Archive for August, 2009

Healthy Bellies, Happy Moms

YIN:
Feeding young children can be a chore. You don’t quite know what to feed them, it seems like they never want to eat what you know is best for them, and you just don’t have time to think about it. I know how you feel.

My game plan from the beginning was when my daughter was old enough to eat solid foods that I would do only vegetables and eventually go to a few fruits. No juice for a while and no snacks out of the package. That lasted, in the words of my mother, about as long as Pat stayed in the army (I have never figured out what that was referring to but it pretty much means not very long).

I had good intentions but I don’t think most mothers, working outside the home or inside, have time to limit things that strictly. So I allowed myself to relax a little. But I still restrict what goes into my daughter’s mouth and do my best to give her a variety of different foods so as she gets older she’ll be more apt to try different things (here’s to hoping!).

The majority of her cookies and crackers are organic. Not all but the majority. I catch them when they’re on sale to help out with the cost. If I can catch a good price on organic veggies and fruit I’ll grab that for her too. I’m not a fanatic about organics but I figure every little bit helps. I make sure to look at the amount of sodium that is in the each serving. This is a big contributor that a lot of parents forget about. I also stay away from artificial colors and flavors in products that she eats.

To help with cost and to control what she’s eating, I make a lot of the meals that she eats. I stopped giving her baby food in the jar when she turned 1 because I didn’t want to spend the money when I could make it myself. Currently I only use jarred food if we’re on vacation or we are out of the house all day since you have to refrigerate homemade food.I had been making some of her food from the time she was 8 months – I bought a Magic Bullet blender and threw frozen or fresh veggies and fruit in there. With the veggies I’d put in different meats and the fruit I’d mix with cereal or yogurt. Once she got more teeth and could eat different things I started using the Magic Bullet less, although I still use it if something is too course for her. And I use lots of herbs and spices to flavor the food so I don’t have to put in salt. There are a lot of great books and websites out there that you can use for ideas on how to create your own baby food. One easy to use website is Weelicious . They have recipes, suggestions on kid friend restaurants, a message board and an online recipe box to store your favorites in.

One of the teachers at my daughter’s daycare asked one day what the “green thing” she had for lunch was. I told her it was mashed peas. The teacher was surprised, commented none of the other kids ever had vegetables and said “wow you’re a Supermom”. I laughed and said “I’m so NOT a Supermom. I took frozen peas, defrosted them, put them in the Magic Bullet with water, and ground them up. It took me a whole 15 minutes total.” But other than the nice (but not true) compliment, what surprised and shocked me was that none of the other 4 children in her class ever brought fresh vegetables, and I found out later, fresh fruit.

It really doesn’t take a long time to create healthy food choices for our children. If we have time to pick up products with high fructose corn syrup in it to feed to toddlers then we definitely have time to mush up some frozen peas for 2 minutes or cook some baby carrots on the stove top for them to snack on. Currently 30% of children in this country are overweight and it’s estimated that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes before they are 18. My daughter I know will eventually want junk food and a little on special occasions is fine. But I want to start her off on the right track so if she has some junk she knows it’s a treat and not to expect it.

YANG:

I swear my daughter has a third leg that’s hollow, or she has a second stomach. Why? She eats way more than I do and yet is as slim as a filly. Sure, a lot of that is her toddler metabolism and genes, but that leaves me as mom and Head Chef to constantly review her menu to make sure she’s getting a balanced diet.

That includes introducing and reintroducing and reintroducing foods all the time. I didn’t really believe the parenting magazines and books when they said this would happen, but it does. It’s an exercise in patience and innovation for me. This week it’s green beans. I’ve tried them cold (preferred), warm (no-go) and with some melted cheese on them (picks off and eats the cheese, but hey, she has to taste some green bean while doing it!).

I don’t consider myself a “super mom” for adding broccoli or spinach to her mac and cheese, which she’s never had without some green vegetable in it. Nor do I consider myself great for giving her so much fruit every day that I personally, can no longer stand to look at another grape/strawberry/apple/peach/banana/ you-name-it! She loves it and it’s good for her, enough said.

But I do cheat now and then. I cheat with a twinge of guilty conscience, but it’s those days that we are in “survival” mode. Yes dear reader, McDonald’s has come in handy for us on quite a few occasions. Now, I’m not going to rear my child on chicken nuggets, but thank goodness she loves them! Realistically, the protein is good for her; the convenience good for me. And considering all the other fruits, vegetables, grain, dairy and eggs she eats on a daily basis, McDonald’s nuggets won’t hurt her, as long as she doesn’t eat them every day.

