Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Bubble Babies"

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Last night I picked up one of the many Readers Digests that we have stockpiled in our bathroom. I happened to just flip straight to a specific story without even knowing it was in there - it was titled Bubble Babies. You should take a few minutes to read it, but here is the gist: The author describes some 'extreme' products out there that parents are buying in to to protect their children from life's littlest bumps and bruises. My opinion was mixed - some did seem like extremes, but others seemed like common sense and even necessary in my eyes.

As I was reading the article I started to cower a little bit. I was actually a little embarrassed because the $19.95 kneepads that the author discusses early on - and makes fun of - were spread across my laptop screen just one day earlier after having looked at Riley's poor little red knees - her badge of honor of crawling like a maniac. I didn't order them, but I did think about it for a little bit. But making light of something like baby moisturizer (read: baby lotion)? I've skipped putting lotion on Riley some nights after her bath, but the result has been eczema-like spots on her arms. Sure, babies are soft already, but just like any other human being, I think they need extra moisture. This article may make me roll my eyes about some of the extremes, but it won't shame me out of using my (incredible Aveeno) baby lotion!

Sure. I ate dirt when I was a child. And my brother and I literally fried eggs on a hot sidewalk one summer and ingested our fair share of gravel and dirt and bird poop while eating them. And there was the time that I couldn't wait for my mom to get off the phone and pour me a glass of water that I drank directly from the watering can ... without knowing it was loaded up with MiracleGro (cue frantic phone call to poison control). And there is the disgusting story that my brother seems to love to tell when I actually ate a small piece of ... I can't even say it. And how about all of those imported toys from China that we put in our mouths time and time again and - so far - I haven't had any lasting effects from lead poisoning.

But still - my pledge and responsibility to protect my daughter as best I can is at the forefront of my mind. If that means spending a little bit more money to give her a little more safety or protection, I'll do it. And yes - even before she was born I had a cart cover sitting in her closet, just waiting for her first day sitting in a shopping cart or public high chair. You won't find me buying gLovies, or slapping a Thudguard helmet on her noggin' the minute she starts toddling around (however a helmet for tricycle and bike riding is a completely different story), but I will continue using my cart cover ... and wiping her hands and feet down with HandiWipes after she comes in contact with gross, public surfaces (or people ... another post for another time). Heck - maybe one day I'll get crazy and sit beside her as she fries an egg on the sidewalk. But only after I sweep it and wash it down first. ;)

What are your thoughts? What extremes (or lack of) have you gone to to protect your child?

Monday, July 27, 2009

One Step Ahead

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I have fallen in love with a children's website and I don't feel like I'd be a good mommy if I didn't share it with fellow mommies!

It's called One Step Ahead. It carries so many baby items - and a lot of fun, innovative items that you won't find at your local Babies R Us or Target. So far I've only ordered one item from here - a baby neck rest for Riley - but I was very happy with how quickly the item arrived and I felt the shipping charge was fair. I knew I needed something to keep her chin up when she sleeps in the car - the sight of her head flopping all the way to the side or forward made my own neck hurt - but I wasn't sure where to find it. I saw a picture of a friend's daughter with one on and she introduced me to One Step Ahead.

We have a beach trip coming up in early September and I went to the site today to just browse around at their summer sale items to see if there is anything out there that I "need". Maybe 'need' isn't the right word, but I did find some items that I felt would make the trip a lot easier!
  • Adjustable swim diaper - At the $6.48 sale price, it's cheaper than a pack of Little Swimmers - and much more Earth-friendly!
  • Auto Litter Bag and Organizer - Baby or no baby, I need this! I am a freak about having a clean car, so anything that helps accomplish that is meant for me!
They also have weekly specials that change each Friday - it's like a grab bag on a website and I love checking it out to see what they've put on sale each week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Current Top Five ...

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I swore that I made a list of the Top Five (or ten, or fifteen ...) baby items that I felt I couldn't live without. However I can't find it now, so maybe I imagined that back in my days of extreme sleep deprivation. So glad I am finally coming out of that fog ...

