Finally Friday: Carmen Sandal

I was looking for a mule to recommend today because right now it’s the style that everyone and their mother seem to be wearing. There are high-heeled mules; low, flat mules; slides; there are furry mules… A lot of them cost a pretty penny, in the $400-$700 sort of range, but then I saw these. They’re not strictly a mule, but I can’t believe it because Sudini was the maker of some of my favorite mules several years ago — they made sort of sleek, pump kind of mules — and the brand went away for a while. They seem to be back, so I’m excited. This one with a peep toe is obviously for a more casual workplace, but the chunky stacked heel and the taupe leather would work in a lot of offices for spring — or for the weekend, as well. There’s also a black if this isn’t your style. It’s $129 at Nordstrom. Carmen Sandal

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  1. avocado says:

    My kid and husband are both suffering from eczema, which we have not had to deal with in years. They both say that any type of lotion makes it worse. I remember that switching to California Baby soap helped when the kid was a baby, so I am going to pick up a bottle of that for them to try. What else should I try? Aquaphor?

    • Anonymous says:

      We use Cerave Baby soap and Cerave baby lotion on our kids. It’s a lot of trial and error as Aveeno oatmeal products work great for some but were aggravating for our kids. Bathing daily for a short period of time in lukewarm water followed by lots of lotion and 100% cotton pyjamas. Avoid fleece or wool having contact with skin. Wash clothes/sheets/towels in scent free detergent and limit use of dryer sheets. Often a 1/4 sheet is enough. Try a dose of Claritin at bedtime for kid to help relieve the itch until skin clears up. During the day they are too distracted playing to scratch much but often scratch and aggravate in their sleep so if you can cut the itch at night it will really help.

    • We’ve had good luck with the Aveeno Baby eczema line, especially the lotion. There also is a colloidal oatmeal bath powder that we’ve used during bad flare-ups.

      When my son was little, I also liked the California Baby calendula cream (and it smells so good!)

      • +1 to the Aveeno baby eczema lotion. It is very mild but it doesn’t cause any additional irritation for my son, which was hard to find.

      • AnonMN says:

        +1 Aveeno baby eczema is the only lotion/soap that works in our house. My son said that the (very expensive) California Baby lotion made him hurt.

      • LegalMomma says:

        Another +1 for the Aveeno baby eczema lotion – we couple it with the daily lukewarm bath and it works well.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        A word of caution on Aveeno – many of their products include a high concentration of soy, and soy allergies are often mistaken for eczema.
        – signed, dermatologists told me to use Aveeno for 10 years until the allergist finally explained why it wasn’t working

        • Anonymous says:

          thanks for posting this! I noted above that Aveeno didn’t work for my kids and this totally explains why!

          • NewMomAnon says:

            I’ve had good luck with Gold Bond Ultra Healing (Ultimate Healing?) – a friend who works in a nursing home said they use it on the residents because it’s good for sensitive skin and very moisturizing. It also usually comes in the little travel size containers so I can easily bring it on trips or stash it in my briefcase.

    • mascot says:

      CeraVe cream is what I use and my son uses. Call the doctor too. Switching your lotions and soaps can prevent/reduce flares, but you’ll need something to treat them now. We got some oil from the pediatrician that does a great job of stopping flares quickly (it’s pricey, though). OTC creams can help it it’s really mild.

    • Meg Murry says:

      My sister is sensitive to soaps and always had to use Cetaphil cleanser instead of regular soap, and Lubriderm sensitive instead of regular lotion.

      In addition to scent free products, I’ve also found that using vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in the washer helps remove more soap/detergent residue.

      Since it is both of them – did your family recently start a new container of laundry detergent, shampoo, soap etc? Sometimes even the products you’ve been buying for years make a slight formula change and it’s enough to irritate sensitive skin.

    • Hydrocortisone to treat the spots

    • A few things that I have learned from years of acute eczema:

      Diet- try eliminating dairy to see if that helps. We are also lactose intolerant and there is a link between these.

      Detergents/Soaps/Creams: try non scented versions, lots of the products mentioned above work well. Also look into changing your laundry detergent as well. I really like Vanicream for daily use and don’t really use soap. I have toddlers so I try to limit the use of wipes only for solid diapers (again lots of chemicals) and use water and small towels when it’s a wet diaper.

      Bath/Hygiene: shorter baths, less hot showers, humidifiers help if you live in a dry area

      Stress- this one is a hard one, I find my children and my eczema flares up when I am stressed or don’t get enough sleep, this one is a hard one to get infront of

    • avocado says:

      Lots of great ideas, thanks! We use as many scent-free products as possible and my daughter’s eczema is on her face, so I don’t think laundry detergent is the issue. We got rid of our humidifiers this winter on the doctor’s advice, so dryness may well be the culprit. I hadn’t thought of Cetaphil.

      • Anonymous says:

        if it’s near her mouth, try vaseline around her mouth before eating so it doesn’t get irritated (tomato sauce or other acidic foods can irritate).

      • I have bouts of severe eczema, so I have a great deal of sympathy. Regarding laundry detergent, your daughter’s face still comes into contact with sheets, your shirt, etc., so it is worth a try. I stay clear of any “lotion,” most of which still have some type of alcohol in them. Eucerin is my first step, followed by hydrocortisone if eucerin does not quickly get it in control. For dryness, the best way that I have found to get moisture in the air is to air dry some clothes inside. Hang a few pieces of athletic gear (because I cannot stand the stiffness of air dried cotton) in your home, and it puts an amazing amount of moisture in the air. I also take a daily does of claritin.

