Sunday, January 25, 2015

Vivi in the Snow...And Angry

I love that my Facebook feed fills up with pictures of my friends' kids playing in the snow every time we get a decent amount.  Parenting can sometimes feel isolating, but it's such a shared experience.  At the very moment I was bundling my girls up to go sledding, thousands of other parents across Eastern Massachusetts were doing the same exact thing.  Whether it's fun in the snow, or fielding bedtime meltdowns, 
it's comforting to know that we're all in the same boat.  

Anyhow...before I get too carried away and start singing Kumbaya...

We got a good amount of snow over the weekend.  Madeline was thrilled.  When I broke the news that ballet was cancelled on Saturday morning, I was prepared for some frowns.  

Instead, she grinned and cried, "That means I get to go outside and play in the snow!"  

And when she says "play in the snow," she really means lie down face-first and eat the snow.  

She ate enough snow to make me think she might have a problem.  Seriously, Maddie Bear, stop eating the snow.

In the afternoon, we decided to bring Vivi outside and toss her in the white stuff for the first time.  

We put so many layers on the poor girl that she couldn't move.  At all.  She was not amused.  

We pulled the girls around the yard on their sled, but Vivi couldn't even sit due to the absurd amount of clothing she was wearing.  So she lay on her back, snow falling in her face, and gave us the Vivi glare of doom.  

We quickly rescued her from sledding hell.  Although I may have made her cry a few minutes later when I tried sliding her down a snow bank.  

 She was content to watch Madeline and our neighbors run around like snow beasts for a bit, but overall, she wasn't a fan.  

That's too bad, Vivi, cause we're about to get hit with a blizzard. Our local weathermen can't even contain their excitement.  Those sick bastards.

 I predict more snow-day pictures in our future.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Olaf!

On Tuesday, Madeline declared, "Tomorrow is Olaf's birthday!"  

In case you're new around here, Olaf is Maddie's bear and best buddy.
And for the record, he was Olaf long before any snowman came along.  

I don't know what put the idea in her head, but she didn't forget about celebrating Olaf's birthday like I expected she would.  She spent the rest of the afternoon making invitations to his party and hanging up decorations.   

I found the feather boas from her dress-up box draped around the banister, and every figurine she possesses lined up in anticipation for his party, which she informed me, would be the following afternoon.   

I figured, what the heck, Olaf deserves a birthday.  So I told her that if she cleaned the playroom, (now covered in figurines and dress-up clothes) she could have a party for Olaf when she got home from school the next day.  

She woke up the next morning, Olaf tucked under her arm as always, and exclaimed, "Olaf's party is today!" 

I did some grocery shopping while she was at school and picked up a cupcake for "Olaf" while I was there.  

Later, as promised, we broke out the fancy tea set, and Madeline set up her party.  She very happily poured water into the teacups and chatted with her bears.  

When I showed her the cupcake, the smile faded from her face though.  

"Mumma, Olaf's not real," she told me gently.  

I'm not sure if she was making sure that she would get to eat the cupcake, or if she was worried that her mother had actually lost her mind.  But once I clarified that she could eat it in Olaf's place, and that I knew he wasn't a living bear, the party was back on.  

Happy birthday, Olaf.  You're a very good bear.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vivi: Thirteen Months

Vivi's first birthday seems like it was eons ago instead of a mere month.  Once we got past the sparkle of the holidays, we fell quickly back into our regular routine.  Now that it's cold and gray, and we are stuck indoors, time starts to crawl.  Not that I mind.  I know the next few months will be gone in a snap, and I'll be back at work pouting.

At thirteen months, Vivi is still quite the peanut.  I don't really worry about it.  To us, she's just her normal self.  But it always shocks me to see her beside babies her own age.  We visited a play center last week where there were babies  bigger than Vivi who were just learning to sit up.  Meanwhile, a baby the same age as Vivi looked twice as big.  The lack of hair doesn't help.  Maddie's didn't grow till she was three, Viv. You've got a ways to go.  Sorry.  

