Thursday, September 30, 2010

Non-Toxic Gift Guide

Have you seen?! The stores already have holiday decorations out. Last year around the holidays, I began searching for gift guides featuring non-toxic products for my little one. They were hard to find!  So now that I know what products Nate and I love, I've started my own gift guide. You can find it here or click the tab marked "Non-Toxic Gift Guide" below the header at the top of the page.

I plan on updating it regularly, so check back often for more ideas. If you know of a great non-toxic product that you think I should include in the list, please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Wobbly Joy

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Three Ps of Baby Sign Language: Patience, Perseverance & Pancakes

Since Nate and I use sign language in public, the topic of signing comes up with other parents at parks and playgroups. They often tell me that they tried signing, but it didn't really work. I don't  usually press them for details because it's awkward enough talking to complete strangers when the only thing you obviously have in common is that both of your children want that truck and are willing to shed blood over it.

Okay, maybe sign language doesn't work for everyone. But if I did delve further into their practice of sign language at home, I bet I would hear some of the following complaints: "I tried it but she never signed back," "I didn't have time to learn a bunch of signs," or "I found it hard to continue to use the signs."  For those parents I would offer the following bits of advice:

It can take awhile for your baby to sign back. In fact, it can take months. Most babies don't have the fine motor skills to make signs until nine or ten months. Even then, the gestures they make won't necessarily look like the ones you are making. I began signing with Nate when he was four months old. It took over five months before I saw his first sign (MORE).  Older children certainly learn signs more quickly, but it can still take weeks for them to catch on.

During those five months of waiting I wondered if I was wasting my time. I wondered if I should just give up. Even after he made those first few signs, it took him awhile to add any more. Now, at thirteen months he signs over thirty signs regularly. I am so glad I waited it out. It can certainly be disheartening to spend your time learning signs, incorporating them into your conversations and teaching them to other family members only to have your little one stare back at you blankly. But trust me, once your baby starts signing back to you that effort is absolutely worth it.

Nate has now been signing back to us for about four months. For the first time the other day he made the sign for MILK, which is often a baby's first sign. You just never know what will float their little boat. Some of Nate's first signs were FAN and  WASHING MACHINE. Not the EAT, ALL DONE and WATER I had been signing for months. So if you are overwhelmed with learning a ton of signs my advice is to learn just a couple of signs for things you know your little one loves.  Then use them regularly. The more interested in the topic your baby is, the more motivated he'll be to sign about it. For instance, Nate loves pancakes. I looked up the sign, showed it to him and the very next morning he was requesting PANCAKES for breakfast. Can't say I blame him.

Signing parents - what are your tips/advice regarding baby sign language?

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Organic-Mama.Ca just posted a fantastic giveaway - the most adorable organic hat from Adrienne Kinsella Handcrafted Goods and Artworks. Click here to enter the giveaway. The hat looks like an acorn. An ACORN! So cute.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vomit Haus

The cloud
I was talking to my dad on the phone this evening, recounting all of the recent vomiting stories in our home. Of course, there's Nate, who is a puke factory (don't worry - you can read more about that here!). And now there's our dog, Ava.

Ava has been vomiting all day long. The kind of vomit that sounds like water is gushing from a faucet. Or waterfall. At first I wasn't really concerned because I attributed it to her food. We had run out of her usual dog food - Iams - and they were out of our brand at our grocery store so we substituted with some other stuff that she's had before. Dog's stomachs can get all out of whack when you change their food suddenly. So when I heard her puking bright and early this morning while I was changing Nate's diaper I just figured it was the food and would resolve itself quickly. Well somewhere between the seventh river of vomit and the eleventh I realized that maybe it's more than the food.

So I was telling my dad about all the puke while I chased Nate around the house after dinner. He had more freedom to roam since Ava was locked up in the kitchen. Did I mention our entire home -except for kitchen and bathroom- has wall to wall carpet? Yeah. It's fantastic.  Especially when you leave to go to the grocery store and come back to find dog puke soaked into the carpet.

After Nate tired of exploring I picked him up to dance with him a bit when he started to cough a little. Then he threw up. And I'm holding him with one hand and holding the phone with the other. "Gottagohespuking!" I caught most of the vomit in my hand (score!) and just as I think the coast is clear he pukes again. This time all over my shirt.  Sigh.

