Saturday, March 10, 2018

How My Littles Learned

(as toddlers and preschoolers)

My children learned the first stages of reading through stories I read, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish"
Not by being coerced to read what they did not understand

They learned letters through our sing-a-long of the alphabet
Not by being made to write their ABCs

My children learned numbers by our randomly counting items
Not by filling in workbooks

They learned about creativity by making simple crafts together
Not by being made to color within the lines

My children learned about nature
 by walking barefoot and playing with rollie pollies

They learned about others
by running wild with the pack

My children learned about life
through play, laughter, and even tears

What School Taught My children

Conformity, memorization, and lack of creativity

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A little hacking to connect Medela parts to the Spectra Breastpump, if you feel the need!

It has been about 7 months since I started to carry the Spectra S1 and S2 pumps. This by far has been my best experience ever working with a breastpump company, and I  have worked with the "big boys." The other awesome thing about Spectra is that, it is the first time I have ever received positive feedback on a pump without asking. Normally, I hear from clients when there is a problem. This is new territory, and I am loving it!

Probably the one complaint on the pump, yeah, there is one, is that other bottles do not fit onto the system. Normally, I would say not a big deal, but  if this is not your first go round with pumping, you probably have many bottles and flanges from your previous pumping experiences. More than likely, the parts in question are from...drum roll, please...Medela. What to do what to do, as it can be costly to stock up once again if insurance will not cover extra accessories.

Thanks to friend, client and pumping mom, Melissa M., here is step by step instructions on how to mesh those Medela parts with the Spectra Breastpump. *Keep in mind that this could void any Spectra Warranty.

1. Purchase Medela Free-Style Flanges (closed system). The reason to use the Freestyle Flanges and not the Pump n Style Flanges is to keep the Spectra a closed system. A closed system keeps moisture from getting into the motor, which can result in mold.

2. Purchase the tubing for this flange at Maymom. Why go to this trouble of using Maymom? It is easier to slice the tubing they offer.

3. Using a razor blade, sharp knife or the sharp edge of some scissors, make a slit in the tubing near the yellow connector, and remove two yellow connectors.

4. Then insert the yellow connector from the Maymom tubing into the Spectra tubing.

5. Lastly insert the connector into the back of the Freestyle flange and your done. 

6. Final note is that this will then be compatible with Pumpin Pals.

Again, thank you to Melissa for sharing these tips!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Baby Cries

Parents get on the job training when a new baby  is welcomed into the world.  By watching and listening, they learn very quickly that babies can communicate their needs and wants.  According to William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N., authors of The Discipline Book as well as numerous other parenting books, babies are born with attachment-promoting behaviors.  These behaviors are babies’ earliest language.  In fact, parents will find this form of communication irresistible, as it is designed this way in order to promote a response from them.

The strongest attachment-promoting behavior is a baby’s cry.  It is a parent’s job to respond to a baby’s cry.  Do not worry about whether or not baby will be spoiled or is trying to be manipulative.  A newborn is only wired to communicate needs or wants, which at this age are one and the same.  A baby may cry to communicate physical needs, such as when hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, too hot or too cold.  A baby may also cry when anxious or just needs some affection and cuddling.  Just pick up the baby.  Do not worry if the response is not “correct,”  baby will let you know.  For example, if baby wants to be fed after being picked up, she will gnaw on her fists or root for the breast.  Babies will communicate their needs, and as time goes on, parents will respond with less calculation and more intuition.

At some point in time, many parents will receive the advice to “let baby cry it out—leave baby to cry alone.”  The Sears’ completely disagree with this mantra. They say that a baby’s cry ensures that the needs for food, holding, rest and social interaction are met.  Furthermore, a baby’s cry develops a mother’s parenting skills.  Responding to a baby’s cry is how baby learns to trust.  The Sears’ do not believe that it is the parents’ responsibility to stop their baby from crying, as only baby can do that.  It is the parents’ job to help their baby stop crying.  There will be times when baby may not stop crying no matter what kind of comfort parents try, but the difference is that baby knows mom and dad are there and is secure in that.  The Sears’ encourage parents to continue to hold, rock, bounce, whatever it takes to help comfort baby.

At the beginning of  the “typical” cry of a baby, the sound strikes an emphatic chord in the mother, and she responds with a nurturing and comforting response.  According to the Sears’, this is the attachment promoting phase of a baby’s cry.  The Sears’ have found that babies whose early cries receive a nurturing response, learn to cry “better.”  Their cries are mellow and not disturbing.  When baby’s cries are not answered, they become more disturbing as baby grows angry.  These cries can make a mother angry and set up an avoidance response.  As these babies learn to cry harder, a distance develops between mother and baby.  These babies are not secure and have no trust as their cries have gone unanswered. 

According to the Sears’, the ultimate in crying sensitivity is when parents become so fine tuned to their baby’s body language that they read and respond to pre-cry signals and intervene before crying is necessary.  These babies soon learn that they need not cry hard or sometimes at all to have their needs met. They are secure and have trust that their needs will be met.