      • farrleybear says:

        We use coconut oil in the bath and it has helped a lot for my son. We also use the Aveeno eczema lotion.

  2. This would clearly out me, so anon for now says:

    Can we talk school districts? I am struggling, you guys. We’re going to be moving in the next year and I’ve started doing casual research. I’ve been pretty floored by what I’ve found. I like our general area of the city, and there are four distinct areas that we’re naturally looking in. Our current school district is in Township A, Township B is very close to us, and Suburb A and Suburb B are to the north. Both of the suburbs have excellent school districts, but are very expensive and also very, very white. Township A has a good but not great school district, and is well-rated for diversity. Township B, where I like a lot of the houses, is absolutely dismal. Shockingly dismal, and I had no idea how poor it was – a vast majority of the students there get free lunches. I know these poorer districts need to keep engaged, affluent parents in the schools, but I really can’t see us moving to a school district with such bad rankings on so many academic measures. And I feel pretty terrible about it.

    Our current school district is still in the mix, even though their scores aren’t great either (but significantly better than Township B). But I feel like we’re going to be moving to the suburbs. It seems to make more sense to buy a more expensive (but still affordable) house and have better quality public schools than to stay in a worse district and send our kid to private school – clearly more expensive over the long run. I just hate feeling like I’m “giving up” or contributing to white flight.

    Tell me I’m not the only one who dealt with this. Other stories, options I’m not thinking of?

    • avocado says:

      We faced a similar decision (shockingly white suburb with great public schools v. city with terrible public schools where anyone with the means sends their children to private school) and decided that our primary responsibility was to provide our child with a quality education without bankrupting ourselves in the process. We went with the suburb and seek more diversity through extracurricular activities and summer camps.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is incredibly sensitive, but I’m wondering what people consider “diverse”.

        My affluent suburb has a decent percentage (~20%) of Asian and South Asian students in our public schools. Understanding that the “model minority” stereotype is not something to take lightly I would still argue these students are typically very wealthy and the children of engineers, doctors, etc. Is that really diversity?

        I understand that this is very sensitive and possibly out of line. I just hear the term “diversity” thrown around when talking about schools and neighborhoods and not sure what people really mean. If it’s just non-white families and students, I think that can be different than true socioeconomic diversity (which is harder to achieve due to defacto segregation).

        • avocado says:

          I think true diversity includes socioeconomic diversity as well as racial diversity. My white kid has more in common with her mixed-race BFF whose parents are highly educated professionals than she does with a white kid on free lunch. Her sports team is racially diverse but not very economically diverse because the sport is pretty expensive. Some of her camps, however, draw kids from a wide variety of economic backgrounds and include scholarship students. Girl Scout camp, a couple of local Y camps, and a science camp run by a consortium of school districts are especially good for this.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your last sentence answers my question a bit – since the example of an expensive sport I would cite as “de facto segregation” (there’s a reason most rowers or golfers or cyclists are white).

            Again, didn’t mean to be inflammatory. I appreciate the responses.

        • I think I hear what you are saying. I went to a racially/religiously/culturally diverse private school in a large city where the vast majority of kids came from affluent backgrounds with highly educated professionals as parents. There wasn’t much socio-economic diversity. I live in a much smaller city now that has a fairly high number of number of private/parochial schools and those schools seem to have a greater range of socio-economic diversity with less racial/religious diversity. I’m not sure how you find the balance.

        • Our school district is like this. Lots of racial/religious/cultural diversity, but essentially no socio-economic diversity. It’s better than no diversity, but still a stunning gap in life experience.

    • Township A seems to hit the sweet spot? Does your area have magnet schools or similar that you could access if you lived in a bad school district?

      We made a somewhat similar decision this year, but the area we are moving to has very good schools and is not completely white. It is a wealthy district, but 42 percent minority enrollment, mostly black and Asian, some Hispanic. We are a mixed race family (white/Asian) so this was fairly important, but we both went to a mostly white and not that great school and we are fine- family influence is more important than school quality in my experience (except perhaps if your kids have special needs).

      We looked at houses in worse school districts where the wealthy people almost universally send their kids to private school. I am opposed to private school for a variety of reasons, philosophical and personal, so we would have sent our kids to public school even if we lived there. The county has magnet schools, though, so I always had that in my mind as an option in that scenario.

      As I said, I have an anti private school bias, but I think even a non diverse public school is going to give your kids more well rounded world exposure than 95 percent of private schools where, in my area at least, the only poor kids are on athletic scholarship. I don’t know much about charter schools, if you have that option.

    • October says:

      How old are your kids? As long as there isn’t a safety concern, I don’t think the “academic quality” of elementary school is going to matter much (since you are clearly an involved parent and your child will be fine). We are in a similar boat; in a nice suburb of NYC (but not as exorbitantly expensive as some can be) and because of zoning quirks, our schools are 83% not white, majority free lunches, and ranked 5/10. We are currently committed to public schooling, both because a) a lot can change in the few years before my kid starts school and b) I think it is important for him to experience diversity, with all its pros and cons. I’m raising a white male and I am trying to be really cognizant of his innate privileg, and not exacerbate it.. Honestly, the only way the inequality gap is going to shrink is if white ppl put their money where their mouth is.

    • We also had to deal with this. A few of us were discussing Boston earlier this week – when my son was born, we were living in a great city neighborhood (Cambridge) that has decent but not excellent public schools. We really wanted to stay in Cambridge and did a lot of research on the schools. One of the things that struck me was that in the city, you had to deal with a lot more waitlists / lotteries / lack of choice when it came to the specific school your kid went to. That bothered me more than anything else – that feeling of the schools being overcrowded and being at the whim of the system when it came to my son’s education.

