Friday, July 29, 2011

Compromise

When I was pregnant I read everything I could find about pregnancy. I needed to understand all the crazy things happening to my body, know what was going on with this tiny life inside of me and be prepared in the event any of my greatest fears came true. Like Chadwick's sign and hermaphrodites. I couldn't deal with actually preparing for a child until after he came.

Since I'm all about being prepared for the important things, I asked my Facebook friends if they had any recommendations for good baby instruction manuals parenting books after Nathaniel was born. A bunch of people told me that I didn't need any books, I should just rely on my maternal instincts and the elders in my village for child rearing advice. "Thanks!" I typed, while rolling my eyes.  Obviously I think it's important to consult with the "experts" in your life, but I think continued education - especially in the most important thing I will ever do - is pretty important as well.

So thanks to all my fancy pants readin', I know that studies show that too much television watching can lead to ADHD, that "moving" naps (i.e. in the stroller) aren't as restful as proper crib naps and encourage bad sleeping habits and that playing with toxic chemical laden plastic toys can mess with the endocrine system and cause cancer.  But you know what? Those "you don't need to read no stinkin' books" people had a point. Because the books don't account for your child's temperament. Or yours. Or your lifestyle.

And that is why as soon as Nate wakes up (out of his stroller), we are going to watch some Sesame and then go outside and play with his plastic water table.

Because they don't make any out of wood.
Are you a hypocrite too?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I heart Kinderville ice pop molds!

I finally got my hands on the Kinderville Little Bites Ice Pop Molds I've wanted for over a year (scratch that off my summer wish list). They have such a cool design. It works as a push up, so as long as your kid can keep the pop from coming all the way out of the mold it's much cleaner than a pop on a stick. Children are sticky enough as it is. And they are made from non-toxic silicone, which I love. Easy to clean, bacteria resistant and free of toxic chemicals. If you aren't familiar with all of the benefits of silicone you can read more on the Kinderville site.

I had these grand designs of using them to incorporate more fresh fruit into his diet by making a new exciting, yet healthy, flavor everyday. I had visions of magnificent ice pops made from peaches & blueberry yogurt, cherry & limeade, spinach & pineapple - kidding - but so far we have only made one flavor and it was kind of a bust. I mixed organic strawberry lemonade with bits of sliced strawberries. Sounds good, right? I thought they were refreshing, but Nate wasn't that impressed. Admittedly they did lack the punch that those yummy artificial flavors provide. 

Kinderville Little Bites Ice Pop Molds (Set of 4)

The cool thing about the molds is that if your kid doesn't finish the pop you can recap it and refreeze it for later. I don't know if there is a bacteria issue with refreezing an ice pop covered in toddler cooties, so you might just want to eat them yourself to be on the safe side. That's pretty much my philosophy when it comes to all of Nate's leftovers. Especially if we're talking about cookies or muffins. You just can't be too careful.


Have any ice pop recipes I can steal? Apparently I'm too lazy too actually find one and experiment on my own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Not so terrible twos

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy birthday Daddy!

Today is my father's birthday.  I told Nate that Bubba's birthday was coming up over a week ago. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that Nate has mentioned it ("BUBBA BIRDAY COMIN' UP!") every single day since I told him. It's rare that I actually purchase cards and get them out on time. You wouldn't believe the amount of cards I buy that never make it to the intended recipients. If anyone needs a free sympathy card, just swing by my house. But Nate's daily reminders insured that I actually managed to put get my dad's car in the mail on time.  Small victories.

video
This is take two. Take one has Nate yelling, "SURPRISE" but then not saying much of anything else.

Nate also insisted (every.single.day.) that we needed to send Bubba a truck for his birthday. The color changed depending on his mood. I did not manage to get my act together enough to make this happen. That will have to be a belated gift. But, Dad, I think you should totally wait a few years and cash in on the birthday truck when Nate is a major league pitcher.  It will be a lot nicer than the toy store version he can afford now. Just saying.

I love you, Dad! Have a very happy birthday. Thanks for being part of our small, but very loyal, Nater Tot fan base.  We can't wait to see you in August.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finger paints for dessert

One of the challenging aspects of parenthood - for me at least - has been dealing with the fact that babies change so quickly. Eating preferences, sleep habits, favorite games - just when you think you have it all down and you're feeling kind of smug (like you actually might know what you're doing), they go and change on you. So I love when that aspect works to my advantage and we discover that Nate all of a sudden enjoys something that used to make him screech in disgust. The latest example: FINGER PAINT!

