Friday, August 17, 2012

Just a Little Window Dressing

OK, so since I've been home so much I've 1) been looking at the decor of my house with a VERY critical eye, and 2) spent way too much time online. Not a good combination.

I've decided our living room needs some love. I hope to be able to revamp the area over the course of the next few months. I really need to think the whole thing through, but these curtains from Urban Outfitters have totally caught my eye.

(Curtains found here.)

Could this be the color palate for my new room? Could be? I'll have to convince Beau that this NEEDS to happen. Mucho eye batting will need to happen.

I love the greens, the gray, the patterns. I love that our otherwise boring room could, perhaps, get a little  personality.

I'm just not sure they would work with the art in the room... Geesh. Wrench in the works. Do I chuck the art? Move it? Start fresh? Rethink the curtains?

I just wish I had an eye for this type of stuff. You know how there are people who see things, buy them and all of a sudden they have a room that is magnificent and magazine worthy? Yeah, I'm not that kind of person. I so wish I could be. Instead I'm that person's polar opposite.

I'm really going to have to work this room redesign though (and keep cognizant of the fact that we have a baby white couches for me!). I hope you'll hang out with me through the process. And seriously, if I'm loving things that just don't work together, let me know. Please! I'm OK with comments that read: "WTF, Amy? No, no, no. Pink walls will NOT go with those curtains. And the Rhino head mounted on the wall needs to go even if his "gray tones match the curtains." You really weren't kidding when you mentioned you are clueless. Consider hiring someone."

(Floating heads from here.)

I'll only cry a little. (I love that Rhino*...)

*I do not actually love the stuffed head. Stop judging. If you want one, click on the link from whence the photo came. You might rethink it. One man's living decor is another man's poached and stolen wild animal, I guess.

What room needs love chez vows? Are severed heads a design option for you?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Final, Much Anticipated Installment of Baby Must Haves

Finally, I can finish this list...

You know, I'm acutely aware that if I wasn't so wordy I'd have listed the ten items and been done with it all. But, since they pay me by the word*, I've stretched it into three posts.

*I maybe made "them" up. "They" certainly don't pay me. It would be pretty awesome if they did. If you know them, drop a hint already, OK?

But I digress...

Rompers and Kimonos

Obviously you are going to have to clothe your baby. Take a walk through Baby Gap (or any other baby store/department) and be prepared to squeak out sounds that are only vaguely human. For example, my dear friend Angela and I went to Baby Gap the other day and saw this cuteness.


Angela really did squeak when she saw the skirt with the tights. Understandably. They are super cute. I couldn't help being thankful, though, that Little Man is a boy. I don't want to deal with tights and bows and such for myself,  let alone a squirmy little one.

The squirmy-ness is what brings me to my point: Rompers and Kimonos are the bomb diggety.

(Rompers from

(Kimonos from H&M)

These outfits are easy on, easy off. That's important when you are changing ten bazillion diapers a day. Also, most babies aren't in love with shirts being pulled over their heads, so these types of outfits make changes much more pleasant for all parties involved.

Obviously, at times Little Man just wants to wear his plus and plaid shorts, but when he wants no fuss, our go-tos are rompers and kimonos.

Gripe Water 

It has a cute name and seems to totally work in soothing a baby who has an upset stomach. Little Man has reflux, and while he's now on medication, the Gripe water helped suppress the acid for a little bit before being diagnosed. It also helps with gas and hiccups, two VERY common ailments for babies (Or is it just my baby??)

(Image from Amazon, though I purchased this product from Walgreen's.)

This particular product is natural and organic. It is made with ginger, fennel and chamomile. Apparently it is tasty, since Little Man seemed to look forward to getting a dose! General fussiness is normal for a baby, but if it gets a little out of control, Gripe Water should make it all a little more manageable.

Cloth Diapers

I made the decision to use cloth diapers on Little Man. I'll post more on that particular decision in the next few weeks, but I wanted to preface that post with my enthusiastic thumbs up for cloth diapers in general. I'm still trying out different covers, diapers, methods, soaps, and such, so I'm no expert. I'm working on gaining enough knowledge and experience to share with you.

