Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Seriously. In. Need. Of. Help.

Do any of you have kids who get car sick?

There will be more to come on our First Car Trip Ever, but let me give you a preview and say that Girly apparently gets car sick. Like mother, like daughter. Damn - I hate genetics.

We have been very lucky in the sickness department ... our girl has had her fair share of snotty noses, but we have managed to avoid the GI nastiness. She did have a weird vomiting illness about a month ago - threw up once each day for about 4 days out of 7 with no rhyme or reason - but that was the end of it.

On our way out of town last week, we picked her up at school, popped her in the car, and she promptly threw up all over the place about 15 minutes later. This didn't seem to be car sickness - we have driven farther lots of time without incident - but the dry heaving in Des Moines while watching the DVD player sure cleared things up.

Fast forward to today. I picked her up at daycare and took our normal 10 minute route home. At minute 9 we had vomit all over the backseat. Seriously???

She is still rear-facing in her car seat and I would like to leave her that way, if possible, since she has a ways to go before she meets the size restrictions. I agree that being rear-facing might make the motion sickness worse, but why would it start all of a sudden? She has been this way for 19 months.

She had a rash today when I got her out of the car to clean her up, so maybe she does have a bug, but she was sure acting fine.

I guess my question is this ... how do you know if it is car sickness or a bug? And, what do you do about it? The thought of cleaning puke out of a car seat several times a week is just maddening.


Icked Out in the Midwest

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bag it

How are you all managing your baby bag these days?

I never really got into the 'formal diaper bag' idea ... it didn't fit our lifestyle very well. We are kind of homebodies on our home days, or our girl already has everything she needs at daycare.

My approach thus far has been to have a 'baby station' in our living room, located in a large Lands End canvas bag. (I think I've previously mentioned my love affair with these things). We have diapers, wipes, a few spare outfits, burp cloths, plastic bags - you know, all that miscellaneous crap.
It also includes our Skip Hop Pronto changer, which I just LOVE and couldn't live without.

When we are headed out of the house, I just grab our medium Lands End bag (see - told you - obsessed) and transfer whatever we need - pronto changer, spare outfit, add a sippy cup or snacks and go. This bag also serves as the daycare bag, hence the frequent packing and unpacking.

This has worked pretty well for us, but now that Girly is older and more mobile, I am finding the need for a change. I have several friends who use backpacks for their baby/diapering needs, and I've finally stolen their idea.

I just ordered the Lands End diaper bag backpack upon the recommendation of a friend.
Truly, I don't have stock in this company, but I probably should. I just love to monogram things, you know.

I need to be more hands-free these days ... chasing Girly at the zoo, or farm, or just down the driveway, doesn't work with an open-topped bag in one of my hands. Or, I hang the tote bag on the stroller, chase her, and then watch the stroller fall over.

If a second child joins our family someday, I suppose this plan will need a revision - seems you need a lot more stuff for 2 kids, and not just twice the stuff - more like 10 times the stuff.

Also, are any of you organized enough to have a 'car kit' of sorts? Kind of an emergency stash for the things you forgot or didn't think you would need? I haven't been able to get my act together enough in 19 months to accomplish that, but maybe you have some tips ...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cleaning house

Here is my advice about cleaning toys:

Stop cleaning your toys.

The End.

I'm not really kidding. I cleaned Girly's toys a few times when she was just starting to really move around and mouth things, and it was a whole production with bleach water and air drying and the like. Then, I never really did it again.

If we have lots of kids over I might run a few things under hot water, or if she has been sick I might clean a few things, but in general - NOPE. She is in daycare for heaven's sake - there is no germ I can banish from my house. (We also haven't **crossing fingers** had the dreaded GI bug yet. That would require some sanitizing).

Our teethers are just frozen washcloths, so they all go in the wash anyway.

Save yourself some time and effort. Spend your free time doing something fun, like, oh I don't know, laundry?

In case you are an overachiever, here are some toy-cleaning tips from our friends at SafeMama.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Have baby, will travel: the car edition

I have been delinquent in describing our first car trip with Girly and I have forgotten a lot of the details (or, more likely, blocked them from memory). The destination was wonderful, but the coming and going? Not so much.

Here are just a few little tips -

Motion sickness:
We didn't know our girl got sick in the car. Looking back, I think she had just caught the bug that made her sick, sick, sick (because she threw up 10 minutes into the trip - that isn't motion sickness), but she also clearly had some degree of motion sickness, as evidenced by the dry heaving 4 hours into our trip. I suggest you call your pediatrician before you leave and ask if there is any medication you can give to your child and get the dose, just in case. Better to have it on hand than to have to go searching for it in a strange town.

Also, pack plenty of extra wipes and plastic bags in the car - there is all sorts of dirty-ness on road trips, puke or otherwise. We finally learned (after lots of puking) that a bib with a big pouch at the bottom can help contain the mess and make your kid and the car seat easier to clean.

