Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 State of the Union

Obama’s first State of the Union was a success.  As in, he kept my attention for an entire hour, although the competitive State of the Union Bingo card was partially responsible.  Of course, I always want to win, so I paid extra close attention. 

High Points:

1.    High Speed Trains.  It’s about time we caught up to the rest of the world.  Plus, Chris loves trains.
2.    Chris got blue ink all over his mouth from biting his pen 10 minutes into the speech.  We paused Tivo so he could wash his mouth out.
3.    Michele Obama looked great in her eggplant outfit.  And I still love how they interact as a married couple in public.  The winks and the comments like, “she gets embarrassed” continue to be endearing.
4.    Education.  Education.  Education.
5.    To be the global leader in clean energy is to be the global economic leader – who cares if you don’t believe in the science.
6.    Asking universities to cut their own costs.
7.    Repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
8.    Scolding the House and Senate (on both sides) like children for being petty and holding grudges.  “I win.  You lose.” 
9.    Joe Biden’s badly timed half clap.  

Chris won the Bingo card with “Bipartisan Commission for X”

Avoiding Pesticides

I love to eat the pestiest foods and so does Henry.  I fear I’ve already done myself irreparable harm, considering I can eat an entire bushel of apples or peaches (the 2 pestiest fruits around) in a day.  I can still feel the canker sores from 3 years ago when I ate an entire bushel of apples on our drive back from Door County -- cheers to our road trip buddies CBG and AG who just moved to NYC.  There is still a chance for my little Henry, though!  Researching pesticides can be a little scary, but now I know that washing with water is not sufficient.  I’m definitely going to be more vigilant about buying organic when feasible.  I’m also going to start using baking soda, the affordable alternative to fruit wash sprays, to wash my fruits and veggies.  I can't wait for our summer CSA (community share agriculture) to begin!

Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:

1.  Their internal organs are still developing and maturing
2.  In relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water.
3.  Certain behaviors--such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths--increase a child's exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.

Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.
For these reasons, and as specifically required under the Food Quality Protection Act (1996), EPA carefully evaluates children's exposure to pesticide residues in and on foods they most commonly eat, i.e., apples and apple juice, orange juice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybean oil, sugar, eggs, pork, chicken and beef. EPA is also evaluating new and existing pesticides to ensure that they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to adults as well as infants and children. 

What is organic?
"Organically grown" food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (e.g., biological pesticides) may also be used in producing organically grown food. Increasingly, some consumers are purchasing organically grown and processed foods as a way to reduce their exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Many supermarkets now stock organic products for their consumers. Ask your grocer about organic food and its availability at your store.

Because pesticides have many uses, we may be exposed to them in a variety of ways -- through food, water, and air.  You may reduce the amount of pesticides you consume by:

EPA Best Practices

WASHING:  Wash and scrub all fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water. Running water has an abrasive effect that soaking does not have. This will help remove bacteria and traces of chemicals from the surface of fruits vegetables and dirt from crevices. Not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing.

PEELING and TRIMMING:  Peel fruits and vegetables when possible to reduce dirt, bacteria, and pesticides.  Discard outer leaves of leafy vegetables.  Trim fat from meat and skin from poultry and fish because some pesticides residues collect in fat.
SELECTING A VARIETY OF FOODS:  Eat a variety of foods from a variety of sources. This will give you a better mix of nutrients and reduce your likelihood of exposure to a single pesticide. 

Foods with the highest concentration of pesticides in alphabetical order – add meat, milk and coffee to your organic grocery list

Collard Greens
Imported grapes
Red raspberries
Sweet bell peppers

Least contaminated foods in alphabetical order: 

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potato

See the following links for more information

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adopting from Haiti

On January 12, 2010, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere was hit with a 7.0 earthquake.    Before the earthquake there were approximately 380,000 orphaned children.  With the estimated death toll ranging from 100,000 to 150,000, the number of children without parents is expected to reach over a million. See

There are potential adoptive parents coming out of the woodwork, hoping to give a warm and safe home to Haitian orphans, but new adoption applications have been frozen.  Many fear that abandoned children still have surviving relatives.  The U.S. has, however, waived visa requirements for children already in the adoption process, totaling 50 Haitian orphans.  

We can only hope that this outpouring of love and generosity continues once the adoption ban is lifted.