Anyhow, regardless of the past list (wherever it may be), I have a recent one to make. These are the Top Five baby items that I am using at this point, in no particular order. Without them my life would certainly be more difficult.
  1. Sassy Teething Feeder - This is my 'go-to' item when Riley starts to get a little fussy in between feedings or when she is extra bothered by an incoming tooth. A second one is always tucked in my diaper bag for when we're out and about and I am need of a distraction for her. The mesh bag on the feeder allows you to let your baby gnaw on whole foods that he/she wouldn't otherwise be able to due to choking hazards. I've used it with a frozen piece of banana, carrots, and canteloupe. Riley's current favorite is a good ol' ice cube. The handle has a "chill feature" that allows you to freeze it before use so that whatever you chose to put in the bag will remain cold for a bit. It all locks into place with a childproof lock so you don't have to spend extra time worrying that your baby has gotten it open - we all know that mommies don't have extra time for anything!
  2. Fisher Price Remote Control Video Monitor - Please do not let the '2 star rating' fool you - this is an exceptional product and if you know me very well, you know that I have an extremely high expectation of anything I spend this amount of money on! Kevin actually suggested that we register for a video monitor, but I poo-poo'd it, justifying that while living in a ranch with Riley's room right next to ours, a video was not necessary. I was so wrong. I didn't buy this until Riley was about 6 months old, but have thought at least once a day since how I wish I'd had it from birth on. I no longer risk waking her to take a peek at her - I simply turn on the monitor. With it's night vision, I have no problems seeing her. And the remote control option is incredible. With the push of a button, I can turn on a soothing heartbeat sound, nature sounds, or lullabies. I can even turn on a night light that is on the top of the video camera. When I hear a cry in the night I can see if she is simply crying in her sleep as she shifts positions (as she often does), or if it is the real thing. And especially at this point in the game, I can see if she has decided to stand in her crib but is confused how to get back down. The only thing in the reviews that I will agree with is that the battery life is pretty short, but what do you expect when you have all that power at your fingertips? That is why it comes with a power cord!
  3. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table - Hands down, Riley's favorite toy at the moment. It has a music mode and an alphabet mode. Two volume settings and not-so-annoying music makes it the perfect toy for me as well. Legs can be removed for floor play or easy transportation in the car. Love, love, love this and am so thankful that my triplet nieces agreed to hand it down to Riley!
  4. Triple Paste - Thanks to my best friend Meagen for sharing this little gem with me. As many of you probably know, teething has the potential to make for some nasty diaper rash. Riley didn't have a single trace of any diaper rash at one diaper change, and at the next one I even felt in pain just by seeing it. I remembered when Meagen's little man Max was teething and she had mentioned some 'miracle cream' to me. This is it. Sure, it is quite a bit more expensive than your typical Desitin ... and comes in a much smaller tube (don't you love how that works?) ... but this time you really do get what you pay for. I'd highly suggest having some on hand.
  5. Chicco Caddy Hook-On Chair - This is why above I said "In no particular order", because this doozy would put up a great fight for the #1 spot. I definitely do not use this every day, but on the occassions when I do use it I am SO thankful for it. I remember opening this at my shower. It wasn't an item on my registry, but from my friend Xanath who is mother to twin 2-year olds (God bless her soul). She swore by this and I must admit - in my mind I thought "I don't think I'll ever use that". Boy was I wrong. I actually keep it in my car. It folds flat, which is perfect for storage. Having it in the car ensures that we have it with us when we decide to head out to eat. I've also used it at my parent's and my friend's houses when we've been there for a meal. It hooks on to any table more securely than you could imagine. And the kicker is that the seat is machine washable - what could be better than that? Seriously. Stop reading. Go buy one of these ... now!!

So there you go - my personal Top Five at the moment. I'd be really curious to hear what YOUR favorite items are right now - care to share?

Mommy Necklaces

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It's ironic that the first time in my life that I am actually growing my hair out is also the first time in my life that I have a 7-month old trying with all her might to pull it all out. If I wasn't so headstrong about finally getting that ponytail I've wanted for years, I'd chop it all off to avoid the tug-of-war sessions Riley has with my head. This happens throughout the day, but most often when rocking her before naps and bedtime.

And then I came across the solution ... Mommy Necklaces.

Several friends had suggested that I become a fan of Mommy Necklaces on Facebook. I didn't know much about them at the time, but obliged. I am thrilled that I did. While I am not a proud owner of a Mommy Necklace yet, I am going to be placing my order very soon. What I love most about these necklaces is that they are made from a home-run business by a stay at home mom who has children's safety at the forefront of her mind when making these. They are made from non-toxic beads and have a clasp on them that allows the child to tug at the necklace and it simply releases at a certain point as opposed to the child pulling so hard that the necklace breaks and beads spray across the room and, potentially, into the mouth of your baby.

