Saturday, December 26, 2009

Giveaway - Itzbeen Timer

A couple weeks ago, I posted a list of my top 10 baby essentials. So now I’m wondering… do you agree with my list? If so, what’s your very favorite item from my list, and why? Or, what did I miss? What would the number one item on your list be? Comment on one of those questions, and you’ll be entered in this month’s give-away for an Itzbeen Timer.

The Izbeen Timer is a wonderful little device that helps sleep-deprived new parents keep track of how long it’s been since baby last ate, slept, had medicine or had a diaper change. Timers can be set to give reminders for the next time baby is due for food, meds, diapers or a nap. Additional features such as a nursing reminder switch, illuminated display, clock, and soft nightlight make this the perfect baby aid in those early months.

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest! The deadline for this contest is January 7th. Good luck!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Morning Sunshine!

Moving from one child to two hasn’t really been that much of a change for me.

Except for the mornings I work.

Prior to Kasia’s arrival, James and I had the morning routine down to a science. Despite my 25 minute commute to work, I could get us up about an hour before I had to clock in. Enter Kasia. I now have to be up at least two and a half hours before I need to arrive at my desk. Ouch. What could we be doing for two and a half hours, you ask? Here’s how a typical morning goes.

• Wake up to Kasia cooing and wiggling around.
• Savor the moment for a just a little bit.
• Feel good about the morning because I carefully prepared the night before. Lunches are packed. Clothes are set out. Shoes, coats, mittens, hats and bags are sitting by the door, ready to go. I am super mom!
• Get up.
• Change Kasia’s diaper and change her into clothes for the day.
• Sing Itsy Bitsy to her a few times so I get to see her sweet baby smiles.
• Put Kasia in her bouncy seat because she doesn’t seem hungry yet.
• Turn on the shower.
• Walk into my bedroom to get my clothes for the day.
• Hear James get out of bed.
• Turn off the shower.
• Go turn on PBS kids for James (thank you, Sid the Science kid, we love you in this house).
• Ask James if he wants breakfast.
• Confirm that James does NOT want breakfast now.
• Comfort Kasia who is starting to cry because she is starting to get hungry.
• Debate feeding Kasia before getting in shower. Decide on a quick shower.
• Turn on the shower.
• Watch as James comes in the bathroom to tell me that he is now ready for his breakfast.
• Tell him he’ll have to wait.
• Endure 4 year old whining because he is sooooooo hungry.
• Watch James grudgingly return to the living room.
• Take a quick shower while sporadically peeking out the door to see if Kasia’s whimpers have emerged into a fully blown cry.
• Get dressed.
• Pick up Kasia to feed her and realize she has pooped through her outfit (seriously, the girl poops through at least one outfit a day. Up the back of the diaper. Suggestions?? Anyone??).
• Change Kasia while she cries because now she’s really hungry.
• Nurse Kasia while James continually asks for breakfast which I have forgotten to get him prior to sitting down to nurse Kasia and which I cannot get now that I’ve starting nursing without the risk of spraying milk everywhere if Kasia de-latches (My apologies to any men who are reading this, although I’m guessing there are very few men who would even begin to read this much less make it this far into it).
• Finish nursing Kasia.
• Get James his breakfast. Explain (again) that cookies are not breakfast food. Endure 4 year old whining that cookies are not breakfast food. Feel guilty because I don’t have the time to sit and talk with him while he eats and fully explain what healthy foods are and why cookies do not meet those criteria.
• Go to the bathroom to put on make-up and dry my hair.
• Put Kasia on the floor next to the bathroom, forgetting that she now rolls over from her back onto her tummy but doesn’t actually like tummy time for more than a minute and can’t yet flip herself from her tummy to her back. Try to put on make-up while flipping her from her tummy to her back repeatedly. Give up and go get the bouncy seat from the living room.
• While in the living room, see James jumping on the couch. Ask him to stop.
• Ask James if he wants more breakfast.
• Confirm that he does NOT want more breakfast.
• Ask James to get dressed in the clothes we picked out last night.
• Return to bathroom to put Kasia in bouncy seat.
• Turn around to see James asking for more breakfast.
• Tell James he probably doesn’t need more breakfast, seeing as how he had just said he was full.
• Give into James’ tearful pleading for more breakfast because I am worried that he will be hungry at school and go get him more breakfast. Explain (again) that cookies are not breakfast food. Refuse to give into the 4 year old tears on this one.
• Return to bathroom, where Kasia is starting to fuss.
• Return to living room to get nuk for Kasia.
• Notice that James is feeding his cheerios to the cat. Ask him to stop.
• Return to bathroom and give Kasia nuk. Feel guilty that Kasia is fussing and and I am giving her a nuk rather than picking her up because I need to dry my hair.
• Dry my hair.
• Pick up Kasia and snuggle her for a bit while walking to the living room to check on James’ progress with breakfast. Try not to notice that there are more cheerios on the floor than in his mouth.
• Ask James to get dressed in the clothes I have put out. Endure 4 year old protests that I have picked out the wrong clothes, despite the fact that the clothes were okayed by the 4 year old the night before.
• Return with James to bedroom to pick out a new shirt.
• Put Kasia down on the floor.
• Realize she has spit up on my shoulder.
• Debate whether it is faster to put on a new shirt or to try to wipe away the spit up and dry the spot with a hair dryer. Decide to change my shirt.
• Ask James to pick out a new shirt and put it on.
• Pick up Kasia and go to my bedroom to change my shirt.
• Return to James’ bedroom find a shirtless James playing with his football figurines. Suppress the urge to yell as James turns to me and says in his little 4 year old voice, “hey mama, wanna see my football game?” Take a breath, realize that one minute isn’t going to make a difference to the world but will make all the difference to James, and sit down to watch him.
• Tell James that we really need to get dressed and go to 4K/daycare. Endure his sadness at not having more time to play. Feel guilty for being a working mom.
• Help James finish getting dressed.
• Put Kasia in her carseat.
• Play the “I’m going to get my shoes and coat on before you!” game with James.
• Let James win even though I’m really really fast at putting on my shoes and coat.
• Ask James to stay by the door with Kasia while I go get Kasia’s milk out of the fridge.
• Return to the door to find James gone.
• Sigh.
• Find James.
• Exit the house to find frost on my car because we haven’t yet gotten all the boxes out of the garage and into the house so that we can get the cars into the garage.
• Put the children in the car.
• Scrape the windows on the car.
• Start to back out of the driveway.
• Try to shut the garage door.
• Remember that we can’t get the garage door to shut with our garage door openers and so I have to go into the house to shut it. Make a mental note to figure out why the garage door won’t shut with the door opener.
• Go in the house, shut the garage door, exit out the front door.
• Drive to James’ 4K/daycare center.
• Get my snuggles from my little boy in the car because I know he will refuse to give them to me once anyone can see us.
• Lug Kasia and her infant seat into the 4K/daycare center with James and I.
• Help James hang up his coat, check him in, take him to his classroom, and talk briefly to his teacher, all while trying to keep Kasia out the reach of curious, germy 4 year old hands.
• Give James a High-5 to say goodbye (remember, no hugs or kisses) and leave him in his classroom. Pray that he knows just how much I love him as he navigates his little four year old world on his own all day long.
• Return to car.
• Sing “Itsy Bitsy” to Kasia as I put her in the car so I can see her baby smiles one last time before work because I know she will fall asleep on the ride to her daycare .
• Drive to Kasia’s daycare.
• Hand my sweet, sleeping little girl over to her daycare provider.
• Kiss her cheeks; take in her baby smell one last time before I leave. Feel the familiar tugs at my heart as I whisper goodbye.
• Drive to work to “begin my day.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Review - Bundle Me

