Category Archives: Assistive Devices or Gear

Climbing Indoors, Candy corn, and Claire

When I say climbing, I don’t mean the kind you do with a dynamic kernmantle rope (ahem, Brian has a lot of gear in the garage).   I mean the kind you do on a regular basis up the stairs and in the case of my children, on their new indoor playground.  Case  and Claire are blessed with enormously generous grandparents who shower them with toys and clothes constantly (to say they really do not want for anything would be a gross understatement)[we are so lucky -believe me I know!].  One set of grandparents the kids happen to live with and so the outpouring of love (or some might even venture to say ‘spoiling’) is done on a daily basis.  The latest toy/awesome gross motor tool that now graces my in-law’s back porch (turned playroom/workout room) is a giant, outdoor jungle gym.  They found it on craigslist and actually happened to know the sellers from the YMCA (obviously) and bought it.  The thing needed a major cleaning so Lee and I spent half a day taking it apart and giving it a thorough scrubbing  (I mean, like lots of elbow grease and spiders).  We then spent another half a day figuring out how to put the damn thing back together (exaggerating (a little)).   Side note: I wish we had video of the two of us using a rubber mallet trying to slam this massive playset together – cue expletives.

We finally did get it together again and the kids are all over it. And, although it’s frowned upon at school (for safety reasons), we encourage Case and Claire to go up the slide.  Like walking up a steep hill, it strengthens the muscles in your quadriceps (which are very weak on Case) and because the incline on this slide is really steep, he needs to pull with his arms to get all the way up.  It has a tunnel which we have to bribe Case to go through as his weak hip flexors make it difficult for him to pull his legs up into it and then putting all the weight on his arms to get out is equally challenging.

Perhaps you’ve already guessed what we’re using as a bribery tool… I can’t help but buy a bag when its staring right at me at the checkout line in Target and the kids can’t help but want it (Brian too).   Terrible thing, this holiday we call Halloween!  But using  small pieces of candy is incredibly motivating for Case and so I vow to myself to brush his teeth a little longer each night if he makes it through the tunnel two more times or up the stairs without as much fuss. Side note: We also use candy corn as a reward for going on the potty (I refer to it as peepee candy – appealing, eh?).  We put it in the zipper closure ziplocs and make Case open and pull “one” out or we also have an old bouillon cube container with a screw on lid that we make Case hold and unscrew (this is still pretty challenging).

You may notice in the photos that Case has things around his ankles. Although it could be some sort of odd fashion statement (not sure what the statement would be), they’re actually just 1lb weights which we’ve been putting on him when he’s around the house to help strengthen his legs while he does every day activities.  He’s getting around much better in them and I’m thinking of upping the weight to 1.5/2 lbs. Case minds them a little but doesn’t have the fine motor aptitude yet to undo the rather strong velcro  and pull them off his heels so he’ll endure it until he masters that skill (and I’ll be proud when he does!).

Finally, I had to share a few recent photos of Claire in honor of her first birthday.

The photo where she’s holding the landline phone perfectly captures the ever-present ‘tude that this girl has ALREADY.  We are in for it, I’m afraid!  The other photos are of her newest trick which is to play peekaboo with her hands over her eyes.  She showed off all her new tricks at the doctor’s office (labeling body parts to the head, shoulders knees and toes song and repeating almost all the words Case knows!) on Wednesday for her well-baby to which her smitten doctor echoed me in saying, “Uh oh, Brian is in for it with this one!”.  She is certainly a spitfire, but every time I begin to think how can I parent two totally different children I remind myself that she is the perfect prescription for Case.  He’s got a little sister who won’t take no for answer and who is going to stick up for her brother tooth and nail.  Not to mention that Case now goes up the slide willingly because Claire does it first.  In our house, a little competition is definitely a good thing!

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Our Top 6 Favorite Pieces of Baby Gear (Age: 0-6 mos.)

I decided to do a series of posts on gear because recently I’ve been trying to assess what products we’ve used most  (now after two very different babies), in hopes of helping my anticipatory momma-to-be friends who are trying to figure out what they ‘need’. There was so much stuff we’d heard we wouldn’t be able to ‘live without’ that we bought before Case and never used with either of them, that I wanted to sit down and really think of what it is we actually did use so others don’t waste their money like we did.   I’ve organized it by price and age here and limited  the list to our top six lower price-point items for the kids when they’re young (age 0-6 months).  The next post will  be mostly bigger ticket items (i.e. strollers and carseats) and then lastly a post on items we’re using for our toddler (think shoes, feeding items, and some must have toys).  I think I’ve narrowed it down and hopefully organized it in a way that makes sense for all you shopping mommas out there.  