 
When he was nineteen months, we tried it and it was a complete disaster.  I don't know what made me give it another go this week, but I'm so glad I did. Oh, I think he finished his dinner early and I desperately needed to clean some dishes rather than chase him all around our still not quite baby proofed home. He completely took to it this time and has been requesting PAINTS! every night after dinner. Even messier than ice cream, but well worth the effort.

The only problem? They smell all gross and toxic to me. I've tried making my own, but it wasn't pretty. I want an all natural non-toxic paint like Eco Kids Natural Plant Dye Finger Paint, but the one review I read was on the negative side when it came to the staying power of the color. Then again, I don't know that I really care about what it looks like when it dries. We only have so much room on our fridge, so guess where most of Nate's masterpieces end up. SHHHH, don't tell him!

Do your kids like finger paint? Any natural brands to recommend?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ugh, do I HAVE to be creative?

When I lie in bed at night writing down my many blessings in my Oprah brand gratitude journal, I often reflect upon my day with Nate and realize with surprise that he only ate half a strawberry and one peanut butter sandwich the entire day. Okay, I'm kidding. I don't really have a gratitude journal. I've tried to be one of those people who ends their day incredibly thankful, but that's just far too positive for me. And anyway, someone in my house is a bit suspicious of Oprah. But I'm not naming any names.

So, what was my point anyway? Oh, yes - Nate barely eats. At least that's what it feels like lately. I'm exaggerating about the strawberry and sandwich thing, but some days not by much. He used to eat so well.  I try so hard to follow all of the expert advice on feeding toddlers - keep offering a wide variety of healthy foods whether he eats them or not, don't pressure him to eat, etc.  But, I mean, the odds are stacked against him. He has supreme picky eating in his blood. And it's so hot out. And he's (almost) two.

While Nate is hesitant to try so many things, I've noticed that he has started to respond to food that is visually fun. So I think if I want him to eat, I'm going to have to get all creative and become one of those "Muffin Tin Monday" kind of moms. Ugh. Why can't he just eat? My first attempts have worked pretty well. He got very excited about "ants on a log," and even tried the celery more than once. He didn't end up eating it, but at least he tried it. Since he loved eating the raisins and peanut butter off the log, I substituted a banana for the celery today and he gobbled it all down (even though he had just insisted he didn't want to eat lunch).


I know there are a billion blogs, books and websites dedicated to fun food for kids. I've heard a lot about Weelicious and am headed over there now. What are your favorite recipes and/or resources? Or do your kids actually just eat whatever you give them?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Nate & Josie

 

Our favorite non-toxic diaper cream: Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm

Luckily for us, Nate has never had too many problems in the diaper rash department. (I just got an image of poor Natey reading these entries as a teenager. At least I have enough self control to omit the naked sitting-on-the-potty shots. That should count for something.) But I always like to put a coating of cream on him for bedtime to protect sensitive parts during the long overnight stretch. I used Balmex regularly until I realized that the ingredients include several chemicals of concern. Environmental Working Group gives Balmex diaper cream a "5" (which is a moderate hazard rating). They list endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity among their concerns. Although I'm better than I used to be (just a tiny bit), I'm still no expert at reading labels (who has time for that?!), so I'm going to trust them on this one.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Bottom Balm, 2-Ounce Jars

I then switched to Episencial Nurturing Balm because I love their Episencial Sunny Sunscreen. The sunscreen scores well on EWG and does a great job protecting our skin from the sun. I naively assumed that their whole line was non-toxic. Unfortunately, I just looked up the EWG rating and that cream also ranks in the moderate hazard category with a "4." Our local big box baby store started carrying it and I was so happy to have found a relatively inexpensive, safe cream that I didn't have to order online. I'm so disappointed.
I've used Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Baby Bottom Balm in the past and really liked it. I'm going to switch back now that Episencial's tainted for me. Like all EMAB products, the Baby Bottom Balm gets the highest non-toxicity score available on EWG's Skin Deep (a Zero). It smells pretty herbalicious (okay, I know that's a stupid word, but it's better than "herby") and works well too. My only complaints are that the jar is on the small side and I have to order it online. Apparently some Targets have started selling EMAB products, but none around me. Boo.