I am not a fan of winter. I’m even less a fan of winter now that it involves dressing and undressing two kids in winter clothes every time we go outside. There are few things more annoying to me as a mother than the tedious task of dressing a baby in warm winter clothes only to find that I then have to adjust the car seat straps to make the baby in the winter clothes fit in the car seat. And when it’s really cold out, the task gets even more cumbersome. Not only is it annoying to try to make car seat straps fit properly around an infant in a snowsuit, it’s nearly impossible and it’s not recommended for safety reasons. The alternative of trying to wrap baby up in warm blankets only to undress her when putting her in the car seat, only to wrap her up again to exit the car, is even worse. Luckily for me, I must not be the only mother with a hatred of straps and buckles and zippers and blankets, because someone invented Bundle Me.

The Bundle Me is my new favorite baby supply. It’s an infant car seat cover that pretty much eliminates the need to put a baby in winter clothing (sigh of relief here). It’s more than a car seat cover, though. It’s kind of like a baby sleeping bag that fits snugly into an infant car seat. The bottom part of Bundle Me is designed with a soft, warm material that lines the bottom of the car seat where baby sits. Well designed holes allow for the car seat straps and buckles to be fed through the fabric so that they continue to work effectively to keep baby safe. The top part of Bundle Me zips onto the bottom part to cover baby and keep her protected from the chilly winter weather. This top fabric is made of the same soft, comfy material and is designed so that it can be folded down below baby’s arms when she is in the car but flipped up to protect her from wind, rain, or snow when you are carrying her from the car to the store or vice versa.

Bundle Me has been a lifesaver with Kasia. When James is busy getting dressed in all his winter gear, I just put Kasia in her carseat, throw a hat on her, zip up the Bundle Me, and off we go! She often falls asleep in the car; when we get back inside from our travels, I just have to unzip the top part of the Bundle Me (it unzips all the way off) and I can let her keep sleeping away. No need to get her undressed or even take her out of the car seat. With all the trips we make in and out of the car to get James to and from places, the Bundle Me has been a life saver for us. Oh, and it’s machine washable and it washes up really well. Dirt, spit-up, you name it—it all washes out.

The bottom line: If you live in a cold climate, Bundle Me is a baby must. It’ll keep baby snug and warm and will keep mom from going crazy with winter gear struggles. Once you have a Bundle Me, you’ll never believe you did winter without it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Baby Essentials

There’s a plethora of baby gear out there these days. Beyond the basics of clothes, diapers, and food, what does a baby really need? Here are the top 10 baby supplies that help Kasia and I get through the day.

1. Soothie brand nuks. Also known as the magic nuk in our house, this pacifier is just like the one they hand out in hospitals. It’s the only one that Kasia will take and I never leave home without it.

2. Car seat cover. There is nothing more annoying than having to put a baby in and out of winter clothes and then having to adjust and readjust the straps on the infant car seat to make them fit snuggly depending on what baby is wearing. A car seat cover takes the place of warm winter clothes and is a life saver when I am going in and out of the car multiple times throughout the day.

3. A good swaddling blanket. Especially in the first 6 weeks, Kasia LOVED to be swaddled. When nothing else calmed her, swaddling did the trick. You could just see the calm come over her face when she was snuggled up tight in a blanket. A good swaddling blanket is big (but not too big) and light-weight so baby doesn’t get to warm. Find a good one and you’ll never believe you survived without it.

4. Sleep sacks. To keep baby safe from SIDS, the AAP recommends not keeping blankets, pillows, comforters or quilts in the baby’s crib. Short of cranking up the heat in the house, what’s a mom to do? Invest in a few sleep sacks to keep baby warm throughout the night. Not only do they keep baby warm, but they allow for quick and easy middle of the night diaper changes.

