Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review - Teething Bling Teething Necklace

When my sister Kate told me that I’d be reviewing Teething Bling this month, my first thought was, “Why would I put a necklace on my baby? That seems a little bit dangerous.” Then I realized that Teething Bling is actually jewelry designed for moms to wear, but babies to play with. Brilliant!

Once I had the concept down, I began to wonder if something designed for a baby to chew on would actually look like real jewelry. When my Teething Bling arrived in the mail, I pulled my chunky coral necklace out of the cute little jewelry pouch in which it came and put it on. My five year old looked up at me and said “Hey, you look pretty, mom!” The next morning, I hung it around my neck before hopping in the car to take Kasia to watch James’ swimming lessons. As my hubby watched me climb in the car, he said, “Did you get a new necklace? I like it!” Later that week at McDonald’s, I noticed other mothers watching me let Kasia chew on the necklace; their looks of slight confusion and concern told me that they were also convinced that the necklace was real jewelry.

Teething Bling actually proved to be pretty practical as well. Kasia didn’t immediately reach for it, but she tugged on it and mouthed it for quite a while when I handed it to her. It was nice to be able to bring along a baby toy by simply hanging it around my neck. Because it was hanging there, I didn’t have to worry about forgetting it, losing it, or having to put it down on some germy surface. After wearing it for a day, I simply washed it up with soap and water and let it air dry. It proved to be a great little addition to the portable toys that I usually bring with to keep Kasia entertained when she has to sit on my lap for any length of time. Plus I got to wear new jewelry!

The bottom line: Teething Bling is a treat for moms that has the added benefit of keeping babies entertained. Puts the fun back in functional.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Giveaway - Trumpette Socks

Snow, snow, go away, come again another day….

It’s February in Wisconsin and that means cabin fever. And oh my, do we have it. We spend our days dreaming of the time when we can go outside and spend hours playing in the warm sunshine. It looks like that day isn’t going to come anytime soon, however. So I’m on the prowl for fun indoor activities and that means that this month’s giveaway is all about keeping kids entertained when they can’t go outside. I pulled out one of my favorites this week when we were stuck inside all day. I set James up with a sink full of soapy water, a big pot, a stirring spoon, measuring cups, and any old spice jars I could find that were almost empty: all the makings for a “soup” making session. He happily measured soap bubbles, sprinkled spices, poured water and stirred up his “soup” for nearly 45 minutes (insert big sigh of relief here).

Comment on this post with one of *your* favorite ideas for indoor entertainment, and you’ll be entered in this month’s give-away for some cute little Trumpette Bunnies Socks! If I randomly select your comment to win the Trumpette Bunnies socks, you’ll receive them just in time to dress your little one for this year’s Easter holidays.

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 March 8th. Good luck and stay warm!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Good Enough

I’m well aware that I’m a tad bit of a perfectionist. Not in all areas of my life, have you. My car, for example, is in a constant state of messiness. But I strive for perfection in enough areas that it’s sometimes enough to drive me a bit crazy. As a result, I’ve recently been working on letting things be good enough.

For instance, I realized it was going to be Valentine’s Day on, well, Valentine’s Day morning. Oops. The late nature of my realization that the holiday was upon us, combined with a baby with a cold and an energetic 5 year old who is TIRED of being indoors (anyone else more than ready for spring?) made it nearly impossible to do anything for my sweethearts other than tell them that I loved them and whip up some homemade gift certificates. James got one for a “date night” with his mama; my hubby got one for an entire day chore and child free. Cheesy? Yes. But good enough.

And in church that morning, I spent way more time corralling James’ energy and wiping Kasia’s nose than I did actually paying attention to the sermon or singing along with the songs. I would have liked to have left church full of inspiration from the sermon, lulled into a peaceful state of grace from the hymns. But I had to settle for the little lift of spirits that came from the one sentence from the sermon that actually made its way past the child chaos into my consciousness. Not great. But good enough.

And yesterday when I thought about writing this blog post, I had envisioned it as full of sparkling words, insight and humor. Then my husband woke me up this morning to tell me his car had a flat, so he would have to take my car and leave me carless. Then he woke me up a second time to tell me he’d gotten my car stuck in the snow and could I please help him push it out? Then I came back inside to find James awake already; he was none to pleased to find out he would not be going to 4K that day as originally planned. About the same time that he was making his displeasure known, Kasia began crying, coughing, and snotting all at the same time. Needless to say, the time I had to write this post was limited and, as a result, it’s neither particularly insightful nor very funny. And certainly not full of sparkling words. But I guess it’ll just have to be good enough. :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Top Ten Things I Learned from My Baby

1. Forgive easily and hold no grudges.
The other day at her 4 month check up, I watched Kasia cough and gag when the physician stuck the tongue depressor down her throat. She fussed and cried at the indignity of it all. Then she blinked and looked up at the physician with a huge smile and cooed at him. The world would be a much gentler place if we all forgave so easily.

2. Take delight in the little things.
Look at that!! My hand opens. And it shuts again. And it opens. And shuts. Can you believe this thing? And ooooooh, there’s my toes!

