Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Head, shoulders, ears and tubes, ears and tubes

This is a post a long time in the making. I kept promising I'd update on J4's ears. Then we decided to try the Chiropractor so I thought I'd wait to report on then (with hopes of a miracle). However amidst that we had other things come up. We are still not resolved but it could be 3-6 months, or years, who knows. So we might as well do a current update.

Background info for those that are clueless or forgot, I will try to keep as brief as possible. At 12 months old J4 had no speech. That isn't really late but all my kids have had about 3 words or more at 12 months. At 15 months he had his 1st ear infection, that's pretty good ear health to most but he still wasn't talking.  20 months old was when he failed his 1st hearing test in his left ear. It turns out he had fluid in his ear.  It may have been there a while, he may have had it on and off, or it could be new, who knows.  To this day, ear infections still don't bother him so he may have been having infections that we didn't know about.  At 22 months old he still failed in the left and now in his right, that was discovered at his 1st ENT appt, as was his 3rd ear infection.  He was already over a year behind in speech so they were quick to want tubes.  He received his 1st set of tubes at 24 months old. His left tube was clogged by his post op visit. So he did not pass a hearing test in his left ear then either, he finally passed his 4th test at 2.5 yrs old.

Things went well for a while, 6 months to be exact. He went for his 6 month recheck and his tubes had  already fallen out and he was failing hearing tests. With his speech about 2 years behind already, they
immediately scheduled to put the tubes back in. At 36 months old he received his 2nd set of tubes and, with the hopes of preventing a 3rd set, they removed his adenoids.

This led to a great stretch. We made it to his post op without issue.  Just to be sure we started seeing an allergist and he started taking allergy meds since he was allergic to nature. We made it to the 1 year mark without issue. A month after his 4th birthday he saw the audiologist and passed with flying colors. A month later, in January, I took his sick sister to the doctor, being a little paranoid about his ears, I decided to take the runny nosed boy with me, just in case. In 1 months time he had lost a tube and had a bad ear infection. By the time he got back to the ENT, 3 weeks later, he had another ear infection.

This wasn't looking good, the "s" word started floating around. Since hubby is adamant all of these issues are caused by the small residual ear assymetry from his Plagiocephaly, I decided to try a Chiropractor.  At this point it can't hurt. Two months, 12 visits and hundreds of dollars in copays later, Joey had another ear infection.

The good news is that at his Allergist appointment last week his ear infection was gone. Today at the ENT it was still gone. The bad news is he did not pass the hearing test. The Tympanogram showed he still had fluid in his left ear. With summer coming they want to give him some time. His hearing isn't horribly effected and we don't want to have surgery yet again. He is still over 2 years behind in speech so it is a very tough call. Since his right tube is still in place we compromised. We will have him be rechecked at the ENT every 2-3 months as long as he's doing OK.  If he is still not passing hearing tests he will get a new set of tubes at the end of summer. If he continues getting ear infections or loses his other tube and hearing in that ear is effected we will get tubes sooner. Optimistically, his ear could adapt to not having a tube and drain on it's own. He would start passing hearing tests and we would be done with tubes forever.  In the meantime, the allergist has raised his allergy med dosage and has offered a 3rd medication (he already takes Zyrtec and Nasonex, Singulair was offered).

Yes, he has had 3 years of Speech Therapy (but is still over 2 years behind), 2 sets of ear tubes, an
adenectomy (I don't think I wrote that right), allergy testing and meds, we've even tried ear oil and the
Chiropractor.  Next step is..........

Monday, March 28, 2011

A day of rest

Sunday, the Sabbath day, a day of rest, we should remember to keep holy the Sabbath.

I'm pretty sure I was doomed from the get go though. This Sunday started without having had much rest. Baby L has a runny nose and is teething, she had a mild fever that left, long enough to think it was OK to go to mass, but has since returned. The overcast, on and off raining, weather was not enough of a clue that today should be a day of rest.

When I finally decided we would indeed go to mass there wasn't enough time for pancakes, waffles, or eggs so my poor children were forced to eat...boxed cereal. I went up to awaken them and my hubby, only to be met by S6 and J4, already dressed for mass (albeit J4 had on a polo shirt and tie). What is that I hear?  Hubby is already in the shower even.  Ok, I can do this.

I collect clothes for baby L, A2 and myself. I even dress baby before I put her to morning nap. This Sunday though she won't put up with me putting her down. I slip my clothes on quickly then grab a Mei Tai from the closet and toss her onto my back.  With her snuggled in I start the Sunday morning routine. This consists of "B11, time to get up", "does everyone have their shoes", and checking to see if hubby is out of the bathroom yet so I can at least brush my teeth (maybe I should put one of my toothbrushes in one of the other bathrooms). It's only 9 am, I am doing good.  I then try to awaken B11 five more times.

After waking and getting A2 dressed I realize that I must have done something because 15 minutes has passed. Get in the car, everyone in the car, if you have your shoes and jacket go get in the car. E14 is
at her aunt's house and B11 wants to wear Crocs. You should never make small talk as you rush out the door. "How did J4 get his pants down?". "What? He didn't, he got some from his drawer". Upon closer
inspection his navy pants I thought were his dress slacks are actually athletic pants, I hope everyone else is just as mistaken when they glance at them. They'll probably go well with the Keen sandals he's putting on anyway.

I grab A2 and take her to the car. She hasn't had breakfast yet so I grab a cereal bar on our way. As I open her's I hear a chorus of "I want one too, I didn't like my cereal". I knew I never should have given (or even bought) them the marshmallow sweet cereal, they never like it. Several more cereal bars later I head back to the car, except I forgot B11s medicine.  Now we can leave, that is as soon as I remove Baby L from my back and buckle her. B11 brings honey buns instead of a cereal bar. Within 3 minutes of leaving the house I realize this, when the "hey, I wanted a honey bun" fight starts. Lucky for my hubby, he was still ironing so is in his own car several minutes behind us.  Not so lucky for me because that means I'll have to brush my hair at the red light instead of en route.

A2 was still eating so I opt to let her stay in the pew with us and finish. It is so picturesque in our pew. Hubby with baby L, me with oddly empty hands, J4 and S6 sitting nicely, E14 holding the surprisingly still toddler and B11 not even whining. By "picturesque" I mean I should have taken a picture because as soon as I did it would have been over.

