December 28, 2008

Ill Communications

This is the kind of kiddie blog material that's very hard to make interesting for those who don't already happen to have toddlers around. It's about wee childish sniffling, pitiful coughing, soughing, wheezing, the having of a reddish, heated hairline, a warm smooth back, a feverish glint in the eye and a sweaty forelock. Also: sullen pink blotches in the cheeks, unstable sleeping patterns and caterwauling at 2, accepting mildly (or strenuously rejecting) a rectal thermometer. It's those rashes around the nose and mouth from being wet too often and wiped too often. It's the too-short nap (making for a bitter and unstable afternoon) or its cousin, the over-nap, which makes, in turn, for a long and weird evening. It's the doctor telling you it's "probably a virus" and sending you home with bupkis.

Longstanding, inexplicable illness and general sorry-assedness like this makes human experience unpleasant by the yard, by the hour, by the week. It turns the fun-o-meter down on all things. It makes me think of what most of human history must have been like. All that nursing, being nursed, all the slowly getting worse.

Pox of all sorts has been coming and going in our home since before Thanksgiving. It's gone back and forth between me, and Sarah, and Elliot -- briefly affected Ada -- and even struck Elliot's Mimi (who lost her voice for Xmas). The glands in my neck STILL don't feel like they're the right size (or the same size as each other). We've all been a right mess.

We thought it was just a basic holiday virus extravaganza, and it probably is, but I noticed something else yesterday that goes a long way in tying together some of the phenomena we've been seeing. While Elliot and I were in the shower together, he was opening up his mouth wide to get a stream of water, and I discovered . . . .


(cue video)

Two sharp, white, splendid, well-crested, well-earned upper back molars. These things are like Moby Dick (in stereo) to Elliot's immune system (how quickly we forgot).

Only two more such monsters and he will have a complete set of baby teeth.

Those grippy gums I loved to have chawing at my thumb are well and truly gone.

December 07, 2008

Elliot's sleeping arrangement

From Sarah's mom:

What we had to do for [Sarah] might still be possible with the Plum’s crib:

We took the springs out, kinda dismantled the bed. Put the MATTRESS on the FLOOR, INSIDE THE FRAME of your bed! Then lowered the side to the top of the mattress—so it added the height of the mattress to the height of the side, thus making it harder for you to pole vault out. plus when you did (as you inevitably did) you started from a lower spot.

Yup, we ended up doing exactly that, because Elliot started being a climber. It's working really well.

Sippy Cup Design Study: We Have Our Winner

After 2.25 years and numerous sippy cups, it's become clear to me that the Playtex sippy cup variety pictured above is, for our purposes, the big winner. And now that they are sold without BPAs, I can recommend them with a clear conscience.

A design review:
  • Handles essential. Hook side-handles rather than closed rings highly preferred. So you can hook the sippy cup in your pocket while you carry a yodeling toddler down the hall. So you can hook it in the seat pocket on an airplane. Et cetera. We've had various kinds, and this arrangement just seems more handy, more often.
  • Translucent plastic, rather than opaque. So you can see in there! Are there dried-on milk rings that need to be scrubbed? Floating crumbs? Toy soldiers? Translucence is key.
  • Wide and sturdy rather than tall and narrow. If the valve is leaking, or missing (an inevitability, eventually), the cup is just a bit less likely to tip over and make an issue of itself. If the lid happens to be off, for grown-up style drinking (also know as "going commando"), the wide base makes it easier for little ones to successfully pick the sippy up and set it back down. And it's easier to clean with a regular kitchen sponge (rather than a wee bottle brush), because you can get your hand in there. It can also fit a conventional kitchen brush . Or even a rag on a stick . (Rag-on-a-stickers, you know who you are.)
  • Since toddler hands can fit into this cup as well, it can be used in a pinch as a to-go container for Cheerios, goldfish, or their organic, whole-wheat-based, non-hydrogenated equivalents.
  • The sippy can be dropped, but the valve will generally stay snugly in place. One higher-end BPA-free brand of sippy cup has a white plastic valve piece (nestled up under the cap) that tends to fall out if the cup is dropped, leaving the valve floating around in the beverage. Sippy cups get dropped constantly, of course, so this is super-lame. The cute Sigg aluminum bottles that everyone is buying like crazy happen to dent and ding like crazy. And their cute Swiss paint jobs start to flake off rather quickly (yikes).
  • It's not only possible to clean the very inventive, very simple Playtex valve assembly (one gold star), it's actually sort of easy to do so (three gold stars!). The otherwise stellar reputation of Avent products does not make up for a valve design that is fussy and really tough to clean. Born Free cups : basically uncleanable. If used for milk, liable to start smelling quickly. The Siggs are worse here: I was amazed at how quickly milk (and toddler-backwash) sours in contact with the metal of those bottles. If the breakfast-time Sigg bottle happens to be left sitting out in the few hours til lunch, trying opening it up and sniffing the rim of the bottle. Not good. If it was accidentally left in a diaper bag overnight (which does happen from time to time)...."it would be bad.")
  • This sippy involves 3 pieces, sum total. (see also: easy to clean; easy for family friends and relatives to figure out without instructions; easy to keep track of.)

Downsides of the winning sippy cup

  • Not dishwasher-safe. But nothing in this category is, really; and the aluminum Sigg bottles aren't, either. We bought one, and I read the instructions very closely. Hand wash! Hello, wee bottle brush.
  • Relatively soft plastic on the mouthpiece. As a sort of absentminded tic, or perhaps a hobby, Elliot gnaws, digs at, penetrates, and generally destroys mouthpieces and straws, whether they are hard or soft plastic. In end, the result is always the same; the softer plastic just means we have to get rid of the sippy head sooner.
Elliot is getting on in years, so some may be wondering why, or if, we still need sippy cups.

We so do.

As an example, I flew four flights on Northwest Airlines over Thanksgiving, in the company of my very milk-oriented son. On none of those flights was there any milk available for purchase or barter! I guess Northwest has stopped serving milk, even with coffee. Adapting to this, I brought along, for the 3-hour flight from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City (a leg where I flew solo with him), an eight-ounce cup of milk I purchased from the airport Starbucks -- clear plastic cup, clear plastic lid, green straw.

What was I thinking??

The crawling, the peekaboo (the tipping over), the bumping around; the accelerating during takeoff (the tipping over); the banking; the rolling around; the giggling (the straw getting bent down and then flipped up repeatedly, flinging dots of milk on the walls, on the seats, on my glasses, in his hair). The crushing of the crushable plastic sides of the cup (the spilling on the seat). Have we ever mentioned that Elliot cries over spilled milk? He does. He says (in a mournful, drawn-out kind of Eliza Doolittle elocution), "What haaaaappened?" over and over. Our standard answers ("Well, buddy, some expensive organic dairy product got spilled on this here naugahide seat cushion/flotation device") don't seem to satisfy the question he's actually asking. So he takes my chin in his hands (he does) and looks me full in the face and asks again, forlornly, "Wha'huuuappennned?" and a big pearly tear is stripped away from the corner of his eye.

And a little drop of my soul (of the same size and shape) goes spinning out the back of the plane.

We got two new sippy cups at Target today, and I feel great about them.


(ELLIOT absentmindedly squeezes the mole on SARAH's neck, as she carries him around Target.)

ELLIOT: What's that?

SARAH: That's my mole.

ELLIOT: That's a pomegranate.