-prone areas should consider disposable