Pass baby a toy, pick up dropped toy 6 times, take baby, pass baby between J4 and S6, who are begging to hold her, as you growl at them about talking in mass. Baby goes back to daddy and toddler to mommy.  That doesn't last long, let's switch. B11 is elbowing E14, who supposedly pushed her. Let's play more musical chairs, I move B11 all the way to the other end of the pew, next to daddy. Soon B11 is taking A2 out to the nursery, followed by daddy to make sure they get there.

In between all of that I somehow manage to help S6 and J4 to follow along, sing, listen, and pray. We even make it through mass with everyone still alive. Today was a good mass day. It wasn't the greatest, as kids were fidgety but that is age appropriate. No tantrums were had until we got to the car. No children, books, or other loud items were dropped. There wasn't even any screaming.

It sounds like chaos to most, something you wouldn't want to do weekly.  The children need mass though.  Besides, if we miss even 1 week, the next week is very hard. It doesn't matter how it sounds, I still get peace from attending mass. Even if I miss the Homily and only complete 1 prayer, I still feel better and start my week off right.

After mass we had to get some yarn for a project I had half done.  Then we couldn't resist the 60% off day at the consignment sale. I wouldn't exactly call it a day of rest.  But as I finally sit here with my sweet sleeping baby and my husband, the rest of the siblings playing together nicely, just taking a minute to actually rest (even if it was just 15 minutes before the dinner rush), I enjoy it.  My family is here together instead of all seperated like weekdays, we are healthy, we have food to eat, and we have a nice house (that needs cleaned).  I wouldn't want to spend my Sunday any other way.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The topic of obedience seems to come up a lot here. I am not sure if this is because of the large Christian population here, the fact that we live in the south, or if the problems with today's society have people obsessed with a stricter upbringing. Regardless of the cause, I seem to be the odd person around here so I either get looks or questions. I guess it's about time I explained myself.

I struggled with how to even start this post. Obedience seems to tie in so closely to discipline. Then so many people consider discipline to go hand in hand with punishment. I wondered how I could write 1 post about obedience without getting too far into discipline or punishment.  If I got too much into those it might go from being a blog post to being a book.

Obedience is basically the act of complying, usually with an order.  To try to make a distinction some people refer to an immediate compliance, without question, to any order as "blind obedience". If obedience is complying with an order, I find there to be some question as to whether there really is any difference. 

Obedience is held to be so important in children because it is thought to convey respect. The highest form of respect is honor. The commandments say to honor your father and mother. Respect is a feeling though, when a person feels esteem toward someone, they respect them.  Obedience can be forced because it is an act, respect cannot be forced because it is a feeling. When, what we refer to as, "respect" is shown through actions it is really a form of manners, not actual respect.  Respect is only conveyed during an action when it is felt, it is not conveyed as an action itself.

If children are taught obedience they are taught to comply to an order. An order can only be given when there is someone there to give it. You also have to consider who is giving the order. Not all orders should be followed. You have to consider who is giving the order. When there is an order that should not be followed, or no order at all, a child will have to make their own decisions.

Decision making skills cannot be fully taught. The thing that can be taught is the decision making process. In order to properly utilize that process a child needs to also know right from wrong. Right from wrong is learned through modeling. It cannot necessarily be taught. The laws of a country can be taught. Beyond that, one families wrongs may differ from another. When a child makes a mistake, for the first time, they need to be told what that mistake was in order to learn. In this way they learn through their mistakes.   Through the modeling of the people around them, they also learn this. Once they know their right from wrong, they can use it to make decisions.  People need to be able to use the decision making process in order to make the right decisions.

Too much emphasis on obedience does not allow a child to practice the decision making process. Without practice, this process is learned much more slowly.  Sometimes obedience is a necessary thing to emphasize, such as when safety is concerned.  The rest of the time, gently guiding a child through the decision making process may take longer but will aid in the development of self discipline as well as nurture their confidence in themselves. 

If a child does not learn these skills young they will have to learn them later, with less guiding from us available.  When the people giving the orders are no longer the parents they may continue to be a "follower", in other words they may fall into the peer pressure trap. When there is no longer someone there to make the decisions, and then order their compliance, they have to make the decisions themselves. A child may still have learned some right from wrong, through modeling.  If correction is offered while the obedience is demanded they could have also learned some right from wrong.  Now they need to be able to chose between the two. When they have not had an opportunity to practice the decision making process they are being thrown into the water with a buoy and we are just hoping they can quickly figure out how to use it. I am very sure some will figure it out quickly, but I am just as sure that some won't, as they flounder in the waters of life.

That is why you see me explaining things to my toddler, not demanding her immediate, blind obedience. I am respecting her and I hope, in the process, I am earning her respect.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Susie Homemaker becomes Susie Stay at Home Mom

And when she does, she should remember that

Cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow...or the next day, or maybe it can be squeezed in next Wednesday

For babies grow up...in the drive thru of Burger King, because even though we'd love to feed our kids a nice healthy, organic, gluten free, casein free, dye free, trans fat free diet they haven't opened up a drive thru Tofu King around here yet

we've learned to our sorrow...or there will be sorrow when they do grow up but we really don't have time for it right now

so quiet down cobwebs...though I'm pretty sure we don't have any of those because the dust bunnies ate them

dust go to sleep...no problem there since noone's disturbing it

I'm rocking my baby...well babies actually and really I'm wearing not rocking because I'm getting chili into the crockpot, in between baking cookies for tonight's orchestra concert, since we'll be at horseback riding later and won't have time

and babies don't keep...you're right, they become toddlers instead who then make the mess, that requires the cleaning, that we talked about way back at the start.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Top 10, I mean 5, err 3 baby products

I see tons of lists of the top 10 baby products. Sometimes they even list the top 25 baby products. There are even longer lists of the "must have" registry items. I kept saying I'd make a list of my recommendations. I know I use my Ergo daily but what else would I put on the list?

First I thought that maybe it varied by which # child this is.  Maybe that's part of it or maybe it varies by the age span of your children? Your culture? Your parenting style? Your economic class? I really think it is all of the above.  I thought and thought and found some items that I would have liked to have with 1 and used with 6.  Some of the items maybe would have been nice to have with 1 but a necessity with 6 but I am pretty selective with my cut.