So parents out there, don’t beat yourselves up for occasionally cheating now and then and giving your kids “junk” food. But do make them wholesome meals. Vary their diets, allow them to explore new tastes and textures. Skip the empty carbs for snacks, like potatoe chips and cookies, and give them fruit or cheese. Try to eat dinner at the table every night.

Just don’t try to make dinner for the family and blog at the same time~~otherwise take-out will be the order of the night.

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The conundrum of disciplining a toddler

YANG:
Recently, my husband and I have been introducing the concept of “time out” with our toddler, who’s not yet two years of age. We understand that she may not get the entire gist of time out–forget about “reflecting upon what she’s done,” that’s for when she’s older. And as for sitting in a designated spot for an allotted amount of time, well, we’re working on that. Typically we aim for her to sit for about twenty seconds, which is a long time for any toddler. After all, she can’t even count to ten so I don’t think she understands that she has to sit for double that! But she does understand that she has to sit in one spot. That much we know she knows. In fact, when I tell her that she’ll have to sit in time out if she doesn’t listen, she immediately sits down and gives me the most angelic smile–I have photos to prove it!

Well last night was one of those times when the discipline was an exercise in futility. In truth, there was more exercise (for us parents) than futility but we weren’t able to have one without the other. Sure, our daughter would sit in the time out area for about a millisecond, then get up and run away, giggling with laughter. Or if she didn’t run, she’d scoot on her bottom to move away from us.

On the one hand, I found myself getting rather frustrated that she A) didn’t listen to me in the first place and we were now doing the time out thing and B) surely wasn’t listening to me now because all I wanted her to do was sit still. How hard can that be? She’s a bright child, after all. Oh, and C) I was tired of chasing her down and bringing her back to the spot. I’d had a long day and having to chase her down was not on my agenda at this time of night.

But on the other hand, I was delighted to hear her laugh and giggle with such joy. To her, this wasn’t a time out, it was a game. And she was having so much fun with us! Even my husband found himself dropping the “Daddy Tone” and smiling at her antics after awhile. I had to step in then and tell him not to let her see him smile, after all, time out is serious business! Yet after another few minutes of aerobics and exasperation, he turned to me and asked why I was trying to put her in time out in the first place. And I couldn’t answer him. That’s when we called it quits and had a group tickle hug.

Disciplining a child is hard enough to do. One has to learn by experience, really, what works and what doesn’t. And no sooner do you have one proven technique down pat then your child changes and you have to start from scratch again. Plus, what works with one age group won’t work with another. As parents though, we have to teach our children discipline and to abide by the rules. Yet once and awhile, like last night, you realize it’s just not worth it. If I couldn’t remember why I was putting her in time out in the first place, then she didn’t need to be there, because what was I really teaching her? Ah, the conundrums of discipline….

YIN:
My daughter just turned 1 a few months ago so the idea of true discipline is a bit foreign to us. Yes we have to ensure that she knows right from wrong and that she doesn’t touch things she isn’t supposed to but let’s be realistic. She’s 1.

I’m personally not a fan of time out. As a youngster my mom would send me to my room and tell me not to leave until she said so. Worked for me! I love to read so being sequestered in my room was heaven. If she really wanted to punish me she should have sent me outside to run around the block. So from my point of view sitting someone down to “think about what they’ve done” doesn’t cut it.

What worked on me and my husband was a spanking. Yes I know some people are totally against spanking and believe that it’s cruel and unusual punishment. But the thought of having my behind spanked was enough to stop a lot of the things that I thought about doing as a child. I will agree there is a limit though. My mom would spank us for anything and after a while it became a joke to try to outrun her. My father on the other hand reserved his spankings for really big infractions. Usually his stern voice was enough to get us back in line but if we went too far, a spanking we got. And was it ever painful. Yes the hand or the belt on the behind hurt, but not as much as the disappointment you felt from my dad.

So what I’ve learned is that spanking doesn’t work if you use it like it’s the only tool you have. You also have to teach and be aware that you want your child to respect you and the other adults in their life. I’ve had to spank my daughter’s hand a few times, as has my husband. Ugh did it hurt our hearts. And did she ever make a show of it. She’s even gotten “spanked” by the cat for pulling his fur (he doesn’t have front claws but she cried anyway). Immediately afterwards we’ve spoken softly to her (as she screams and cries alligator tears) and explained why she shouldn’t do whatever. And then we give her a hug and a kiss. I’ve come to realize that my most important role is to bring up a well learned child who has respect for others and knows that there are consequences to every action. Hopefully we’ll learn from her as much as she’ll learn from us.