5. A really good infant carrier. Great for fussy babies; just plop them in and do some housework or go for a walk. Good for both mom and baby! For James, we used the Ultimate Baby Wrap. It’s a bit complicated to put on but is so very comfortable. Kasia prefers a generic baby carrier that has straps and buckles. Whatever the flavor, a carrier is a must.

6. A boppy pillow. With all the baby feeding that goes on in the early months, your arms are bound to get sore. Enter the beautifully designed boppy pillow which lets you and baby relax and bond while she eats. Kasia and I use ours every day.

7. One-piece sleep-and-play outfits. Oh-so-cute dresses, shirts and pants are wonderful for special occasions. But most days, there is nothing like the ease of soft, comfy one piece sleep-and-play outfits for Kasia to hang out in. She even looks more relaxed when I put her in these. No messing with socks or buttons required.

8. A baby swing. Okay, not all babies need a swing. James didn’t. But Kasia sure does. Our swing is a lifesaver when my aching back and arms need a break but she doesn’t want to stop moving. It’s also wonderful when I really need to get something done. In fact, she’s napping in it right now so I can finish writing this!

9. Baby links. Kasia loves to hold, bat at, and mouth hers. Links are great first toys because they are so easily portable, are a breeze to clean (just throw them in the dishwasher), and can be attached to a car seat so they aren’t lost when you are out and about.

10. A baby gym with a mirror. Kasia loves to lay in hers, bat at the hanging objects, and coo to herself in the mirror. She’ll entertain herself for up to 30 minutes at a time in her little baby gym. Mommy bliss.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All Mixed Up

It seems to me that growing older is a study in mixed emotions. Even more so when you are a mom. As if to prove this point, these past few weeks have been jam packed with nothing but mixed emotions for me.

First, as I mentioned in my previous post, we recently moved. Despite my excitement about moving into our new house, it was a bittersweet experience to leave behind the home where we became a family. As I packed up, I kept coming across symbols of all that we had gained, and lost, during the seven years that we lived in that home. I found the LiveStrong bracelets from when my mom was sick. The piles of cards sent by friends to help us see the love that remained when she died. The bills from medical treatments we endured as we tried to become a family. The paperwork that contained the very first picture we ever saw of our beautiful baby boy, half a world away. The three positive pregnancy tests which announced that our baby girl was about to come into our lives. Seven years seems like such a short time and yet the young couple who moved into that home would barely recognize the family that left it. So many memories built in one little house.

As soon as we moved into our new home, Kasia began meeting some developmental milestones. Most recently, she began rolling over (go, Kasia, go!). We all cheered her on as she twisted and contorted her little body until she got it to finally flip over. I am amazed that I am just as thrilled to watch Kasia learn new skills as I was to watch James do the same. I thought perhaps it would be different with the second child (been there, done that), but it’s not. Every new milestone fills me with joy. But with each one, I am also startlingly aware of how quickly time is passing us by. I’m already starting to lose my tiny newborn baby girl. So I hold her a little more tightly because I know it will be gone all too soon.

James has also hit a new “milestone,” this fall. At almost 5 years old, he’ll no longer kiss or hug me goodbye in front of his friends (I’ve learned to get my snuggles in the car before we go into 4K) and he has even cried when I’ve come to pick him up because he wants to stay and play with his friends. I am, of course, delighted that he loves his school and his friends. He’s figuring out who he is and is beginning the slow process of separation from me. It’s his job to do, and it’s mine to let him do it. But oh how I miss the days when I was his whole world and he ran to me with open arms and a huge smile after a long day apart.

I’m also back to work three days a week, and Kasia is doing so well at her new daycare. I really like my job and I am truly a better mom when I work. I take great pleasure in being able to help the children and families that I serve as a speech therapist and I love to immerse myself in the work that I do. And as strange as it sounds, I sometimes need time away from my children to help me recognize how much I enjoy being with them. So I am glad I’ve returned to work. And yet my heart breaks just a little each time I have to kiss Kasia’s sweet baby cheeks good-bye. I still feel like she is an extension of me and every minute away from her seems a little bit wrong.

And, of course, the holidays are upon us once again. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my dad and my step-family, among others. It was a wonderful weekend; we ate and played and talked. After 5 years of my mom being gone, I finally feel like I can enjoy this new normal with this new family. I love our step-family and am eager to continue to explore and establish these relationships. Nonetheless, there will always be a small part of me that desperately wishes for my mom to suddenly walk down the stairs of my childhood home, envelop me in a hug, and sit down to play with the grandchildren that she’s never met.

So many feelings, so little time. Somehow it seems like it should all be clear cut, with each moment only containing pure joy or sorrow. Motherhood should be either easy or hard; either happy or sad. Instead, it’s full of bittersweets and grey areas. But I guess that’s what makes it the grand adventure that it is. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Product Review - Small Plum Bamboo Onesie and Yoga Pants

This month, Kasia and I got to try out Small Plum Bamboo Organic Onesie and Baby Yoga Pants. The onesie and the yoga pants are made from organically-grown bamboo, are processed naturally and have PVC free screen print designs which are water based.

I knew that the bamboo onesie and yoga pants were different from the moment I pulled them out of the cute little boxes they came in. They were soooo soft and smooth; feeling them made me just kind of want to melt into them. The onesie has a cute little design on it and the yoga pants are stretchy and comfortable. I washed the clothes up and discovered that they maintained their soft silky feel even after a wash and dry. When I put them on Kasia, she smiled as she felt their silky texture on her round little body. Okay, not really, but she didn’t cry. In all reality, Kasia could probably have cared less, but it was fun to have something different to dress her in and she was a cute, comfy baby all day long.

I’m not one to always buy organic, mainly because organic often equals expensive. But I like to do my part when I can and I was happy to read that bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable resources. Putting them on Kasia made me feel like I was doing just a small bit of good in this great big world.