I will confess that even though I can't think of even 10 "must haves", off the top of my head, I do own a lot of "junk". I have Exersaucers (yes plural), a Jumperoo, I also have a bouncy seat, full size and travel swing, none of this counts the stuff I recently got rid of because she outgrew it.  I have a few floor gyms and mats.  We have not 1 but 2 high chairs in our kitchen. We have the obligatory crib upstairs (and a cosleeper). We have to have a carseat (or 2, 3, 4 or more). My husband doesn't even want to talk about strollers or baby carriers.

The truth is I rarely use most of those things. They are hand me downs, yard sale, Craigslist, can't pass up a good deal items and I have the space to do that. When you bring a baby home from the hospital (assuming baby wasn't born at home), I feel like there are only 3 "needed" items. Those are diapers (and even if you are doing Elimination Communication you probably still want a couple of something but that's just my opinion), clothes (which may be debatable in some climates), and breasts. The next tier is probably the, it would be helpful to have, items. These items include blankets (which may be a necessity in some climates but my assumption is you can get away with warm clothes) and a carseat (because for much of the country it would be a long walk home). Then there are the items you will actually use if you have them. That list is followed by the luxuries that may collect dust more than use.

So, if you count the above items my list is now;

1-diapers, even if I haven't cloth diapered all my kids and am not really now, my pick would still be cloth. I say cloth because it isn't as hard as people think. Being a woman I have worn items that feel like diapers but are a LOT less bulky and I can, without hesitation, say that wearing whatever it is disposables are actually made of is not comfortable. I am sure there are huge lists, message boards, communities and reviews that explain them and say what is best. I am a pretty simple person. I like a soft Chinese Unbleached Prefold Diaper with a simple cover like the
Mother-Ease Airflow. A Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners
to attach the prefold is a nice bonus.

2-clothes, if you aren't planning on more kids I am sure Walmart works just fine. Yes, Gymboree is cute but what sucks me in is cute and comfy. That means my faves are even pricier, Hanna Andersson.  Their regular items are OK. They are cute but I am not sure they are worth the extra money. Though S6 is wearing items from E14 that look new and even baby L has stuff from E14 but both have some from E14 of other brands too (mainly Lands End and Gymboree still make it that far). Hanna Andersson's swedish knits are so soft and timeless, those are worth the cost. Other organic cotton knits, like Kate Quinn Organics are also soft and would make my cut but my kids have a soft spot for Hanna Andersson playday dresses.

3-breasts, I am pretty sure this is self explanatory though not really a product. This doesn't work for everyone, people who've had surgeries or adopt may not be able to breastfeed. For the majority of people this is an option.  Best of all there is no shopping involved, no prep work and it's free.  If we want to include an "actual" product I would say a good nursing bra.  I actually like Walmart for them.  The reason for this is I can get a bra that is not an underwire but also not a sports back, yet still supports.  A lot of the other brands are either sport backs or underwire, especially in bigger sizes, and I dislike both.  Plus some of their bras have a nice thick, supportive shoulder strap.  I am sure you could get a better bra by ordering but after ordering and trying 2 recommended brands having only seen the website picture, and not liking either, I decided to just stick with these.

4-blankets, to swaddle baby, cover baby, block the sun, baby to cuddle, baby to sit on, as a nursing cover, makeshift towel, you name it. A bigger blanket is easier to swaddle with and grows with baby.  My pick? Aden + Anais 100% Cotton Muslin Swaddle Wrap. I wish they had them when my oldest was small. My 2nd favorite would be to hand make a lightweight, large blanket like that. I bought 90" of 90" wide unbleached muslin, cut in half both ways and you have 4 blankets ready to be dyed, decorated and their edges finished. These get softer with washing but are never as light and airy as the Aden + Anais. Aden + Anais also make soft, cloudlike, multilayer ones for winter babies. A nice thick minky or fleece blanket is nice to have too. In the summer though, that thick blanket ends up only being sat on.

5- carseat, assuming you are not walking from the hospital, this becomes your 1 absolutely must have. Buy a good carseat that fits best in your car, not because it's cute. Buying one with a tall back will let baby rearface longer. Don't be in a hurry to turn them, everyone would be safer rearfacing. I actually recommend staying away from most travel systems as it really limits your choices. Instead buy a carseat that is the right size for baby, fits your car best and you will use properly. Then, if you need a stroller buy one separately that has the features you need. My carseat pick is Britax because they are easy to fit and install in the cars I use and my babies find them comfy so scream less. I was blessed with 5 car screamers and they reduced that when they went in their rearfacing Britax convertibles, out of their (other brand) infant seats.

6-ring sling, this is where we start past the "needs" and onto what I would love to have for baby. Some people prefer wraps but I am a ring sling person at heart. You can get all the help you'll ever need and way more at http://www.thebabywearer.com/. My personal fave would be http://www.sleepingbaby.net/. She makes ring slings very affordable in her basic line. Of course she also makes gorgeous silk ones for that special occasion. If you can sew, she even has instructions to make your own.

7-buckle carrier, another carrier? Isn't a ring sling enough? Once baby is older they are heavier so I want their weight on 2 shoulders.  I also feel way more secure using a buckle carrier in a back carry.  Why not just start with a buckle carrier? It is so much easier to nurse in a ring sling and since newborns can eat as much as every hour or more, I need that ease. Some people still prefer the wrap, others a tie on carrier like a Mei Tai. I am an Ergo Baby Carrier  girl myself.

8-My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow, this is so much better than the Boppy. The Boppy is nice to use like a pillow. Even my older kids will lounge with a Boppy. A Boppy makes a great prop or lounge for baby on the floor too. The Brestfriend is the way to go for nursing support. It is a lot stiffer so supports better. It is also thicker so holds baby up higher, this makes it easier to get baby in a good position. Lastly, it is supportive enough to lay baby on so you can use one of your hands to latch baby on with. Not breastfeeding? This is still a nice support for bottlefeeding (though not as needed) as well as for siblings holding new babies, it helps keep baby supported. We forget how tiny and floppy newborns really are, they need a lot of support.