During our extended time in the hospital we discovered that Little Man has sensitive skin. It really came as no surprise since I also have sensitive skin. I'd already decided on cloth diapers, but when I saw that angry red diaper rash on his brand spanking new skin, I knew that I'd made the right decision. And guess what? As soon as he'd been in the cloth for a day the redness was gone!

I'll probably devote a couple of posts to my diapers of choice and my process since most people looked at me like I'd sprouted a second head when I mentioned I was going to go cloth. Most people told me it would be way too difficult and way too much work. It turns out it is pretty manageable and something I actually enjoy doing.

I know it isn't for everyone. You know, people with jobs and dozens of kids. Or lives. maybe they just have lives.  However, for me, for now, it is definitely something I'm really proud of. The monitory savings are incredible, Little Man is happy and healthy, and I feel like in my own little way I'm making the world a better, less polluted place for him.

So what have you done lately that made people assume you'd lost your marbles?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sand Bucket List

I've actually been thinking about bucket lists quite a bit lately. I've got a post rattling around in my head about them. (Oooh, something to be on the lookout for! Exciting. Suspenseful!)

And then I came across this today.

(Image from Amazon. You want a copy too, I bet. Here's a link to save you the trouble...)

The clever subtitle says it all: "366 things to do with your kids before they grow up." I'm a realist, I know Little Man will be heading off to college and the real world before I know it.

I really want this book.

And then, after I read it, I want to make a family Sand Bucket list with Beau. Items I'd include: take a Disney cruise, camp, do something tangibly memorable (does that make sense??) each first day of school, have a garden, etc. I know Beau would like to sail the Mediterranean as a family, so that would go on there, too. (Hard to say no to that!)

What would be on your family Sand Bucket List?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Baby Must-Haves Part Deux

In my last post I discussed the super sweet swaddler that makes our bedtime routine easy-peasy. As awesome as the swaddler is, it isn't the only thing we use to make bedy-bye time so effortless. Next up is an item we didn't register for.

Homedics Sound Spa Lullaby

This little puppy was a very welcome gift. Right now Little Man sleeps in his Pack N Play right next to my bed. The first night we brought him home he fought sleep a little bit. Beau and I decided that the fight was because the nursery was always bright and a little noisy. (He spent the first three nights of his life in the nursery on an IV.) Neither Beau nor myself were quite willing to give up the few hours of sleep we had in our future because Little Man needed lights blazing. Call me selfish, but I just wasn't going to allow him to get used to lights being on if he was going to be sleeping in our room.

I remembered that I had set up the Sound Spa in the nursery, so I relocated it to the nightstand. The light, which is a little projection light that projects moving images up on the ceiling, was just bright enough to give Little Man comfort. (And it is just bright enough for me to see Little Man sleeping when I wake up in a cold sweat worrying that he might not be breathing... yes, I still do this almost nightly.)

The Sound part of the Sound Spa plays six different sounds. I'm not really sure what they are because Brahms' Lullaby (I think that's what it is...) is all we need. Sure, it gets stuck in my head, but that's a small price to pay. It is also a little less creepy than the heartbeat that is one of the five other options.

There is a timer feature on the device, but I don't use it. As I said, the light is bright enough to be convenient for checking on Little Man, so I let it go all night. The down side to that is that the constant use has worn out some piece inside that moves the projection disk; the nightlight no longer projects a moving image, just a static one. There is a warranty on the product, but because it was a gift I don't have the receipt. I'll still try calling the company, but my hopes aren't up. Fortunately Little Man hasn't complained about being bored of the image, so we're fine for now.

While we're on the topic of technology...

Total Baby App

Yep, that's right, there's an app for that...

The Total Baby App keeps track of all kinds of useful baby related information. At $4.99, it is the most expensive app I've ever purchased (I'm cheap, what can I say...), but I use it DAILY and am so, so glad I got it. Here's a screenshot that shows some of the features.

To be perfectly honest, I don't use this app to its full capacity. However, I do use it for that second image, feedings. As mentioned here, breastfeeding is tough and one way to make sure I was doing it right (i.e. not too frequently or infrequently) was to use the feeding timer. This feature allows me to keep track of which breast was last used, how long Little Man has fed on each side, how long in total for the day, how long since the last feeding, etc. It also can graph feedings throughout the week, so I can see when Little Man is feeding most often and gage if we are getting on a schedule or not. (We are!)