We went into the bathroom to strip down out of all of our vomit covered garments when I heard Ava gagging in the kitchen. There was a river of vomit on the floor. A river! CALGON TAKE ME AWAY.

The silver lining
Due to all of the vomit clothes and vomit covered towels, I ran the washing machine while I gave Nate his bath. The washing machine is right outside the bathroom. And as you can read about here, Nate is obsessed with the washing machine. So as a result, I was treated to the most ridiculously cute toddler-happy-dance to the hum of the washing machine. Love that baby.

Um, is there any prize for saying the word "vomit" more than a hundred times in a blog post? And yes, I know, health professionals need to be called. And deep cleaning rug professionals.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Three Baby Things I Want Next Time Around

When I was pregnant and started to register for my baby shower I was completely blown away by the amount of stuff that is out there. It can be really intimidating trying to decide what products you really need, what you should just borrow and what ones you shouldn't bother with at all.  I quizzed all my mommy friends and relatives and quickly realized that every one's situation is so different, there isn't one answer for "what do I really need?" 

Now that I've been a mom for over a year I know there are a few items that I definitely want next time around, whenever that will be. I didn't get them the first time around because I was trying to save space and money by only getting truly necessary items. Next time they are mine!

I really love the whole baby wearing thing, especially when you're out and a stroller isn't convenient. I used the standard Baby Bjorn that I borrowed from my sister and it served it's purpose well enough. But Nate was a heavy infant (8lb 13oz at birth) and was twenty pounds in no time. You tote a twenty pounder in the Bjorn for a few minutes and your back will start to kill you. I've heard wonderful things about the comfort of the Ergo. And they have a huge selection of colors in both the conventional and organic models. I have my heart set on the chocolate brown organic one next time.

I never thought I would need to see my baby as well as hear him. But I also never thought we would suffer with such terrible sleeping issues that we'd be using a sleep training method involving periods of crying it out. And I never thought that I would have a toddler who could puke for a living. It is very difficult to not become manipulated by the vomiting of your brilliant little one when you can't tell the difference between vomiting and gagging by sound alone. Plus, I would really like to peek in on him sleeping once in a while, just to see him laying there peacefully. Opening the door is not a possibility when you have the lightest sleeper on earth!

I knew I wanted to breastfeed exclusively (if I was able to do so) well before I ever became pregnant. I had heard that breast pumps weren't worth it unless you bought a really good (expensive) one. I figured that I would just pump manually if we needed a bottle. Have you ever tried to express milk on a regular basis by hand? Not fun. At all. I will spare you the sticky details but I am absolutely buying a pump next time.

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So moms - what are your must haves? What kind of gear do you want next time around?  If you missed my must have list, you can find  "Five Must Haves For the First Year" here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What We're Reading: Peek-A Who?

I haven't written a weekly book post in a while, because really we're just reading more of the same. Once we find an author we like we just devour all of the books we can find by that person. I told you about some of our favorites here, here and here. Nate still loves those and we read them each several times a day. Now we're also reading How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Cat by Matthew van Fleet every day too. They're both very cute so I certainly don't mind. It could be a lot worse.

Peek-A Who?We also have another favorite peek-a-boo type book: Peek-A Who? by Nina Laden. It has only a few sturdy pages and is a great choice at bedtime when I know Nate is overtired and has little patience. It's very simple, with a cutout on each page and only a few words, but you certainly can stretch the story out (if you were so inclined) by talking about the very bright childlike illustrations. Nate's very interested in stars lately and luckily there's a whole page of them towards the end. There's also a mirror on the last page that isn't very warped so it would be a great choice for the car for any baby who loves looking at their adorable little mug. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baby Sign of the Week: PIG

One of the reasons I enjoy the animal signs so much is that they often play off of the physical characteristics of the animal and therefore are easy to remember. Except for PIG. Here is the ASL sign for PIG. You put your hand flat underneath your chin and bend at the knuckles. What on earth does that have to do with pigs?! Nothing. I refuse to incorporate it into our baby sign language repertoire. And of course pigs are everywhere, in books, songs, a farm we went to recently - so last week I decided I would make up my own sign. I went with the classic pig nose. You know, just take your finger and push your nose up. And of course I can't make a pig nose without an accompanying snort.

Nate of course has his own version. When he wants to sign PIG he sniffs his finger. By special request, I give you Nate's baby sign for PIG (with a bonus PLEASE thrown in):

This sign is especially important when we're reading Night-Night, Little Pookie at bedtime!

