Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review - Hooter Hiders Nursing Cover

I received the Hooter Hider (a.k.a. Bebe au Lait nursing cover) as a gift when I was still in the hospital with Kasia. I distinctly remember wondering what it was and why I would ever want to use it. Although the fabric was cute, it looked like a strange apron that stuck out at the top. I remained dubious even after my sister Kate explained the purpose of the Hooter Hider. And then I tried to nurse in public without it. My squirmy newborn kept knocking off the blanket that I had so carefully placed on my shoulder. Breast-feeding was new to both of us and although Kasia was always a good nurser, she required my assistance latching on when she was a teeny tiny baby. I found it rather tricky to keep her and my private parts hidden under the blanket while also trying to assist her as she latched on and began eating. And even after she was latched on, I was bothered that I couldn’t see her while she was nursing to check on how she was doing. I wished I had some way to keep the blanket on me, see Kasia, and nurse her all at the same time…. and then I remembered the Hooter Hider.

The Hooter Hider is a clever little contraption that is designed to hide your hooters while also allowing you to keep an eye on your baby as she eats. It’s a light-weight blanket that you can wear around your neck a bit like an apron. The best part about it is that it is designed so that the neckline curves out to allow you to peek down at your little one as she eats. You can see your baby but no one can see your hooters. And because you are “wearing” the blanket, there is no need to constantly adjust it and no worries about baby pulling it off. It solved all of our nursing in public problems immediately. I also appreciated that the fabric was light-weight so that Kasia didn’t get too warm during the summer months when she was first born and I *loved* the fact that was machine washable so I could just throw it in with her clothes when it got dirty.

The bottom line: A unique yet practical baby gift that will make nursing in public easier for any new mom.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giveaway - Rockabye Baby CD

Discipline, behavior management, getting ‘em to do what you want them to do. No matter what you call it, every parent faces it. I’m looking for new ideas, so this month’s give-away is a call for behavior management ideas. Tried and true or original, wacky or boring… it doesn’t matter to me, just give me what you’ve got!

Comment on this post with an idea for helping teach children what is and is not okay, and you’ll be entered in this month’s give-away for a Rockabye Baby CD. Baby Bella carries a wide variety of these CDs, each of which has a good number of rocks songs that have been transformed into instrumental lullabies. To see my review of the Rockabye Baby CDs click on this link:
Rockabye Baby CD Review

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest! The deadline for this contest is February 8th. Good luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Guilty Much?

At approximately 5:56 this morning, James woke me up to declare that he would enjoy a warm bowl of macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Absurdly, I felt a little guilty when I informed him that no, we would be sticking with cheerios and milk. Which got me thinking about mother’s guilt. Lately, I’ve been noticing lately that I feel guilty a lot of the time. Some the guilty feelings are probably well earned. Like when I snap at James because I am feeling rushed to get out the door in the morning. Or when I forget to feed the cats for the second day in a row (this has only happened once, I promise). Or when I realize that I should have changed Kasia an hour earlier because she has now peed through her diaper (this has happened more than once, unfortunately).

But I also tend to spend a lot of time feeling guilty for no good reason. A lot of it has to do the object of my attention. I feel guilty when I’m paying attention to James because I’m not giving Kasia any attention. Guilty when I’m playing attention to Kasia because James has to entertain himself. Guilty when I’ve got Kasia on my lap while I’m reading to James because then they are each only getting half of my attention. Guilty when I’m cleaning the house because then neither of them is getting any attention from me at all (I’m pretty sure that only a mother can feel guilty while cleaning). Guilty when I am folding laundry and watching TV at night after bedtime because I’m not paying attention to my husband (aka Andy). Guilty when the house is clean, the laundry is done, the kids are sleeping and I’m hanging out with Andy because the cats didn’t get enough attention (er, make that ANY attention) during the day. Guilty at work because I feel like I should be with my children. Guilty at home because I feel like I should be working.

Tuesday mornings are usually the closest I get to guilt-free. James is happy at 4K, Andy is busy working, Kasia usually naps, and I am able to catch up on household chores and stay in touch with work via e-mail and voicemail. Every once in a while I even sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy a guilt free half an hour with the ladies at The View. But then I realize I’m enjoying myself without my children and husband and feel—you guessed it—a wee bit guilty. Seriously, what is with the guilt?!?

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, because when I googled “mother’s guilt,” I got 5,430,000 results. That’s a lot of guilt. Where does it come from? My “research” tells me that women often feel responsible for everyone and all of their feelings. Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar. Another source informs me that some mothers are perfectionists who believe that they should be able to do everything for everyone all the time, perfectly. That we feel that if we only we could get it right, there would be no tears, no feeling of boredom, no arguments, no worry. No guilt. Oh boy, I think I just figured out that I sometimes interpret my guilty feelings as proof that I am doing something wrong, which only serves to make me feel… guilty. If that’s not a vicious cycle, I don’t know what is.