      We ended up moving to a lovely suburb with good schools, but I still get pangs of “what if” when I see the little school kids walking home in Cambridge.

    • Same thing here. We went with an affordable house in the white suburbs, although we picked the more diverse (and also lower rated, but still good schools) of the two areas in our school district. I really struggled with the idea of sending my kids to an awful school in the city just so I could pat myself on the back for not being one of “those” white flighters. It’s not an easy decision either way.

    • Meg Murry says:

      Have you actually talked with anyone that lives in Township B about the schools? I feel like my school district could very well be Township B – we have low test scores on paper, and enough kids in below the poverty line that the schools qualify as Title I schoolwide, and some have free lunch for all students regardless of need (at least, until those programs get cut, that is, but I digress).

      However, test scores do not tell the whole picture. In our case, one of the major reasons our test scores remain borderline low is because our district has decided NOT to focus so much on improving test scores at the expense of overall student learning. So our kids still have music, art, social studies classes that involve hands on projects, etc – all things that other districts have cut way back on in order to beef up the amount of time spent on test prep. Students that are in danger of falling behind get lots of extra help through the Title I program, regardless of income level, and the school day and homework isn’t completely spent on “test taking strategies” and practice test questions and other things that my friends in other districts complain about.

      Not to mention the fact that studies have shown that you can predict school test scores just by looking at the school income distribution. So if Township B has a higher low income contingent, then yes, their scores are probably lower. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are poorer schools though – that means that the teachers are dealing with kids who are coming in with already existing struggles.

      All that said, until 6 months ago I would have said “take a harder look at Township B and what’s behind the numbers.” However, with the way things are up in the air regarding education right now (will sweeping “school choice” programs mean that Township B will soon consist only of students who’s parents didn’t bother to try to move them to a higher performing school, making it worse? Will funding for free and reduced lunches and Title I programs be scaled back dramatically? Etc etc etc) I am a lot more hesitant in that advice, as sad as it makes me.

      But I still think you should see if you can talk to some people that chose to move to Township B and chose to send their kid to the schools there before completely ruling it out, if possible.

      • +1 – or at least talk to parents in Township A schools, visit the schools, and get a sense of what they are like beyond the scores.

      • This exactly. I am a high school teacher and I would are that sometimes you can find better teaching in these types of districts (and sometimes not…sometimes there is a direct connection between poor teaching and test scores). But, honestly, if you have the right demographics, it doesn’t necessarily take good teaching to look good on paper. Talking to parents and visiting schools will give you a much better picture. School ratings can be helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story.

        • Can you expand on “talking to parents and visiting schools”? What are you supposed to be asking or looking for? How do I determine bad teachers vs teaching to the test? In my experience, school tours consist of the principal taking you to their “model” classroom and maybe asking the star student to tell you what they like about the school. I don’t know how I would ever get to the actual reasoning behind the lower test scores.

          • Meg Murry says:

            Do you know anyone that has school aged kids and lives in Township A or B? Perhaps someone at work? Or a friend of a friend? Can you look at the district webs!tes and see if there is a PTO meeting or schoolwide art show or an event where you can just go as a member of the public? You probably wouldn’t get to ask as many questions at the public events, but you could still observe differences between the schools.

            Unfortunately, if your kids are still young, you have to do some of this with the assumption that schools that are currently doing well are going to continue to do so, etc. I mean, it could be 10 years until they get to high school and a ton could change in that time – so I would focus on making sure the high school isn’t abysmal and then making sure I could live with the elementary schools as they are now.

      • This would clearly out me, so anon for now says:

        These are really good thoughts, Meg Murry, thanks. I do have friends who live in Township B, but their kids aren’t in school yet. They’ve made mention of the schools being good but it’s contrary to everything I’ve seen about it, and I’ve been hesitant to ask them to source it because I don’t want it to sound like “you’re putting your kids in an awful school!” But lots of other areas to explore!

      • I’m not in a position to comment on school decisions yet (kid is too small, we haven’t even figured out if we’re going to stay in the US) but is there something that lists an objective measure of the value that each school adds? To what extent are students performing beyond expected levels, given the socioeconomic demographics of the school?

    • Anonymous says:

      We went with something like Township A when faced with a similar decision. If my kids turn out to be great students, our schools offer sufficiently challenging paths for them, like an IB program in the high school that is well regarded. We consciously decided against a lily-white suburb with “better” schools.

      Something that helped me in my decision was thinking about the choices my parents made — they bought a house in a good school district, but never would have contemplated sending me to a private school. Even during a stint in a less developed country, we went to public school, where we probably didn’t have a super education on the books but learned a whole lot about the world. My parents always valued education, and we were an academic household, so my siblings and I always worked hard, took advantage of AP courses, etc., and ended up at great universities. I didn’t always have the best teachers, but on the whole they were pretty good, I wouldn’t trade the experience for a private school one. In other words, I think my parents did it right, and I’m trying to emulate them.

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s also a similar effect of living in an area where people have made choices like yours. We live in a Township A situation, decent but not amazing schools, and reasonable amount of diversity. I like knowing that many of the parents who are working professionals made the same choice we did.

        Our neighbors have a daughter in my kid’s class. She is a doctor and he’s a SAHD, there is a certain amount of racial and socioeconomic diversity (as in upper middle class to lower working class which I get isn’t true s-e diversity) as well as a few families with two moms or two dads. The reality is I’m a lawyer and DH is an academic so our kids will be fine wherever they go to school because they have rock solid support at home and sufficient resources to avail of whatever enrichment opportunities they want.