If you are traveling with a special blanket or animal (lovingly named dee-dee in our house), be careful with its use. We have two dee-dees, fortunately, but both were thrown up on in the first 10 minutes, unfortunately. I wish, wish, wish I had kept one on reserve - just in case. ("Just In Case" became the theme of our trip.)

Finally, I was so super excited to use the portable DVD player to help pass the time - quietly. Turns out, a sick kid in a rear-facing car seat who watches movies continues to get sick. Bring plenty of reinforcements to fill the time.

Which is a nice transition to ... Toys!
I made a special solo trip to Target to find all manner of fun things to fill our time. Turns out that it is surprisingly hard to find age-appropriate toys that are quiet and good for the car. Whatever happened to the plain ol' Magnadoodle? I got the Target version, which has a laughable name, but was compact and good for travel. Otherwise, it was just some books from the $1 section and some colors. We bought a little keyboard for the trip home because Girly LOVES banging on the keys. We would have taken out the batteries, if it wasn't for the dreaded tiny screwdriver, but it did take her almost an hour to figure out how to turn it on!

Entertainment for parents?
I checked out some books on CD from the library for when Girly was sleeping (which, shocker, wasn't all that often). I ended up getting a series of short stories by David Sedaris, which were really funny and perfect because we could just listen to it in short bursts if necessary.

I bought a lot of special treats for the trip, as my plan was to feed Girly from the time we left until the time we arrived, just to keep her happy. "Minnesota crackers" we called them. Turns out a sick kid wants nothing to do with cheese bunnies, so more for me, thankyouverymuch.

In general, I hope you travel to a place where there are friends / grandparents / aunts, uncles, cousins / random strangers (kidding, kidding) who can take care of your kid for a little bit and give you a breather!

Also, last tip: bring a spare set of car keys that you DON'T keep in the car. No need getting trapped anywhere. I did have the forethought to renew our AAA membership the day we left, though it didn't help when the keys were locked in the trunk in Minnesota. Apparently, we don't have coverage for stupidity.

Dinner FAIL

My brain is fried from the mental energy I expended last weekend on our first road trip with Girly. Details to come when I am coherent again.

In the meantime, let me regale you with another tale of poor memory and parenthood failure. Remember when I sought your advice about eating out with your kids? Well, it must have all gone in one ear and out the other, because we tried again and it wasn't pretty.

One evening a couple of weeks ago we were having the 'dinner showdown' in our kitchen. You know how it goes ... everyone gets home from work / school and you stand around debating what you are going to eat. It was early on a Friday night and sushi sounded like a good idea. I decided our option was to walk 2 blocks to our local sushi place with Girly at 5:30pm, or wait until she went to bed and get carry-out sushi.

Oh, why not? Let's take her! She'll love sushi!
Just because she dresses like it doesn't mean she'll eat it.

It was a disaster. I probably have higher standards than most - it wasn't like we were kicked out - but it was un-relaxing, un-fun, and un-appetizing.

And, the worst part is that it was mostly my fault.

I overestimated the chance that Girly would eat sushi. California rolls? No go. I brought a banana as a back-up that lasted about 4 seconds. I had only one toy that occupied her attention for maybe 4 more seconds. I forgot that instead of just being restless, she now deploys a high-pitched scream when annoyed.

Once again, I set her up to fail because I didn't prepare well enough. We just aren't at the stage where we can spontaneously run out of the house to dinner and I need to be OK with that. I am OK with that, but I just need to remember next time.

The chopsticks were a help when Girly wasn't sticking them in her ears, and the oranges at the end of our meal bought us just enough time to pay the bill and get out of there. We'll ask for those first if we ever try it again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

While we're on the subject ...

Since we've already been talking food and feeding, just another glimpse at how things are working for us these days.

I love making meals in the summer. (Wait. Let me re-phrase. I find making 6 meals a day to be very tedious, but it is less tedious in the summer.) Fresh fruits are so varied and plentiful that there is always something healthy and easy to prepare waiting in the refrigerator. Our girl also usually likes pasta, and loves quesadillas (corn tortilla with refried beans and a little cheese), and an occasional half PB&J on wheat bread.

Veggies and protein, though, are more of a challenge for me. We are past the baby food stage and fully into finger and fork/spoon foods. Girly isn't quite up to the task of raw veggies, though, unless it is something soft like a cucumber (though she usually refuses those, along with tomatoes because she doesn't like the skin). I've mentioned before about blanching and freezing veggies, and this works very well for broccoli and cauliflower for us. Microwaved with a little cheese and she eats it all up.

I've also found that I am far more successful in providing balanced meals if I can pull something out of the freezer that is already prepped. If I devote an afternoon or an evening or two to cooking, then I can usually have meals for at least a month. I still find that NurtureBaby has some of the best recipes. I've made them over and over and have had great success, both in cooking and Girly's eating. The one-pot wonders are very toddler-friendly and freeze great. The Mexican Fiesta Stew is a staple around here, and I've also made the Creamy Chicken Florentine and the Pork Chops and Applesauce a few times. I've tried almost all of the recipes and they all are quite good! I just don't mash or puree anything anymore and simply freeze portions in muffin tins.

