Friday, April 29, 2011

My son is being potty trained against my will

Warning: this post is really crappy.

BABYBJĂ–RN Little Potty - Blue

There are certain milestones in Nate's life that I have been very excited for him to reach. Rolling over, signing back, speaking. And then there are have been the milestones for which I have been in no rush for Nate to achieve. Like walking. I figured he would do it eventually and in the meantime I would enjoy the fact that he couldn't reach the remote anytime he wanted to, turn the channel to the public access station and giggle devilishly while running away with it.

Another milestone I expected to approach with no hurry was potty training. Most little boys I know weren't potty trained until they were about three, so I figured I wouldn't even think about it until Nate was at least two years old. I haven't read much about it, except for the basics in Brazelton's Touchpoints-Birth to Three. But I know enough to know that Nate isn't really exhibiting all of the signs that signal it's time to begin. While we discuss his pooping frequently (sometimes before, sometimes after, but not every time) he has only told me once that he had to pee. And he is no where near being able to pull his pants down by himself.

So it completely shocked me when Nate asked to sit on the (real) toilet to go pee earlier this week. I let him sit without a diaper, but it was too big and weird for him and he seemed overwhelmed. But then he asked again later that day and this time laughed when I put him on the toilet, like it was a terrifically fun activity for the afternoon. Hmmm, interesting. If he's expressing interest, I certainly don't want to dissuade him from trying. But holding him up there is really awkward, so I got a big boy potty chair for him on Tuesday. I figured he could sit on it anytime he liked and just become familiar with it for the next couple months.

But I guess that wasn't Nate's plan. On Wednesday morning he decided to sit on it with his diaper on and poop. And by Wednesday night he was pooping in it without a diaper. Like actually using it the way it's intended to be used. What the....? And yesterday we got another poop and a pee (um, mostly in the potty) in the chair. Super fun to clean out, by the way.

This is very strange. And very messy. I don't know if he'll remain interested, but I don't think I'm ready for this.

Advice/stories are welcome! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Little man

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Count von Nate

Dave taught Nate how to count the week before last. Nate went into the bathroom to take a bath without knowing how to count. When he came out he not only had the avocado washed out of his hair, but he could suddenly count to four. Here he is showing off his new skill:

The video also has a bonus baby sign: CRACKER. You can see how he's progressed from his thirteen month version of the sign here.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Three picture books for truck loving toddlers

Nate is O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with trucks. It's interesting to see typical gender roles play out at such a young age.  Nate's love isn't a cultural construct. We weren't filling his room with trucks and sporting good items. He's just naturally drawn to anything transportation related. Anything resembling a ball. I find it fascinating. He wakes up and goes to bed with trucks on the brain. If he's looking out of a window, he's looking for trucks. We take walks with the specific purpose of locating a steamroller in the neighborhood. And I cannot relate to this passion at all. Oh, boys.

Although we have lots of board books with transportation pages, we don't really have any books dedicated to trucks. Luckily, the library helped us out. We found three great ones:

Roadwork!Roadwork! by Sally Sutton is one of Nate's absolute favorites and we need to purchase it after the book is due. He'll ask me read it four times in a row, easy. Cute little rhymes and fun sound words tell the story of what it takes to get a road built. The back page has a chart showing the different kinds of trucks with a little description of each. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that Nate knew the difference between a truck mounted crane and a bulldozer after one reading. I quiz him each time we read it and he always gets at least five out of the six trucks correct. Amazing.

I'm Dirty! I'm Dirty! by Kate and Jim McMullan is a little more intense and "VROOM, VROOM!" for lack of a better term. It's not a calm, bedtime story book. I think it's geared towards a slightly older child (with descriptions of the backhoe loader's hydraulic arms and whatnot), but Nate really likes it. It's fun.

Fire TruckFire Truck by Peter Sis is an older, simpler book. It's the sweet little story of a boy who loved fire trucks so much he turned into one. Is that really what little boys dream about?

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Best birthday ever...and Easter too

Yesterday was my birthday and it will go down as one of my absolute favorites. The day began with the most awesome gifts from my two handsome guys and some Easter egg dyeing. I'm kind of obsessed with Easter. At least the egg hunting, basket full of chocolate bunnies part. Here are some egg coloring shots. It's kind of hard to contain the spills and snap pictures at the same time. It should be noted that Nate wasn't satisfied with my choice to hard boil a mere dozen eggs.

Then Dave and I went to the movies - for the first time in about two years. It was a very rare and much appreciated chance to hang out, just the two of us. And Nate got a play date with some of the best friends you could ever ask for (thank you again!). 


