Monthly Archives: September 2010

Fisher-Price recalls more than 10 million products: tricycles, activity centers, high chairs and Little People

Fisher-Price High Chairs recalled

Fisher-Price High Chairs recalled

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve heard of a major recall, but here it is! And that’s a massive recall in my opinion – over 10 million items, covering quite a range of baby and young children’s products.

For complete details on this Fisher-Price recall and to see which exact product models are affected, visit the Fisher-Price recall dedicated page on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website. This recall affects the following Fisher-Price products:

– 14 models of Trike and Tough Trike toddler tricycles (kids can get hurt on the plastic ignition key)
– 7 models of infant activity centers with inflatable balls (the valve can come off the ball, causing a choking hazard to babies)
– 950,000 high chairs (children cause fall and get hurt on the leg pegs)
– Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway (car wheels can come off, causing a choking hazard)

Fisher-Price Tough Trike

Fisher-Price Tough Trike

Our household is actually affected by this recall. We own the Go, Diego Go Tough Trike (left) and I just ordered my modification kit on the Fisher-Price website. It was a painless and quick process, but I apparently have to wait 8 to 12 weeks to receive it! Obviously, the Fisher-Price people have never had to reason with little kids who absolutely want to use their toys RIGHT NOW! We have another, more sturdy trike we’d like our son to start using, so this seems like the perfect opportunity!

I was planning to resell the trike when my youngest would outgrow it, but it’s out of the question now, even with the modification kit (it’s illegal to sell or resell recalled products). No biggie, safety first. Check out your Fisher-Price stock and make sure you’re OK too!

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Every day, I see a cow… the French edition

Earlier this month our family of four spent two weeks in France, in the extended suburbs of Paris, to visit my family. You’d think the first thing I’d want to blog about is our trip itself, and what it was like to travel with two little boys 6000 miles and a 9-hour time difference away from home. Of course, there’s plenty to tell but I’ll have to save it for future posts.

That’s because the most surprising part of our trip was the revelation and confirmation about a theory I’ve entertained previously on this very blog – the fact that we all see a cow every day. For more on this, read “Every day I see a cow” and “Did you know they have cows at SeaWorld?” Well, it seems that the theory doesn’t just apply to the USA, but to other countries as well, or at least France in our case.

A Royal Cow

You probably think I’m making this up, right? Well, I’ll let you judge for yourself. I didn’t get to walk about with a camera in my hand every day, so I missed the chance to digitally capture quite a few cow sightings, but I managed to seize the most flagrant instance during our trip. Here’s the photo of a cool looking cow sculpture, amidst some green pastures.

Every day I see a cow, in France

Every day I see a cow, in France

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, the green pastures actually are the well maintained French gardens of this chateau, named Vaux-le-Vicomte.

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Who really expects to visit a French chateau and see a cow? Well, besides me, I’mwilling to bet that not too many people would!

The Typical Dairy Cow

The cow count didn’t stop there. Even though we frequented more of the countryside than the urban settings, we ended up seeing mostly representations of the bovine type rather than real cows. The most common places were at the grocery store, especially in the dairy aisle. The biggest offender there was “les 2 vaches” yogurt. Check out the really cute couple of cows portrayed on the top of this organic yogurt brand. If that doesn’t make you want to switch to organic dairy, I’m not sure what will!

Les 2 vaches yogurt

Les 2 vaches yogurt

The Fake Farm Cow

A more surprising cow sighting occurred the day we were leaving a Chinese restaurant. The business next door featured a small yard full of chickens and ducks, alongside statues of a mother cow and her calf (sorry, still no camera on that day). I guess the presence of fake bovines is supposed to make the hens feel like they really live in a farm, which will increase their egg production? I have no farming background or training, so that’s just a guess…

The Mall Cow

Finally, a shocking cow encounter occurred at the mall. Yes, the mall! A clothing store was displaying a cow statue at its entrance. Well, it did make me look, but I’m not sure I would buy anything in there. Are the clothes supposed to make me look like a cow? I’m pretty sure I missed the point there…

I swear that every day of our European trip, we did see a cow or a representation of a cow, so I believe this theory has proven to be tru,e even outside of the Americas continent. Are you keeping track of your daily cows? By the way, if you don’t believe in the theory, I just helped make a believer out of you with the few cows pictured in this post…

DECEMBER 31, 2010 UPDATE – The brand new “Every day I see a cow” blog is up and running, just in time to document daily cow sightings in 2011! Take a look and let me know what you think. “Every day I see a cow” is also on Facebook, so feel free to visit the page, like it, and share your own cow sightings with everyone. The more, the merrier!