9-Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder , I had to think about what else was really a lifesaver because we could have done without a swing, Exersaucer, bouncer, Bumbo, etc. Then the teething baby next to me reminded me of what's important. Once baby can hold onto things they will be chewing, gnawing, and teething. To avoid baby living on Tylenol you have to find an alternative. A baby starting out on teething, who isn't eating food yet, can chew on frozen breastmilk in a safety feeder. No breast pump (since it's not on my list) and you don't like hand expression? Try an ice cube instead (we like crushed ice because it's more moldable). With an older baby they can chew on cold (or even frozen) foods. We also use it so baby can have what we're eating for dinner without pureeing or choking.  Toss some fresh peas, beans, etc in there from the dinner table.  This can even be tossed in the diaper bag to make eating out with baby easy.

10-Summer Infant Mother's Touch Deluxe Baby Bather , this works for sponge baths, in the sink, or in the big tub with your older kids.  I debated including this since you can hold baby in the sink or even take a bath with baby.  Since babies are slippery when wet I decided this really was something that should make the cut.  It folds better than any tub, it dries fast, and it supports so much better than a tub.  I like baby to actually be able to be wet in the bath so they stay warm.  A lot of the slings for the baby tubs don't really submerge the baby much.  With a reclined and more inclined setting I could always use this up until baby could sit up in the tub.

So there it is, the top 10 baby items. Some great items that didn't make the cut for various reasons I think we should give runner up spots to.  First the Bugaboo Bee Plus Stroller, don't pass out when you see the price.  I actually don't have the Bee Plus, I have the one they made before it, so just the regular Bee, but they don't make that anymore.  It did not make the cut because I don't think a stroller is a must with a baby.  If you think it is this is absolutely the one to get, reversible seat, all kinds of accessories available.  I do think a stroller is a must when you have a baby and a toddler though.  Being able to wear the baby while holding my frappucino in one hand and pushing the Bee with the other, even with a toddler pushing 30 lbs in it and her pushing 40 lb brother riding on the board attached to it, is priceless. 

Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether is the best teether I have ever owned, my kids LOVE her and her new french mushroom friends.  Since the safety feeder was slightly more versatile I gave the teething spot to it, but Sophie can also be safely and neatly used when out and about. 

If you cannot swaddle well, like me, The Woombie Original Swaddle Blanket is a must.  It did not make the cut because the Aden + Anais are more versatile and once you get a bigger blanket swaddling is easier.  I still used the Woombie though because it was faster and more secure, plus it had some stretch so baby could still move comfortably.  I used other swaddlers for previous babies and they do work well to swaddle.  I hate the sound of velcro (especially when baby is asleep and you have to change a diaper) and others don't offer that movement that the Woombie does, while still keeping them secure, for that reason my choice is the Woombie. 

Yep, I double and triple checked the list.  There really isn't hooded towels on the list, a regular towel is better because it's bigger.  There really isn't a crib on the list, not a necessity (and heck with all the recalls who even wants one).  No swing, no exersaucer, no bouncer, no high chair, no shoes, just the "top 10" and those don't make my "top 10".  I have a few more carriers I would put on the list but it would just kept getting longer so I think I will have to make that post separately, another day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm fine

Today's society is so mixed.  Some people expect everything to be handed to them.  While other people are so far the other direction that they have trouble even accepting help.  Was there ever really a day when the saying "it takes a village to raise a child" ever actually applied?  A time when help was graciously accepted but not taken for granted?  I read so often that this is the case in undeveloped nations.  Actually, in a lot of cases, the more I read about parenting in undeveloped countries the more I wonder if development has actually sent us backwards in some areas.

A person can grow and change.  A teenager is frequently in the expectation category.  A teenager will grow out of that, though it may be in their 20s or it may be in their 40s.  I think I fell too far the other way when I started my parenting journey.  I was sure I could do it all myself.  It took me some time to realize how much people really wanted to help, they weren't just offering to be polite.  You discover that refusing help can sometimes even be rude.

I guarantee I have changed.  If you offer help I will accept it if I need it.  I say if I need it because when I say I don't need it, sometimes I really don't want it.  I say this of the old lady at Walmart who freaks out when I toss my baby onto my back.  She runs over to help get her carrier on her, except in the process you are messing me up and getting me all tangled.  I have done this for 10 years and I have never dropped a baby.  I can get it done in under a minute if you just let me do it.

Sometimes the unaccepted help you force at me is nice though.  When you're trying to keep a baby in a front carry asleep you "can" unload your grocery cart.  Technically that means I don't "need" help.  When the bagger insists on unloading the cart for you I am certainly grateful.  I have actually had other patrons at Walmart do this even.  I am not sure if it is the growing up in S FL or the paranoia of society that made me a little nervous about that.  As you are wearing a sleeping baby and the lady walking by offers to load your minivan for you, I was leery, even though she looked like a harmless lady, so I passed.  A few weeks latter a man getting our of his car a couple cars down sees me, runs down and as he's offering he just starts loading.  I guess that time I didn't have time to be leery.  It almost feels pampering for that minute.  Too bad I can't take you home to help when the kids will be demanding lunch, the baby will want to be fed, and the ice cream is melting in the trunk.

Sometimes you "get" it though.  Instead of commenting that I have my hands full, I hear that it looks like I have it under control.  Wow, I look that good?  Instead of hearing I have my hands full, you comment on how comfy baby looks, really she is comfy there.  When you are just amazed because I have a toddler riding on my back and a baby riding on my front, I really do own a stroller.  If you ask my husband, I have way more strollers than I need.  He doesn't even know what the Bugaboo in the trunk and the Maclaren Twin in the garage cost (and that's maybe 1/3 of the strollers I own).  I am not wearing them like that for lack of a stroller.  I am not wearing them like that in a big hurry to get to the car.  Sometimes a toddler just wants to be carried.  If you stick her in the stroller she will be fussy and whiny.  If you let her walk she will run (and run and run, good luck with that).  So up on my back she goes and she is happy.  All a mom really wants is for her kids to be happy.  I am NOT Supermom.  This is just an easier way to do it.  It is NOT like carrying her in my arms.  Carrying her in a carrier I can barely feel her weight.  Truth be told she balances out the baby on my front.  No, I did not even have a backache later.