The bottom line: The Small Plum Bamboo Organic clothes are smooth and silky; you’ll enjoy them if you are looking for a unique baby gift with a do-good twist.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giveaway - Diapers and Wipes Pod

In honor of Kasia’s “I’ve got hair wrapped around my toe” trip to the ER this past weekend, I’m making this month’s giveaway about doctor visits. To enter, comment on this post and share your most unique reason for visiting the doctor with your kids. Or, if all of your doctor visits have been hum drum (lucky you!), share a bit of advice about getting kids through doctor visits. Or give me some tips for staying out of the doctor’s office. I’ll randomly select one of the comments to win a Diapers and Wipes Pod.

The Diapers and Wipes Pods are these cute little pods in which you can pack just the bare baby essentials: wipes and a couple diapers. They come with a matching diaper pad which is as funky as the pod exterior. The Diapers and Wipes pods are great for that quick trip out the door when you don’t want to lug along the whole diaper bag.

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest! The deadline for this contest is December 12th. Good luck and stay healthy! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Did you know that it’s possible for a hair to get wrapped around a baby’s toe so tightly that it necessitates a trip to the ER to have the hair removed so that part of the baby’s toe doesn’t have to be amputated?

This is but one of the many things you discover as mother. I happened to discover it this weekend, right after we’d moved into our new home, which we did two days after I returned to work from maternity leave. One could say it’s been an eventful week.

Along the way, I also discovered that selling a house and moving into a new one is kind of like labor. Seems like a strange comparison, right? But think about it for a moment. Putting your house on the market is kind of like being eight months pregnant. You know that your family is about go through an enormous transition. You’re scared and excited all at the same time. You spend lots of time and energy preparing for it…and then you wait. When you are pregnant, you’re waiting for labor to begin; when you are selling your house, you’re waiting for someone to buy it. In both cases, you have no idea when it might happen and all you can do is wait. You have false alarms. You wait some more. You look for signs that buyers are interested and try to guess what they are thinking. Everyone asks you when the big event is going to happen and you begin to tire of explaining that you, too, wish you knew. Just when you think you can’t wait anymore, it happens. The house sells and it’s time to move. You a bit stunned that it’s actually happening but you are beyond excited and you begin the move with tons of energy and anticipation. Then the REAL labor begins. Although you know the end result will be worth it, the process seems never-ending and you swear you will never, ever go through it again. You curse your husband for getting you into this mess. But then, just when you think you can’t stand it anymore, you finally get into your brand new house. The pain of the moving fades as you begin to discover all the wonderful things about your home. Things are sparkly and new and full of possibilities.

But I digress.

This week also led to the discovery that that the “what if” game is a lot more fun if I think happy thoughts. Before I returned to work, I woke up many nights at 3 am filled with “what ifs” about my upcoming return to work. I don’t know what it is about 3 am, but I always think my scary thoughts in that deep dark part of the night. What if Kasia won’t stop crying at daycare? What if she gets hurt? What if she won’t take a bottle? What if her daycare provider isn’t who I think she is? What if, what if, what if. Then one day in the bright sunshine of the morning, I decided I should try to turn my “what ifs” into happier possibilities. What if Kasia loves her new daycare? What if she sleeps and eats well? What if her daycare provider is a sweet, loving person who does an amazing job of taking care of her? What if Kasia has an even happier, fulfilled mom who loves her job? What if, what if, what if! I did this for a few days and found out that I didn’t have dwell on the scary possibilities. And, in fact, Kasia’s first few days with her in-home daycare provider have gone well. And I do love my job. And oh, how I love to pick her up from daycare and return to my family at home. And that’s how I discovered that I am extraordinarily lucky to have a job I enjoy and family I love and that it really is possible to have the best of both worlds.

Oh, and Kasia’s toes? They’re just fine. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top Ten Baby Quotes

1. For a long time there were only your footprints & laughter in our dreams & even from such small things, we knew we could not wait to love you forever
-Brian Andreas (Story People)

2. A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.
-Carl Sandburg

3. Slowly, starting now, a thousand stars in the sky will become clearer, a thousand notes in your heart will blend into song, and all the love you have ever given will be returned to you a thousand times better by your baby girl.

4. Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
-Elizabeth Stone

5. Every baby begins the world again.
-David Thoreau

6. Babies are always more trouble than you thought - and more wonderful.
-Charles Osgood

7. A woman can learn a lot from holding a new baby. It is the beginning of life again—sweet possibilities! No problem in the world is big enough to be remembered.
-Susan McOmber

8. But you get past that and realize you have to let go of what you think you want. There'll be plenty of time for that later. Right now, go and be with that baby. Just play with this beautiful little boy.
-Paul Reiser

9. It was the tiniest thing I ever decided to put my whole life into.
-Terri Guillemets

10. A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sneezes, Coughing and Puking, Oh My!

‘Tis the season for germs and they have found their way into my home. Not for lack of germ-fighting on my part, though -- my bottle of Purell is never far away and I’m well known for making James wash his hands while singing the ABCs. But my best efforts at germ warfare are no match for the hours of unguarded sneezes and coughs to which James is exposed at daycare. So the germs have won a few battles recently.

First, Kasia got one of James’ numerous colds and so we spent a few nights doing the “Baby-Has- a Cold” dance. You know that one, right? It’s the one where your baby won’t fall asleep unless she is upright and moving and so you walk. Baby finally falls asleep and you sit down only to realize that she wasn’t *that* asleep and has already woken up and so you stand up and again you walk. This time, when you feel her droop in your arms, you continue to walk. Your arms ache and still you walk, determined to get her into a deep sleep so that you can sit down for more than a minute or two. When at last you can take it no longer, you sit down in slow motion, careful not to move or jostle her in your arms. You sloooowly recline back on the sofa. Ahh, baby is asleep. All is good. Until you realize that your leg is also asleep and your back hurts. So you spend 15 minutes weighing your options: try to readjust your body so that you can sleep and risk baby waking up or continue to lie in this position, keep baby asleep, and try your best to doze. You decide on option two. After 15 more minutes, you realize you can’t endure the position any longer and you ever so slowly move this arm and then that leg and then your head until you are at last comfortable again. You take a deep breath, shut your eyes, relax… and feel baby begin to squirm. You try in vain to pat, rock, shush. But baby is already wide awake. And so you walk.