      • Sarabeth says:

        We are doing something like this too. In our case, it means buying in a neighborhood zoned for a “mediocre” elementary school, according to test scores – but we know other professional parents whose kids go there and who are very happy with the quality of instruction. Meaningful diversity, both socioeconomic and racial, and a gifted program that we suspect at least one of our kids will need.

        We would not send our kids to some of the truly challenged schools in our district, but we also would not want to send our kids to the mostly white, almost exclusively middle class schools in the suburbs. And private school is not an option for us, philosophically or financially. I went to private school, and do not want my kids to spend their adolescence in that kind of environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      My kid is too young for us to be dealing with this yet, but I will be facing a similar scenario in a year or two. Our current zoned school district is mediocre, and faces a lot of similar issues in terms of free lunches. Our zoned school also has a bit of a reputation for being highly structured, which makes me worried that administrators created such an environment because the kids were otherwise too disruptive. If we lived 7 blocks in a different direction, we’d be zoned for some of the best (and whitest and richest) public schools in our area. Private schools are not an option for us. I feel torn about staying in my zoned district, moving to the richer and whiter district, or moving to the suburbs. I feel like part of the point of living in the general area where we live is to enrich her life with diversity – including socioeconomic diversity. She won’t get that if we move to the better school district or the suburbs. And I do think that involved parents are very influential and important at a young age. At the same time, I worry that I might be sending my daughter to a school where she won’t thrive. It’s a hard decision.

      All that said, I do not think you have an obligation to send your kids to school in Township B in the name of being a better white person. Nor do I think that you alone can save a Township B school. Assuming that you like Township A, I would explore the schools in the area. No real advice, but a lot of commiseration.

    • 1. If you’re going to invest in either private school or your home, it makes more sense to sink the money in your home. If the housing market holds, you could one day get that money back. But private school money is going to be gone forever–not to mention that your property tax already went to fund your public school anyway. Homeowners who pick private schools end up paying twice, essentially.

      2. District lines change. Schools consolidate. I bought my house in 2007 because it went with the “good” elementary. The houses 2 streets below went to a failing, poor elementary that all my friends warned me to stay away from. In 2015 the district consolidated 7 elementary schools into 4 and the failing elementary schools were closed and moved into the “good” schools. The entire city was in an uproar. The PTO moms at the good schools freaked out, and the parents from the failing schools felt protective and affectionate towards their own schools and teachers. Now the kids are all mixed together and the schools hit a reset button. Who knows which school will become the good school? The kids are thriving and doing well and so far the only thing in flux is the housing market. Now a seller can’t use “excellent elementary!” as a selling point.

      Buy a house because it fits your family, you adore the neighborhood, the commute makes sense, and it fits your budget. Schools are changing variables.

  3. Travel with Baby says:

    We are flying to Europe (12+hour flight) with one stop to visit family. DS will be 8 months. We have the Nuna Mix stroller and plan to take it along. We are not purchasing a separate ticket for DS but reserved the seats with bassinet in front.

    I was thinking to take the stroller base and car seat (Nunna Pippa) with us. However, once we reach the gate we need to take the car seat off and fold the stroller separately. My understanding is that they will put the stroller in a special place along with fragile items. Did anybody have issues traveling international with stroller? I am afraid it will damaged although it shouldn’t because we are not checking it.

    How do you keep a 8 month old active baby happy on a long flight? Thanks!

    • Anonymous says:

      Whether you get your stroller back at your stopover if you gate check will depend on the airport. For example, at Heathrow you don’t get your stroller back when you get gate check.

      The risk of damage with gate check isn’t more than if you check it. They do just put it in the cargo hold with the luggage though. We’ve traveled a bunch and only had an issue on one flight. Sometimes it was wet so I usually keep a microfibre facecloth in the diaper bag in case I need to wipe it down.

      There’s been lots of good advice on traveling with babies so try to the search bar to bring up more than the responses you get today. I find a baby carrier (ergo) invaluable. If you’re flying in Europe they will give you a little seatbelt that baby has to wear for take off and landing.

    • I haven’t flown internationally with a stroller, but I highly recommend those gate check bags that you can put over it for some protection. We use one for the umbrella stroller and the carseat when we travel. It’s not padded but I have noticed rips in it after flights and I’m glad the rips are on the covering and not the actual car seat or stroller. They are about $10 in amazon.

    • AwayEmily says:

      I got the advice to go to the dollar store and get a bunch of little new toys. Here is the even cheaper version of that: (1) Start collecting random disposable items (plastic spoons, toilet paper tubes, etc) a couple of weeks or so beforehand so that you have a big bag of “surprises” that you can just throw away at your destination. (2) borrow some little toys from a friend.

      8 months was tough, though. She was SUPER wiggly and frustrated. Oh, we also loved the Zoe B magic sleep hat (just look for baby sleep hat on Amazon). I think it helped her stay asleep (ie, she took 45 minute naps instead of 20 minute ones).

  4. AwayEmily says:

    My daughter turns one in a few days and so we are thinking about the transition away from bottles. Currently she nurses in the AM and PM (which I hope to continue for awhile) and takes two 4-oz bottles of formula at daycare. She also loves water from her sippy cup. Has anyone had success in phasing out the bottles without phasing in cow’s milk? She is already prone to constipation so I’m a little reluctant to start giving her 8oz of cow’s milk a day — my hope is that she will make up the extra calories needed with more food, but maybe this isn’t realistic?

