Monday, May 31, 2010

Cruel and Unusual

Yes, I'm a broken record.

Yes, this is again about napping and early waking.

Isn't it amazing how this parenting gig continually kicks you in the ass?

I don't know about you, but I have found teething and its associated uncertainties to be one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood.

As I've whined about before, our Girly slowly evolved into a very poor napper (at home) and just kept waking up earlier and earlier. We kind of fixed the early waking about 5 weeks ago, then dontcha know that Girly went and got sick, sick, sick and it messed everything up. (Frankly, I worried about the sickness, but she slept wonderfully. Ahhh, the conundrums of mommy-ing).

It doesn't help that she must have the slowest-erupting-teeth in all of teeth history. I swear that she has been working on 2 upper and 2 lower molars for about 2 months now. The right ones are now fully erupted while the left ones are now just peeking through. And the gums by her canines are just swelling up, in typical annoying teeth fashion.

I have no issue with crying it out when I can feel reasonably certain that Girly has a full belly and is not in pain. That is where teething has been so hard for me: I can give her Motrin at bedtime, but she wakes 8 or 9 hours later and I don't know if it is habit or pain or both. I felt I should err on the side of caution and give her more Motrin, which worked sometimes but not all the time.


We finally just decided that it must be habit. Or mostly habit. Or mostly ANNOYING.

On Friday I decided to really push her on her nap to try to get her to finally sleep longer at home. She slept about 30 minutes, cried for 8, slept for 15 minutes, cried for 10, then slept about 45 more minutes. Bliss! Girly was going to be home with me for 6 full days with the holiday weekend, so I decided to push the rest of it, too. I think she cried a little bit early Saturday morning, but for the most part has slept until at least 6:20am every day since. Which is, obviously, amazing. The better part, though, is that her naps have been consistently 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours or a little more ever since. This is revolutionary since we were only getting about 45 minutes.

Again, like I said, broken record. These themes just repeat themselves over and over and over again. (At least in our household). Please slap me next time I whine about our poor sleeper. I'll blame my poor memory on the lack of sleep.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More guilt: the sunscreen edition


I'm here again to make you feel bad about sunscreen.

I've already posted a bit of info about our struggle with sunscreen here and here. Full disclosure: since my last post about buying gallons of spray sunscreen, we have only used it once since Girly has such sensitive skin and got a rash.

Our approach since then has been to use California Baby's SPF18 Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion everyday before school since it is easier to apply than the thicker California Baby SPF30 Sunscreen that we've been reserving for pool use. I don't feel it's a great solution because it is a lower SPF and it doesn't address the scalp-burning issue, but at least it is better than nothing?

Now, I've just read two blogs today about the new Environmental Working Group's 2010 Sunscreen Guide. Here is what Ain't No Mom Jeans has to say, and here is what Safe Mama has to say.

Why so scary?

(UPDATED to add this less-fear-mongering report with advice from the American Cancer Society).

I had actually already been researching Supergoop and they seem to have good, safe products. I especially love the idea of their Sunscreen Swipes for on-the-go and daycare purposes. Will seek some out this weekend (pricey, though).

Jason also has some natural sunscreen products, and a spray that I have been trying to find.

So, what do you use? What's your approach?

Further ... any luck with sun hats? I really would like Girly to wear one (plus, they're so cute!) but just find it a MAJOR battle.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I thought it might be worth noting that I found the ultimate solution to a stinky diaper pail.

Get rid of the diaper pail.

Granted, we didn't have any super-duper genie model, but we had a harder and harder time controlling the odor.

We let the pail air out for a few days and just took every wet/dirty diaper from upstairs straight downstairs to the trash. It wasn't much of a hassle and we just kept it up. It has done wonders for my nose.

On a related note, Girly learned to say "poop" this week. It's kind of cute.

I think that means she is ready for potty training.


Oh .. it isn't?


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Walking all over me

With a change of seasons comes a change of foot wear.

