Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm having a moment....

This is what I like to call a Mommy time-out. After an afternoon at home with the kids, I am at my wits end. Nobody is listening - even my little guy is giving me attitude. My daughter is adjusting to not taking naps anymore, so she is a little she-devil. While I am not going to ever snap and do something crazy, I was just very close to putting a ridiculously oversized Minnie Mouse toy and a sit-and-spin straight in the trash outside. Before I threw away my children's favorite possessions, I decided to instead walk away and take some deep breaths. They are safely located in another room where I can see them, but I am removed from their company and taking a breather. No matter the age of your children, even when they are infants, it is helpful as a mother to be able to recognize when you just need a moment - and to take it when you need it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If you have any older kids to shop for...

If you are looking for a birthday gift idea for an older child (or maybe are starting Christmas shopping early), I came across some books that are truly amazing. There is a whole series of "Uncover Books" that essentially allow you to dissect a person, animal, car, dinosaur, etc. by turning each page. Every turn of a page gets you a layer deeper into a model embedded in the book. These books are great for inspiring learning in a unique and fun way. I actually found them when my daughter picked out the "Uncover a Frog" book at the Peabody Museum at Yale University in CT on a recent vacation. Even at her young age, she was excited about this book, and I love that it will grow with her. As she learns to read, she will eventually be able to read the book and learn more of the facts and figures it provides.

Here are links to some of the books in this series:

Who's going to know it's expired?

I was horrified during a recent conversation with someone who I thought, up until this point, was reasonably intelligent and understanding of issues surrounding infant safety. The conversation was regarding a mutual friend who is looking for a used infant car seat.

Me: "If she keeps asking around, she can probably find one from someone that she knows. She just needs to check the date and make sure it isn't expired."

Formerly Intelligent Person: "Even if it's expired, what does it matter? Who's going to know if it's expired?"

Me: "What are you, crazy? Don't you know that the expiration date is on there because the materials that make up the car seat start to break down, and after a certain number of years it isn't as safe anymore?"

Formerly Intelligent Person: (clearly thinking I am full of it) "Whatever, it's not that big a deal."

Well, folks, it is that big a deal. Car seat safety guidelines exist to keep babies and children safe. They aren't just some scam to get people to keep buying new baby products. Even the Cadillac of Britax car seats starts to lose its ability to keep your child safe after a certain amount of time. The general rule on car seats is that they expire 6 years from the manufacturing date, which you can find on the bottom of the seat. As I learned with my Peg Perego, though, some seats expire after only 5 years or less. This is why it is very important to read the manual for your specific year and model of car seat.

Please don't share the mindset of Formerly Intelligent Person. Take care seat expiration dates seriously. It is your job to keep your baby or child safe. If it means spending a little more money on a safe car seat, and a little less on cute baby outfits, it is worth it. I speak from experience. As I may have blogged about previously, a friend was killed several years ago in a terrible car wreck. Her infant daughter survived- she had some injuries, but she was saved by her car seat. I shudder to think what would have happened if this friend had purchased an older, expired car seat. The family that my friend left behind had enough tragedy to cope with...her choice of car seat not only saved her baby, but also helped to provide her family with some comfort.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing your kids (and yourself) for a hurricane

In case you have been living under a rock all week, or are still hung up on the earthquake earlier this week, I will let you know that there is a large hurricane heading toward the East Coast of the U.S. Hurricane Irene is roughly the size of Texas, and it is heading right toward the North Carolina shore, where it will land as either a Category 3 or 4 hurricane. People are panicking all along the coast, as it is expected to head up I-95 and into New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Here in the Carolinas, people are used to hurricanes. Many people already keep hurricane kits in their homes, or have already purchased generators, simply because hurricane season is just part of life in this part of the country. Talking to family and friends in the Northeast, however, is quite perplexing. There seem to be 2 major reactions: 1) People who are completely freaking out, stockpiling canned peas like the world is coming to an end; and 2) People who appear to be in denial, who are doing no hurricane preparations and just hoping the whole thing blows out to sea.

Get real, folks. This hurricane is coming, and it is a big one. If Manhattan takes a direct hit, we could see devastation of Katrina proportions. If you aren't taking this hurricane seriously, and you have children, you are an idiot. It is your responsibility to keep your children safe, and that includes being appropriately prepared for hurricanes or any other natural disaster that you can reasonably predict.

