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Here are some of my favorite non-toxic baby products.  Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section!

1.  Tushies: The Gel-Free Alternative Diaper   This is the only disposable diaper that doesn’t contain sodium polyacrylate, the superabsorbent gel.  Diapers such as those from Seventh Generation aren’t bleached with chlorine, but still contain the superabsorbent gel.  We’ll be using cloth diapers for Paulie (see a previous post), but I plan to have these on hand for trips to Grandma’s house.  http://store.tushies.com/c-4-diapers.aspx

2.  TushiesWipes Unscented Natural Formula with Aloe  These wipes earned a zero rating from the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database!  I’ll use cotton balls with water when Paulie’s first born, but these will be nice to keep in the diaper bag for when we’re out and about.  I’m thinking that, when we’re at home, I’ll use cloth wipes when he’s just wet, and disposable wipes when he’s poopy (there is a limit to the amount of  grossness that I can handle!)  http://store.tushies.com/c-2-wipes.aspx

3.  bumGenius Bottom Cleaner  I’ll use this with my cloth wipes.  There are a few different spray-on bottom cleaners available; I chose bumGenius’s because it doesn’t contain chammomile (I’m allergic to ragweed).  http://www.bumgenius.com/bottom-cleaner.php

4.  IPlay Organic Baby Clothes  Some clothes that are labeled “organic” are made from organic fiber but are still treated with bleaches, dyes, wrinkle resisters, and stain repellants that are unsafe.  IPlay’s baby clothes are not only made from organic fiber, but are also chemical-free.  I like the bright colors– it’s nice to find something organic that’s not just off-white!  Made from Oeko-Tex 100 certified organic cotton.  http://www.iplaybabywear.com/2006/Content/?mod=products&nav_mod=products&section=4

5.  Kee-Ka Organic Clothing  Adorable baby and toddler clothes with sayings like “sweet pea,” “cupcake,” “pumpkin,” “peanut,” and “You are my sunshine.”  Made from certified organic cotton and treated with low-impact dyes.  http://www.kee-ka.com/Merchant2/sfnt.html

6.  The Safe Starter  Stainless steel baby bottle with silicone nipple– see my previous post on this item.  http://www.kid-basix.com/thesafestarter.php

7.  MooMee Veggie Bibs  After reading that some baby bibs contain lead (gulp!), I set out in search of safe baby bibs for Paulie.  These are not only organic and sweatshop-free but are also incredibly cute.  They have photographs of fruits and veggies on them, and come packaged in baby food jars!  Adorable!  Winner of an iParenting Media Award.  http://iparentingmediaawards.com/winners/17/27213-16-159.php

8.  Mimi the Sardine  Cotton bibs coated with a water-based acrylic.  Comes in bright, cheerful patterns with airplanes, cars, jungle scenes, and more.   They also sell adorable placemats, lunch bags, and book bags.  Oeko-Tex 100 certified.  http://www.mimithesardine.com/kids_bibs.html

I don’t sell baby products, and I don’t make any money from recommending these– I just thought I’d share the results of my research for Paulie 🙂  Enjoy!

I was so excited about this product, that I just had to tell everyone about it.  Don’t worry, I’m not selling it 😉  It’s a stainless steel baby bottle.  I was thrilled to hear about this because using plastic bottles makes me really, really nervous.  Plastic leaches into liquids (among other things), and heat and plastic are not a good combination, and so even using a BPA-free plastic bottle didn’t seem safe enough to me.  But the thought of using a glass bottle doesn’t seem safe, either.  Maybe if I weren’t so clumsy.  I know that the glass bottles come with silicone sleeves, to make them less breakable but, well, if you’d seen my kitchen after I’d “exploded” our glass blender, and narrowly escaped injury… well, you’d understand why I’m nervous about glass.  No glass near my baby!!

I was reading a back issue of Parents magazine when I learned about The Safe Starter, a stainless-steel baby bottle from Kidbasix.  It comes with a silicone nipple, and has a silicone sleeve, which insulates it and also protects your hands from the warm metal.  Yes, it probably wouldn’t be good to get whopped with a stainless steel bottle if your baby decided to throw it, but at least it wouldn’t break.  And it’s not made of plastic!!!!