Some people will never "get" it though.  The baby is not fussing because I have 6 kids, she is fussing because she is hungry.  I am positive that the toddler is not being wild because she is #5 of 6, she is being wild because she is a toddler.  The teen is not carrying the toddler because I do not have enough hands for 6 kids(if you don't believe me, reread the previous paragraph), she is carrying her because the toddler adores her (you probably missed the fight several minutes before over who got to carry her).  Sometimes I think, if it were up to my kids, we'd have more than the Duggars.  As much as they want to kill each other, they also protect and dote on each other.  The kids are not deprived of love, time or needs (and way more than a few wants), they are happy and they are fine.  I just wanted to let you know, that as chaotic as it looks, I'm fine too. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The road to creativity

One of my challenges to crochet is finding patterns. This wouldn't be a challenge if I could design my own. One of my challenges to designing my own is getting past the "I can't" hurdle. After I wanted my children to use a more natural hand sanitizer but they wanted Bath and Body works because you can get holders for theirs, I decided that something simple would be a good start to help get over that hurdle. So here is my creation. This hand sanitizer holding will loop on their purse, ID, belt loop, backpack, etc. It holds the spray hand sanitizer we get from the health food store. It was fairly simple. With crochet hook H (because that's what was handy) and a few yards of worsted weight yarn I did a chain 5. Join the chain to form a circle.  7 sc in the center of the circle.  SC around only in the front loop. I did not join, I then sc around until it measured about 3"-4". Slip stitch in next stitch. Then I chained about 8", connected that to a stitch about 1.5" down from the end. Sc in joining space. SC back around and down the chain. Sc in stitch next to stitch the chain was started on. Finish off and weave in ends. This was snug enough (as you see in pictures) that the hand sanitizer won't fall out. I used acrylic scraps. I made another using a fuzzy acrylic only that time I decided to try a chain 3 loop to start and that worked fine as well, just with nearly no hole in the bottom.  Cotton and wool have less stretch so may need to be made slightly bigger, increasing to 8 sc in joining loop. I will be making it fatter and shorter next, to fit the natural foaming hand sanitizers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

When daddy's away the kids will play

There are a couple ways it can go when hubby is out of town. My favorite, this time, would have been the make everything so easy for mommy the 1st night so we give her a false sense of security". I vote for that one this time because hubby will only be gone 1 night.

I could have opted for the "so busy the kids are beyond cranky but quickly out cold" technique. But since the kids were up till after 9:30 last night, I didn't think that B11 would survive Ash Wednesday mass tonight. between that, hubby gone, and the storm warnings we ended up forgoing the 30+ min drive each way to the hour + mass with 6 kids.

Instead we've apparently opted for the "chaos" way. That's what happens, even if you let them sleep in, when you stay out 90+ minutes past small or Autistic children's bedtimes. Everyone is beyond tired but no one wants to or will fall asleep. You get to play the "mean mommy" then, when you can't possibly waste away 30 mins per kid and still get them all in bed between 7 and 8 pm.

You have all the best intentions, get the crankiest toddler and infant to bed first. The infant that is so tired she could probably fall asleep sitting up, has other plans. The toddler ends up being bribed by a binky and Dora. You take the infant with you to lay with S6, who still won't go to sleep alone. She certainly won't go to sleep with baby L sloppily slurping on her toes though.

After a while you move onto J4, who will go to bed on his own if you get him started. This gives baby L the chance to play on the floor.  Oddly enough she wanted nothing to do with playing, until it was bedtime. This would work so much better if your teen doesn't come to tell you that the toddler has decided to have another bath.

I'd go back to J4 or S6 except it's 8 pm. B11 must go to bed at 8 pm EXACTLY. 7:58 pm and the TV show she was watching so she'd leave you alone to do the others, would still be on and you'd spend that 2 minutes arguing that her bedtime isn't until 8 pm. 8 pm starts the time bomb, every time it ticks another second it could go off.  Besides, by 8:02 pm she'd be engrossed in another show.

This would be a quick task, right? Go tell the tween to hop in bed, make sure she starts up, and you're home free to go back to the others. You can go tuck her in later. Maybe this works for a normal tween but not B11. Maybe 25% of the time she will actually make it into her bed if you make sure she's at the stairs. She most certainly would not turn off her light and she'd yell for you to tuck her in, every 30 seconds.

Instead you find that, even though she wasn't hungry 2 hrs ago when you made the fish dinner she requested, she is now hungry and eating a potato instead. Once you drag her away from that and get her bedtime meds she makes you wait while she gets her bed wrinkle free and her pillows, stuffed animals, etc just so. Then you may, in the right order or you'll have to repeat, kiss her and tell her goodnight. Just be sure not to touch her pillows, blankets, or bed while doing so.

You see that J4 has taken to hiding under the covers so he's probably OK so you go back to S6. Baby L has other plans though, she's started crying. S6 can't go to sleep next to that so it's decided it's worth the 5 minutes to go put her to bed first. If she would go to bed that is.

What's the chance that all the screaming lulled J4 and S6 to sleep? I probably have a better chance of A2 stomping up the stairs and jumping into the bed that baby L finally settled down in. I wonder if the binky she found and Blue's Clue's will lull her to sleep. I can at least hope she won't wake up baby L, right?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'd like to sing the world a song

Except I have a horrible singing voice. You'd think I'd be safe in my own house but my hubby likes to tease. Though hubby doesn't have a great singing voice either. Of course everyone sings for Sunday mass.  In our house the world runs on a song. Isn't the saying "whistle while you work"? For us it's more hum (or sing), since I can barely whistle at all. If a baby is fussy, how is it that a monophonic lullaby will calm them. Cranky, crabby, fighting kids? Break out the music and dance, it will get some fidgets out and get them laughing.

Most of all we use songs to learn things. We have learned everything hard to a song. Even a 2 year old can learn their phone number when set to music. 3 year olds move onto their address. Forget Roy G Biv, a rap works too. The states in the US? No problem. Preamble to the constitution. Parts of a cell. Bones in the body. My personal favorite is the clean up song. We actually have 2 of those, one we learned from Barney over 10 years ago, the other we learned from Gymboree play classes.  Though the girls even sold Girl Scout cookies to song this weekend.  "Do a little dance, eat a little cookie. Get down tonight, buy some cookies tonight". I am not even sure if they know the real lyrics to that song.

Of course there is music for fun too. You can't beat watching A2, J4 and S6 doing the Cha Cha Slide.  10 years ago we only listened to educational or kids cassettes in the car. We had songs that taught nursery rhymes, shapes, days in a week, months of the year. Then I upgraded to a minivan with a CD player but before I could collect everything on CD my toddler broke the CD player.

