Friday, March 25, 2011

Mommy Sleeps with One Ear Open

How many of us are nodding, "yes", "absolutely", "definitely", "without a doubt" saying that we sleep at night with at least one ear open and are quick to respond to our child's needs in sometimes a much more quick fashion than our counterparts who remain in bed sleeping and not budging?

This is not a slam to our spouses and partners (okay, maybe just a little); however, I find it very interesting that when our kids wake at night or come into our room from a bad dream, a noise they hear, the need to go to the bathroom or just because they want to be near us, we are often the first to hear their tiny footsteps. We are usually the first to feel their presence at the side of the bed standing over us. We are likely the one's who crawl or bolt out of bed to manage the situation.

There have been many times, in these instances, where fatigue is beyond for me, where I have looked over to my husband willing his eyes to open and to wake up and to take action. I admit that there has even been a time or two or more where I have nudged him to get up as I feel I do the lion share of the night time responding. And, he gets up.

It turns out that my loving hubby gets up more than I thought he did. After telling him about this blog post I was writing he told me that he gets up and deals with Sarah far more than I know. He said, "there are plenty of times where I hear Sarah pad into our room and stand by the foot of our bed. As I get up, she walks back to her room, gets back in bed, and I tuck her in."

It's funny because I was so convinced, and still am, that I do the majority of the waking up when Sarah gets up at night or really early in the morning. It's actually really a moot point. This blog post is not that I do more than Daniel or that he does more than me. I just find it funny that I often wake at the drop of a hat to address Sarah wakings, which seem to happen often.

I publicly apologize to my husband for thinking he was not as much an active participant in this parenting task.

This is definitely a mommy thing, a martyr thing or whatever we want to call it.

As moms, we are quick to react to our little one's needs without a thought. It's not that our partners aren't interested or less concerned. It's that we have trained them too well to know that we will be the first on the scene, most of the time, to react and address the situation.

On a separate note, because of the extreme fatigue we feel at times many of us have fallen into the habit of agreeing to let our kids climb into our beds for the sheer need and desperation to get more sleep or seeming inability to physically get up.

When Sarah is sick I am more willing for her to climb into my bed, more so, so I can keep a close eye and ear on her. Sometimes, and this we do on occasion and only during illness time, we let Sarah sleep on a kid-sized flip sofa (which I love and think everyone should have) on the floor next to my side of the bed where she can crawl in and out of safely and I can be near by to rub her back, tuck her back in, etc.

Please know, I do not encourage co-sleeping with children in the adult bed. It is not safe and can indeed be dangerous. In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission they warn against infants and toddlers under the age of two sleeping together with parents. Between January 1990 and December 1997 there were as many as 515 deaths due to strangulation (e.g., bed frames) and suffocation (e.g., blankets, pillows, parents rolling on top of children) resulting from co-sleeping in the same bed with children.

While many of my friends co-sleep with their children, as that is their personal choice, I feel otherwise. What works for them doesn't work for me. Call me selfish. Call me overprotective.

I also need a quality night's sleep and a good rest does not involve Sarah, the wiggler, kicking, punching and pushing me (accidentally, of course) to ends of the bed thankful for the nightstand to help prevent me from hitting the floor with a start.

Even though Sarah is over the age of three it's important for her to learn to sleep in her own bed and find comfort in the space that has been created for her to sleep and rest.

I digressed. Now, let's get back to the topic at hand.

I am just glad that my husband appreciates my willingness to act for the various reasons I have discussed above and for that I can make other requests of him from a parenting standpoint.

Like all parent partnerships, each of us does specific tasks and responsibilities better or more frequently than the other. It is not a contest. One of my many parenting skills just happens to be getting up in a moment's notice, in zombie-like mode, to react and resolve our child's needs as quickly as possible.

Is this one of your skills?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Portable Potty Seat - A Must

Now that Sarah is fully potty trained it has been interesting trying to get her to "go" before we leave the house so there are no accidents in the car, at the playground, and while we are out and about.

While she has been very good about staying "dry" and asking to go to the bathroom, there have been some instances where I have needed to run clear across a store or back to the house from the playground to get to the toilet in time for Sarah to go.

However, there is a solution.