Trust your instincts. Respond to your baby. Independence comes from dependence.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fostering Independence in Your Toddler

Independence grows out of dependence.  Humans are not born ready to run with the herd within minutes of birth.  We are members of the order primates, which have slower rates of development than most other mammals.  As primates, human babies rely on their parents, siblings or other caregiver for feedings, transportation, and security.

According to William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N., authors of The Baby Book, studies have shown that the most securely attached infants actually showed less anxiety when separated from their mothers to explore toys in the same room. When going from oneness to separateness, the securely attached baby establishes a balance. This balance is between a desire to explore and a continued need for the feeling of security provided by a trusted caregiver.

Once toddlers become mobile, the world is theirs to explore.  Most likely, "No!" will become a big part of their vocabulary. Experts say that instead of viewing this as disobedience; consider this as another independence milestone to be celebrated. Saying "no" signals that toddlers are beginning to understand they are individuals with their own wants and ideas.

How Can Parents Help Foster a Toddler’s Growing Independence?
A parent’s job is to find a balance between a toddler’s growing need to explore and a need to keep your child safe, and possibly maintain some order. If you have not already done so, spend some time getting your home toddler-ready (remove breakables, cover electrical outlets, etc.). An explorer in the house can be messy. Try to reconcile yourself to the fact that your home will most likely not wind up on the cover of House Beautiful during these years!

Experts say that when it involves toddlers, cooperation is key. It is normal for toddlers to want to try what mommy, daddy or older siblings are doing. Offer choices within reason. “Would you like eggs or cereal for breakfast?”  "Do you want to wear the blue or the green shirt?” Having opportunities to make choices help children gain independence and confidence. Giving children choices is a useful positive parenting tool for avoiding behavior problems as well. It is respectful to your child too. It recognizes a growing capability and the right of children to have at least some control in their own lives. Choices also help a child learn to make decisions and express preferences.

Parents can also assign child-sized chores to their toddler, such as helping sort and fold clean laundry or sweeping the floor with a dustpan and broom.  Remember to build time into your day to let your children discover. Toddlers learn so much more when walking through the park instead of being confined to a stroller.

Remember that balance a parent needs to keep? Know when to step in and lend a helping hand.  A toddler’s independence will ebb and flow, especially during times of change, such as during an illness or a new baby is welcomed into the family. When they ask, be prepared to help. Knowing that they can return to you for comfort as well as help, even with an undertaking that they have already mastered, will build more confidence and encourage children to take their next independent steps onward. For every two steps forward, it is normal to take a step back.

During the first year of life, a baby’s needs and wants are the same thing. Meeting your baby’s needs is the best way to help him/her feel safe and secure. Current research shows that being held “too” much cannot spoil babies; rather, children who have a strong attachment to a trusted caregiver are secure and learn early that they can count on mommy, daddy and others for help and comfort. They know that home is a secure place, and are more willing to venture out and explore later on in life.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Trips for Traveling with Young Children

Go to the airport before your trip with your toddler who has never been on a plane. Watch the planes take off, land and taxi.  Watch people queuing up for security. Explain that this is what you will be doing. Let your toddler get excited.
Let your child help pack his/her own suitcase. Talk about what types of clothes that will be needed—for cold weather or warm, etc.
Let children pull their own carry-on bag. It gives you a separate space to pack your child's change of clothes, snacks, books and toys. The responsibility of carrying or pulling a bag gives your child focus and a sense of importance.
Run them through the airport. Make good use of the time leading up to boarding by helping your child to burn off excess energy, which is endless in toddlers!

  • Use the advance online check-in option to print boarding passes and check seats. This can be done 24 hours in advance of the flight. Have any flight notifications, such as delays, sent to your mobile phone.
  • Use curbside check-in to unload heavy bags before entering the airport (remember to tip the skycap).
  • Do not check your stroller. Airports are always bigger than you think. Gate check your stroller when you are boarding the plane. Umbrella strollers are easier to navigate and stow away.  “Wearing” your baby in a sling or other carrier will also be easier and less cumbersome then hauling the “plastic baby buckets” through the airport and onto the plane.
  • Avoid prime time flights. Try the middle of the week and middle of the morning flights when the plane might not be full.
  • Do not take the last flight of the day. Bad weather can cause cancellations and a night at the airport with the kids. Still, I have booked late flights, with the knowledge that the kids would sleep most, if not all of the flight.
  • If traveling by yourself and need to catch a connecting flight in a terminal on the far side of the airport, request help in advanced (the golf cart shuttles).
  • Most major airports have websites where you can get information in advanced about layouts and services. Try to avoid going through “difficult” airports, such as Los Angeles, Ca. and Newark, N.J.
  • If traveling to the east coast, I prefer to have a layover on the west coast, and vice versa. Just long enough to stretch, get a bite to eat, and burn off more of that toddler energy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why Breastfeed?

