Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

There is a Perfectly Good Reason…

There is a perfectly good reason why one of the only words that my daughter says is “white.” I swear we’re not horrible racists. Even though she walks around the house saying “whhhhyyt,” “whhhhhyyyt,” in the drawn out, deliberate, tones of a brand new talker. Even though she often uses “white” to refer to anything that she likes, including, “mommy, white;” and while, yes, that is true strictly speaking, I swear I can explain.

You see, much to my chagrin, her favorite movie/character/thing in the world has become Snow White. She can’t say “snow” and doesn’t really seem to think that is is an essential part of the woman’s name; “white” works well enough for her.

How did this happen, you might rightly ask. I am still asking this question myself. How did I end up with a daughter obsessed with princesses? I don’t really know. We were at a grocery store in Las Vegas, visiting Jason’s family over Christmas, when she spotted a display of these cheap, terrible, dolls in rubber dresses that were marked down for the post holiday sale. She picked out the one and only Snow White doll there (she had never seen the movie at this point) and hung on to it with white knuckled ferocity. So we bought it…only $5 or something, we reasoned, no big deal. Ohhh how wrong we were. That one little $5 doll has lead in to a full blown obsession. We now own a stuffed snow white doll, a snow white duplo set, matching plush Dopey and Grumpy toys, and a full set of Snow White figurines (that we have not given her yet), as well as the movie which has become something we watch….all too frequently.

She sticks Snow White stickers on us, drags us to the TV, signs and says “white” repeatedly until we either convince her that we are not going to put the movie on, or give in, and now has begun the embarrassing habit of calling everything, “white.”

Let’s just hope she doesn’t learn any other colors for a while. Jason, I told you it was dangerous to raise a kid in Utah.


Best Baby Items #2

To continue my top five run down of the best baby items that we’ve purchased and used in Scout’s first year, the next one is probably not all that useful until you have a walker. We never would have purchased these had I not won a gift certificate to Jillian’s Drawers (fantastic site for anyone who does cloth diapering or wants to find a source for well reviewed, quality baby items), but that said, they are totally worth their high price tag.

2. Stonz Booties and liners

Crocodile Brown

Jason points out that these are the most complimented baby item we own. People are always saying how cute they are when we’re out. These awesome boots are totally soft (sides as well as sole) so they’re great for developing feet. The bottom part is rubbery so they are waterproof in the snow, puddles, and mud. We bought a slightly larger size than we thought we needed in part because we wanted Scout to be able to wear them for a while and also because we bought the optional fleece liners as well and the liners take up extra space in the boot. The boots are lined with a thin fleece and would probably be warm enough for mild winters on their own, but we really wanted something toasty warm and these fit the bill perfectly. They were designed by moms in Canada for much harsher winters than ours so you know they’re going to be cozy.

The bungee cords allow them to cinch down tightly so even though they’re large on Scout, they quickly adjust to fit and stay on tight. She can pull them off if she gets really determined, but most of the time she tolerates them just fine. They come up almost to her knee which is great on cold days because it minimizes how much other gear I feel the need to bundle her in. They also open up wide at the top so they’re really quick and easy to slip on. You can even put them right on over other shoes if you want. When it warms up we can just take the liners out and have perfect rain boots. I’m hoping they’ll fit through next winter as well.

The boots were about $40 and the liners were about $20 making the price tag for these quite a bit higher than any other shoes that we’ve bought, but they really have earned their keep. We use these all the time. Now that Scout wants to walk on her own these boots keep her feet warm and dry even as she marches around on the snow. When we put her in the stroller or carrier I feel confident that they will keep the wind and the cold out. They’re also totally machine washable making them just all around easy!

Best Baby Items

Yesterday Jason and I got talking about the products that have been the most essential in our day to day life post Scout. We bought so much stuff before she got her and some of it is still sitting, unopened in the closet, and so of it gets used every single day. So I started thinking about what our absolute essentials are:

1. The Ergo Baby Carrier and Insert

Here she is at about a month old sleeping happily in her Ergo at the park.

Here she is at about a month old sleeping happily in her Ergo at the park.

We could not live without this carrier. Period. I would have completely broken down many many times already had I not had this carrier to instantly calm and lull Scout to sleep. Most of the time, 95% of the time I put her in it she immediately calms down. If she’s sleepy she’ll fall asleep in it, while nursing, within 10-15 minutes. If she’s not tired she’ll enjoy just watching me go about my day (hands free) which often allows me to get things done that I never would have without it. The insert allows you to put babies that are under 4 months or so old in the carrier and it is totally worth the money as well.

