Monday, June 28, 2010

When Shaving the Cat is NOT An Option

Our beloved cat, Geronimo is like one of the family and, before the babies arrived, he was the king of our castle. He's grown accustomed to being waited on hand and paw, having the run of the house and sleeping in our bed. The day we set up the baby crib he must have thought, "Great! Another place to sleep" because he wasted no time making himself at home in it. Ick (he spends quite a bit of time gallivanting outdoors and we don't usually know where he's been). He was promptly removed and the crib sheet was laundered.

I gotta hand it to him, though. He's no quitter. He kept jumping into the crib so we started closing the door to the baby's room. Goldilocks soon started testing out the bassinet, activity mat and even on top of my nursing pillow. Hey, hey...wait a minute! What about the baby? Is nothing sacred around here, you filthy animal? One day I was in the kitchen tearing off a piece of aluminum foil from the roll and Geronimo ran out of the room in terror. It turns out he hates the crinkly, metallic sound of the foil. Ehhhhh-xcellent. When the baby's not sleeping I put a sheet of foil in the bassinet and it worked! I've also heard of people using balloons to deter cats from using a flower bed for a toilet...same idea.

If you desire a fur-free home, good luck (unless you own a hairless cat) but here are some helpful suggestions for when the fur starts to fly:

  • Designate a "pet-free" zone and block access to your child's sleeping/nap areas, bedroom, den or wherever you decide is appropriate. Keep others (family members & visitors) informed so they can help keep Fido in check.
  • Groom your pet regularly.
  • Wash bedding as often as possible.
  • Vacuum with a hepa filter. That can help control pet dander and dust.
  • Use a fur-remover for upholstery.*
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, try to wet-mop whenever you can. This can gather more fuzz than dry-sweeping alone.
  • Be realistic- you may not be able to keep your pet out of every room, all of the time. Trust me, they can be persistent and sneaky.

One Last Thing: Consult with a veterinarian and your child's doctor about your pet's hygiene and potential health problems that may affect you or your baby. I found that WebMD has helpful information for those with moderate to severe pet allergies:

Our four-legged pal may never reclaim his spot on his throne, but at least we can co-exist peacefully. And, although it may seem like a good solution, I promise to never shave him. 


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ready to Stroll

I love my strollers. Baby #1 is an adult now but when she first arrived, I was financially challenged and content just having one to use. Enter baby #2: I announced to my husband that I wanted a jogging stroller to which he replied, "Why? When do you jog? For some reason I can't imagine you'd need one of those." Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. He's right, though. I'm definitely not the jogging type. I'm a walker-in-training. For baby #2 we forked over some hard-earned cash for a travel system that enabled us to snap the infant car seat into the stroller; the two combined canopies helping to protect the little guy from the elements. Baby loved it, too and slept through the bumpiest of rides. It was perfect!

Enter baby #3. Uh-oh. I can "wear" an infant and push another one on four wheels- no problem but babies get heavy...and heavier. Recently, our family bought us a stroller we could use to accommodate both our new baby and our toddler. THANK YOU!!! We are now grateful to have at our disposal a double stroller, single stroller, umbrella stroller and baby carrier.

I realized early on that a leisurely stroll 'round the block could be hazardous. This was something I took for granted when it was only hubby and I on our four legs (two per person, of course) and we could easily negotiate an uneven sidewalk. With a few safety precautions and preventative measures, it can be fun and stress-free to cruise around with little tykes. All that said, here are a few tips for safe and fun strolling:
  • Choose a stroller that's right for you and your family: Consider how and where you will use it. Are you a "city slicker" or the off-road type? Ideally, it should fit in your vehicle (if applicable) and not be too difficult to maneuver, unless you like a challenge.
  • Plan your route: Have you ever run out of sidewalk? It helps to be familiar with your route to avoid having to push the stroller in the street, over rough terrain or through an unexpected detour.
  • Use caution in high-traffic areas and parking lots: Even if you have the right-of-way, don't assume that drivers can see you! Keep a safe distance from the edge of the curb before crossing an intersection and don't "jay-stroll". Wear bright colors or use a flashlight/reflectors if out before sunrise or after dark.
  • Strollers are equipped with safety restraints and brakes...USE THEM: Always have your child properly seated and restrained. Apply the brakes when stopping even for a short period of time, especially on a hill. Stay close to your child(ren) and don't rely solely on the brakes...hold on to the stroller. Check with your child's doctor before jogging with them.
  • Don't load-up like a pack mule: Try to use the bottom storage basket/net whenever possible and avoid hanging heavy items from the handles or sides of the stroller, this can cause the stroller to tip.
  • Make sure you know where 'Thumkin" is: Check that your child's hands and fingers are clear of any moving parts when folding or unfolding the stroller or canopy.
  • Sun Protection: A canopy can't always cover every baby part. Use sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses (some kids will tolerate these) are good, too. 
  So there you have it...that's how we roll.