Every day I see a cow on Facebook

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Mo Willems – Can I play too?

We’re big fans of Mo Willems at our house, kids and parents alike. The Knuffle Bunny series (see my previous review on Knuffle Bunny) is one of our bedtime favorites and we always enjoy reading the new adventures of Elephant and Piggie.

Can I play too? by Mo Willems

Can I play too? by Mo Willems

In the 2010 release of “Can I play too?“, Mo Willems revisits the frienship theme between Elephant and Piggie by having the two best friends play ball together. Suddenly, a snake appears and asks if he can play ball with them. What follows is a series of attempts to figure out how to play ball with an armless catcher. If the poor snake can’t catch one ball, maybe MORE BALLS will help??? My words can’t do justice to the hilarious dialogue and facial expressions assigned to the various characters throughout the book. Both children and parents will get a great laugh and want to read the story over and over until their stomach muscles ache. Hey, wait a minute! Does that count as a workout? I think it does after three repetitions! Oh, and you’ll get a kick out of Mo Willems’ updating of the “lightbulb over the head” concept with the new energy-efficient version. It’s about time we saved electricity in children’s books!

If you enjoy this book, buy or borrow others from your favorite library. The Elephant and Piggie book series is great for kids from 2 to 6. Early readers age 4 and above can start reading the large-print text on their own. In my opinion, Mo Willems’ full mastery of the art of humor is reflected in his choice of words and illustrations, making is a highly enjoyable experience for readers of all ages. Parents won’t say no when their kids ask them to read those books again and again!

Here are our favorite in the Elephant & Piggie series in order of increasing giggle intensity:
Are you ready to play outside? – how you can have fun outside, rain or shine
Watch me throw the ball – that’s before Elephant & Piggie shared their ball with a snake
I love my new toy – a story with an interesting twist… or should I say break?
I will surprise my friend – my personal favorite, and it does include quite a surprise

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Talking about Mo Willems, the clock is ticking louder and louder as we’re impatiently getting close to the release of the latest Knuffle bunny story with “Knuffle Bunny Free – an unexpected diversion” on September 28, 2010. I think I’ll be scheduling a trip with my boys to our local bookstore next week to read the latest and last of the series. I hear this may be a tear jerker, so I’d better bring some tissues, at least for myself. It’s hard to think that some children’s books make me want to cry. Gee, it’s tough being a mom…

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Breastfeeding – a tale of two hospitals

Breastfeeding - it takes persistence

Breastfeeding - you can do it

When I originally wrote my post on the 10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding, several people told me I was lucky that breastfeeding worked for me and that it didn’t hurt. I felt compelled to explain that breastfeeding only worked for me because of my persistence and that it did hurt until I reached out for help.

I actually believe that most current medical establishments are unsupportive of breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding past the six-month mark should be considered a major personal achievement. For each of my two pregnancies, I used two different medical groups, where I had strikingly opposite experiences.

BABY #1

I received medical care through the Sharp medical group with my first son in San Diego County. My prenatal appointments went well and I received great medical care. Closer to my due date, I took a breastfeeding class where two hours to learn about “fish lips” and the various latches seemed adequate to learn about something as “natural” as breastfeeding. During my last OB visit, I was the lucky recipient of a tote bag containing containers of baby formula, formula coupons, and a booklet from a formula company explaining it was OK if I failed at breastfeeding and that formula was perfectly OK for my baby. Hmm, I’ll never need that stuff, I thought, so I’ll save it and donate it to another mom who can’t breastfeed… I shoved it all in a closet when I got home.

I gave birth at Mary Birch Hospital in San Diego. I attended a pre-birth hospital visit where the guide looked more like a PR executive in her corporate suit than medical personnel. There I learned the hospital handled over 6000 births a year. I felt in good hands, only to realize later that a hospital managing that many births may be more appropriately labeled as a “baby factory”, rushing you in and out to make room for the next birth. By the way, mom and dad can order a steak & lobster celebration dinner for $40 after the baby’s birth. Forget about that milkshake or burger you’re craving for after hours of labor, and upgrade to surf & turf!