Girly has tiny, tiny feet. Her tennies that she has been wearing all winter are 9-12 month size (she is 17 months) and are still a little big. I have loved the See Kai Run shoes and have been lucky to find them on sale at She wears the soft-soled shoes without protest and has literally worn out three pairs. (**big sale now through Monday, 5/24, online at See Kai Run**).

(By the way, I have had great success with for all kinds of items and their customer service has been excellent).

I was hoping we could get to spring before buying another pair of tennis shoes, but we are getting desperate for outside footwear and something that doesn't look dorky with spring clothes. (Yes, it's important).

I found one pair of sandals for her at Target, but they aren't very sturdy and they stink to high heaven when she plays outside.

I had read lots of good things about Salt-Water Sandals for both girls and boys. They are traditional looking sandals and come in tons of colors and seem very durable. I wasn't sure if they made them small enough for Girly, but they do have toddler sizes. In the Kansas City area, I found them at The Little House and they are about $10 cheaper than through Zappos.

I got her a pair and they are super cute. I first got her the size 4, but they run long so I had to go back and get a size 3 (the smallest they make). Really?

I also have friends who swear by Keens for kids. I got a knock-off pair at Kohl's, but they are a size 5, so she can probably wear those in high school.

Also, for when tennies are necessary, I had a friend hunt down toddler footie socks at Walmart. You know, again, for when style is critical.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Thank you, Today Show.

As if I wasn't already goofy enough about the foods I feed my child, you had to go and add another level of craziness.

You know I am susceptible to the craziness.

As I was about to turn off the TV this morning to head out the door to work, I caught Dr. Nancy talking about "harmful things in the healthy foods we feed our children". Attention? Consider it grabbed.


She was discussing a new study published online today in the journal Pediatrics. (If you scroll down the page, you can access the full article for free under e-First Pages, titled Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides).

The jist of the study is this: there is already an established association between organophosphate pesticides and adverse effects on neurodevelopment (behavioral problems, lower IQ) in populations with high exposures (such as children who live on farms, etc.) This study looked at a group of over 1,000 average kids who were representative of the entire US. They found that children who had higher urine levels of organophosphate pesticides were more likely to meet the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD.

This is by no means a cause and effect type of study, but rather establishes an association between the two and indicates further study could be beneficial.

As someone who works in the health care field, I think it is important to always seek out primary sources of information and determine their reliability. I've read the original article and I would consider Pediatrics to be a reputable journal. I'm not a researcher and I fully admit that I don't understand all the minutiae of the article, but I get the big themes.

More interesting to me, though, were the cited references about the detectable concentrations of pesticides in common foods, like frozen blueberries and strawberries. If you are a nerd like me, you can look at the USDA Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary for 2008. Scroll down to page 50 where you will find Appendix B, Distribution of Residues by Pesticide in Fruit and Vegetables. This appendix takes up 81 pages of a 202 page report. I have no idea what these chemicals are and just because they are listed doesn't mean they are harmful. At a minimum, though, it is eye-opening to see the sheer number of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides that the government monitors in our food supply. Fruit and vegetables would be the primary exposure your children would have to pesticides, but the FDA considers food, drinking water and residential pesticides as important sources for exposure.

Feeling bad enough yet?

I know. It sucks.

I think we all try to do the very best we can for our kids. I think it is impossible to address every risk, or potential risk. We have to make judgment calls about the hysteria of the day and whether or not it will be proven or disproven in the future.

I can't, and do not wish to, control every morsel of food that enters Girly's mouth. She eats six meals and three snacks a week at school, none of which is organic. Not to mention meals we eat at restaurants or other people's houses. I will not change our lifestyle to avoid these necessary or pleasurable events.

