Q&A: Diaper rash

L'Shanah Tova!

(Today on Christmased.com: Cranberry Walnut Cake recipe and something funny I found in a Christmas catalog last year.)

David asked me for my advice about diaper rash. And I realized I genuinely haven't given diaper rash more than a passing thought in a few years. Which should give hope to those of you with kids still in diapers–it does eventually end and fade away completely.

But back to diaper rash. From my experience, there were a couple different kinds. One was the red prickly-looking rash that resulted from being too moist. The easiest treatment for that is to change diapers more frequently or give your baby some bare butt time if you can. (If it's warm enough, you can buy a waterproof pad and let your baby just hang out on the pad with no diaper on for as long as you want.) Diaper cream is also helpful and soothing, but I am so not up on the latest and best. (Back when I was diapering the debate was between Desitin, Boudreau's Butt Paste, Burt's Bees, and Aquaphor.) If there have been any advances in diaper cream, please post them in the comments.

The other kind is the rash that comes from the super-acidic poop and pee some kids get when they're teething or sick. Some kids get "drool stool," that has drool in the actual poop, and it's very acidic and smells horrible. It can also cause a fungal infection on the butt. It's very painful, and doesn't look like red prickly rash. Instead it's flat, weepy-looking sores. The treatment for this is antifungal cream that you can get over-the-counter at the pharmacy. It has the same ingredients as athlete's foot or jock itch cream. Apply the cream and try to let your baby's butt air out (easier said than done when your baby's got drool stool) and it should be better in a few days.

Anyone else have any other kind of diaper rash? My kids teethed hard and were plagued with the fungal rash during bad teething periods. Any treatments I didn't mention?

Christmased

When my kids were little, Christmas was fun, but complicated, because I had little kids, and beacase I was trying to figure out how to celebrate both religious and secular aspects of the season and the holiday itself.

When I was going through my divorce, Christmas was painful and beautiful, emblem of my broken hopes and loneliness, but the sign that maybe things could eventually get better.

It was always improtant to me to create a happy but realistic Christmas season for my kids. And to be respectful of my friends who don't celebrate Christmas.

I'm not the only one who has conflicted feelings about Christmas and the contemporary extended Christmas season. Last year I started paying more attention to what other people were saying about their experiences, and realized we should have a place to talk about all of it–the stuff we love, the stuff that makes us heart-weary, the stuff that makes us feel excluded, the stuff that makes us feel loved.

So I started a site called Christmased: Santa, Baby Jesus, and everything yule, and put it up yesterday, which is 90 days out from Christmas. We have four posts up so far, with lots more to come:

Welcome to Christmased!

Holiday Hot Toy List

Crafters Unite

The elephant in the room

We also have a Twitter feed here: http://twitter.com/Christmased

If you have suggestions for topics you'd like to read or write about, please go leave them in the comments on the Welcome to Christmased post.

I hope it helps us all (even the non-Christmas celebrators) find peace at the end of the year.

Tomorrow: Back to Q&A.

The real story, readalong, and a safety net

I never knew where to write the story before, but here's the story of why I got married, knowing he was wrong for me. On the co-parenting blog: "What not to do"

Playground Communications, an Australian marketing company run by a friend of mine, is doing a readalong on their Facebook page of the book Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking The Silence On Teenage Girls and Promiscuity. Talking about the first chapter this Monday. It's a little short notice for the first chapter in 4 days, but we can catch up. Go Like their page on Facebook, get the book, and join the conversation. (Even if you don't want to read along, she has a very thoughtful feed with lots of info about tween and teenage kids, so it's worth liking her page.)

I am feeling a bit dazed by the turn my life has taken in the past month. I was essentially alone in NYC, with little support. And LOD and I were both so stretched by the physical and circumstantial limitations of living there that it felt like a big house of cards. Here, I have much more ease and leeway in everything. He and I live so close now and so close to school that mornings aren't high stakes at all anymore. (I got an hour back in my moring. One full hour.) And my parents are close enough to pick up any slack. And today I've got a friend's daughter after school because her other child is sick. Not only do I *have* a safety net now, but I get to *be* a safety net for someone else! That is amazing to me.

Do you have a safety net? Do you have leeway? What does leeway mean for you, in your life? Is it situational?

Thoughts?

Q&A: Fostering good sportsmanship

Is there a non-gender-stereotyped word for "sportsmanship"? Kathleen, mother of a first-grader, asks:

"Does anyone know how to foster good sportsmanship? I love playing games but I really really really do not like the temper tantrum that comes when a certain boy loses. And I've tried, but I really cannot figure out how to lose at Mankala."

