Category Archives: Baby Stuff We Love

Need Reader Feedback

Hi folks.

I am going to be closing down this blog in the next several weeks. There are many reasons for this, but I won’t get into them now.

What I would like to do, however, is compile the most useful posts into categories and bind them under an e-cover for download in case really, really interested folks still want to read them, or share them with others.

This is the compromise I’ve come to between just shutting down OR leaving the blog archives sitting here forever.

What I would love from you is some nominations for posts you’d like to see preserved in e-book form. I will try to edit and/or update any posts that go into that format, so if your favorite one is old and needs some revision that’s okay too.

I have in mind a total of say, 100 posts.

Help? (Please leave your suggestions in the comments so people can see each others’ okay?)

 

P.S. I’m also taking some of the posts from this blog (mostly since 2009) and backfilling Muse of Fire with them. So much of the more recent material will still be on a blog.

Blog Reader Appreciation Day

Blogreaderappr Happy Blog Reader Appreciation Day!

I hardly deserve a single remaining reader, as negligent as I've been of this blog since I started the Strollerderby gig.  And don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the job and the chance to make some money doing something I kind of do anyway, but I do miss the self-selecting nature of personal blog readers here at Peter's Cross Station.

Thanks too, for being so supportive of my work over there.  I truly appreciate it.

As both an appreciative gesture for readers and a pay-it-forward gesture based on having received gifts and hand-me-downs from readers, I'd like to give some stuff away.

I have three Foogo sippy cups that my kids have outgrown.  They are a little faded around the edges, but really, they are quite durable and should last twenty more years.  Mostly.  Selina chewed up the spouts, so you'll have to get some replacements for those, which you can get here.  So it isn't like a bright and shiny new thing, but given that these cups are $15 new and last forever, it's not a terrible deal.  If you'd like to be in a drawing to receive them, leave a comment below noting so, and I'll do a random draw and send them to the winner.

If you don't need or want any sippy cups, leave a comment below and note that you'd like $40 of credit at my jewelry site and I'll do a separate random draw for that.

You can be in both drawings if you like, but if the same person happens to win both, I'll redraw so two different people will get something.

Sorry I can't give everybody a car.  But really, I do truly appreciate you!

Long Time no Write

Sorry to be so quiet over here!

News Round Up:

- We close on the new place, Friday and the movers come as soon as we get the key. Everybody is very excited. I told Nat she’d get her own (well, shared with Selina) bathroom in our new house and she said, “with soap?!” I told her, sure, she could have soap in her bathroom. Since then she’s been telling people that in her new house, she will have soap. make of that what you will.

- A visit from my BFF and her nursing toddler made a HUGE impression on Nat. Now she carries her little stuffed dog around under her shirt, telling anyone who’ll listen that she’s feeding the dog milk from her body, which comes out of her nipples.

- Many human reproduction conversations before and following the nursing mom visit. We’ve been fleshing out a few more details of Nat’s (and Selina’s) birth and adoption stories. I picked up a copy of It’s Not the Stork and brought it home for her. She read the cover thusly:

Nat: It’s not the st–st–what’s that?
Shannon: “stork” it’s this white bird (pointing to picture on the cover)
Nat: Stork. A book about girls, boys, babies, b–b–babies?
Shannon: “bodies” see the o and the d? “bodies.”
Nat: bodies. families, and friends

The thing is, I don’t really ask Nat to read much, so I don’t quite keep up with exactly what she can read and so every time she reads something like that, I get all shocked and impressed. Mostly, she’d still prefer to be read to, to recite a book from memory (a big favorite she knows perfectly by heart is The Gruffalo) or to pretend to read, by telling a story while turning pages. So I let her do whatever she wants in the reading department, seeing as I’d estimate that she is reading roughly at a mid-year kindergarten level at age 3.5 with no particular “pushing.”

As for the contents of the book, so far the thing that interests her most is the picture of a little girl pulling another little girl’s hair. She’s very concerned about the whole scenario. Why did she pull her hair? Why did she say “yeow!?” Why did she say sorry? No doubt this is right out of a growing big sister psyche.

- Selina is blossoming intellectually herself. She is just as interested in letters as Nat was at her age. Nat reads books to Selina now and then and that makes more of an impression than anything else ever could. Selina is still Nat’s biggest fan.

