Saturday, January 24, 2015

Comparison of Standard vs Toddler Tula vs Ergo vs Beco Gemini.

After a few questions on the sizing of a Standard vs Toddler Tula, I thought I would just post my own comparison photos.  Then I decided to add an Ergo and Beco Gemini since I have those, too.  The weights listed can be confusing because design varies and there is a large overlap, plus babies and toddlers come in all shapes and sizes.  The weights listed by manufacturers are in regards to safety testing, though they do not necessarily address ideal fit.  Let me be clear, many carriers out there can safely be used for a long, long time.  There is a trend of parents and caregivers feeling the need to 'upgrade' to a bigger carrier when, in reality, the carrier they have would likely work perfectly well for quite some time.  If you're interested in any of these, there are many resources online to learn more; however, I will always recommend trying them in person before buying if at all possible.  Babywearing groups are an excellent resource for this.

The Tula photos were all taken the day after Myra turned two and the Ergo and Gemini photos were taken the day after that.  She had her doctor's appointment that first day, too, so her stats are completely current.  She was 25 pounds, 13 ounces and 35 inches tall.  I would say she is longer in the legs than torso.

The photos are a Standard Cloudy Tula with Warrior's Creed wrap customization (gray Tula with black wrap over it, gray straps visible), Toddler Oasis Tula (purple straps with bright colored thin stripes), Ergo (tan), and Beco Gemini (black with white polka dots).

Though some of the verbiage seems biased, this chart is a great comparison of different features and dimensions for many popular buckle carriers (also called Soft Structured Carriers, or SSCs).  Here is a similar chart to that one.  If you'd like a different visual comparison, click here or here.  Other than just trying them on and finding one that feels most comfortable for my body type, the biggest things for me have been carrier body height and width.  The body height is important because at some point baby gets too tall and can lean too far backwards or side to side, possibly able to completely lean out of the thing.  On the other hand, one wouldn't want a carrier that is too tall either.  As for width, having a carrier that is wide enough to provide proper hip support is important (spreading from one knee to the other knee, or knee-to-knee is ideal).  This makes it much more comfortable for the child and the wearer.  Click here for a good visual of the difference in narrow-based carriers vs wider-based carriers.  Again, one wouldn't want it too wide, though, as that would certainly over-extend the child's legs which would be counter-productive.  From what I've tried, there is definitely some wiggle room in that carriers can still be comfortable for a while even if it doesn't spread completely from one knee to the other (like what is seen in the narrow vs wide link).  I often hear of people wanting to get a toddler sized carrier as soon as their child is approaching toddlerhood (age 1) and, for the most part, that's just not necessary.

And, finally, click here for information from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute on hip health in baby carriers and other baby equipment.

Here are our photos!

Standard Tula, still fits Myra very well especially since she usually likes to have her arms out.  I would absolutely not need to move up to a Toddler Tula with her yet, though I do have one because the print I fell in love with was discontinued.

Toddler Tula, Myra fits fine but definitely has room to grow into this one.  As you can see, it would go up even higher on her if she left her arms inside.  If I were going to keep her in this for a while longer, I could have bounced her down into the seat even more.

Ergo, we snagged one of these at TJ Maxx for $60 and it's been a great carrier for the price.  Many people love their Ergos, but out of everything I have tried, I must admit it is not my favorite (though still a great carrier!).  We had to quit using it for a time because Myra would lean so much and the panel isn't as tall.

Beco Gemini, this was such an amazing carrier for the first 9-10 months.  Myra is still well within the weight limits of it and I could certainly continue using it with her, but as you can see she can lean all over the place in it.  The dimensions are smaller which is what makes it so awesome for a newborn (you can even adjust the seat width to be smaller yet), but doesn't quite contain her anymore.  The headrest can be clipped up, but it just annoys Myra.  For us, the head rest was best used when she needed more head support as a newborn, especially when she fell asleep.

Hope that helps!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Happy Babywearing!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Myra at Two.

So, I think this will be pretty random because I just want to attempt to document Myra at this age.  I hope technology is kind and Myra is able to read this when she is older, so it will be addressed to her.  Prepare for proud mama gushing.

