Apr 28, 2015

Baby Gear Round Up

We're 8 months into this baby gig, and I've been thinking about what I would invest in if we ever opt for a round 2.

(We are not embarking on a round 2 ANY TIME SOON!  I loved the newborn days, I pine over how quickly babyhood is passing by, but when I hear other people with babies talking about how they want another newborn, an involuntary voice in my head shouts ALREADY?!?  To each his own- if that's you then good for you! Not for me, thanks!)

We're far enough along that I don't want to invest in any expensive items now- I feel like we can live without them just fine, and they would end up in storage in a few months anyway.  Still, it has occurred to me that if we have another baby in the future we'll already have everything we need, so it might be worth it to splurge on a few luxuries we skipped the first time around.

Here's a round up of the things we've loved the most this time around:

  1. Charlie Banana cloth diapers- I know cloth diapering isn't for everybody, but we love it.  We've been using disposables for 6 weeks and counting as we battle the yeast infection that will not die! And contrary to feeling like a vacation or making the cloth seem like a wasted investment, it's making me appreciate our cloth diapers that much more and I can't WAIT until we can go back to them.  That being said, we have had some minor issues, primarily with pee leaks.  I'm thinking of going back and trying some prefolds with covers, and if they work I'll slowly trade them out as I can afford it.
  2. Simple knit hats- we had a few homemade knit hats that were sentimental and adorable, but none of them ever fit or stayed on as well as the basic store-bought knit hat.
  3. Sleep and plays- I had picked out a bunch of sweet pants and onesies- and they were really cute- but the first 3 months or so my favorite outfits were the sleep and plays.
  4. Side sleeper- Anxiety, hormones, whatever.  The point is I needed my baby as close as possible while I slept, without her actually being next to my body because I was terrified of smothering her in her sleep.  This worked great in our king bed, but I don't think it would fit in a smaller bed with 2 adults.
  5. Bob stroller- I hedged on the stroller dilemma for months.  I didn't want to waste my money, but even the cheapest strollers (aside from umbrella strollers which are just too short to use comfortably) cost around $100, and I didn't want to drop that on something that may or may not actually suit us.  I wanted a jogging stroller because I knew I needed exercise, but what if I didn't follow through and that expensive stroller sat in our garage unused, taunting me?  Well this stroller has paid for itself a thousand times over in convenience and utility, and I HAVE been jogging, for 4 months now, so take that past-me!
  6. Chico Keyfit 30 infant carseat- this carseat was a hand-me-down, but it's great.  It's touted around the internet as one of the safest, and I have no complaints as far as comfort and ease of use.
  7. Aden and Anais muslin swaddling blankets- I know I'm so cliche, but they really are delightful and adorable.  Since our baby was born in August, we used these blankets almost exclusively for the first 3 months or so.  We used them to swaddle, to shield the baby from the sun, and occasionally to clean up drool, spit up, or milk dribble.  We used heavier blankets when the weather got cold, but now that it's getting warm we often throw them in the carseat with her to give her something to cuddle, or pack one in the diaper bag to drape over the stroller if she needs to nap on the go.
  8. A swing- My in-laws bought this for her a few days after she was born.  I didn't use it much for the first month, (because let's face it, I never put her down), but for 3 or 4 months she used it daily.  We only just finally packed it away, because I was still putting her in it occasionally as a novelty to entertain her if she was feeling crabby and I really needed to eat or something.
  9. Ergo (not pictured because I forgot about it, but too good not to mention anyway)- I've used the Ergo for basketball games, school functions, family outings, around the house, and every shopping trip ever.  The baby never liked her carseat so we couldn't just put the carseat in the shopping cart.  When I'm alone I can't push a stroller and a shopping cart, and even when we're out shopping together it's easier to carry her in the Ergo than it is to push around the stroller.  When she was tiny I used a k'taan because the infant insert for the Ergo sounded way too hot for an August baby.  I liked the k'taan, but the nice thing about the Ergo is it's adjustable- so Chris can wear it, too.  The Ergo also allows us to put her on our backs, which is definitely preferable sometimes.
This list isn't comprehensive, but it includes the items we liked and used the most.  It also doesn't include any of the handmade items that we truly love, because that wouldn't be particularly useful to anybody else.  