“Born into a world teeming with germs and infections, a newborn’s strongest defense comes from colostrum, the substance produced in the first few days after birth, which provides the baby’s first immunization.”  (UNICEF, 1992)

  • A nursing baby takes in 100 million live cells per day.  Many of these cells survive for 48 hours or longer.  (The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning)
  • Breastfeeding provides the perfect food for your baby.  Mother’s milk contains all the nutrients in the right amount needed by your baby.
  • Breastmilk is specifically designed to accommodate the development of a baby’s brain and nervous system.
  • One study, which followed both breastfed and formula-fed babies, showed that by eight years of age, the breastfed babies had an IQ of at least ten points higher than the formula-fed babies.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer allergies.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer illnesses as human milk contains antibodies that protect your baby.
  • Breastfeeding promotes proper tooth, gum, jaw and palate development.
  • Breastfed babies thrive on the close body contact.
  • Baby has more pleasant smelling stools and less spitting up.
  • Breastfeeding is economical.   The money saved breastfeeding your baby for one year will buy a major household appliance.
  • Breastfeeding is convenient.  Breastmilk is always ready.  There is nothing to buy, carry, measure or heat.
  • Breastfeeding is better for the environment.  For every three million formula-fed babies, 450 million cans of formula are used---resulting in 70,000 tons of un-recycled metal.  (The Politics of Breastfeeding)
  • Breastfeeding helps a woman’s uterus return to its non-pregnant state.
  • Breastfeeding delays the return of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Breastfeeding offers women protection against breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
  • Breastfeeding is enjoyable for mother, baby and father.
  • Night feeding can be done in bed with minimal disturbance to mother and father.
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Sunday, March 3, 2013

If the Flightline is Closed Down, that means We can Cross Over it!

One of my fondest memories of living in Italy, were the twice yearly bazaars on the base. Artisans from all over Europe would come with their beautiful crafts, delicious food and fantastic wines! The last bazaar that the kids and I attended was not a disappointment. The kids roamed freely enjoying everything just as much as I did. Rose even got the handcrafted German wooden sword that she had been dreaming of with every bazaar.  Now 14, Rose has quite the collection ranging from Nerf guns and light sabers, to hand crafted swords, to include the most coveted sword of Inuasha!

The girls and I were ready to go home. My son, Alex was going to stay and hang out with his friend, Alex and maybe go to the movies. The other Alex's family would bring my Alex home. Not long after the girls and I arrived home ( it was a Sunday), I received a phone call from the Base Security Police. Apparently Alex and Alex were picked up after they crossed the flightline. The flightline encompasses the military "airport," to include the various hangers, runways, etc. Twice a year on the weekend, the flightline is closed down as this is where the bazaars are held. Obviously, planes cannot be landing and taking off and taxing when there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of people milling around from hanger to hanger, so what is the problem then with taking a stroll through it?

Apparently Alex and Alex decided to cut across the flightline on their way to the movies. This made sense to me as if they cut across the flightline, they saved on a lot of walking! When the SP told me why the boys were picked-up, in all honesty, I did not think it was a big deal. I am sure you have an idea where this is going if you have read my other posts. I ask you, why would this be a problem if the flightline is closed in the first place?! I asked the SP if it would be okay to release my Alex to the dad of the other Alex. He thought this would be a good idea and laughed at how the boys were going to get theirs as Alex's dad was a First Seargent. Seriously, I thought to myself, not really, but if you feel better thinking this, go ahead.

I need to explain now exactly what happened when the boys crossed the flightline. Now, in their mind, it was okay to do so...after all, the flightline was closed down and quite a few of their friends had taken a stroll through it during the weekend as well without incident. Once they got to the other side of the flightline, they were met by the Carabinieri.  The other Alex spoke Italian well, so he conversed with them. Basically, the boys were told not to cross the flightline again, and they were sent on their way. Unfortunately, it does not end never does. As the boys got farther along on their journey, out of no where comes at least three security police vehicles, which proceed to  surround them. Frankly, the boys were lucky that they were not thrown to the ground and cuffed. As it was, they were detained for all to see as the Bazaar was emptying out. Oh yes, the boys were quite the talk of Aviano Middle and High School the next day.

So now, Alex is dropped off at home.  I run out to speak with the other Alex's dad without hubby. I mused that he had enough on his mind (Aviano was and is a high ops tempo base), and really this was no big deal...what the man does not know, will not hurt him, or so I thought!

The next day, the man forwards me an email. The email started with the security police blotter report that ends up on the General's desk. Guess what incident showed up on the blotter? From there, it only gets better as it is forwarded on down the Chain of Command to the MSG Commander then on down to the CE Commander and finally to my husband! In every message going down the line, each typed a little note for my hubby. I know what you are thinking...not good for the hubby (for those who are not familiar with the military, it is a fact of life that anything that the Active Duty Member's family does, especially negative, will reflect on the AD member and normally not in a good way), but thank goodness all of these Commanders knew the man and not only liked him, but also knew what an asset he was to Aviano and the Air Force. Phew! I still have that blasted email sitting in my inbox as a reminder that even the USAF has police blotters!

After almost 6 years since this incident occurred, I believe the man can now chuckle about it.