Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Miffy loves New York

I guess as soon as Peanut finds out her friend Nijntje (aka Miffy) is promoing New York we'll soon have to head to the Big Apple for a visit!

"Miffy Loves NYC" features Miffy and her parents on vacation in New York City visiting 30 prominent, family-friendly New York City landmarks. The book, which also includes tourism information on the City for families to use as a guide during their travels, is now available in hardcover for $9.99 at bookstores throughout the nation.
Daddy Types covers the whole story.

Sweet & Sassy Cutie Cut

Today Peanut went for her first real haircut.

Until now we'd been trimming at home - mostly on the increasingly rare occasions when she fell asleep in the car we'd bring her in and put her into her unused feeding chair and attempt a bang snipping. Then, there have been the random clumps we've had to cut out from the back when she twirls her hair into an impossible to open knot. Anyway, her hair was getting pretty wild so it was time to call in the pros.

There are several hair places that cater strictly to kids around here:
A haircutting place within the Stride Rite store on Macarthur/Round Grove in Lewisville though I've only heard of negative experiences from moms about this location.

Another place also on Round Grove in Lewisville across from Gymboree. This one has gotten much more positive reviews.

Cool Cuts for Kids with tips on how to make that first appointment a good experience.

Peanut went to Sweet & Sassy in Southlake where they offer much more than just haircuts. You can book the place for little girly parties and opt for a mini-manis and mini-pedis! We went in as soon as they opened in the morning so it was quiet.

Peanut got situated in a toddler-sized barber stool and had a sparkly pink wrap snapped around her neck. Pooh bear was safely situated underneath. The whole cut took all of 10 mins. A few spritzes of water and snips here & there. A dusting of glitter spray completed the styling. Peanut even got a glitter star put on her cheek and selected a lollipop on her way out :-)

The stylist was very child friendly and has a 15 month old herself so she knew how to talk to Peanut and keep her calm. I opted for a regular "Cutie Cut" ($13.95) rather than the "Baby's First Haircut" package which would have include an official photo, certificate and locket of hair for $19.95.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Leave Stunt Baby at home for Corteo

Most evenings Peanut is given to taking flying leaps off the sofa into what she assumes will be her papa's awaiting arms. She doesn't always give warning. You just happen to see a toddler come flying through the air in the corner of your eye and somehow your arms react quickly enough to catch her! Such trust in her parents!

Cirque du Soleil has set up its big top in Fair Park for its touring performances of Corteo. On our last date night we went to catch the 4:00 pm show. I love Cirque du Soleil for all that it brings together in one night - live music, humans doing extraordinary things with their bodies, comedy, drama and just the feeling of watching a surreal painting come to life in front of your eyes.

As we walked towards the entrance I saw several toddlers coming into the show and wondered if Peanut would have enjoyed it. It was literally under a big tent, outdoors. We stumbled in a little late and were completely blinded by the total darkness of the interior. What a scene! I think Peanut would have been mesmerized; a little frightened, but just mesmerized by the show. I also think she would have gotten wayyy too many ideas about how you can fly through the air and bounce off many ordinary objects :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My first call to the Poison Control Center

If you have a poisoning emergency, call

I suppose it was bound to happen, Peanut got into something she shouldn't have. Fortunately, it was just a tube of our fluoride toothpaste and she didn't consume too much of it.

I had left her in our bathroom while I went to her room to get a change of clothes. When I walked back in, she had pulled her stool over to the counter and had her toothbrush on the counter, one hand on an open tube of toothpaste and a finger from the other hand in her mouth, clearly coated in the sparkly blue stuff.

I didn't know how much she had eaten, but clearly it wasn't more than 1 - 2 teaspoons. I decided to call the poison control center anyway since I wasn't sure what a really dangerous amount to consume would be or how I would be able to tell if she had had too much.

I had to look the number up on line....

My call was routed straight to a local office and after a list of informational questions (who I was, my zip code, baby's name, weight, age, medications, allergies), we got down to why I was calling. I was advised to give Peanut 4 oz of milk and to watch for abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.

