Friday, August 22, 2008

Splat Mats

My dining room table sits on carpet and thus my child is eating over carpet... this is a recipe for a huge mess. There are a few solutions to this and so I wanted to post a way to save yourself a lot of cash.

You can buy one of these for around $25-35. They are cute... but don't really cover a very large surface. I'm not dissing this brand specifically. Here are a few others that are totally adorable (and the companies carry some really cute things:
Little Dudes
In this very room
My Retro Baby

But you can just buy the oil cloth for $7.50 per yard at Mendel's Far Out Fabrics
I recommend 1.5 yards for good coverage (which is actually much bigger than the one's above) and you can get any color or pattern you could imagine. At this price you can buy one for the dining room and put one under the paint table in the playroom!
I just wanted to share my little discovery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vaccinations at a depth

OK OK OK so this is a topic about which I regularly get questions. So I am just going to put a few thoughts out there (I feel like this entry is more like barfing out my discoveries).

FIRST let me just make a few disclaimers:
1.I do not live overseas or have not taken my child out of the country as of yet.
2. I nurse my baby.
3. I did not birth a premature child or a child with a compromised immune system.
4. I made all of my decisions while walking alongside the guidance of my pediatrician who firmly believes that I am my child's advocate, therefore she respects my questions and decisions, while letting me know her opinion at the same time (this is a good balance I think). And finally number 5. my child is not in day-care or school yet. The reason for all of these disclaimers is because they are all very legitimate factors to consider before you make the decision to do an alternative vaccination schedule, or no vaccines at all.

I also want to say that my child does have some vaccines. Let me start with the most common questions I find in my mail box and move from there.

"Hey I'm having a baby soon and heard you didn't vaccinate your daughter, why? I have been thinking about all the shots they give babies these days and it scares me. Also someone told me that they are linked to autism, is this true?" "What have you found out?"

Whew! OK so here we go. When I was about 4 months pregnant I started my research... and I'm still going. So this is not something I have taken very lightly. Why? Vaccinations and circumcision are the two irreversible medical decisions you make FOR your child (geeze and I though trying to decided if we were going to spank or not was a dig deal). Here were my two issues, 1. Vaccinations are full of heavy metals (aluminum, beryllium, mercury, and others) some in very high doses some in very small doses. 2. Some vaccinations also have live viruses in them. 3. How many of these diseases are more of an inconvenience to working parents and less of an actual threat to my child. So I consulted a few MD's I knew and asked them what they thought about not vaccinating my child. I got anything from; its completely safe to vaccinate to "I really don't like vaccinations". One friend said that the only reason I would be able to choose the non-vaccination rout is because everyone else does it and I would be ridding on the backs of healthy kids which she thought was totally wrong. Another friend who had been in family medicine for over 20 years thought that doing some sort of a delayed schedule and just one at a time was much better for children in her opinion, and that is what she does in her practice. As I continued my reading I decided to take my liberty as a mother who is my child's advocate and do what I thought was best for MY child (not yours this is a decision that needs to be taken very seriously for your individual family).

Here is the down-low on vaccinations as I have discovered. In the beginning...
If you deliver your child in a hospital (which I did not--she was born at a birth center) it is very likely as soon as your child is visited by a pediatrician (usually in about the first 12 hours) they will want to give your child the Hepatitis B vaccination ASAP. Let me just say that this illness is sexually transmitted, transmitted through dirty needles (in case your 12 hour old baby decides to become a drug addict) necessary if your child needs a blood transfusion, or if either parent has it, or is living a high risk life (like sleeping with prostitutes or sharing heroine needles with the homeless guy down the street). None of these were issues to qualify my child for the shot, thus her Dr said it was totally fine for her to skip it. MY DOCTOR said that. She said that when she gets ready for preschool it might be nice to have because if she gets bit by another child she would have that protection (little did she know mine was going to be the biter!).

Here is another factor you might want to consider: the FDA says that a 12 pound infant can safely receive 30 mcg's of aluminum each day, but the Hep B shot contains 250 mcg. (This comes from in one injection. My daughter was 7 pounds at birth so according to the FDA the Hep B shot would contain too much aluminum and possibly cause metal toxicity.

