Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hospital Bag Thoughts

This post was inspired by a recent group email between my best gal pals. One of my dearest friends is expecting her first in a couple weeks...or days...WOW time flies, and my mom friends (myself included) were offering some words of wisdom. Specifically, we were giving her advice on what to pack in her hospital bag. It was a fun exchange and got me thinking about what I might pack differently for round two.

When pregnant with my first, the hospital bag was a huge topic of interest for me. I'm very surprised that I haven't previously written about it. When it came to educating myself on the actual delivery, my efforts were mediocre. When it came to researching what items I needed with me during the delivery, my efforts were over the top. The fact that I actually researched this issue says a lot (about my sanity). It's sort of a common sense issue. But, I'm a bad packer. Really bad. Sometimes I pack too much. Sometimes I pack too little. I usually forget two essential items - like a toothbrush and underwear. I'm not kidding. So, knowing myself, I decided that I would figure out the whole breathing and pushing thing on the fly, but I needed advanced preparation in the hospital bag department.

Based on my experience and the advice given during this recent group email, here's a pretty solid list of what to include in your hospital bag:

  • Clothes - Two post delivery outfits and one going home outfit. You will still be wearing maternity clothes and you won't be feeling awesome, so don't bring skinny jeans and stilettos. Think pajamas and comfies. 
  • Hair elastics or headbands
  • Slippers and a Robe - I didn't bring slippers and suffered with hospital socks and I loved having a lightweight cotton robe for my few trips down the cold hall.
  • Flip Flops - You're going to be using a hospital shower that is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. But, so was the shower in your college dorm. And, the blood...well...just consider bringing some cheap flip flops.
  • Toiletries - Whatever you would bring on any weekend getaway (hair brush, toothbrush, etc.), minus the glamour stuff (curling iron, eyelash extensions, etc.).
  • Pillow - I brought two. My husband and I were overwhelmingly happy to have them. Hospital pillows leave much to be desired.
  • Camera - This falls into one of my regrets. I didn't bring my Nikon SLR to the hospital. Instead, I brought my barely working snap and shoot digital. The thought process was that my Nikon is big and expensive and not worth managing during the chaos. Boo. Wrong choice. Yeah, I have pics from the hospital, but I so wish I had more and better pics.
  • Notepad and pen - There are things you'll want to write down. You can make note of which gift came from which visitor and the amazing piece of advice the night shift nurse gave you about breastfeeding and what you want on your sandwich now that you're allowed to eat and you're allowed to eat cold cuts.
  • Outfit for the baby - Your little one will have hospital provided attire for his/her stay, but needs an outfit for the ride home. Think about the season. How many layers? Blanket? Hat?
  • Baby Mittens - They start scratching right away and their nails are impossible to cut/file in the beginning, so these will come in handy immediately.
  • Snacks - While you won't be allowed to eat during your delivery (probably), sometimes you're allowed "clear" candy (think: Jolly Ranchers). Also bring a piece of fruit or your favorite granola bar for afterwards. I was starving post delivery and my only food option was pizza, which wasn't a bad one, but I would have enjoyed something more wholesome.
  • Phone and Camera Charger - Not an ideal time to run out of battery.

The one thing I remember bringing and not "using" was champagne. At my baby shower, I was gifted a mini bottle of champagne for the in-hospital celebration. When the time came, I had zero taste for alcohol and I was beginning my breastfeeding journey...I didn't want to start off on that foot. Another general consideration is not to bring your favorites when it comes to clothes. Things can get pretty messy and you may end up throwing out the underwear and pants that you bring.

There are no words to describe the excitement and intensity and awe of those first 48 hours. Nothing you bring (or forget to bring) will change that. So, bring a hospital bag but don't over think it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Favorite Toddler Books

Including A Sick Day for Amos McGee in a recent(ish) post got me thinking about all the wonderful toddler books that my daughter has introduced to me. Technically, I've introduced her to them...but without her there would have been no introductions whatsoever, so she gets the credit. Reading is our favorite activity. She is absolutely insatiable when it comes to books. Some days she wants to read the same book over and over...and over...and over. Other days, we would get through her entire mini bookshelf, if I had the stamina.

With this in mind, here are four of my favorite toddler books that didn't exist (or I didn't know of) when I was a wee one.

Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray - My daughter doesn't get the potty humor yet...probably because she doesn't use a potty yet...but I do. And it's fabulous.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt - Another excellent comedy. And full of teaching moments as in "what color is this?".

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead - This is total sweetness. It's about Amos and his best buds from the zoo.

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis - This is a girl-power book. There's a nice message and it manages to avoid the hokiness that one would expect based on the title.

UPDATE (7/18/14): How could I have forgotten Otis? 

Otis by Loren Long - My daughter loves, loves, loves Otis and his friend the calf. This is another sweet one about friendship.