They called me back in an hour to follow up. Luckily, Peanut was fine. Turns out fluoride toothpaste is really a concern when you consume 4 oz or more -- that's nearly half the tube.

I'll know for next time and am spending some time this afternoon to clean off our counter tops a bit better.

Time out, please!

As Peanut nears her second birthday, she in typical toddler fashion is exerting her own will and checking her parents to see if all those pesky boundaries still hold true from day to day.

So, we've introduced the concept of "time-outs" at our house. We don't have a special chair or place, Peanut just either stands with her back against the wall or sits in one of the kitchen chairs tucked into a corner. Pooh bear is not allowed to go with her. She's not allowed to suck her thumb or twirl her hair -- her two favorite comfort activities -- when in time out. Mama & papa don't respond to her. She just has to wait it out until the kitchen timer beeps. Sounds like a pretty dreary place to me!

But, 'time out' still is somehow too fun as Peanut willingly asks for and goes to time out! Its like we're stuck in some Brair Rabbit trick!

For example, just this afternoon, Peanut pointed to the kitchen time out corner and asked "pia, time out?" not having done anything to deserve time there. Since I refused, she went over to her little table and chairs, and climbed up to stand on her chair. All the while looking at me, knowing she's not to climb on her chairs. Fully upright, she hopefully asks again "pia, time out!?"

Yes, this time you get to go to time out.

Heading into the home stretch!

Finally in the last month with Tex!! We're almost as ready as we can be to welcome him. Just need to finalize that middle name .....

I've been seeing the doctor now once a week. At 37 weeks, we had our final ultrasound to check on Tex's position, the health of the placenta, amount of amniotic fluid, make a weight estimate and otherwise take a final look. Good news is that he is headed south and everything critical checked out fine. He got an 8/8 on his biometric profile :-) We also got to count some little toes and fingers, see his well-rounded cheeks and verify he is indeed a he. Tex weighed in around 6 lbs already with another 1/2 lb - 1 lb expected before birth. Peanut was 7.9 lbs herself so it sounds reasonable.

In addition the ultrasound check, in the US at this point most pregnant women are screened for group B streptococcus (GBS) bacteria. This is something that never came up in Finland and so I was not tested with Peanut.
Between 10 and 30 percent of pregnant women carry GBS bacteria in the vagina or rectal area, where they may pass it to their babies during labor or birth. With proper prenatal testing and treatment during labor, though, the risk is small.

Without treatment, one or two out of every 200 babies born to "GBS positive" mothers would become infected with the bacteria and develop what's called early-onset GBS disease ... which can cause sepsis (an infection in the blood), pneumonia, and meningitis in newborns....

getting screened when you're between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy and receiving antibiotic treatment during labor if you test positive will greatly reduce your baby's risk of becoming infected
During the last month at each visit, my doctor also does a pelvic exam to see if the cervix has begun dilating and/or effacing in preparation for labor. I'm not sure about the value of these exams since a woman can walk around 2 cm dilated for weeks and not go into labor while someone who had no progress can suddenly go into full labor.

If Tex follows his big sister's example, we won't be seeing him for another several weeks :-)

Monday, February 12, 2007

More older moms, cesearans and other US baby trends

A Babycenter newsletter highlighted recent baby trends in the US:
The teen pregnancy rate in the United States is at an all-time low, while the rate of caesarean deliveries is at an all-time high.

At the same time, the birth rates for mothers aged 30 and older rose in 2005 to levels not seen in nearly 40 years.

These findings are part of the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics: 2005, published in the February issue of Pediatrics.

The data in the report comes from U.S. vital statistics records, birth certificates, fetal death reports and death certificates. Here are some of the report's other findings:
• A record number of unmarried women are having children. The total number of births to unmarried women rose by 4 percent, to 1,525,345, in 2005.
•Slightly more than 1.7 million people were added to the U.S. population in 2004, or 5.8 persons per 1,000 population.
• The preliminary estimate of births for 2005 was 4,140,419, an increase of 1 percent from 2004.
• The general fertility rate in 2005 was 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, the highest level since 1993.
• The infant mortality rate was 6.79 per 1,000 live births in 2004, not statistically different from the year before. The report also found continued differences in infant mortality rates by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic black newborns were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic white and Hispanic infants to die within a year of birth.

