Friday, June 24, 2011

A cookie might be healthier than a major head injury...

Last night I came out after an hour-long bedtime feeding bedtime with Squeak, and Bean immediately said (in one breath), "Can I have a snack I need something with protein and not sugar."  (Yes, really.)

And The Beast informed me that the cookie saga had continued.

Apparently, Bean had been up in the kitchen for a little while and The Beast had been back in the office.  Bean came back to proudly report that he had "managed to get the cookies."  They were on the highest shelf in our pantry.  That's over six feet up. 

First, he tried the pretty safe step stool he can unfold and push wherever he wants it:

So cute!  So safe!  So 17 months old!  And we can just put things out of reach, right? (No.  Not right.)
Apparently, when that didn't work, he headed to the bathroom and got this:
Kidcraft Step n Store
What's that you say?  A 10-inch-tall step stool does not appear to get him any closer to 6-plus-foot-high cookies than the much taller kitchen step stool?

Well it does if you put it on the top step of that kitchen step stool.

At this point I had a minor heart attack but then couldn't stop laughing because I can't believe my kid is now that kid who will do anything for a cookie and tells us proudly how he (albeit unknowingly) defied death.

And it only got better.

Apparently, when that still did not get him cookies, he stood on the stability/handlebar part.
Yeah.  That part that his feet shouldn't come near and that is totally meant for safety.  He stood on it!!!  

He got the cookies.  And he couldn't open the package.

Next time I'll probably just give him the cookies and let him go to town.  Better than falling from six feet up...

The end.  (I hope.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The kid has mad skills (of the reasoning variety)

14-month-old Bean checkin' out a logic textbook

I came home from errands that brought home cookies for dessert and overheard The Beast asking Bean "are you absolutely sure you don't want whatever Mom brought home?"

"Yes, I'm sure" came the reply.

And Bean came out to excitedly show me the gummy worms he was having for dessert.  He informed me emphatically (pointed finger and all), "I cannot have what you brought home.  I'm having gummy worms.  Ok?  Ok."

Fast forward 20 minutes and Bean watched The Beast eat a cookie, so he runs to me and says "Can I eat lunch and then after that have a cookie?"

"Sure," I answered,  "After lunch tomorrow you can certainly have a cookie for dessert!"

"Can I have lunch right now and then have a cookie?"

"No, sweetheart.  Tomorrow after lunch you can have a cookie.  Remember when you chose gummy worms for dessert, and then Dad made extra sure that you didn't want whatever I brought home?"

"But...but...I will share a gummy worm with Dad and then he can share his cookie with me!"

" you have a gummy worm to share?"  I asked, already impressed with his problem-solving.

Bean turns desperately to The Beast and says in one breath, "Dad will give me a gummy worm so I can share it with you so you can share a cookie with me?!? PWEASE????"

"No," The Beast responded, stifling a laugh, "I'm not giving you a gummy worm so you can share it with me.  You already ate your gummy worms."

"Will you share a gummy worm with me so I can share it with you so you can share a cookie????"

There was no stifling the laughter.  Poor kid.  Trying sooooooo hard with the rules he knows!

The Beast said, "I'm sorry, buddy.  I know you are so upset, but these are the consequences of your choice.  You had gummy worms instead of a cookie."


"No.  Can I read a book with you to help you calm down?"

("WAAAAAAAAAAAAH Cookie Waaaaaaaaah!")

(Sniff.  Sniff.)  "Will you read a book wif me?"

(No, they did not read the textbook to calm Bean down.)

"You will always be my baby."

It was nine months ago - almost to the day - that Bean fell asleep on his own for the first time in his life (no exaggeration).

Currently, he takes a nap each afternoon.  And not only does he go to sleep on his own, but he refuses to let me snuggle him to sleep on the very rare occasion I am not needing to snuggle, walk, change, nurse, or otherwise entertain Squeak.  At night, he sleeps either snuggling with The Beast or alone in the living room (the nighttime sleep arrangement and our current sleep schedules are a whole other post...).

Lately, I find myself missing snuggling my firstborn.  Even though I have probably spent the equivalent of months of my life snuggling him (and often awake doing it in the middle of the night while he was restless!) and even though I am snuggling Squeak all night every night, I miss snuggling Bean.