So what does this have to do with getting Riley to stop pulling my hair? These necklaces provide the perfect distraction to babies and at no safety risk! Plus they are extremely fashionable! I know that I'd be drawn to them even without a baby! Most of my jewelry has been retired or is only worn on the days that I work, when Riley can't tug or pull at it. Mommy Necklaces are my new-found best friend!

Here is the one I am going to be ordering:
Oh - and the icing on top is the shipping! $0.99 cent shipping regardless of the size of your order! I highly suggest becoming a fan on Facebook - every so often contests are run for fans and you can save, save, save!! Not on Facebook? Check out the Mommy Necklace Blog!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amazing children's shoes - And a way to win a FREE pair!

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Who doesn't?!

A friend of mine - an AMAZINGLY gifted writer with a wonderful blog, "Life Happens During Naptime" - is having a children's shoe giveaway! The shoes are from See Kai Run. She has done her homework on this one. She has scoured the internet for cute, practical, well-made shoes that would allow for proper foot development - things that are important to ALL of us! The shoes are definitely adorable - my personal favorite pair is "Clara":

You want in on the action, don't you? You can read more details about this giveaway and enter for some chances to win (yes! more than one chance!) by going here! Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Pops and Pie"

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Today is Kevin's first-ever "Riley all to himself" day! I am so excited for him. Of course, my heart and mind is not at work (which is where my body is) - I would love to be with them. And while I did have that option, I told myself that he and she need this - just "Pops and Pie" time (Rye Pie, that is!).

Kevin has called me several times today with updates and he sounds as though he is on cloud nine. At first they were playing and he called to put me on speakerphone and let Riley and I "talk". Then we spoke as he was feeding her breakfast. Then we talked after he'd laid her down for her morning nap and he said she went down like a champ. Most recently I received a phone call as they pulled into Toys R Us. Now he sees how I get so suckered in to buying her toys and fun stuff - you see how much she loves to play and you just can't help it! I am curious as to what she'll get!

He said she has been extra clingy to him today - wanting to be held by him every time he sat her down. Rye Pie loves her daddy and I have the biggest smile on my face, knowing the fun they are having together. I can't wait to see them!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beautiful Baby Contest!

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Fox 8 here in Cleveland is hosting a Beautiful Baby Contest! I've entered one of Riley's pictures from Easter weekend. If you'd like to vote, please go here and enter your vote! There are so much beautiful babies out there - it's a lot of fun to look through the pictures!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What?! This isn't supposed to be happening yet!

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Kevin and I arrived at his parent's house tonight to pick Riley up and right after we walked through the door his dad asked his mom, "Are you going to tell them?". I had no idea what the news was going to be, but did NOT expect it to be that Riley climbed TWO stairs on her own today!!

The funny thing is that apparently Kevin responded the same way that his dad did when it happened, with a quick, "And you LET her?". Meanwhile I was all smiles and giggles, running out the door to get my phone so that I could capture this on video. Unfortunately I didn't get much recorded, but we did get to see this amazing feat with our own two eyes. She crawled over to a step, put her little chubber hands on it, raised her knee to the top of the step, and up she went. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

So it sounds like baby gates are going to be coming out at Grandma and Grandpa Balaban's MUCH sooner than any of us expected!!

Time to Protect the Crib!

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With all that Riley has been doing lately, I assume it will be only a short time until she is pulling herself up in her crib and using the railing as a teething toy. A very expensive teething toy. Seeing as how she has a convertible crib and I plan on it being her bed until she gets married, I really don't want there to be any teeth marks in it. I'll have the memories of her teething days written in her baby book ... no reason to document them in the fine wood of her crib as well.

I had planned to channel my crafty self and enlist my very talented mom to make my own bumper-type pad for the railing. Up until recently the only thing I could find as far as teething protection was this gummy strip thing that adhered to your crib. The reviews were far from good and most people said it stripped the finish off the crib rails when removed. Not good.

But just last week I thought I'd give Babies R Us one more try and see if they'd added any new products such as this - and they HAD! I was very excited to find this side rail guard and this front rail guard.

I was a bit bummed that the chocolate brown ones were sold out, but figured going with the natural color would have more potential for re-use with the next baby, so it probably worked out best. I received them yesterday (they are available online only) but Riley was already in bed by time I opened them. This morning I put the side rail ones on and I'll put the front rail one on when I get home. Aesthetically, I couldn't be more pleased - they look great so far and seem to be very well made. They are very soft and no doubt she'll chew on them, but I'd much rather her chew on them than her beautiful bed!