You can learn more about The Safe Starter here: http://www.kid-basix.com/thesafestarter.php  It comes in 5 oz and 9 oz sizes, in pink, blue, or green.  You can purchase nipples designed for 0-3 months old, 3-6 months old, and 6 months +.  In addition to this site, I’ve seen it for sale on Amazon and on the 1-800 Diapers website.  I’ve added a 9 oz bottle, in blue, to my baby registry for Paulie!

I’ll be breastfeeding Paulie, so he won’t be getting a bottle that often.  Only when I’m away from him for some reason.  But still, I only want him exposed to the safest stuff.  I don’t think I’m being overprotective– I think I’m just being a mom 🙂

I was really scared for little Paulie yesterday.  Yesterday was the first obstetrics appointment I’d had since I’d gotten my routine 20-week ultrasound.  At the ultrasound appointment, the doctor who’d looked at my ultrasounds said that I have a heart-shaped uterus, and that there was a chance that my baby could come early.  He didn’t sound too concerned as he said this, from his tone of voice I picked up that this was something that my doctors should be aware of, but not something that I should worry about.  So I didn’t.  The doctor said that, in some women who have a uterus of this shape, there’s not enough room for the baby to grow, but it looked like Paulie had enough room to grow.  So I wasn’t worried. 

When I saw my obstetrician yesterday, I mentioned the ultrasound results to her.  She said that there’s a chance that Paulie could come early, as in really early.  But that’s certainly not definite.  But it’s certainly enough to make me feel afraid for him!  She said that, if I start having contrations, I should go right to the hospital.  If needed, they can give me medication and put me on bed rest to keep Paulie in there longer.  But even if I were having contractions, it wouldn’t neccessarily mean that I was going into labor– but they’d want to check my cervix at the hospital ASAP.  My obstetrician said that the other risk with having a heart-shaped uterus is that Paulie could be breech.  In that case, they’d need to deliver him via c-section.  Honestly, I’m not at all worried about having a c-section.  My  mom delivered both my brother and me via c-section.  Yes, I know that it’s surgery, but it’s done so commonly, and my main concern is that Paulie be alright.  So no matter how they get him out, that’s fine with me.  I just hope he stays in there for a full 40 weeks!

I have a habit of putting a lot of energy into worrying about things that don’t end up happening.  I reminded myself of this last night, when I was so freaked out.  Even if I do start having contractions too early, and even if medication and best rest don’t work for some reason, if Paulie were to come early, well, we live very close to one of the top hospitals in the country.  Our obstetrics department is rated #13 in the country!  So if I needed a NICU to work miracles, well, this hopsital is where I’d want Paulie to be.  And I was planning on delivering there anyway.  But it’s just scary to think about little Paulie being born too early, and having to be hooked up to all of those tubes and wired.  But no matter what happens, I will do everything I can for my little Paulie.  I’ll give him kangaroo care, and breastmilk, and massages, and talk and sing to him.  He will have everything possible to help him out.  And honestly, I have a good feeling about Paulie.  He’s a strong little sucker, I can just tell.  So when I can get past the buzzing cloud of anxiety, and listen to my heart and gut, I get the strong message that Paulie is going to be okay.  Absolutely okay.  In fact, better than okay.  He’s going to be good.  He’s my strong little boy.

So may it be.

They’re calling for 6-10 inches of snow!  Woo-hoo!  Boy, is it coming down out there!

I live in the South (yes, with a capital ‘S’, below the Mason-Dixon line), and while we get snow every winter, we’re not used to getting more than a few inches at a time.  But the weekend before Christmas, we got 2 FEET of snow!  Yes, 2 FEET!!  Incredible!  It was bad enough that mail delivery was cancelled for two days.  I’ve never known the weather to be bad enough that the mail didn’t come.

My family and I were really lucky in the last snow storm.  The roads were slippery driving home that Friday night, but I made it home safe and sound.  I found out the next day that a lot of people had gotten stuck in their cars overnight.  Can you imagine, spending the night in the cold,  in your car!?  That especially scares me being pregnant, with my body (and little Paulie’s!) so much more vulnerable than usual.  The news reported people being rescued from their cars the following morning.  Other people weren’t able to make it to their homes in the county, and ended up staying in hotel rooms in the city.  Others made it home, but only after hours of perilous driving.  Phew.  We were so lucky.  It makes me grateful to live in town.