OK so I had jumped the first hurdle and was onto the next: rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, HiB (meningitis), prevnar (meningitis) and polio. Um hello did you say you are going to give my 2 month old child SIX vaccinations! So there it is folks that's the next hurdle to jump. After talking with my child's Dr we decided that I would wait until she was four months old to begin thinking about them again, making a decision like that was too overwhelming for my postpartum mind (an her Dr. agreed that it was fine to wait until then). Then I began my next project. Which of these vaccinations was really important to a stay-at-home-nursed-baby? And here is what I discovered: I live in a college town with over 50,000 students. Meningitis is very common on college campuses and thus this is the only illness that poses a real threat to my infant at that time. So at 4 months we returned to the Dr and got the prevnar or PCV because it is the most dangerous of the two bacterias (HiB is the other). Because we got this shot 2 months late my daughter only had to have 3 of the series of four as long as the final injection was given after her first birthday. We then discovered that if HiB is given at 15 months your child is protected with just one of the 3 part series. So at 15 months she received that injection.

OK side note. If child A starts the HiB vaccination at 2 months and child B starts at 15 months and they both receive the final injection at their 15 month visit, they are both protected equally, and child B has only one-third the amount of heavy metals as child A. When it comes to vaccinations that are part of a series the child is not fully protected until the WHOLE series is complete. This is another factor to take into consideration.

SO our schedule looked like this:
4 months PCV #1
6-8 months PCV #2
13 months PCV #3
(we were able to avoid number 4 because its just a booster because the one given at 2 months is too early really to do much)

15 months HiB (only one not 3)

20 months DTaP

24-28 months polio (IPV)

3 years MMR

Vaccinations I will probably never give her: chickenpox (varacella), rotavirus (for infants, too late now), gardasil (its bad news).

Some notes about the DTaP:
I have a friend who is a pharmacist and I assigned her the job of finding out if a child can get just the tetanus or does it have to be all three. Those big one's really scare me because they usually contain a lot of heavy metals and this one has a live virus as well, or at least I thought it did. My pharmacist friend found out that you can give your child a DT and not the DTaP but not the T only. The T must be formulated along with something else to make it absorbe into a little body (but alone its fine for adults). My concern for the Pertussis was that I had read said that it was a live virus and I wanted to avoid those at this stage (sometimes its the live virus that makes them sick). When I asked for a DT vaccination we found out it would have to be special ordered, but that Florida does not allow the use of live virus Pertussis. She Marin recieved the DTaP.

To address the autism issue. There is some theory that the thimerosal in certain vaccinations is linked to autism because thimerosal contains mercury. There is not a lot of medical support for this... some people believe that its because the $$ funding for this type of research would not be available due to drug companies. I did a lot of reading on the topic and found out that in the state of Florida where I live they have reformulated all vaccines without mercury. Thus they are supposed to be safer now. I do know several people who through hair analysis testing found their children's bodies did not process the heavy metals in vaccinations and through the help of a licensed nutritionist got the heavy metal levels lowered. Each of these people sought this help in the first place because their ped's had said their children were showing signs of autism, ADD or ADHD. Maybe these neurological problems are really an issue of heavy metal toxicity. ? (like I said these are theories or observations) What we do know is that the U.S. has the highest rate of autism than any other industrialized nation. Where we have around 1 in 125 (some studies say 1 in 150) children being diagnosed with autism, other countries are pushing 1 in 1000, or higher. I have looked at the vaccination schedules for all Euro. countries and theirs starts at a similar age as the ours, many of them only give one vaccination at a time and in the beginning only what is actually a threat (i.e. Germany starts with polio because its still an actual threat). But there is not big enough variation in schedules to give us a clue as to why they have significantly lower rates of autism compared to the US. There is another theory out there which is: could our high rate of autism be the massive amount of drugs infants get between birth (pitocin, pain meds etc.) and vaccinations combined. Babies born today in the US are exposed to more drugs than ever before. Maybe their little bodies cannot handle all of those chemicals so closely together. This is another blog entry all together, that will need to wait until I can find more information about it.

As for now, I wanted to write about my discoveries.

