Saturday, February 21, 2009

From Trash to Compost

"Daddy, let's go compost." What a proud mama I was to hear my 2 1/2-year old say those words for the first time today. Yes, I know I'm a green freak, a "crunchy" girl (as 1 of Biscuit's pediatricians called me), or perhaps a run-of-the-mill environmentally conscious 21st century realist. Truth is, we're living in a different world today from the 1 our parents raised us in and just as technology shaped our lives differently from our parents' then, for our children, their worlds will be shaped by an environmental mindshift (and technology changes of course.)

For the Biscuit, the mental model that he has for the word "light bulb" doesn't look like the image on the left, but the image on the right below.
since all of the bulbs in our house are CFLs, it's all he sees.

And (soon) his concept of grocery bags won't look like the image on the left, but the image on the right below. (I'm still working on the shopping bag thing... I get a 50/50 on it.)

The Biscuit lives in an environmentally conscious home where we turn everything off when we leave the house (the router, cable modem, TVs, phones are all unplugged when we aren't there), and where we have low-flow everything, where we compost, recycle, reuse, and don't waste. We eat organics and use environmentally friendly detergents, cleaners, and other products. He is learning that we are given the gift of living on this planet, that we don't own her, but we must protect her.

The Biscuit knows words that I never knew at 2, like compost, recycle, and Mother Earth. And he's learning that most plastic is really bad for him (as we've tossed all of his sippy cups and plastic cups and replaced with glass). Maybe some will judge that I'm raising an environmental geek... for me, I'm raising a responsible, loving child who will be prepared for the "Age" that he's already living in. An age where the word "trash" loses its meaning (and use) and is replaced with compost and recycle, or where the word "trash" at least becomes as unusual to readers of this blog who find the word "compost" unusual today. Here's hoping.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Healthy Sleep Habits Boot Camp

Well folks, this post is a bit out of the norm of my postings (since I just posted on Friday and typically don't post until Wednesday), but I had some helpful mommy news I wanted to share. I stumbled upon (thank you Noggin) some fantastic access to renowned infant/toddler sleep guru, Dr. Marc Weissbluth's boot camp site on the Web.

You can get started now with his 4-week sleep boot camp for your child to try and get your child's sleep habits under control with his personal tutelage (courtesy a discussion board). Now, I am (obviously) a Weissbluth devotee thanks to many of my friends who recommended that I read Healthy Sleep Habits Healthy Child before I had the Biscuit. I followed his guidance and raised a very satisfied and well-slept infant and (until recently) toddler.

I forgot, though, that his book also offers guidance on toddler sleep habits and the boot camp is all about that! So, take a look at the site (am sure you probably have to register to use it, but it's free) and, if you're inclined, sign up and follow the weekly guidance.

See you all at boot camp!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just Give Me The Meds

"I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." Well, not really, but I do play one every single day of my life as a mommy who is raising a toddler. For mommies of toddlers who are in daycare, it seems that every week during the wintertime (especially during these early months in the year), we are either fighting 1 virus or another or attempting to fend 1 off.

Last Friday night, the Biscuit started showing the signs of an upper-respiratory infection. It hit him overnight and the severity of it caused me to move into action pretty quickly, considering the Biscuit's history with RSV. He had a progressing congestion, coughing, lack of sleep, and his 102 fever rounded out Saturday night. By Sunday morning, we were in the doctor's office for a checkup and remedy (and, oh yes, the Biscuit's pediatrician has Sunday office hours for sick visits). And by remedy, I mean meds. "Gimme the scrip Doc!"

For those who know me well, you know that I truly don't like to resort to medicine unless the situation truly warrants it. I prefer natural remedies, TLC, good food, etc. whenever possible. This time... not a practical approach.

If I've learned anything as a toddler mommy (much less in my own life, with my parents, and friends), I know that you HAVE to be informed about medicine and health issues. You truly ARE your toddler's own best advocate. If you are relying on your doctor to figure it all out for you, you are way behind in the game. Not only do you need to keep yourself up-to-date on toddler ailments, but you should walk into your doctor's office for sick visits with a couple of possibilities of what you suspect your little one has.

Any decent doctor will respect you for the research you've done and for the "legwork" you've already put in the game to attempt to diagnose. Now, this is not to suggest that you will be right, but you know your little one better than anyone (including your doctor) and you know the nuances of things that are not right and can offer the best holistic picture of everything that is wrong, which will help your doctor to diagnose and suggest the "right" type of treatment. So educate yourself and advocate for your toddler.