My last pregnancy update with Myra
Myra's Birth Story
Myra's First Week
Myra at One Month
Myra's First Birthday
Myra's First Birthday Party
Myra's Second Birthday Party


I can't believe two years have passed since you joined our little family.  It's getting harder and harder to remember what life was like before you came along.  All day yesterday I was thinking about the day before you were born, two years ago exactly.  I had a doctor's appointment, was 3-4cm dilated, had my membranes stripped, and went home.  We were trying really hard to get the basement finished up, so Daddy was hard at work and I was doing what I could to help by painting trim.  I remember lots of intermittent walking on our treadmill, too.

You are so smart!  Your gears are always moving in a very obvious way and you got your mama's killer memory.  You remember words no one can ever recall teaching you (earlier this week you pointed out a hippopotamus in a book-you even said the whole word, where did you learn that???).  You know all of your colors in English and most of them in ASL.  You consistently count to 13, occasionally skipping the number 2, and sometimes you can get to 15.  You know the difference between 1, 2, and "many."  When you see two of something, you tell us.  Examples: two people sitting down is "two sits" and when Daddy and I drink milk at supper you say "two milks, daddy one milk, mommy one milk, two milks!"  The first time we noticed this was at Christmas.  Both your Grandpas were in the same room and you looked around, thought for a second, and said "two Grandpas!" completely randomly.  You know many shapes (circle, square, triangle, star, heart, and some of the others are hit or miss).  And you combine all these things-for example, "two blue stars!"  You have quite a few favorite books and have much of those favorites memorized.  You also know most of the songs you sing at school (Tiny Turtle, Twinkle Twinkle, etc.) and some "normal" songs (I listed your favorites later).  You know a handful of letters (M for Myra, M for Minnesota-you know how this one is different for the U of MN logo, A for Ali, B for Baby, R for Rowdy, D for Daddy) and can recognize a few words by sight (Myra, pop, Army, Mommy, Daddy).

Speaking of all that, your vocabulary is incredible.  You know so many words in English (no joke, SO MANY WORDS), a lot of ASL, and some Spanish (though we could be better about this one, you catch on so quickly!).  Knock on wood, we have yet to have *any* tantrums and we agree it has a lot to do with your amazing ability to communicate...and your generally easy going temperament.  You remember what people say (Grandma says, "hi lovey," and Daddy says "hi punkin").  You remember events like crazy.  We went on a few rides at the Mall of America with Jon, Moe, and Ernie over a month ago and you still talk about it probably five days out of the week.  You went in the combine with Papa Jeff and Grandma in October and you still remember and talk about that, too.  The other day you said something about Daddy being at school and I said he would be home soon because he was driving.  You said "Daddy driving silver car."  You copy me when I am on the phone.  I've spent half my life lately on the phone with the clinic so it's a lot of "okay....okay....yep...sure.....yes..." and trying to keep a straight face with your cute little voice copying me in the background is difficult.

You are so kind.  You are consistent with saying please, thank you, and you're welcome-you even remind other people to say it when appropriate.  You enjoy sharing things with others, especially food, and if we say "no thank you, that's for Myra" you say, "nice offer though!"  When you toot, you say, "Myra tooted. Pardon me."  The same goes for when someone else toots, "Daddy tooted. Pardon me."  When you hear a baby cry, you ask "matter baby?" as in "what's the matter, baby?" And when someone says they are sad, you say "problem?" as in "what's the problem?"  You love to help, especially when it comes to putting things away.  You'll tell us "together, mommy myra teamwork."  If you find garbage or recycling (you know the difference), you'll bring it to the right place.  We rarely struggle to get you to put your toys away.  We almost always help you do it, but you don't put up a fight.  You seem to understand the concept of sharing.  When you give something to someone else, you say "nice, sharing."  And, because you're hilarious, you use it to your advantage, too.  You love to drink out of my water cups.  Sometimes I tell you "no, that's mommy's."  You quickly smile and say, "Mommy sharing.  Very nice." as you take a big sip.  You know when you do something you shouldn't have either because it was "naughty" (though we don't use that word) or just weird.  You say "why do that??"  Like when you take off your socks then try to put them right back on, you'll say "why do that?? mommy help?"  Or when you splash to much in the tub, "why do that??"  You make this adorable squinty face, usually when you have done (or are about to do) something you shouldn't.  You'll splash around in Rowdy's water dish and when I notice you freeze and make the squinty, cheesy smile face.  We have to be very intentional to not give you positive reinforcement on that one because it cracks us up.

