Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Re-purpose, Reuse and Recreate

I was hand washing some of Sarah's princess and fairy dresses today and came across one that I have been meaning to mend. This one dress has plastic beaded necklaces across the front and every time I see it I think of the possibility of a choking hazard and; therefore, have not had Sarah wear it yet.

So, instead of throwing away the dress or donating it, I decided to snip off the necklaces, which did not impact the dress in anyway, and have peace of mind now when Sarah plays with it in the future.

As I was fixing the dress I started to realize that the colors of the beads I was trimming away happen to include colors in Sarah's room and decided to glue them to an existing plain white picture frame on her wall, which holds a special T-shirt with her name in rhinestones, given to her as a gift.

Now Sarah's room has this special keepsake emblazoned with more fancy jewelry that makes it more unique and adds additional punch of fun and color.

So, before you throw anything away, consider what you have that can be reused and re-purposed safely and create away.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Investment in Breastfeeding

According to an article in today's Chicago Tribune it appears that breast feeding can save parents much money, as much as $1,000 - $3,000 a year.

As a mother who nursed and pumped breast milk for her child for 13 months I agree that nursing and developing breast milk is a cost saver. However, I believe these costs mentioned above from the article likely reflect women who don't work or who are not pumping breast milk, but instead who are primarily nursing.

Around four months after my daughter Sarah was born I needed to go back to work. However, I did not want to stop providing this wonderful source of nutrition for her. So, with this change in my schedule and our nursing routine there came some additional costs including a breast pump and parts, breast milk storage solutions, bottles and nipples, nursing bras (not something every pumping mom uses) and a nursing cover.

Another cost, approximately $200, and one I did not expect, but was well worth it, was that of a lactation consultant. Despite reading as much information on nursing and trying various feeding positions and getting wonderful support at the hospital before coming home with Sarah, I had some challenges with feeding Sarah on my right breast. When I realized, jokingly of course, that I couldn't just feed Sarah from my left breast and ignore the issue, the support of the lactation consultant helped me to find ways to get Sarah to latch on properly, and she did. The funny thing is that my right breast ended up being the one that produced more milk regularly than my left throughout the year.

Further, for me, I was extremely fortunate to receive as a baby gift an electronic breast pump, which I loved and appreciated tremendously, and used daily for well over a year. A high-quality electronic breast pump with a manual option (which I did use in the car a number of times), which can cost as much as $250-$300, is a great necessity for a mother, especially one who works outside of home. While electronic breast pumps are not a necessity for pumping mothers there are other less expensive and manual options that are good choices too. For me the electronic pump was a time saver and worked well to achieve Sarah's breast milk needs along with nursing.

While there is indeed a great cost savings with breastfeeding, and one I was thankful to save over the time, for working mothers there is a significant amount of time that needs to be invested to collect this valuable nutrition, which many who work may not have the flexibility to do due to their work environment or schedules.

So, while there is cost savings with breastfeeding, and something worth considering, assess your situation to determine what is best for you and your growing baby.

I am so thrilled that I nursed and provided breast milk for Sarah, but it did come with some challenges. There is a possibility of breast clogs and infections such as mastitis, which I experienced a few times. With a great lactation consultant as support and that of my wonderful husband, I was able to continue to succeed with providing breast milk for Sarah for as long as I did.

I would like to share with you some valuable advice from a dear friend of mine (thanks Fiona) that you can choose to take or not. Try, if you are able to nurse, to do so for at least one month before deciding whether to stop or continue. The first month of breast feeding comes with trials and tribulations for mommy and baby and is certainly an adjustment period, and one that can be tough too. Nursing is not for everyone and only you can decide what is right for you. Give it a chance if you can and want to, and if it works for you, and your child responds well to it, it is a wonderful means of nutrition and bonding, something I am so happy to have experienced.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Taking the Gloves Off

If anyone, anywhere has advice on how to keep a toddlers mittens/gloves on, I am listening.

With the cold weather, and snow especially, it's ever more important for Sarah to wear her mittens to keep her hands warms. But, she just refuses to wear them.