So now we listen to country music. Though I guess those songs aren't as kid friendly. You realize this when your 4 year old wants to know what Tequila is. A drink? Oh, can Kool Aid make my clothes fall off too? 6 years later she taught her toddler sister the word Tequila, we're still trying to teach her that Sprite is not Tequila. Or a year later when she wanted to know what 4 letter word the 4 year old in the song said. This past summer I couldn't get the toddler to take a nap in the car because I had J4, S6, B11 and their  cousin all singing "rain is a good thing" at the top of their lungs. I doubt it's a good thing to teach them "don't give a damn" either.

I am sure there are some lessons though. What about "never let your praying knees get lazy"? I'm almost positive my genius of a teen could use the lesson "don't outsmart your common sense". Besides, it could be worse. We don't listen to "I like big buts..." or "it's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes". Heck, they even thought the lyrics were "if you love your baby better put a sling on 'em" until they saw the Chippettes movie. I tried switching to the Christian station but the songs just aren't as catchy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Geeky Version

Yes, there is a geeky version, some people like to analyze, visualize or just prefer to be geeked.  So here you go.

First a legend, blue is Ergo Sport, brown/pony print is Beco 4th generation, gray is Boba Classic.  Oh Snap was so much wider and taller I opted not to include it (plus it is on loan right this second).

I took 1 picture to compare width
but going by the widest point didn't give the most accurate results so I did another
but that didn't show at the actual waistband so I did another

Then I had 3 different orders and none agreed with how they felt when worn so ultimately I went with a worn simulation picture, thank you to my dining room chair for volunteering since Emily was at soccer and Becca was asleep.

That is about how they feel worn.  The Beco the widest, followed by the Boba and last the Ergo.  You can see how deep the Ergo is in this picture but not really how deep the Boba is.  The Boba has some depth but so little that it was hard to catch in a picture.  It was not obvious like the Ergo was.  The deeper the seat the less close to you the baby is held.  With a small baby with short legs and not as much behind to them this doesn't effect as much.  But with a taller, bigger child it does.  A non darted seat spreads their legs apart as they are hugged close to your body.  A darted seat sits them back into the carrier, creating a seat for them to sit on so their legs end up more forward.  Their abdomen isn't up against you as much then and their legs aren't as "spread eagle".  This makes a big difference in how the width of the carrier is actually used. 

The Beco feels wider when worn b/c the seat is all against you.  The Ergo feels the least wide because some of the seat width goes out from you not against you.  The Ergo still utilizes that width for the comfort of the child though so the legs are still supported.  The Boba ends up in between.  This really means that it depends on what the wearer likes the feel of.  Maybe I should have done pictures of the child seated in it and how their legs are positioned and where the fabric hits, if anyone wants that I can do it when my model is home from school.

I did measure though.
Ergo Sport (the same size as the Original) is 14" wide at all points by 14" tall
Boba Classic ranges from 12.5" wide to 17" wide at it's widest point by 16" tall
Beco 4th generation ranges from 12.5" wide to 16" wide at it's widest point by 17" tall

Some people don't like a darted seat, some people don't like a non darted seat.  This very well could be that they are used to the other and therefore are not getting a good seat. 

A non darted seat does not create a seat, you have to create it.  To do this the waist band should be snug, completely tightened as you will be wearing it before you put baby in.  Then the body will go under and then over baby creating that seat.  If you do not tighten it first then baby will end up using part of the waistband as a seat.

A darted seat already creates a seat so you need to get baby fully into it.  I have heard of people fastening the waist last in order to do this.  I cannot judge, well enough, where they should be to do this so still do not get a good seat.  Instead I fasten the waist belt loosely.  If the waist is too tight you will not be able to get baby back into the seat and all the way down to the waistband because it will be a snug fit.  So fasten it loosely so you have room.  How loosely depends on baby's size and your comfort level because safety comes first, we don't want baby to fall.  My kids are 7 months and a toddler, I've also been doing this for over 10 years, so I can easily fit a fist or 2 in my loose waistband.  You lower baby down to the waistband then pull the body away from you as you go under them then make sure to push the seat up snug onto baby's bottom as you lift the body up behind them. 

Then for both versions you fasten the chest strap first then tighten the shoulder straps only to take in the slack.  Then you tighten the chest strap.  Only after the chest strap is tightened and adjusted to the position you want, do you do the final shoulder adjustments.  With a darted seat you have to be careful not to overtighten the chest straps as you want baby in the seat, not pulling them out of it.  If you start overtightening, the shoulder straps will end up snug under your armpits and uncomfortable. Also, if you start with the shoulder straps too tightened before you put baby on, for front carries, you will have trouble reaching to buckle the chest strap (or getting it over your head if you buckle then put it on as is shown in the Ergo video) and that usually ends up in people wearing the chest strap too high.

Mails here, mails here

Yep, that's right, my Boba Classic Baby Carrier came. The Boba looks so much like my beloved  Ergo Baby Carrier  that I have been wanting to try one.  The foot rests (or stirrups as I call them) sound interesting. So when Zulily had them for a good deal I had to pick one up.  I am not going to compare this to high end, harder to find, custom carriers costing over $150 because I don't think that's a fair comparison because they're out of so many people's price range (not to mention I have only tried some of them).  I will compare it to the easily available buckled carriers in the under $150 price range. I am not going to go geek on you. As much as it would be more fun (for me) to talk dimensions, angles, and numbers I will get carried away and fill way more than a whole post with that stuff. That stuff won't tell you what I think of it or if you may like it. I am instead going to give opinion and how I feel it compares to the other carriers I have tried.

Upon opening this it looked very much like an Ergo except that it has a curved top and stirrups. It also felt just as stiff so definitely needs broken in. Once on, I realized that my 6 month old already fits nicely at 22ish lbs. I was worried, that since this is so often recommended for toddlers, that it would just be too big. She was even able to sit with arms out.  In the BabyHawk Oh Snap Baby Carrier  she can ride but the seat is wide and tall, not really her size yet.

The seat darts on this do not create as deep a seat as the Ergo. It still gives you the leg support and seat you get from the darts but it allows baby to be held closer. The closer feel really is more comfortable. Closer may effect air flow though and be more of an issue in the summer. If you're used to a deeper seat you may have to tweak how tight you wear the shoulder straps and where you position the chest strap for a good comfortable fit for both.  It took me about a week to find my sweet spot.  Seat darts can really effect a carrier as much as width can. 

