Wishing all of you the safest and spookiest Halloween!
Monthly Archives: October 2011
That’s right! 4smartypants is hosting our very own, first annual costume contest! To enter, post a pic and we’ll select and announce a winner next Wednesday, November 2nd. The picture can be of yourself in costume, your kids, pet or, my personal fav, a group theme. Get creative and show us your smartypants!
To help inspire you, I have included a portion of a post from one of my blogs last Halloween. I hope it helps to launch you into your own zone made up of equal parts creativity and whimsy!
Let me start this entry with a confession. I am one of those parents who tend to get a
little particular about what my children wear for Halloween. Make no mistake, however. Over the years, I have learned to reel myself
in and remind myself that Halloween is about the kids and not about how absurdly
creative I can be. I know that I am not
alone in this as I have seen other parents lose their heads when it comes to
kids in costume. I guess confession
number two would be that I justify my obsessing over the perfect Halloween garb
by telling myself that “at least I’m not as bad as some.” Realizing the error in this thinking, I have
decided this year to set aside this poor excuse for justification and write
down some helpful suggestions.
Many parents think that they need to purchase the latest and
greatest costumes available online or in stores in order properly capture the
Halloween spirit. There is nothing wrong
with this. I have certainly been known
to scour the net and the greater Seattle area for the perfect frock for my
little ones. One of the lessons I
learned as a foster parent was that whatever I perceived as the cutest “must have” costume may not be along the
same lines as what my children wanted to wear.
For this reason, I changed my tactics a bit and still use these simple
self-imposed rules today with my biological children. Now that my eldest is old enough to choose
for herself, I always consult her first and then, without fail, make my first
stop our dress-up boxes which hold dozens of costumes ready for the picking. I am always surprised at the time and money
that I save in altering something that we already own. My daughter gets a thrill out of helping me
create her one-of-a-kind costume and shows a certain pride in wearing it for
Okay. So here comes
confession number three… I am one of
those parents to look for a theme in dressing my kids for Halloween. I’m sure this will be something they roll
their eyes at later, but for now, I indulge.
Because my youngest is still too young to have an opinion, I try to
avoid making her an accessory while trying to match her costume to whatever
theme my eldest thinks up. Last year, my
eldest wanted to be Sleeping Beauty. We
were lucky in that we already had the costume leftover from a recent family
vacation. I was then able to use my
limited hand-stitching skills to convert a pea costume and matching hat from a
mermaid tail that had been handed down from an older cousin. This year, my daughter has chosen to be
“Awice-in-Wondawand”. Naturally, I was
able to make some additions to a bunny costume we already owned and have our
youngest go as the “White Rabbit” from that story.
Once the perfect costume has been selected, many parents
lose their minds and become anxious about actually letting their children enjoy
their costumes. I have seen some parents
make their children take off their costumes before enjoying certain Halloween
treats, or even scold them for getting messy during Halloween events. I know that it is fun to keep costumes for
dress-up later, but I do wonder what the problem would be with a little
spillage or even a stain if the costume is just intended for play anyway. To avoid the worry, I recommend setting aside
a time to get the cute, keepsake pictures done ahead of time. Some parents opt to get professional shots
but pictures taken at a park, a local garden center with fall color or even at
events with cute Halloween scenes can be just as perfect for capturing the
memories. Once the perfect pictures are
taken, parents should let their children enjoy their costumes, messes and
all. Chances are it is those memories
and not the costumes themselves that they will cherish.
Okay, so clearly the above post was meant for parents, but if you can use costumes or clothes for something else to create a unique look for this Halloween, I say go for it! I am all for everyone bringing out the whimsy of Halloween and enjoy seeing adults and pest all dressed up for the occasion. This year, my family is going as the cast of principals from The Wizard of Oz. My eldest is going as Dorothy, my two year old as Toto and my baby as the Lion. My husband and I have been left with the task of creating Scarecrow and Tin Man costumes. I have yet to create these last two costumes so I am just as curious as everyone else to see how they will turn out.
The 4smartypants agree that there is probably no better way to celebrate costume creativity than to host a costume contest on our very own website. Hint: If you need a little help, Martha Stewart has some fun hints that you can link to from her blog www.themarthablog.com. So whip out that whimsy and let’s see what you all can come up with!
Shew!!! In case you haven’t noticed, half the SmartyPants bloggers have been busy giving birth over the past few weeks. I’m not promising to be officially back from “maternity leave”, but I thought I’d gift the world with a short sloppy post about all the ways I’ve decided to change my style between baby #1 and baby #2, two and a half years later.
Just a note, I don’t claim that I know what I’m talking about in any way, shape, or form. There’s nothing like having a newborn in the house to remind you how little you know about anything! If this post is of any value at all to you, perhaps it will be to help you develop a postpartum plan. We put so much thought and effort into birth plans, but I’d argue that what happens in the three months AFTER birth should require much more attention. You can’t plan everything, but thinking about your style, what sacrifices you may or may not be willing to make, and the unique circumstances you may be facing in that first couple months before “normal” sets in, can go a long way in making life with your newborn GOBS less stressful!