Please find below a few links with more information on adoption.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Earwax Gene

Before Henry was born we wondered whom he would most resemble.  We wondered if he would have my eyes or if he would have Chris’ height.  We wondered if he’d have crooked teeth like I have or bad gas like Chris has.  But we never thought, "I wonder which kind of earwax he will have."

For those of you who don’t know, Asians and Caucasians have dramatically different earwax.  Those of East Asian descent have dry and flaky earwax – like fish food.  Europeans and Africans have wet and gooey ear wax – like hot drippy caramel.  Southern Asians and Central Asians can have either type.  In January 2006, the New York Times reported that Japanese scientists have discovered the earwax gene.  

The study found that wet earwax was most likely the ancestral form before humans left Africa 50,000 years ago.  Researchers believe that the dry form of earwax, like less sweating, small nostrils and the fold of fat above the eyelid, was an adaptation to the cold climate.  

If you’re wondering which gene your kids will have, the wet earwax gene is dominant.  Therefore, your child will only have dry earwax if both parents carry the dry earwax gene.  Alas, this study has crushed my dreams of passing on the dry earwax gene.  

Friday, January 22, 2010

Favorite First Year Videos

I just figured out how to post videos from youtube today. Thanks to my Tech Crunch guru, Leena Rao! She's so great at simplifying complex techy stuff for people like me who are getting old, but want to be hip and with it.  Below are my favorite videos showing the progression of Henry's first year.

One of Henry's first videos. I miss that teeny tiny stage where the poos and pees were so cute.

My Ahma (grandmother), Henry's Atso (great grandmother), saying that he's fatter than I am.

Dadda teaching Henry to laugh like a true nerd.

He loved his first swing ride.

Showing off his crawling and high fiving skillz.

Sitting in the snow on our roof deck. He's so bundled up he can't move, but he still smiles for Momma.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When is the right time to stop breastfeeding: 6 months; 1 year; 4; 6 or 10?

The choice is dependent on individual mothers and babies.  I pass no judgment on mothers who choose to nurse long term, but take a look at the photo below.  Where is the mother's udder?  I mean nipple?  Many mothers in America avoid breastfeeding because they are afraid of having saggy tribal breasts.  See NPR story on teaching black women to embrace breastfeeding.

I wonder if nursing a child until he/she is 4, 5 or 6 is healthy for a marital relationship.  In my experience, when my breasts belonged to my son, I was much less interested in passing them off to my husband for less nutritional purposes.  Perhaps mothers around the world, especially in the third world, nurse long term because access to a balanced diet is limited.  Nursing is a serious commitment a mother makes to her child, and it slaps imaginary handcuffs on mother and baby.  I happily and proudly nursed Henry for 1 year.  Upon the 1 year mark we were both ready to stop.  He became uninterested, and I was ready to have my freedom back.  Breast feeding is a very sensitive subject for mothers, and it is an individual mother's choice to pursue it or not.  Either way, I respect every mother's right to choose how to feed her baby as long as she is educated on what is and isn't beneficial for her child.  

When a Bay Area mom, who we'll call Jennifer, was pregnant, she took a breastfeeding class at Kaiser. Jennifer learned all about how your milk supply is established, positioning, and latch. She also learned that on average mothers throughout the world breastfeed their children until age 4.

