Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cleaning Toys with a Toddler

With so many toys accumulating around, it is getting a job of its own to clean them. And it is mission impossible to clean them safely with a busy toddler roaming around. We have gathered some that can be washed in soap and water and decided to have some fun with it together. Thank you, Brittany, for an inspiration! Camilla was busy for a long time: playing with bubbles, getting through the toys in the sink, fishing for her favorite horse, playing with the sponge... I didn't expect it to be THAT much fun!

The nastiest things ever... The bath tub toys. Well, ours are not nasty just yet, but they are getting there. The mold is a cause for many respiratory and immune problems. I do try my best to empty and dry the toys after each use. The other day I was getting water from one of our new squirts, and it smelled funny already. So I asked around for the ideas with cleaning the bath tub toys. If anybody can add to what I found, or give their opinions, please, please, leave a comment!

With this being said, I declare the deadly fight with mold. Please, choose your weapon!
1. Bleach. This is the most effective way, but it is a harsh chemical that will be left behind even after the best rinsing.
2. Vinegar. I've heard of several different recipes.
Soak the toys in vinegar. Or use half and half with water. Or add a cup of vinegar to a tub with water and toys. Put half and half in a spray bottle. Wash the toys, then spray them, then wipe.
3. Dish washer.
4. Trash. Throw the mold together with a toy away. Gotta protect the land fields though. Recycle the toys. Or donate them to the dog shelter if you can choose appropriate ones.
5. Clear silicone sealant or hot glue gun. The wholes in toys can be sealed (hopefully, when new). I think, I am going to try the sealant and post the update to this.
6. Anything else?

I remember seeing the cute advice somewhere in Internet. I am going to try this when I will find time (Ha! Ha!) This is for the outside plastic equipment and vehicles. We'll get the markers for drawing on glass and use them to draw on plastic. Creativity first. And then it suppose to motivate the kids to wash the drawing together with the toy with sponges and soap and water.

Monday, June 24, 2013

American Girl Doll and Speech Therapy

Speech therapy and AG dolls - that's what is in my mind this week end. Yep, in exactly this combination, LOL.

Camilla started talking this month. She didn't talk much at all. And in the matter of  several days, she all of a sudden started saying words. So many words that I can't even count them. Randomly naming objects around her, in the books, and on videos... so great! And that made me scared so bad: she can talk, but she still doesn't say several of the basic sounds, substituting or omitting them. I complained to the doctor and got a referral to the speech therapy, which is scheduled for July, 12, when she'll be 19 and a half months old...

I've read some about that and talked to people. Here are some ideas.

1. The mother can start blaming herself for not talking or doing enough to encourage the talk. It happens, and it's exactly my case. I felt so guilty, like it's my fault.
2. To help with the talk, keep conversation simple. It helps to say short sentences and to talk slowly, repeating yourself again and again.
3. Make breaks in conversation to let her talk back to me.
4. Singing is great. We a doing it, a lot. It makes the words sound clear and pretty :) It makes it easier to repeat the words both for me and Camilla. And she loves music. We make up our own songs very often.
5. Reading books. Camilla loved that. And now we are in a break: the old books are read so many times and got boring, and she doesn't like new books much. I need to find some that she'd love. We need to go to the library ASAP!
6. Talking while manipulating objects. This is always the best: I can see the result immediately. But it takes tiiiime. Also, imaginative play.
7. All that still doesn't help her to say the missing sounds. Crazy!

We had the grand opening of American Girl store this weekend. And it got blown out of proportion. Crowds of parents with girls and dolls. Here is a question. Do you think you have to buy an trendy doll and stuff when she is old enough to compare and ask for it? Or when YOU think you need to buy it because your friends have already bought it for their kids? This is always so funny to think about it.

We did go there to walk around and watch it happening. We could not get into the store. First, there were long lines just to get tickets to get into the store. After you get your tickets, you are free to walk around and wait for your number to get into another line to get into the store. All that is without any shades in a hot day. Fun!