I’m smart enough to know that most of these guilty feelings aren’t productive. They distract me from paying attention to what is right in front of me. If I’m feeling guilty, I’m not having fun. If I’m not having fun, I’m tolerating the moment, not enjoying it. And I don’t want to tolerate my life, I want to *live* my life. So perhaps the way to assuage some of this guilt is to do just that: live each moment for what it is. No judgment. No worrying about what else I should be doing. When I’m hanging out with James, I need to concentrate on being with him, to enjoy his silliness and his beautiful 4 year old perspective on the world (that would be the perspective from which it’s still perfectly acceptable to wake up at 5:56 and ask for macaroni and cheese). When I’m with Kasia, I need to soak up her baby smell, revel in the sight of her sweet little hands, take in the softness of her delicate baby skin and let myself sink into the feeling that the whole world is made up of such things.

Tackling the guilt also reaches beyond those moments that are easy to enjoy without guilt. It extends into those less than perfect moments, the ones when I am sure I am doing it all wrong and will somehow damage my children in the process. During those times , the “perfect mom” reel in my head goes a little something like this: A good mom would hold her baby all the time, would never have a 4 year old who still throws tantrums, would never make her crying baby wait while finishing up supper, would have a magically clean house while still managing to have perfectly entertained children, would never wish her children would go to sleep so she could watch Grey’s Anatomy, would always know just what to do in each moment, would never disagree with her husband about how to parent, would never having feelings of boredom, anger, regret… the list goes on. Guilt has a sneaky way of intruding when I’m not meeting any one of these expectations. Sheesh, no wonder I feel guilty so often! Letting go of this type of guilt requires a tolerance of imperfection, an acknowledgement that it will never be just the way I think it should be, a step back from my need to make sure everyone is okay and everything is under control at all times. It still involves sinking into the moment, but this time it requires an acceptance of the moment just how it is, not how I think it should be.

I’m not making the argument that we shouldn’t be reflective parents, of course. There are times when we all need to step back and think about how we parent and how we could improve. Well-earned feelings of guilt spark us to be better parents. But that doesn’t mean that guilt needs to encroach upon our every day experiences. Such pervasive guilt only serves to detract from effective parenting. I, for one, am a much better parent when I am coming from a place of relaxed confidence, not a place of worried guilt.

Resolving to aim for guilt-free mothering is probably a lot like trying to achieve worry-free mothering: a nice, tidy idea in theory but darn near impossible in reality. And yet I’m compelled to give it a whirl anyway. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Top 10 Baby Names of 2009

I love baby names! Prior to Kasia’s arrival, I spent hours poring through baby books to find a unique name that I loved. According the, these are the top 10 baby names that parents chose to give their babies this past year. Because I’m the curious type, I also looked up what each name meant on Enjoy!

Top 10 Girl Names:

1. Isabella, meaning pledged to God
2. Emily, one who is hard-working and industrious
3. Elizabeth, a “traditional and elegant name” meaning pledged to God
4. Ava, meaning bird
5. Olivia, which come from olive or olive tree
6. Chloe, which is a young green shoot in Greek
7. Emma, which means embracing everything
8. Madison, meaning the son of Maud or Matthew
9. Abigail, meaning “my father is joyful”
10. Arianna, which means like silver or holy

Top 10 Boy Names:
1. Aidan, a “young fiery man”
2. Jayden, one who is thankful to God
3. Michael, one who is like the Lord
4. Jacob, he who supplants
5. Ethan, one who is firm and steadfast
6. Andrew, who is masculine, classic and appealing
7. Caden, meaning “spirit of battle”
8. James, also meaning he who supplants
9. Joshua, meaning “God is salvation”
10. Matthew, one who is a gift from God

Thursday, January 7, 2010

State of the Household, Part 2

Happy 2010! A brand new year seems like a good time for another state of the household update. Here’s the status of us.

The baby: Isn’t it amazing what a difference four months can make? Just a bit over four months ago, Kasia was living inside my body. With her every bump and kick, I imagined what life would be like with her. I pictured her little face, imagined holding and feeding her and rocking her. And yet, four months ago, she was still a complete stranger to me. She was my baby, but I didn’t really know her yet. Fast forward just a few short months and she is Kasia. Kasia, my beautiful baby girl who makes my heart dance with joy each time she smiles. Kasia, who is rolling over, reaching for toys, and cooing. Kasia, who laughs with delight at her brother’s funny faces and loud noises. I cannot imagine life, or this family, without her in it. Amazing.

The 4 year old: Of the many joys that this beautiful baby girl brings into our lives, one of my very favorites is watching James interact with her. This rough and tumble, always in action little boy slows down and speaks so gently to his baby sister. He was the first one to make her laugh. He kisses and hugs and loves her. He goes running for the burp cloth whenever she spits up and tries to calm her when she cries. Despite his love for Kasia, though, James has had some tough days recently. It probably didn’t help that we moved to a new house just a couple months after his little sister was born. That’s a lot of change for one little boy. We had some long weeks with lots of 4 year old tears and misbehavior. It finally hit me (duh) that this seemingly independent little boy was desperately in need of some mama snuggles. I had been working hard to try to give him the attention that I knew he needed, but I had overlooked the fact that he not only needed attention, but touch. Since my aha moment, we’ve been snuggling at night, snuggling while reading books, snuggling while watching PBS kids in the morning. It seems to be working because the past week has been a calm one, with the smiles and happy energy I am so used to seeing out of my favorite 4 year old. It’s such a good reminder that, no matter how old we get, we’re always in need of our mother’s loving touch.