Shutterstock/Anita Patterson Peppers

Jennifer didn't take this fact too seriously and assumed that she'd try to breastfeed her child until he turned 1. That's what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends after all.
But when Jennifer's son was still happily nursing at 1 year old, she decided to keep on going until he showed signs of wanting to stop. She realized that breastfeeding provides a wonderful opportunity for mother and child to cuddle and bond. At this point, Jennifer took great comfort in knowing that women throughout the world breastfeed their children well past the baby stage.
Jennifer continued to nurse her son, and didn't stop until he was 4 years old and told her, "I don't need this anymore."
Of course, he wanted mommy's milk the next day but she decided that it was time to wean him.
Breastfeeding a child until he is age 4 is unusual in the United States. Only 23 percent of women make it until age 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's simply not part of American culture to nurse a toddler.
Jennifer was aware that long-term breastfeeding is considered taboo, and so she didn't freely share that she was still nursing her 3-year-old son in the morning and at night before bedtime. She only told friends who she figured wouldn't criticize her. "I knew I was getting into weirdo land for a lot of people," she says.
She only breastfed in her home and told her son to keep quiet about it. "When he was about 3 years old, I remember having a discussion between the two of us," Jennifer says. "I told him that what we're doing is private and we don't need to talk about it outside the house."
While Jennifer was secretive, a mom in the United Kingdom is sharing with the world that she breastfed her daughter until she was six and a half years old in her new book Breastfeeding Older Children.
For her book, Ann Sinnott of Cambridge corresponded via email with women, men and children from nearly 50 countries, and she found that breastfeeding until a child is three, six, nine, or even 11 is a growing phenomenon, according to Irish Independent.
Sinnott says her book is intended to reach out to women who are breastfeeding their toddlers and let them know that they're not alone and that they don't need to nurse behind closed doors. She is advocating for moms to allow their children to choose when breastfeeding ceases; some call this child-led breastfeeding.
Sinnott also hopes to challenge the negative perceptions of many psychologists who contend that breastfed older children are emotionally damaged.
Earlier this month a mom named Robyn Paul appeared on ABC News to talk about breastfeeding all three of her children longterm, and a psychologist questioned what she's doing. Will Braun told ABC that he isn't so sure and he wonders whether it's appropriate from a developmental standpoint.
"I think a child really needs to learn to develop the capacity to soothe oneself, the capacity to tolerate frustration," Braun said. "When a child is constantly given a breast, it might thwart that from happening."
But Paul doesn't think this is the case. On the news show she shared that breastfeeding her children has created a special bond between them.
"I really feel that there is an extra bonding or attachment there that I would like to think that because he nursed until he was 6, that there was some more closeness there ... that you get when you're able to have him in your arms for a longer period of time," Paul said. "My daughter's the same way. Very much so."

Read more:

Cord Blood Banking

We did not choose to do cord blood banking.  The doctor handed us the fliers early on, but it was the last thing on my mind during the pregnancy.  By the time I got around to thinking about it I had run out of time to prepare the paperwork for donation. 

What is cord blood banking?

Umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used in transplants to treat a variety of pediatric disorders including leukemia, sickle cell disease, and metabolic disorders.  There is no scientific data to support that transplantation is effective from the donor back to the donor. 

Why would you pursue private cord blood banking? 
The American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) recommends “private cord blood banking for [those] who have an older child with a condition that could potentially benefit from transplantation, such as a genetic immunodeficiency.” 

Why wouldn’t you pursue private cord blood banking?
The AAP also notes “families may be vulnerable to emotional marketing at the time of birth of a child ...”  In fact, the research estimates are so unreliable that the possibility that your child will need a cord blood transplant is anywhere from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 200,000.

Another reason not to pursue private cord blood banking is that the high costs outweigh the benefits.  First-year fees can range from $595 to $1,835, depending on which private bank you choose. Annual storage fees are usually about $95.

What happens to donated cord blood?
Public cord blood banking, or donating, means that the baby's cord blood is stored in a cord blood bank and is available to anyone in need of a transplant or may be used research purposes.

See for more information on how to donate cord blood. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Double Parenting

Double parenting -- parenting a child who isn’t yours -- is a touchy subject for some parents and should not be entered into lightly.  Parents take their roles as guardians and teachers very seriously, and often don’t appreciate others getting involved.  I always thought, especially with nieces and nephews, that “it takes a village,” and any help is good help, but I’ve learned that “it takes a village,” applies to holding, feeding, changing, etc., not teaching behavior.  Of course, no one ever told me about this double parenting pet peeve until I had a child of my own.  I’m sure parents’ abhorrence of double parenting was ubiquitous and I just never picked up on it.  Even the Real Housewives of Orange County, which is obviously not groundbreaking or insightful, covered it in a re-run today when two of the wives bicker about Gretchen attempting to double parent Lynn’s daughter.  Some parents openly encourage family and friends to double parent in the behavioral department.  Other parents quietly stand by and simmer as they glare squinty-eyed at their friends and relatives derailing their parental teachings.  I wonder which kind of parent I’ll turn out to be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weaning Off the Boob: Weeks 4 and 5

Weaning week 4 went off without a hitch.  Henry continued to nurse once in the morning for one week.  I had no intention of weaning him until after the New Year.  However, one particularly sleepy morning, Chris got him out of the crib, and Henry didn’t look for me.  We let him play and have breakfast, and to my surprise he never cried for my milk.  The next morning I got Henry out of his crib, avoided his rocker and the bed (two common nursing places), and again he didn’t cry for my milk.  For 5 days, I felt full of milk and tender to any pressure on my milk udders.  The 6th day, I felt only slight tenderness.

