Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PJ solution revealed

I have a thing about natural fibres, especially for the kids and especially for nightwear. It turns out for us that this is a good instinct, because Isabelle gets awful, itchy rashes when she overheats at night. It only took us a whole winter to figure out that fleece footed pjs weren't good for her - we're a little slow on the uptake sometimes (I suspected shrimp).

I used to love a company called Hanna Andersson - still do for lots of things. Their playdresses are a staple around here. But since they were bought out a couple years ago, they've changed the fit on their famous "zippers" and long johns so that they're tighter than a wet suit on a whale.

Yes, before you start emailing me, I know it's a safety standard designed to protect kids from catching fire near open flames. I also know that instead of wrestling my little ones into skin tight cotton pjs, I could instead buy pjs made of polyester (but see above) or buy cotton ones coated in toxic chemicals many of which are known carcinogens.

So you can see why Isabelle is wearing pjs that are so small we had to cut the feet off and Tom prances around in his sister's pink nighties and old-style 'zippers' (in addition to his dad-inherited dandiness). My mom has also been called into duty to sew some pjs, but other than nightie, each one is a lot of work.

My dad came over today with 100% cotton pjs, not treated and I couldn't figure it out. They were called "loungewear" and were European brands (Petit Lem)! ah-ha! So that's the secret - I'm stocking up before the pj police figure it out!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mom was right - WASH YOUR HANDS

With all this talk about swine flu, I had a brief moment where I wondered whether I had doomed us all to death by vetoing the flu vaccine - what's a little mecury compared with a deadly pandemic virus? In my past life as an employee benefits manager, I did lots of planning work on pandemic preparedness. I have had plenty of exposure to the doomsday scenarios that most people are just beginning to think about again.

Well, I'm feeling a little better now - it looks like the flu vaccine will have no impact on the swine flu. So, I haven't doomed us... I think.

And I have taught the kids some good lessons that should serve them well. It's the same stuff I always sent out the flu vaccine clinic emails at work - I felt ethically obligated to do something that would actually be likely to keep our employees from getting sick since I was inviting them to get stuck with a needle that probably wouldn't).

- Wash your hands frequently with mild soap and water. Washing hands is less irritating to your skin and highly effective - bacteria and viruses don't 'stick' well and water will wash away germs that are not killed.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be a back-up when there's no running water - but proper washing is always best. Frequent use can be irritating and cause cracking skin (not good when you are trying to keep germs out of your body, plus ouch!). Use only as needed, rub hands well and stick to unscented versions that are at least 60% ethyl alcohol. Rinse your hands as soon as you can thereafter, too.
- Cough into your elbow - not your hands.
- Don't shake hands if you are ill and politely decline if someone appears ill (pretend you are sick).
- After contact with others or surfaces in public places, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Many viruses (like colds) are easily introduced to your body from your fingertips to your eyes because by rubbing your eyes you circumvent many of the bodies natural barricades to infection. Pay attention!
- Finally, if you are ill, stay home. As important as each of you are, if you fell your entire department with that nasty cold, you'll all regret it more than using up a sick day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday 5

A woman in Australia is awarded damages of almost A$50,000 after a 2003 sexual assault results in nipple damage that makes breastfeeding difficult.

Leave it to the AAP to claim defamation for being called more ethical than they actually are.

Nice to see things are changing in the back rooms of Washington - but no talk of seeing mothers nursing their babies where they belong - the front halls.

Hopefully, it's the beginning of a trend that sees cosmetic surgery on newborn boys stopped in our public hospitals.

I'm all for research that improves the well-being of babies, but do we really need research to tell us that cow's milk (no matter how scientifically packaged) is designed to meet the nutritional needs of.... calves?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mother's Day Gifts on every budget, including $0

Top Gifts at 3 prices
The top gifts for any mom at three price points (for any giver, including those who can't yet count).
Free: A home-made gift certificate for an interruption-free bath at the time of Mom's choosing.
Under $10: Add one or two magazines. Think People, not the Economist, here. (Unless your mom finds the Economist relaxing, in which case, I'd like to meet her).
Under $50: Add some great bath essence or bath products. For a year's worth of inspiring bathtimes, give her a subscription to Mothering magazine.
Style in transition
Free: Take the ratty old underwear, spit-up stained t-shirts and bras that are like thongs to the post-pregnancy breast and get RID of them.
Under $10: One of those cotton scarves that are so a la mode this spring, some hair clips or even a pretty new lipstick/nail polish can go a long way to brightening up a dreary t-shirt and yoga pants wardrobe.
Under $50: Buying clothes for a body in flux (which is pretty much from conception to oh, menopause) is tough. Jeans that are tight in all the wrong places and shirts that bulge open over the lactating breasts are one thing, but just as demoralizing are the baggy pants and too big underwear! Stick to something that will freshen up her look no matter what point on the continuum she is: the Belleze Band is just the ticket with lots of style (and a hidden adjustible waist).
Looking for more ideas? Have some great ones to share?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April Snow

