Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Welcome an Allergy Family into Your Home

Friends- this is my opinion, only.  This is not a scientific method or study.  I cannot guarantee that this will protect all children in your home.  I am not a doctor, nurse, nor allergist, just a concerned mama friend of an allergy family, and this is what we do to welcome them into our home.

My best friend's daughter has a peanut allergy- she is one of the 1%.  Yes, I didn't realize it was only 1% that have a peanut allergy specifically.  From how much I hear about this, I figured it would be much higher, but that's what The Peanut Institute shares and, I'll go with it.  Here is the thing, food allergies, as with any allergy really, can be life threatening.  It is believed that each reaction gets worse with most food allergies.  Little A has had skin reactions from her limited exposure to peanut butter, so we're not taking any chances.

But here is the deal.  Families of kids with allergies shouldn't have to be quarantined from going into people's homes.  However, if it is best for their safety, then by all means.  (My husband is allergic to cats so we're cautious, he takes medicine before we go and washes his hands often while we are around cats.)  I personally feel it is fair to have a special allergy free space at an elementary school (for example) for children to eat the best lunches for them keeping everyone safe.  I feel it is the responsibility of the school and teacher to require children to wash their hands after lunch, before returning to the classroom to keep their students safe.

I truly do try to be sensitive to food allergies while still allowing my family to eat those foods.  I am helping my friend by keeping her girls part-time this summer while she goes to nursing school, so I am on high alert these days.  It is important to me that Little A can be in my home at any point in time- but since I have her three days a week, I am watching extra cautiously.  This is my routine/how I prepare to have a friend with a food allergy at our allergy free house.

1. Clear all counters and tables the night before they come over, wipe them down with a cleaning solution. (I use a homemade vodka, essential oil, water cleaner on my granite.  I wipe mine daily, but am sure to use the cleaner on Little A days.)
2.  Spot check furniture if you let your children eat on it- for me this is my living room and kitchen chairs, both leather/pleather.  I do a wipe down with vinegar/water if I see anything suspicious.
3. Wipe handles/doorknobs with a baby wipe.  Again, this isn't scientific, I am doing my best to make a safe space for my friend's child and so far we have done well with this.
4. Wash all children's plates/cups/silverware in the dishwasher.
5. Take all kitchen rags and towels to the laundry the night before she arrives and have fresh ones that morning.
6. No peanut butter on Little A days until she is gone from the house for the day.

I am guessing you can see the reasoning behind each of these- if not, ask away!  Overall, I think of where we have peanut butter in our house (it if very rare that we have actual nuts at this stage in life, but if we did, I would vacuum, which I do daily, to be sure they're all cleaned up.) and try to clean that space.  The one rule I think that is most easily forgotten is 'dishrags and kitchen towels.'  I wipe all faces, it is very possible that I could wipe Little A's face with a cloth used for pbj the day before and she could react- this avoids that problem altogether.  This isn't a perfect plan, but it is good as I know how.  I do not plan to make my home allergy free unless one of my children has a food allergy, but I feel like this is fair and loving to accommodate her at my house.

Do you have any friends with food allergies?  Do you prepare to have them in your home any particular way?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vacationing with Small Kids

Going on vacation is a huge deal for our family, like- so gigantic we don't do it.  Part one is my own fear- I do not like change, unknown, surprises and not being in control.  Part two is we just cannot afford it.  Part three is it is hard, it is just REALLY, REALLY hard.  But friends, I hope after the end of this week (yes, go big or go home, we're gone Saturday to Saturday) I can say it was worth it.  We are traveling for the first time as a family of four- with my husband's entire immediate family- Nana, three adult siblings + spouses, and six children age five and under.

This trip has been planned for months and dreamt of for longer.  My husband's sister and husband own a timeshare that they have worked around points so we can do this sort of thing.  After researching flights- we settled on a location that was a little less than perfect, but we're loving it so far.  (So what makes it less than perfect? It isn't on the beach, it isn't easy to get to the beach from here walking/biking, there isn't much close by for walking)  But- it was our best bet to GET to and to eat our own food.  Apart from finding a location, booking airline tickets and just discussing what we'd like to do in Myrtle Beach, SC I started my lists.  I know, I know.  It was December and I had lists for a trip in June in a notebook.  So.... for my first post about vacationing with small kids, I'd like to talk about those lists.   For some people, it doesn't work, and that is totally okay.  But if you're like me- and you don't want to be caught with your pants down at a resort with no way other than a taxi to a store 5 miles away..... maybe you should stick with me on this.