Ha! That last line really made me laugh. And then I looked up Mankala. And then I remembered why I don't like playing games with kids that age.

FWIW, I don't think it's unusual that a certain boy gets very upset at losing. The only thing that's seemed to help my boys (the older when he was that age, and the younger now) was playing so many games that losing and winning all blended together, and they got that no one game was that high stakes.

Since it's hard for you to lose at that one game, maybe rotating in other games would help. Unless, of course, your child wants to play only that one game. Which wouldn't surprise me. Kids can be tough.

You could also rotate to games that have no clear winner (if your child will accept other games). That could reduce the tantrum factor. Of course, then your child isn't going to get the practice of being the winner sometimes and the loser other times. And learning to lose IS a life skill. Just not one that that are good at yet at this age. (Although who am I kidding? I'm not particularly good at it at age 38, either, even though it seems to keep happening again and again.)

So, yeah. I don't reallly know. I think it's just repetition.

Does anyone else have anything more solid on being a good loser? And also being a good winner, which kids this age often have problems with, too?

Making new friends (and a link to my first sponsored post)

I just wrote my very first sponsored post up at Moxieville (my column at Babble Voices) entitled "We also bought a shirt with Chewbacca on it". I love the concept of sponsored posts, because it's so transparent: Company pays me to write. I only accept payment from companies I actually spend money with. They only sponsor bloggers they like. This post was for Old Navy, which is where I've been doing a lot of my clothes shopping for me and the kids since I stopped shopping at Target 14 months ago. I was so happy when they ran the "It Gets Better" shirts this summer, so I said yes right away when I was asked if I wanted to write this post.

I was also really happy to be able to do this post because it tied together all the stuff I've been thinking about this week, in a kind of random way: running, worrying about money, the colder weather, feeling like I should be doing more for other parents now that I can pay my rent every month, buying clothes for the kids, and what it was like living with my mom last month. Funny how it all came together, and when I was doing the shopping for the post I had a great conversation with the cashier. This was just a lovely experience in ways I hadn't even thought it would be.

But back to talking about parenting: I have been thinking a lot about making new parent friends. I went to our new school's Curriculum Night this week, and had the sudden realization that I need to (find and unpack and) break out my Mom Cards again. When my kids were teeny I always carried some cards in my wallet that I'd had printed up for about $20. They had my name and number and email on them. Nothing else, just that. Whenever I met another parent I wanted to keep in touch with, I could just hand over my card instead of fumbling around for a pen and grocery store receipt to write my number down on.

I'm an extrovert, so even when I feel awkward in a group I can still force myself to talk to someone else. Thanks to writing Ask Moxie and having heard from all of you, I've figured out that there are people who will never ever make the first move, so I should just jump in and do it. But without being so enthusiastic that I scare them away. I'm hoping there are enough introverts at this school that I can use stealth to trick into being my friends that I'll have a few friends in each of my kids' classes.

Where are the rest of you with regards to making friends? It felt so easy when we were all just desperate for sleep. Now that school has come into the mix, and the obvious-but-ludicrous divisions of WOH vs. SAH vs. WAH and all that external stuff is less prominent, it should be easier. But it feels a bit harder to me.So it's got to be even tougher for those of you that don't feel comfortable just sticking out your hand and starting the conversation.

Thoughts?

Q&A: Rolling over but not being able to roll back

Andrea is wondering if there's anything to be done about her daughter, who is 4 months old and has started rolling onto her tummy, but can't roll back:

"she just lies there whining because she can't get back onto her back. but then when i flip her back, she just rolls back to her front again! i can't win."

Oh, yes. I remember this stage. And now, in hindsight, it makes me laugh. The babies stuck on their stomachs are the opposite for turtles flipped onto their backs.

I don't think there's anything to be done about it, honestly. If you do keep flipping them, it only prolongs the stage. And if you use a baby positioner to stop it, you're just delaying the problem, because babies all have to learn to roll back to front to back at some point. Honestly, the more frustrated a baby is now, the faster he or she will learn to roll back again.

Who else is going through this or remembers it? Or its sister stage: Being able to stand up but not being able to sit down again? Both hilarious to parents of older kids, but not so funny when you're the parent of the child in question. I think this is just another Wait-It-Out problem.

Thoughts?

How much sleep is the bare minimum you need to function?

My friend A had a baby 8 days ago, and was ecstatic today because she'd gotten a three-hour stretch of sleep last night.