Speaking of dolls, Camilla's baby doll is 12-inch Corolle, she has a soft body, pretty face, and she smells vanilla. I am posting a picture when she was 6 months old.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baby in the Plane

A couple of friends asked me for tips with keeping a happy baby in the plane. So I finally got into it. This is not a full description by any means, just a few tips I can think of based on our experience last summer when Camilla was 7-9 months old. I hope, it'll help anybody :)

1. Number one - the most important one! When the baby is crying, don't stress out!

It happened to us once. Camilla started crying bad. I tried everything I could think of that might help. But nothing helped. Her cry was only increasing in volume and pitch, and nothing helped. There was a 7 year old boy sitting directly in front of us, and his mother asked to give him a seat somewhere else. And people were giving me looks. And she cried and cried... for what felt like several hours. We were sitting in the plane, packed and ready to take off, but there was a delay. When the plane finally started moving, she immediately stopped crying. At the end of the flight (I was so ashamed of myself not being able to manage my baby), several people turned to me and said something like, "We understand. We had small kids too, and it happed to us. It's OK". Even the mother of that poor boy gave me her words of encouragement - so sweet of her!

So just try your best. But if it comes to a cry - try to keep yourself cool and calm. It happens!

2. We had a total of 7 planes last summer. I would say it's easy with a baby on the plane! Much more easier than what I expected.

Camilla sleeps best when she is in the car - it rocks her to sleep pretty fast. Here is a picture of her sleeping in the car in her Halloween pink poodle outfit.

It is even better on the plane. It rocks babies to sleep even better than the car! She slept a lot during her flights. Nice deep sleep. When she would wake up, she was a very happy rested baby, full of smiles and drawing full attention to her happy self from all the people around her :)

So, here is my advice: if you have a problem putting baby to sleep that even car ride doesn't help, take a flight ;)

3. Take off and landing: ears!

The ears pop. It helps to swallow, or better suck on a hard candy. With baby's ears, it is even a bigger problem, since their ears are built differently than adult's; and you can't really tell them "to swallow now".  And that's when breast feeding helps a lot! I tried to stretch time a little if I could - so that Camilla would be hungry just in time for the take off. Then I started to breastfeed her while the plane would go up. I didn't notice any problem with her ears.

They say, if not breastfeeding, keep the bottle of formula, or drink ready to give to a baby during these times. I noticed the other parents did, and it appeared to help. Maybe a bottle with the smaller hole than you usually use?

 4. For me, it was not a car seat, but a pillow!

Since I had planned to keep her on my lap (due to our co-sleeping and breastfeeding), I took a regular size pillow with me. It took a lot of space, but this is the single most important thing that helped me. I put her on a pillow where she could play, and move around, and sleep without to much discomfort for me (I still could move around under that pillow and stretch my legs). The airways provide you with the additional belt: the loop at one side goes around the baby, the loop at the other side is attached to your belt. So while sitting on the pillow, she also was attached to me ;)

I also had two baby blankets. One to cover myself for breastfeeding, the other to cover the baby: it's cold in the plane.

During the long flights on the big planes, sometimes, there are special seats available for the parents with small kids, and bassinets for the babies (there is a weight limit for those). Check with your airlines and order them: they are very helpful. There is more space, and it is a wall in front of you, not a seat for other passengers: it does help a lot :) I believe, these seats are for a regular cost, not additional charge.

5. Toys and activities.

The space in the plane is the most limited. Even though we took a bag of toys, we almost didn't use them at all. First, the luggage goes in the above head compartment. So any time you need anything, somebody has to stand up and get it. I did have my son trying to help, but he had his own things with him, like his laptop. I had maybe one multifunctional toy that I attached to my cloths that it wouldn't be on the way until I need it. We played with the plastic cups and spoons, napkins, magazines, nursery rhymes and finger plays, and entertained people around.