In the film  "Away We Go" Maggie Gyllenhaal's character "LN", who has an alternative approach to child rearing, is presented with a baby stroller (an unwelcome gift) and asks,"Why would I want to push my child away from me?"

Oh, and, um...I never did get that jogging stroller. 


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reducing Our Carbon Butt Prints

Diaper wipes, baby wipes, wet-wipes, "wipies" whatever you call 'em they sure come in handy, don't they? So much so that, for a while now, manufacturers of these products have been marketing them toward adults for every-day use as well. I've heard of many, many uses; everything from automotive to zoological. Their use extends beyond the diapering stage. Bicyclists use them, athletes, use them, even Brad Pitt admittedly uses them....for himself. According to his co-star, Eli Roth, "...after a scene, Brad had to get next to me for a close-up shot, and he said, 'Damn, you're ripe,'  I said, 'I didn’t have time to shower.' He said, 'Baby wipes, man, baby wipes.' " Way to go, Brad!

I like the pop-up dispensers and keep one in each room; they're used most often at my house for changing diapers and cleaning dirty little faces but they are also great for me. My motto is: if it's safe enough for baby's bum it's safe enough for my face...or the cat. I often use a wipe to remove my war paint after a day in the trenches and our cat likes to sleep on our bed after rolling around in the dirt so I use them on him as well, which he detests.

We go through a lot of wipes on a regular basis. I'm not too pleased with the type I am using now and am ready for a change. I want to help my kids reduce they're carbon butt-prints but I like the convenience-factor so I did a bit of research and here is what I found:

Seventh Generation ( offers wipes that are hypoallergenic, whitened without chemicals containing chlorine, unscented and alcohol free.

To go a step further into eco-friendly territory, Elements Naturals ( makes wipes from " fiber created from 100% annually renewable plant resources..." that are 100% natural, biodegradable and even compostable. Imagine that! Every little bit helps.

I have yet to try and am not endorsing either of the products/websites mentioned, they just looked interesting. Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think. I also plan to check our local "natural" market soon. Happy wiping!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Can't Remember SQUAT

Move over, preggo-brain! Here comes mommy-memory or, rather, lack thereof. There are other fun terms I like to use to label my forgetfulness: a short-circuit, brain fart, whoopsie, doo-doo for brains, Elvis has left the building, the lights are on and no one's home, etc. Some days I feel like I can't remember SQUAT and I wonder why my mind seems to misfire. What could be the cause? Could the culprit be lack of sleep, poor diet, not enough water, aging, stress or all of the aforementioned?

I have yet (yet) to do something awful like forget one of the kids at home and drive away but nevertheless, I worry. I have a lot more on my mind these days. I have to think of other people's needs besides my own which, after 18 years of parenting, I'm still growing accustomed to. To date, one of my "dependents" is an infant and another is still relatively small and helpless. I have two diaper bags, two car seats, and two schedules*, well...sort of (see asterick, below). What if I forget something really important? Where the heck did I leave my wallet? Does someone have an appointment today? Has anyone seen my cell phone? Did I just feed the neighbor's cat instead of ours? There's a lot to be done daily and even more to remember.

If you feel like you have one cookie short of a baker's dozen, here is what can help:
  • Keep running lists of what you need to buy and what you need to do.
  • Try to prepare what you will need for the next day. 
  • Keep diaper bags, purses, back packs, lunches, wallets, etc. organized and ready to go.,
  • USE A CALENDAR! I can't stress this one enough. Try to use the same one for everything.
  • A cell phone with programmable alarms, an alarm clock or a kitchen timer can come in handy.
  • Keep a bag, box, or basket by the door for things like library books, rented DVD'd, outgoing mail, that blouse you borrowed...anything that needs to find it's way out of the house.
  • Ask for help and accept help whenever possible.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff, you don't have to remember everything-just the real important stuff and for goodness' sake, try not to beat yourself up when you do forget. 

*As for my "two schedules" at least I still have one golden hour after lunch when there is an 80% chance that both boys will be napping and I can rest and prepare for the next round. So as I go back outside to retrieve the coffee cup that I left on the roof of my car, I give myself a pat on the back because today I remembered my vitamins and to take the ground beef out of the freezer. I will survive another day.