No super classy bucket of KFC chicken this year to end the day. But Dave made sure I had champagne and a candle to make a wish. It was a perfect birthday, followed by a fantastic Easter. Here are some highlights:

the Easter Bunny came!

enjoying his goodies

standard Natey smile for the camera

double fisting

finding this egg (and most of the other ones!) proved to be quite a challenge

How about you? What are your spring holiday traditions?

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bunny pics

Um, yeah, I don't have any. And not because I think it's creepy and weird to sit on those rental costume Bunnies and Santas. (Which I do. I always feel like the people underneath the costumes have STDs and sex offender records. No offense Mr. Bunny.) But because that line was just ridiculously long. I did feel bad though - Nate was overcome with the inexplicable and very strong desire to hug the Easter Bunny and "pet" him. He had to settle for blowing kisses and waving to Buns instead... and then stalking him through the window to throw even more kisses and to say goodbye. Many, many times.

So here's a springy, flower-sniffing picture instead:

How about you? Have you previously worked as an Easter Bunny and want to express your anger with me for outing you as a sexual predator? Leave a comment! Otherwise, enjoy your weekend.

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HERE

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Replacing the plastic in my home :: Chemex Coffeemaker

I want to eliminate the items in my home leaching toxic substances into our bodies. Pots and pans with PFCs, plastic ice cube trays leaching lord knows what (BPA? what else?) into our ice, flame retardants in baby gear, etc, etc... My list is long and overwhelming, not to mention expensive. It kills me that we have to pay more money for less chemicals to enter our body. That's so wrong.

When purchasing plastic, I've taken care to buy safer options. But now I'm reading more and more (like here in this Mighty Nest article) that the "safer" alternatives to endocrine disrupting, toxic chemicals - like BPA - might not be so safe at all. Sigh. I guess the solution is to stay away from plastic all together and stick with glass, stainless steel and wood whenever possible. Easier said then done.

I decided my first step would be to replace my ancient plastic coffee maker. I had looked up glass coffee makers awhile ago, but since I know nothing about brewing coffee beyond pushing the on button, I got intimidated by the foreign alternatives and pushed it off. Luckily, I had the opportunity to see a Chemex coffee maker in action the other day at a relative's house and fell in love.

Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe - 6 Cup

It's very easy and completely plastic free. You simply pop a filter in the top, put your coffee grounds in and pour boiling water on top of that. Voila. It does require an extra step in the coffee making process since you have to boil the water first, but it's completely worth it. Apparently coffee enthusiasts claim that brewing coffee this way makes for a much better cup of coffee. I'm no aficionado - my favorite cups of coffee have come from dirty carts on the street corners of Manhattan - but I have to say, my coffee has been tasting pretty good lately. Even without the proper Chemex filters (I've just been using regular cone filters). And I love that I can reheat the coffee on the stove top, rather than popping it in the microwave.

Have you reduced the plastic in your home? How?

**** If you're tired of feeling like you need a doctorate degree in chemistry just to find safe items for your family, there's hope! The Safe Chemicals Act, which would overhaul the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act, has been introduced into the Senate. Wouldn't it be nice for chemicals to be placed into commerce only after proving their safety? You can read more about the bill here.  And you can contact your senators and encourage them to support the Safe Chemicals Act by clicking here. ****

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Wordless Wednesday: Sunday in the park

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Using baby sign language after eighteen months

I can't say enough about my experience using baby sign language with Nate. It has helped me communicate with him, enriched his vocabulary and warded off temper tantrums. He began actively signing back around nine or ten months old and it became an integral part of our daily lives. But at twenty months, Nate is a talking machine and our use of sign language has lessened considerably. As Nate started verbalizing more and more (around fifteen/sixteen months) I stopped teaching him new signs because he was able to verbally speak new words at that point (or at least attempt to speak them).

As he masters the verbal pronunciation of words, Nate tends to stop making the accompanying sign. This is probably due in part to the fact that once Nate has learned a verbal word, I have pretty much stopped making the accompanying sign as well. So most of the signs have just gradually dropped off. But this isn't to say that signing has completely dropped out of our lives. Nate still makes signs for words that he can't pronounce very well, like AIRPLANE and DINOSAUR. He uses signs to clarify what he's saying if I just don't understand what word he is trying to speak. And he also uses sign language to emphasize certain things. This tends to happen most often with MORE, particularly when he wants something and I've already told him no. He then yells "more!" and signs it furiously at the same time, so he's screaming at me in two different ways. Awesome.

Sometimes Nate will randomly whip out a sign that we haven't used in months. This happened yesterday when he was eating an avocado. So I asked him if he remembered some other signs as well. Usually he hates being videotaped, but he was suddenly obsessed with performing the signs:

Nate shows off some great signs to use when beginning baby sign language (please excuse my annoying level of exuberance).

Do you use baby sign language with your toddler?