Vivienne isn't walking yet.  We keep thinking it's going to happen, but she's just happier, and faster, crawling. She'll randomly stand up and walk a few steps across the living room, but the second we look at her, she lowers herself back down to her knees.  It's like trying to catch a glimpse of Sasquatch.  

But holy cow, our girl is a climber.  On Christmas Day she climbed all the way up the stairs and into her bedroom before any of we responsible adults noticed.  She really loves to climb on furniture.  Standing on her rocking chair is a favorite pastime and a good way to keep Mumma on her toes. 

She loves looking out the window at the world.  She can peer over the ledge of the windowsill if she stands on her tiptoes.  Otherwise she uses a chair.  She  'll stay that way for a long time pointing and babbling at everything she sees.  

She's not talking much, but in the past week, words seem to be coming more rapidly.  Tonight she was whining in her high chair at dinner when clear as a bell out came, "All done."  Eric and I both heard it.  

She's got the D sound down.  Dada is Eric.  Duh is Madeline.  A short Dah is That.  There are various sounds for "down" and "done" and "doll."  

 She's constantly babbling, screeching, giggling, or blowing raspberries.  

When words fail, Vivi gestures nicely.  She points, or hands us items she wants to explore.  Yesterday, she opened my fingers and placed a brush in my hand because she wanted me to brush her lack of hair.  She signs for more when she wants more food...usually blueberries.  

She's starting to get picky about what she eats.  She loves all forms of fruit, especially blueberries, but hates most vegetables.  She doesn't like meat.  She does like pasta and bread.  Sometimes she loves beans and sometimes she throws them across the kitchen.  Babies are fickle.  

I'm figuring out what she can eat with her food allergies.  It's easier than I thought it would be.  And she still takes formula in her bottle a few times a day to make sure she's getting the nutrients she needs.  

  She's still very shy of people.  She ducks her head to avoid eye contact with strangers, and she doesn't like being the center of attention.  Yet, she's pretty fearless about everything else.  She often tries to wiggle away from me in stores because she wants to get down to explore.  

She's happy and sweet and full of cuddles most of the time, but she has a bad temper.  She screams in frustration when she doesn't get her way.  She's been known to throw things.  

She's also so clever.  She got her hands on the tissue box today.  I watched her pull out a tissue and got ready to stop her from pulling them all out of the box.  Instead, she carefully used it to wipe her runny nose.  Then she carried the tissue around, stopping to wipe as needed.  Then she tried to eat the, baby steps.  Still, I was impressed.  

Team Vivi.  All the way.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Managing Vivi's Baby Eczema

Vivi had appointments with all three of her doctors over the past month, and all three were amazed at how good her skin looks.  We finally have a good skin care routine going, and as a result, her eczema is under control.  

I've found that her eczema never truly goes away.  It's a lot like weeding a garden bed.  You can pull out all the unwanted plants, but three days later, those damn dandelions are back.  It's the same with laundry, and shaving my face, and all the other never-ending tasks that fill up our lives.

If I follow her skin-care regimen every day, we're able to keep her rashes to a minimum.  If I let things slide, it comes creeping right back, and she's an itchy, rash-y baby mess all over again.  Nobody wants that.  So here's what's been working for us:  

Frequent bathing
Frequent moisturizing
Avoiding irritants

It's pretty basic.  In fact, this is pretty much the same routine one would follow for any baby, eczema or no.  There are just a few extra considerations and tricks we use to keep her skin hydrated and clear.  

1. Frequent Bathing

Vivi needs a bath every day.

There are cold days, busy days, and cranky days when I think, "Meh, she's not that dirty...I'll wash her tomorrow."  When she was a tiny baby, she'd scream every time she saw the water, which also made me want to avoid washing her whenever possible.  But her skin really, really needs a daily soak.  I always notice a difference if we skip a day.    

I keep the water warm, but not hot.  We also keep her time in the tub short.  Baths that are too hot or too long irritate her skin.    

We don't use any bubbles, soaps, or shampoos because they also irritate her skin.

Twice a week we use Eucerin Baby Cleansing Relief to wash her body and hair.  It's the last thing I do before we take her out of the water so that she's not sitting in the suds for a long time.  