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vomit Schmomit & Mommy Tips

When Nate was an infant he didn't spit up much. I thought we lucked out in that department. False. Now that he's older, we have something much worse. Nate is a big time puker. (I believe I mentioned this before here.) He throws up when he's really upset. When he's mildly upset. When he's laughing so hard he's screaming. After he coughs. And sometimes just spontaneously with no explanation. I have seen a wide variety of puke flavors in a rainbow of colors. Oh wait, this is a post about Nate, not about my college days...

At first the vomiting really got to me. Especially when he'd vomit because he was really upset. Like during sleep training. So it was our fault he was upset. That was awful. But we had to choose between some vomit and getting more than sixty minutes of sleep at a time, so we went with the vomit. But during that time I received one of the best little mommy advice tidbits I've ever received from my friend Kristi, who I never thanked (Thank you, Kristi!) - prepare for your puker by putting a sheet on the crib mattress, a waterproof pad on top of that first sheet and then another sheet on top of that. A sheet sandwich with padding in the middle. I can't even tell you how many times this gem of brilliance saved me. It's especially handy when you're trying to clean up by yourself.

What made me think of this tidbit just now? Yes, Nate just threw up on me again. He's been in a horrible way lately - we're thinking it's teething - and sleeping has once again become a real issue. He missed his afternoon nap and was a disaster by bedtime. He had a complete meltdown while I was putting on his pajama pants and I got a bit of a chunk shower. How gross is that phrase?! I think I just coined that term. Feel free to use it as much as you would like! How dare I try to dress him for bed. Poor little guy. I didn't have to use the sheet trick, since most of it was in my cupped hand and on my shirt. But it did make me realize that I'm kind of getting used to it. Sigh.

So mommies - what's the best little tip you've heard from another mom? Don't keep it to yourself!

Earth Mama Angel Baby - Labor Ease

Wordless Wednesday: Rough Night

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Drumroll Please...

The lucky winner of the Little Sapling Toys teether giveaway is comment #37.

LJD of Lullabies and Lawyering has won her choice of two organic Little Teething Toys!

Thank you to all of the other contestants! If you're heartbroken that you didn't win you can still go here to shop LST. They now have flat rate shipping for only $5.95.

And he's walking even more effortlessly now, but here's the little video of Nate walking that I couldn't load the other day:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Zombie Monday (Re)Post: Better Bath Toys

I originally posted this over the summer and thought it would be a perfect candidate for resurrection since we have found a few more bath toys that we absolutely love. Check out the Boon Scrubble Interchangeable Bath Toy Scrub Set. Nate loves trying to practice twisting and untwisting the pieces together. Plus it's fun to squirt the water at his pudgy baby belly in the bath. It's a great alternative to the classic squirt bath toys. Sassy Pour and Explore Cups are a big hit too.

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Every kid needs a rubber ducky for the bath. But there are two problems with the classic rubber duck: (1) most have holes in the bottom and (2) most are made of pvc.

Boon Odd Ducks Collection

What's wrong with a little hole, you ask? Well the hole allows water into the duck. But the problem is, even if you squish out all the water, the inside is not going to get dry. It becomes a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. My mom told me she squished some water out of my nephew's duck and BLACK stuff came spurting out. Gross.

What's wrong with PVC? I'll let someone who really knows what they're talking about tell you here at thesoftlanding blog.

So in our search for a better alternative we found Boon Odd Ducks. They're a collection of funny shaped, colorful ducks and Nate absolutely loves the two he has - Squish & Jane. Nate plays with them every night and often wants to bring one from the bath to his bedroom. And most importantly they are PVC free!

We love Boon. In fact our entire bath toy collection is Boon. We also have Splat and Water Bugs. Splat is a a floating target with rings and Water Bugs is a set of three bugs with a net.  Nate likes to suck on them, throw them overboard and put them in his Sassy Soft Touch Rinse Cup . Can I get through one toy post without talking about Sassy?!

Boon Inc Bath Toy Combo Pack Splat and Water Bugs

And another great thing - all of these toys can double as pool toys.  You'd be surprised at how challenging it is to get the ring on the target in the vast waters of a kiddie pool - fun for the whole family. Which is much better than fun for the Hole Family, whoever they are:

The Soft LandingBUY: You can find all of these BPA, pvc, phthalate free toys here at The Soft Landing.