A while back my sister asked me to get for her girls a portable potty seat that she could use for the beach. She recommended the Potette 2-in-1. At first, I thought this was somewhat of a ridiculous purchase because it looked like a ring where the child would sit on the ground instead of a few inches from the ground. The pictures on the packaging made it seem hard to envision how it worked since the product was folded up.

The good news is that I have since been able to see this seat up close and in person. The diagram online and on the packaging at first didn't seem to do the product justice as I really couldn't envision how a child really sat on the seat.

The seat is great. It folds up easily so it can be carried in a stroller, in a diaper bag or pocketbook and even in the trunk of the car.

The first time I used the seat for Sarah we were outside of a wholesale shopping club and Sarah asked to go to the bathroom. With perishables in the car and no interest in having her use the less than clean bathrooms inside I decided it was time to give the seat its first try.

Knowing that she was newly potty trained and not fully practiced at holding it in this next visual should bring you a laugh.

First, I highly recommend that you pull the seat out of its store packaging (a really hard plastic) before first use. Let's just say that I tried tearing it open with my teeth in a hurry and it was somewhat of a challenge and laughing matter as well. While quickly and desperately trying to get the seat free from the plastic, in between breaths I begged Sarah to hold it in. Second, I suggest you test out the seat to know how to secure it in place as when your child needs to go trying to figure out how it stays still is not the ideal time for a dry run (pun intended).

Eventually, there in the parking lot between the open driver and passenger doors I opened the potty seat, with a little bit of privacy, and plopped Sarah on top.

I was waiting for Sarah to tell me that she didn't have to go as she has done that before when we are out at restaurants. Sometimes she just wants to get up and thinks it's funny.

The good news is that Sarah went. And she loved it. She really enjoyed the adventure.

Even better is that now when we are out and about I don't leave home without the portable potty seat. This can also sit on top of toilet seats if time allows and you are not rushing with your child in tow in the hopes a leak won't happen along the way.

Sarah, and her friends, have since used this potty when we have been out on the go and it has been great. While it's still important to encourage our kids to use the bathroom before they leave the house, sometimes circumstances make it challenging for getting to a toilet in a timely fashion. So, I recommend that every parent with a potty trained child, have a portable seat available for trips outside the home, even for the short stints too.

It is a great relief to know that I don't have to rush to get Sarah to a bathroom and that she has great comfort with her travel potty.

Monday, March 14, 2011

When It's Time to Change Pediatric Practices

This past week Sarah got hit with a bug that led to a 105 temperature.

While some of you may be gasping, this is not terribly unusual for Sarah when she gets sick. While she doesn't get these fevers often, thinking the last one may have been well over six months ago, Sarah's body doesn't joke around and escalates the numbers to be really high.

Sarah has always ranged high with her fevers. That's just how her body reacts to infections.

In fact, because of this, Daniel and I have it down to a strange science on how to manage Sarah's fevers when they do occur.

We have nothing against going to the emergency room (ER) but only go if it's absolutely necessary and especially if the approaches we are taking, with guidance from the doctor, are just not working.

For the most part, we end up just being told it's a "garden variety" virus that needs to run its course and that Sarah needs rest and lots of fluids.

This type of illness, with fevers so high, unfortunately, is the product of what happens when we have a child in daycare and school settings. Especially at the young ages where kids are still wiping their noses with their hands and arms and sometimes mouthing toys, there is only so much we can do to prevent illness. The germs are everywhere.

However, if one more person says to me that Sarah will be better off for it, getting sick often at this time in her life, I will scream.

We are very meticulous about washing hands and sanitizing without over doing it. Sometimes, we just have to let our kids get dirty and explore knowing there are sometimes germs they will pick up. Kids are going to get sick and we just have to roll with the punches as best as possible.

Before we moved this past year to our new city we were really happy with the pediatric practice chosen for Sarah's care. I pride myself on the investment in time and energy spent identifying and committing to the right place for us. It was so hard to leave them.

However, when we moved to our new home I did my very best to conduct the same approach but time was just not as much on our side before Sarah got sick and needed to be seen by a doctor. After a decent amount of research I came across a place I was hopeful was going to be a good fit for us all.

Today, I was proven really wrong about this.

The one time we took Sarah to this pediatrician practice we had as good an experience as we could have had based on what was needed for Sarah at the time. And, she seemed comfortable with the doctor as well, which is incredibly important. No matter how much we as parents may like a doctor, if our children feel ill at ease with them then they are not right for our family. Our children need to feel comfortable as well when having a doctor help with their care or we will never be able to take them to be seen and treated.