Sometimes she shares a bath with her sister, which means some of Maddie's shampoo is in the water.  Those baths are extra quick, and we haven't had any problems.

2) Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

It took a long time to find a moisturizer that works for Vivi.  Every over-the-counter moisturizer we tried, even those recommended by the National Eczema Foundation, caused a horrible red rash all over her body.  For a long time, we used Vaseline, which worked okay but was horribly sticky.  

Then our doctor recommended Hydrolatum to us.  It's now our best friend.

It's odorless, hypoallergenic, fragrance free, yada, yada, yada.  It's thick, but not uncomfortable like the Vaseline was.   Best of works!  Her skin has improved so much since we started using it.

You don't need a prescription for Hydrolatum, but the pharmacy keeps it behind the counter.  You might not see it browsing the shelves.  It comes in a gigantic tub that lasts us about two months.

I apply the Hydrolatum twice a day including directly after her bath while her skin is still damp to lock the moisture in.  And I mean liberally.  It's like rubbing a turkey with butter.  A lot of butter.  If her skin is looking dry, I apply the moisturizer more frequently.
(It's probably also wise to not let your child chew on the container, but I'm a horrible parent, so...)

We also have a prescription for topical hydrocortisone to use when needed.  The hydrocortisone is used only on the problem areas before we apply her moisturizer.

For a long time we were using the hydrocortisone every other week.  After five days the rash would clear, but as soon as I stopped using the cream, it would quickly return.  As she gets older, we're using it a lot less frequently.

Constant moisturizing has been the biggest help in keeping her skin healthy.  Plus, my hands are pretty soft too...

3. Avoid Possible Irritants

There has been a lot of trial and error in identifying what triggers Vivi's rashes.

Eczema and allergies are separate conditions.  Allergies do not cause eczema.  However, people with eczema are more likely to develop allergies.  There seems to be a lot of debate linking food allergies with eczema, and from what I've learned, most people with eczema can eat whatever they want.  

That being said, Vivi's skin has improved greatly since she stopped nursing.  It sucks.  Breast milk is THE BEST.  But in our case, switching to Nutramigen, and thereby eliminating all traces of of dairy, eggs, and peanuts from her system, has been a good thing.  If you need to switch to Nutramigen due to a cow's milk allergy, check with your insurance company.  Ours covered 100% of the cost.

And of course, now that she's eating more and more solids, we keep the foods she's allergic to away from her.

We've also noticed that Vivi is sensitive to certain fabrics.  Micro fleece seems to be the biggest problem, which is a bummer because A LOT of cozy baby clothes are made out of that material.  She wore a fleece hoodie yesterday, for example, and by the end of the day, the area where the hoodie meets her cheeks was all red and irritated.  

Once the garment is washed a few times, it's no longer a problem.  It's only when it's still new, soft, and fuzzy that it makes her itchy.  Back into the wash with that hoodie!  

We also use hypoallergenic detergent for all our laundry.

As already mentioned, lotions do not jive well with her.  If I'm freshly lotioned after a shower, I make sure she doesn't come in contact with my skin as we cuddle.

The weather also seems to make a huge difference in her skin.  While there's not much we can do about that, we make sure we take extra precautions for extreme cold and heat.  During the winter, we lotion more because the air is so dry.

During the summer, her skin was horrible.  The sweaty creases of her body were rubbed raw and bloody.  I had to make sure her nails were kept extra short to keep her from scratching.  Even though it was hot out, I'd pull leg warmers on her at night to keep her away from the back of her knees.  We don't want her skin getting infected.  Poor baby.  

The doctor tells us that her skin condition should improve as she gets older.  In the meantime, we just keep moisturizing and bathing and moisturizing and bathing....and more moisturizing.

Random Thoughts

- How come I can dress my baby in mismatched patterns, funky knit hats, pants that are too short, sweaters that are too big and covered in banana stains, and it all just makes her look more adorable? Yet, when I dress this way, people think, "Oh, she must be homeless.  Avoid eye contact."  Vivi and the Olsen twins...the only people on the planet who can pull off baby hobo chic.