Send yourself back in time to those early days and think about how much sleep you could function decently on (and by function decently I mean go through normal daily activities without walking into walls or bursting into tears for no reason). How many hours was that? How many hours do you need now, and how old are your kids?

Three hours did not feel like enough for me then, and it wouldn't now. Four was my number, and if I got five I was golden. Now, I'm a lightweight who has older children, and I need five, for sure. (I've also noticed that when I'm studying or doing schoolwork I just physically max out and can't keep reading–let alone processing–past a certain hour of the night. In undergrad I could go for 48 hours and keep on reading and understanding literary criticism. No more…)

If you'd like to pass along something to A that you wish someone had told you when your baby was 8 days old, please do.

Nutritious lunches for school that boomerang

We've done posts here in past years about packing nutritious lunches for kids that kids will eat, and have gotten some wonderful ideas. One of the biggest takeaways (ha–little meal joke for the Brits) from those conversations for me has been to let the kids themselves decide what they want to eat, even if it's a little unbalanced (because it'll all even out over the week anyway).So I've packed lunches that consist of grapes, an apple, and a bag of baby carrots, if that's what my son wanted.

Which is all well and good. Except that lately those lunches have been returning in the afternoon completely untouched from my younger child. And in the past few days I've had no fewer than two real-life and three online conversations about this same phenomenon: Children Who Choose Their Own Lunches But Don't Eat Them.

I've discovered two causes for my son's not eating his lunch: 1. He eats the hot lunch at school instead, and 2. He's too busy talking to eat. I'd be upset about 1 if the lunches at his new school were crap, but they're surprisingly healthy. And there's really nothing I can do about 2, and I suppose it's my own fault for being a talker myself.

One issue, as I see it, is with the waste. It's just a waste to spend my time and money packing stuff he won't eat, only to pull it out of the lunchbox that night (or have his dad pull it out of his lunchbox at night). Plus it's a food waste, too.

But the real thing that annoys me is that if he picked it, he should eat it. So I'm about to tell him that if any lunches come back uneaten this week, he's made his choice to eat school lunch and I'll stop packing anything for him.

But I know this isn't something that would make all of you comfortable. How do you deal with uneaten lunches? Is lunch important to you? Or are you not as concerned as long as your kid eats breakfast or some other big meal every day? Thoughts?

Talking about 9/11

Ten years ago a few days from now, I seriously wondered if we'd even be here now, and what we'd be thinking. It felt like the attacks changed everything–everything!–and that surely the whole world would be different.

Maybe it is, and I just don't realize it.

From my view, it pretty much looks the same, except that I now can't bring liquids from home on a plane and I have to take my shoes off at the airport. But the rest of it, well, really really horrible things are still happening, and really really good things are still happening, and we're participating in them all, sometimes willingly and sometimes without even realizing it.

But this weekend is special, because people are going to be remembering the attacks more than we all usually do. Living in NYC until two months ago was enough, especially since the church I went to ten years ago was always under threat of attack, and the church I went to my last few years in NYC was right next to where the towers used to be.

The upside of being reminded of it on a weekly basis is that I do know what to say to my kids about 9/11. I've seen a few people wondering and talking about not knowing how to talk to their kids about it, because their kids are going to be hearing all about the anniversary.

There are two things I've come to that are important to say:

1. Some people are bad, and they hurt people. I think it's really important for kids to know that this wasn't an accident, that bad people deliberately wanted to and did hurt people. This isn't going to scare your kids, really–think about how much time they already spend working out the idea of "bad guys" and scary monsters, etc. Kids get the concept of bad vs. good.  But that leads us into

2. Look for the helpers. The day it happened, we were already thinking about Mister Rogers, and his saying that "when bad things happen, look for the helpers." Good people will always help. Think about how many people rushed in to help, gave blood, looked for people, put up fliers, volunteered in zillions of ways, prayed, cried, listened. Think about how many of us are still helping now. Yes, bad people do bad things, but good people pick up the pieces and help.

Those two things have come together, for me, in the following language about 9/11:

"Some bad people who wanted to hurt people crashed planes into some tall buildings. Some people died, but a lot of people helped."

More detail for bigger kids. But that's still it.

The two things I'm going to do this weekend to remember 9/11 are reread Ellis Avery's amazing book The Smoke Week: Sept. 11-20, 2001, and give a donation to Partners in Health to help the people of Haiti (who are still in major trouble). If you have contact info to give to help the victims of the fires in Texas, could you post in the comments?

What are you telling your kids? What are you telling YOURSELF? (I still haven't put all the pieces together in my head.) What are you going to do, if anything, to remember this day and this decade?