However, today, and I only admit this now, that I felt a nagging discomfort, and general dissatisfaction with how were were treated initially by the house staff at the pediatric practice I chose. These individuals who answer the phones, manage the billing and address the patients from the front just weren't that friendly and helpful. I sort of felt like we were somewhat of an inconvenience to them. I know, strange. I tried to shrug it off thinking I was making more out of it than needed be.
Yet, I experienced this today again.

These individuals who I called in need to help me with Sarah, who was sick and needed follow- up from her ER visit, told me that we could not get an appointment for our "sick kid." I was baffled by this. I was blown away. These people didn't even give me the chance to speak with a nurse or doctor about Sarah's situation and instead told me to go to the ER if it was that bad or to schedule an appointment for later in the week.

Call me crazy? But, this doesn't normally happen, and shouldn't. At least, from my experience with Sarah's former pediatrician and amazing staff, we were ALWAYS told we could come in and that they would make time to fit us in. I never expect to be seen right away but to at least be given the courtesy of having my child be seen to confirm that there isn't something more serious going on or that would require an ER visit.

I was stunned by this situation that I started calling around to friends and family in the area asking about their doctor's who I didn't necessarily look into at first based on location and other factors, and timing. However, due to this issue, I was willing to drive today however many miles to get Sarah seen by a medical professional willing to see her in a non-ER setting.

Thankfully, I was able to connect with a mom friend, who's child is also in Sarah's class, and connected with her pediatrician's office. They were able to make room for us to have Sarah be seen right away based on her symptoms.

Ironically, this pediatric practice is the same name as ours; however, different location. Turns out that they are not associated with each other. They are all franchises owned by different people. So, let's just say that I don't intend to go to the location we started with and fully intend to switch upon further research and experience.

Especially when we have a sick kid the last thing we want or need to emotionally deal with is being turned away. I was blown away by the fact that Sarah could not be fit in at the pediatric office we joined even if it meant having to wait a few hours. This was disheartening and stressful to take.

When we have a sick kid we want to know that our needs will be heard and that the pediatric practice we choose will address our needs. We needed to go through this experience, unfortunately, to find this out but glad we had a support network to help us find a back-up plan.

My suspicions were accurate.

While Sarah was getting better there was one nagging symptom that did not change. Turns out she has an ear infection that escalated, and medication was necessary. Not only did Sarah get the care from a concerned doctor, but Daniel and I were also very pleased with the administrative staff too who were at the front lines when we called and there to comfort us while we waited to see the doctor.

Sarah did not need to go to the ER today. What she needed, and fortunately we found somewhere else, was a practice filled with people willing to help beyond their existing patient load, because that is what they do.

In fact, both the doctor and administrative staff were appalled when we told them we were turned away at the existing practice in which Sarah was a patient.

As parents, this job of parenting is hard work. However, we should NEVER, never settle for less than what we feel is important especially as it pertains to our kids. I started to question whether I was being unrealistic in needing and requiring a medical practice that understands the importance of making time for sick kids even when they don't have appointments available or the practice has a fully loaded patient schedule that day.

It's important that we choose our pediatrician's wisely. If at any point we feel discomfort, we should certainly address. Sometimes it's not always easy to do that. If there is something more that makes us question our initial decision to join a practice as a patient, it's okay to decide to leave it and start somewhere else. That is the beauty of free will and health insurance. We have the right to choose. And, we should not beat ourselves up if what we thought was best turned out not to be. It's just as easy to move on and learn from our experiences and do what's best for our kids. Parents make mistakes too and aren't always the best judges of character and quality. Experience is what helps guide us along with good friends, family and support too.

Choosing a pediatrician is a lot like dating. Finding the right relationship takes time. We will know when we find the right fit. Sometimes we have to "date" before we find the right relationship that makes all involved comfortable, happy and well taken care of.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sarah's Job: Setting the Table

A while back we visited with friends, who also have kids, and I was enamored by the table settings. I remember saying how brave my friend was to decorate with such nice dishware. She laughed. From a far, these dishes look like stoneware. They are misleading indeed, in a good way. They are made of plastic and can indeed be dropped on the floor, accidentally of course, by our kids. And, the clear and colored plastic cups complete the look as well.