Bean and I butt heads with our passionate and stubborn natures.  It's a brilliant and beautiful thing to be so like your child that you can understand them and guide them and empathize with them in their toughest moments, and also difficult to deal with someone who is stubborn when you yourself need constant reminding to give. it. up. and let it go.  And so I've been wanting to snuggle and reconnect in a peaceful way, even attempting one night to have The Beast put Squeak to bed while I snuggled Bean for the first part of the night.  Both kids revolted!

Bean demands I snuggle him after we read a book at naptime.  About 10 seconds later he says, completely matter-of-factly, "leave."  I often have to leave anyway because Squeak is fussing or shrieking in delight (not conducive to Bean napping) or starting to destroy (or eat) something from the floor of Bean's room.  But even when it's not necessary Bean tells me to leave.  Rarely he will request that I come back after putting Squeak down (and, truth be told, I never do because I usually have stuff I need to get done while everyone is sleeping).

Today the stars seemed to align.  Squeak was napping alone, I didn't have anything pressing to get done, and Bean was asleep.  Or so I thought.  I opened his door and he immediately poked his head out of his comforter cocoon and asked, "what?"

I told him, "I thought I'd snuggle you."

"No," he said firmly.

Ouch. So much for reconnecting in peace this afternoon!

We have a conversation often that always goes like this:
Me:  "I love you, Baby Bean."
Bean:  "I'm not a baby!  I'm big now!"
Me:  "It's true.  You are not a baby.  But you're my baby."
Bean:  "Noooo!  I'm not a baby!"
Me:  "You will never be a baby again, but you will always be my baby."
Bean:  ::blank stare::

I hope someday he will at least humor me.  It looks like, in the long run, I am going to be the one pestering the other for snuggles!  He will never be that demanding-of-snuggles baby again...but he will always be my baby who I need to snuggle!

Ah!  How those tables do turn...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fancy coffee drinks on the cheap!

I have come to find lattes and other fancy pants cafĂ© drinks to be a quick form of "me time."  Whereas I tend to suck down my morning cup of coffee as a means to an end (and, on days when I'm going for a run after breakfast, I'm not just talking about quick energy ifyouknowwhatImean...), the frothy milk of a latte seems to demand that I actually notice it and enjoy it.  I have taken a quick, inexpensive, healthy-as-I-desire frothy drink to the grocery store and shopped at a leisurely pace (hey, sometimes that's the only time away from kids I can get all week!).

I can't afford to purchase these drinks on even a remotely regular basis, and I can't afford (in money or in counter space) an espresso maker or milk steamer. 

Here's the hardware I do own:
  • coffee maker
  • moka - this produces a flavor more like espresso than coffee, but I don't use it often even for my "fancy" drinks, because I prefer the ease and often the flavor of the coffee maker.
  • milk frother - it's not steamed, but it's still nice and frothy
  • French press - The Beast loves coffee from a French press.  I never use it.

It's difficult to make anything akin to a cappuccino with these tools, since the frother doesn't get milk as velvety as a steam wand would.  But everything else at your neighborhood coffee shop is really quite do-able!

I usually make a cheap and quick latte - coffee with frothed milk.

You can also add syrups (Torani and Monin are popular brands) for flavor - I've long had some syrups on my wish list, as I for some reason don't have the fortitude buy them for myself!

I have also made myself chai tea with frothed milk and lots of honey.  And I recently discovered Firefly Chai from Mountain Rose Herbs for a decaf option later in the day.  I have plans to make more traditional chai sometime soon - which means actually simmering milk with the tea and spice mixture, instead of steeping it in hot water and then adding milk.  Less water more flavor?  I expect yum.

I'll end with a quick recipe for a Frappucino-ish drink.  It's all liquid and no ice, like the Frappucino drinks you'd get in a bottle at the grocery store.  I have been contemplating freezing this mixture in ice cube trays and then blending it up to make a real frappe (if you try this, let me know how it turns out).  This could be made with syrup instead of sugar and cocoa powder, or to make different flavors - I just used what I have on hand.  It disappears pretty quickly!

- Make 3 cups of strong coffee (I use 1/2 cup beans and 3 cups water)
- Pour into a lidded vessel (I use an empty screw-top orange juice jug - even though, yeah, it's probably laced with BPA)
-add 3 cups of milk
- 3TBSP sugar and 2TBSP cocoa powder

Shake shake shake.
Shake shake shake.