"It's snowing, Mum - LOOK!" she says with all the awe of her very first snowfall. I am having more trouble getting excited about this unexpected spring bounty. When spring officially arrived, we were off in Florida - and Isabelle seems to have taken the notions about seasonal weather patterns as hard rules. This means that in winter, it is cold and it snows. In spring, it is sunny and a bit warm and there are flowers. In summer, it is hot and we swim. In fall, it is cool and the leaves fall off the trees. And all the myriad parts of nature obey our calendar exactly.
But having some 30-odd Toronto Aprils under my belt, I know that there's always at least one good snowfall in April. My birthday is at the end of the month (32 this year for anyone wondering how odd odd is) and I can recall there being snow on the ground - and not just way back when we walked to school for 5 miles uphill both ways.
To be 5 again. To think that the world is governed by absolute rules. I remember being quite unnerved when Trudeau was replaced by Mulroney. We weren't a particularly politically active family, but my mom had a place in her heart for the dapper intellectual who could cut a rug and it was a fairly big deal. I thought Prime Ministers were like kings and ruled until they died - age has taught me that we are very lucky that my five year old vision of absolute monarchy was wrong. Fresh blood is a good thing - a notion that's probably lost on a five year old to whom everything is fresh.
Back to the snow - it's pretty really. And fun. And telling - in the summer, I'd never be able to see the bird prints that hopped across the front porch, then down the steps and around the house, eating up the goldfish crakers crumbs we trailed in yesterday or the squirrel prints leading suspiciously up to my empty bird feeder. Hey, if it's going to be cold, I'd rather have snow to entertain us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chocolate = good, child exploitation = bad: how to reconcile them?

Chocolate is always good, but not the people who sell it.

Nestle's poor record on infant feeding isn't the only way they harm families and children. I learned of the ugly side of the chocolate industry just recently - it's very disturbing to think that the things that make my kids so happy (COCO-lat!) begin with the cruel exploitation of others.

So, this Easter, it's all fair trade for us - and that's ok because it's also higher quality chocolate than the waxy junk!

The birthday season - next cake

So I was all ready to build Isabelle a castle cake for her birthday - when she tells me firmly that she wants a princess crown cake. Hmmm... ok - change of plans then. I was feeling particularly pressured to produce a stellar cake because a. she's five and b. since we just got back the day before her birthday and I forgot that many bakeries are closed on Mondays, I ended up showing up to her class with No Frills-purchased cupcakes (hang head in shame).

This was the final result: top was lemon, middle was chocolate and bottom was vanilla. The crown was fondant - this was Crown 3.0 after the first two versions didn't do very well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Drinking with the devil

Welcome to the Baby Feeding & Change Area... sponsored by Nestle Good Start. Huh? I guess I live in a relatively sheltered bubble where most people know (if not adhere to) the Nestle boycott and are marginally aware of the issues involved (even if they don't care about them that much).

But, man, does it ever give you a sense of the insanity of the commercial machine when you have a chance to see the world from the other side. Nestle and baby care are at complete odds - not just in the developing world, but here at home too. There's nothing wholesome about their products or the way they make them - but in so many places, they're the only voice.

I had an adorable interaction with a cashier at the Magic Kingdom - when she handed me the chocolate milk, it was Nesquik. Seeing my face fall (I had promised chocolate milk to restless kiddos outside in exchange for sitting in the stroller for 5 more minutes), she asked if anything was wrong. I said, "Well, I prefer not to buy Nestle products." Long pause. "Because there's a global boycott of Nestle, you see." Longer pause, then she answered, "Oh really? I never heard of that - why?" "Well, because their marketing practices especially of infant formula are in conflict with international rules and that harms babies." Longer pause. "Oh, uh, ok. The TG good milk is better anyway." With a smile. Gotta love the optimism.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Disney Pooplosions

So I'm sure you've all been on pins and needles waiting for the Disney report. And I am pleased to say it was an excellent trip - despite both of us being a little apprehensive about the Disney-ness of Disney.

Isabelle adored, simply adored, being called "Princess" - all the more common after she obtained all the necessary princess get-up. What, me, buy a Disney costume? Well, there's a little more to it. The first day we spent at Epcot ("why do they call it an apricot?" "No, Isabelle, it's Epcot." "Oh, ok, apple-cot. Why do they call the ball an apple-cot". This conversation continued through the remainder of the trip.)

I don't know if it was the "Cokes" of the world exhibit: despite my addicition to pop, Isabelle has largely been sheltered from it. Yet, I somehow thought it was a good idea to fill her chockful of high-fructose corn syrup from around the globe. Suffice it to say, I would not recommend intorducing your child to pop while she is wearing white pants. Especially when the evening that follows is dinner with the princesses... and you have no change of clothes.

I can't recall another time that I have been more paralyzed with absolutely no idea what to do. It was clear as soon as we coaxed her out from under the table that there had been a poop-plosion. A major one. Yet, we had no change and no sweaters to wrap around her. And she was far too poopy to pick up...

So, I followed her closely behind as she waddled out of the castle and Dan paid the bill. She couldn't sit, but she also couldn't stand - and it was very uncomfortable. I felt so badly for her. She felt so badly for her. "Mommy, help me!" And really honestly, the only thing I could say was the truth, "I am going to make it better, but I really really don't know what to do." Finally Dan came out and I unfroze. I went across the way, brought a $50 (!) Cinderella dress and whisked her into the ladies' room. (Well, to the extent that you can "whisk" a five year old with poop running down her leg while trying to provide back cover for her).

I can only imagine what people must have thought was going on in that stall - I am nauseous just to think of it. It definitely was the grossest bathroom moment in my personal history. But we got her cleaned up and into the princess dress - that went a long way to healing the humiliation. The poop outfit - brand-new pants and all went directly in the garbage.

Fun times. In addition to be an excellent reminder of what happens when little bodies are given crap to eat, it was also a humbling moment for me. Five years in and I by and large think I pretty well know what I'm doing with this parenting thing - but kids will know just how to cut you down to size.