Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carrying 30 lbs and over!

I'd always wondered about that 35lb limit on carriers and when I'd be able to test drive my carriers with Monster, never thinking of just grabbing a 30lber toddler and strap him in.

Today I got the opportunity to wear a 30 lbs baby (not kidding, he's 15 months old, 8 months younger than Monster and same height as her). We took the kids to a nearby park here in Istanbul and we thought we'd try wearing chunky monkey Eyup D. on my back and letting Monster walk.

I'll be honest here, at first for a few seconds I thought I'll lose my balance.

In a few minutes however, I found my new center of gravity and we took a hike to the second park in the neighborhood that was a little bit further off...and I carried Monster in my arms for half the way.

However, I am very grateful for Monster's moderate weight compared to Chunky Monkey Eyup D's. Monster isn't very happy these days though, as he can totally take her down in a fight! In a very short time she's learned to make a run for it whenever he makes a move towards her.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ergos for a steal--if only I wasn't flying out tomorrow

"Don't worry, this steal is a good thing!"

Get totally pimped out Ergos for a great discount today from

A reader (Thank you Shelley!)gave me a heads up on this carrier for a great price for the sweet local working mom I'm planning to surprise with a present.

I guess anyone who gets this carrier would be lucky, so I'm posting it here for all to take their chance and order one.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Talking about our beautiful children

Our days at home used to sound something like this:

Iza please don’t throw the cushions on the floor Iza don’t climb the window Iza leave it on the table No no noooooo ok baby can you stand aside so I can clean up the mess? Thank you (one look over the shoulder while cleaning) Iza no no nooo not there!!!!

When Mr. O came home, I’d throw a tantrum, give myself a time out and hide in the bedroom or bath tub to cry incessantly until Mr. O would tell me gently, it’s safe to come out Monster has gone to sleep.

Every morning I’d wake up thinking “Did I sleep last night?” followed by a quick calculation of all the times we all woke up. Any time I got a number close to 4 hours (of sleep) I’d thank God. Sadly, it wasn’t often that we got four hours of sleep.

I (according to me) suffered two near nervous breakdowns before I finally admitted to myself there is something that has to change! I began with changing pediatricians. The new doctor spent 15 minutes with us before turning to me and saying “Mommy, this girl is ruling you! You have to tell her who’s boss.”

Thus started the quest for How to manage my hi-need child; I left no related book unturned in the library, I pestered every mom who hinted they had high need children as well until I gathered a group of moms just as exhausted as me and one who said “I can help!”

Tuesday night we all sat together and started picking on Michelle’s brain and experience with her now 5 year old twins.

Here is a gist of everything that we talked about:

Why is there a baby stuck on my leg! And why is she calling me Mom?

All our babies were/are breastfed and therefore we as mothers are the one person they are super attached to. For nursing mothers to create a secure attachment with someone else (ahem…dads), Michelle suggested to plan activities outside the home where the child is engaged in active play with the father. Make sure it happens during the time they will not require nursing (usually at least a good two hour break) and the activity must happen outside of familiar surroundings where mom usually nurses. HOME reminds the kid that they would rather nurse than play; when outside with the dad, make sure they have a lot of fun so that the kid associates security, fun and enjoyment with the dad as well.

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

Apparently the attention hogging behavior does reduce as the kids grow, but does not disappear entirely. Michelle suggested that this will be a personality trait as they grow up.
To train the attention hogger on how to engage themselves in play, set up a timer for 5 minutes and tell them “play with your new toy for five minutes and I’ll be in the other room and when the timer goes off, I will come back to get you.” Get them a special toy or activity that will engage them for those five minutes and then leave the room. If they stay alone and play for those 5 minutes without you, reward them with treats (or hugs and kisses, hi-need kids are very tactile and love being snuggled). Make sure that the surroundings and toddler-proof and safe for them to stay alone in that room without supervision.

Mr. No-No:

It’s a universally known fact….that spirited children’s “no” is very different from your average child’s denial. Iza still throws a sidewalk groveling tantrum even if I’ve just asked her to not run back into the store we’ve just left.