Here are a few websites you can check out for more information, and where I often check too.
Product Description
Dr Sears
FDA Thimerosal
The Travel Dr
CDC USA schedule

The Book at the top of this entry is also a great resource. Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents Guide by Romm (There are many, many, many books on this topic, please choose them wisely as many of them are very biased towards both directions. Choose one that is practical and not propaganda)

Well that's all for now, I want to be clear that what I have learned and decided for my child is not what I suggest everyone do for their children. Also I do believe in public health and am very grateful that due to vaccinations we do have some amount of safety. My other comment would be to not put too much trust in the vaccinations as some magic cure for childhood illnesses, some children, in very rare cases, still do get these illnesses. Spend time thinking, praying, and listening to yourself. Remember, you are your child's advocate, that's your job as they cannot advocate for themselves. If you do not want to give your child a particular vaccination for a particular reason, stick up for yourself and your child. I have found that by telling people and doctors, "we plan to vaccinate, just at a slower pace" they accept that answer. Also do your own research about your geographic area, there may be some vaccinations that are more important in your area than mine, thus changing your schedule to fit your area.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

All your dreams come true...

Maybe your family has more discipline than mine, but since the beginning of the Olympics, starting with the opening ceremonies, we have been glued to the TV every night. We even let our toddler eat in front of the tube during the open ceremonies! We never do that, we never let our child watch television... ever, she's only 22 months old she just does not need that in her life. BUT the Olympics is different, right. I mean next time the Summer games are on she will be 6 years old, so she needs to get the chance to see these sporting events. Well she loves the swimming and runs around our house like Frankenstein (arms stretched out in front of her) yelling "wimming, wimming!" Sometimes she does somersaults around the room explaining to us that she is diving. This is all really cute.

However one theme I keep hearing many winning athletes repeat over and over during their interviews with select reporters is the famous Disney mantra: "If you follow your dreams they will come true" or to put it another way "If you work hard at your dream it will happen". BUT this is not true... not to burst your bubbles or to be mean or harsh, but it's not. I mean I would love to become a famous writer, to sit at a desk looking out at my garden flourishing in the sunshine, like Barbara Kingsolver--that's how good I want to be, but the reality is that I am never going to be a Kingsolver writer, no matter how hard I work, I was not born with her creative writing skills. I know there are hundreds of children out there who dream of being good at sports, singing, art, acting, the list goes on but only a few of them will ever "make it" as an artist, and there is only one Michael Phelps in that pool. Oh there are others who are good, but there is only one Michael. This should not cause us to push our dreams aside, or to forget them. I think pursuing the activities we enjoy is usually a positive thing.

As a mother, how do I help my daughter follow her dreams, pursue her hopes and desires, give her support and love, without giving her false hope? How do I let her know that I believe in her 100 percent but at the same time not everyone is going to be a famous rock star or prima ballerina? I'm not saying that she is not going to become one of these because she might, but she might not. What am I going to say to her when she is 6 and watches the next Summer Olympics and hears some athlete say "this just goes to prove that anyone who follows their dreams can achieve anything". Do I tell her that is true? Or do I talk about the other swimmers in the pool who also dreamed of winning a gold medal but it just didn't happen for them.

I don't have any answers to this all I know is that only 3 swimmers, divers, runners, etc. were given a medal, the remaining athletes will leave China with a broken dream. A dream that does not end in winning. They all arrive with the same hope and desire, to win, to be the best, all their mothers believe in them, but only one gets the gold.

At six she will not understand this.

My little "Wimmer" who has won my heart!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reusable Bags

I wanted to put together a list of a few online company's that carry reusable bags. This is my Earth Friendly Back to School post :)

Why reusable bags? Well for starters, they save a lot of money. Those grocery bags are not free. The more of us who use reusable sacks, instead of the plastic or paper bags when shopping at your favorite store, the cheaper the cost of food will be. Obviously there are environmental concerns as well. Like the plastic does not really breakdown for a long time and it takes harmful chemicals to produce them. Finally another reason to use reusable bags is because they are cuter (this is my shallow yet totally reasonable answer)!