Our Lower price-point necessities:

1. Hooter hider (we used the original Hooter Hider because we got it as a gift) but I’ve seen many a great-looking knock-off with lots of really fun prints.  I recommend getting two because if you’ve got a baby with reflux you know you’re going to be washing that thing like twice a day (and that’s if you don’t leave the house…)

2.  Bouncy seat.  I remember my mom calling these Sassy seats and that’s because Sassy made them back then, but now everyone makes them and ours is Fisher Price.  These are handy for having a place to put new baby wherever you are (ie, kitchen -cooking, laundry room – endlessly folding teeny tiny things, bathroom – you get the idea).  When they figure out they can bounce these things on their own (Case never figured it out, but Claire did) they become extra entertaining and you may even get 20 min. of uninterrupted time to complete something!

3. Receiving blankets.  Seems silly to include these here, but we used them for everything and always had at least one in the diaper bag and two in the car.  They’re light so you can really tuck them in places you might need.  From using them as changing pads to burp cloths to even wipes (ok, we were in a bind! – DON’T JUDGE) – they’re handy.  We got neutral colored ones with Case (tans and greens) and used them for Claire too (not the one we used to wipe his butt, I thought you might go there…).  Doesn’t matter what kind you buy, just make sure they’re all cotton and dont’ have embroidered designs on them (kids don’t like that stuff near their faces and you’ll inevitably always have to flip it if you do get an embroidered one ’cause it will always wind up near their face!).

4. Bumbo We used the Bumbo with Case A LOT but with Claire she never really wanted to stay in it (always arched her back and tried to slide out – she’s not really great when sedentary).  But we used it so much with Case that I felt like I had to include it.  They say not to put them on the counter but I did, especially during dinner prep and he’d watch me happily.  I also fed him quite a bit in it as it was much easier to clean than the highchair (which I will not be including in our gear list because we DON’T like it, but we’re cheap and didn’t buy a different one because they’re expensive – also, my mother-in-law got three at yard sales so now that we live with them we always try to put the kids in those).  Case had difficulty sitting up in highchairs (without the help of multiple towels), so the Bumbo was always a good option because he sat better in it.  (We did end up using a feeder chair with Case from for a while which really helped too, we got in on loan from Early Intervention in NC).  And we even put the Bumbo in the bath, but after we did that it was pretty much used for only the bath because it never really dried out.  Needless to say at this point but the options for the Bumbo are endless!  Get the tray.

5.  Diaper Bag – Ok, here is where I feel like I can give a really great recommendation. For Case I had a really cute Kate Spade bag that I got on Ebay but I ended up stuffing it and never being able to find anything, but I used it because I’d spent more money on it than I should have and I did think it was cute.  When I got pregnant with Claire I knew that I needed to get something that would allow me to be more organized (plus, who am I kidding, I only wear nike shorts and tank tops or yoga pants half the time, so it doesn’t really need to be that cute!).  I ended up getting the Skip Hop Duo Double Deluxe (because my girlfriend, Kendra had one and it looked like it could hold EVERYTHING!) but as it turns out, if I’ve got the room I’m apt to stuff it full and because this bag is literally bigger than both my kids put together, I ended up lugging around way more than I should have.  But I did like certain aspects of it: like the zipper top pocket (good for snacks that you don’t want your kids to see or your cell phone so you know it’s not going anywhere).  I also like the side mesh pocket for drinks (inevitably drinks spill/leak and I hate cleaning up the insides of pockets!) and its all washable (as any diaper bag should be).  So instead of lugging around the big one I decided to buy the smaller one (the first link: Diaper Bag) called Skip Hop Duo Deluxe.  It’s got all the things I liked about the big double without being enormous! And although it’s not very glamorous it does come in a variety of colors (although I ended up getting it in black because black goes really well with nike shorts) and on the vast price spectrum of diaper bags it’s relatively low and still good quality.  Like most everything else I buy lately, I got in on

6.Boppy – I almost forgot to include this which is crazy because we use it CONSTANTLY.  It comes in most handy at night when you’re nursing a baby and you’re dead tired and really all you want to do is put your baby on your boob and ‘forget about it’.  Boppy makes this possible.  Get two covers, trust me.

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