When I found out that we were getting more snow, I have to admit that maybe I overreacted a little bit.  They were originally calling for 3-6 inches, and then changed the forecast to just 3-5 inches, which is still a good amount for around here.  But the weather channel said that, south of our city, they’d be getting up to 12 inches of snow.  I remembered from our most recent snow storm that the amount of forecasted snow kept going up and up as the storm got closer.  So even though we were doing fine on groceries, I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of groceries.  A LOT.  I was just nervous after the last snow storm.  We’d been snowed in for days.  We live in the city, right near two main roads, but our parking lot always gets dangerously icy, so getting to the road is perilous.  Also, even though it’s a main road, for some reason the road next to us never seems to be properly salted and plowed.  So when I heard that we were getting snow again, I prepared to be snowed in for a couple of days.

Well, I’m glad that I listened to my protective, motherly instincts 🙂 and bought groceries yesterday, because I checked the weather this morning, and now they’re saying we’ll get 6-10 inches of snow.  I felt bad having my husband haul all of that in from the car yesterday, when he was really tired, but now I’m glad that we’re well-stocked.  Of course, everyone else in town had the same good idea yesterday– must get to the grocery store!  I think I’ve only once seen it more crowded than this once.  I have to admit that there was one item where I just bought everything they had on the shelf!  (canned fruit)  There was apprehension in the air at the grocery store, but they knew the snow was coming and were well-stocked.  I’m guessing that everyone else, like me, was extra-nervous after the last storm.

The snow is falling, and it’s so beautiful and peaceful.  Now that I know that we’re safe and well-stocked, and prepared in the event of the emergency, I can relax and just enjoy having a snow day with my guys, born and unborn 🙂

Goodbye feet… Hello belly!!

I had another ultrasound today (Paulie hadn’t wanted to show them his spine at the last ultrasound, so we had another today).  Everything looked perfect.  They confirmed that yes, he is definitely a boy!  He was such a good little baby.  He turned around and let the technician look at all of the different parts of his spine, and then he posed for some very cute profile pictures 🙂  The ultrasound technician calls the pictures that are just for fun “baby pictures.”  I have another great profile picture of him now– you can see his little nose jutting out!  So cute!  I can’t wait to show the ladies at work tomorrow.  I work with mostly women, which has made being pregnant so fun– everyone’s extra-excited for me 🙂

Yeah!

This morning a body was found in my county, on a secluded area of a local farm.  At 5pm the police reported that it appears to be the body of an undergraduate who went missing several months ago.  This is so scary, that something like this could happen right where I live.  I have to admit, I tend to think of newsworthy events only happening far away in other people’s towns.  I assume that I’m safe, because I don’t live in a big city/the inner city/fill in the blank (you know the drill).  Or that scary things like this only happen to people who are fundamentally different from me in some way– say, they live in a bad neighborhood, or are involved with the “wrong” people.  I know that’s not true, but I think it’s a lie that I tell myself so that I’ll feel safe.  But the discovery of the body today flies in the face of all of that…

This young woman went missing several months ago.  She was an education major at a well-known state university and was in town for a concert.  Because she was last seen in town (not far from where I work, actually), the search for her has been very visible locally.  Her picture has been posted everywhere, and her disappearance has been a frequent topic in the local news.  A large search party was formed after she disappeared, and there’s a memorial at the place where she was last seen (I’ve driven by it a number of times, although admittedly I try to avoid it– it’s just too scary).  What scares me about this, besides the fact that this happened locally, is that she seems so… normal?  Harmless?  I was an education major myself.  When you think “risk taker,” teacher isn’t exactly the first profession that comes to mind.  And she wasn’t engaged in a drug deal, or doing something equally dangerous and illegal… no, she just went to a concert with some friends.  Like I said, it just seems so… harmless.  If someone like her can’t protect herself, and isn’t safe, how can any of us be safe?