And, we have tried several different kinds of finger coverings, or so at least we thought. Gloves are too tough as Sarah has a hard time getting all her fingers into the right places. So, mittens do seem best as far as getting them on her hands. I just didn't expect to be buying and trying so many options. I should be happy at least that she wears her hats and her scarves.

This past weekend right after the first major snowfall of the year we went out for a romp in the snow. Since Sarah's waterproof gloves, a necessity for falling and playing in the snow, were just not staying on, Daniel and I decided to use clear packing tape to attach them to her jacket. They stayed on but Sarah just was not a happy camper about it as she couldn't take the gloves off.

Just yesterday I bit the bullet and decided to buy her a pair of princess mittens, online, with a Velcro strap to hopefully make them snug and to stay on. They haven't arrived yet, and am hoping these will work. She really likes princesses and hope that this appreciation will encourage her to want to wear them and keep them on.

Otherwise, I am not sure what else I can do other than put on gloves and wrap zip lock baggies with tape around her hands. Doesn't seem very sane but really don't want her to be cold, and for her to be able to continue enjoying playing in the snow, and be able to pick it up too, since now she likes snowballs.

Any tips or feedback would be great. I have a feeling I may hear similar stories and this too will help so at least I know I am not experiencing this mitten frustration alone.

Stay warm this winter. And, happy holidays to all my readers. Keep coming, sharing with your friends, and I look forward to sharing many more stories and tips in the new year.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Puddle Jumping and Snow Appreciation

Each time Sarah and I have been outside this week since the big snowfall she has been so excited to roam around and stomp in the snow.

There could be a small patch of snow on the sidewalk and Sarah will be sure to walk right towards it in her snow boots and step right into it. With a laugh and giggle she marches on waiting upon the next pile of snow.

It's kind of funny experiencing this with Sarah because she is doing exactly what I would expect a kid to do. It's really fun to watch and it makes me laugh too.

As adults we often try hard to avoid these puddles and snow piles. But, when I am with Sarah I look forward to the occasional snow or puddle stomping expecting the consequences to be joy, fun and laughter, and slight bit of mess.

Step in puddles, climb snow hills, get dirty and be a kid.

Have fun!!!

Sarah's First Snowman (Snowgirl)

With the season's first snowfall, just before winter began, Sarah was able to build her first snowman, really a snowgirl, this weekend. It was so much fun, for her and for me, and Daddy too. With the snow being somewhat softer and less able to pack tight we were able to make a mini snowgirl.

I have been wanting for so long to get snow so that I could get Sarah all bundled up for the winter fun, and be a kid with her.

And, the snow came. Yeah! And, bundled up Sarah got. From head to toe she wore her heavy winter jacket, snow pants, boots, hat, gloves and scarf. I kept joking that there was a kid in all those layers and still her cuteness shined through. She was walking a little stiff at first trying to get used to all the layers. After a while it became a second skin for her.

Knowing what to expect outside with Sarah, and how she typically is, I was sure to bundle up myself. It's nice to know that my ski and winter cycling clothing were able to get some good use. All of us bundled up, we were ready for our snowy adventure.

To the playground we went. There were piles of snow everywhere and not many paths for walking. We dived right in. At first Sarah was not sure what to make of the snow but after a little while she started to really like it. We thought she wasn't happy a few times when either her gloves came off for the hundred time and her hands got cold, but she was a trooper. We offered her many times to go back inside and she wanted to continue on.

We moved on to another playground to find that a snowman had already been built by other neighborhood kids. So, Sarah and I created him a friend. Her name was Snowy.

Having a child certainly enables your inner child to come out. Since having Sarah it's been such a great time being a kid with her and celebrating life through her eyes.

Get into to the snow and have a ball before it melts.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blinds/Shades Recall: Get Repair Kit or Replace

This month the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) have announced a voluntary corrective action plan for window coverings including vertical and horizontal blinds as well as roll-up and roman-style shades to protect children from potential injury or death.

“According to information provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 1990, more than 200 infants and young children have died from accidentally strangling in window cords.”

Consumers are able to secure a free “retrofit kit” from WCSC to help make safe existing blinds, shades and other window coverings, especially where cords are involved.

To secure your free kit, go to www.windowcoverings.org or call WCSC's toll-free phone line at (800) 506-4636.

