Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Online Signing Dictionary

The signing dictionary I use most often is ASL PRO. When I first started taking baby sign classes this was the site my instructors recommended. I have been able to take advantage of the a DVD’s from the Baby Signs Program. Two more sites you can try are Life Print and Signing Savvy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Favorite Toddler Cup: Perfect Find!

It’s no secret I love foogo by Thermos. While on short trip to New York, we stopped at a Buy Buy Baby on Long Island to pick up some diapers. I went to the feeding section to browse cups because Papa had complained about how much milk we were wasting since the straws in the cups we were using did not reach to the very bottom of the cup. It was hard for Ella to empty all of the contents, although she had her ways when she really wanted to. I spotted these Plastic Leak-Proof Straw Bottles! They are great and what I always wanted. The pros, yes the straw reaches to the very bottom, they are BPA free and lightweight. Con, they are leak proof while the lid is closed. If you turn your back on Ella and she decides to turn the cup upside down which she loves to do with everything, milk will leak out of the tiny venting hole. This is not a huge deterrent since these light weight mommy friendly cups are a dream come true for me.
yours truly,
baby pistachio

Friday, February 12, 2010

13 Months Old: The Consistent, Inconsistent Sleeper Part II

Yesterday started out with a horrible headache another hour of lost sleep. Ella woke up at 1 am whimpering and again it evolved into a tumultuous earth shattering cry. I nearly damned my life until I heard about the 20th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on NPR. It was time for a reality check. “I cannot deal with my 13 month old and my role as nurturer and mom. Do I really need to be this miserable?” Granted, my feelings are justified, but I needed to revaluate my feelings and find a solution. So, I turned to Tracy Hogg's,Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. She was just sitting on my shelf. While I did not have serious sleep issues with my first daughter the chapter on Time Busters/ Chronic Sleep Problems went unscathed. I sat in the rocker and opened it up.

While Ella is not exactly Leanne: A Chronic Sleep Problem (nursing toddler in need of weening) or Cody: “Mommy... Don’t Leave Me!” Ella’s sleep issue was seriously a time buster, aka problems that steal hours from your day. What I took away from this chapter was I needed to use a little more TLC ( Talk, Listen, Clarify):

Ella was trying to tell me something. Still, I am not exactly sure what. I needed to take a step back and really look at my time with her and how I was dealing with her communication with me. More importantly I had to take a long hard look at myself. Ella’s ability to communicate has been growing exponentially, I have been really preoccupied. I have not been communicating with her as much. I have also started teaching on the weekends. For 3 weeks now I go off for 2- 3 hours and have not really explained or prepared her for my departure. That is about how long this whole disaster has been going on. Maybe just a coincidence? hmmmm... I think not.

After spending some quality time with her yesterday and responding to her needs as best as I could, she slept through the night. Today, I started to reassure her that I would be right back using a gentle voice and facial expressions to communicate with her if she even made a whimper sitting in her stroller while I got Marley ready to go outside, she immediately stopped.

When she has been cranky or on the verge of mini tantrum I took a moment to evaluate the situation to see what could have been done differently or could have made for a better outcome. Today it seems so obvious that she needed me to communicate with her more, she needed more attention. I set these expectations by teaching her to sign and talking to her about everything that happens through out the day.

Tomorrow, I am off to teach and I will try talking to her about it and using my body language to reassure her. My diagnosis for the sleepless nights, anxiety or as Papa says “Ella has a serious case of the MOMITIS!” (mom- mi -ties)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

13 Months Old: The Consistent, Inconsistent Sleeper

Where do I start? For the last week my 13 month old has been waking up in the middle of the night. It starts off with a whimper and escalates to a high pitch, screeching, ear drum quivering, repetitive scream. It used to be we could cover her with a blanket and place her favorite fluffy giraffe over her face and she would put herself back to sleep. Granted, she is getting her first 3 teeth and fighting a cold. She has been a little out of sorts lately.

Reluctant to bring her into our bed another night or rock her to sleep in my arms, I let her cry and tried to comfort her with soft rubs on her back. I even had to cover my ears a few times. I prepared myself to sooth her, rub her back, inhale and exhale and reassure her trying every now and then to lay her down. She would start kicking and screaming like a mule. After 45 minutes she sat down on her own and screamed. Then after another 10 minutes she fell over and screamed and after another 10 minutes she sobbed and resumed normal breathing. I covered with her blanket and left the room. I have been robbed an 1hour of sleep. I feel sorry for my neighbors and Marley who shares a room with her baby sister and slept through the entire episode. Remarkable.
Anxiety, night terrors, teething? Not sure yet. I turned to the internet for answers. I found a few interesting articles and posts on babycenter.com. Papa read, What to Expect:The Toddler Years.

baby pistachio

Monday, February 1, 2010

First Day Back to Work after Maternity Leave

Mom Corps - This is a great resource for moms or any family member who needs a flexible working arrangement.