One of my favorite places to shop for these bags (I find just about everything on this site makes a great gift) is

If you are looking for a great selection of kids lunch bags here are a few places to look:

Reusable Bags-kids
Warm Biscuit
Green Feet

Also some of these bags are actual food covers so that you do not have to use Ziplock bags.

OK on a side note If you are looking to decrease the amount of plastic in your life the Klean Kanteen is a great drinking bottle. They also have a few sippy's that are great, durable and chemical free (meaning they do not leach chemicals into your liquids... and eventually your body).

OK I will do an entry at some point on plastics. But I know many people are getting ready to send kids back to school and wanted to put some of these resources out there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Vibrant Theology of Children

My husband discovered a wonderful site at Baylor University whose focus is children. Among the articles is a wonderful read called A Vibrant Theology of Children. It is written by Robert B. Kurschwitz and is used in Baylor University's Christian Reflection, a series in faith and ethics. Its a PDF and you can print it off to make it easier to read. I'm going to give you the first short paragraph so you can see what its about.

"Many distorted and simplistic views of children see them as commodities, consumers, and economic burdens, or only as sinful creatures that are 'not yet fully human.' In Scripture and Christian tradition we discover a richer picture of childhood that should inspire creative religious education and renewed commitment to serving all children."

You can read it here

Reflective Moments...

I spoke with a friend on the phone last night. It was nice to catch up, and have a few kid-free moments to talk about something that is difficult for both of us, and I'm sure every mother out there. I'm sure its hard for dad's too, but we don't represent their perspective, because we are two women talking. The topic was; how do you live a prayerful life, or to word it another way, how do we as mothers integrate prayer, thoughtfulness, reading, or being reflective in some way into our busy crazy lives? My friend said she was reading a book by a male author who spoke of his reflective, prayerful life, his commitment to community and all that stuff Christians are called to do... and she threw it across the room... why? Well for the same reason I would have. Its hard for us to imagine fulfilling all those callings when you have children. Its not that we use children as excuses to get out of being prayerful, believe me I would love a few minutes each day to be kid-free and sit and think. I would even love it if I could sit and think with kids. But seriously, I have a toddler, and I take care of a friends child who is also 2. My daily life is NUTS. Don't take me wrong, I love my baby, I think she is the coolest kid ever, I think she is the cutest little pixie baby too. But lately she has been biting her best buddy for no reason at all, and he's into jumping off of everything, which means climbing on top of everything. These two toddlers have one huge bag of tricks and never stop thinking of new ways to make me crazy (did I mention they also stuck their arms into the toilet today!).

Anyways back to the book conversation, here's the deal, a man wrote this book, nothing against men, but the guy who wrote this book is a university professor, his job is to THINK... all day. He gets paid to think, so what is his wife doing? Is she home with his kids being able to live this reflective life he writes about? Maybe I don't know, but what I do want to know is, are there women who have kids and get moments to be thoughtful? Of course there are, there are lots of you out there, you just don't have the time to write books about it because you are cleaning lunch off the walls, kissing scraped knees, stacking blocks, giving baths, scrubbing that mysterious stain out of the carpet and potty training that child who just peed under the bed.

The more I talked with my friend we did think of a few women who have moments of thoughtfulness, Anne Lammot wrote Operating Instructions during her sons first year of life, as a single mom. This book came about as a result of her taking the time to sit and write a few moments a day, or week, or whenever she got a "moment". My husband just introduced me to newsletter called Notes from Toad Hall. Margie Haack writes this thoughtful little jewel. I love reading it, over and over. I have only gotten two issues and I have read them several times because they are encouraging, honest, thoughtful, and prayerful too. My husband and I just ordered a book by Image's Gregory and Susanne Wolfe, Circle of Grace. This couple writes on ways to integrate prayer into the family life, I have not read it yet, we just got it in the mail yesterday. So I'll write a review on it later. :)

Anyways, I was thinking about this during nap time (during which my daughter only slept for 25 minutes... so it was a short nap time... I'm still bitter :) ) and I thought about my friend Stacy's blog, she writes with some regularity in her blog and its always good. Sometimes is a conversation with her 5 year old, sometimes its a crazy day she had with her three boys, either way, did I mention she writes in her blog regularly and has THREE boys! (she also takes time out of her one break in the day, nap time, to call me back, thanks Stacy)