If you are interested in reading more about our use of baby sign language, click here.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Is petroleum jelly toxic?

It's clear to me that cosmetics and skin care products are chock full of things that most people would want to avoid, if they only knew about them.  I've been pretty good at researching the safety of the products I use on Nate (like sunscreen, shampoo, soap and diaper cream). Before I buy something new for him, I make a real effort to make sure it's one of the safer options out there. But when it comes to myself, I get lazy. I use so many more products, and researching everything from mascara to moisturizer seems overwhelming.

So I'm not as informed as I would like to be. As I shop around, I've been seeing more and more beauty care products labeled "petroleum free" - which leaves me wondering what's wrong with petroleum. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) has a long history in my family - from soothing chapped lips and skin to aiding in the insertion of the evil rectal thermometer. Aside from most of the people in my family having three nipples (which I hypothesize is linked to sucking on lead filled keys while sitting in pools of BPA-laden tomato sauce), I think we turned out alright.

(All kidding aside, I hate, hate, hate when people use that line in arguments against educating themselves on the dangers of XYZ - "I did that/had that/ate that growing up and I'm fine, so I see no need to read up on current research." Oh, really? Do you know how XYZ effected your fertility and chances of getting cancer? Maybe you were fine eating plastic all day, but do you know how it influenced rates of ADHD, autism and other developmental delays in children you didn't know?) Anyway...

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly 13 oz (368 g)

So I did a little research. It turns out that petroleum jelly (aka petrolatum) gets a 2 in the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, which means it's listed as low hazard. Yay! But there's a 94% data gap. Hmmm. Not so reassuring. Apparently one of the major concerns is the likelihood of contamination with PAHs (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which is a probable carcinogen. There's such strong evidence that it's a carcinogen that it gets a 10, or high hazard, on Skin Deep. I think I'll err on the side of caution and look for petroleum free products in the future. I have zero confidence in the ability of our current laws to protect the products we purchase and use on our bodies from the contamination of cancer causing chemicals.

What about you? Do you eat petroleum jelly filled donuts?

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HERE

Friday, April 15, 2011

Help for little roosters: The Good Nite Lite

Nate went through a phase where he was waking up at the crack of dawn (or before) every morning. And by phase I mean his entire life until about a month ago. Six in the morning I can live with. Five, four-thirty...that is unbearable.

The Good Nite Lite

While searching for solutions, I kept reading about the The Good Nite Lite. It's a behavioral modification tool, designed to help train children to stay in bed until a reasonable hour. The moon lights up at night, signaling bed time and changes to a sun when it's time to get up for the day. There's a little digital clock in the back that you set - so you determine bedtime and awake time. I got it about six weeks ago, even though the recommended age is for older children (I think three to five years). After starting my day before five in the morning for a week straight, I was willing to try anything.

Strangely, right about the time we got it, Nate started sleeping until after six every morning. But I can't thank the Good Nite Lite, because it wasn't in his room in the beginning. We started out with the light in the dining room to see how it worked, and to make sure it didn't scare Nate. I think his better sleep habits have more to do with not teething and another round of Ferber. That said, the night light has been a fantastic addition to our home.

Nate is obsessed with the night light and is so excited to see the moon "up" at 7:00 pm, that it is an easy transition from play time to bed time. The moon is brightest for the first hour and then dims to a lower setting for the remainder of the night. While the moon is definitely the most enthralling part of the light, he gets a big kick when the sun is up in the morning too - "The sun is up, time for all dogs to get up!" The sun is up for a couple of hours, I think, and then it shuts off.

The only annoying thing about the light is that, just as advertised, it's a night light - which means it is designed to plug right into the wall. And since all of the outlets in Nate's room are around the baseboard, we have them all hidden away. My solution was plugging it into an extension cord and draping the cord over the box it came in, as above. Not super stylish, but Nate can see it from his crib, which is the point.

Do you know any tricks for early risers?

In other super exciting news, my niece was just born! Welcome to the world Alice Penelope!! I can't wait to meet you and love you to pieces already.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Spring cleaning

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Letter to twenty month old Nathaniel

Dear Nate,

Another month has gone by in a blur! Twenty months...that is almost two years old. I have a two year old. Okay, not yet. But still - unreal.

When I think back on this month, the thing that strikes me the most about you is your language development. Your vocabulary continues to grow with new words every single day. But more than that, you're really starting to put the words together. Blue car. Bye daddy. Watch Elmo. Yesterday you put three words together and it was your first real sentence. Can you believe Daddy and I can't remember what it was? Horrible. I think it might have in fact been about watching Elmo. You're even more obsessed with Sesame than before. I didn't think that was possible.