You sleep great!  Who would have thought?  I mean, if we mess with your schedule, you will sometimes wake up once at night, but really nothing dramatic and you go back to sleep easily.  You go to bed at 7pm and sleep until 6:30-7:30am, but you're so quiet in your crib in the morning I rarely actually hear you before 7 (the monitor alerts make me think you're up a bit before then though).  You also GO to sleep very well.  We do pajamas, brush your teeth, read a couple books, sing the ABCs as we turn on your fan and sound machine, then put you in your crib.  We say goodnight, "I love you" to you and your babies, then you say "bye, Mommy" and off I go.  The end.  You take one nap a day, around 12:30 or 1, and sleep for an hour or so, occasionally 2 hours.  Just in the last few weeks you have been requesting more and more animals sleep with you.  Right now, you sleep with your baby (THE baby), another baby, an Otter Beanie Baby, and an old bean-filled Moose that used to be mine.  Sometimes you want your stuffed bunny or orca, but we try not to get too crazy.  You sleep with a pillow and blanket, but you're super crazy in your crib so you rarely end up with either of them by the end of the night.  Sometimes you actually curl up and sleep right on top of your whole pillow.  We can hear you banging around into the sides of your crib at night sometimes, but you don't actually wake up so...whatever.  [I have a couple screen shots from our video monitor that I will try to remember to add here.]

You are potty trained!  You still wear diapers for sleeping but we'll deal with that in a few months if you haven't worked it out on your own.  When we put a diaper on you, you remind us "only sleeping, learning."  You did have a few accidents in your car seat right around Christmas, but we actually ended up pretty darn busy, messing with your bedtime and naps, and driving more than usual, so we just washed your car seat and tried to be patient. (Edited after bedtime on your birthday: for some odd reason you decided today would be a good day to pee your pants twice then pee on the rug once after we just left you naked.  You also pooped your pants today, but that's actually a bit of progress since you usually poop in your diaper right after waking up from your nap.  Thankfully this has not been an issue since, like, day 3 of potty training, but uff da! Tomorrow is a new day...)

Sorry, couldn't resist.  This photo is from the first few days of potty training.
You are Rowdy are pals.  You like to throw things for him to fetch, sit on his ottoman and look out the window with him, and climb on him.  He is such a good sport.  You feed him almost all of his meals.  We scoop his food out of the bucket then give you the cup.  You carry it so carefully to his bowl while saying "only Rowdy" (as in, don't eat it!).  You dump it for him and we say together, "good boy, get it!" and you are so proud.  He loves to bark at people when they arrive, or even the neighbors, and we just say "Rowdy, you're so loud!" and now you say it, too.

For real, I'm trying to think of some complaints, but I don't have much.  You've had a few moments of whining for no apparent reason, but truthfully, we just ignore you and you get over it pretty quickly.  You sometimes wake up in the middle of the night (nightmare??) which is annoying (especially since I am 37 weeks pregnant right now) but we have dealt with WAY WORSE and you go back to sleep super easily.  You get all sweet and cuddly and ask for "rock rock" and sometimes we give in if we are tired and other times we gently tell you it's time to go back to sleep and you don't usually fight us on it.  I am much more hardcore in this department than Daddy.  He gets a bit grumpy as he's getting out of bed in the middle of the night, but he just melts once he gets to you.  He loves the snuggles.  Just last weekend you randomly started saying "don't!"  I don't know where you picked that up.  We're okay with you saying it, but have redirected you to say "please don't" instead and so far that is working well.