I started with the easy stuff- each person got a 1/4 page (so this was one sheet, front and back).  I knew we had units with laundry in them, so I decided to pack 4 outfits, 2 swim suits, and 2-3 pairs of jammies.  Our little dude got 4 pairs, the kid leaks through his diaper EVERY night.  You wanna see my list?  Ok fine, twist my arm.

2 pair nicer shorts
2 pair athletic shorts
4 t-shirts (1 blue for family photo)
1 pair jersey shorts and 1 sleep t-shirt
2 swim trunks
1 rash guard
4 pairs underwear
2 pairs socks
flip flops
1 hat (he is bald)

4 outfits (1 blue for family photos)
2 extra shirts for nasty spills/stains
4 jammies
2 swimsuits
1 rash guard
flip flops

2 short/t-shirt outfits
2 dresses
2 night gowns
4 undies
2 swimsuits (which I am only letting her use one, it is my FAVORITE of hers and the pool bottom totally ripped up the butt, not letting that happen to ANOTHER suit!  BUMMED!)
cover up
sandals/keens/summer shoes

4 t shirts
4 tank tops (I layer)
2 bottoms
picture outfit (I'm wearing a dress I won't wear to just hang out in on vacation) + 2 scarves to pick the best
2 jammies
4 undies
1 bra
bikini top, bottoms, rash guard (I wear my rash guard as a top... but my rack is too big to not wear a bikini top, don't judge)
skirt for walking to the pool
flip flops

Then I tried to think of what would entertain our family on the plane, the movies were the best.  Honestly IN the airport was the hardest waiting for the infamous "a-pane ride!"

On Plane (Backpack for each person)
Largest shoes for all- Tennis shoes for Daddy and B, Birkenstock for Mommy, Owen only owns 1 pair of shoes that fit now
Technology: ipad, itouch, headphones
Snacks: goldfish, teddy grahams, banana, fruit snacks, mini packet skittles and m&ms, 2 empty sippy cups
Miscellaneous Toys (the night I packed, I actually made a list and took a picture of it on my phone so I can check it before we leave when we let him take out his toys: magnadoodle, 3 matchbox cars, dinosaur transformer, 2 dinosaurs, elephant, jaguar, matchbox trike, light up mini light saber, mini pillow pet- for bedtime, coloring book, 1 box crayons, stickers, barbie plus 2 pairs shoes, polly pocket)
2 pacifiers
In Brooklyn's Backpack: 1 Barbie, 2 pairs of shoes for Barbie, Bag of Polly Pocket, Coloring Book and Crayons, Lovie

1 Sippy cup per child

We keep bathroom time simple, and this is what I needed most:

Teeth supplies (this is 3 types for us and the kids, UGH!)
baby soap
shaving cream
soap dad
soap mom
contact cases/solution/extra pairs

And then I had to figure out what we needed out of those categories-

Family needs
tide washing packets (I brought 5 because that was the package I purchased for about $0.10 with sales and coupons)
diapers- if we had a car or were close to a store, I would have bought these at our destination.  I brought 5 diapers a day
sunscreen (I packed 4 spray kids, 3 adult spray, 1 kid lotion, 1 adult lotion, I kid face stick.  This has been a great amount for our family, I reapply a TON and we've had no burns so far.  We apply lotion to start the day and spray while we're out and about. I use the kid's face stick on our lips as they are easy to forget about!)
2 shovels, 2 sieves, 1 plastic tablecloth to make a "pool" at the beach
2 small beach towels, cheap that can be tossed if I need space in our bag
swim diapers (I brought a pack of 17, you never know what your kids will be like in the pool, I reuse them if they aren't pooped in or smothered in sand)
beach bag
2 extra sippy cups (Yes, we lost one on day one, so this was essential)
pacifiers (3 extra hidden in case we lose some)

Vacation is coming to a close and we have purchased NOTHING other than fun stuff.  The only item I have thought may have been nice to have was a sweatshirt because the AC can be pretty cool in the evenings- but I didn't want to take up space and get sweaty.  The evenings have not been cold enough to need anything here mid 70s, so I don't miss it really.  We packed in one carry on (STUFFED with our entire wardrobe for the week all rolled) and 1 checked bag that was 43 pounds, I believe.  Without the diapers it should be a touch lighter, our clothes were very heavy.

I am so grateful we brought what we did, and not much more.  I have 3 washing packets left and 2 days of vacation left, I will use at least one of those, I LOVE coming home with clean clothes to simply put into drawers.

Well friends.... so that's it!  It looks like so much, but I PROMISE we only brought a carry on, checked bag, each kid had a backpack with kid stuff in it, my backpack with my camera and a few other items, and my husband's backpack with his laptop, mine and the ipad.  This has been so great, not panicking and needing more stuff has been so rewarding!  You CAN do this, I know it may sound like too much, but you'll love it!  I was skeptical, but we have had a lovely time.  And have LOVED the beach (yes, I'm still in shock!) with a curious 2 year old boy and his almost 4 year old sister.... more on that another day!