This was very helpful when we were going to the pediatrician often for weight checks because I knew exactly how often and for how long Little Man was eating. (I originally wrote "feeding", but that made it sound like he is a vampire, and I don't like that idea. Lord knows I'm already terrified of when he gets teeth...) Anyway, with the press of a button, the app will email the information to whomever you want to share it with. (Hi, Mom! Here's the daily dirty diaper email! Love you.)

You can also track diaper changes, naps, baths, and make up your own option for whatever you might need to time. Like I said, I don't use it to its full capacity. It looks as if the last diaper change was 51 days and three hours ago. That's not quite accurate--and makes for really boring daily emails to mom.

Despite the fact that I don't actually use all of the features on this app, I definitely love it. The feeding feature is plenty to make it well worth the $4.99. If you want to see it is all its glory, click on the link above. There is a super informative video of all it can do.

When I was pregnant I thought I'd totally be able to remember things like diaper changes and feedings and the like. I mean, it's not rocket science. It turns out that sleep deprivation makes simple tasks like remembering right side or left side seem a lot like rocket science. Or neurosurgery. It's a toss-up.

Moving on to less technological swag, item number seven is pretty dang cool.

B.O.B Revolution Stroller SE

The stroller was something that Beau picked out. Because he is a runner, we knew that a jogging stroller was a must. (It must me noted for full disclosure that I do not jog. Unless rabid dogs are chasing me. Then, and only then, will I jog.) There are a number of jogging strollers out there and I had no idea where to start shopping for one.

We (he) decided on the B.O.B Revolution SE. Though it is a smidge on the bulky side (25 pounds!), it  is a pretty smooth ride for our son. We got the car seat adapter for the Chicco car seat we bought, and we were able to use the B.O.B. right away. He sleeps like a champ in it and he and I take many, many trips to the library, voyaging through the neighborhood, etc. (Again, just to be clear, this is done at a nice, leisurely pace, not a jog.)

(Image from

Because of the bulk of this stroller, it isn't our every day stroller. (I don't need a jogging stroller to go to the grocery store...) For now, while he's small enough to be in the car seat, we use the Chicco Snap and Go. I have little experience with judging strollers and the B.O.B. and the Snap and Go aren't in the same universe, let alone neighborhood, but I can tell you that the B.O.B. is smooth and seems like a much nicer ride for Little Man. I do kind of expect that, since it is slightly more expensive than the Snap and Go. ("Slightly" might just be an example of hyperbole. In case you didn't catch that.)

There is quite a market for strollers out there, and my neighborhood seems to have two front runners when it comes to joggers: B.O.B. and Phil and Ted (why do they both have man names???). In talking to experts (friends and family with multiple children), B.O.B. just seemed like a wise investment for us. I can't speak to the Phil and Ted crowd but I can say I think it is way cool to stash a second kid under the top kid. (Seriously, check out the Phil and Ted.) Since we only have one kiddo to worry about, we went with the B.O.B.  It is also easier to spell.

Three more products to go. What are you hoping to see on my list?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baby Must Haves

Registering for Little Man was a little bit overwhelming. I had no idea what we'd really need, what would work, what would be superfluous and what we couldn't live without. We did the best we could with the limited knowledge we had from word of mouth and research.

After two months of trial and error, here is a roundup of ten things that have made this stage of parenting a little easier: (OK, well here are four of the ten. More to come tomorrow; writing lengthy pieces with an infant sounds much easier than it is.)

Maya Sling

I posted a picture of me baking cookies in the Maya Ring Sling sling here. I have scary eyes, but Little Man is so cozy and comfortable. And, excitingly, I have two hands to get stuff done around the house.

Swings and bouncers are great, but often Little Man just wants to be held. While I would gladly hold him every second of every day, there is laundry to get done and dishes to wash (among myriad other chores that don't just do themselves).

In the photo the rings are lower than they should be; I fixed it when I started cooking. I loved that the wrap comes with a DVD that instructs wearers on details like where the rings should be positioned and how to safely and comfortably use the sling. There are quite a few "holds" that make the wrap something parents can use beyond the infant stage. those are also demonstrated in the DVD.