Image Credit:  thepinkpeppercorn on flicker

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cloth Menstrual Pads

 This is part of my series on reusable cloth stuff we use! 

I'm finally writing this post!  FINALLY.  And I'm going to refuse to call it "mama cloth."  Okay?  Okay.

Also, if you are uncomfortable with anything alluded to by the word "menstrual," maybe don't read this post?  I'm thinking this isn't one my favorite dads will be interested in.

There are two aspects I think I should address: 1) Why cloth?  2) Ew.  The ick factor. (Laundry.)

Then I'll write up reviews of the brands I tried - please add your own reviews in the comments!

Why cloth?
1.  Money.  Much the same as cloth diapers, I started looking into reusable menstrual products to save money.  As with diapers, the initial investment can be daunting (again, depending on the type and material you choose, there is a wide range of cost).  But, over time, they are less expensive than the disposables.  (There are also patterns available online to make your own if you sew!)

2.  Clutter.  I may well be the only person for whom this was a factor!  I had a ridiculous stash of disposable pads.  At one point, they filled an under-the-bed sweater box (I think in the neighborhood of 30 quarts).  I am not even sure how I ended up with such a collection.  Traveling?  Moving several times?  I don't know, but I figured an investment in cloth would mean always having a "package" of pads around and ending my hoarding of them!

3.  Comfort.  There is less chafing with a cloth pad than a disposable.  They are also softer.  And, without the adhesive plastic backing, they allow air to circulate better.

4.  Health.  Disposable feminine products are bleached and they contain chemicals to make them so absorbent.  I have also heard that flow can be lighter, cramps lessened, and duration of periods shortened with cloth pads vs. disposables.  I can't personally report this, and I haven't been able to find anything that explains why this would be the case (though it makes sense versus tampons).

5.  Pampering.  I'm not sure "pampering" is exactly the right word here, but I know that many women have felt pampered by their cloth pads.  They come in fun patterns, too!  You can give them a personal touch (and I'm not trying for a double entendre here...).

6.  Earth-friendliness.  Both in the manufacturing process (use of natural resources, chemical pollution) and in the disposal of pads that are not biodegradable, reusable cloth pads are better for the planet.

7.   Cleanliness, a moot point at worst*.  After reading up a bit on forums and blogs, and having cloth diapered for a couple of years at that point, I decided that reusable pads seemed at least as clean as disposables.  The big eye-opener was that disposable menstrual products are not sterile.  I guess I hadn't thought of it that way before.  And I spend the other 23 (or so) out of every 28 simply wearing underwear washed in my usual what exactly was different about those 5-7 days that suddenly my detergent wasn't clean enough?  And the blood...meh.  I guess, after birth and motherhood (read the 3 P's:  poop, pee, puke) and...*ahem*...breastfeeding babies through colds (is it weird that this is one of the more gag-inducing things about motherhood for me?  Snot-encrusted boobs?), my own blood - even, or maybe even especially, menstrual blood that isn't from a wound - doesn't really seem like a big deal. 

*Except in the case of a yeast infection.  Then I would switch to disposables through a cycle, nuke your pads much the way you would diapers, and be thankful for the availability of disposables!

Making the transition
I transitioned to cloth while I was pregnant with Squeak.  When I decided to switch over, I decided I would go through that tremendous stash of disposables and have cloth at the ready for each type of pad (so essentially pantyliners, regular, and heavy/overnight).  First up was going to be pantyliners, since I used them while pregnant.  And then I knew I would use my overnight pads after I had the baby (both for witch hazel pads and for lochia)

So I just got an assortment of pantyliners and overnight/super-absorbent-and-long pads to try, not wanting to invest in one package or brand without trying them out.  This was especially true because I realized pretty quickly I would probably not be purchasing from the better-known and frequently-reviewed brands - they were simply much more expensive.  (They're probably worth it, but you make do with what you've got to spend at the moment, right?)

I was also pretty clear from the beginning that I wanted all-in-one pads.  Maybe I'll try a pocket or the holder-and-soaker variety if ever I need to add a pad or two to my stash, but for now I am happy with all-in-ones.

In any case, I tried out a few brands in pantyliners and overnights and then completed my stash (by purchasing "regular" pads) with my favorites.