Week 5 was another story.  I started feeling extreme tenderness anytime there was pressure against my chest.  My breasts were slightly swollen and I had clogged milk ducts, which took me a few days to realize as I’d forgotten what it felt like.  I remedied the plugged ducts by massaging the problem areas in the hot shower.  For 3 days I massaged the problem areas in the shower squeezing out the excess milk.  Finally the tenderness disappeared.  I was relieved until I looked in the mirror after a shower.  The words of my mother rang in my ears, “Why did you breastfeed for so long?  Your hair is no longer shiny and your boobs are going to be saggy.”  I laughed when she said it, as she is a proponent of natural food and natural beauty, but now I cringe at the truthfulness of her words.  Things have shrunk, and I didn’t think they could get smaller.  Things have also fallen … low … low … low.  Perhaps it’s the drastic transformation from having porno boobs to back to normal boobs, but it doesn’t look or feel normal to me.  I advise all pre-breastfeeding or pre-pregnant women to take a picture of yourself before your body endures the drastic changes that accompany motherhood.  Or just take a mental picture, as you don’t want to be physically reminded of what you once were, as you’ll never get it back -- that is unless you’re willing to undergo some kind of scary procedure.  After one day of feeling hideous, I’ve accepted that it doesn’t look that bad, and it was all worth it in the end.  A changing body is part of motherhood and part of getting older, both of which I am determined to take on gracefully and skillfully.     

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Help Haiti

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross' primary focus during the initial response of an emergency is feeding, sheltering and supplying any other basic needs. To donate: Go to, hit donate now button at top and then International Response Fund. You also can text "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the International Response Fund. The money will go directly to relief efforts in Haiti. Or call 1-800-Red-Cross.

This humanitarian organization's main focus is to fight global poverty, specifically by empowering marginalized women and girls. To donate to the Haiti relief fund effort, go to or call 1-800-521-CARE. Money will go toward food, water and sanitation, shelter and emergency health response.

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity provides affordable, safe shelter for low-income families and people in need. Money donated for Haiti relief efforts will go toward recovery and rebuilding. To donate, go to or call 1-800-Habitat.

Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)
The humanitarian organization delivers medical care to people caught in crisis. Donations to its Haiti relief efforts will go toward repairing the obstetrics and trauma hospitals in Haiti that were damaged in the earthquake. They also will go to transporting an additional 70 doctors and medical supplies to the island in an effort to set up makeshift emergency medical response centers. To donate, go to or call 1-888-392-0392. 

The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army's mission is to provide food, shelter, clothing and spiritual comfort during disasters. To donate money, go to or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Make sure you designate the donation for "Haiti Earthquake." Money will go to the Salvation Army in Haiti, which will determine the country's immediate needs, including water, food, medicine and transportation.

U.S. Fund for UNICEF
The national committee for UNICEF is responsible for the organization's fundraising. UNICEF uses the money for health care, clean water, nutrition, education and emergency relief. To donate, go to or 1-800-4-UNICEF.

Jan 13, 2010

Advice for Donors to Haiti
by Laura Starita,
In light of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we thought it would be useful to republish some advice for donors to disaster relief efforts that we’ve culled from lessons learned after the Boxing Day Tsunami, Katrina, the Chinese earthquake and other other recent natural disasters. These thoughts are most specifically drawn from studies conducted by the Fritz Institute and the World Bank.

1) The response in the first 48-72 hours after a catastrophic event is overwhelmingly local. Local organizations, even local people with no official organizational affiliation, are the ones usually reaching out to search for their neighbors and friends and provide whatever relief is available. They also have the knowledge of the terrain, the local dynamics and where the most vulnerable reside. Thus, it is the local groups that need immediate support in terms of supplies, money, etc. Where international organizations with a relief capability play a role is where they already have a local presence and are able to dispatch their personnel quickly and efficiently to help locals. This reality may make international organizations not already in the region feel helpless, but it should instead be viewed as an invaluable opportunity to assess the situation and its needs and plan for what follow-up and recovery support can be provided.