Second, you should have 2 pediatricians that you see. Ideally, these should both be at the same practice (to ensure records always cross over). Why? Well, you're going to want 1 doc who is the conservative doctor (who doesn't rush to drugs, tests, or procedures every time). This doctor may be more of an alternative-type doctor or one who includes a less traditional, more homeopathic-type approach. The other doctor, is your drug-pusher and aggressive doctor. These docs are easy to ID because they always default to an antibiotic for an ear infection.

Once you've learned to be educated about your toddler's health and are truly an advocate, you'll be able to make decisions before you go in to the doctor about which 1 you want to see. In the case of the Biscuit last weekend, we needed the drug pusher. But if I'm not sure what's wrong and the Biscuit is "okay-ish", maybe nursing an ear infection, we're heading to our "crunchy" homeopath doctor, the 1 who didn't freak out when I asked about including seaweed in his diet to ward off future ear infections, but actually discussed the decreased % of ear infections in island communities due to the sea-based diet.

And for goodness sakes, if you end up like me with a triage nurse who is doc-blocking your ? about the proper dosage of OTC guaifenesin to give your toddler because she insists on telling you the evils of guaifenisen (when you know good and well that your child responds to it and even Dr. Sears says it's ok--is he a real doctor?) and wants you to try honey instead, just take a deep breath and know that she HAS to ask your doctor when you call and your drug-pushing doctor will come through for you in the end.

And, yes, the Biscuit is on the mend now... until the next ugly virus sneaks up on him at that Petri dish we call daycare. Google up folks!

The Biscuit and family want to say a heart-felt thank you to all of you who have sent us kind thoughts and prayers both publicly and privately over the past couple of weeks. We still miss our kitty, but we are healing every day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

The Biscuit (and family) suffered a terrible loss over the last week. Sadly, our dear, sweet cat of over a decade was tragically killed following her getting out of the house, getting lost in the cold, and getting picked up by animal "control" officers. In the most horrific of circumstances, she was sheltered by a kind family for the night, taken by animal control (so she could be found by her family), and was then killed within only a couple of hours of them taking her into custody. Although I ran to her rescue, I was too late and never even had a chance to see her. It happened very quickly and was a terrible circumstance filled with loss, followed by happiness and hope, followed by tragic loss.

I tell you this to offer some context for the truly tragic and sudden loss and the nature of the grief and absence that we are feeling. In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I will focus less on the inhumanity and anger I have related to the cruel circumstances that befell her and focus more on the toddler issue at hand: How do you talk to a toddler about the death of a beloved pet?

I'm not a psychologist or a doctor, so I am only sharing my perspective with the hopes that it might give someone helpful hints in the event you are faced with this (and I truly hope you never are). I've done my best to read what I could on the Internet about tips for dealing with loss for toddlers, which basically affirmed what is common sense and what I knew to do: tell the truth, but limit the information and find a way for the toddler to connect to the loss at their level.

The Biscuit loved, loved, loved his pet kitty. She was "his" pet. He held her, petted her, called her, scolded her, chased her, caught her, kissed her, fed her, made messes with her, played with her, apologized to her (when he was bad), and knew her as another member of our family. She was part of our routine every day and the sudden shake-up in our routine hit us both pretty hard. I knew I had to address what had happened to her after the tragedy, but the grief of the situation made it quite hard to even get the words out.

I waited a day (after it happened) before I told the Biscuit. When I decided it was time, I held him close and said that his kitty had died and gone to heaven, and that she was happy there. I then told him that I was sad right now and that it was okay for him to be sad if he misses her too. I also told him that if he thinks about her, it's okay to say, "I miss [kitty's name]". Then I told him that we could say a little prayer together to let her know how much we love her and miss her. He hugged me after, though I don't think he was truly understanding it all... but was a toddler consoling his mommy. I talked to him about planting something in the garden that we can remember her by, but he wasn't interested.

In the days that followed, when there were times in our routine when we normally saw our kitty, the Biscuit would say, "I miss [kitty's name]." I would follow with, I miss her too, love. Also, I added a few photos around the house of the kitty so he can still see her. He often asks to look at the one I keep on my desktop (PC). He smiles when he sees her.

He doesn't mention her any less yet, it has only been a week, but I expect that eventually the routine we know will no longer hold her memory so close. The thought of that makes me quite sad, but I know it is unavoidable. All in all, I think he's doing great.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. I'm so sorry you were alone. Thank you for the faithful love. We miss you more every day.