I scoured blogs and forums for information and reviews, and checked out the shops that kept coming up:  Lunapads, Glad Rags, Punky's Pads, Hag Rags, and GEM Cloth are the ones I remember.  Then I looked around on Etsy for some highly-rated sellers of pads (which, incidentally, led to finding humorous stores like this one).

Here's what I tried out:

-Cre8tiveMama:  (Thumbs down, sadly!)  I wanted badly to love these.  I kept hearing how posh organic bamboo velour was, and that it has magical qualities much like wool in diapers - absorbent, breathable, and anti-microbial, plus softness to die for and an eco-friendly material for the most die-hard environmentalist (and vegan!).  Organic any-material pads were out of my price range elsewhere.  So I tried these.  They were just not the right shape for me.  Also, the ones I have are backed with flannel - I will, in the future, make sure all my pads are backed with fleece for a little extra friction keeping them in place.  I know, fleece is synthetic so not the best eco choice.  I never did claim to give up all convenience and technology, right?  (As I sit here on the wonderful internet!)  In fact, I currently have a post in my draft folder called "is natural really better?"  In any case.  Sad face on these, though I'm betting the owner would do fleece backing upon request.

-Punky's Pads - (Two thumbs waaaaaay up!)  I love these.  They are so well-made!  I got one that was a second, but all the others were absolutely perfect.  The shape worked.  They are cute (I have to admit I even enjoyed the cuteness, and I was just buying whatever she had made and on sale!).  They are fleece-backed.  They're great!  "Punky" was also very helpful via Etsy conversation.

-Randumosity - (two thumbs up on form, two thumbs down on function)  It is rare for me to make a purchase like this more because I just like something than because the reviews or some other more practical aspect point to it.  But there were dinosaurs, and frogs, and I just liked the look of them!  But they were not fleece-backed.  They slid all over.  And they just weren't as comfortable as any of the other pads, even when they weren't in completely the wrong place; they were less cushy.  Also, I don't know if she's on vacation or if her shop is closing, but it's empty at the moment.

-GEM Cloth - LOVE!  This is what I ended up finishing my cloth stash with.  GEM stands for Green, Ecomical by Michelle.  She has two kinds of pads, and I tried each.  The "diamond" pads were not nearly as comfortable as the "ruby" pads, so I spent the extra $1 per pad when finishing my stash.  Michelle is so nice.  She was wonderful in working with me and changing up her packages a little to accommodate me.  She also was the fastest of any of the shops to ship.  Her pads are not quite as "perfect-looking" as Punky's Pads.  They're not poorly-made - they're not in danger of falling apart - they're just not as meticulous-looking.   But they're less expensive.  So they won my return business.

What about tampons?
Ask me in a year.   I'm betting, once my regular cycles return for real, that I will start using a Diva Cup/Keeper/Moon Cup/etc for running and swimming.  I hear fantastic things about them, and I've had an aversion to tampons for several years now - so I look forward to trying out the alternative.

Ick Factor:  Laundry
I have not worried about my pads staining, so laundry has been mostly a non-issue for me.  I purposely got dark-colored pads, I figure no one is going to see them but me, and a stain here and there from my own blood wouldn't bother me in this context.  Obviously, if stains would keep you from using your pads, you'll want to be a little more intentional about your wash routine.  As for washing with other laundry, obviously I want to keep the pads out of a load of whites or delicates, but other than that I haven't been very worried.  Darks and diapers are the two most common loads of laundry, and I think both are fine with a pre-rinsed pad in with the washed.

I simply use my diaper sprayer to rinse the pads (you could rinse them in the sink, or you could have a lidded bucket to soak them in - some soak them in salt water, saying that helps get stains out) and then I put them straight into the washing machine or into a wet bag on top of the washing machine.

If you're worried about staining, you should avoid washing them on hot (that will set your blood) - but hot water also kills more germs than cold or warm, so I kind of figure a hot wash here and there is a good thing for cleanliness (hence washing them with diapers).

-Going out/bringing them home dirty:  There are some great mini-wetbags out there that have two sides - a dry/clean side, and a wet/dirty side.  You can also fold up pads (see photo below) if you need to be discreet or store them in a small space (say, keeping one stashed in your purse just in case).  Put used pads in a wet bag.  When you get home, either dump into your soaking jar/bucket or rinse them off and carry on with your wash routine the way you normally do. 