So we did the baby-has-a-cold dance for a few nights. Actually, I should say *I* did the dance because my husband had a nasty cold/cough and I was determined to keep from exposing Kasia to even more germs. So Kasia and I waltzed through the nights. Then Kasia recovered and the next afternoon James’ daycare called to say that he had thrown up. My heart sank as visions of our entire family getting a stomach bug danced through my head. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is rather easy to contain puke germs with a four year old. My little bud was such a trooper. He sat on a stool in the bathroom and puked right into the toilet, diligently washed his hands after each episode, and let me isolate him in the bathroom with a blanket, pillow and DVD player. When he fell asleep in his makeshift bed, I experienced a momentary flash of guilt as I wondered what kind of mom lets her son sleep on the bathroom floor. My guilt grew when he kept sleeping and my husband and I realized that we had two sleeping kids and nothing to do at 6:00 pm. Is it bad parenting to enjoy an evening off when your kid is sick? Bad parenting or not, when James woke up the next morning, he was already asking for food. And, to date, none of the rest of us have gotten the stomach bug. I guess this time I won the battle after all. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rockabye Baby!

My task this month was to review Rockabye Baby Lullaby CDs. Baby Bella carries a wide variety of these CDs, each of which has a good number of rocks songs that have been transformed into lullabies. I had the pleasure of reviewing two of the editions: Lullaby Renditions of The Beatles and Lullaby Renditions of U2.

When I first put the Lullaby Rendition of The Beatles in our CD player, I was a bit surprised. For some reason, I had expected the lullabies to have words. Had I read the description of the CDs prior to putting them on, however, I wouldn’t have been surprised. As clearly explained on the back of the CDs, these versions of the popular rock songs are “beautiful instrumental lullabies.” The sounds of the “glockenspiel, vibraphone, and mellotron” (the mello-what?) took me aback at first. I wasn’t sure that I liked them (I am not a sophisticated music connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination). But I left the CD going as I helped James play with play-doh and carried Kasia around in a sling. Pretty soon, I found myself singing along to the songs. Since I have no ability to carry a tune, most people would not appreciate my addition to the music. Kasia apparently did, however, as she began cooing softly right along with me. Later, when we had changed out the Beatles version of Rockabye Baby for the U2 version, James looked up from playing long enough to tell me, “this is pretty music, mom.” Since then, we’ve played the CDs a number of times and they have always helped create a calm, enjoyable environment for playtime.

The bottom line: Once I got over my initial expectations, I enjoyed the music and so did my kids. The familiar tunes on the Rockabye Baby CDs are a pleasant change from normal lullaby music. If you like lullabies, you’ll enjoy these CDs.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Giveaway - Bebe Au Lait Hooded Towel

It’s almost Halloween! Here’s what James has been for Halloween the past 3 years:

1 year old: A Green Bay Packer

2 years old: A Green Bay Packer
3 years old: A Wisconsin Badger

Do you sense a pattern? It’s clear that I either a. Have a boy who really loves football (which is true) or b. Lack a certain creativity gene when it comes to designing Halloween costumes (whic
h is also true). So, this month’s giveaway will be about costumes! To enter, just comment on this post with a description or a picture of your child’s favorite Halloween costume. I’ll randomly select one of the comments to win a Bebe Au Lait Hooded Towel. The deadline for entering this giveaway is November 5th.

The Bebe Au Lait Hooded Towel is made of super soft plush cotton terry cloth and is generously-sized so that you can easily wrap up your little one post bath time. It is, of course, machine washable (a mom must!) and comes in a wide variety of Bebe Au Lait designs. Function and style all in one fabulous towel.

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest. Good luck and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I am not a patient person. I don’t like waiting for people to return phone calls. I don’t like waiting for people who are late. I don’t like waiting to find out what’s going to happen next week on Grey’s Anatomy. I pretty much don’t like waiting for anything. This is but one of my many flaws as a mother, but it’s a big one. So this week I made a conscious effort to work on patience…here’s how it went.
Day 1: I’m trying to get some work done on the computer… why is James holding my boppy pillow and making all those loud noises? Seriously, the kid needs to put the boppy pillow down and be quiet! Patience…look again. Oh. He’s pretending to play the tuba! That’s actually pretty cute and he’s such a sweet kid. I guess I’ll let him keep playing. My need for silence isn’t nearly as great as his need to be a creative four year old with a mother who values his imagination. Patience has a way of changing perspective.
Day 2: Isn’t Kasia supposed to be lifting her head up when she is put on her tummy? She did it yesterday, but today she’s just laying there sucking on her fist. What if something is wrong? Maybe I should look in one of my baby books. Patience…relax. She’s fine. I wasted way too many moments of James’ early years rushing him through his milestones. I’m not going to make that mistake again. She’ll get there when she gets there, on her own time. For now, I’m just going to drink up her babyhood and enjoy it while I can.
Day 3: We’re trying to get out the door to 4K and James needs his sock turned right side out. He’s whining and it would be so easy to just snatch the sock away and do it for him. We’d be on time for school and he’d stop whining. Patience. Sit down and talk him through it. It’s more valuable to teach him how to fix his sock on his own than it is to take over, fix the sock, and leave him thinking he can’t do things that are hard. My patience will teach him his.
Day 4: I’ve asked James three times to come inside and he’s STILL making his way in. On the way in, he’s managed to take out three *more* toys and he still hasn’t cleaned up the two he had out to begin with. Patience... Oops, it’s too late. I’ve already snapped at him in a tone I didn’t mean to have. And I already regret it. There are so many times I’m not the mother I want to be. Patience… with myself, this time. The road is long. Tomorrow is another day. If only it would get here sooner. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons of the Week

A few things I learned during adventures in parenting this week:

Lesson 1: If there is even a chance that I am going to doze while nursing on the couch in the living room, it would be wise to shut the main door to block the view through the screen door from the steps. Otherwise I may find myself awakening to the sound of the mailman depositing my mail, at which point I will look down to find my baby also dozing (therefore no longer nursing and no longer covering up those parts that need to be covered). As I watch the back of the mailman as he turns to head back down the steps, I will be left to wonder just how much of a peep show I’ve provided.