I was hooked. I rushed off to Target later that week, where she bought the dishes and cups and stocked up on them as well.

Since moving into our new home, with more space, I have been able to finally put out these plates, bowls and cups in our dining room on a shelf.

As a result, Sarah started to pick up the dishes and place them on the table playing pretend. All of a sudden when meal time came Sarah insisted that she set the table. At first, I chuckled. I thought. Okay. let's give her a shot and see what she does. She set the table indeed with plates, napkins, forks only (she knows not to touch the knives) and place mats too.

I was so impressed. I asked Sarah if she wanted to do this task of setting the table more often. Let's just say that setting the table has become Sarah's new task and responsibility, and one that she enjoys. All of this because I invested in cool, plastic ware.

Therefore, if you are afraid, as I have been, of your little one dropping a dish or glass, here's a way to have your meals with piece of mind. Consider decorative plastic dishes that can also go in the dishwasher.

Sarah loves this "job" in the family and she takes great pride in setting the table for us to have dinner and other meals. It's really cute seeing her do this and being very serious about her responsibility. She's very proud and so am I.

These are the dishes that we own purchased from Target. They come in various colors. There are many other plastic dinnerware options to consider as well. When I first purchased our dishes they were price per item. They have become so popular that they are now selling them as sets too so you have the option.

Have fun shopping.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Car Seat Has Been Chosen

In my previous blog post entitled Choosing Our Next Car Seat I narrowed down my search for a new combination seat for my growing three-year-old. The choices were the Britax Frontier 85 and the Recaro ProSport. Since Sarah was just about grown out of her existing seat the Britax Roundabout 40, it was sadly, time to make this necessary investment in a new seating option. Therefore, much time went into researching car seats so that the choice we made was a final safety seating solution.

The final step was to take Sarah to the store for her to sit in each of these seats to check them for comfort, ease of use especially buckling her in and out, functionality, and more.

Since both of these car seats had high ratings from parents across the nation and their price tags were similar, we started to look then at other points of consideration and needs.

I didn't expect to go into BuyBuy Baby and spend as much time as we did, but am really glad that we did. Not only did we really take our time but we had super great staff there to address our questions and back and forth points of view several times over. They even came out to our car in the parking lot to help educate us on how either of our choices would be installed into our vehicle, and their recommendations too.

After popping Sarah in and out of the two car seats several times and thinking of her needs when traveling for short and long trips we decided to go with the Britax Frontier 85. This choice had GREAT reviews as far as safety and comfort. Further, it provides more visibility for Sarah to look out the window, something she loves to do, and this seat gives Sarah more room to grow. It also has external cup holders that don't retract inside the seat so they are durable.

The three downsides I discovered, which in no way are negative to the Recaro ProSport but more so due to the needs of Sarah and the size of our current vehicle. It appeared to be a wider frame than what we currently had and; therefore, due to the small back seat in the vehicle, there would have been even less room for me to sit beside her as I like to do. Further, the head support, while very sturdy and great for sleepers whose heads move forward, was also very wide and somewhat limiting for Sarah to look out the side windows as much as she likes to do. The last, and most important point, was that five point harness system was too short in the crotch area. It didn't look like Sarah would have much more room to grow over the next several years and was close to being a tight fit.

A favorite facet of the Britax Frontier 85, one of which I did not appreciate until it was fully installed by my husband inside the car, is that it rests lower and less on an angle than her previous seat the Britax Roundabout. Sarah can more easily reach for her toys and books in the bin next to her, and she and I can sit closer together, when I ride in the back seat with her. Sarah can also get in and out of the car seat far more easily than she did before since it's lower to the vehicle seat.

All-in-all, I am very happy with the choice made to buy the Britax Frontier 85. It certainly helped as well to have a coupon to save some money on this high-quality product. This made me very happy. I was especially thrilled that it was a relatively easy car seat to install (thanks to my husband). Sarah also seems very pleased, happy and comfortable with her new car seat. She really likes it.

I highly recommend the Britax Frontier 85 should you be looking for a fully functioning option for your toddler, preschooler or youngster. This seat supports weight up to 120 pounds. This will be Sarah's last seat we ever need to purchase, and I am thankful for that. She has much room to grow in this seat.

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...