Depending on the age of your child, you will have different needs. The general rule is that you should have a gallon of water available per person per day for at least 3-4 days in your home. If you have an infant, even if he or she is breast fed, you should stock up even more, and purchase some powdered formula and bottles as a back-up. If for some reason you are injured in the storm and can't breastfeed, at least you will have something to feed your baby. (Without power, any extra breast milk stored in your fridge or freezer will quickly become unsafe for use.) Also consider other infant items that you regularly use- be sure to have at least 3-4 days worth of diapers, wipes, and diaper cream on hand, in case power is out and stores are closed. When the tornadoes hit my area in April, many drug and grocery stores were closed for almost a week after the storm.

If your children are old enough to understand that a hurricane is coming, try prepping them factually. Don't try to tell them that nothing is happening. Kids are perceptive, and will feel more nervous if they feel that you are lying to them. Explain that a hurricane is like a thunderstorm that has a lot of extra wind. Because of this wind, it is not safe to be outside, because tree branches and other items can blow around and possibly hurt someone. Warn them that the power may go out, and suggest some board games/toys/puzzles that they can play with that do not require electricity. Most of all, reassure them that a parent's job is to keep their children safe, and that you will keep them safe during the storm.

I will be praying for everyone along the coast. Irene is coming, there is no question. I just hope that she is merciful, and that nobody is injured or killed by this storm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good news for Oregon babies!

I was happy to find this today: Hospitals take 'hard stop' on early elective C-sections, inductions. A majority of Oregon hospitals have now agreed to refuse to perform elective inductions or elective C-sections before 39 weeks. Why is this a good thing? The key word here is "elective". Many mothers are scheduling inductions or C-sections for selfish reasons, risking the health and development of their babies for trivial reasons. The one that really bothers me the most is looking at parenting websites around December and seeing the lengths that women will go to avoid having babies on Christmas. (Yes, let's risk little Jayden's lung development so he won't share his birthday with Jesus. Great idea.) I am glad that this agreement will do what many selfish mothers are unable to do- protect the health and safety of innocent babies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playdating other families

I was intrigued by this article regarding parents meeting other parents. It discusses the need for parents to have other parents as friends, to share tips and companionship and prevent isolation. As I explained in a previous post, sometimes you meet other mothers or parents who you think you may want to befriend but, for various reasons, you may not want to continue to pursue a relationship. The article provides some great advice on both making new friends and cutting ties when it isn't working.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who's Tap Shoes?

I had a very funny, "who's on first" type of exchange with my daughter in the car this morning. I mentioned that we are going to go to lunch with some of her friends tomorrow, after we all go to the local dancewear store. The dance school season starts in a couple weeks, and I told her that we need to go get tap shoes before we go to lunch. The conversation afterward went like this:
Daughter: "Who's tap shoes?"
Me: "Yours."
Daughter: "No, who's tap shoes?"
Me: "Yours. They are for you."
Daughter: (getting upset) "No, I want to know who's tap shoes!"
Me: "I told you. They are for you. We are getting them for you."
Daughter: "But I want to know who's tap shoes!"
Me: (Finally realizing she is asking who's and not whose tap shoes) "Oh, do you think tap shoes is a person?"
Daughter: (Smiling) "Yes. Who is it?"

This is when I had to explain what her tap shoes were. It gave me quite a chuckle as I started my day. Just another example of the funny things kids say!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Market fears and shopping guilt

Though we were away on vacation for the past week, it was hard to avoid all of the reports of the stock market turmoil. Bad news on the U.S. credit rating caused a widespread fear of a longer recession ahead. Investors are panicked, selling stocks left and right to try to avoid further losses. Younger investors are afraid to invest in the stock market altogether. In short, a little bit of fear snowballed into a whole lot of fear, which is like a growing fungus on the toes of our economy, just when we were trying to dip them into the pool of increased prosperity and positive outlook.

What I am trying to say, through this unusual (and maybe a little gross) metaphor, is that people are worried about money right now. I recognize this. So, while I may be in a situation in which I am more secure and less worried than other people right now, I am thinking twice before spending money on trivial things. With millions of people out of work and worried about feeding their families or preventing their homes from foreclosure, I feel a little guilty spending $20 on a tacky Halloween decoration.

For the time being, I am going to continue to talk about great items and recommend products that I am buying. But, I will focus more on sharing coupon codes for baby and children's websites and writing about some of the great deals that I find. For those of you who are in a comfortable financial position right now, I am also going to provide more information on charities and ways to give back to the community. It is never too early to teach your children about the many ways they can help others.