Friday, February 09, 2007

National Mom's Night Out

In case you were searching for an excuse to take a break - Bahama Breeze restaurants have declared March 22nd as a National Mom's Night Out:

This first-of-its-kind event encourages moms to take a well deserved night off from the family and experience the feeling of a Caribbean escape at Bahama Breeze with other moms and friends (if you don’t have a Bahama Breeze in your city, we encourage you to still take the night off and go to your favorite local restaurant).

Bahama Breeze will donate 100% of the profits in each restaurant on March 22 to Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

In my short momhood career, I've honestly only gotten to enjoy one Mom's Night Out where it was just me & the girls out for dinner and drinks. OK, it was just dinner and a virgin margarita as I was already expecting Tex. And, it was just fabulous fun! Do it ladies - and do it often!!

Peanut's papa & I get to go out about twice a month thanks to a great babysitting arrangement we have with two other toddler families. We rotate houses every other Friday and pile the Toddler Trio onto our own version of the Super Nanny who keeps them happy and busy for five hours. The hosting house provides dinner and snacks. Sharing the costs, we each only pay $20 a night - you can hardly do better without family around!

There's also the option of setting up a more/less formal babysitting co-op where moms agree to take turns watching each other's little ones. Everyone does a little extra work and everyone gets time off in return. Depending on who and how many people you involve, it can be as easy as agreeing to swap Fridays with a friend or detailed as an organized co-op.
Smart Mom's Co-op Handbook
Starting a Babysitting Co-op

Thursday, February 08, 2007

To melt your heart

Last night I was struck with a craving for a milkshake. After dinner, we asked Peanut if she'd like a milkshake, too.

"Yea, milkshake" was the quick reply and she dashed off to get her stuff ready for the car. Peanut has started saying 'yea' to questions and requests. Not 'yes', but 'yea'. I guess that shows how I speak most of the time :-) I'm not sure the last time we went out for milkshakes, but its not very often. Evidently, it was a monumental event for Peanut since she kept repeating 'milkshake' and trying to rush us out the door.

The local Jack in the Box is our shake supplier when we don't want to get out of the car and go into an ice cream shop.

I poured a little bit of shake into a cup for Peanut and papa passed it to her in the back seat. We drove off to head home.

A while later from the back seat comes a little voice "thank you, papa". Followed soon by a "Pia (as Peanut calls herself) happy". I'd never heard anything so sweet in my life - I could feel the tears swell up in my eyes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'll have the Dutch and Finnish culture to go, please!

When you move abroad with children, one of the main concerns of parent's is how to maintain the links back to the home country's culture, customs and language.

There's plenty you can do yourself at home and nothing beats getting back on the native soil, but here are some services that will package up Dutch and Finnish culture and ship it to you:

The Wereldschool provides teaching programmes for Dutch-speaking children who stay abroad with their parents. From 1948 onwards, when we started, the Wereldschool has grown into an educational facility which is being used on a yearly basis by approximately 1,400 pupils, spread over more than 128 countries.
Online Finnish learning program

Finnish language schools around the world

Project Finland
Thanks for visiting Project Finland, an educational – and fun! – interactive tour of Finland. It’s designed to help kids ages 9-12 experience Finland’s society, culture and environment – and begin exploring how they can make the world a better place.

What's so special about Nokia

Nokia holds a very special place in the Finnish economy: its turnover is higher than that of the Finnish government's budget, it is one of the largest employers in Finland, it is a one-of-a-kind international success story in Finland and Finns regard it as a "Finnish" company even though 90% of Nokia shares are held by investors outside of the country.

Its the question of Nokia's nationality and loyalties that often puts it in the hot seat in Finland. The very unionized nature of business in Finland calls the company and management to account in ways that most employed by US companies probably find baffling.