Lesson 2: When trying to leave the house with a baby and a four year old, I really need to remember to put on my shoes before picking up the baby. Otherwise, I’ll have to put the baby back down again, as I have not yet mastered the art of putting on my sneakers while holding a newborn. When I put down the baby to put on the shoes, the baby will cry. Then my four year old will try to be a good big brother by running to get the pacifier to make the baby stop crying. Along the way, he will get distracted by the cat in the hallway, run into a wall, and begin crying. I will, of course, need to pick up the (crying) baby to go give the (crying) four year old a hug. When everyone is calm, I will then proceed to gather everyone by the front door again to get ready to go outside. At which point I will realize that I once again neglected to put on my shoes before picking up the baby. So, I will put the baby down…

Lesson 3: When my four year old yells , “look mom, I can pee with no hands!” from the freshly cleaned bathroom, it’s really a much better decision to NOT look.

Lesson 4: When I am changing a diaper, if I hear a sound that even resembles passing gas, I need to move like the speed of light to cover the, er, diaper area with anything I have available (baby wipe, new diaper, my hand as a last resort). If I am not able to cover the area quickly enough, I must shield my face. Enough said.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top Ten Parenting Books For new Parents

For new parents, there’s no shortage of tools available to help you in your parenting journey. Looking for a discreet way to nurse in public? Try Hooter Hiders and Bebe Au Lait Nursing Covers. Baby won’t stop tugging on your jewelry? Wear a Teething Bling Necklace around your neck. Have you been looking for the perfect tool to help remember the basic details of baby care? Try out an Itzbeen Timer.

And for every parenting question imaginable, there’s a book written to provide the answer.
No doubt everyone from your mother to your doctor to your best friend has recommended doz
ens of their top parenting books for you to read. But there’s no need to get overwhelmed. We’ve done your homework for you by compiling a list of 10 top parenting books recently released. The topics covered in these selections are diverse, but there’s a common thread: These resources are designed to put parents at ease, entertain and inform.

1. Today’s Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby’s First Year
By Mary Ann Zo
ellner and Alicia Ybarbo
The authors, two producers of NBC’s Today, share their experience of baby’s first year, from breastfee
ding products to reclaiming fun and intimacy with your partner after the baby. The book includes lots of anecdotes from moms and experts, including Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, Kathie Lee Gifford, Al Roker and Ann Curry.

2. The Pregnancy Bible: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
By Joanne
Stone and Keith Eddleman
The Pregnancy Bible is a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for expecting moms and dads. The book, written by professors of gynecology and obstetrics, provides insight on both the medica
l and emotional aspects of pregnancy. It features step-by-step illustrations, quick reference gatefolds and a directory of pregnancy tests and procedures.

3. Nursing Mother, Working Mother: The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding Your Baby Before and After You Return to Work
By Gale Pryor and Kathleen
This book inc
ludes information on the legal rights on breastfeeding working moms, new research on working moms and infant attachment, as well as information on breast pumps and maintaining milk production. It provides reassuring information for moms to meet the challenges of combining breastfeeding and their working lives.

4. American Parent: My Strange and Surprising Adventures in Modern Babyland
By Sam Apple

As the author embarks on his own journey into parenthood, he decides to put his background in journalism to use by talking to a wide range of experts and professionals, including a childbirth hypnotist and a nanny spy. In this entertaining and touching memoir, Apply leaves no question unexplored, including “Does it sting when you pour baby shampoo into your eyes?” and “Is there a universal theory to explain the origins of circumcision?”

5. Baby Signs: A Pop-up Book
By Kyle Olmon and Jacqueline Rogers
Learn the basic signs
to help your baby or toddler communicate with you. Baby Signs teaches parents the first 15 signs to facilitate language development. It features pop-ups, pull tabs and a mini poster. Some examples of the signs taught include “eat” (place closed fingertips to lips), “hurt” (touch index fingers together over painful area) and “mommy” (spread fingers, tap thumb on chin).

6. The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed, Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems
By Elizabeth Pantley
If your child refuse
s to tap naps or throws tantrums when they lack sleep, this book is for you. It suggests a tear-free formula to allow your baby, toddler or preschooler to get the daily restorative rest he or she needs to develop. It is designed to help parents convince their children to nap every day, settle their children into their own beds and handle changes such as travel plans.

7. Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old
By Dr. Harvey
In his first bestseller, Dr. Karp revealed th
at toddlers often act like uncivilized little cavemen, with a primitive way of thinking and communicating that is all their own. In this revised new edition, he makes his approach easier to learn and put into action. The book uses a “green/yellow/red light” technique to teach toddlers to distinguish between good actions (green light), annoying ones (yellow light) and unacceptable (red light).

8. Toddler 411, 2nd Edition: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Toddler
By Denise Fields
This book provides real-world advice from pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown, who is also a spokesman for the American Acad
emy of Pediatrics and medical advisor to Parents Magazine. This book offers a humorous take on the challenges and questions that come with raising a toddler. It is designed to simplify the complicated medical terminology and technical aspects of pediatric care.

9. ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool
By Hal Edward Runkel
This book teaches parents how to calm their emotional reactions and focus on altering their own behavior to improve their child’s. The author believes parents’ biggest enemy is not TV or video games, but rather their own emotional reactivity. The book provides methods for parents to calm themselves down and stay calm and connected with their kids.

10. Helping Baby Sleep
By Anni Gethin and Beth Macgregor
Child development specialists and moms Anni Gethin and Beth Macgregor challenge the wisdom of the “cry it out” method. This book focuses on a more responsive parenting approach during the day and at night. The book teaches parents how to practice gentle bedtime techniques to help their babies sleep. It includes questionnaires, checklists and worksheets for parents.

What are some of your favorite tools and products to aid you in your parenting journey? What are some of your top parenting books?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moments, not minutes

As a little girl, I dreamed of being a mother and imagined it to be full of never-ending love and joy and clean houses. And no matter how many times I was warned that motherhood was hard work, part of me expected this shiny dream to actually materialize when I brought my little ones home. In reality, I am finding that the vast majority of actual motherhood is filled with spit up and tantrums, of second-guessing and worrying, of dirty laundry and crumbs on the floor. It’s easy to get bogged down in the clutter, the worry, and the monotony of doing the same thing every day, over and over. And over.

But then there are these moments.

Like the moment last week when James ran to hug me after scoring a soccer goal and I reflected on how far this four year old boy has come from the tiny three month old baby who arrived in my arms so long ago and I was relieved to realize that I must have done something right to have helped him grow from a timid two year old who was too shy to say “hi” to most people to a confident four year old who will play a full soccer game without a second glance and only needs my arms to help him share in the joy of his very first goal.

And the moment when I saw James kiss Kasia gently on her forehead and talk to her about his day, just like I have done so many times, and I began to understand how dramatically my actions affect his, and I was at the same time delighted and terrified as I realized the profound ability my mothering has to shape my children’s lives.

And the moment when I looked into Kasia’s eyes and was startled to see my mom, who we lost five years ago, looking back at me and I finally felt connected to my mom again, if just for an instant, and I knew—really knew-- that my mother’s love shines through loss and into life and I take that love and I pour it into my own children.

Those are the moments that make time stand still. They are the moments that make motherhood what it is. And they are the moments that I will remember when I think back to these days. I just have to remember, in the midst of doing all the things that need to be done, to pause long enough to see the beauty of what’s in front of me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Product Review - Ultimate Receiving Blanket

For this month’s product review, I got to try out the Ultimate Receiving Blanket. I love this blanket! Now, we have a lot of blankets in our house. I didn’t really think that the Ultimate Receiving Blanket would be all that different. But I also didn’t realize how much Kasia would love to be swaddled. As it turns out, the girl likes her swaddle and the Ultimate Receiving Blanket is the perfect blanket for swaddling her. I’ve used the blanket at least one time a day when Kasia has needed some help calming down and am pleased to report that it’s worked each and every time. In fact, I’m watching her happily sleeping all swaddled up in her Ultimate Receiving Blanket as I type this review.

The best thing about this blanket is that it is BIG. It’s really hard to get a good swaddle with a blanket
that’s too small, and the Ultimate Receiving Blanket is the perfect size to get a newborn into a perfect swaddle. I also love the soft, light-weight fabric that made it easy to swaddle Kasia in the summer time without worrying that she was too hot (although I did still strip her down to her diaper at times in preparation for swaddling because she got snuggly warm when all swaddled up). Another fun little detail about the blanket is that the instructions for swaddling are sewn right into the blanket; I used these illustrations the first few times to help me remember the steps. Given that Kasia was crying each time I tried to swaddle her, it was a huge bonus to not have to search in a book for help.

Bottom Line: I think the Ultimate Receiving Blanket is a great buy for your own newborn or as a gift for anyone expecting a baby. It’s not too expensive, it’s pretty, and it’s very practical. Swaddle away!

Find all styles of the Ultimate Receiving Blanket at Baby Bella:

Click here for helpful hints and instructions on swaddling:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Giveaway - Baby Au Lait Bib

I’ve been thinking a lot about sleep lately. How much I’m getting, how much I’m not getting, and when I’m going to get more. So this month’s giveaway is all about sleep. To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me how old your little one was when he or she first slept through the night. Or, share a bit of advice about kids and sleep. I’ll randomly select one of the comments to win a very cool Bebe Au Lait Bib.

The Bebe Au Lait Bib is machine washable, reversible, and big enough to really protect baby’s clothes and skin. Rather than closing with itchy Velcro or cumbersome ties, it secures with two double-sided magnets. And, due to its innovative reversible design, you’ll be able to use it multiple times even if you haven’t had a chance to wash it.

When you comment, make sure you include your first name and e-mail address so we can let you know you’ve won. You also might also want to add your e-mail to the mailing list for this blog so that you know when we have our next contest! The deadline for this contest is October 10th, 2009. Good luck and happy sleeping. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

State of the Household

It’s been almost 4 weeks since baby day, which means it’s time for a state of the household summary. Here’s the status of us.

The baby: Sleeps well, eats well and poops well. Can’t ask for much more in a 4 week old. The most exciting part of her first month occurred when her umbilical cord stump finally fell off (hooray!). Which led to her first real bath (yay!). Which led to me washing her hair for the first time (awww…). Which somehow led to a section of hair on the back of her head that now stands up perfectly straight no matter what I do (oh my). It’s been almost a week and it is still standing up. If anyone knows any tricks for getting it to lay nicely on top of her head, please let me know.

The body: I have ankles! I have calves! I can wear real jeans again! (Okay, so I had to buy some new jeans in a size a bit larger than my pre-baby jeans. I’m just grateful that there is no elastic or stretchy fabric involved.) The 27 pounds of water weight I’ve shed over the past few weeks has made me one happy chica. This does not, however, mean that I’ve made a full return to my pre-baby body…*sigh*. I suppose I’m actually going to have to do some walking or sit-ups or something. Tomorrow.