My big sister aka Jersey Mom(JM) works for a Fortune 500 company and returned to work after 4 months of maternity leave. On her first day back I received this text. She was gracious enough to share her first day of jitters and joys with me.

This mornings text read:
Here we go. Up @ 4, fed jax, got ready, on train at 5:57. I luv u. wish me luck.call u later.

BP: What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
JM: First thing I thought, was I hope I don't forget anything ( had to have my pump, breast pads, bags, lunch, laptop, id, train pass, etc... etc... etc...) and I reminded myself that I was not going to get involved with work, that my family was my priority not the work.

BP: What is best thing about returning to the office? The worst thing?
JM: The best thing about returning to work was... having to get up and get out, and feeling good about myself all dressed up with somewhere to go. 

The worst, was returning to work--- a job that's just a job - grateful to have it, but not my ideal job --no the commute, that was the worst thing about returning to work, the commute.

BP:What is your daily schedule?
JM:Daily Schedule: up at 4 am, feed, talk to / hang out with and change Jax(4months), 5 am out of the bed- kiss Conner(6yrs), get ready for work, on the train at 5:57 arrive at office 7:00 am, get coffee and oatmeal, work on to do's, work day starts at 7:30 with a meeting and it's meeting after meeting all day, at 10:45 I remind myself not to forget that I have the lactation room reserved --get this --because they want a schedule as to when you plan to pump-- ok so at 11:15 I'm in a planning session and remember that I have to pump from 11-11:30. Back to meetings, training sessions, some email time--if I remember lunch, I eat, but not normally. oh... 3 pm, lactation room reserved again, back to meetings, 5:30 remind myself not to forget my milk in the freezer, 6:11 train to NJ, walk in the door at 7:30, DH has dinner on the table, I kiss the kids, inhale dinner, read to Conner whose bedtime is 8 pm, feed jax, take shower,set out Conner’s school clothes, set out my clothes for work, steam clean pumping accessories, pack for work 10:00 in bed trying to get Jax to sleep, he sleeps by 12:00am. I sleep until 4am.

BP:What would you do if you did not have to work?
JM:If I did not have to work -I shouldn't answer with alternative work since the question is if I did not have to work, so I would be the ultimate stay at home mom, volunteer, lady who lunches --except all my friends work so I'd have no one to lunch with. 

Alternate work - consulting or party planning

BP:What was the one thing you could not wait to do once you returned to work?

JM:Upon returning to work--couldn’t wait to have sushi for lunch. Couldn’t have it while I was pregnant and DH doesn’t like it.

BP:What advice do you have for moms returning to work?
JM: Advice: Take your time, prioritize and be positive. 

BP:How has your relationship handled the transition?
JM: which relationship --my 6 year old son and myself, my husband and I or the baby and myself. --They all hate me.

BP:What is the last thing you think about when you go to bed?
JM: Last thing I do, --thank God I have a job in this economy--appreciate it for what it is, the opportunity and challenges it provides and then pass out.


JM - Director of Sales Training

Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Toddler Can Read!?

While watching an episode of WordWorld a PBS program for preschoolers, I noticed my 3 year old sounding out words with the “ST” sound. St-age, St-airs St-ars she stuttered. I challenged her by writing a list of “ST” words, STOMP, STEP, STOP an so forth, she carefully sounded them all out, she asked for more. Needless to say, I was beside myself, “my child can read!” So, I immediately went to my computer and did a search “teach toddler how to read”. There was a lot of information in cyberspace and products too. Surprisingly, I found a little controversy over how to teach, when children are ready to read and what they can do by a certain age.

I just wanted a list of things to do to help my child with phonics and words. We are past learning the alphabet, we do workbook activities, have read countless books since the day she was born. We read several books a day and she knows the sounds each letter makes. What I needed was something that put it all together for FREE.
I did not want to buy a new toy, software or dvd’s just something to incorporate into our reading routine to help her move forward. So, I called my sister, she has a 6 year old. She suggested I visit Spelling City a website where I could find Dolch Words or sight words, FYI, the 220 most common words and 95 additional nouns in children's reading books.

I took about thirty of the Dolch words and wrote them on colored pieces of paper and put them in groups around my daughters room. They are not just for her, but there to remind me of the words we see in books all of the time.