    • Anonymous says:

      I would do one change at a time. Start giving her bottles with 1/4 milk and 3/4 formula and increase the milk after a few days. Once she’s settled with milk, switch to a sippy or straw cup. It may be that she won’t take milk from the same type of sippy as she gets water from. Our kids would but the sippy cups were transparent so they could see what they were getting.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      We switched from bottles at around 10.5 months and didn’t switch from formula till a year. It was mildly annoying until I took a sharpie and marked the water quantity on the sippies, but otherwise I just shook to mix just like bottles. The transition from formula to cow’s milk we did ounce by ounce because she was pretty offended about it. To clarify, we only ever used straw cups and I made sure to get one without a valve (aka it can spill) for her milk because I didn’t want her to struggle to drink.

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      We did it! We just… stopped giving her bottles. “Food for nutrition, water for hydration.” She started getting almond milk with cereal and then in an open cup because she likes it, but that was after no ‘milk’ for months. We aren’t even vegan or anything, I’m just not a big milk drinker so it wasn’t there. Now she drinks almond milk at home and cow milk at daycare and it’s all good.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for everyone for the tips on Paris with a toddler earlier this week! Didn’t get a chance to post follow ups but really appreciate the tips. I’m so excited for the trip, and your advice made me eager to start planning.

    StrategyMom– we don’t have a well-planned itinerary for Provence yet and will likely play by ear. We plan to take a train from Paris to Avignon, rent a car, and drive to Aix-en-Provence, where we’ll stay in an Air BNB for a week. I’m envisioning hanging around Aix mixed with day trips to nearby towns (Cassis, Iles de Porquerolles, Orange, St. Remy and some of the Luberon towns are all on the list, although I am sure we’ll only get to a couple of them). We chose to stay in Aix because although I’ve heard wonderful things about the smaller towns as a home base, we’re generally city people and I figured there’d be more to do there with a toddler who might not be up for day trips every day.

    • I saw your post too late earlier. We went to France last summer with an almost two year old and we were so glad we didn’t bring a stroller. We brought a baby carrier. In Paris especially, there are stairs everywhere : the metro, museums, etc. Just my two cents. Enjoy your trip!

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks! Gosh I can’t imagine carrying him that much, he’s heavy! (I’ll also be 6 months pregnant while we are there…) You brought a Bjorn or something similar? Or something toddler-specific? We used the Bjorn a lot when he was under one, but haven’t in months.

        • Not OP says:

          Get an Ergo! Use a back carry when they are heavier but it’s good up to like 35lbs.

          • Depends on your baby and your own frame. Our very tall, very heavy toddler was not tolerably comfortable to carry in the ergo past 34″/28 lb.

        • Anon in NYC says:

          There are toddler specific carriers – we have a Beco carrier that we can use for front or back carry. My daughter is 22 months and weighs ~27 lbs. She’s heavy and I wouldn’t want to walk miles with her in it, but it’s great for subway trips.

        • Sarabeth says:

          Not K., but depending on how big your toddler is, I’d see if you can borrow a Tula, Lillebaby, Kinderpack or similar from a friend for the trip. All of those come in toddler sizes. You could probably still use them comfortably at 6 months (I could), but you could also look for a meh dai or onbuhimo style.

        • Anonymama says:

          Make your partner carry him then!

        • Not sure if you’ll see this at all, but just in case…we had a Tula and wore her on our backs. But…she was small for 2 (30th percentile) and I wasn’t pregnant! (And my partner did a lot of the carrying!) Still, I’d still think navigating a stroller around those stairs while pregnant isn’t going to be ideal either. Whatever you choose, I guess they each have downsides. Good luck!

          • Anonymous says:

            OK, thanks all! Interesting to think about. I’ll see if I can find a secondhand carrier or borrow one to try before the trip.

    • POSITA says:

      Do you have a list of things you’d like to do in Aix? I spent a weekend there about a decade ago and I found it to be really, really sleepy. There was almost nothing to do. I usually enjoy even sitting at a cafe and people watching, but there was even very little of that to do. I remember that there was basically one main strip and we ended up at Ben and Jerry’s because it had the best seating. Aix was really disappointing.

      If you’re looking for a good home base in southern France, I would suggest Avignon or even Marseille. I also enjoyed kayaking from Nimes to near Arles, though I don’t remember those towns. As a different option, I loved Sarlat la Caneda and Carcassonne on the other side of southern France. They were really neat towns to explore. (I lived in France for a couple of summers.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Hmm, that’s really good to know, thanks. We already booked our lodging but I’ll see what their cancellation policy is like. Aix seemed central and big enough we would have enough to do, but if it’s big and not exciting, that’s a big let down.

        • rosie says:

          We were in Aix for about 4 days and found it to be a totally serviceable base for doing excursions, although agree not too much going on in Aix itself. Mostly eating, the markets are fun (not sure what days they are). It was very pedestrian-friendly, which was really nice–seems like they close off a lot of the streets to cars around the central areas. Have never been to Avignon and only drove through Marseille, so cannot speak to using those as a base rather than Aix, but just chiming in to say that if you cannot cancel or Aix still makes sense for your base, it should still be fun.

        • POSITA says:

          My sense at the time was that it was similar in interest to an American suburb, with perhaps a bit more history. At that time little French towns still had lots of local restaurants and shops, but Aix was big enough that it had mostly chains in the downtown section. At the same time, Aix was too small to have the high end or interesting shops and restaurants of a bigger city. For reference, Aix is roughly the size of Syracuse, NY.

        • rosie says:

          For completeness of anecdata, my trip there was about 4 years ago, forgot to include that part.