Alright, I'm sure this will become a topic I write more about. If any of you out there have any tips on how to be a more reflective mother I could use any of your suggestions, for now, I'm off to fold cloth diapers, and rest on the couch with my husband who just made me dinner because I had a rough day with my two little toddlers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Potty Training...Parent Training

My daughter seems to be interested in going to the bathroom on the toilet. She has successfully gone potty (not just pee either), she regularly lets us know when she has already gone in her diaper. But I'm not getting my hopes up that she is potty training, she did this about 5 months ago. She actually started sitting on the potty every morning and went "number 2" for about two weeks then she just stopped. So I started doing some reading about potty training back then and now I am thinking about it even more. Here's what I wanted to know;

1. What is the overall goal of PT (this might seem obvious... to stop using diapers right, not so easy.)?

2. Is it my job to train her?

3. Is she developmentally ready?

4. What are the ways I could really mess this up?

Here is what I have found out: 1The overall goal is obviously that your child is not longer needing diapers and can go the the bathroom in the toilet... but its WAY more than that. Toilet training is NOT about the parents' accomplishment of getting their child to use the toilet. According to Dr. Sears ( if your kid is still in diapers when you had planned otherwise, it does not make you a bad mother or father. It just means your child is not ready, and all kids are ready at different ages (usually between 18 months and 2.5 years, but its not unusual for a child to be 3 or four before they are regularly keeping the princess panties dry). The actual accomplishment of using the toilet and being able to stay dry is all about your child. Its their accomplishment.

In the book Kids are Worth it! by Barbara Coloroso, she says "The backbone (authoritative, which is not to be confused with authoritarian) puts the child be in full control of her body functions and master her own toilet training at her own speed. The parent has a flexible routine, is positive and nonchalant about the routine, expects mistakes and sees them as opportunities to learn, has a relaxed attitude, and is available to help. She is not overly concerned about other adult's expectations and comments."

I think that also answers my second question, while my job is to provide guidance, support, encouragement and lots of toilet paper, its my daughters job to be physically and cognitively ready for potty training.

My third question, is she ready, how can I tell? Basically, when she goes in her diaper and is conscious of it, lets her parents know she has peed or pooped, asks to sit on the potty, is able to stay dry for a period of time, or in my personal opinion when she can hold it long enough to only have accidents behind the couch... OK so I didn't read that anywhere, its just what my child is doing. Oh yes she does not have accidents anywhere in the house, just behind the couch. Anyways, a child also needs to be able to communicate they need to go to the bathroom, and most importantly they need to be willing to use the toilet. Once again its not about me being a good cheerleader and getting her to go, its about her being willing to use the potty and then I can become her cheerleader.

OK my final question is about how I can possibly mess up potty training. Coloroso says that parents who take ownership of toilet training (starting before the child is ready), use punishments (spanking for accidents, "big boys don't pee their pants" humiliation, etc. ) or use a more laissez-faire attitude can accomplish several outcomes, these include:

-The child's understanding is that they do not have control over their body or its functions
-feelings of shame or failure
-prolonging the process

Dear lord! This is not as simple as it seems.

A few other comments. Dr Sears' says you need the following things before you start PT:
  • Sense of humor
  • Endless patience
  • Creative marketing
  • Potty-chair
  • Training pants
Barbara Coloroso says you need the following things before you start:

Patience: "the power or capacity to endure without complaint something difficult"
"Once you and your child embark on the toilet-training adventure, thanks to your willingness to establish a backbone structure of preparedness, practice, and patience, your child will be able to begin to see herself as a competent, resourceful, and responsible person who is learning to treat her own body with dignity and regard."
And finally, "Relax. Many mothers and fathers are concerned that teaching their children bowel and bladder control is a mysteriously powerful parent-child interaction fraught with all sorts of hidden pitfalls, any one of which can induce crippling neurosis. But in reality, toilet learning is not different from any other early childhood learning experience-learning how to handle a fork, or button a shirt-that requires a combination of mental and muscular coordination." Alison Mack, Toilet Learning