Disclaimer: Please note that while I am an affiliate for The Soft Landing, I purchased all of these toys myself, received no compensation for this post and the opinions are all my own!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Official Stumble Bunny; Blog Awards

Well, it's official...Nate is walking!  He started the weekend out taking a few steps here and there and by the end he was motoring around the living room, teetering and wobbling like a little drunk man. He was even walking around the park today. It was so much fun! I tried several times to upload a video showing off his new skills, but it just won't load. You'll just have to take my word for it.

In other exciting news, I received three awards from my fellow bloggers! It's such an honor to be recognized by your peers. I received the Beautiful Blog Award from Meaghan at BellOrel Baby; the One Lovely Blog Award from Kerry at Nesting with Niall; and a combo One Lovely Blog/Versatile Blogger Award from Miranda at The Barefoot Mommy. Thank you guys! I love these blogs and read them regularly. It's funny how you share triumphs and struggles with moms across the country (well, countries!) and even though you've never met them, you really start to care about them and their children. These are three beautiful mothers with blogs to match and I hope you check them out.

Each award comes with rules that I am going to ignore because I'm tired. (Nate's been a bit off all week and not sleeping well. We're just hoping it's the sort of sleep upset that comes with achieving developmental milestones -walking- and he's not getting sick. Of course, it could always be teething too.) So instead of answering questions and naming ten blogs for each award, I am going to give each award to one blogger that I think deserves some recognition. Here are three of my newest favorites and I hope you'll visit them:


Annette at Mommy Spirit

Looking for more fantastic blogs to read? Check out the recipients of The Cherry on Top Award.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Underwear is Wet and I Probably Have Fleas

It's been one of those days. You know, where your son wakes up at 4:45 am and is ready to start his day. FOUR FORTY FIVE in the MORNING! "Hey mom, how 'bout some pancakes?! And how about you let me practice my walking now. And let's play with my car. And let's read a book while we're at it too!"

By mid-morning I'm still crossing my fingers that he will take a decent nap. We have been doing really well with ninety minute morning naps lately until this past week (where we've been back to thirty or forty minute naps.) Ugh. I've been thinking I just need to keep him up longer in the morning, push that nap back and maybe he'll sleep longer. Yeah, no such luck. I got a forty minute break.

So since it is still before ten in the morning and we have the whole day ahead of us, I think I will try to take advantage of it and plan something different and fun. I go online to check out the hours and directions to our local children's museum, pack our lunches and head out the door. Now that Nate is walking more and more (sometimes ten to twelve steps at a clip), I thought it would be a great place to practice. They also have an open play area which I was really looking forward to trying out, since we weren't able to take advantage of it last time (the only time) we were there.  I decid I should probably buy a membership so that I could take him once a week a save a ton of money.

So off we go. It should be a fifteen to twenty minute ride. Unless the driver has her head up her...well, so I miss the turn onto the highway and end up making a gigantic stupid loop for no good reason. When I finally get back on track and into the vicinity of the museum I realize that the Google Maps directions are garbage and end up driving around the community college campus for an eternity. I finally, totally accidentally, find my way there...about forty-five minutes after leaving our home. Nate is not pleased. I keep telling him, "Sorry Mama's an idiot and got lost, but it will absolutely be worth it! It will be so much fun, you'll see!"

I turn into the parking lot to see this (insert expletive starting with F) sign: MUSEUM CLOSED. ARGH!  Apparently when I was checking hours on the website I did not scroll down far enough to see that for this one random week in September the museum is closed for "cleaning." Great. I bet the staff is in there doing weird things with the bubbles.

So with no other ideas, and desperately wanting to get out of the car and play, I bring him to this giant park in the area, with multiple fields and playgrounds. We get out and it is overcast and windy and of course I didn't bring our sweatshirts because "we'll be indoors!"  We putter around the playground for awhile, but it stormed last night and Nate keeps trying to crawl around in the wet tree gunk. This isn't working. We try the swings, but Nate can't be trapped like that now that he is in turbo-explore mode.

aden + anais Muslin Wraps 4-Pack - Zoo AnimalsBut hope is not lost! We can still have a lovely little picnic lunch. At least I know I'll enjoy the company. Just a matter of finding a decent spot. So I pick an area in front of the tennis courts, since Nate is now obsessed with balls. Aren't they all? I set down our blanket (Aden & Anais - do you have them? They are such fantastic all purpose blankets.) and start unloading. And then I see them. Tiny, hopping little bugs all over our blanket. What are they?! Fleas. I'm pretty sure they are fleas. Great, now we have fleas. Let's make sure to bring these home to the dog.