  6. Momata says:

    happy Friday, all! My parents have offered to fly my lil family across the country for a weeklong vacation. Our kids will be 3 1/2 and just barely 2 at the time. The flight will be 4.5 hours and will be followed by a two hour car ride. Add to that the 2 1/2 hours from leaving the house to wheels up at the airport, and it looks like a very full day of misery that just has to be repeated a week later. I’m considering declining the trip (which my parents would totally understand). Am I being a pessimistic wuss?

    • avocado says:

      You might be a bit pessimistic. We flew cross-country with our kid for the first time when she was 28 months and she thought it was the Best Adventure Ever. The only problems we encountered were with the car seat on the plane, which could have been avoided if we’d bought a CARES harness.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would go. The kids are old enough that the whole airport flying thing will be fun for them and they will pretty easily watch a movie or play a game on an Ipad. Throw in a couple walks up and down the aisle and a few coloring books, and you’re there. On arrival, I would have one parent install car seats in the rental car while the other walks the kids around a bit to burn off energy. Most airports have play areas for kids on both sides of security.

    • Even if the travel days ARE miserable, you still have 5 good vacation days in between – go for it! Also, your kids are old enough – at least the 3.5 year old – that screen time could occupy much of the day. That is a game changer for travel. Let them watch movies all day.

      Would it help to plan to take a vacation day the Monday after you are back when your kids can be in childcare so you know you will have a decompression/napping/time alone day at the end, no matter what? Maybe that is all you need to make it feel doable.

      • This Monday idea is genius.

      • Meg Murry says:

        +1 to giving yourself some time to recover from your vacation. If you can’t take Monday off, at least plan to get back more than 24 hours before you have to go back to work to have a day at home to get settled.

        Also, do you have to do the 2 hour drive the day you fly in? When we made a trip like this, we just took the shuttle from the airport to a nearby hotel for the night, and the next morning my husband took the shuttle back to the airport to go pick up our rental car while the kids and I had breakfast. Because for me the worst part wouldn’t be the 2 hour drive – it would be dealing with the logistics of getting tired cranky kids and luggage to the car rental facility, waiting forever and THEN having to make the 2 hour drive. All that is moot of course, if instead someone is picking you up at the airport.

        Besides the travel logistics, what is the trip going to look like for you and the kids? Will the grandparents be helpful and do kid friendly activities? Or will you be spending the whole week keeping them from killing themselves in a non-childproof house, and then trying to keep them quiet at non-kid friendly restaurants and events? Will you be traveling to the grandparents, with the grandparents, or is this just a gift from them and they won’t even be there?

      • (was) due in june says:

        Are your parents willing to watch your kids when you get to the vacation spot (and do you trust them)? Free childcare for days is worth a terrible day of travel on each end.

    • For a week? I’d definitely go! I wouldn’t go for a long weekend.

    • I’ve done a similar trip several times to see my family, starting when my son was 10 months and continuing until now (3.5 years). It’s not that bad. He LOVES the airport, so all the initial airport time (including the parking lot, parking shuttle, security, food court, watching the planes while we wait… all of it) ends up being quite a lot of fun. 4.5 hour flight isn’t so bad – I would bring some videos if you don’t mind screen time. The 2 hour drive at the end is a drag, but my son always falls asleep during that stretch because he has been having so much fun all day.

      • Anonymous says:

        + 1

        passing out in the car after leaving very exciting airport is a common theme in our family travels too.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      My 3 year old is pretty good on planes – easy to entertain, can carry her own backpack. And she’s a busy, active kid who I would expect to be a nightmare on planes. At 2, the BEST PART of the airport was the moving sidewalks and escalators; you can really wear a kid out exploring an airport. Screen time makes the plane ride easier. Two parents will make things easier still, because kids can switch seats to be with the other parent for a change of scenery.

      I’ve done a 6+ hour car ride solo with kiddo several times; the first time was a little nerve wracking, but now I look forward to it. I recorded myself reading some of her books, and we listen to those; there are also a number of podcasts geared toward kids, so I load a bunch of those up. I wrap up little snacks, activity packs from the $1 bin at Target, Melissa and Doug water pen books, action figures, sticker packs, etc. Every 45 min to an hour, she gets a new “present.” Between the presents, the podcasts, and the inevitable car nap, the time goes quickly. I also plan a snack or meal to occur at a playground or a McDonald’s with an indoor play area. If she falls asleep, I set cruise control to the fastest speed I feel comfortable driving and cover as much ground as possible before she wakes up (shh).

      • NewMomAnon says:

        One other tip on car timing; this may be challenging to coordinate with plane schedules, but our most successful car trip was the time we left at 5 am and kiddo dozed for the first 2 hours. Very little traffic, easy kid management. I can also usually count on a decent post-lunch car nap.

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      I would do it! Two terrible days for five days of family time and free babysitting?! Those long visits are really good for building the sense of *family* with grandparents, in my experience, too. Quick visits don’t make much of an impression on my toddler, but week-long stays really help her get to know someone.

    • EB0220 says:

      This summer I had a really disastrous (in my mind) trip. It was just me and my 2 kids (4 and 2 at the time). The flight was supposed to be maybe 3 hours fly time with a connection. Well, lots of things went wrong and it ended up as an all-day trip on the way out. It was slightly stressful at the time but my kids are STILL talking about how much fun it was (pro-tip: O’hare has a great children’s museum in one of the terminal’s and Chili’s will give you a margarita to-go). So I think you should go.

  7. Breastfeeding help/ Suggestions? I weaned my baby completely around 10 days ago. I ended up engorged (thankfully no illness/ mastitis), but it was painful and I went through about 5 days of sports bras to try to help the pain. Two days ago I really thought I was on the upswing. Suddenly today one of my breasts hurt all over again! Should I just wait it out another day or two to see what happens? I’m not sure of any other options at this point, maybe just looking for others who have gone through this. The other seems to be adjusting better :) Thanks.