I can, however, take more charge of what happens in our own home.
- The author of the study recommends buying organic produce when you can and washing or peeling conventional produce.
- I already mentioned how much I am loving Door to Door Organics. I truly mostly love the convenience, but I am appreciating the organic produce more and more.
- I will continue to use this Shopper's Guide to Pesticides when I am buying produce at the market.
- We don't have a shoe-free home, but I have friends who do. I am leaning more in that direction, especially in the spring and summer months when there are likely to be more chemicals on the grass.
- Buy local and seasonal whenever possible. Ask the farmers at the farmer's market how the food is produced. Some small farmers can't afford all the certifications for 'organic' status, but follow the same rules.

The bureaucracy surrounding the food system in this country is amazing. (Have you seen Food Inc.? Don't worry, it has added to my craziness.) It's also not simple. Buying organic food is not the solution too all of the world's problems. For me, personally, I started really buying organic food when I began making baby food for Girly. I still bought a lot of conventional food for us, which is kind of silly, but I think kids are potentially more susceptible to the effects or pesticides and such. I don't believe that the actual flesh of an organic apple is more nutritional than the flesh of a conventional apple, but I do believe that buying organic produce helps the water system because there is less pesticide run-off, and it supports small business owners. So, maybe if you don't believe in the pesticide hysteria, you will start to buy some organic produce for one of these other reasons.

Anyone still reading? Carrie?

I'm far from perfect when it comes to all of this. And, "perfect" in my mind is different than "perfect" in your mind. The more I learn, though, the more information I can use to help me make better choices for our family. Maybe all of this will give you some food for thought ...

Need help finding local food? Check out Local Harvest.

The organic labeling system in this country doesn't make it any easier to understand this complicated business. has some good information.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Uncharacteristically efficient

We just started getting delivery of organic produce.

To our front steps.

Could anything be better?

I'm thrilled with Door to Door Organics so far. (If you are in Colorado, Kansas City, Michigan or on the East Coast, check them out!)

It has been great for our meal-planning, healthy-eating, and saving-the-Earth-ness. (Too far? Maybe. But, I do feel better.)

However ... to the point ... I generally hate to waste food, and I find it especially repulsive to waste organic food. I am liking our composter for the kitchen scraps, but it can be a challenge to use up every bit of the fresh fruit and veggies before the next box arrives.

So, here are a few of my new strategies:

Blanch veggies and flash freeze
I happened to be cooking some pasta for dinner, and it occurred to me that I should just use that already boiling water to cook some broccoli and cauliflower that we wouldn't get to before it went bad. I pulled out the pasta, threw in the veggies, and let it cook for about 2 minutes. I drained the veggies and spread them out on a kitchen towel on a big cookie sheet. After they cooled to room temp, I put them in the freezer all spread out. After fully frozen, I tucked them away in a freezer bag for future use. I have thawed just a few pieces in the microwave for Girly's dinner, or will likely thaw a bigger amount and mix into mac and cheese or something.

Slushy fruit soup
This sounds kind of fancy, right? It isn't at all. We had a bunch of fruit leftover from a party - pineapple, oranges, kiwis, strawberries - and it was starting to look dismal. I put it all together in our Magic Bullet and then froze the blended fruit in ice cube trays. I thaw 2-3 cubes in the fridge, or just barely zap them in the microwave. It's a good, refreshing treat and good for spoon practice.

Frozen berries
Girly loves, loves, loves berries. They do seem to spoil faster than most fruit, though. If I have extra that I don't think we'll get to, I just freeze them spread out on a cookie sheet (or even better, the plastic lid to a tupperware container or something so they don't stick). You can thaw them to mix with yogurt, but Girly likes them frozen and chopped up. A cool treat!

I'm usually not good at this pre-planning business, but it does kill two birds with one stone: avoids wasting food AND gives you quick meals for the kiddos!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


On this Mother's Day, I'm proud of the job I've done so far (17 months and counting).

I'm proud of the little girl that lives in our house and follows me around and occasionally drives me crazy.

I'm also proud of how I handled a bad parenting moment yesterday.