Look, ma - no diaper rash!
 Do you have a favorite diaper cream? What's it's rating on EWG's Skin Deep?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Mets fan

Just like his Daddy, Nate has been a Mets fan for just about his entire life. He knows Jose Reyes (JOSE!) by sight and a hearty chant of GO METS! (along with a fist pump) is literally part of his bedtime routine.  With the brainwashing going on around here, there is no chance that this child will love the Yankees like his mother's side of the family.
before the game
Nate got his first taste of Citi Field yesterday. He was a bit overwhelmed with the massive amount of people, sights and sounds. Especially since he napped in the car on the way over and he usually requires two hours to "wake up" from a one hour nap. He lasted much longer than we anticipated and we were able to stay about two hours. It took a bit of work to entertain him - lot of walks around the stadium, junk food (ice cream in a helmet and his first sno cone) and attempts by our good friends to distract him. Nate didn't get to see JOSE! play, but he did see Mr. Met walking around the park, so it was totally worth the effort.

Have you taken your kids to any major sporting events?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Baby signs of the week: PLAY, TOYS & TURTLE

I guess it's true... if you don't use it, you really do lose it. I find it interesting that Nate used to sign some ASL signs - like PLAY - more accurately at 16 months, when we were actively signing, than he does now at 23 months.  And then there are other signs - like TURTLE - that he was never able to manage when he was younger because they require both hands and some intricate movements. He likes signing TURTLE now just for fun. The whole head wiggling thing provides hours - okay, seconds - of entertainment.


video


PLAY:  Form a "Y" with both hands (think "hang ten dude") and twist. Click here for a video demonstration - by an adult.

TOYS:  Form a "T" (thumb between pointer and middle finger) with both hands and twist. Click here for a video.

TURTLE:  Make a fist with your thumb on the top. Curve your other hand over the base of your thumb. Wiggle exposed thumb - like it's the head of a turtle poking out of a shell. Click here to see what I mean.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marie Veronique Organics Kid Safe Screen

I've repeatedly mentioned my ongoing quest to find safer skincare products like baby shampoohand soap and sunscreen for my family. It's been so disheartening to discover that major brands sell products that contain ingredients containing hormone disruptors, possible carcinogens and skin irritants (check out EWG's Sunscreen Hall of Shame for some examples) marketed towards parents and their children. I've been happy with a lot of my non-toxic finds, but I'm always interested in exploring my options.


I recently tried Kid Safe Screen, SPF 25+ by Marie Veronique Organics and became an instant fan. The sunscreen contains no harmful chemicals, nanoparticles, parabens, petroleum products, fillers, waxes or fragrances and even earned a spot on Environmental Working Group's Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens list this year. You can check out the natural ingredients and all of the other product details here on the Marie Veronique Organics website.

The best part of the lotion, other than it's non-toxicity, is the dispenser. It squirts out of the bottle easily and gives you just the right amount on your finger tips. I cannot stress how much easier this makes my life. You might not understand how vital this is, if you've never tried to apply sunscreen on a writhing, wild animal toddler several times a day, every day for an entire summer. I also like the natural, light summery scent and the way it leaves a bit of a sheen on Nate so I can tell which areas I've already covered.

Really, my only complaint is the size. Since we spend so much time outside, I whipped through the bottle pretty fast. The small size was convenient for shoving in the diaper bag or stroller so I carried it with me everywhere. I'm sorry we used it up so fast and really need to get some more.

What's your favorite sunscreen? Have you checked it's ranking on EWG's Skin Deep?

BUY: You can purchase Marie Veronique Organics Kid Safe Screen on their website HERE. Check out their other products while you're there. Receive a free 1/4oz Anti-Aging Oil+ with the purchase of a Moisturizing Face Screen ($20 value) with code NaterTot. Offer expires July 31, 2011. You can also find Marie Veronique products at Amazon.com*.

{I was not compensated for this post. I did receive a complimentary bottle of Kid Safe Screen for my honest review. All opinions are my own.}
 
*affiliate link

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You're almost two! Letter to 23 month old Nathaniel...