What are your tips for getting the veg and protein into your toddler?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Water Safety

I've mentioned before that one of 'my things' is a fear around water. I am a confidant swimmer, but I had one bad experience at summer camp being caught in a large group of girls in the river and I couldn't get out. Ever since, I get anxious in bodies of water where I can't see the bottom, and even in pools if there are a lot of people.

Add children to the mix? Might as well send the Xanax my way ...

This is a little ways off for us, as Girly pretty much stages a protest with full-on picket signs if I even attempt to get her near the pool, but it will be here before I know it.

I have seen pretty impressive videos of swim lessons with little kids who are taught to float on their backs as instinct ... note to self to seek those out next Summer.

I also came across this scary account of drowning today as I trolled the Internets. Yep, Debbie Downer presents: Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning. I'm not sure who these gCaptain folks are, but it seems like sound advice, or at least food for thought.

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know, from fifty feet away, what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for, is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC). Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Th e respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

(Source: On Scene Magazine: Fall 2006)

This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble – they are experience aquatic distress. Not always present before the instinctive drowning response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long – but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in there own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are n the water:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. – don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let them decide

I feel really lucky that Girly is a good eater. I know that isn't the case for every child and it has made mealtime a relatively simple and peaceful process at our house. Especially now that she seems to be eating ALL the time (3 meals and 3 snacks!), I appreciate not having a battle.

Girly was really an exceptional eater as a baby - ate virtually any fruit or vegetable or grain I put in front of her. She is expressing her opinion much more now that she is a toddler, which is totally expected and age-appropriate. With that, though, needs to come some vigilance on my part to make sure mealtime remains happy.

Right after we started solids, my Parents as Teachers educator suggested a good resource, which I previously mentioned here. Ellyn Satter proposes the benefits of a division of responsibility when it comes to feeding: The parent is responsible for what, when, and where and the child is responsible for whether and how much. I was recently telling a friend about this website and it was a timely reminder for us, as well.

I can usually anticipate what Girly will eat for her meals and, while she LOVES fruit, she will generally eat some veggies as well. If she turns up her nose at something on her plate, I need to remember not to get her something else just to make her happy. If I prepared a reasonable meal and she doesn't want to eat it, that is OK, but she doesn't get something else. Back to that old, start as you mean to go. In the future, I refuse to be the parent that makes entirely different meals for the children than the adults. I will take a child's preference into account while planning a meal, but I do not want to have a household where everyone eats something different for dinner.

If you are facing some battles at your house, or if you want to read up a little more on the subject, here is another good blog that my friend sourced out: Family Feeding Dynamics.

Another habit (bad habit?) that I've encouraged is offering Girly a bite of whatever I am eating. I will give her a bite of anything she asks for because I don't want her to think there are certain foods that are off limits. I've been surprised at things she likes (tuna salad, lemons, pickles) and things she doesn't like (pasta or some sweets). The begging isn't so appealing, but when she asks so nicely ("moe kacka peas mommy"), how can I resist?

Friday, July 2, 2010


We are in a rut.

Summertime should be a really great time to do tons of activities with your kids, but I am struggling to fill our days off. It has been SO STINKING HOT here that being outside isn't enjoyable. We haven't even been to the pool yet this summer because I just can't figure out a way to get there without messing up nap time or bed time or burning ourselves to a crisp.

I also am not feeling creative enough to fill our days (indoors) with crafts and imaginative things. I read a lot of blogs in the evenings after Girly goes to bed and I inevitably find some very creative mom who creates some wonderful play thing for her child. Then I feel guilty and boring. Sigh.

At almost 19 months, I think we are on the cusp of Girly really being able to participate and pay attention to some crafty projects. We try to color, but she chew-chew-chews on all the crayons, then runs straight for the white furniture the first chance she gets. Oh no you don't. I'm wondering if a more tactile project might keep her attention for 74 more seconds?

I like The Artful Parent blog and I just found a post on the Top 10 Art Materials for Toddlers.

Make and Takes has a lot of crafts, including a section for Kids Crafts.

Made by Joel is pretty great - a stay-at-home dad who creates amazing crafts for his kids. A lot of it is beyond the average person, but might inspire something similar.

What are you doing to fill these long summer days? Wanna come do it at my house?

p.s. I usually draft my blog posts a few days in advance. The day I wrote this, I was inspired to try painted pasta necklaces with Girly. We walked to the store to buy our supplies. We outfitted ourselves in smocks and prepped the supplies. We had a massive full-on tantrum that involved paint and dried noodles all over the place. We stomped our feet in frustration. Here's my point ... it's nice to have positive expectations for your child, but don't set them up to fail. Girly clearly wasn't ready for our crafty day and it just made me mad. It wasn't nice for either of us.