Since some of the repair kits are on back order, especially for the older model blinds and shades, please, in the meantime, tie up your cords or switch to cordless products especially in homes where children are frequent. Consumers are advised to replace all window coverings made before 2001 with safer products.

Top tips to keep children safe around window coverings:

+ Install cordless window coverings. Replace blinds, shades and drapes made before 2001 with safer products.

+ Move cribs, beds and other furniture away from windows, especially where coverings include cords.

+ Keep all pull cords for your window coverings out of children’s reach. Keep cords short and for continuous-loop cords, keep them permanently anchored to the wall or floor.

+ Be sure to lock all cords in position in when blinds are raised, lowered and even when they are lying on the windowsill.

The best recommendation is to replace all your window coverings with cords with newer products following 2001, without cords. If you are unable to do so, please secure the free repair kits and pull the cords well away from little hands.

Be safe!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

H1N1 Pediatric Vaccine Recall

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this morning the voluntary recall of 800,000 doses of H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine, made by pharmaceutical manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.

According to a statement on their Web site, the CDC said, "as part of its quality assurance program, the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, performs routine, ongoing stability testing of its influenza A (H1N1) vaccine after the vaccine has been shipped to providers. Stability testing means measuring the strength (also called potency) of a vaccine over time."

As a result of these tests, it was determined that four lots of pediatric syringes of the H1N1 vaccine may not be potent enough to protect against the virus. It appears that the lots passed potency tests when they were first shipped, but tests indicated the potency waned after.

According to a statement by Sanofi Pasteur, they are "working closely with the FDA and the CDC to notify those who have administered the vaccine."

There are no safety concerns regarding these recalled vials of vaccine. And, health officials are saying that for children who have been administered the vaccine do not need to be re-immunized except to complete their two-dose immunizations series.

Consult with your health care provider to discuss further any questions you may have.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Toddlers and Music Appreciation

A while back when I was pregnant a friend and mother of two advised me that from the very beginning, to help reduce the amount of "I want all the time" nursery rhymes morning, noon and night, to try and start with my music favorites to encourage Sarah's interest and music diversity.
This concept seemed all well and good except that when I tried some of my favorites and even music generally all Sarah wanted was nursery rhymes. Morning, noon and night.

I love how Sarah knows her nursery rhymes, tries to sing them on her own and even knows what the next song will be coming up on the CD or iPod.

Over the summer during a visit with Grandma we saw an outdoor classical music concert together, and Sarah seemed to like it. This, coupled with Sarah's weekly exposure to live music at school and home, Sarah has grown a fondness for classical music. While I stink at the guitar and Daddy dawdles on the keyboard, Sarah has developed an appreciation for these instruments as well as the violin, which she cutely calls the "wyolin."

Recently, Sarah grew an immense appreciation for one of my favorite musical genres, classical. Yeah!!! For the past month while we have still had some nursery rhymes chiming through our home there's a whole lot more classical music filling the air, with her favorite instrument choices, ever more frequently.

I have certainly learned as a parent, no matter how much you want to expose your child to something you want them to grow interest in and hopes they will pick it up, children really will decide on their own what is most appealing. I am just so thrilled that at least one my favorite musical genres, of the many, is back in the air at home and in the car, with Sarah making requests often for songs featuring guitars (yeah Auntie Mandy), violins and piano's, the latter which Sarah calls "pinanano."

Keep the music playing and soon enough your children will tell you what they want to hear.

Enjoy the music!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Toddler Crayon Craze

Sarah has an incredible appreciation, love, fascination, and downright obsession, for crayons. I am sure this is a developmental milestone but it's just really funny and humorous at times to watch.

Sarah loves to play with crayons, less for actual coloring, and more for tracing feet and hands. In fact, Sarah loves being traced out and then together we color them in and create new friends for her. Let's just say Carla and Sebastian are now well loved members of the family. Sarah even wishes her new friends good morning and sweet dreams on a daily basis. Therefore, she often asks to trace feet and hands. To daddy and I we know what the scribbles are because they don't actually look like hands and feet, but Sarah certainly does. Oh, this is so much fun.