The body: I’ve lost all of my baby weight!! Do you hate me? Well, don’t, because I’m lying. I just wanted to see what it would be like to type those words. In reality, I’ve still got a good 10 pounds left to lose. I try to convince myself that it’s because I’m nursing and my body needs those reserves to make good milk for my baby girl. But deep down I know the real reason is simply that I really like to eat. Mmmm, food.

The emotions: Am I the only one to notice that nursing is like a really good happy pill? Whenever I breast-feed Kasia, I can literally feel a wave of calm happiness wash through my body. Google tells me that it’s the oxytocin that is being released. I don’t care what it’s called as long as I keep getting it. Unless I can find a way to bottle up this happy juice, Kasia is going to be nursing until she’s 20. Might be a bit embarrassing for her, but that’s just the price she’ll have to pay for a calm mother.

The house: Despite the fact that we recently moved, the house is in surprisingly good shape. Sure, we still have stacks of boxes in the garage that need to be moved into the house, as well as green and brown carpeting that needs to be replaced inside the house and walls that are screaming out to be painted. Overall, though, most of the stuff we really need has been unpacked and all of the main rooms are set up. After a recent out of town trip, we returned to our new house to realize it finally felt like coming home. And I’m starting to find my groove as a mom again. Moving from one child to two means that the washing machine is run every day (the girl does love to poop!), that mornings and evenings are their own new kind of crazy, and that the floor needs to be picked up at least five times a day when we are home(and this is before Kasia can get out her own toys! Heaven help us when I have two children who are actively able to scatter their own toys throughout the house). And yet I seem to have adapted surprisingly fast to this new reality. It’s getting easier every day, and most days I even kind of like the extra chaos that two kids bring to the household. Of course, that could be the oxytocin talking. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Review - Wubbanub

Kasia and I got to try out the WubbaNub this month and discovered that we love the WubbaNub! The WubbaNub consists of a Soothie pacifier that is attached to an adorable little animal that is just the right size for little hands to hold. Kasia’s WubbaNub was a precious little pink pony for my precious little pink princess.

To understand the allure of the WubbaNub, one first has to understand the value of a good pacifier. The Soothie brand pacifiers are the ones they give you in the hospital. We had ours for about two weeks after Kasia came home. Then I set it oh-so-carefully on the top of the car while I was putting Kasia in and (you know what’s coming, right?) remembered about 5 miles into the drive that I had forgotten to retrieve it before driving away. Since I had raised James without a pacifier at all, I assumed I didn’t actually need to replace it. Silly me. I soon discovered that for Kasia, a Soothie brand pacifier is the difference between walking her around for 30 minutes before she falls asleep (not rocking—walking)and having her fall asleep within about 30 seconds, in my arms (while I am sitting no less). It is an absolute lifesaver in our house and we never leave home without it.

The WubbaNub takes this life-saving little pacifier to a whole new level. Why? Well, first of all, the WubbaNub just darn cute. And who doesn’t want cute things for cute babies? More than that, though, it’s really a very practical little gadget. I think the best part is that it makes it very easy to find the pacifier when you need it. If you are a mom of a pacifier baby, you know how easy it is to lose those slippery little suckers. Even if you have five of them, they never seem to be easily found when you need them most. Because the pacifier is attached to a stuffed pink pony, we never go more than two minutes without locating it in our house (and chances are good that I would have been more apt to see it sitting on top of my car before driving away as well). At four months, Kasia also likes holding onto it, snuggling it, and exploring it. She’s even managed to get it into her month all on her own during car rides. It’s become a toy, a lovie, and a pacifier all in one.

The only downside to the WubbaNub is that it’s a bit trickier to clean than regular pacifiers. The pacifier doesn’t detach from the stuffed animal and I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe. When I first pulled the WubbaNub out of the package, I was skeptical that I could get it clean enough to feel comfortable using it. But then I read the tag, which suggested washing the WubbaNub with baby’s clothes and letting it air dry. So I did. It came out clean and the stuffed animal dried very quickly. I also sterilized the nuk by holding it in boiling water (yes, I am slightly prone to going overboard when it comes to germ removal) . Because I could just hold onto the stuffed animal, this actually proved to be rather easy. Since then, I’ve washed it with Kasia’s clothes a couple of times when I felt like the stuffed animal was getting dirty. In between those laundry washes, I just wash off the pacifier part with soap and water and let it air dry. The benefits of the WubbaNub far outweigh the bit of extra time it takes to clean it.

The bottom line: We love the WubbaNub! It’s cute, practical, and fun. If a baby you love uses pacifiers, you can’t go wrong with a WubbaNub.