-Random:  I keep seeing it recommended to water plants with any soak water you are otherwise discarding.  It is apparently nitrogen-rich.  I'd avoid watering plants intended for eating, though.  Um.  I'd like to continue to have dinner guests, that's why.  (Dear Blog Readers Who Have Come for Dinner, I do not even have soak water.  I never have.  Ever.  Really.  I swear.  The very little home-grown stuff you may have been served is not at all questionable!)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Another Montessori Print Shop Giveaway (And another! And Another!)

I will be posting with lots of pictures of Bean using materials from Montessori Print Shop soon (ok, it could be months the way things go around here!).  I bought a couple materials, and right now we are playing a counting game with some of their free math materials.

His interest in letters and phonics comes, goes, and morphs, but I would love to win this giveaway of the moveable alphabet!  Oh...and I'd love these manuals, too!  Oooooor these animal activities!  They're on a giving spree over there this week!

Check it out if you're into Montessori materials!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kids and Babies and Mothers. In Public.

This is cross-posted on the BABS Blog, but I wanted to invite my regular readers over here to comment/discuss as well!

So there was this local cafe kerfuffle.  Maybe you heard about it, along with half the internet?  Well, I’m not going to go into detail here.  The specific events involved are fascinating from a social networking perspective, but I want to start a discussion about some broader topics.

Answer one or several questions.  Give it some thought.  Pass it along to your child-free friends – it’d be nice to hear some varied perspectives.

1. What constitutes/identifies a kid- or baby-friendly restaurant?  What does it mean to be kid-friendly?

2. What is the proper etiquette in a restaurant for parents, staff, and other diners, when there is a noisy baby or child?

3. What about in the case of happy sounds?

4. Is the responsibility of mothers, when taking their children out in public, to not allow their children  to disrupt the experience of anyone else?

5. What about fathers???   Are people more likely to step in to help a father, but sit back and criticize a mother?

6. Can you judge a parent by their child’s behavior?  If so, at what point in observing the child (how much time?) and at what age of the child (from birth?)?

7. Is there a generational lack of agreement about the appropriateness of babies and children (and various behaviors of those young people) in public?  If yes, where does that stem from?

8. Do you, as a mother, feel that too much responsibility is put on you for how your children behave, or do you feel you should be able to manage them?  Do you feel you should be embarrassed or ashamed when your child is disruptive?  Regardless of whether you think you should feel embarrassed or ashamed, do you feel embarrassed or ashamed?

9. What kinds of sacrifice are involved in motherhood?  How much sacrifice?

10. Are mothers people who deserve the respect of others in public?

11. Have you seen a mother be disrespectful in public, in regards to how she handled her children?  How should she have handled it?  Can you think of any factors, looking back, that may have contributed to her not handling it that way?  Did the type of venue influence your opinion of her?

12. Have you ever offered to help a mother who is struggling?

13. When you see a mother alone with a disruptive child, is it the mother’s sole responsibility to deal with the situation?

14. Do you think unfair snap judgements are made of mothers in public?

15. Have you, as a mother or parent, ever reached the tipping point of your child (or yourself) and wondered where things went so wrong?

16. What standards of conduct should be in place for children in public places that aren’t child-centered?  Whose responsibility is it to enforce those standards?

17. Do we feel welcome to bring our children to most restaurants and other public places in Bloomington?  Does Bloomington need child-free zones and restaurants?  Is that an unfilled niche?

(For my own part, I am really enjoying the word “kerfuffle.”)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Susan G. Komen - is it really for the cure?

Read this article about Komen for the Cure's efforts toward away from a breast cancer cure this morning.  Eye-opening.

I'm very bothered by the breast cancer awareness stuff in general because it doesn't seem to be getting anywhere or doing anyone much good.  In a lot of instances it is counterproductive, as discussed in the article and elsewhere (like my own rant back in Pinktober).

I'm inclined to stick with advocating change in broader ways like the food industry, healthcare, maternity leave, and the rights of women to pump at work and breastfeed in public.  I will also continue to try to get away from toxins in my family's food and any product that we put on our skin

Those seem to be the best ways to reduce disease rates in my generation and my kids' generation.  And not just cancer, but every disease!

What are your thoughts?
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