Here's what I would splurge on next time:

  1. A video monitor- You DON'T need one of these, and I thought it was a good thing to skip to save some money.  For the first few months she rarely napped away from us.  She was always sleeping in the cradle, in the swing or on our chests, so we didn't use a monitor at all.  Once she got too 'aware' to sleep around light and noise we had to teach her to sleep in her crib.  I know that she's fine and I still don't need a video monitor, but I want one so bad!  I really wish I could see what she was up to in there.
  2. An electric breast pump- These are expensive, and since I wouldn't be going to work after the baby was born I really wasn't sure what I would need.  My mom bought me a $30 hand pump, and that worked pretty well in the beginning.  I wanted to pump so Chris could feed her, so we could occasionally leave her with a sitter, and so I could occasionally have a drink without worrying about my breastmilk.  The hand pump is small and convenient in many ways, but I don't think it's meant for daily use.  For her to take a bottle, she needed one just about every day.  Otherwise she wasn't used to it and wanted to nurse.  I just couldn't keep up with a hand pump, and it only got worse as the months went by.  I got stressed out and frustrated, I thought my milk wouldn't let down for a pump- I was getting nothing.  I finally figured out it was the pump- not me.  I don't know if it's garbage or if it just needs a new membrane or something, but it definitely doesn't work anymore as it is.  For the sake of my sanity we decided it would be smarter just to use formula in a bottle once a day for the next 4 months, rather than buying an expensive pump and pressuring me to find time during the day to use it.  Next time around though I think I'll buy an electric pump and make it more of a priority from the beginning.  She nursed so often for the first 4 or 5 months of her life that it was pretty hard on me.  I accepted it and tried to be thankful she was a good eater, and it wasn't too bad- but there were times when I really felt like I needed a break but I couldn't have one, and that's not ideal.  It didn't even occur to me at the time, but in hindsight I'm pretty confident an electric breast pump would have made a big difference.
  3. Full body pregnancy pillow- Or maybe a wedge or maybe both, I don't know!  All I know is I was terribly uncomfortable when I was pregnant, especially in the third trimester.  I was way more interested in buying baby stuff than pregnancy stuff, though, so the only special pillow I bought was a $20 body pillow from Target and it was crap.  I don't know if any of the pricier options would make a difference, but I've heard great things and I think it'd be worth the cash to try them out!

In case you were curious, the only real dud around here was the bouncy chair.  We got some use out of it, but she never really cared for it and could definitely have lived without it.

Apr 24, 2015

Joke's on You!

Ohhhhh so YOU thought since I was happily playing with that big basket of toys over there, you might try to get some work done?

HAHAHA, good one Mama!

Apr 23, 2015

Baby Proofing

We didn't rush to baby proof our house.  It's already pretty kid friendly- no expensive crystal or sharp knives lying around.  We knew it wouldn't be necessary until she was mobile, and hadn't decided exactly what we'd need to do.  Then time just sort of snuck away from us, and as she began to roll and crawl we've found ourselves pulling her away from cords and books and shelves over and over again.  We finally decided that for her safety and our sanity it needed to be done now, so we baby proofed the living room last weekend.

We gated her in.  I was on the fence about this one, (ha no pun intended).  It was the most expensive and ugliest step, but I finally decided it would be worth it to be able to keep her out of the dining room when need be.  That's where many of our books are that she is attempting to eat, and that's where my ironing board is usually set up- I am super paranoid about my iron falling on her, even when it's not hot.  We bought a cheap-o gate for one doorway, but had to get a nicer one (more than twice as expensive) for the other doorway because of its width.

Chris tied up all the cords tight behind the TV stand, and then put a piece of plywood in front of them for good measure.

We plugged all the outlets.  This is an obvious and easy one, but she demonstrated over and over again just how specifically important it was for her by trying her hardest to jam her pointer finger into those outlets.

Bonus prize in this picture: A sneak peak of my bedhead in the dirty mirror above the outlet.

We tethered the bookshelf [that she totally climbs on] to the wall, as well as the lamp in the corner.

We took the pallets out from under the couch.  She kept trying to climb up on the couch and bumping her face on them when she fell.  Once she gets better at climbing we'll put these back in.  In the meantime we're finally going to stain and varnish them.

I just took out the fireplace screen and tools.  We won't need them in the summer anyway, and I didn't want them to fall on her.  In a few months she may figure out how to climb up here and then I don't know what we'll do, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So, what did we miss?  Did we hit anything you forgot about in your home?  I'm sure we'll have some issues to face with the TV stand as she gets a little bigger.  I've heard of people using double sided tape to stick their flat-screen TVs down and prevent their kids from knocking them over.  Of course we could also mount it to the wall.  How to keep her away from the computer and the Xbox I'm a little less certain.  We may have to get creative!

Apr 22, 2015

Science for Kids

I loved the school science fair when I was a kid.  I also participated in Science Olympiad and Odyssey of the Mind.  I met my husband at science camp in high school, and his version of "me time" is still reading science blogs or listening to science podcasts (The Skeptics Guide to the Universe anybody?)  So it's no wonder that we had hoped our kids would love the science fair themselves, and every year doing their projects would be a massive fun educational family undertaking.

Well our girls hate it.  They're ambivalent about science in general.  They tend to be interested any time we have discussions on new theories or discoveries at home, or lead them through just-for-fun experiments, but often complain about science class at school.  (Sometimes because it's boring and sometimes because it talks about the human reproductive system and OMG how embarrassing!!)

We've tried for years to make it fun and exciting.  BUT we are also adamant they do it right- no baking soda volcanoes here, folks!  Only one variable allowed!  Can this experiment be replicated?  How large is your data set?  We've done our best to keep it reasonable and developmentally appropriate for each of them, but we think it's really important that our {all} children learn a few basic fundamental facts about the scientific method- so they can recognize bad information as they get older.