We were driving home from the store, as a family, when I heard Girly choking in the backseat. She is still rear-facing in her car seat, but we have a mirror and I turned around and could see that she had shoved her barrette down her throat. I was in the passenger seat, so I yelled at Huz, he stopped the car in the middle of the road and I started to crawl backwards over my seat to get her out. Fortunately, she threw it up as I was loosening the restraint to get her out.

She was fine.

We were all scared.

I felt terrible that it even happened in the first place.

Girly was born with more hair than a lot of 1-year-olds, so she has had barrettes or rubber bands in her hair for months and months now. I know they are choking hazards, so I've always watched her very carefully. I always take them out of her hair at nap time. As she has gotten older, she pulls barrettes out, but has never put them in her mouth. The one she almost swallowed was big and had a bow on it ... if I had thought to be worried, I would have only worried about a smaller barrette.

Instead of beating myself up (which I am prone to do), I'll just have to realize that it was an accident. It could have happened to anyone (and, now, hopefully won't happen to you).

In retrospect, though, I am proud of how I responded. My mom-instinct and mom-reflexes kicked in and I think I just knew what to do. I scrambled over the back of my seat faster than you can imagine. I knew I could get her out of her car seat and do the Heimlich if I had to. (Thank god I didn't have to).

I really hope I never find myself in a similar situation again, but if I do, I feel better that I probably won't be paralyzed with fear.

And that, my friends, is the best gift I could hope for.

Monday, May 3, 2010

For your medical memory bank

Just two small pieces of medical advice we picked up last week. File them away ...

I got a call from Girly's teacher on Wednesday saying that she was not as active as usual, pulled on her ears all day, skipped lunch and took an extra-long nap. That, combined with the fact that she (finally!) slept late the same morning, all added up to SICKNESS.

She was acting pretty normal when I picked her up, but I knew if I didn't take her to the pediatrician's office it would for sure turn in to something bad.

She laughed and climbed all over the room. I felt dumb for bringing her. We had the obligatory ear check and she had something akin to the opposite of an ear infection. This is very un-technical and probably not medically accurate, but basically her ear drums were sucked in instead of bulging out with fluid. She had a little head congestion and that, combined with TONS of teething, just caused pressure in her ears.

Like being on a plane with ears that won't pop!

Poor girl.

The remedy was just (more) Motrin and lots of fluids so the sucking motion would help relieve the pressure. We also use frozen wet washcloths for chewing. (I'm sure you all know about the Motrin/Tylenol/Benadryl/Zyrtec recall by now. Right? If not, see McNeil Product Recall. Buy generic, I guess?)

So - ear pulling, but no fever may very well be built up pressure. I didn't know about encouraging drinking, so that was a helpful tip.

Also, while we were at the pediatrician's office and had already paid our co-pay, I took the opportunity to get a prescription for a nebulizer compressor. We had one round of breathing treatments back in January and borrowed the machine from the office. I was happy we didn't have to buy one, but then we needed one again in March and I was lucky enough to borrow one from a friend. This wouldn't be quite as convenient in the middle of the night.

My vast amount of experience with children needing breathing treatments (n=1; can you sense the sarcasm?) tells me this:
1. If you need to do the treatments once, you will probably need to do them twice.
2. If you are prescribed Xopenex (the expensive steroids), ask them to write the prescription for the maximum number of boxes. You will likely pay the same co-pay regardless and might as well get your money's worth.
3. The meds last about a year. Which is convenient because you will probably need them again. (See #1)
4. Ask about buying a nebulizer compressor the first time you need one. Mine was surprisingly inexpensive - $75 out of pocket at most, and my insurance may pay some/all. Well worth it, in my opinion, to save a midnight trip to the ER or urgent care.

Again, can't state it enough ... I feel quite lucky to take my daughter to the doctor's office with worry, only to find that she climbs all over the place and plays with tongue depressors.

We are luckier than many and I'm thankful each day.