Baby wearing is pretty common right now and there are a lot of different carriers out there. I honestly have not tried many other carriers. I know there are some that look very like the Ergo, so they might have similar benefits, but I can say from first hand experience that the Ergo holds up to rigorous use extremely well and it does everything that I would want it to do. The only possible down side I might think of is that it is a bit warm in the summer months, but that didn’t stop me from using it for hours a day even in our hot, no AC, Utah home.

We also purchased a Moby wrap which would make my list of least used items. It just didn’t work for us. I found it hard to tie and had a scary incident in it when Scout was very young that has scared me off trying harder to figure it out. The Ergo doesn’t need to be readjusted every time, you just put it on and go. There is no complicated tying and retying. It holds the baby’s weight firmly on your hips so it doesn’t strain your back as much as other carriers. This means that even me, with my bad back, can still carry my 15 month old with easy. AWESOME device.

We hiked the Delicate Arch Trail in Moab (a MUCH harder trail than we were lead to believe) with Scout in the Ergo and she slept the entire time. Quite the workout for me!

We hiked the Delicate Arch Trail in Moab (a MUCH harder trail than we were lead to believe) with Scout in the Ergo and she slept the entire time. Quite the workout for me!

I do recommend staying away from front facing carriers. The “hollow back” position that it creates for the baby is hard on their developing spine and it does not support their legs which creates further strain on the spine. Ideally babies should be facing their caregiver, their back curved in a natural “c” position, and their knees should be held up higher than their hips. That is the best for the back. Also, many feel that outward facing carriers leave no option for an overstimulated baby. In a carrier like the Ergo Baby, the baby can bury his or her face in his caregiver’s chest if he or she gets overstimulated by the world. Makes sense to me!

More from our top five list coming.

Worst Parenting Advice

I asked Jason once what the worst piece of parenting/baby advice that he heard before we had Scout was and first he said, “the whole ‘sleep now’ line that everyone repeats.” And that one is really annoying (like I’m some kind of bear that can hibernate through pregnancy in order to be ready for “spring”) but we knew that one wasn’t true. It was so obviously off base that it was easy to shrug off. It didn’t dig itself deeply in to our minds.

So then he said, “It was the idea that someone else’s personal experience has any bearing whatsoever on my experience. What worked for them has no affect on what will work for me.” Well…I was going to say something about buying baby clothes, way to show me up hubby, but you’re absolutely right. Everyone’s kid is different from mine. Everyone I know is a different person from me. Their special combination of kid and parent is going to lead to a totally unique result.

It is incredibly helpful when you’re having a bad day or week or month to be able to commiserate with other parents, to share your frustrations and even to get ideas of what to try, because we can’t think of everything ourselves. But we have to remain humble. Just because you managed to do A, B, and C and make little Jimmy sleep through the night at 5 weeks old does not mean that those things will ever work for anyone else, EVER. Feel free to tell your story and share you ideas, (don’t be surprised if I start to hate you a little) but don’t walk around believing that you have it figured out. And it may be that a few weeks or months down the line you yourself are having to reinvent how you do things.

That is what happened to us. We had a great sleeper, at a very early age. It took no more than half an hour or so to put her down to sleep quietly in our bed and she slept for 5-6 hours at a time (technically that counts as “through the night” for an infant, who knew?) and I thought I was amazing for making it happen. At four months three weeks (two days, 14 hours, 37 minutes) old it all ended. She started fighting sleep, waking more and more often at night, and just generally making me wonder, “what the heck did I do wrong?” I still don’t know how to answer that question, but I suspect it is, “nothing.”

Conversely, just because your friend did A, B, and C and has a great sleeper (or eater, or independent player, or car rider, or whatever your personal struggle is) and you can’t manage to do those things or to make them work for you does NOT mean you are failing or even that you’re doing something wrong. It just means that you’re part of a different parent/kid pair than your friend is. Many couples even find that what works for Dad won’t work for Mom or vice versa. It’s just different chemistry, a different relationship.

Remain humble and be compassionate with yourself.

You are trying your best. You are tired. You are spent. You wonder when this will end, when will it get better? No one knows the answer to that question except to say that it WILL get better. Searching for that day when it will be better will bring more pain than it will comfort. Stay in the moment and try to accept the little wins. When your baby takes a longer than expected nap tell yourself, “that was nice!” but don’t let yourself start thinking, “OK great! Now we’re moving in to a phase where she will nap longer!” or even, “Fantastic! She’ll be in a great mood for the rest of the afternoon after having that long nap!” Both of these projections in to the future are bound to lead to disappointment and a feeling that something is “wrong” when really, she’s just a baby and things will be as they are until she’s ready for things to be different.

Just let go and let things be.