    • Frozen Peach says:

      Took me forever to truly wind down the production. For at least a month one was still going and the other wasn’t. Hand express in the shower if you are in pain. Wear shirts with high collars around your little. But most importantly, I had wicked mood swings and very intense emotions during weaning– lasted on and off for a few weeks, would come back anytime my kiddo decided to try just one last time (usually when being comforted). If you know what it is, it’s much easier to deal with! The website Cup of Jo has a really great post about this.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Have you gotten your period back yet? I found that postpartum, and especially post weaning, I get a solid week of breast pain before my period. Otherwise, agree with the suggestion to hand-express in the shower. Have you tried cabbage leaves or the lansinoh cold packs?

      I also took sudafed while weaning because dies up milk supply.

      If it’s debilitating, I would call your OB. One thing I’ve learned since having a kid is that if it feels like something is wrong, it probably is wrong.

    • I didn’t deal with this, but maybe try sudafed? One of the side effects is that it reduces supply.

  8. I’m still really struggling with the daycare question. We visited several places, including licensed in-home, independent center, and large corporate center. It feels like such an important decision but I don’t really have any leaning one way or another. I can find good and bad things about every place.

    I also feel terrible because the in-home we liked was significantly less expensive than the centers (and for good reason – it’s a woman watching kids in her house, not a whole school with all the amenities). I know cost shouldn’t really factor into it, but thinking about what we could do with that money every month that we wouldn’t spend on daycare is hard to ignore.

    Other than speaking with references, what did you do to help choose? The last time I asked it seemed most people didn’t have very many choices, but I feel like we have too many!

    • Anonymous says:

      Under 2 we wanted a cozy atmosphere so we went in-home. We switched to a larger center at my work (65-70 kids in 5 classrooms) that emphasizes outdoor time at age 3 (would have switched at 2.5 if we got a spot). If you’re looking for extra stimulation and have family in the area, they may be willing to be involved even if they can’t commit to full time care. My mom took my little girl to a toddler music class between ages 1 and 3. It was on Wednesday mornings so it really broke up the week a bit for her. She also took her swimming on occasion but it was more sporadic.

    • PinkKeyboard says:

      We chose the in home because I really valued the lack of staff turnover and personal connection with a specific person, especially as a baby. I am also very much so in the camp that the “amenities” aren’t all they are cracked up to be. I want my toddler to play, play, play outside, get messy, and play some more. I have very little interest in reading readiness or any bookwork. Read to her, do art projects, color, play outside, play inside, play with friends, copy daycare lady’s physical therapy (hilarious by the way) but if you start “testing” my three year old I may have to cut you.

      • To both of you – I have references for the in-home I liked. What would be your must-haves on a list of questions to ask the references (besides the usual things I can google for ‘how to check a nanny’s references’)?

        One thing that stood out to me from talking to friends was to ask how open the provider is to accepting criticism of their care and adjusting it to your standards. I have friends with a nanny who keeps feeding their kid things they told her not to. This kind of thing would be a dealbreaker for me, and I wouldn’t have thought to ask it necessarily of a reference. But this nanny thinks she knows better because she’s been watching kids for 20 years, and isn’t open to criticism.

        • Anonymous says:

          Pogo, in my limited experience I would not assume any daycare provider – center, in-home, whatever – would be open to adjusting their standards to yours other than pretty small changes that will not make their life more difficult or require philosophical buy-in. They are caring for multiple children with parents who all have different standards, so they can’t just switch things around for each kid. You need to try find a provider who conforms to your standards already. If you feel like you are going to have really specific ideas about a lot of issues you might be better off with a nanny. Daycare requires some flexibility.

          • I think there are legitimate times when you might have a criticism though – for example, if baby has a rash and you find a specific diaper cream helps along with changing the diaper more frequently or something. And you ask that provider does this and they just ignore it and baby continues to have a rash.

          • mascot says:

            The nanny situation is a little different than a daycare. Daycare will use the diaper cream you provide, your brand of diapers, whatever food you provide, etc. You want to have them apply diaper cream at each change? No problem, just send it in. What daycare won’t do is change their goldfish snack to cheddar bunnies bc your family eats organic. They will instead tell you to send in your own snack if you don’t like theirs. With a nanny, you are providing all of it anyways on your dime so if I ask my nanny not to take the kids to McDs and only take them to ChickfilA, I’m going to be pretty annoyed if s/he goes against that and they have McDs.
            Licensed daycares are bound by state regulations too. So while you may prefer for your child to sleep in the swing until they wake up, daycare may have to move them after so many minutes bc of licensure. It’s a tradeoff, but I didn’t find daycare to be too inflexible about preferences.

        • Meg Murry says:

          My concern with an in-home is whether you’d wind up paying for that cheaper price with less availability. Is it just one person? What does she do if she is sick, or if she or her kids have doctors appointments or whatever? Does she close down for a vacation week or when the schools are closed? What about snow days? I’ve seen this work both ways – some friends *loved* their in home daycare because they were willing to take kids that were a tiny bit more ill than daycare centers would allow (for instance, fever of 100.5), and they didn’t wind up constantly leaving work because of a sick kid. Others found that they wound up paying tons more for backup care or draining all their PTO because their in-home provider wound up closing for a lot of days, often at the last minute, and/or took off big chunks of time when the schools were closed.

          And while some daycares include a lot of amenities that I agree you don’t necessarily need, some really make your life easier. For instance, our daycare provides food so we don’t have to shop for or pack lunches or snacks. Another thing we love is that they have a huge indoor play area so that even when it’s raining or cold out the kids can still burn off some energy – again, some in home providers may have this kind of thing available, others may be more space constrained.