2) Survivors are consistently concerned about friends and loved ones, often more so than they are with their own health and safety. Relief efforts need to acknowledge this concern while dealing with the immediate requirements of the surviving victims—studies consistently report that survivors whose concerns over the missing were acknowledged and addressed had a more positive recovery outlook months later than those whose concerns were dismissed. A more positive outlook was also noted in people who received aid of any kind—water, shelter, food, clothing, etc.—in the first two days after the event.

3) Donations of in-kind clothing and food often are less useful than monetary donations given to organizations who can then assess need. The reason is that that clothing is often climatically or culturally inappropriate; by wearing them victims are reminded of their displacement and humiliation. Likewise, food donations that arrive after the immediate days or weeks, when local food markets may be nominally back in order, can cause the same distortions as in-kind food aid, which depress prices at functioning local food markets and breed shame in the recipients.

4) Donors need to keep a long term view of the recovery period. The vast majority of funds are given in the immediate aftermath of a disaster for relief efforts, often more money than is needed for that task. Most famously, a few weeks after the Asian tsunami, Doctors without Borders stopped accepting donations because they had received more than they could use in the relief effort. One of the most consistent findings from the Hurricane Katrina and Asian tsunami studies, however, is that nine months after those events the majority of the victims were still living in temporary housing and had not yet regained their previous levels of income generation. This suggests that large donors should prioritize the longer term effort of building permanent homes and creating income-generating opportunities over the immediate safety and public health challenges have been met.

5) Recovery needs to be managed with an eye toward equity and the environment. Land rights, for example, need to be established quickly so that the displaced and worst affected don’t lose the rights to their land to those less affected. Donations and recovery efforts must also be sensitive to the economic and environmental balances in the region. For example, after the Asian tsunami, coastal regions in India received donations of fishing boats so their fishers could return to earning income. The problem was more boats were donated than had been operating before the disaster, thus putting additional pressure on fisheries and decreasing incomes for everyone on the water.

As the disaster relief effort ramps up donors considering where their money can do the most should consider the above noted lessons and evaluate aid agencies based on how aware they are of the pasts’ failures and how willing they are to improve on their outcomes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Co-Sleeping: Is it dangerous?

I hear stories everyday of parents waking up to lifeless babies after co-sleeping.  Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach.  Not co-sleeping, just the thought that such a sweet and innocent act - sleeping with your baby -- could lead to such a horrible end.  I'm obsessive about keeping Henry to a schedule and doing everything I can to make sure he has restful sleep; but even I have dozed off holding him a couple times.  It seems natural for a parent to want to keep baby close, especially when he is so tiny and helpless.  Parents should avoid drinking alcohol before co-sleeping.  According to a Bloomberg article, one third of all Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) cases was linked to a parent drinking alcohol or doing drugs before co-sleeping -- often on the couch, according to the British Medical Journal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weaning Off the Boob At One Year

I was fidgety and seriously nervous about weaning, but the process went relatively smoothly.  The fact that both Henry and I were ready was probably the contributing factor to the drama free experience.  We didn't rush the process.  You'll find all the links to my posts regarding weaning below.

Weaning Off the Boob:  Week 1
Weaning Off the Boob:  Week 2
Weaning Off the Boob:  Week 3 Depression
Weaning Off the Boob:  Weeks 4 and 5

Babies: The Movie

Warning: This trailer is guaranteed to jump start your biological clock.

I cannot wait for this movie to come out! It's perfect timing, as I see my little Henry in these same babies. I love that parents around the world go through the exact same experiences. Whether rural or urban, rich or poor, traditional or modern, babies have the same demands and give us the same surprises, laughs and tears. Being a parent automatically enters you into a special club, whether you like it or not. I find myself smiling empathetically at parents in the grocery, airport, etc. I hope this movie is as uplifting as the trailer portrays. Babies are the perfect subject matter for back to the basics, good-feeling entertainment.

Bare Necessities: Everything You'll Need Before Baby Arrives Abbreviated

See Original List

I've received a lot of comments that my initial "Everything you'll need" list is overwhelming.  Please see below for an abbreviated bare necessities version.  I hope it's helpful!