I took a picture of the Boba, Ergo Sport, and Beco 4th generation together to compare width.  I then decided I wouldn't include that because it wasn't a fair comparison because the seat darts (or lack thereof) are different on them.  The Ergo is the deepest seat followed by the Oh Snap then Boba.  The Beco 4th generation doesn't have seat darts.  However the Oh Snap is the widest then the Beco, Boba then Ergo.  But when worn the deep seat of the Ergo makes it feel wider than the Boba (and possibly the Beco).  I know I am starting to geek here so I will try to get back on track.  My point was that you can't compare apples to oranges.  To compare width of carriers you really need to compare a straight waist, no dart seat to a straight waist, no dart seat, not to anything else.  So when shopping for carriers that are not all exactly the same you need to instead compare to your baby's size and your preferences, not to another carrier.

The curved top also helps support baby closer to you. She doesn't lean yet and A2 is out of that stage so I can't say if it prevents that, I would think it would. The body is not too tall, though, so it's not going to support a sleeping baby the same as the tall, stiff headrest on the Oh Snap would. The body height also makes it easy for baby to go arms out without affecting comfort.

The shoulder straps are also very similar to the Ergo, but feature 2 buckle adjusters each, which makes it easy to make sure nothing is rubbing under your arm and makes it so easy to adjust while on. The chest strap and waist band also have 2 adjusters. At the end of the fabric portion of the shoulder straps there is a flap of fabric that should go under the buckle. However, it is unpadded and doesn't stay in place at all. I don't think being out of place really effects comfort. If your anal, like me, you'll keep trying to fix it and it will bug you.  Everything else seems the same to me.

The hood works very much like the Ergo hood, just snapping into place.  The hood on the Boba is detachable which I find to be a nice option if your children don't like hoods. It attaches with snaps like on the Ergo Sport except the Boba's is not adjustable like the Ergo Sport.  I hope they sell replacement hoods.  I can't be the only person who would lose it if I took it off. There is no pocket to use or to store the hood in when not in use.  If you read my review of the Ergo Sport you know I don't have pockets anywhere on my list of needed features.  A Front Pouch or Mai Poketto, etc will do a pockets job much better. Instead of a pocket there are elastics to hold the rolled hood in place. This may actually offer more support to the curved top, possibly helping with a small baby's sleeping head, if they are going hoodless. I don't know that it stays in the elastic all that great though.  Or maybe I haven't learned the trick yet.

The weight limit on this carrier is 45 lbs so I recruited a 40 lber to test it (ok, really the 2 year old refused a ride but all the 40 lbers were jumping at a chance). The Boba is too narrow to really support a 40 lber. They were up there and supported but would not have been comfortable, with their legs dangling, for long.  Especially since there is not a lot of additional padding along the leg edge.  That is where the stirrups come in. The instructions say to only use them with shoes on. My tester had on sneaker sandals (Keens) and his feet in NO way fit.  My 40 lber is tall but the height worked just fine if your child's not a leaner. If your 40 lber is not tall that probably means they're wider which would make the narrow seat, and too small stirrups, an even bigger issue.  The stirrups are velcro adjustable.  I had them on the largest setting and his feet still did not fit.  I am sure they might have without shoes, but that is not allowed according to the instructions.  At 4 he needs shoes everywhere we go so I would have had to remove them to use the stirrups.  This would be less an issue with a younger 40 lber.

You'll have to excuse my behind in the picture but it was the only way to get the stirrups in use (and yes, she should have shoes on, this was only for the picture, you only get so much cooperation at night) while still getting a glimpse of where her thighs fall in the actual carrier seat

A cranky toddler at the zoo resulted in a good test with a 29 lb 2.5 year old. She fit fine, though did have slight dangling to her legs.  The dangling wasn't so bad that she cared. In fact she rode up there for at least an hour without a single request to get down. I would say, she only used the stirrups for maybe 5 minutes of that. The 1st time we tried her feet in the stirrups she tried to yank them out.  The stirrups are full adjustable along the waistband. They easily slide to adjust, which allows a toddler to change their feet position without help. This is a great feature for the child's comfort. Not so great when your toddler's trying to rip her feet out, they just slide to accommodate for the movement. Instead she pushed firmly down and the velcro just broke apart and her feet were out (plus I had to put the stirrups back together).  It is not the most secure adjustment.  On the other hand, not being extremely secure means that you do not have to worry about injury from getting their foot caught or ripping your carrier.  Her feet did fit, on the largest setting, and it supported them when just resting or wriggling.  It was just when she fought with them that she won.  At the zoo she rode with her feet in them for maybe 5 minutes.  After that she was able to remove them easily when she slide them out instead of flailing around like the last time. So stirrups may take some getting used to. I thought she'd think of them like horse stirrups and like them. If your child is small, and not in need of these, you can remove them. Again I wonder if replacements are sold because they'd also be lost, so I leave them on.

It is definitely a decent carrier that I'd recommend. I prefer the less deep seat darts for the baby. For older kids, I think the deeper seat, like the Ergo's, offers better leg support without extra width by creating a bigger, deeper seat.  The trade off there is that the Ergo is shorter in height.  If your child likes them, the stirrups in the Boba may compensate some for the lack of width. I don't think, even with the stirrups, it is really the best option past the 30-35 lb range. If I were paying full price I would spend the couple extra dollars for the organic, which seems softer out of the box. I like the simplicity of it. Not having a front pocket makes it less bulky, which is a plus to me. It almost seems like a cross between my all time favorite (the Ergo) and my new current favorite (Beco 4th generation, no longer in production).  I say this because it has the curved top of the Beco and is easy to get seated in like the Beco (which has no seat darts) but does have seat darts like the Ergo.

I know this question will come up. Do I think you could use an Ergo (or some other style) newborn insert in it?  Because it isn't as deep I don't think the fit will be quite right. It might work, but not the way it was intended or tested.  Fit, comfort, and safety could be effected.

Ultimately, this carrier would be among my favorites for young toddlers. Starting around 9 months old (or if you have bigger babies, 6 months like my daughter) up to about 2 years old would be a great age range for this carrier.  The stirrups are unique but not sure that is a selling point.  Though I am sure kids outside that range will fit too.  Past that point you may want something larger like the Oh Snap.  Before that you may want a narrower seat like the Beco Baby Gemini Carrier  or an Infant Insert  like is offered for the Ergo.