Dear Mr. Independent Nate,

You're not quite two years old, but I feel like suddenly we've been hit by Hurricane Classic Two Year Old. Your favorite phrase is "BY SELF!" which of course means that you want to do it by yourself - whether that it is climbing in and out of the tub, getting into your high chair/car seat/stroller or just about anything else (especially if it involves climbing).  Your new independence, climbing abilities and size have allowed you to graduate to a number of "big boy" activities - you've conquered all of the big boy equipment previously off limits at the park, you're finally officially out of your baby tub and you're really into using your big boy forks at mealtime.

you are still not allowed to climb these stairs BY SELF!
I thought that maybe, just maybe, we were going to make it through your toddler years without those horrible meltdowns that are the hallmark of the "terrible twos" - but it looks like I was being naive, or as you might say, "SILL-LEE MOMMY."  While it looks like we avoided earlier tantrums - caused by frustration over the inability to communicate your needs (either due to our use of baby sign language or simply your temperament), you now face the overwhelming emotions that accompany your drive for independence. You're dying to be self sufficient and in control, but it can be scary when you achieve it and frustrating when you can't. These emotions, accompanied by lack of sleep or hunger (the former caused by me changing your nap routine and the latter by your refusal to eat much of anything) have caused some crazy pants fits. Your head hasn't spun around, but there has been some projectile vomiting.   

I also thought that we had avoided that negative "no" phase. Well, you may have never gone around answering "NO, NO, NO" to every question when you started talking, but your "STOP IT!" phase has been just as lovely as I would imagine the "no" phase to be. For about two weeks straight you screeched STOP IT! to your parents about five hundred times a day. You've enjoyed exerting your control over others and certainly have a right to ask us to stop our annoying parental activities - singing or tickling you or changing your diaper (how dare we?!). But it's when we were just standing there, not doing much of anything at all, that the STOP IT! command was particularly aggravating confusing. "Stop sitting here - being your mother?"
big boy fork
You still love yard work, trucks and Bono. You're still a beautiful motor mouth, often talking in five and six word sentences. You still make me laugh, especially with our inside family jokes - particularly the school bus/cheese bus debate of 2011.  And also with your impersonation of the Grabbing Police. If anyone even looks at something you're holding with the intention of touching it, they are met with a swift command of "NO GRABBIN!" Sometimes you even lay down your "NO GRABBIN!" charge while in the act of grabbing something yourself. We have to discuss the meaning of irony. 
yard work and shades
Like your beloved Curious George, you seem to want to know everything about everything. Wait - does Curious George want to know about everything, or does he just like to get into everything? Daddy reads you those stories. I really should pay more attention. In any event, I've been explaining things to you in greater detail and you seem to really soak it all in.



If you can play with kids every day and also get some ice cream or MUNCHINS (Dunkin Donuts muchkins) thrown in there, you're a content little boy. Your wish is generally my command.


I love you more than tongue can tell.  ~ Mommy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pink flamingos

I left my boys this weekend to visit my grandparents in Florida. It was the first time I've left Nate overnight and I missed him a ton. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that Nate is quite responsive on the telephone and we could have a pretty decent conversation. He told me about all of the fun he was having with Daddy and I had a great time away too.


I let it slip that I had a little surprise for Nate, so instead of saying "we missed you" like he had practiced with Dave, the first thing he out of his mouth when he saw me was, "GIRAFFE?!" I had not brought back a giraffe from Florida, but Nate seemed satisfied with the souvenir I chose. And I got some great hugs and kisses in return.

When did you leave your kids for the first time?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rainy summer day toddler activities

When it's raining outside - or way too hot - it's a good time to bring out the pipe cleaners (or "fuzzy sticks" as they are apparently now called). Nate practiced his hand-eye coordination the other day by threading cheerios onto pipe cleaners. And threading pipe cleaners through the holes in an upside-down colander. Then he practiced making a mess by throwing the pipe cleaners everywhere. They definitely kept him busy for awhile.

The pipe cleaners do have pointy ends, so be sure to leave your tot unsupervised for hours while they play. You know, right after they run around the house eating carrot sticks and holding those scissors. If fuzzy sticks are too wild and dangerous for you, you could use uncooked spaghetti too. Or string. I'm sure you could figure something out.


Another option is going outside to "SEE RAIN, MOMMY"  followed by "TOUCH IT, MOMMY."  Then before you know it, they are sopping wet, catching rain with a broken dust pan and a huge grin on their face. Oh, and the soggiest diaper you've ever seen.

What do your kids do when it's raining outside?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hudson Valley mini-vacation



















Monday, July 4, 2011

Return of the Bilibo

Don't call it a comeback....okay, you can call it a comeback. The Bilibo is getting a lot more play lately (click here to read Bilibo Part I). Here's the amazing Bilibo in action:

video
It's a helmet, it's a chair...wait, it's an amusement park ride brought to you by Carny Mommy (not to be confused with Carnie Wilson)

Happy Independence Day! Holiday weekend pictures to come. What did you do over the long weekend?
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