Baby’s Room

  1. Crib:  allow 5 months for delivery.  Note:  there are some beautiful cribs that you will find “special,” as we did, but you will also find that “special” cribs are not always compatible with crib toys, bumpers, etc.
  2. Graco Pack n’ Play:  For the first 3 weeks Henry slept in the bassinet of the Pack ‘n Play in our room.  Now we bring it on trips and visits to friends and relatives’ houses – he gets his naps and we get to leave the house.
  3. Quilted Pack ‘n Play sheet:  it softens the bedding.
  4. Ultimate Crib Sheet (2):  attaches to the crib slats, is waterproof, and lays on top of the fancy fitted      sheet.  Easier to wash and replace than the fitted crib sheet.
  5. Crib sheet
  6. Sleep sack (2):  Halo is the go-to brand.  I like the sleeveless sacks, because baby’s long sleeved pj’s will be bulky underneath a sleeved sack.  You’ll need a spare for when you do laundry.  If you have a winter baby get the fleece.  As baby grows you can determine which size he’ll need next and what material depending on the season.
  7. Dresser:  Ikea has a great dresser that can double as a changing table.
  8. Changing pad:  Get a few changing pad covers.
  9. Night light or dim lamp:  keeps it dim for baby when you nurse in the middle of the night or need to comfort him back to sleep.
  10. Clock:  You will need a clock in view of the rocker or wherever you are nursing to keep track of the start time and length of each feeding.
  1. Diaper Can:  Dekor: convenient because you don’t have to change the bag every time you take out the diapers, but you have to purchase specialty bags.  I purchased them at  The Diaper Champ is a favorite, because you don’t have to purchase special bags. 
  2. Baby wipes
  3. Diapers: Size N or 1.  N is the same size as 1, but leaves a dip for the umbilical cord.  The hospital uses size 1, and folds the front down.
  4. Diaper rash cream:  Boudreaux’s Butt Paste or Aveeno.  Desitin has a medicinal smell.
  5. Moisturizer (tub):  Cetaphil and Aquaphor
  6. Saline drops for congestion.  Although you can make your own, store bought saline comes in an easy to administer bottle.
  7. Bulb syringe: for use after saline.
  8. Instant Read Thermometer – practice practice practice
  9. Baby file and nail clippers:  I have to clip his nails every other day, otherwise Henry scratches himself.
  10. Baby bath tub
  11. Washcloths (2-4)
  12. Baby soap/shampoo in one.  Mustela foaming baby shampoo seemed to do a good job warding off cradle cap
  13. Soothee pacifier (2) for newborns.  Henry was off the pacifier after 3 months, but it was a lifesaver      while it lasted.
  14. Q-tips: to clean around outside of ear
  1. Boppy vs Brestfriend?  I liked the Brestfriend for feeding.  It has better support.  The Boppy is great for tummy time, lying down at an angle, etc. 
  2. Bibs:  Soft bibs for newborns (5-10).  You will use a new one for each feeding, and using dirty bibs can cause a rash.  Bumkins bibs for solid feeding – easy to wash and dry fast.
  3. Burp cloths: disposable diapers take up little room in your bag and dry quickly
  4. Baby bottles:  2-3 4 oz bottles to start.  You may want to get 1 of each kind before you commit – some babies are particular about bottles.
  5. Bottle cleaner – has a special nipple cleaning attachment on the handle – you can find these at your grocery or convenient store.
  6. Lansinoh Breast Pads: very absorbent
  7. Lansinoh nipple ointment:  supposedly if you apply the cream before baby arrives, you can avoid cracking
  8. Nursing bras:  Mimi Maternity without underwire.  Get 2 and get measured!  You’ll need more after baby arrives, but your size will change once the milk comes in.  The bras I purchased were too small and I got clogged milk ducts – very painful.  Underwire can also cause clogged ducts.  Loose fitting clothes can help prevent clogged ducts.
On The Go
  1. Stroller:  Will you have 2 strollers?  1 for travel and 1 for home?  Do you have a place you can store your stroller at home so you don’t have to fold it up everyday?  If so, perhaps the convenience of the folding mechanism isn’t an important feature.  If you are small and/or weak consider size and weight.
  2. Infant car seat:  some babies use their infant seats until 7-8 months.  Baby will sleep a lot, and you will often be on the go with a sleeping cherub.  The seat makes it easy to transport your sleeping baby.  Seats with a base can also be strapped in with a seatbelt when you are riding in someone else’s car.
  3. Bundle Me Bag:  Attaches to the infant car seat, keeps baby warm.  There is also a lightweight version for summer.
  4. Baby Carrier:  The ERGO has much better support for you back than the Baby Bjorn, but the Bjorn has better neck support for newborns.  It’s nice to wear baby while you do laundry, etc. 
    Baby Clothes – the bare necessities – the extra is just fun!
    Remember the first few months, baby will grow out of things really quickly.  Once baby’s growth plateaus (around 9 months) clothes will last a bit longer.
    1. Pajamas:  Children’s Place and Just One Year (by Carters) have great zipper pj’s with feet.  Baby will wear them exclusively for the first few weeks – that and the hospital issue kimono shirts.
    2. Baby mittens:  to prevent scratching
    3. Many Onesies – short sleeve and long sleeve.  Layering is key in cold winter months.
    4. 2-4 pairs of pants/skirts/shorts
    5. 5-10 shirts (choose easy fit over delicate head and neck) – you will get a few hospital issue kimono shirts
    6. Socks – no need for shoes unless it’s cold (although even in the cold baby will be bundled up) or baby is crawling/walking.
    1. Baby blankets:  we use them all the time to lay Henry down so we can read books, do tummy time, etc.  I have a blanket in every room in the apartment.
    2. Books:  Baby 411 and What to Expect From the First Year were my go-to books.  After reading these books, you should decide if sleep training is for you, and if so, which method you want to use.  We used Dr. Ferber’s method, and although it is a constant battle, Henry sleeps really well.
    3. Dreft baby detergent or fragrance free/etc. detergent – wash all your baby clothes before baby arrives.  Don’t use dryer sheets. 
    Mom’s Recovery
    1. Postpartum diapers for mom:  Soothae brand is great.  You can find them at your drugstore or grocery.
    2. Thin maxi pads for when the bleeding lightens.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Little Emperor Syndrome