Selin’a hair is now officially as long as Nat’s. Her curls are looser and softer. In four poofs it’s comically adorable. Not sure what we’ll end up doing with it in the long-run. I think I’m just going to have to comb it every day when she’s older. Right now she HATES a comb touching her head under any and all circumstances. She tosses her head violently side-to-side, Snoopy-dance-style and screams at the top of her lungs if she just sees the comb in my hand. I have found that four braids will last about three days without looking horrible, so I’ve mostly been doing that to minimize hair styling time.

- Speaking of hair, here’s a short answer to recent requests for tips on styling toddler/preschooler hair:

With Nat, she has become more and more willing to sit and let me work on her hair as she has gotten older. When she was Selina’s age, I used to do her hair on the run, following her around as she tried to run away from me. I often made parts while walking and bending over her little head. They weren’t perfect, but they were adequate. These days (since she was about 2 and a half) I plop her in her high chair (buckled in!) let her choose a video and sometimes a snack and get to work. She is usually reasonably cooperative for about 45 minutes. It usually takes about one hour to an hour and a half to get finished. When she causes me too much trouble–complaining, jerking er head around or whatever–I turn off the video, leave her view and ask her to let me know when she’s ready to finish. When she’s ready, I turn the video back on and get back to work.

This gets the job done and Nat’s hair styles tend to last between 7-12 days, so we don’t have to revisit it daily.

When we finish hair, I make a big, gushing deal out of how gorgeous it is and we visit the mirror together to admire it. Nat likes to put butterfly clips and things in her hair, and that helps encourage and bribe her during the process, but she also pulls the butterflies out and fiddles with them until they break, so I actually don’t let her put them in very often.

When Nat was little, many Black mothers, grandmothers, aunties and baby sitters told me to do her hair while she was asleep. If you want to, go for it! I didn’t want to waste precious nap time doing hair! But considering how much more violently Selina objects to hair care, I suppose there are kids out there whose hair just wouldn’t get done any other way. And it does have to get done. That’s non-negotiable. That’s another aspect of teaching my kids to put up with it–the idea that it just has to be done, like we have to put on our seat belts in the car.

- Why I like white male baby sitters:

I like white male baby sitters, because there are no white males in our immediate family (though we’ve got uncles and grandfathers and all that) and I love that what my girls are learning about the species is that it is a species of caregiving, nurturing, child-centered kindness. That’s not really the dominant idea of what white men are. But it’s what I want my girls-and the women they grow into–to expect from the white men they meet in life. I want them to be shocked and horrified when they encounter anything less and to hold those people accountable to humane expectations.

- How Strollerderby is going:

It’s going pretty well. Its nice to have this job, because it’s an all new type of writing for me to learn and an all new audience (well, a mixed audience, some new, some I’m used to) to learn to write to. It’s a good exercise in maintaining my own voice in different kinds of contexts. Here’s what I think might interest my readers here the most lately:

The Trouble with Safe Haven Laws: Some Thoughts for National Adoption Month

As always, see my bio page for my most recent writing.

My Baby

Selina is quite happy and handy with her foogo cups. We have two and I’m ordering two more. If you click that link, you’ll note that many Amazon reviewers don’t like it, but it is working for us. Basically, I don’t give the kids cups on the go. We have a sit-at-the-table rule, and I am just training Selina to use a cup rather than a bottle. So she only gets the sippy (sans leak-proofing valve) in her chair, with an adult spotter to keep an eye out for spillage. Once she’s got the hang of the flow in the sippy cup, I’ll promote her to juice glasses and teach her to use real glasses and then we’re pretty much done with sippys except for the canteen to take to the park, etc. For that, we’ll use the Kleen Kanteens. (Nat uses them occasionally now.)

All this is really to say that I have given away all the baby bottles as of today and I am sad and blue. I weaned Nat from bottles cold-turkey a week or two before her first birthday and never thought twice about it. But this is probably my last baby and I had been holding onto the before-bedtime-rocking-chair bottle. I decided to hold out until she was eighteen months and then yesterday, she bit the tip off of the nipple and I decided it was a sign.

Selina herself is indifferent to the shift. She is pleased as punch with herself for being able to drink from her cup. She will even hold it one-handed, while drinking and signing “milk! milk! milk!” enthusiastically with the free hand.

So the bedtime routine will shift to be more about books and songs and not so much about bottles in arms.

But Selina is really starting to love books, which is nice. She will look at books all alone for extended periods, flipping the pages carefully and examining the pictures (all in the right order, too). The other day, I put up some dishes in the kitchen while Nat and Selina played in the living room and thus were sort of unsupervised for about ten minutes. When I came back, Selina was gone, so Nat and I went on a little hunt for her and found her in the kids’ room, sitting in a corner, happily “reading” a book to herself. She was so engrossed, she didn’t even notice we had come in. Nat and I decided it was very cute.