Most of these books were gifts. I guess other moms know what's up. Where do they find these gems? How do they get the inside scoop? How about you and your toddler - what do you love reading? What new books have you discovered together? I would love some suggestions, there's always a room for one more on the bookshelf...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Car Seat 411

When it came to buying a car seat, I did some research. And then I did a bit more research. And then I surveyed friends. And then I did more research. (Side Note: this was my approach to most big ticket items...crib, stroller, etc.)

Where did I research? Blogs. Informational websites, including and reviews. reviews. I also read reviews in Baby Bargains. I've mentioned this book before - it's fantastic. If I were researching today, I would add to the list. It's a (free) member's website and the gist is personal reviews for any and all baby products. I highly recommend it.

What did I research? 
  • Safety. Obviously.
  • Stroller compatibility. Some strollers and some car seats don't have great chemistry don't connect with adaptors.
  • Infant vs. Convertible. Infant car seats are made strictly for infants and expire around the 10-14 month mark. Convertible car seats last from infancy through toddlerhood. I didn't look at 3-in-1 car seats (which supposedly last from infancy through small childhood) because that just seemed like too much and, therefore, not safe.
  • Cost. I didn't harp on this one. Thanks to some good, old advice from my mom, I live by the rule that you get what you pay for. And for this particular purchase, I wanted to get HIGH quality.
  • Weight. Lugging that thing around with the added weight of your little bundle is no joke. Every pound counts.
  • Ease of Use. This included installation, buckling, stroller adaptor use, cleaning, etc.
A couple weeks ago, I was asked to participate in a survey about my car seat purchase. The website hosting the survey asked 50 mom/baby bloggers to answer questions about their car seats and recently posted the results (here). Participating in the survey and reading through the results made me think back through my intense process. Each and every baby product purchase I made in the beginning was thoroughly considered. Nowadays, I've loosened the reigns a touch. I bought my daughter a toy Volkswagen hippie van at CVS the other day, the epitome of an impulse buy...which was fine for $5.99. But, for the most part, I remain an educated buyer when it comes to anything that's for my daughter. 

We have so many choices when it comes to car seats and toy hippie vans and everything else. Too many choices. Taking the time to know what we're giving to and getting for our little ones is always a good idea. 

This (above) is on my living room floor. Pretty groovy, huh?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Hours Have Been Eaten Up!

Before another Monday, Wednesday or Friday goes by without a new post, I should update you that things around here got real busy the past couple weeks. The short story is that my husband and I bought a house. This amazing event has eaten up my time in a major way. Side note: Every time I say the phrase "eat up" (or some version of it), I think of Where The Wild Things Are. I love that book. Just read it earlier today. Back to my house! It's significantly bigger than the teeny tiny apartments I've lived in for the past ten or so years and, as a result, it's requiring a teeny tiny bit more of everything. Everything being furniture, paint, cleaning products, toilet paper...ya know.

As a result of this incredible adventure, blogging has fallen to the wayside. But (as before), I believe this is temporary. I will continue to post whenever I'm able and I hope to be back in the swing of things in a month's time.

Until then, here's another sweet book that has stolen my heart. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sharing Is Caring and Much More

This weekend a good friend forwarded me the link to an article about teaching your toddler to share...or not. The thesis of the article was something like: There's an overemphasis on teaching kids to share because, in the real world, sharing ain't all that relevant. If you don't want to click over to the article and read it in full (here), I'll give you the highlights. The author's child goes to a school where the policy is that a child uses a toy until she is finished and does not have to prematurely give up said toy just for the sake of sharing. The author likes this policy and believes it accurately reflects life. An example that she gives: you can't just walk up to a stranger and take their sunglasses or phone because it's your turn.

Well, I firmly disagree with the thesis (though I agree that you can't nab a strangers sunglasses, no matter how much you want them and feel truly deserving of them). The premise that sharing isn't a practical skill is hogwash. I share all day, every day, every minute, constantly. We all do. We share offices and time with the barrista at Starbucks and space in the elevator and books at the library. People job share and carpool. When it comes to friends and family, I share dresses and punch bowls and bicycles and wallpaper steamers. Sharing is fantastic (and environmentally friendly).

But the real point, which is why I think the article kinda sucks (there I said it), is that sharing teaches patience. Sharing is a vehicle for the lesson rather than the lesson itself. By asking your child to use a toy and then share it, you're asking her to be patient, fight the instinct of "ME, NOW" and wait her turn. While you may not agree with my characterization of waiting to order your Starbucks latte as "sharing", you can certainly agree with my assertion that patience is possibly the most important lesson of all. It's not just a virtue, it's life. And whether your little one is patient, or not, she will be required to wait on a daily basis from now until infinite. 

So, back to the toy policy at the author's school (which I kind of like by the way), whether the author believes it or not, this policy requires sharing. At some point, all toys are put down, if only because school is over. And you can damn well bet that if Timmy made Tommy wait all afternoon to use the ball on Monday that Tommy is beating Timmy to the ball on Tuesday and making him wait all afternoon. So whether it's in five minute intervals or alternating afternoons, sharing is happening at her child's school and it's a good thing because it teaches patience.