*Normally I'd have packed sun hats for the kids, they refuse to wear them, not worth packing then.
*The multiple bathing suits was GENIUS.  The pool chewed up the bum of my daughter's suit so she wore one to the pool, one to the ocean, and she was happy to put the sandy suit in the wash but still have a pool suit!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cleaning Barf From Your Carseat

After our son had food poisoning this week and barfed all over the house- we finally got out of the house a few days later.  It was glorious.  We swam, we played, we laughed together.  And then... he barfed.  So much pool water barf ALL over himself, his carseat, and the actual seat of the car.

Shaking head.

God help me.

So I set out to fix this stank of a problem and well... this carseat that we have, although I love it.... is not an easy one to clean.  I scoured the internet for help and I came up so short.  Everyone talked about using q-tips.  People... q-tips weren't going to touch this shit.  Gross.  So, here is my "cleaning barf from your carseat" instructions, because we ALL need that. (Note: I did call Evenflo for help- there are so many screws on this seat, but there are warnings all over it: DO NOT REMOVE, blah blah.  So, the lady basically said there was no suggestion other than spraying it with vinegar.  I asked her if a vinegar bath sounded like it would hurt the seat, and she said it sounded like our best option.  So, just an FYI, your seat MAY come apart... mine does not.)

Step 1:

Remove carseat from car. (If you're like my husband, keep the barfasaurus in the seat for transportation)  Clean up the car, the smell will be SOOOOOO rank in the morning.

Step 2:

Remove carseat cover- take pictures if you have to so you can put it back together.  We have an Evenflo Triumph 65 and it is very simple to remove the cover.

Step 2a: Shake off all chunks (we do this in our sink so it can go down the garbage disposal, blegh, ewwww, it is SO AWFUL)

Step 2b: Pretreat if you feel necessary, we had some leftover ice cream dribbles that I threw a little Shout on.

Step 3:

Wash according to your manufacturer's instructions.  I usually wash our Evenflo Triumph in the machine on a delicate setting with a cloth diapering friendly detergent- BEWARE you can wash off the flame retardant- follow your manufacturer's instructions on what type of cleaners to use.

Step 4:

While the cover is washing, get down with the big plastic seat.  Remove any foam that you can- we can remove the two hip pieces but NOT the back/head piece.  We live in Chicago, it has been a miserably cold winter so we had to use the shower for this next part.  My husband did shake the seat out sideways, upside down, etc in the yard to get anything dry off of it (I rarely buy goldfish, but they breed in his seat, apparently!).  We had to put the carseat into the shower.  We just ran it on really hot for a decent amount of time- I put Shout on the straps since they cannot be removed and sprayed vinegar/water solution in the seat of the seat- does that make sense?

Here is our seat in the bath, don't judge my messy bathroom, did I mention we had food poisoning and 2 kids barfing this week?  This is in the fully reclined position and the water is still filling.  You may be able to see it actually coming through the crevices where the straps are.

*Your cover should be done being washed by now, we choose to air dry our cover so we don't have any shrinking, etc.  I just reshape it and hang it on a chair overnight, yes, it takes all night to dry.  Many covers can be tumbled on low for a short amount of time, I am not a risk taker, apparently.

Step 5:

Let dry.  BIG MISTAKE.  We didn't realize how much water would stay in the seat, and so the next morning, I opened the bathroom door to Barfville.  It. was. terrible.  DON'T LET IT DRY YET!

INSTEAD:  Make a hot, huge bath.  We sprinkled baking soda all over the seat, poured vinegar directly onto the seat, reclined the seat as much as possible to get as much of the seat part clean, and then ran the tub as full as we could with very hot water.  This loosened up so much gunk it was embarrassing.  I shook the seat a little to loosen more stuff.  Blegh.  Just let that baby sit.  We let it sit until the water cooled.

Step 6:

Drain the water- wipe down the seat as you do or some chunks will get stuck.

Step 7:

Not gonna lie, we soaked again in a vinegar bath for good measure.  We tipped the seat upside down so things could float out in the water- so gross, people, SO GROSS.

Step 8:

Shower it off, just to be sure you've released as much as possible.

Step 9:

Turn the seat upside down in the tub, and let it dry.  Do not leave it upright, it will not drain properly.

Step 10:

When seat is totally dry.... put your foam back on, your cover back on, and install according to your manufacturer's directions!

Enjoy your clean, fresh seat.  I am so, so happy we did this!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Free yourself, Mama

Free yourselves, moms.  Let go of your preconceived notions of what a "good" mom is, and be the wonderful mom that YOU ARE.  You are enough, Mama.  You are actually, MORE than enough.