6. Change of cloths.

In that one flight, I was so proud of myself to pack all the baby things neatly. It turned out, I forgot all about myself. Parents need a change of cloths too! She nocked a cup of coffee I was drinking, and spilled it all over herself and me. Thanks the airlines for serving cold coffee! I changed her just fine (they do have the changing shelves in the restroom, I am not sure if it is available all the time). But for me, I had to take my shirt off, wash it, and put it back on wet. How funny is that?

7. Stroller in the airport.

I did take it. To keep it clean, it needs a protective bag. It wouldn't protect from damages, just the dirt, which is a lot. I bough the cheap non-padded bag, but it was bright red, and clearly marked as carry on. It stayed perfectly fine through several planes, but got all ripped off when I decided to check the stroller with the suit-cases. I bought a used stroller just for travelling. Not the umbrella stroller, but a lightweight that supposed to be "folded with one hand", which is a must because it should be folded and run through the scan at security points. I practiced folding it at home, and it helped: I did manage to get it together with one hand while holding the baby.

8. Baby food

The security rules change all the time. As of last summer, I didn't have any problem. I would just say that I had baby food, and had it ready to pull out in the zip lock bag. The security never tried to test it, or open it, or count the amount. I believe it was unlimited, so I had more than we needed, just in case.

9. Happy end!

If you share any thoughts or tips, it would make me happy :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Little Toddler in the Car

A long car ride... it wasn't that bad! I was very scared of 10+ hours of keeping Camilla in the car seat. Success! I guess, the key is taking frequent stops to walk around (every 1.5 to 2 hrs. - depending on a child?). Mine is a very active baby, so this helped a lot. The only problem we had is to get her into the car after a break. Some intense screaming - heart breaking :( The screaming didn't last long, only until the car started moving again. But it increased in intensity every time we did it. That, and my men are extremely difficult when it comes to taking a stop. They are so determined to continue driving. But I think it is very important to keep the baby happy to prevent a major breakdown if anything else.

The worst can happen. I accidently witnessed a family with 4 children arriving at a hotel. The doors of a van opened, and the 3 older kids got out first, looking so very happy to be free again - LOL. Then the mother appeared: all so out of it and loopy. And then 2 year old boy: crying so bad! It looked like he had been crying for a while, and continued crying and screaming all the way through unloading a car, check in... I saw him again crying in his father's arms at the elevator, some 30 min later. The father looked completely stressed out! I felt so sorry for a poor boy and his family.

What helped me is to build a structure of the long day. I divided a day into 4 periods, and planned activities for each period. The division helped me to take one thing at a time and made a day seem shorter. We decided to start as early as possible. We finished loading a car and packed some breakfast while Camilla was still asleep, which helped. Then I took a baby, her cloths, and a bowl of baby cereal with pieces of fresh strawberries in it (Yummy!) straight from the bed to the car seat. The wish was that everybody would have another hour of sleep once in the car.

First Period.

The easy one! The sleep didn't happen as planned. Oh well, you make plans so that you can fail it later, right? I changed Camilla and fed her. This is the best time to study. So we were busy with her books and busy bags, and that went real well. I didn't notice the first 2.5 hrs at all. We stopped at a rest area, had some breakfast, and Camilla was happy to explore. This is so neat how the rest areas are different and fun when you are travelling through different states.

Second Period.

Not as easy. We tried to stretch time playing with toys and talking. Then I turned a DVD player for her. That took care of the last 30 min before the stop. There is a limited space under her car seat. I filled it with a bag of toys, a bag of books and activities, some food, a change of cloths, smaller portable diaper bag, a box of tissues, and extra bags for trash.

Third Period.

Easy one. It's time for her lunch and nap. She didn't sleep for long for some reason. Maybe an hour. Then we played and watched another 30 min of videos.

Forth Period.

Supposed to be the most difficult one: the last stretch! Surprise: she had a snack, played a little, fell asleep, and slept until we came here. That gave us a chance to put her to sleep later at night. So that we had time for a late diner and a first visit to the ocean that night. Nice!!!

Happy end.