You're also so specific. That picture in the book is not just a truck, it's a digger. Or a tractor. You know that a bird's mouth is a beak, a duck's mouth is a bill and horse's hair is called a mane. You are so ready to learn anything I want to teach you. Except that lesson on not throwing your food. Seriously, Nate, would you PLEASE stop throwing your food? When are you planning on growing out of that phase?

Speaking of are great at saying please. Especially when you want to manipulate us. You're pretty good at the thank yous too. Your manners take a dive around the nose picking department, but at least you still really like to wash your hands.

You know all of your colors really well. It always make me giggle when you say yellow (lello). If I show you a letter of the alphabet and ask you what it is, you usually get it right. You love hearing us count - you like to do the pointing - and have ventured beyond two to include other numbers. When Daddy was counting to three yesterday you shouted out three! before he could. That was a first. We're still working on shapes, but you have a good handle on triangles (I'm sure because Telly on Sesame Street loves them) and circles.

One of my favorite discoveries has been in the music department. You know the words to so many songs - I had no idea. It turns out that if I leave out words, you easily fill them in. Our favorites include Baa, Baa Black Sheep, Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and this little ditty:

I love watching the little routines that you share only with Daddy - fist bumps, saying dickens when you see him (because Daddy always calls you a little dickens) and of course cheering for your team - throwing your fist in the air, finger extended, shouting "METS!"


You make me laugh. I love you...

more than tongue can tell.

love, Mommy

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Sunday, April 10, 2011


This is our dog Ava:

I rescued her in 2003 when she was about ten months old. I was living in a tiny studio in Brooklyn at the time - one that didn't allow animals. She wasn't house trained, was extremely rambunctious and became attached to me immediately. The feeling was mutual. When Dave came into our lives, it took her awhile to get used to him, but she quickly became crazy about him. She stopped growling at him when he hugged me and started pinning him down to lick-attack him instead. She has been a major presence in our lives. So much so that she was the star of our wedding reception - each table was named after one of pictures/poses.

Lots of people tell you that when you have a baby you stop loving your pet. We haven't stopped loving her, but she isn't the focus of our lives anymore. Before Nate, she had lots of attention and walks around city blocks. Now she has a yard, fewer walks and a lot fewer cuddles. She gets in the way, wakes Nate up with her barking and is often times a general nuisance. If I'm not cleaning up Natey's bodily fluids, I'm cleaning up hers.

There is a saying in a book I have, Zen Dog, that I often think of when I'm silently (or not so silently) cursing her for being a pest: I don't get tired of you. Don't grow weary of being compassionate toward me. She really is a good girl. And she has been fantastic with Nate. 

Luckily for her, Nate has been as fond of her as she has been of his highchair leftovers. DOG was one of his very first baby signs. So we thought for sure that "Ava" would be one of his first spoken words. But Nate started talking and "Ava" would just not come out of his mouth. Month after month we tried to get him to say her name, to no avail. The child would say "iron" and "yak" and "denude" but not Ava. I don't know how many words he says, I'm sure over two hundred, and it was not until the last week or two that finally he started saying it....Ahh-va. In the sweetest little whisper voice. Ahh-va. I think they're going to be great friends.

Are you a breastfeeding mama? You may be interested in my breastfeeding articles HERE

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finger paint fail

In an attempt to shake up our normal play routine, I thought I'd see if Nate enjoyed finger paints. The activity book I have, The Toddler's Busy Book: 365 Creative Games and Activities to Keep Your 1 1/2- to 3-Year-Old Busy has quite a few paint recipes and I happened to have all of the ingredients for one. In general I really like this book, but the directions were a little vague (cook on low and stir until mixture is thick) for this particular recipe. It took like an hour to get thick. Okay, not really an hour, but way too long. Yeah, this little experiment didn't work out so well. But I learned some things. Here are some tips:
  • Don't wait until your toddler is Oscar the Grouch before shoving him into a high chair and starting the process
  • Don't promise that it's almost done
  • Don't promise that it will be really fun and he'll love it
  • Don't give it to him before it's done cooking, because it will be too hot, resemble watercolors, cause him to cry because you suck so much and make faces like this:

Take two. In a desperate impulse buy one rainy day, I picked up some ready made Crayola Washable Fingerpaints to try. Oh the joys of not doing it yourself - in an easy tube, promises of washability, bright colors, horrible toxic smell (but that's okay, it's not like he's going to IMMEDIATELY STICK HIS FINGER INTO THE PAINT AND THEN INTO HIS MOUTH BEFORE YOU CAN TELL HIM TO STOP!!!). Sigh.

Oh, but that's okay, because look how much he loves the finger paints:

Yeah, full meltdown ensued after the taking of this picture. "Mess. Mess. MESS!" Turns out he is just not a fan of dirty hands. Hmmm, I wonder how Easter egg dyeing will play out...

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: More pickles

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