Sniffles and Sneezes Galore

YANG:
It’s never a good day when your baby gets a cold. Let alone when the cold turns a bit more serious, such as when a fever ensues or a dreaded ear infection develops. (And why are ear infections so prevalent nowadays? I was amazed that our pediatrician was “amazed” that our daughter got her first ear infection at such a ripe old age of nearly 2. Huh? Topic for another day.) Little ones can’t tell us yet what’s bothering them, so as parents we have to play both Miss Marple and Dr Quartermaine at once.

It’s not an easy task, as you moms and dads well know. But what happens when the sneezes jump from little noses to big noses, and infect the whole household? Chaos, I tell you, utter chaos. It’s difficult enough caring for a sick child but worse when one parent gets sick, let alone both! And as CEO of the house, when mom gets the dreaded germs, everything has the potential to go kaput.

Not to bash on men, but in my experience, I’ve not yet met a man who is a “good” patient. Rather, they have turned into little children themselves. We all need some TLC when we’re sick, but with a sick baby and a sick husband in the house, it falls to mom to carry the entire load. Eventually, I too succumbed to the wee one’s germs and got sick, just as the baby and husband were on the mend.

Yet as a SAHM of a toddler, I can’t retire to my bed and soap operas for the day when I’m sick once the kiddies are at school or daycare, and the husband at work. No, I have to keep on going, albeit at a slower speed. (TG for take out!) But it’s days like these, when my head weighs a ton and it feels like a cat is scratching the inside of my throat that I envy those moms whose children are in daycare, because at least when they catch a cold or flu, those moms can rest up for a few hours a day.

Well, my mom once said there’s nothing a good cuppa tea won’t cure, so I’m off to brew myself a steep cup. Then take some cold medicine and keep on movin’.

YIN:
Ah the joys of having a sick child when you’re supposed to go to work and have appointments scheduled. What’s a working mom to do? Well I could ask my husband to take her to the doctor. But his schedule fluctuates and it’s not quite as easy for him to take our daughter in at the last minute. Plus he gets nervous taking her to the doctor and I need to know exactly what was said.

I’m thankful that our pediatrician has extended hours so if she does get sick I have an option to take her after work but hate waiting around in the doctor’s office with all those sick kids. Who honestly aren’t always that well behaved, sick or not sick. As I sit in the waiting room I start going through my list of who to blame for me waiting over an hour: the doctor’s office for letting sick kids who are whiney in their waiting room; my husband because if he would pay attention and not be so nervous about our daughter he’d be able to listen to the doctor’s prognosis; the doctor for taking so long; myself for working; my job for making me so tired; daycare for suggesting that my daughter doesn’t feel well and “maybe we should take her to the doctor”. The list goes on and on. The only person missing from the list is my daughter, who, even when sick, has a pretty good disposition.

I was speaking with my own mom the other day and complaining about all of the doctor’s visits that my pretty healthy daughter has had over the past year. There was one major trip to the emergency room (febrile seizure due to an ear infection) that cleaned out our health care savings account so now we pay 20% of all visits out of pocket. Surprisingly my mom said that when we were kids even though we were pretty healthy she was always taking us to the doctor’s office and she hated it. She finally got wise and got friendly with the local pharmacist and would give him our symptoms and he would give suggestions on medication or tell her if we needed to go to the doctor. What a money saver! Of course our local CVS or Walgreen’s pharmacist would most likely not do such a thing in this day and age but instead of immediately running to the doctor for a long lasting diaper rash I’m now going to use my Mommy resources and talk to friends who have older children and see what their opinion is. I also have a friend who is a mom and a nurse and I should ask her more questions. I think that since everyone is so busy sometimes we tend to forget to talk to each other and commiserate. It’s how we learn. I’m sure in the days of old that’s what quilting bees really were – an opportunity for women to talk with each other and learn from each other. Sometimes in the hectic schedule that I have I forget. But hopefully I can build a village of teachers that includes her pediatrician, the women at her daycare, my mom, and my friends with children to help teach me to be a better, more sane mother.

Welcome!

Hi, and welcome to our blog! We decided to create this blog for many of the same reasons other bloggers do — we wanted to air our opinions and thoughts, and discuss events that matter to us. What’s neat about our blog is that while we’re really great friends and we both are moms of children under 2, we have different “life circumstances” for mommyhood which impact our opinions and actions:
  • One of us is stay-at-home mom, the other a working professional
  • One of us has a child in daycare, the other doesn’t
  • We live in different parts of the country
  • And one of us is white, the other black, which in and of itself doesn’t matter to our personal friendship. However our individual backgrounds and what we each face as women and moms today can be affected by others’ racial opinions.

So although we actually have a ton in common, we both have our unique differences, which we hope to showcase as we blog about topical events that impact our lives, both personally and as mommies. We look forward to hearing from you too!