"I love it when mothers get so mad they can't remember your name. 'Come here, Roy, er, Rupert, er, Rutabaga... what is your name, boy? And don't lie to me, because you live here, and I'll find out who you are.'" -Bill Cosby

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mom's Super-Secret Magical (Toy) Weapons

I like to hide toys from my children. Not all of the toys, just a few good ones. I use them as my super-secret magical weapons. Some days I can't seem to get a minute to myself or a task accomplished. For such occasions, I keep a stash of tantalizing do-dads in our spare room guaranteed to please, or at least save the cat from another tail-pulling incident. If I'm in dire need of a shower, receive an unexpected phone call or can't seem to physically detach myself from a small person long enough to put the groceries away before the ice cream melts, that's when I strike. I break out one of my "secret weapons". I make a magical toy appear, seemingly out of nowhere and the party is on. This strategy works well for kids of all ages as long as the items are developmental and age-appropriate. Attention spans may vary, of course.

A few good ideas for the younger crowd: New board books, a small set of building blocks, musical instruments and a fun CD, coloring books and washable "oops"-free markers, toys with lights and sound.

For the older kids: Puzzles, simple (read: not messy) arts & craft projects, anything remote-controlled , board games, etc.*

An article on reads: "Redirection and substitution of positive parenting techniques that help children learn appropriate behavior and prevent disruptive behavior, while retaining their sense of exploration and discovery." I couldn't agree more.

I often practice redirection when little man throws a tantrum. I am equally gifted in the art of the "switcheroo": Replacing all the toys from time to time to prevent the dreaded toy boredom. I'm a regular Madame Houdini. However, instead of "Abracadabra" my magic words are, "HEY! Look what I have! It's a new _________" Truth be told, this is successful about 90% of the time but the odds are in our favor, moms. And for my next trick...

*For a more comprehensive list of age-appropriate toys, visit and search "Age Appropriate Toys"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What to Stash in the Mini-Van

If you are opposed to the term "minivan" you can replace it with "car" or "cross-over vehicle".

Things to always keep in your vehicle: Flashlight, blanket, maps (can't always trust a GPS), phone charger, water in a PVC-free container, non-perishable snacks, first aid kit, extra clothing/diapers, napkins/tissues, Fix-A-Flat, sneakers, "girl emergency" items, pen and paper...did I miss anything?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Easy With the Laundry Soap!

A recent article on reads: "...according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans use too much detergent per load. They have come to think that more soap equals cleaner clothes, which is not the case – rather it causes build-up and dingy colors". I have used way too much laundry soap in my lifetime. Yep. I know I have; guilty as charged. In the not-so-distant past, I have probably used more liquid detergent in one week than the Hotel Del Coronado uses in one month. It's weird how it happens. Using the bottle cap, I measure out the minimum recommended amount-according to the bottle label-and pour it into the running water that's filling the machine. Then something strange happens: I pour in just a bit more. Don't sit there and act like YOU'VE never done it!!! However, I am proud to state that I am now a changed woman. I don't need to spend any more on cleaning products than I already do and if it really is true that less detergent is more then I'm sold. So I tried using 1/3 the amount I normally do and guess what? It works! The clothes came out clean! About two months ago we brought home a super tanker of detergent (150 ounces) and I still have more than half of the bottle left. Awesome.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Can't Have It All

I did the one thing I have vowed, as a mother, to never, ever do: I left the house yesterday (gulp) under-prepared. What do I mean, exactly? I FORGOT TO PACK A SWEATER FOR ENZO and the meteorologists' predictions were less than accurate! In other words: IT WAS COLD OUTSIDE. I was beating myself up on the inside for not being prepared for this possibility. What's the big deal, you think? You must understand the depths to which my desire runs to have every-possible-thing-I-could possibly-need at hand (or at least in the car) ready at all times. I'm not exactly certain why I choose to obsess about this, of all things, but I am aware that I get this from my mom who was always prepared. Hungry? Got a runny nose? Weather take a sudden turn for the worse? Painful hangnail bothering you? No problem. Super-mom to the rescue. There's cookies in my handbag, tissues in the glove box, two spare sweaters and a rain coat in the trunk and nail clippers on my key chain. Seriously. This is how I grew up. It was comforting, actually but can I pull it off? I try. Believe me...I try. My attempts at perfection often leave me with a sore back from carrying more than I need, wasted time, and misplaced spare sunglasses. Thankfully we were amongst our "familiars" and my sister-in-law came to the rescue with a bigger-boy sweater borrowed from her son. Our newborn, Elliot fared much better. I made sure to stock his diaper bag well enough for various excursions from the beach to the tundra. Snow shoes included. I have been redeemed.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
- Albert Einstein

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