I know that being pregnant makes me extra emotional.  But I think that being a mommy is part of what makes this scare me so much.  I can’t watch the news– it seems like everything I hear about is something that could happen to Paulie.  When my husband turned on the TV the other day, there was coverage of the earthquake aftermath in Haiti, with footage of a child being rescued from the rubble– and I had to have Sweetie change the channel.  I just couldn’t bare to see it.  And this is something that happened very far away from here– not right in town!  The murdered young woman could be anybody’s daughter.  And the police don’t even have any suspects, as far as I know.  Her disappearance has been a complete mystery for months.  But I can’t even think about the fact that the person who did this is still out there.  That’s just too much to handle.

I’d love to hear how other people keep their children safe, especially their elementary-school aged children.  When Paulie’s a teenager, I’ll feel more comfortable talking to him bluntly about the risks in the world.  And when he’s little, a baby or a preschooler, he’ll always be near me, or being watched over by someone I trust.  It’s that in-between time that I worry about.  I want to be able to give him a reasonable measure of independence and freedom, appropriate to his age and maturity level.  But how do I warn him about potential dangers without scaring him?  How do I keep him safe without smothering him?  I would really love to hear about how other people talk to their children about being safe, and what others do to keep their kids safe while allowing them some independence.

I have to admit, I feel less afraid for my baby knowing that he is a boy.  It’s awful, but it’s true.  The thought of having a daughter scares me to death.  Girls and young women are just so vulnerable, vulnerable to types of attacks that are much less commonly perpetrated against men.  I think that we’re socialized to think of women as being weaker, and therefore easier targets for crime.  As women, I think we’re brainwashed into thinking that we’re not strong, and as a result we might not even try to fight back.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a feminist, through and through.  I certainly don’t think of myself as being inherently weaker than a man or inferior in any way.  However, I do have to admit that I feel vulnerable, in a way that men my age just don’t seem to feel.

Phew.  Thanks for listening 🙂  I’d love to hear about any approaches or resources you use to keep your children safe.  In the meantime, I’ll be rereading The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift, both by Gavin de Becker.  The first book is about keeping yourself and your children safe in general; the second book talks about protecting your children is specific situations, such as with a babysitter or at school.  I’ve found both books to be very level-headed and affirming of my ability to keep myself safe.  Rather than feeling scared when I read these books (okay, I feel a little unnerved), I put down these books feeling empowered by having learned practical, reasonable ways to keep myself safe.  I highly recommend both books.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

This link is just too wonderful not to share– Using Dolls to Support Children’s Social-Emotional Development:

http://sites.google.com/site/askthedolls/Home

I plan to work on two websites while I’m home with Paulie.  That will allow me to stay involved with my profession (special ed, specifically autism) while still putting Paulie’s needs first.  For quite a while I’ve wanted to create a social skills hub on the internet, a website that brings together all sorts of different information on teaching social skills to children with Asperger’s.  I haven’t been able to find anything like that online– specific social skills authors have their own websites, but I haven’t found one website that attempts to link up all of the different information available.  Asperger’s is not my field– my background is in working with people who have  more severe disabilities, such as severe autism– but this is an area that I really want to explore more.  I plan to review books on social skills curricula, and invite parents and teachers to share their personal experiences with various curricula.  I’ll also review books that are written specifically for young people who have Asperger’s Syndrome.  In addition, I’ll provide links to various authors’ social skills websites, as well as links to social skills products.  There’s all sorts of great stuff out there.  I’m really looking forward to learning more about it!

I’d also like to make a website aimed at teachers and parents of children with more severe autism.  For two years I worked one-on-one with an incredible little boy who has fairly severe autism.  I went to preschool and to kindergarten with him– private schools that were meant for kids who don’t have disabilties, but who were wondeful enough to let him join the class.  During the school year I accompanied him to school and helped him with every aspect of the school day, from hanging up his book bag to interacting with the other kids at recess.  I loved it.  It was very intense, but I absolutely loved it, and I miss “my boy” so much!  Although I have a degree is special education, I had to make up a lot of the strategies I used as I went along.  I found ways to help him make friends with the other kids, and ways to adapt the academics so that he could more fully understand and participate.  During the summer I worked with him at his house and accompanied him to his Vacation Bible School.  I’d like to make a blog specifically to share the strategies that I used with this little guy, mostly the strategies that I came up with myself.  I plan to put my posts into categories such as “Academics– Math” or “Making Friends.”  I’d like to also describe some of the tried-and-true strategies for working with kids who have severe autism, for those who are new to the field.  I think that, overall, the focus of my website will be including kids with autism in school– the full school experience, from the lunch table to the Specials classes to recess.  I really enjoyed my time with my little boy, and I’m looking forward to reminiscing while I create a resource that hopefully will be of use to others.