I also found this cool site called Starfall.com. We have been working through this site for a month now. We read the simple stories at the end of each lesson together. We practice phonics in the ABC’s section too. I have learned, rather than trying to read books with brief sentences, simple word books are perfect. We just brought this one home from the library Billy & Milly, Short & Silly.

baby pistachio’s helpful tips:
1. Have fun
2. Learn the alphabet (maybe even learn to sign the ABC’s)
3. Learn the sounds each letter makes
4. Identify letters in words
5. Refer to your old baby picture books, that just have one or two words on a page before reading long sentences (that’s my two cents)
6. Find Dolch words
7. When child resists stop
8. Workbooks come in handy
9. Continue to read to your child
10. Find a website with simple progression of lessons

baby pistachio

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby vs. Cup

For a quick reference guide regarding the current trend in sippy cups and other child friendly consumer products visit Z Recommends.
Sippy Cup Showdown is a great read!

First let me say, Ella is finally weened off of the bottle and has graduated to THE CUP. I say THE CUP because as you know, if you are reading this article you too may have had a few challenges transitioning from bottle to a straw, sippy, or some other type of cup!
Well here is my story and my advice.

Let’s go back, way back. I weened my daughter Marley who is now three and half years old off of the bottle at 10 months. She was very easy going. We were at a restaurant in NYC, Ruby Foo’s, I think. The waiter brought us a small cup of water with a straw. Marley was about 9 months old. I offered the cup to her and she drank, I thought “wow maybe you are ready for cups.” It was as easy as that. I bought a Nuby straw cup, back then you did not have to compress the straw to draw fluid, it was very easy to drink from. I offered her milk in the cup, substituted a cup for every feeding for about 3 weeks, job done.

Fast forward about three years, I am sitting at the table with my lovely daughter Ella she was about 7 months old and I offer her a tiny bit of water in a baby food jar with a straw. The drama...“Ok maybe you are not quite ready yet” I thought. “I will try again next week.” Next week came and there was more drama. Ella was very vocal about not wanting to drink out of a cup, straw or no straw. “Ok I will wait until she is a little older” I told myself. Ten months arrives and I think “alright its time for us to start transitioning.” Ella did not feel the same way.

During a random visit at a Babies R Us I picked up a package of Playtex straw cups and one Nuby straw cup. This is when I discovered the Nuby straw cups did not work the same way they did when I used them with Marley. It did not matter because Ella was not interested in anything I put in front of her. She would take a sip and then cry, cry, cry and scream!
I panicked, I thought “uh-oh she is stubborn and this is going to be hard. She is not going to give up with out a fight.” I got online, I read posts on www.babycenter.com and random sites typing in searches like “baby won’t drink from cup!” Papa said not to worry, but I could help myself. All I could envision was my 2 year old with a nipple hanging out of her mouth, in a milk and drool stained wife beater. I also promised my glass bottles to my sister whose newborn was about two months already and I wanted to get the bottles to her. The future looked grim. Looking back I realize I was being a bit melodramatic, however, this is my reality.

This is what I finally decided to do. After Ella rejected each and every cup, I continued to give Ella about 2 oz of water in a baby food jar with a straw I salvaged from one of her cups. I offered her water at every meal to get her comfortable with the process.

I took her morning bottle away first. I bought a Thermos Fogoo straw cup because she seemed intrigued by the one her sister had and she drank from it easily.

We always used the signs for milk and water and she slowly became accustomed to seeing the Fogoo cup and would sign milk whenever she saw it. Still, she was not drinking 7oz in one shot, she would drink about 3 or 4oz at a time.

Then, I took the afternoon bottle away and replaced it with the cup. It was like pulling teeth, she became constipated and was not getting enough fluid, but she started drinking a lot more water and signing more and more for water.

After two weeks it was time for her first year check up she was still taking a 7-8oz bottle at night depending on how much she had during the day. Her diapers were not as wet as I would have liked. She was taking and average of 18oz of fluid a day.

I began to panic, I thought maybe I should just go back to bottles. I even started to pour what remained in her cups into her bottles, but by that time she was not really interested in her bottles either. Then the amazing happened one morning Ella drank 6oz and ate breakfast. Then she drank another 6oz at lunch. Finally, after a week of this I took the night time bottle away. She did not flinch and she is well, weened. She is still alive, she is not dehydrated, she takes 18 -24 oz of milk and 4 oz of water a day. Her diapers are normal, she is still a little constipated, but I suspect cheese is the culprit, that is another story. It took about two months to get her fully weened.

My advise is basic:
Find a good cup
Be patient
Do not stress
Be consistent
Add love

Good luck,
baby pistachio

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Revisiting, reinventing and repurposing my blog is quite a task. Quite a bit has happened in the past few years. I had a new baby, I have straddled life between two cities, NYC and Boston. Finally realizing my dream of becoming a MOMtrepreneur, mom entrepreneur, Savvy Mom, Smart Momma what ever you want to call it and have lots to share. I am teaching Baby Sign Language classes now and well, I want to share some insights and topics that come up from time to time.


baby pistachio