You're still rear facing in your car seat and will be for quite some time yet.  You don't mind one bit and you are an excellent travel companion.  You're so sweet you even notice when we clean our cars "ooh! clean car!"  You have recently joined us at the table for meals.  You were always right up next to it in your booster chair with attached tray, but we seem to have finally ditched the tray and moved you to the table with a place mat.  I guess that could be one complaint.  You prefer to dump your food on your tray/place mat rather than eat off a plate or bowl.  You used to dump it on the floor when you were done eating, but we have mostly nipped that in the bud.  We were able to teach you that dumping your food on the floor is "rude" and that telling us you are done and handing your plate to us is "so polite" which made you happy.  I already mentioned sleep, but you're still in a crib.  It works, you don't mind, and you don't try to get out, so we're going with it.  We borrowed another crib for this new baby, so we shouldn't have to force you out of yours anytime soon.

I won't get into your diet and food since I have enough posts about that.  Your two year check up is tomorrow, so I will come back to record your stats.  I'm guessing you're mid to upper 25#s based on your last weight check.  [Edit: You are 25# 13oz, 35" tall, and I will have to check online for your head circumference once it's updated.]

Things you like: your baby (good thing we have triplets of her), books, going places in the car, jumping, dancing, water (bath, shower, water table, rain, Rowdy's dish, doesn't matter), sparkles (glittery shoes, clothes, headbands), any headbands (pretty!), art stuff (coloring, stickers, do-a-dot markers "dot dots"), dolls and real babies, helping, bubbles (blowing bubbles, soap bubbles, bubble baths, bubbles in books...), snow (especially eating it), school, blocks, sign language DVDs (rare, but exciting for you), ice water (yes, specifically ice water), drinking "coffee" out of your plastic coffee mug, blueberries, people (you're a total people person), airplanes (you point them out whenever you hear one and mostly know the difference between airplane sound and helicopter sound).  Your favorite songs: Hey Jude by The Beatles, Imagine by John Lennon (piano), Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Mr. Tembo by Damon Albarn, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, Shake It Off by Taylor Swift,

I just wish I could video you for a whole week and put that on the blog.  I am sitting here typing thinking I am missing so much of your personality, but I don't know how to capture it all in writing and a few photos.  I've been making notes about what to write on this post for a couple weeks now and part of me wants to keep it as a draft so I can add more and more to it.  I feel like a few paragraphs just can't do you justice.  Though we had quite the journey and wait to meet you, you made it known from the very beginning when the time was right.

Jon & Moe's wedding, less than 24 hours after finding out you were in my belly.
You are just weeks away from becoming a BIG SISTER.  I know we will have our challenges and it won't be all magical fairy tale land, but I really think you will adjust quickly and be great.  You love babies (real ones and your dolls) and you love to help.  You've done a great job learning to be "gentle...nice..." and are overall a really great, easy kid.  I have the typical soon-to-be-mom-of-a-subsequent-kid fears about spreading out time, giving both kids the attention they deserve, how on Earth could I make room in my heart to love another as much as I love you, etc.  I know everything will be just fine.  My heart will grow to accommodate the new love.  I'll be tired.  We'll all have moments of frustration.  Though I will no longer have as much one-on-one time with you, you will have a sibling and that definitely counts for something.  I know we made the right decision and the timing will be excellent.  I'm excited for myself and definitely excited for you!

I often wonder if your birthday might be just as special (more?) for me as it is for you.  It is the day you made me a mom, the day we waited and waited and waited for, the day I saw your Daddy become a dad.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!  We love you more than a rambly, mushy, braggy blog post could ever show!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Texas Caviar Recipe.

This one is always a big hit!  With a few substitutions that really don't even matter, I was easily able to make it Myra/FPIES friendly for her second birthday party.  If you want other versions, plenty comes up if you do a Google/Pinterest search of Texas Caviar or Cowboy Caviar.

The biggie for this one is the sauce or marinade or whatever you want to call it.  Chop the ingredients (those that need it) and let sit 6+ hours, ideally overnight, in this sauce.  Drain before serving.

1 cup salad oil (olive, canola, lots of options...we used corn oil this time)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Heat to boiling, remove from heat, allow to cool, pour over veggies and mix it all together.  Cover, refrigerate, let sit 6+ hours or overnight.  Drain before serving.  Serve with chips, we like Fritos scoops.