On the day of my scheduled c-section, we soon found out that the buzzing excitement among the hospital staff was due to a rare event – a mom scheduled to give birth to quintuplets on that same day. Yes, five babies! All I can wish to any first-time mom is NOT to give birth on the same day as a large multiple birth. Nurses and doctors will clearly show that your baby’s birth is quite insignificant in comparison, rushing you out of the delivery area to “make room” for the event of the year…

My baby and I were assigned to a room and I tried to breastfeed him. That’s when I quickly realized I had NO CLUE what I was doing. I asked the nurse to check on us. She quickly glanced at my boob and expressed things looked OK. Overnight, I was in pain due to the surgery and wasn’t sure anything was coming out of my breasts to feed my baby. The night nurse told me it could take a few days for my milk to come but I should keep nursing to offer colustrum, without checking if I was producing any. By the next morning, my son’s bilirubin levels were high and the attending pediatrician explained we wouldn’t leave the hospital until his numbers went down. He explained I’d have to feed my baby well and often, so I kept putting him on my breast but noticed he was mostly sucking my nipple and falling asleep after a few minutes.

After two days in the hospital, my baby was losing weight and his bilirubin levels were still high, so I requested to see a lactation consultant. I was told I’d only see her on my release day (huh???) and that all nurses were trained to help. Sure they were, and each gave me different advice, apparently not making any difference in the results. Three days after birth, another pediatrician ordered that I feed my baby formula, accommodating my breastfeeding wishes by letting me use a small feeding tube alongside my nipple. By then I was exhausted, getting almost no sleep trying to feed a baby who sucked my raw nipples for a few minutes before falling asleep for hours. The formula order was a huge blow to my decision to breastfeed and made me feel inadequate as a new mom. On day 5, the baby looked better, clearly thanks to the formula and not me. The lactation consultant did stop by upon our release, noticed my raw nipples and suggested we see a lactation consultant after we left. Duh, where the heck were YOU for five days???

I left the hospital tired, angry, frustrated and with a hungry baby. Fortunately we quickly got an appointment with a lactation consultant, who in my opinion should be called “baby and mom lifesaver”. The kind lady patiently listened to my story, explained that c-sections usually delay milk coming in and that pumping several times a day and taking fenugreek should help stimulate production. She then showed me how to get my baby to latch properly and warned me that since my baby developed  bad sucking habits, I’d have to be diligent and mentor him, including stripping him down to his diaper if he fell asleep while sucking. Finally, she told me that I should have enough milk to feed my baby without need for formula. I spent the next week nursing, pumping, gulping fenugreek and visiting the lactation consultant. After two weeks, my baby was back to his birth weight and gaining more every day.

The next few months had their ups and downs. First thrush, then acid reflux, none of which couldn’t be solved with medication. By the time I reached the six-month mark, the painful experience of the first few weeks was almost forgotten. I ended up breastfeeding my son until he was 13 months old without another scoop of formula. I did donate the formula cans I received at the OB’s office, as well as the several cans I received afterwards in the mail. The formula manufacturers surely spend a lot of marketing dollars on new moms to support their multi-billion dollar a year business!

BABY #2

I had my second baby through Kaiser Permanente, again in San Diego. During my last pregnant month, I was given reminders about breastfeeding classes and hospital visits. The hospital visit was given by a real delivery nurse in scrubs who shared real birth stories. There was no mention of steak & lobster dinner. Bummer…

There was no large multiple birth on the day I delivered either. Knowing I’d have another c-section, I had gotten myself ready to nurse by taking fenugreek several days before and knew I may have to pump in the hospital. Somehow the fenugreek made me produce colustrum before the birth, so my hopes were high I’d have something to feed my boy. I gave birth in the morning and got a visit from the official lactation consultant in the afternoon. By then I was proud to tell her that things were going well and that baby #2 looked like a natural born sucker! On the second day, the same lady stopped by and congratulated me for being such a pro, pumping me up (no pun intended!) to continue with my nursing plans. I then heard her consult the first-time mom sharing my hospital room who had had problems nursing her baby and was ready to switch to formula. The LC stayed for 30 minutes until that baby latched properly and I heard that mom expressed relief and thanks. The hospital sent me home with a real nice diaper bag (not a tote bag), with NO formula samples or coupons inside, but instead a booklet on breastfeeding and a large cloth to use as a nursing cover. You can love or hate Kaiser Permanente, but I give them a lot of credit for promoting breastfeeding and saying no to the high pressure of baby formula lobbyists.

I continued breastfeeding my youngest until he was 14 months old with no bumps along the road. I wished my first had been as easy but I have no regrets having gone through such challenging times, as I believe it built up my resilience as a mother. I had no idea I’d need so much of it today, when my boys are four, and two and a half years old!

My advice to all moms who plan to breastfeed out there is to: hope for the best, get ready for the worst and reach out for all the support you need to help you succeed. You may be surprised how easy it is for some pediatricians to choose the easy road and entice you with formula feeding. An understanding lactation consultant will be your best ally to find a solution that is best for you and your baby, whether it implies breastfeeding, or formula feeding, or both. The ultimate goal is for your baby to be healthy and you to be happy.

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