There’s an autism conference coming up in March– and it’s only a little over an hour away from here!  I can’t wait!!  I’m almost afraid to mention it, for fear that I won’t be able to go for some reason (I will be very big and very pregnant!!)  I’ll be attending a FULL DAY workshop on Social Skills for individuals with Asperger’s.  It’s called, “The Role of Hidden Curriculum and Communication Skills in Developing Social Relationships.”  EXACTLY what I want to make my website about!!  I can’t wait!!  The keynote speaker is a prolific author– I look forward to reading some of her books after the workshop.  I really enjoy reading someone’s books after I’ve seen the author is person– it really brings the material to life in a new way.

I can’t wait!!

Paulie’s typical day (as you can see, he’s quite the night owl):

7:00am:  Mommy wakes up.  Paulie is still fast asleep.

7:30am:  Daddy wakes up.  Paulie hears Daddy’s voice and, bleary-eyed, gives Daddy a couple of good morning kicks, then immediately falls back to sleep.

7:30am – 1:30pm:  night-night time

12 noon:  Submit lunch request to Mommy via cravings (he LOVES egg salad on whole wheat!!).

1:30pm:  Paulie’s preferred wake-up time.  “Hello world!  It’s me, Paulie!”  KickKickKickKickKick!

2:00-3:00pm:  Karate practice

3:00-4:30pm:  Worn out from karate practice; Nap time

4:30pm:  Wake up briefly to see if Daddy’s around yet.  After a few kicks, fall back to sleep.

6:00pm:  “Wait, Mommy’s in the car!  That must mean we’re going home to see DADDY!!!!!”  Kick kick kick kick KICK!!

6:10pm:  At home.  Send Mommy to the refridgerator for half a gallon of pineapple orange juice and an an entire wheel of La Vache Qui Rit cheese.

6:30-10pm:  Kick (and sometimes punch!) to get Daddy’s attention.  Get deliriously happy when Daddy sings and talks to him.  Repeat.  🙂  🙂

10pm-12am:  Gymnastics (mostly flips)

12am – 3am:  Nap time

3am:  Wake Mommy up for nightime snack

3am – 5am:  PARTY TIME!!  WOO-HOO!!!!!!!!  Let’s dance!

5am:  Night-night time (!)

As you can imagine, my work schedule is very different from Paulie’s schedule, although I’ve had to adapt to his schedule a lot, out of a desperate need for sleep.  Paulie and I spend the wee hours of the morning together every day while he has his dance parties.  Is this a glimpse at what life will be like with a newborn?  (ee gads!)  If so, bring it on.  Any time with Paulie is special time 🙂

Getting Paulie’s crib was one big dose of reality.  Visiting the pediatrician’s office today was another big dose.  Being there made my son’s upcoming arrival seem even more real.  I saw the scale where they’ll weigh Paulie, the examination room where he’ll get his shots.  While I sat in the exam room and waited to speak with the doctor, I imagined myself bringing Paulie there in a few months.  It all felt so real.  When I talked to the doctor, I asked about the practice’s well-child schedule.  Paulie will get checked out in the hospital, of course, and then my new pediatrician (!!) will see Paulie a couple of days after he’s discharged from the hospital.  Then she’ll see him again when he’s two weeks old, and again at two months, and so on with the standard well child schedule.  Having these plans in place makes Paulie seem even more real– this summer I’ll have a real little boy to take to the pediatrician.  I hadn’t thought about a lot of specifics for after Paulie’s born, and having this time-table set for his care makes his birth seem more… shall I say it again… real?  And also more imminent. 

Sometimes it feels like pregnancy takes forever (like when I’m dealing with morning sickness, or struggling with a migraine that I can’t take my meds for).  But now that I have a schedule for what will  happen after Paulie’s born– well, it feels like the clock is ticking, the count down is on!  Hooray!!