Feeding on Demand and Crying it Out
With #1 we did our darndest to get our baby on a feeding “routine”. Practically every pediatrician and lactation consultant will tell you that nursing on a schedule is a bad idea, but the fear of the inevitable life changes had us clinging to scheduling method that PROMISED us a baby that would sleep through the night by 8-12 weeks. Several close friends we love and respect swore by this method, but 11 months later, our kid still had never slept through the night!
This time, I’m just going on the assumption that out kid won’t sleep through the night for a year or more and I’m sticking some sort of food in his mouth almost any time he fusses! Ironically, his feedings have turned out to be far more predictable than our first son’s ever were! I track them with the iBaby Feed app for iPhone, and he seems to nurse like clockwork throughout the day!
Rocking, Wearing, Soothing
With #1, we were taught “Fed and dry? Let him cry!” Oh goodness! Some folks would say that’s just plain cruel, others say it’s the first step to proactive parenting. Either way, it was probably way harder on us than it was on our baby! This time, we’re just not up for being punished! Having a newborn is hard, being a newborn is hard… But it’s all much, much easier when we just keep everyone happy. It’s still inevitable, especially with two children, that the baby will cry himself to sleep on occasion, and while that’s not my preference until #2 is older, it feels like a good balance that my baby has the opportunity to cry and learn to put himself to sleep when our toddler has a more urgent need.
But on the whole, I’m spoiling this kid rotten! Pacifiers, rocking chairs, and when all else fails, the Moby Wrap! And plenty of that skin to skin contact that gets the oxytocin hormone flowing! Not only does oxytocin help with the bonding process, but I try to hold the baby close to my face and chest every time I start to feel that weepy anxiety we call the baby blues! So far they’ve been far less severe than they were with #1! (Word of warning though, the skin-to-skin contact was SO effective at first that holding my infant felt like holding some sort of poisonous tree frog or something! Every time I’d pick him up or stroke his face I was met with instant, horrible contractions! Good for healing, but YOWZA did they hurt!)
Call me crazy, but I’m way more paranoid about getting a baby that won’t take a bottle than getting a baby with nipple confusion! I remember all too well the three week mark when we finally allowed my husband to give #1 his very first bottle! Freedom! I could go places alone, again! If something were to happen to me, my child would still be capable of eating! It seems like a silly thing, but this tiny bit of independence means so much to me that I’ve had kiddo switching back and forth between breast and bottle since 1 week old! No problems yet!
With my first, I had this drive to jump right back into life ASAP. With this one, I’m at least TRYING to take it slow and steady! I begged my parents to stay for two weeks, and they did. I’m happily accepting prepared meals from friends at church. (Cooking is my least favorite chore!) I’m being a horrible daughter-in-law by asking my husband’s parents to wait till Thanksgiving to meet the baby. (Thank goodness for FaceTime!) And, generally, I plan to do the minimum of my responsibilities for at least the first six weeks. Right now, my days aren’t really starting till noon, when the coffee’s had time to take full effect.
Other Random Stuff
For having already gotten one child to survive into toddlerhood, you’d think I’d know what I’m doing with a baby, but there’s still just so much I’m learning for the first time!
Kangaroo care, for example, is this thing they did at birth with #2 that they didn’t do with #1. As soon as the baby was born, they slipped him into a “pocket” they had formed with my hospital gown, so that his first hour was spent skin to skin on my chest. All examinations and pricks and eyedrops were done right there on my chest, and frankly, it was a really pleasant bonding experience. My poor husband, however, went two or three hours before he got his chance to hold the baby! I didn’t even realize it!
The umbilical stump is another great example. I’m totally freaked out and grossed out by this part. With my first, I applied rubbing alcohol around the base with every diaper change. With my second, when I asked where my alcohol swabs were, the nurses said, “Just don’t touch it! It will take care of itself!” Man! Newborn diaper changes are complicated enough (especially with a circumcision)! I wish I would have known I could skip the umbilical stuff with #1! It seems like such a small thing, but any tiny bit to reduce our stress level is invaluable right now!
And nursing? I’ve found the kiddo latches on better when I support him with my arm and not the Boppy pillow! Oh, I still use the Boppy, but we’d better get him hooked on good beforehand or I’m just asking for soreness! Also, skipping the lanolin cream has helped me heal up from soreness faster! It’s weird, but I guess what I needed was more air circulation! Also, I’m keeping all the information for local lactation support close at hand this time around!
So, there you go! If you’ve had more than one, what changes did you make the second time around? Were you able to make those newborn days easier with a little experience under your belt? Do you have any tricks and tips to share?