A friend of ours, Cynthia, introduced me to the world of empowering the toddler. Things have been much better though mentally exhausting when I’m literally speaking in either/or language. The first time I tried giving Monster a close-ended question in which she had to pick one or the other choice offered I was tongue tied. “Oh my GOD!,” I was screaming in my head. “How hard can coming up with a dual-choice question be?” I cursed the day I graduated college and decided if I can’t wing this, I need to go back to school.

Eventually though, like all things in parenthood do, it got easier. Like I said, I talk to Monster in constant questions. “Do you want to play with the blocks or do you want to pee?” “Do you want to walk and hold hands or do you want me to carry you?” “Do you want to cry or do you want us to go night-night?” “Do you want to eat or do you want to go pee first?”

I ask her if she needs to pee a lot.

Luckily I rarely hear a “no” anymore. Unless I’m tired and forget to give her a choice and instead just tell her to do something (oh my God just for this one time, don’t make me talk!)

Michelle confirmed all these strategies plus the importance of setting boundaries and routines. She stressed that for high-need children, routines are worth their weight in gold. They need to know what to expect, be prepared for the future and with routines they will be a time when they will automatically understand that bath time will be followed by bed time.

Even for trips to the doctor, (or impending vacations and airplane trips) Michelle suggested utilizing role playing and pretend playing to get them used to what will happen in fact at the actual event.

(Today a friend, her preschooler and we played pretend airplane etiquette and we discovered that if nothing else works, pull out the big guns aka Caillou on a portable DVD player. It worked so well that I wished I WAS Caillou.)

We chatted about other issues as well, such as eating battles and sleep-wars. We will have to meet again to discuss these issues at more detail. From this one meeting, we got a lot of information and a lot of encouragement. Like Michelle candidly reminded us “it COULD be worse!” this is really something mothers—not just mothers of hi-need children—but really all parents need to remember when waking up for the 5,000th time in a night, or picking up crushed cereal from the carpet you just vacuumed.

All kids are precious and regardless of their varying habits and behavioral patterns, they do ultimately depend on us as parents to take care of them. We are their first lesson in trust and friendship. What they learn from us, they will utilize their entire life.

This is a great responsibility….let’s not screw this up! *lolz*

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The sweetest person in the laundromat

UPDATE: Coming back from my long vacation, I met our laundromat lady again and asked her if she's still carrying her son. The answer was a definite yes and she excitedly told me she'd be carrying him for a long time because she got an updated version of the Bjorn that gives her hip support.


Could she be talking about this.

I wished her happy carrying and continued with my laundry. Hey, I had good intentions =)

Do you know the laundromat on 48th avenue between 40th street and 39th place? Do you go there often?

There is a little lady working there who had a beautiful baby boy a few months ago. When she was pregnant, she used to admire Monster in her various wraps and carriers and told me she wants to carry her baby when he arrives.

Now, every time I see her and her family around she really is always carrying her little a green Bjorn. Sometimes when she sees me, she excitedly points her carrier out to me. It is just.too.adorable!

If I could, I would gift her a nicer carrier, something like an Ergo or even another structured carrier to make babywearing really a gift for her. It would help her wear her baby longer and with even more pleasure. However, money even for us is short and it would be great if I can score even 5 donors to donate at least $20 each to fund a baby carrier scored from the FSOT forum on

What would you do? How would you do it? If I can find these 5 donors (me being the 6th one also donating $20+overage as required) I would have her featured on the blog and let her know who her beneficieries are.

Contact me (from the link on the side bar) if you're interested in donating, or have another idea on how to raise funds for this mama.

PS: I'll be looking around my home for items I can auction off for donations and raise funds that way. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Word gets out on dangerous Duffle-carriers for babies

The word was going around in baby wearing circles, a national channel will broadcast a news clip warning parents on the dangers of bag slings. The widest most common heard response was “finally!”

Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the national TV Channel has taken the burden of approaching parents using bag-slings (or duffle-carrier, as the community is calling them) tactfully and advising them against continued use. This is something we have all fretted over and sought advice regarding and have tried to be very sensitive when approaching parents either using them or looking into buying them.

Today at Target, I saw the Eddie Baur sling-to-hip carrier displayed in the aisles and though the hip position looked like it was safe enough, but the way the carrier was used as a sling was definitely not. Yes, the drawing on the back makes it seems like safe positioning is possible, but you know what, there is a reason there is a drawing used and not actual mom and baby modeling proper position, because it is just NOT possible to get one for more than a few minutes. Even when learning ring slings, I was not able to keep infant Monster from turing into a dangerous position without a series of tugs and tightening. With these duffle carriers, there is NO WAY to adjust the thing!