Selina gets her very own Mama Shannon book time before all sleep occasions, and I try to sneak one or two in during the day, but Nat tends to poach on those attempts. So Selina gets over-Nat’s-shoulder book time then. Poor second baby.

She’s still crawling with vigor and pulling up everywhere but not walking. She lets go with one hand regularly, and quite often lets go with two, then slowly sort of wafts down onto her bottom in a controlled way (versus a “real” fall). I think she’d be walking if she wasn’t such a good crawler, but at any rate, it’s coming soon for sure.

She is also starting to get a little more lingual. She can say (at her initiation, and in proper context) “eat,” “hi,” “yep!” (which doesn’t really mean anything but it’s cute) and “mama” as of today. She can sign “milk,” “more,” “hi,” and almost “mama” (she will copy me when I show her, but hasn’t initiated yet). I don’t remember where Nat’s expressive language was at this age. I have a sense that Selina is behind her, but I’d have to look it up. Second child and all that. She is well within normal range.

Yesterday, I kissed her cheek while we were looking in the mirror and she grinned big and made a “kiss” to the mirror. I kissed her cheek and she kissed at her reflection over and over. She thought this was the greatest thing ever. So now Cole is trying to get real kisses out of her. I’m not holding my breath.

Selina’s hair is sooooo long. Even the back is pretty long (whereas the back of Nat’s head was smoothly bald for a good two years). I put it in two pony tails and let the back that doesn’t reach fall out and make a mess for now. I think it’ll all catch into two hair bands within a month or two. She looks really cute when her hair is “done.” All grown up. Nat has an annoying habit of taking Selina’s hair bands out (of course), so that’s a challenge. I usually leave it out until the minute we’re leaving the house.

Selina still loves singing and music more than your average baby (and babies love singing and music in general, I know). When I turn music on for her, she looks at me like I just presented her with a chocolate cake. She has this look of utter joy and gratitude on her face. And she bounces in perfect time to the music and always has. And when I sing to her, she still always sings along.

She loves to eat. She gets very excited about all occasions for eating and has a mini tantrum every time she finishes a meal or a glass of milk. If I give her a piece of a bagel or a cracker or whatnot, she waves it aloft triumphantly and shows it to me proudly with a “look what I have!” expression on her face. She does this with other things too, like sticks in the back yard, or books or toys in the house. She will grab it, crawl up to me and wave it at me proudly.

I am still making most of her food, food-cube style. Breakfast is a combo of four whole grains, two fruit/vegetables, featuring something orange (like carrot+banana, or sweet potato+apple), blackstap molasses, brewer’s yeast and ginger. (I make it all up together and freeze it like that, instead of freezing parts and mixing them up before meals, individually.) Lunch is yoghurt and a two or three veggie/fruit combo, like avocado+banana, onion+potato+carrot, apple+pear, cauliflower+potato, red pepper+yellow squash+zucchini, to name a few recent ones. Dinner is “green supper” which is breakfast, except featuring green, like broccoli+onion or spinach+potato or something. The breakfast and dinner cubes I only half defrost and then let her nibble with her fingers. I know this sounds really gross, but she is all good with the foodcicles. I think that lately she likes the cold on her teething spots (first molars coming up). Mostly her snacks consist of cheddar cheese or bits of tofu.

She definitely gets more “junk” food than Nat got at her age, though. Lots of “cracker bunnies” (as Nat calls them), rice cakes, instant mac&cheese, the aforementioned bagels or other white bread products (usually just at restaurants, though). I figure she is pretty set, nutritionally and can afford the occasional empty calorie. I am still giving her a half-formula/half-whole milk combo of about 24 ounces a day, so I am not going to introduce any vitamin supplements until she stops liking the formula. (In Nat’s case, that was around age two.)

Another thing she gets more of (and I am less happy about) is television. There is no television consensus in this family, so I compromise my less-than-10-hours-per-week ideal and it is probably more like 20. Selina never watches t.v. expressly for her. But she gets a lot of second-hand t.v. chatter from Nat’s shows. I am trying to not freak out about it, as long as she gets lots of active play and attention too.

As far as t.v. goes, I was thinking of posting a list of kids’ shows I don’t hate and why I don’t hate them. Interested?