I think we've made a few mistakes along the way though.  First of all, we never start soon enough.  If we want it to be fun AND done correctly, it can't be rushed.  So we always start talking about it weeks ahead of time, but no one ever actually does anything until the weekend before the projects are due.  Second of all, they need more help coming up with ideas for what to do their projects on.  It's difficult for me to come up with a simple, testable and controllable experiment, and I understand the scientific method.  For someone who doesn't, it's nearly impossible.  It certainly doesn't help that many of the "science for kids" websites out there are packed with demonstrations rather than experiments.  Demonstrations are great ways to get kids excited about science, teach them a lesson, and pass the time during endless summer vacation days.  They are NOT experiments, do not teach the scientific method, and are not what the science fair is all about.

Anyway, our bickering over projects in the past has cemented our daughters' hatred for the whole thing, and every year when it comes up there are a lot of heavy sighs and groaning in anticipation.  This year, however, we totally nailed it.  It helped that our oldest finally seemed to understand the assignment, accomplished most of the prep work at school, and needed very little help at all.  We provided a lot more direct guidance to the younger two, who still seemed very confused.  Our son doesn't have to do one at all until he's in the 4th grade, but he wanted to and we (obviously) think that's great, so we do it with him every year, too.

We don't want to be the parents who do the projects for the kids, but if the goal is for them to learn something, then too much "Well what do you think?" doesn't work either, and ultimately just leads to tears.  It took us 4 years to figure out the balance between the two, but this weekend we arrived!  In case you are looking for an experiment to do with your kids, for a science fair or just for fun, this is what our kids did:

For the 13 year old, How much salt has to be added to water to make an egg float?

For the 12 year old, How much weight can 3 eggs bear before they crack?

For the 8 year old, Which of my toy cars is faster- the blue RC car or the red wind-up car?

Are any of these projects perfect?  Of course not.  There will be no papers published in any scientific journals on these experiments any time soon (or ever).  But my kids had fun!  They learned about the scientific method!  They won't get failing grades at school!  No body cried!  Winner!

Apr 21, 2015

8 Months Old

The weather seems to have taken its final turn toward summer.  The mercury has risen and it's unlikely to drop again until the fall.  It's strangely liberating, the first time you can comfortably walk around the house with bare feet in the morning.  I feel like I've been cold constantly for months without even realizing it, and now I'm beginning to thaw.  Saturday morning we sat around the breakfast table with bare knees bouncing, naked toes dangling and swaying as we ate waffles and chatted about our plans for the day.  The baby was already down for her first nap.  Just as I finished my last bite, we heard her let out a squawk over the baby monitor.

I walked upstairs to collect her.  When I came in the room she wasn't in her typical happy post-nap mood- instead she fussed and rubbed her eyes.  I scooped her out of the crib and she burrowed into my chest.  I sat on my bed to nurse.  She melted in my lap and nursed quietly for several minutes, her eyes closed and body calm, until she was completely asleep.  I readjusted my shirt and sank back into the pillows, gazing at the sleeping baby in my arms.

Her head rested in the crook of my right arm, and she lay across my belly with her long legs extending all the way down my left side.  I remembered when she was a newborn, she was so tiny I had to tuck her little body down by my side with her head poking out front so she could breastfeed and breathe at the same time.  She ate a lot and filled out quick, so soon she was this adorable little ball of dough- so squishy with rolls that went on for days.  Then she learned to roll and scoot, and now she's crawling and climbing, so her body is changing again.

I don't often get to snuggle her while she sleeps in the light of day anymore.  When she was first born that's all we did, but now she's active and observant and smart, and she needs a nice quiet, dark room to take a nap in.   For some reason that morning was different though, and all she needed was her momma's warm chest to snuggle up to.  I sat on the bed, light streaming through the open door, and I noticed how strong she looks now.  She still has little thigh rolls, thank goodness.  She still has creases on her wrists and ankles, and dimples where her elbows and knuckles are supposed to be.  Her face is perfect and round with cubby little cheeks framing her pursed baby lips.

She's getting long though.  Looking at her little legs and arms I could see how able she is becoming.  Within a couple months I imagine she'll be walking, if not independently at least along the furniture.  I saw that morning the first hints of the kid that my baby is going to be.

I stroked the soft downy hair grown thick over her head and felt the weight of her sleeping on my chest.  I did my best to memorize every detail of her precious face, her chubby fingers, her amazingly adorable little toes.  I will miss this, I know.  Every new step is SO exciting and it is SO MUCH FUN watching her learn and grow, but I am unbelievably grateful to have my tiny babe for just a little longer.

Apr 20, 2015


On Monday mornings, the fewer words the better.

Played with clay at a friend's house Sunday evening- I'm hooked.

Baby Groot hiding in my dying Trader Joe's basil.