          At the end of the day we went with the daycare center over in-home mainly because I just like the idea of there being more than 1 adult to many kids, as opposed to most in-homes in my area with one adult and multiple kids. After all, at some point the adult is going to need to help a kid in the bathroom or warm a bottle in the kitchen or whatever, and while I’m sure some people have a system worked out, it still makes me nervous when you are talking about very young kids.

          • Meg Murry says:

            Oh, and the last one – is the in-home an “on the books” provider where you can use a childcare FSA benefit, or are they running it as a cash under the table business? In my area, many (but not all) cheaper in-homes are under the table.

            I’d also ask about:
            -screen time
            -outdoor time
            -schedule flexibility/rigidness (can they work with young babies who need to nap whenever, or is naptime from times X to Y, etc)
            -for an infant, familiarity with breastfeeding/formula/bottle feeding

          • How can you confirm it’s on the books? It is licensed by the state and registered with the state as a business, is that sufficient? They all seem to have you pay by check, though.

          • mascot says:

            Do they have an EIN/tax id number? Set up as a separate corporate entity? You have to report the tax id number on the FSA forms so you may want to ask your benefits person how that is handled.

          • AnonMN says:

            These are pretty much the two reasons we didn’t considers in-home, despite being more cost-effective. 1) Accountability. I like that more than one person is watching my children and that I have a few people to go to if I am not getting answers to a problem after going straight to the person. 2) No random days off. If a teacher is sick, they have floaters who the kids are familiar with and my sick days don’t get drained for both kid sick days and teacher sick days.

            An added benefit to me is an environment that is set-up for the specific age group. I think it’s really nice for my 1 year old to have a class that is set-up for him and his other 1yo buddies, free from the bigger/rowdier older kids. Same for my 3yo.

    • Anonymous says:

      This probably means that every option would be okay. I think it is totally reasonable to go with the cheapest if it seems fine. Why should cost not factor into it? It has to. So does convenience. That’s reasonable. It IS hard to figure out how much more some things are worth though.

      That being said, does one place feel more like you or how you would parent if you were a stay at home mom? Is one place more flexible? Do you the parents at one place seem more like people you would like to hang out with? You will likely make friends through childcare.

      The idea that we constantly have to find the very best thing for our children is so exhausting. Good enough is okay. When my son was an infant, I remember saying about his daycare (only half joking) I don’t want him to get used to a standard of luxury I can’t sustain. Honestly, I resigned myself to the fact that I cannot provide my son with the very best. He’s going to go to public school. He needs to learn to deal with acceptable.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        Wow, thank you for this perspective.

        I was just worriedly googling the elementary schools in my neighborhood, but you know what? They’re good. That’s why we bought a house here. If she goes to the ‘worst’ of the elementary schools in a city known for having decent schools, wellp, she’ll be just fine. I appreciate the reminder.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, I hope I’m right. If my son is in prison in 15 years, we’ll know who to blame! ;)

          And I too was recently researching different elementary schools even though we specifically bought our apartment so we could stay in the zone for one school. (Self-directed eye roll). It is so hard!

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      I didn’t have to choose (employer’s on-site was a no brainer), but if I did, I would think about what you want the daycare to offer (besides of course, a safe and loving place for kid to stay) to compliment what you have at home.

      The place she goes is run by a big corp (though our branch is tiny) and it gives kiddo tons of like, researched educational opportunities. Like, “at such and such age they are developing such and such skills so we have blah blah blah and blah blah blah planned” …to a level I would never do. I really appreciate it when she comes home, asks for something using ‘please’ and then says, self-satisfied, “that’s good manners!” I can see what she’s learning there, and it’s great. (Not just manners, of course — fine motor stuff, language stuff, but that’s the easiest/cutest example that comes to mind.)

      What she doesn’t get there (due to legitimate space constraints) is a lot of gross-motor/physical activity stuff. They take them on walks but there’s no slide/swing set/climbing structure. And our yard is not really toddler friendly, so we sort of *have* to take her to the park at every opportunity. It’s not a huge problem, but in an ideal world, knowing our living situation (all other factors being equal-ish), I’d love a daycare that offered more outside play opportunities.

    • bluefield says:

      I send my kid to a substantially lower-grade daycare because it is less than half the cost of the fancier daycare in my area. I don’t really know what I use the extra money for – some it goes to her for sure, but some of it probably also goes to my clothing and dinners out with my husband. I feel no guilt. My kid is happy, has friends, and comes back in basically the same condition I dropped her off in.

    • Is it for a baby/infant? I have used 3 centers (across 2 kids), and I loved one for its infant care but not toddler, one for toddler/preschool but was super uncomfortable with infant care, and one where both were just fine but nothing fantastic (but it was a chain and they never closed and had in site laundry and meals).

      Don’t feel like you need to choose now forever- life you like the in home, go for it through the baby years and find somewhere else for older toddler/preschool. Now on the other side of this, I can assure you the kids don’t remember.

    • FTMinFL says:

      If I had it to do over again, my number one priority for infant daycare/care center would be sleep situation. Is the napping area separate? Is the caregiver on board or willing to work with me on ensuring sufficient sleeping? For a toddler outdoor facilities and other stimulating activities were important, but – wow – my life was ruled by baby’s sleep for the first 14 months because lack of sleep would snowball into a host of medically-significant issues for him. I know lots of babies have daycare sleep issues and parents just get through it, but I would certainly let the accommodations weigh into my decision.

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