And with that, I must run, as nap time seems to have ended…

Bottle Update

I probably get 5-15 hits on this blog per day from people googling for info on nontoxic baby bottles.  We’ve been quite happy with the evenflo glass bottles while home and the Avent drop-ins while out.  (Yes, googler, the Avent drop-in liners are recyclable if you have access to #1 plastic recycling–same as a spring water bottle–but don’t re-USE them.  #1 plastic starts to leach after one use.  Just remember #1=1 use.)

But Selina is coming up on eleven months next week and I remember weaning Nat from a bottle around that age and I’d like to do the same with Selina.  But the 12 oz Kleen Kanteen sippy cups (we have two for Nat to use in the car and for a treat, in front of the t.v. very rarely) are kinda clunky and heavy for Selina.  I considered a hot beverage cup I use that holds only 8 oz, but it’s designed for adults and doesn’t seem quite right either.  I thought about skipping the sippy stage altogether and Selina has practiced a little bit with juice glasses with about a tablespoon of water in them, but I can’t do it cold turkey.  I want to fall back on a sippy for a while after all.

Today I found this product and I am so excited about trying it out!  Anyone ever use a foogo sippy by Thermos?  It holds 7 oz and comes with the handles (you can get these handles for your Kleen Kanteen, too, but it’s still 12 oz which is just too heavy for Selina, when full of liquid).  As soon as it’s May 1st and my monthly budget is all fresh and clean, I’m gonna order a couple.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

ETA: Whew! Upon a closer look at the Thermos website, I saw that the plastic parts of the foogo are “rubberlike” and “soft” which is a red flag for phthalates (long banned in Europe). But a quick search this morning brought me to this page” which says they are BPA- and phthalate-free.
So they’re still on tomorrow’s shopping list!

Calling All Baby Hippies!

Look! Frog has a beautiful, well-stocked Etsy shop! We are the proud owners of two frog-dyed baby shirts and we wear them with great joy. Go and do likewise!

Nontoxic

When I finally pulled my head out of the sand and read up on plastic (beginning with the Leery Polyp’s terrific linkage), at least three concerns merged in my mind: economic justice issues, the health and well-being of my kids and a more shallow, but still important dislike of clutter in my living space.

For years I’ve thought to myself “I really should stop buying things made in China.” But I was seduced every time by that low, low price. And I have been a starving (nearly literally) grad student for so much of my adulthood, that I have often felt I had no choice. I didn’t buy much of anything in my student days, and what I did buy had to be cheap.

But the expense of these things has to be paid by someone, somewhere, and I knew good and well that when I bought a sweater on sale for $4.99, I wasn’t paying, the company selling it wasn’t paying and having seen and read plenty about what globalism-gone-mad does to actual workers, I knew that most of the time, a young Chinese girl in a factory somewhere was paying.

I am not proud that it took a bunch of recalled lead-tainted toys (and whatnot) to actually get me to change my habits. Even after marrying into tenure and a comfy middle-class lifestyle, I still bought the cheap stuff more often than I should. But between all the recalls and a bit more education about plastic, I started feeling like the karma bus was headed my way for buying all that slave-made swag.

The toys at Oompa.com and other nifty toy stores/catalogues cost at least three times more than the ones I might have bought before, but that means that I am paying my share of the expense that goes toward paying a worker a living wage and benefits. It also means we can only afford about a third as many toys around here. But that in and of itself is appealing. As for the plastic issue, everything I read about plastic toys said it’s okay if children play with them, as long as they aren’t putting them in their mouths. But Nat still puts everything in her mouth, so that’s no help for us. Wood it is.

I can’t say I was sad to just toss a lot of brightly colored plastic nonsense that was overrunning my smallish living space. (We have about 1000 square feet.) And Nat has yet to miss a single thing I got rid of. I think she’ll love the dollhouse and some of the other little things headed here for the holidays, and since there will be less stuff, she’ll actually be able to find it!

We also recently replaced about a dozen plastic sippy cups with two stainless steel ones. I have been wanting Nat to start using a regular glass for most drinking. But I still wanted something for the car, or to put by the bed at night or to take to the park. So far, two have been enough for those purposes and Nat is getting great at real cups. I am thinking pretty seriously about skipping the sippy stage with Selina and going straight to real cups. But maybe I’ll buy another one or two of the stainless steel sippies when she’s bigger and they both need them. It will still beat a dozen plastic ones rolling around my kitchen.

I’m not going to claim that I’m completely slave-labor-free in my purchasing these days, but I do feel better and “cleaner” about many things.