Another fun thing Sarah loves to do with her crayons is pull them out of boxes, into her back pack, into her desk caddy, into the empty diaper wipes container they were originally in, and then back. This process goes on and on.

Right now in fact, as I sit at Sarah's desk with her, she has been spending time and great energy putting the crayons in her desk drawer, back to her desk caddy, and back and forth. She's having a ball. She's very busy. And, it's so much fun to watch.

Sarah's crayons get a great deal of attention, and in some cases abuse. She still likes to chew on them every so often, break them into pieces or pull off their labels.

All in all, Sarah's crayons are a well loved toy and one I absolutely, positively recommend to any parent with a growing toddler. The possibilities with these fabulous tools are endless.

Happy coloring!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Choosing A Pediatrician Wisely

One of the things, if not the first, that a parent prepares for before the arrival of their first child is a reliable, well-recommended pediatrician to care for your little one.

Being that I lived in one state and worked in another it made sense to deliver Sarah closer to my office as I was working well up until my due date. Therefore, I researched much and often to find a suitable pediatrician with similar beliefs to mine, who had a great reputation and quality bed side manner, as well as someone who was convenient to get to. Another factor in the beginning, was finding a pediatrician who was affiliated with the hospital I was planning to deliver at so I knew that the doctor checking Sarah from the top of her head to the tip of her toes was someone I approved and felt comfortable with.

The good news is that we chose right for what we needed when we started out and were thrilled with the care Sarah received.

I was happy with the pediatrician we choose initially. But, with the number of visits a parent makes with their child just during the first year alone, and then for sick visits on top of that, and spending way too much time getting to and from plus the added expense for parking garages, we decided to expand our search after Sarah's first few visits and vaccines to seek a new health care provider we could trust who was closer to where we lived.

When you choose a pediatrician you choose their office as well. The most essential part of any practice is the administrative staff who helps with your billing, scheduling of your appointments, etc. I will say this factor of the first pediatrician left much to be desired and; therefore, made it easy to leave.

I am thrilled to report that I have a pediatrician, and practice, I really like, who I have been going to for quite some time, who I recommend highly, and is close to my home, and has an incredible disposition with children, and especially my child.

The relationship with your pediatrician is an important one and should not be taken lightly. There are many questions we as parents will ask in the first year alone and you want to make sure you choose someone you feel comfortable with, and who your child is responsive to. Like any relationship, if some aspect of it is not working you should consider a switch if communication and care is not to your liking.

Choose your pediatrician carefully and wisely for your sake and for your child's care. Recommendations from other parents you know is certainly a good place to start your search for a quality health care professional.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When Travel is Necessary

When I have to travel for business, even if for only one night, I miss Sarah greatly. Wishing to hug her and snuggle with her and to just to be with her seems so far out of reach, and it is.

Certainly with tools such as Skype loved ones are able to remain connected all around the world. However, a trip that is short and packed with work needs and activities and involves travel to a different time zone than your own, means that visual communication becomes somewhat limiting especially when meetings and bed times are factored in.

I have also experienced that when I travel if I talk with Sarah on the phone she gets so excited that when we hang up and she doesn’t see me she then gets upset trying to figure out where I am. So, as a result, for now, since Sarah is still too young to understand, I have been limited to talking with her via phone or Skype because then Daniel is left with Sarah flipping out, confused and unhappy that mommy is not at home.

Therefore, when I need to travel I often make sure to include as much of Sarah’s presence as possible with me including uploaded photos to my laptop, cell phone and travel wallet. I even made sure this time around for a quick trip to film some footage of Sarah at the playground to my cell phone to hear her voice and see her energy. She really is a hoot.

When I wrote this blog from however many thousands of feet in the air earlier this week, tired from a long trip in a short period of time, all I could think of was how much I couldn’t wait to see my little monkey when I got home. Even though she was long asleep when I arrived home, just looking in on her and tucking her in warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. This is home.

Okay, there was a part of me that wanted Sarah to wake up, even if for a short while, so I could really see her but then it would have likely taken a fair bit of time to get her back to sleep. And, since this was a selfish request on my part I realized that l just needed to wait until the morning to hear the words “mommy,” see her big smile, and hug her as tight as possible enveloping her in thankful to be home with my family.

Mommy's home baby.

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...