So I thought I'd post this just in case any of you were looking for something similar! I'll add a picture tonight of what her bed looks like with these on.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pictures from the weekend

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As promised, here are some pictures from all of our outdoor time this past weekend!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

7 Months and a Busy Weekend

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7 months. 7 months. 7 months. Wow.

7 months ago today I was being released from the hospital to head home with my new bundle of amazing-ness. That day is crystal clear to me. I can almost remember smells associated with all of it. But sadly, the next few days and weeks blend together and that is obviously due to the raging hormone levels and lack of sleep. But I cannot believe it was 7 months ago already. As I've said in my last post, she is doing SO much. I know I am that typical doting mother, but she really does seem advanced for her age. Granted, I have nothing to compare her against other than my "What To Expect The First Year" book ... but according to that she is advanced. She started crawling at 6.5 months. She started pulling up a few days prior to being 7 months. And now, when she is standing with you holding her hands, she is taking her first chances at moving her feet in a walking fashion. She's incredible!

This morning when she woke up I got my first peek at her new tooth! Just the little edges have broken through the gums, but it is there! I hope that the majority of the pain is over for her, but I know she'll have to go through it plenty more times - there are a lot of teeth to be had!

This past weekend we spent a lot of time outdoors. It was the 4th of July, afterall! We bought Riley her first outdoor baby swing and it is a big hit. She loves it - and who wouldn't? On Monday she and I had a 'picnic' outside on a blanket under the big shade tree while Kevin re-laid our sidewalk (which looks AMAZING, btw). Then she and Kevin laid in the hammock while I re-potted some flowers. She sat in her swing, hanging from a tree in the back. She played in her pool with Grandma and Grandpa Balaban watching on Sunday evening. She had a LOT of time outdoors and I love that - it's so good for her. Pictures to come ...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Riley has been BUSY!

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Every time I go to update this I realize what a slacker I have been ... and I feel awful. If nothing else, I know as time passes I'll want to look back on entries of what Riley was doing and when and I feel like I am failing at capturing this information. Nothing should ever be more important than this after she goes to bed at night. I think I'll start slow and commit to writing every Thursday night and Monday night. We'll see how that plan goes and build on it from there!

Wow - Riley has been very busy over the past 11 days! She is doing so much stuff that I hope I can capture it all!

  • Crawling/Standing: She officially started crawling on Father's Day as I posted earlier. Since then she has already begun pulling herself up on anything in sight - couches, tables, dogs ... you get the point. If possible, she wants to be standing at all times!
  • Sticking out her tongue: We put her to bed one night and at that point she didn't know how to stick out her tongue. I went to get her out of her crib the next morning, and she stuck her tongue out at me. She has been doing it ever since and thinks it is pretty funny (and it is).
  • Roaring like a dinosaur: If you don't see Riley crawling towards you, you'll certainly hear her. She makes this sound that I can only describe as sounding like a dinosaur. It's hilarious and adorable and I never want it to stop!
  • Water, water, water: I swear she was supposed to be a fish. This girl LOVES water! She loves bath times and even passed up her bottle the other day when she saw her baby pool outside! She had just woken up from her hap and hadn't eaten in 3.5 hours ... and then spent an hour in her pool before I finally made the decision that she needed to come out because she must eat! I think she'd live in the water if we'd let her. She has no fear, either, and this is even after her face went under several times in her little shallow pool. She looked like she was going to cry each time, but didn't. She just let out a few adorable sneezes, wiped her eyes, and kept playing! I love that she is so comfortable in the water, but sure it is going to be a pain point in the future ... with the whole 'no fear' thing and what not!
  • Teething: Yup. As if she didn't have enough going on in her little world already, she has begun cutting her first tooth. I noticed it this past Monday - the little slit in the gum that Dr. K had told me I would see. I can feel the tooth very close to the surface, but can't see anything yet (other than that slit). She has been tolerating it fairly well, although she does wake up crying in the night a couple of times - something she hadn't been doing - but thankfully she is able to put herself back to sleep.

I continue to feel so blessed every day. Every time I look at her I thank God that He chose Kevin and I to be her parents. What an honor. I cannot believe that she will be 7 months this Sunday. I know I say it every single month, but each one seems to go faster than the one before.