For Myra's, we used:
Chopped bell peppers (green, red, orange, and yellow)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 can corn, drained
2 cups white beans (cooked first if using dry, otherwise out of the can and drained is fine)

Other ingredient ideas one could use: pimentos, celery, onion, other beans (we usually use pinto beans), or probably a million other things!  You could also add things like cilantro or lime juice.

Blueberry Cha Cha Recipe.

This is a recipe Trevor's mom has made and we adapted it to be Myra-friendly.  It can be made with any fruit pie filling, really.  We usually have it with cherries, but used blueberries for Myra's party.  I imagine there are plenty of variations one could use, especially for the crust, but to keep things clear and simple this is easily made to be, at a minimum, dairy- and soy-free.

The recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, so I started with this coconut flour substitute instead.  I pressed it into a 9x13 pan greased with coconut oil and baked for about 13 minutes.

Other ingredients needed: 
Whipped cream, 3-4 cans following this recipe and add powdered sugar
2.5 cups mini marshmallows
1 large can blueberry pie filling

Make the 1/2 of the whipped cream as directed then mix in marshmallows, spread over crust.  Drizzle pie filling on top and spread. Whip the rest of the cream with sugar and spread on top.  

The recipe says to refrigerate overnight, but we did not.  I put it in the freezer for about an hour and it was still good.  Refrigerating longer just allows the cream/marshmallows to set up a bit more.

Enjoy!  I meant to get a photo but we dished it up and ate it too quickly!

An FPIES-Friendly Second Birthday Party.

I've got a "Myra at 2" post in the works, but I will wait until her actual birthday to publish that one.  This is all things birthday party.  It seems like a lifetime ago we were just starting to figure out Myra's FPIES...and planning her first birthday party.  We wanted it to be as stress free as possible, so we only served foods that were safe for her.  At the time, that was three things.  We wanted to be able to enjoy the party and not worry about her getting into food she couldn't have, wanted any of our guests to be able to feed her, and wanted to show everyone what her diet is like for a day.  It took some creativity, but we pulled it off and it was a great party.

A year has passed and our biggest struggle this year was narrowing down what to serve.  In a year, we went from three safe foods to eighteen, including a couple FPIES-biggies (corn, eggs) that make meal prep and party hosting so much easier.

Myra's DIY birthday poster, can you tell where she was sitting while sticker-ing?

Decorated using the poster Myra made and some of her school artwork
On the menu this year-click links for recipes: ham (slathered in honey) served with warm peaches and cinnamon (typical for Trevor's family), homemade hashbrowns (cubed potatoes cooked in olive oil), Texas caviar dip with Fritos, green (no pimentos!) and black olives, pumpkin (ok, squash) spice donut holes, cupcakes, blueberry cha cha, and apple juice.  Grandma even surprised us and made some divinity (no nuts and maple syrup instead of vanilla).  Everyone was able to fill their plates and truly enjoy a good meal, and Myra was no exception.  No one had to ask if it was okay to feed her something, anything Myra wanted she was able to have.  I have become pretty worry-free regarding her FPIES and foods, relatively speaking, but I still can't usually let her out of my sight at stuff like this and in all other aspects of parenting I consider myself to be pretty far from a helicopter-mom.  That said, it is an amazing feeling for all of us to be able to run around, talk with people, prepare food, etc. and not even think about where Myra is and what she could be eating.   Actually, my only slight concern was that Myra would be having so much fun she would forget to tell us if she had to pee, but even that didn't happen.

She had so much fun playing with everyone while we finished getting food ready and setting up tables.  

Myra thought she was pretty cool when we sang Happy Birthday to her.  She requested it again throughout the rest of the evening.  "Birthday to You again?"  We obliged and sang to her one more time before opening presents.  She was very patient with opening presents, opening each one carefully and looking at it before rushing to the next one.  She loves books, so she was actually interested (somewhat) in reading her cards.  

We stashed away a few of her new gifts for now-we'll bring them back out one by one once Baby 2 arrives.  Myra is still talking about her party and probably will be for quite some time.  Most often she says, "thank you, party!" and "bye bye, party!"  Thank you to everyone who came to help her celebrate-we all had a great time!

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