Rule of thumb when it comes to baby wearing: You need to be able to see the baby ALL THE TIME! Anything that has a drawstring on the top rail of the sling is a no-go. I was surprised to see some Dr. Sears slings have this structure and even though I love Dr. Sears and his philosophy, I cannot back this product.

When demonstrating newborn wrapping, I teach moms how to maintain the natural curvature of the baby’s spine supported by the tension in the cloth covering the baby’s back. At the same time, keeping the neck held up and the head turned to the side supported by the mother’s chest (the slope that occurs between collar bones and the top of the breasts). This natural slope is the best support for a newborn’s head, and you must have noticed so as well how your baby just tucks his head under your neck when held in arms. This position is optimum for normal breathing flow. To recreate how breathing flow can be restricted, try laying on bed with three pillows right at the base of your skull, forcing you to tuck your head. With a newborn's undeveloped larynx, this position can cut off breathing, and with the baby so far away from you and covered from sight because of the drawstring design, that is not the position you want to leave your child in.

Keep the necks straight, heads at kissing-level and let’s keep our babies safe.

Examples of bag slings currently found in stores:

Eddie Baur Infant Sling

Infantino Sling Rider

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When Toddlers' need R.E.S.P.E.C.T

The time my midwife handed me my baby wrapped in towels for her very first introduction to her mommy’s milk, I thought “this is going to be a breeze!”

The next morning, I was in tears. I was up all night with my ribs feeling like they were caving in and by morning, I was no longer fitting in the one blouse I had brought with me. I spent the day trying to figure out positions that were comfortable for both Monster AND me to breastfeed. The lactation nurses kept telling me “newborn hold” “football hold” and “don’t lie down!” until I almost gave up.

Ironically, it was at home and with my sister’s help that we were able to latch successfully, when she told me to lie down on one side, let Monster get comfortable with me while laying skin-to-skin with me. Monster fussed around for only a few seconds before latching on without any help and sucked me dry! The last time I had been that happy was before my back labor had started.

It bothered me why the lactation nurses didn’t tell me to hold my baby skin-on-skin. I was confused why all the positions they forced on me had me hold Monster as if she was an inanimate object. What I took from their brief sessions of “help” was that all I need to worry about is the shape of the tongue and “stuff your nipple in when she yawns!”

My sister taught me to just lay down with the little baby in bed, “let her become friends with the milk” were her actual words, something that still makes me chuckle, but it worked. Her words never fail to help us, even 2 years into motherhood.

Now as a toddler, Monster has become a picky eater eating only bland white rice and picking food from the floor where she threw it herself 15 minutes ago. (Incidentally, that has resulted in my floors being kept sanitized every day since I know she’s going to be eating food off them.) I saw the same behavior in my sister’s daughters and accepted it as being an inherited trait. I went to her home once, worrying about how little Monster was eating and seeing her kids eat their food opened my eyes to what was going on with my own child.

Rida and Amal, my nieces both eat on their own. My sister plops down a small portion of food in the kitchen table and leaves them both to their means. There I am, watching in amazement at the 4 year old and the 3 year old dig in, leave to wander around the house and my sister taking the opportunity to refill their plates just as they come back and dig in again.

A light bulb goes off on my head and I put another plate next to them and get floored as I see my very own Monster climb up and spoon the food into her mouth! Of course, that also started off a cute exchange of food as the 3 year old and my Monster began to feed each other and giggle happily.
We have since then stopped trying to “feed” Monster. We make foods available, accessibly and then give her space to eat at her own pace. It just never occurred to me till I saw my nieces that there will be a stage when kids will want to do everything on their own. Be it eat, potty, or play. Just like she won’t let me stay in the bathroom anymore while she pees, or runs away from me if I follow her on the jungle gym, now I know she’s asking for space to try things on her own in more areas.

I have accepted the changes as best as I can without letting it bother me. I still follow her every move on the jungle gym and am there when she gets too close to an unenclosed edge and I let her chose her own mismatched clothes (usually pink) when we are getting ready and I’m letting her decide which part of the egg she eats and which she stows away for later.