    Apparently due to the One Child Policy and twenty years of economic growth, only children all over China are growing up to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  This sense of entitlement and “helicopter parenting” has hit Americans too.  What’s our excuse? 

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    First Birthday Party

    Although HGA’s first birthday party was a week after his actual birthday, it didn’t feel belated.  It was an hour and a half filled with food, fun and more food.  Close friends and family came bearing gifts, smiles and hugs for him.  We celebrated with homemade sesame chicken salad sandwiches, pork tenderloin sandwiches, hummus and pita and cupcakes.  We provided coloring projects for the older cousins, and bubbles for the little babies (although I forgot to break out the bubbles).  The party favor was a bathtub ducky, which I also forgot to break out before the little babies rushed home for their naps.  In line with Chinese tradition, I attempted to dye 12 eggs red, which turned out pink.  We also performed the Chinese tradition where baby is placed with a number of items and the one he chooses foretells his future.  Henry chose the book, which signifies teacher or scholar.  His second choice was the stethoscope representing medicine, however, he quickly dropped it to reclaim the book.  The other items were an orange representing fortune, a string representing long-life, a pen representing writer/journalist, and a ball representing athlete.  We had a small betting pool on which item he would choose, and the winners were Brewer (3), Sam (5), Jeff (28) and Megan (25) (our friends who happen to be siblings) and yours truly. 

    Henry enjoyed ripping the wrapping paper, although not as much as I expected.  He is a delicate present opener; he picks at small shreds with his thumb and index finger.  He loved the giant balloons his Aunt Heather brought, and he continues to enjoy batting at them like a punching bag.  I’ve learned that babies love cards; the rough glitter, the pop ups, the poems, the colors and the music are all entertainment for them.  One year has come and gone … on to the next!

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Bad Flavor Combinations

    I've tried feeding Henry some pretty bad flavor combinations.  My intent is always to feed him a balanced diet, but sometimes flavor takes a backseat to his veggie and fruit intake.  Lately, I’ve tasted lots of his meals, as his new favorite thing to do is to feed me. Perhaps, he’s trying to tell me, “Are you seriously trying to feed me this garbage?  You try it.”  Now if I try to feed him something he finds revolting, he will simply spit it out.