Okay, regroup. "Let's set up camp somewhere else, Nate." So we search and search for a good spot while Nate insists on pushing the stroller while I hold him. So I just give up and set up camp near an outing for mentally challenged people. Is that the right term?  And we enjoy our lunch on the ground on our flea-bitten blanket. I take a call from my good friend with whom I haven't spoken to in awhile and think that maybe the day will turn around.

And as I'm talking to my friend and Nate is playing, I realize that my butt is wet. No, soaked. My butt is completely soaked and even my underwear is wet. I had set up our picnic on soaking wet ground. Well, at least on my side. Nate's side was dry. Or his butt was so much lighter. In any event, Nate's pants weren't wet. So this day just completely sucks and clearly something else horrible is going to happen.

So remember the group outing I just mentioned? Now please understand that I have worked with developmentally disabled/challenged people both in my time as an employee at a daycare and while working for the New York City government (that last part was a joke...sort of ). So I mean no disrespect when I say this...but I start to become convinced that one of the group members (who are intermittently yelling and screaming) is probably going to stab me. I know this is completely irrational. But did you see The Village? Adrien Brody really got to me.  We packed up and leave. I am not stabbed.

When we get home I put Nate down for his afternoon nap. He sleeps for twenty minutes.

Now, please excuse me while I counteract the five gallons of coffee I drank today with some wine. Have a good night.

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BUY:  No, seriously, you should get some Aden & Anais blankets. I'm obsessed with them. You can buy them here at Amazon.

Oh! I almost forgot. September is National Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. Please go to my blogging buddy Jennifer's blog and check out her post on PCOS here. Did you know that PCOS affects one out of every ten women of childbearing age?!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baby Sign Language Tip: Manners & Burritos Don't Mix

Dave's birthday was earlier this month and I wanted Nate to make his card special (he was a wee bit too young last year to participate), but we didn't have any crayons. So I dug out some old pastels I had and gave one to Nate to use to decorate Daddy's card. At thirteen months, I think he's slightly young for crayons, but he loved that pastel so much that he threw a fit when I ended our drawing session. So I thought it was time to get some art supplies.

Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons - Set of 8I've been researching non-toxic art materials and I have my eye on these Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons, but after going to three separate art stores in the area and coming up empty, I gave up and decided to buy regular old crayons for now. I'll have to order my fancy-pants crayons online. So this weekend, I came home with fat, triangular crayolas, a huge roll of paper, a foam board and a giant coloring book and let Nate go to town.

He is so cute with the crayons. And he's quite good at drawing stick people...with no heads or other features. Since he likes to eat the crayons, I sit and color with him and of course he always wants the color I use. I know he wants my crayon because he just yanks it out of my hand. So I thought I would take the opportunity to teach him some manners and introduce the ASL sign for PLEASE (which is a circle motion on the chest). It just seems nicer if he says PLEASE before he rips it out of my hand mid-stroke.

To my surprise and delight, he picked up the sign immediately. But he only seemed to be using it in the context of drawing, when he wanted my crayons. So I made an effort to include PLEASE at mealtime too. Sure enough, he started to ask for things and then include a little chest rub. WATER, PLEASE. So I patted myself on the back, told him how wonderful his manners were and how brilliant he is - I was all self-congratulatory. That is until he started saying "PLEASE, I want more burrito." The mushy, messy, cheesy, bean burrito that I'm eating with my hands. "PLEASE, more avocado." The mushy, stainy, green avocado that I'm eating with my hands. 

So he proudly rubs that little circle on his chest while grinding the food into his shirt (he'd rather go hungry than wear a bib) at just about every meal now. And he eats a lot of beans and a lot of avocado. I've created a shirt staining well mannered monster. Yeah, great idea.

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First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and TwosBUY:  You can get your own fancy-pants Stockmar Beeswax Crayons here at Amazon.

CHECK OUT: Doesn't First Art : Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos look interesting? I want it!

Natural Arts and Crafts Toys
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