By request there is also a geeky version Geeky Version or click Geeky Version under March posts

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking my age

I've had a great hide your age week (note the sarcasm). I'm so tired of more and more grays popping up, so I look older than hubby, who is older than I. I hadn't dyed my hair in a while because hubby wouldn't let me when I was pregnant. So I decide to buy some dye while at Target. I'm way too cheap to pay someone to do my hair, besides, who has time.

I heard Feria was a good brand. I've tried many brands. The Fat Foam was the easiest, cheap, and had great color but didn't color grey well. So far the only that colors grey well are the ones specifically for grey, and they don't have as good a color selection.

Target had some Feria on clearance. It even had a color I'd chose, Golden Light Brown. So I stand there holding my hair up to the "if your current hair color is...your color will be ...". That looks close to my current color, but nicer, so I get it.

After dying I realize that "golden" to me and "golden" to Feria are two VERY different things. What they call "golden" has a red tint to it. Hubby, on the other hand, just plain calls it "red...well actually its really an orange". Though it did do a decent job at covering the gray, still not as good as the "specifically for gray" brands. I am not sure if my lesson here is to beware of hair dye with vague descriptive words such as "golden". Or if the lesson is, don't buy hair dye on clearance. I'm positive its not, don't dye your own hair, leave it to the professionals. Because if that's the lesson, I didn't learn anything, I'm counting down the weeks before "I" dye it back to brown. Red is growing on me in the meantime.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adventures in TV viewing

I have never been a big fan of television. When I watch TV I have a book to read on commercials and dull parts. Even better I'll crochet or sew while I watch. Cleaning, using the computer, or my Blackberry works too. TV is too idle. I guess I push my opinion off on my kids because if it isn't raining (and sometimes even then) I am trying to shove them outside for fresh air instead. When noone's watching the TV I <gasp> turn it off. I also hate that people feel the need to be able to listen to the program from wherever they go in the house. I watch the TV on a volume of 10. They sit down and immediately turn it up to twice that, without even waiting to see if they can hear it just fine the way it is. Every time I walk into a room with a TV I either
turn it down or order it turned down.

It's no surprise I feel relatively the same way about video games.  Two things convinced me to allow Santa to bring them a Wii though.  1st, every kid on the block but us having one so in the 100 degree days of summer, them wanting to be at anyone'se house but ours.  2nd; 5 kids, a 9 month pregnant belly and weeks of 100+ degree temps.  I decided a Wii would be slightly better at burning off energy, on days they couldn't spend too much time outside, than a movie.  I am happy to report that is all it is useful for because I have to actually suggest they use it.  Though that first week was cat fights.

With an opinion like that I never thought I relied much on TV.  I doubted I'd ever miss it and have even suggested we get rid of cable.  That is until it was gone.  I really should say half gone.  The television turns on and off by itself.  The 1st weekend hubby had no desire to spend the money on a new set and swore he'd look at it.  The 2nd weekend we looked at them and I was completely overwhelmed.  The 3rd we had no time to go pick one up.

Yes, for 3 weeks I have had a TV that may stay on for a whole show or 2 minutes.  I do have one in my own bedroom though.  The baby sleeps in my bedroom.  Care to guess what convinces the 4 and 2 year old to stay away while I put her to sleep?  If the TV stays on a whole show it's great.  If it shuts off after 5 minutes I hear the stampede on the stairs.  The stampede usually starts just as the baby's eyes are fluttering.  I have tried several methods of trying to will them closed faster but none seem to work consistantly.  When they do close faster I have not been able to run the Lay Down 500.  That is, get her laid in the bed and sprint to the bedroom door grabbing the toddler before she leaps onto the bed with her.  For some reason, a toddler with legs barely a foot tall, always wins.  This is replayed in the evening only the baby is already laid down and I am trying to get the 4 and 6 year olds to bed before I hear the dreaded stairs.

Hubby probably watches the most TV of anyone in the house.  The 1st week the TV was afraid of him, it never turned off while he was in the room.  There was good reason for this.  The 1st time it turned off he went over and pounded on the TV near the power button.  He did this with a room full of kids.  The TV abligingly turned back on.  The next time the TV turned off, with him absent, B11 did the same thing.  Another time S6 tried without luck to beat it on.  B11 jumped in, pointing out that you had to pound it this way.  A2 spent the 1st week confused, who turned the TV off, turn it back on.  All this beating though was fun.  She now pounds on it, even when it's already on.  This, of course, turns it off, replaying the events, each taking a turn until it works.  Now when it turns on, it may or may not bring a random menu with it that you can't get rid of.

A TV that turns itself off can also turn itself on.  It can turn itself on at 6:30 am when the easily startled B11 is downstairs with only E6.  This can result in freaking out or a stop in all progress (in getting ready for school) as she gets distracted.  It can also turn on at 10 pm when you're the only one who stayed up late to finish laundry and you get the crud scared out of you.  Noone tries to beat it off though, oddly enough the power button will turn it off again (but not back on when it turns off itself).

I finally went to the electronics store myself.  50+ TVs to look at and the only difference I saw was between Plasma (which everyone said not to get) and LCD.  After hearing I'd "only" be using it for Wii, DVD, and just plain cable the salesman said it didn't matter what I bought because I wouldn't get the "HD experience".  I guess that means I can just go cheap.  I'd like the TV to last the 10 years my old one did though.  Needless to say, the salesman was no help.  They do have a buy back program though, you can pay $100 now so you can trade it in for a bit more than that if you trade it in in 2 years or less.  That sounds like such a great deal but I think I'll pass.

Now the old one has resorted to turning itself off and on some 20 times in 5 minutes, annoying me greatly.  We do have a nice new TV finally though.  I only had to completely empty my van so I could fold the seats down so my hubby could go get it without worrying about rain.  Empty means removing 2 carseats, 2 booster seats, 2 strollers and countless amounts of garbage.  The new one is sitting in a pretty box in the Living Room, where it has sat for 2 days now.  Putting up a mounting bracket is about as fun as picking out a TV.  Why people would want to do this just to get some bigger and better thing, is beyond me.  Maybe that's because I have too much going on to "really enjoy" watching television.