    At 5 months he used to eat avocado and prune puree without protest. Now he'll simultaneously eat clementines, meatballs, squash soup, cantaloupe puree, eggs, cheese and yogurt - his lunch today.  He basically eats as much as I do if not more.  He will, however, refuse to eat squash soup mixed with cantaloupe puree.  He has to draw the line somewhere!

    The Cuisinart Smartstick Chris gave me for Christmas is great for making squash soup and tomato sauce!  I also pureed cantaloupe after Henry refused to eat the cubes.  He slurped up the puree like a smoothie.

    Easy Squash Soup Recipe - Henry Loves It!

    Chicken stock
    Milk (optional)

    Boil or roast quartered or halved squash in 1-2 inches of water.   Spoon out soft flesh and set aside.  In the same pot used to boil the squash, sauté chopped carrots, onions, garlic and celery.  Simmer in chicken stock – add for desired consistency.  Add herbs such as oregano and thyme.  Once veggies are tender add squash.  Blend with Smartstick.

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Weaning Off the Boob: Week 3 -- Depression

    Weaning week 3: I was down to 1 nursing a day and was completely out of whack emotionally.  It felt as if everyone was out to get Henry or me and I scrambled to protect us.  It didn’t occur to me that the problem was my hormones, and not my relatives (including my 3 year old niece and nephew).  It took a knock down drag out shouting tear fest with my sister at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods (the 3rd largest WF in the world) to realize there was something wrong with me. 

    It all started about a month ago over Thanksgiving.  I was feeling particularly unstable.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  It got so bad that I was actually convulsing and weeping at Thanksgiving dinner.  I chalked it up to PMS.  Then Christmas came and I was still particularly testy.  I scolded my 3 year old nephew for grabbing Henry’s present out of his hands and immediately felt horrible.  Two days later, I scolded my 3-year-old niece for breaking Henry’s new toy phone, and got in a huge spat with my sister at the Whole Foods checkout.  I wanted her kid to “fess up” to the crime.  My blood was boiling. 

    After some internet research, I self-diagnosed my emotional roller coaster ride as weaning depression.  My hormones were adjusting because I cut nursing back to once a day.  And my PMS was exacerbated by the hormonal changes.  Plus the emotional stress of weaning, and losing that connection with Henry was definitely wearing on me. 

    To everyone I’ve snapped at or scolded or offended, I’M SORRY!!! 

    Below are two links I found helpful and interesting.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Leaving Baby Overnight for the First Time

    Happy New Year!  2010 is a new beginning for us as parents and for Henry as a baby.  He is now 1 year old.  His birthday coincided with weaning.  He’s also no longer allergic to dairy or eggs, on the verge of walking (maybe), drinking cow’s milk (sort of), smiling constantly, pointing at everything he finds interesting, waving bye-bye consistently, developing bad habits, climbing everything with a step, sprouting more hair, and cutting more teeth (4 on top and 3 on bottom).

    We also left Henry overnight (2 nights) for the first time.  It was the day after his birthday.  A wedding in the frozen tundra of St Paul, Minnesota dragged us away.  Initially, we had planned to take Henry with us, as the wedding fell on the weekend of his birthday.  But after thinking through the strategy of getting a babysitter at the hotel for three nights, and an offer from his grandparents to keep him, we decided to leave him in Milwaukee.  I was understandably apprehensive about leaving him, but knew that his grandparents (who have 6 grandchildren) were the perfect caregivers for our first time away.  I laid out Henry’s meticulous sleeping and eating schedule, which I’m sure was obsessive and controlling.  I wept some tears and gave him a million hugs and kisses.

    Over the weekend we called once a day to check in.  Everything was fine.  He never cried for us, ate relatively well and slept like a rock.  We returned to find our baby boy in perfect condition.  He didn’t have any scratches or new bruises, which was amazing considering he loves climbing the stairs at Aggy (grandma) and Grandpa’s house.  He had even learned a few things!  He may have picked up a bad habit of whining to get out of his high chair, as Aggy took that as a sign that he was done, but it was all worth it!  I had 2 whole nights without my baby, and although I missed him terribly, it felt amazingly liberating.  Flying without a baby is definitely something most people take for granted.  I napped, read my book, “Open” by Andre Agassi, and reveled in the fantastic people watching.  We started off 2010 with new independence and reassurance that this new year will be filled with milestones, love, hugs, kisses, learning, smiles, laughs, sleep, and fun.