- There was a flashback sequence to 2004 on The Mindy Project last night in which she poked fun of her bootcut jeans and cowl neck sweater.  Funny except that it's 2015, and I still wear bootcut jeans and cowl neck sweaters.  What's a pear-shaped gal to do? 

I think low-rise bootcut jeans with bedazzled back pockets are the mom jeans of our generation.  Someday the girls will be all, "God mom!  Why can't you wear high-rise, acid-washed jeans like the cool moms?! You're not even wearing boots and we can see your granny panties!"  
And I'll shoot back, "Those other moms are just trying to hide their tribal inspired tramp stamps!  Bet you're glad I didn't fall for that one in 2004!"  

- They talked about time-outs at Maddie's school the other day, and when it was her turn to share, she claimed she didn't receive any form of punishment at home ever.  Then I realized she hadn't had a time-out in a long time...maybe too long.  So, I brought her home, and the first chance I got, I gave her a time-out.  I felt like a better parent, and she seemed happy to have something in common with her friends.  Win-win.  

- A Market Basket employee criticized the number of chicken fingers I ordered at their store last week.  I don't wanna talk about it.  I already vented my rage on Facebook.  I'm taking this as a sign that maybe I shouldn't spend my days guzzling coffee between snacking on carbs and chocolate.  But, dammit, I really hate squats.  

- I want to teach Maddie that my phone serves a purpose other than watching videos of dancing gummy bears.  It would be nice to know that if I pass out from too many squats that somebody could call 911.  I have no idea how to teach her to dial 911 on an iPhone without actually dialling 911.  Also, I don't think she knows what a 9 looks like.  They practiced this at school one day, but when I quizzed her later she was trying to dial 117, which doesn't do anyone any good. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Monkey See...

If we made one giant pile of our baby toys and tossed Vivienne in the center of it, she'd never be seen again.

Seriously.  She's a small baby.  She has A LOT of toys.  Enough to keep twenty small babies occupied for quite some time. (As long as there aren't any electrical cords or cardboard boxes around to distract the babies from the toys that is...)

All her toys are age appropriate and awesome.  She has hippopotami that sing, a puppy that walks on his hind legs, and enough Little People to populate Rhode Island.  If I were a baby, I would play with those toys all damn day, son.  

But Vivi?  All Vivi wants to play with is the Disney Princess Glitter Glider Castle Playset complete with MagiClip Glitter Glider Princesses.  Of course.  

After all, it's Madeline's toy, and therefore, the coolest thing Vivi has seen since passing through the birth canal.  

Madeline is a little less than thrilled with her little sister trying to swipe her Christmas present, so Vivi doesn't get to play with it much.  This seems to only make her want it more.  I spend a good portion of my afternoon trying to keep the peace between Madeline, Vivi, and the Glitter Glider Castle Playset.  

Luckily for Vivi, Madeline's not always around.  Sometimes she's at school, or helping Dada shovel, or playing with the mountain of baby toys in the other room.  And when big sister's away, Vivi will play...

She's not quite sure what to do with those princesses once she's not trying to sneak them away from Madeline. Mostly she makes a lot of high-pitched oohs and ahhs while she lines them up on the table.  Occasionally she tries to send them down the slide, but then she gets frustrated and throws them on the floor.  A few second later she forgets her anger and chews on their heads.  This morning she spent nearly an hour repeating this cycle while Madeline was at school.  It was glorious.  I got to drink my coffee in peace while Cinderella's face got gnawed on for a change.  

And so it begins.  Vivi will now spend the next eighteen years of her life trying to copy everything that Madeline does.  Baby toys?  Who needs those when there are four-year-old toys in the house!?  

Vivi will probably try to ride a bike long before she's ready, steal her sister's lipstick, and whine about her unfairly early curfew.

 This also means that if Madeline starts sneaking out of the house to booze with her friends at sixteen, Vivi will start doing it at thirteen. 

 We're hoping Maddie decides to play the tuba. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bunny Picture

I finally got around to taking Vivi's one-year bunny picture.

She's wearing one of my old baby dresses.  And she's holding the bunny the same way Madeline was in this picture hanging in our living room:

As always, baby girl didn't want to sit still.