Baby wearing is an ancient tradition that I absolutely love. Baby feels safe and secure, and I can easily monitor baby and quickly comfort him. The biggest benefit: I find it is much harder for strangers to touch the baby when he's in the wrap than when in his car seat. It is amazing how many people want to touch a newborn. These are often the same people who want to rub pregnant bellies! Avoid them at all costs.

Stork Craft Hoop Glider and Ottoman

A gift from my parents, this chair gets lots of use! It resides in our cute sun porch and is a nice, sunny place to pass the time breastfeeding.

I once wrote about a super-duper desirable glider type chair here, and while I still think that particular chair is the bees knees, This glider from Amazon is close to 10% of the cost. (I kid you not!) My mom, being the super careful consumer, read all of the reviews on Amazon. She noticed a common complaint: there just wasn't adequate bum padding. Rather than dropping an extra grand or so on the butter chairs wrapped in clouds (I think I have a future in advertising, no?) mom simply knitted me a new cushion for the Stork Craft.

Voila! Comfy, practical, and loved--with a homemade touch that makes it that much more special! (And no need to take out a second mortgage on the house for a chair.)

Balboa Baby

I feel like everyone alive knows how wonderful a Boppy nursing pillow is. During my marathon labor, my mom used it like an over sized neck pillow while trying to nap and decided she might want one of her own! Mine  resides on the sun porch where I use it in my glider (for its intended purpose, not as a neck pillow...). However, I only use it in my glider where the chair arms prop it up high enough to support Little Man.

My super sweet neighbor Ayme introduced me to the Balboa Baby nursing pillow. She claimed it is the best, and frankly, I'm inclined to agree. I like it over the Boppy because it is a firmer pillow. I find that Little Man sinks into the Boppy and I end up slouching. A little slouch wouldn't be terrible except that I  generally spend five hours or more a day feeding my little guy. Bad posture times five hours is an invitation for a backache.

Notice there is little slouching going on. Notice, too, that it is impossible to breastfeed through a shirt...

I also like the prints for the pillows more than the Boppy covers. (I'm sure, though, that one can find equally stylish covers on Etsy.) The one in the picture above, "swirl", is my favorite.

Halo Fleece Swaddler

I can't even begin to explain how much I love the Halo Fleece Swaddler. Little Man is a bit of an escape artist and is a very, very busy guy. He has been able to escape from every blanket and swaddler out there--with the exception of the Halo. I fully credit this contraption with my baby's good sleeping habits. Baby's good sleep habits= restful nights for parents! You see why I love this thing so much?

Two nights ago Little Man slept for eight hours. And that's not abnormal. At two weeks old he was sleeping for five hours. But only on the nights he was in the Halo. Needless to say, it is now the only swaddle blanket I use at night.

A few nights ago we had a little sleep over at my parents' house because we had a funeral to go to the next morning and I really wasn't sure I'd be able to get up, feed the kiddo, shower and dress, and drive the hour plus drive and make it on time. So, we had a slumber party. My mom was absolutely amazed by our bed time routine: bathe, eat, swaddle, crib. Even bright eyed when swaddled, Little Man quickly falls into a deep sleep with no effort on my part. I'm not sure if I am merely lucky to have an agreeable baby who loves a good night's sleep as much as I do or if the Halo is a gift from the Gods.

So, moms, what products were necessities for your little ones?

(All images--except the beautiful one of me wearing the cutest baby ever--come from the linked we bites.)

Because I am a huge fan of Amazon's ease and pricing (and have Amazon Prime with free shipping), I purchased almost all of my baby items from there. Here are links to the sling, glider, Balboa, and swaddler for your convenience!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cookie Making for Milk Making

If you've done any research or reading on child rearing/ infant care, you probably know that almost every authority known to man agrees that breastfeeding is best for babies. Heck, even formula companies acknowledge this fact. Because it is best for Little Man, I am going to try my hardest to breastfeed him for a year.

(Image of Boobie Beanie from here.)

I know that there are many reasons that moms don't breastfeed, but I am fortunate enough to have not have run into those road blocks. (Knock on wood!)

That's not to say that the whole process has gone smoothly. Quite the opposite, in fact. I actually thought that I wouldn't make it the first month before throwing in the towel and resorting to formula. See, first it was difficult at the hospital because Little Man was kept in the nursery and put on an IV. At some point during the thirty-seven plus hours of labor I developed a fever. Because I was put on antibiotics, Little Man had to be put on them as well. For the first three days of his life he was getting all of the fluids he needed from a needle in his tiny little hand.