It is a constant struggle just like every part of parenthood is. What has changed is that her eating habits (or lack thereof) don’t bother me anymore. I don’t get frustrated with her if she throws her pasta around. I don’t cry when she wastes a plate of bulger and I just laugh when I see her push pieces of meatballs inside the storage bin.

I merely go ahead post a note on Facebook for laughs, reminding me to empty the said bin of leftovers before bedtime.

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Monster Takes the Highline

It's always a good idea to snap on an SSC when leaving for even a short walk...especially when Monster has just risen from a nap.

We left the car on 14th and 10th where we luckily found parking. I considered leaving the SSC because Monster has been preferring to walk on her own these days but in the last minute changed my mind and hung it around my waist 'just in case.'

Turns out it was a good idea as she was in that phase of wanting to cuddle and the crowd was not helping either. So we swung her up only a few yards down and there she remainded until she felt fresh enough to explore on her own.

For more images of our first trip to The Highline, see my daily photo blog here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Compliant friend enjoys newborn snuggles

Our neighbor and friend Emel S. happily agreed to join Monster and me on a trek to Northern Boulevard. Her only concern: she had not yet experienced having to take out both kids at the same time, her 2.5 year old toddler Little Miss A who is Monster's prototype and the 2 month old baby boy T.
Of course, my first reaction was "OH MY GOD, CAN I CARRY HIM?" But my over zealousness could have been worrying to Emel who decided to try on a wrap just for the occasion.
Don't they look adorable?

Wrap: Saffron Honey Nino with Wool,
Carry: Pocket-wrap cross carry.

Editing to add: A JuneFireFly mommy friend of mine began thinking along the same lines as we've been thinking after seeing Emel's cool gear and wondered if she can somehow avoid buying a double stroller. For her, I suggested the Hitchhiker stroller board, a stand-on board that attaches to most single strollers and for the walking preschooler provides a relief from walking while your younger child sits in the stroller. I like this specifically because Monster is at a stage where she neither wants me to hold her for very long, she occasionally gets tired of walking yet she definitely does not want to stay IN the stroller for very long as well.

Call me crazy, I have that scenario figured out when I have a newborn in a wrap, a toddler in the stroller, and a preschooler walking next to me. It's not written in stone though...I may leave the preschooler at home.

Fast approaching the Terrifying Two!

I'm not afraid anymore, I've been terrorized by this monster far too long to give into her deliberately aggravating behavior.

I'm standing up to you, you little terrorist! If you want to pee in the living room, you got it! Go ahead. I'm armed with my BioKleen and ready for any amount of disaster you leave in your wake. Go ahead, I encourage you.

If it gets too much, as five hours later it seems to be getting, you're getting this, a potty-chair slash bench that we can keep in the living room without surrendering all my aesthetics. Thank you Cynthia, for the idea. It was at my friend's house that I saw this potty-bench.

For the next few days, let's talk about potty training or how to graduate from Elimination Communication...hopefully before our trip to Turkey in a month.

Tips, suggestions and links are welcome in the comment box.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How I converted two old ladies

I'm not saying the best way to shop in Marshall's is to strap a sticky-finger toddler on your back; you should have seen the path of destruction behind us as I navigated the tight spaces and the looks on the poor salespeople.
What does rock though is to have a carrier that switches from back carrying to front carrying just in time for a very cranky toddler trying to doze and having it hard to do.
So there I am waiting at the bus stop, when I hear the two sweet ladies comment towards me "She's very big, she should be walking."

Me: "She does. Right now she's asleep, so we cannot demonstrate."

Old ladies: "Mothers these days use strollers."

Me: "If I had a stroller right now and my daughter sleeping in it about to board a bus, I'd be in trouble. And if I did manage to somehow fold the stroller and get on the bus, you'd be trouble, because there'd be wheels everywhere!"

Old ladies: "You are absolutely right! Way to go! I'm going to make sure my daughter uses a carrier instead of a stroller when she takes public transportation next time."

And then we become best friends.

Well, ok the last commen is made up, but we did have very amicable conversation about toddlers not wanting to hold hands and hands-free carrying being a very good option for kids that won't stay put.