Baby Clothes

I have had a baby for nearly 14 months now and there are few things that I have learned more about than clothes. I thought, before I had her, that baby clothes were pretty straight forward: they come in different sizes, you buy cute stuff, you wash it, you put it in the drawer, when baby arrives you make her not naked. OH but it is SO much more complicated than that. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

1. Onzies are pointless. Yes it’s true that, as Lorelei Gilmore would say, “everything looks cute on a onesie,” but those three stupid little snaps just create an extra, unnecessary barrier to the all important diaper. Remember, you’re going to have to get your baby in and out of these clothes a approximately a million times a day so you need easy access.

Plus, that long tab of fabric that hangs down past the diaper after you’ve opened it up is just BEGGING to get smeared with poo while you change a dirty diaper. So then you’ll find yourself changing the whole outfit in no time.

I thought that since I was having a winter baby the way to go was to buy long sleeve onzies, but to me these have become as irritating as the short sleeve sweater (if it’s cold enough for a sweater, don’t you also need sleeves?) because they don’t cover your baby’s legs. So then you have to put on pants too, creating yet another barrier to the diaper, and also making your baby look, as my sister says, like a little old man. It’s not a good look, and it really isn’t convenient.

Lesson: Don’t buy onesies. I know they’re cute, I know they’ll call to you when you’re full of pregnancy hormones or full of excitement over someone else’s pregnancy hormones, and spending way too much time in the baby department of Target, but just don’t do it.

2. Structured Pants are just mean. Oh man are those little Gap jeans adorable, but again, you have to remember about that diaper. You’re not going to want to bother with unzipping that tiny zipper and shimmying those tight fitting jeans down over that big fluffy butt a million times a day. And if you do one day decide that you want to doll your little one up by stuffing him or her in to a pair of structured pants you’ll just feel like a big meany when you see him or her sitting there with the top of the pants pointing straight in to that soft, squishy little baby belly. You’ll have all too vivid recollections of how bad you felt about yourself as you sat there in the car or at your desk wearing pants that you can’t quite admit you no longer fit in to and you’ll have to take your little one out of those mean jeans.

Lesson: Just buy leggings. They’re by far the easiest and most comfortable option for both parents and babies. They come in lots of cute colors and you can even buy ones that look like jeans. Save the purchase of structured pants for when kids are older, say out of diapers. I know a lot of people love tights and those seem like a pretty good option as well. Leg warmers are by far the easiest thing on the market since you don’t even have to take them off to change a diaper.

3. Everyone will give you clothes. No matter how many other things you need or ask for, everyone at your baby shower or who gives gifts around the time of the birth, will give you clothes (especially if you have a girl). Which means that you’re bound to get some of the above “not recommended” items. I know that any gift is generous and to be appreciated, but sometime people will spend a lot of money on things that you just don’t need and that always makes me feel sad. I know that most of my friends don’t have a lot extra and I hate to think that a little of that “extra” went to buying something for me that I am not able to use.

I have not really found a way around this problem. I think on the recipients end just be grateful, and deeply thankful that they wanted to join in your joy, and remember that it is FUN to shop for baby clothes (think back to all those hours you’re spending in the baby section these days) and so probably the gift giver enjoyed getting to shop for you even if the item didn’t end up being useful to you. For those on giving end, if you do want to give clothes, just include a receipt. Don’t take it personally, you have no idea whether this is the first pink onesie your friend has received or the 20th so just include the receipt in case the parents decide to exchange it for something they are more able to use. Better yet, before you shop, ask mom or dad what things they are still in need of. Having a baby is expensive and if you’re generous enough to want to contribute, more than likely the parents will have a pretty clear idea of how you could best help.

OK more thoughts on clothes and the REAL baby necessities next time.

What did you find most/least useful when your baby was new?

First Sentence?

It figures this is what she would say. I have fought most of my life against my terrible sweet tooth (many days I don’t fight at all) and now I’m afraid I may have passed it on to my daughter. She signs quite a few words these days and some of them with an extra level of enthusiasm. So a few mornings ago she was sitting in her high chair having just eaten breakfast. There were no sweets in sight, I swear. It is possible that I was thinking with longing about the fact that, just the night before, Jason, my mom, and I had eaten through all of the chocolate chip cookies that I’d made…but surely she doesn’t have ESP?

Regardless of the reason, for the very first time in her little life she put two signs together to create a sentence:

“More cookies.”

And she said it again and again, “more cookies, more cookies.” Jason laughed and said, “I agree with her! Chapel, make more cookies!” And of course I laughed too and was amazed to see the cognitive leap that this seemed to represent.

But what have I done to her?! Did I really already turn her in to a little sugar addict? I didn’t think I’d given her much…maybe cookie meant something else to her in that moment. Well, whatever it meant, I obliged. I made more cookies and Jason and I have been eating them like popcorn. But I haven’t offered any more cookies to Scout. We’ll stick with crackers for now.

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