Though I diligently went to the nursery every 90 minutes or so, he just wasn't really latching or sucking. When he did latch he would fall asleep almost instantly and wouldn't suck. It was frustrating.

I'm not sure if it was my advanced age, my calm demeanor, or mistake, but I received very little help from the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital. And because I was a first time mom who was a little naive about how the whole breastfeeding thing works, I didn't realize that the hospital should have talked to me about pumping my milk to ensure an adequate amount when Little Man was ready to eat.

Our discharge order from the hospital pediatrician was to see our pediatrician by Monday for a weight check because Little Man had been steadily losing weight. On Monday the scale let us know that he was still losing. Here I was encouraged to pump and supplement with a tiny syringe each and every time he ate. I was also told to return in two days.

Two days later we met with a different pediatrician (who ultimately became our primary pediatrician because she is AMAZING!). Even though it was lunch time and she probably wanted to scarf down a little something, she checked Little Man's suck, had him latch on, analyzed his latch and our positioning (while praising and encouraging), had him feed on both sides and then weighed him again. She did fancy doctor math and determined that he needed to be getting about 10 milliliters more per feeding in order to start gaining an ounce a day.

My marching orders were still to supplement my pumped breast milk with the syringe at each meal. I was frustrated beyond belief. As I saw it, this was my first failure as a mother. Heck, if I couldn't do what I was supposed to be biologically pre-programmed to do, how was I ever going to be successful as a mom? My body just didn't seem to want to make enough milk to feed my baby.

Little Man's doctor let me know that I was making enough to feed and hydrate him, just not quite enough to grow him. While I joke about keeping him small and reliant on me forever, it wasn't something I really wanted for him!

Adding to my frustration were conversations with friends who told me about their overproduction, their freezers full of milk, shooting streams across the room, etc. While all of these wonderful people were well-meaning, I continued to see myself as a failure.

The sweet doctor suggested fenugreek, Mother's Milk tea, and a beer a night. (Beau was jealous of that prescription, as well as super accommodating with it. Each night he'd hand me a beer and tell me to chug it down.)

While my milk increased, and the little guy started putting on weight, I still found myself wondering why I wasn't producing in abundance. I don't necessarily want to be sooting streams of milk across the room (how's that for a party trick?), I do want to be able to sit down a few hours after putting Little Man to bed and pump enough for a bottle for when we go out, when my mom babysits when I teach my night class at the college, etc.

I'm not having much success with that.

And so, tonight I baked some "Lactation Cookies" that are chock full of milk enhancing ingredients. And chocolate chips. Those seemed like a necessity.

While I have no idea if the cookies will work, I'm pretty excited to eat them. I'll report back on whether or not they do what they are supposed to do.

In the meantime, I wanted to share my recipe with you in case you have a moment where you feel the weight of abject failure, or know anyone who has feelings along those lines. If I'd have known that oatmeal chocolate chip cookies would, in theory, cure me, I'd have started eating them ages ago!

Bonus points if you wear the cutest baby ever when baking these.

Chocolate chip oatmeal lactation cookies--adapted from

1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 T. water (recipe calls for more, but three seemed enough)
2 T flax seed meal
2 eggs
1.5 t. vanilla
2 c. flour (I did even parts white and whole wheat)
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt (I omitted this because I used salted butter)
3 c. oats (don't use instant oats if you are trying to increase production)
1 c. chocolate chips (I don't actually measure these. I just dump 'em in until it looks like there are enough chips.
1.5 T. fenugreek (recipe calls for 2-4 T brewers years instead. I could't find any at The Fresh market, I started breaking open little fenugreek capsule instead...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix flaxseed meal and water. Let sit for 2-5 minutes.

In a larger mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars well, then add eggs and continue to mix.

Add flaxseed/water mixture and vanilla, and continue beating.

Sift together flours, fenugreek (or brewer's yeast if available), baking soda, ad salt if desired, then add this mixture to the mixing bowl.

Stir in the oats and the chips, then scoop them onto cookie sheets and bake for 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then sit back and enjoy the spoils of your labor.