3. Smile at people.
More often than not, they’ll smile right back.

4. Sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, cry when you’re sad.

We’d all be thinner, more rested, and more mentally stable if we only just followed those three simple rules.

5. If you fall seven times, get up eight.
Despite the fact that she’s toppled over countless times, Kasia is still determined to sit up on her own. No frustration, no hurry. Just quiet persistence.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Kasia has no trouble letting me know if she needs a toy that’s out of her reach, a snuggle, or a bite to eat. We’d probably all be a bit better off if we just told others what we need.

7. Love to learn.
It’s a delight to watch Kasia discover her world; she explores each new thing with such curiosity and wonder. I hope that can follow her lead and never forget to take delight in learning all there is to know about this vast world in which we live.

8. Laugh.
When you do, it brings smiles to the faces of others and joy to the day.

9. When you’re feeling grumpy, take a little nap.
The whole world looks better when you are well rested.

10. Love with all your heart.
Enough said.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Milkjuice, Anyone?

Last night at dinner, James decided that it would be a good idea to mix some orange juice into his milk. He insisted it would be a delicious concoction that he would thoroughly enjoy. My first instinct was to inform him that this was not only gross, but not allowed. After all, I knew very well that he would take one sip of his milkjuice and figure out that he didn’t like it. But instead of saying “no,” I took a deep breath and told him yes, he could go ahead and make up a glass of milkjuice. I also explained that he would have to finish the entire glass of milkjuice if he wanted a snack later that evening. He acknowledged the rules, mixed up his milkjuice, took a big drink, and gagged. Truly stunned that his precious milkjuice was anything but delicious, he turned to me and said, “Mom, this is GROSS!” I took a tiny sip and agreed with him. He then began to plead with me to reverse the “drink it all before snack” rule. I didn’t budge. He cried, took sips, gagged, and made awful faces. Oh how I wanted to save him from his fate. But I didn’t. I held firm. By the end of dinner he had finished off his milkjuice, shuddering as he took his last sip.

For those of you who are now convinced that I am the meanest mommy in the whole world, let me explain my thinking. I’ve recently been inspired by a book called Parenting with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. The idea behind Love and Logic is to pull away from controlling your children (“no, you can NOT mix milk and juice together!”) and move toward letting your children experience the natural consequences of their actions ("Sure, go ahead and mix up a yummy glass of milkjuice! But you’ll need to drink it all because we don’t waste food in this family."). I love this idea because I know full well that controlling parents do not mix well with independent, curious 5 year old boys. My husband and I are classic controlling parents. Left to our own devices, power struggles abound. The idea behind Love and Logic is to avoid power struggles by allowing children make their own decisions (within limits, of course) and experience their own consequences (which, to be fair, still have to be implemented by parents). Since the child is in control of making the decision, the decision is the bad guy, not the parent.

Along the same lines, we recently implemented a new bedtime plan. Like most families, we do a snack-bath-bed routine. Like many 5 year olds, James had started resisting along the way. He dawdled over snack, resisted brushing his teeth, took his own sweet time getting on his pjs, and cried if he didn’t get to play a bit before bed. All along the way, Andy and I were constantly giving instructions (drink your milk, eat your snack, get back in your chair, stop getting out of your chair, brush your teeth, take your clothes off, come back in the bathroom, brush your teeth, hurry up, stop shooting baskets with your clothes and the laundry chute, get in the tub!)

Searching for a way to give James some control over the process, limit the parental nagging, and yet still get him in bed before 10 pm, I happened upon the idea of a visual timer. These nifty little devices actually let children *see* how much time is left by slowing decreasing the amount of red color on the clock. When the red is gone, the time is up. After getting a visual timer and showing it to James, I explained to him that he had 45 minutes for snack and bath. If he got done with snack, toothbrushing, bath, and pjs with red left on the clock, he could use whatever red (time) he had left to play before bed. I then set the clock, put him in charge of deciding when to have snack and when to have bath, and didn’t give him any more instructions. It seems so simple, but it’s been so effective. The first few times, I had to bite my tongue to keep from reminding him that he needed to hurry up during snack if he wanted to have time for bath (oh, how I do love to control!). I had to resist telling him that his goofing around before getting in the tub would lead to a very short play time. And I did endure some tears the first few nights when he ran out of time. But then, miraculously, it began to work! I now see James sneaking a peek at the clock when he is eating snack so that he can judge how much time he has left. He stays in his seat for snack (most of the time) and moves pretty quickly through tooth brushing , bath and PJs (usually). Most nights, he has a good amount of time left to play. And he willingly climbs into bed for books when the timer goes off.

So I’m beginning to buy into this Love and Logic stuff. It’s nice to have fewer power struggles, and it’s such a joy to see James begin to make his own thoughtful decisions.

And I even got to try some milkjuice.

A note from Baby Bella:
We were so inspired by Becca's (aka Baby Bella Mama) blog, that we have decided to bring the visual timers she mentioned above into our product line. We are expecting them next week and are now taking PRE-ORDERS! And Baby Bella Mama readers get a special bonus... order before February 15th and receive 10% off your timer!
Use coupon code TIMER in the checkout to receive this discount.