The emotions: I still spend a lot of time alternating between experiencing the profound and indescribable joy of being a mama to a newborn (ah, the newborn smell… all I have to do is pick her up and smell her and the whole world is right again) and fighting nostalgia for the last summer we had as a family of three. Overall, though, my emotions are strangely stable. Sure, I threw a really good tantrum when my husband brought me a Spicy Italian sandwich from Subway that was toasted, but seriously-- it had mayo on it! Who toasts a sandwich with mayo on it?!? And how can my husband *not* know that I don’t like my Spicy Italian toasted? Cleary this was his way of telling me that he didn’t love me anymore. Besides, that was days ago.

The 4 year old: Is doing such a good job as a big brother. Strangely enough, he actually had a much harder time when I was pregnant. I think all of the pregnancy restrictions bothered him (no more tackling mommy) and I have a feeling that he spent a lot of time being worried about me and the baby and how she was going to get out of me. Now that she’s here, he dotes on her. He even managed to get her to go to sleep yesterday. I’m still not sure how he worked his magic. One minute she was crying frantically in her bouncy seat while I was trying to get the kitchen to some semblance of clean (see “the house” below) and the next minute he had patted her head and covered her up with a blanket and she was fast asleep. The immediate and absolute connection between the two of them is further proof that love does not find its origins in shared genes.

The house: Is a mess. Such a mess. Sometimes I just close my eyes and pretend that it is clean and organized again. I get up the energy to clean one room or undo one pile, only to turn around and find it a mess again. I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to keep up with the house, especially now that I am home full time rather than working part time. Then I added up the hours I spend nursing each day… 10 feedings a day at 45 minutes per feeding = 7.5 hours just spent nursing. And since I nurse every day, I’m clocking way more hours nursing than I did working. So now I don’t feel as guilty about a dirty house. Annoyed, but not guilty.

The bottom line: Despite hormones and chaos, stubborn pounds and dirty rooms, it is obvious to me that I am a very lucky mama. I don’t know what I did to deserve the love that I experience each day… but I’ll take it. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Top Ten Surprises about Bringing Home a Newborn

Top 10 Surprises about Bringing Home a Newborn

1. The extra pounds you’ve gained won’t magically disappear with the birth of your newest little joy. Logically, of course, this makes sense. But there will be a part of you that secretly hopes that the removal of a 7 pound baby from your body will somehow equate to a 40 pound weight loss. That part of you will be wrong. Very wrong.

2. The pounds will start melting away within the next few weeks. The joy you will find in stepping on the scale each morning will be moderated only by the nuisance of having had to change your clothes three times in the middle of the night after finding yourself drenched in the sweat that results from the massive amounts of fluids exiting your body.

3. After spending nine months cursing pregnancy-related weight gain, nausea, insomnia, aches and pains, and immobility, you will find your post-pregnancy self suddenly missing being pregnant.

4. All of the worrying you did during pregnancy will not evaporate when baby arrives. Instead, the pregnancy worries will transform into baby worries about how much baby has eaten (probably enough) , when she last pooped (not that long ago), and if a little bit of bleeding around the umbilical cord is normal (it is).

5. The house that you so meticulously cleaned and organized prior to baby’s arrival will become disheveled approximately 3.5 minutes after you walk in the door with your arrival. It will never be clean again.

6. You will find yourself in tears over the latest episode of Wife Swap. You will be grateful that you have the excuses of fluctuating hormones and lack of sleep to blame for this.

7. No matter how intellectual, poised, or driven you were prior to baby’s arrival, there will be a point in time when you find yourself dressed in sweats with unshaven legs trapping a dear friend in a conversation about the color of your child’s last poop. Although you will recognize this as it is happening, you will be powerless to stop it.

8. You will be startled to find that girls can shoot their pee just as far across a room as boys can.

9. Between leaky boobs, leaky diapers, and leaky baby mouths, you will spend a lot of time being wet. You will miss being dry but will be too tired to care enough to change your outfit, especially given that it will only be a matter of minutes before you are wet again.

10. It will all be worth it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Kid On The Block

Hello :)
I’m Becca, new mom of two. Our first child, James, arrived in our lives four and a half years ago via adoption; our newest edition, Kasia, emerged from my body via c-section a mere week and a half ago. While much of parenting is old hat to me, there are parts of this experience that are brand new: nursing, the whole post-partum recovery thing, and finding a way to balance the needs of a newborn with those of a 4 year old who has had me all to himself for most of his life.

Right now, I’m hanging out in this weird twilight period where everything seems soft and shiny but nothing seems quite normal. The love I have for this tiny little girl is beyond words. And yet as much as I am enjoying being a family of four, I also already miss so many of the moments we had as a family of three. I am beyond grateful that Baby Kasia is here safe and sound, but there are times when I miss the closeness of having her little body nestled safely inside of mine. The thing about a new child arriving is that it’s just so sudden. One moment I was big and round and rapidly alternating between trying to soak up the last few moments I had as a mama to one and desperately wishing that time would move more quickly so that I could meet my baby girl. The next moment, I was in the hospital welcoming her into my arms. We’ve spent the last week and half trying to wrap our minds around the idea of being a family of four and working our way into a new normal.

When my sister Kate, owner of Baby Bella, asked me to write a mommy blog, I was hesitant at first. I wasn’t sure I had all that much to offer to a blog. I’m still not sure. But I’m up for the challenge and excited to share the details of our lives, as well as provide product reviews for Baby Bella (honest ones—if I don’t like the product, I promise I’ll say so!) and contests for give-aways (who doesn’t like free stuff?). So here goes nothing!