Let the kid cry.  You are his Mama, you've already checked his vitals (diaper, fever, hungry, thirsty).  He will be okay.  Accept that you cannot be the only source of joy and fulfillment for your children.  Accept that we cannot control them.  Accept that, no matter what other moms tell you about letting your kid cry (sometimes.... I don't mean the screaming all day, or leaving a new baby for hours in the night, I can't handle that shit) that at times, there is nothing else.  Your tank is empty, your magic bag of tricks is depleted, and you just don't have the answer.  Let the kid cry- because if you try for hours on end to make him shut it, you're going to turn into that mom that you don't want to be.  The yeller.  The screamer.  The thrower.  The monster.  So let it go, let the expectation that your kids will always be soothe-able- GO.

Let them make the mess.  My son has this thing for ripping every book from our bookshelves. Every. freaking. day.  It grates my gears, and often makes me want to explode.  He doesn't even sit and look at them.  The kiddo pulls them out, to stand on them, to kick them, and just to make the biggest ridiculous mess he can.  When I sit to read to him, he just closes my fingers in the books, um.... OUCH.  Bedtime he loves stories.  Daytime, he will take THEM on an adventure, and show THOSE books who is boss.  So. I'm done.  Destroy my house, little people.  Take out every stinkin thing you have, and be proud.  Show those toys who is boss.  And mom.  Let. it. go.  You can clean them up- and hopefully you have a partner to help you out.  And heck, if your kids are big enough to help, make them.

Let them be little, like that Billy Dean song.  Kids all grow and change at difference paces, let it go, and let them be the little person they are.  (Of course if there are medical interventions needed, duh, do that.)  My son is talking later than I'd like- but I KNOW he is fine.  I can beat myself up and say that it is because I didn't read him enough stories, or I sometimes just wanted a quiet house so when it was just he and I, that is what we had.  I'm still a great mom, because I taught him other things in those moments like enjoying the quiet and stillness, independent play, and exploring his world.  I am so lucky to have my kids, and they're lucky to have me.

My children are loved.  My children are clothed.  My children are fed.  My children have opportunities.  My children are well cared for.  I am enough, I have done enough, you are enough, and you have done enough.

We can all try to be perfect moms, or, we can accept that we're imperfect moms raising imperfect little people.  And we're all going to be okay, if we'd just stop making everyone feel like we're not going to be okay.

Love to you, Mamas.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Internet Identities

So awhile ago I read an article about what to post on social media and what not to.

I'm finally going to say it.

What you say about your children matters.

What you say to your friends about them counts.  What you say to your other children about them matters.  What you say to your parents, to your neighbors.  What you say online about your kids, matters.

We have all had that day where little Lacey ramped us up a wall and we raged about it on facebook.  Ok, well maybe not everyone.  You could be like my mom who uses it only to keep up and never post, and that's okay too.  This is one less thing for you to worry about.  But for those of us who might word vomit on facebook- I want you to pay attention.

What internet identity are you giving your children?  Who are you telling people your kids are?  Because I can tell you right now, I do not want to babysit half of my facebook friends' children because either A- they're a little hellian who was sent here to destroy every life possible or B- they're so perfect I won't like my own kids after I'm around them.

Yes friends.  You do that.  And I can do that.

You make me not like your kids, and then I feel really, REALLY badly about it... and for your kids.

And, you make me not want to be around your kids, because they're so damned near perfect how could me or mine possibly measure up?

Cut. the. shit.

Some day our kids will have online accounts and unlimited access to internet- or at least access where you won't watch literally every move they make.  How will they view themselves after they read the things we have written about them?  I know that day in, day out matters most, so please don't get me wrong- but these little things count, too.  I won't put something on facebook that I wouldn't write in my child's baby book. And whether or not facebook is your medium of choice, it is about the habit that is the problem.  Let's make our children's internet identities positive, but not perfect, silly but not mean.

But I hate these kinds of posts, don't do this.  But do that.  I'm not better than you, I am convicted of different things than you.  And it is so apparent to my heart.  The words I speak to my children matter.  My daughter cannot go to sleep until I have whispered into her tiny ear, "You are my favorite girl in the whole wide world."  I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm trying to live differently for myself.  I'm trying to shut the mouth of the cynic in my head and only speak love to and about my children.  (And yes... I think overly making them perfect is not love.)

So friends, I challenge you- what internet identity are your giving your kids?  Where is your heart?  Who do you want to set your children up to be on the internet?  Moms, dads, I think it starts here- right now, who is your child to you?  Make them that- to the world.  (But.... let's not pretend their perfect.... k?)