Most recently in the international edition of the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper:

Year after year it has been said that such success cannot continue, and whenever Nokia's result has taken a dip, the scare has been accompanied by something resembling triumph: "so now it starts going downhill". And yet, in January Nokia showed that it is able to turn the impossible into the possible. Although the average price of its products declined, and although pressure on the margins grew, the company's gross margin also grew. This means that after manufacturing costs, the company was again left with more money for product development, marketing, and distribution of profits.
However, at the same time, the head shop steward of the Nokia subcontractor Perlos is forced to hold talks on behalf of his fellow employees, which is to result in the closing of Perlos factories in Finland...
Nokia's success and the anguish of its subcontractors raises unpleasant questions. How is it possible to be the most successful in the world, and at the same time to leave thousands of fellow workers to fend for themselves? What is Nokia's responsibility for its subcontractors?
Workers employed by Nokia subcontractors say that Nokia is indifferent toward its roots. Their experience is that the generation that has taken on responsible jobs of planning and management have no country, and that they only serve a multinational money machine. It is the bitter experience of those working in subcontracting that the most important of Finnish values - never to leave one's buddy behind - is no longer a Nokia value.
From inside Nokia it can be said that the company continues to directly employ 24,000 Finns, and that it paid EUR 1.3 billion in taxes last year. The corporate management answers primarily to its owners, and Finns have sold their shares to foreign investors at a good profit. The management of the company is as patriotic as possible.

Another issue evidently aired quite openly in Finland thanks to the union organization was the internal disappointment over the lack of an employee bonus payout even when Nokia announced the strongest performance in the market:
Nokia personnel are expressing annoyance over the introduced cuts to the company's bonus system. Save the top management, all Nokia workers missed out on the so-called Connecting People bonus for the second half of 2006, despite the company's record-breaking fourth quarter result.
"When the result is bad, everyone understands why bonuses are not paid. But when the company delights in the best-ever result and the bonuses are still withheld, that is perplexing to say the least", Nokia shop steward Jukka Kivari explains.
Nokia announces unexpectedly good results for last year
Nokia Press Release - 4Q 2006 and Full year results

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Biggest K3 fan outside of the Be-Ne (perhaps Lux?)

In December, Peanut got a copy of a CD from K3, a cutesy pop trio from Belgium. As it came with her Sinterklaas gifts, she named it her "Klaas music". It was an instant hit with her. She loves to dance along to the baby-techno beats and asks for 'Klaas music' daily.

We hear from her aunt and uncle that the latest CD is on its way to us....oh, boy!

Texas first state to mandate HPV vaccination

On Feb 3, the Dallas Morning News reported:

Gov. Rick Perry – usually a hero to social conservatives – surprised many of them Friday by making Texas the first state to mandate a vaccine for sixth-grade girls to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that leads to most kinds of cervical cancer.

In his executive order, Mr. Perry said girls must receive the human papillomavirus vaccine before school starts in September 2008. While noting that parents may opt out of the vaccine for conscience or religious reasons, he said it "provides us with an incredible opportunity to effectively target and prevent cervical cancer."

The move was applauded by many women's groups but harshly denounced by social conservatives for its intrusion into parents' control over their kids' health. Some also alleged that Merck – the pharmaceutical company with the only vaccine on the market – was responsible for the initiative.

And, in the Dallas Morning News today:

Republicans attack Perry's HPV vaccine order

Perry defended his decision, saying his fellow conservatives were wrong to worry that mandating the vaccine will trample parents' rights and promote premarital sex.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

No more 'baconized' ham, prunes, kegels...

We are almost there with little Tex!! Though I think being pregnant is a wonderous and amazing process -- there's a mini-human growing inside of me -- and hope it is something every woman can enjoy, I'm really looking forward to the end of
  • prunes everyday
  • having to microwave my cold cuts so that everything is basically like bacon
  • remembering to do kegels
  • dropping food on the front of all my clothes (since the crumbs & droplets can't get past the bump)
  • sleeping on my side surrounded by pillows of all shapes & sizes
  • my belly slipping out from underneath the maternity shirts that no longer are long enough
  • jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to walk out yet another leg cramp in my calf
  • my aching back...ha, that's just a joke, everyone knows a new mom's back aches even more :-)