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Archive for July, 2012

Every now and then I like to do round-ups of my favorite things, doing my very, very best to keep it to nine items.  Why nine?  The very scientific reason that it allows for a neat square of 3 x 3  – plus “top 10” is SO over-used these days 🙂  In any case, here’s my list of essential “baby gear” (not to be confused with “baby toys”).  There are so many billions of lists of “essential” baby items out there that include items that, after two kids, I’ve realized are either useful for about 5 seconds, or totally depend on the kid – not all babies love baby swings, jumpers, bouncers, pacifiers, or generally anything made for their enjoyment specifically – they are all different.  So this list is for the mamas only – the stuff that YOU will need to survive your first year.  No matter what personality your little bundle of joy pops out with, these things will still be useful – I promise.  So here we go…

  1. The B.O.B. stroller:  I LOVE my B.O.B.  LOVE it.  Did I mention I love it?  Don’t get me wrong – an umbrella stroller is crucial for travel and trips to the mall, but the B.O.B will allow you to enjoy those times when a stroller wouldn’t otherwise have been possible or nearly as much fun.
  2. Gerber cloth diapers:  Let me preface this by saying I didn’t cloth diaper – I repeat – I did NOT cloth diaper.  I looked into it, but decided to keep my sanity.  These cloth diapers, however, are still unbelievably useful for everything else that would otherwise require a burp cloth, wipe, paper towel or (yes I’ve done it) shirt sleeve.  And they’re cheap!  $15 for 10  – you can’t beat it for burp cloths.  Now that my girls are pretty much past the spit-up/blow-out phase (although there is still the occasional outlier), they’ve become my paper towel replacement in the kitchen and just general wipe cloths for around the house.  Believe me, you will find uses for these FOREVER.
  3. Summer Infant Monitor:  This thing went with me everywhere when I had my first baby and you first time mamas will wonder how your own mothers survived without it.  I loved this with all my heart the first time around – carried it with me around the house, slept with it, traveled with it, I simply couldn’t fathom not being able to KNOW that my child was asleep.  That said, I didn’t even plug this thing in with my second.  Just didn’t use it.  Why? I think it’s because the second time around, you’re so busy with your first and with other things that you don’t really care if they’re asleep or not – as long as they’re in the room and quiet, that’s all you need to know.  So you first timers?  Buy this – it will keep you sane.  Second timers?  Meh, not so much.
  4. Zutano baby booties: Here’s the thing with baby shoes and socks – they are all so cute, but almost completely useless because they fall off or are too hard to get on.  Enter these baby booties.  They’re cute, comfy, can fit over other socks if you want extra warmth, and are EASY to put on, and stay put!  Love.
  5. The Snuzzler: Aside from the name (which I love in and of itself) this thing is a must for the early months.  No matter how padded your super-baby-deluxe car seat may seem, you won’t realize just how teeny tiny that little newborn is until you plunk them into an infant car seat without one of these things.  You’re little bundle will spend a TON of time sleeping in the car seat, so they might as well be cozy.
  6. White noise machine:  Also known as the “Dohm-DS Dual Speed Conditioner by Marpac”.  White noise is your best friend when you’re trying to get your baby to sleep soundly, but after watching numerous friends go through countless made-for-baby noise machines that kept breaking, I went for the big guns – the no frills Marpac.  And I love it.  It may not be pretty, but it WORKS.
  7. The Fisher Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat:  Despite this long name, this thing is the most streamlined, basic chair you can get, and it’s awesome.  It takes up almost no room, is less than $30, is easy to clean and can travel!  What more could you ask for?!?!  Just PLEASE don’t be like me and despite getting the recommendation from a zillion people STILL get sidetracked in the store by the padded, tilting, cool looking high chairs and think they’re worth it.  They’re not.  Trust me, get this first.
  8. The Miracle Blanket:  Just listen to the name – it’s not a lie.  Even if you think you’re baby doesn’t like being swaddled (which I did) they do (which she did – once I go this blanket).  My first child was very mellow and I could swaddle her in anything and she wouldn’t wriggle out of it.  My second, not so much.  I was convinced she wasn’t the swaddling kind, until I tried this, and then miracle blanket of miracles, she was suddenly a peaceful, awesome sleeper (and mama got to sleep a whole 4 hours in a ROW!!).
  9. The Ergo Baby Carrier: Seriously, don’t get anything else.  I brought two carriers to Hawaii last year and stupidly decided to wear the Bjorn in the airport – my back was KILLING me by the time we were getting our bags in Honolulu and when our luggage appeared, I tore it open, found the Ergo, swapped it out and literally sighed with relief.  There is nothing better for comfort or versatility – I’ve used this for my newborn all the way up to hiking with my 2 year old on my back.  It’s ergonomic perfection.

So there you have it!  I’d love to know what things you considered essential in your first years of motherhood.

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Well… not really, I’m just thinking about it already.  I’m a die-hard lover of the holidays – the smells, the crisp, cool air, the music, the food, the tree, the lights… I could go on and on.  So I know I may be a bit crazy, but I’m already thinking about the photo for our holiday card this year.  I don’t yet know what I’m going to do, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the past few years when I  did my own (admittedly) amateur photo-shoot with my girls.  I figured I could at least share my wisdom to help anyone else out there with young kids to get a great, card-worthy shot:

  • Don’t expect them to look at the camera and smile:  and you know what?  That’s okay!  The shots where they’re laughing at something off camera are often the best ones.
  • Bring props: if you don’t they’ll just want to run away or grab your camera.  Bring holiday-ish props like ornaments, stockings, candy canes, whatever you can think of that will go with the overall look and theme of the photo you want since whatever you use will end up being in the picture – keep that in mind.  Better yet, bring something for them to sit in or on (like I did) which helps keep them in one place and centered for the picture.
  • Set the stage: go outside where you can get natural light – it’s so much easier than trying to make your house look good!
  • Take waaaaaaay too many photos: I took about 200 last year and you know how many were card-worthy?  About four.  No joke.  With kids, especially multiple, it’s dang near impossible to get a shot where they both look good.  So don’t sit and wait for the perfect shot that you’ll end up missing by .2 seconds – just hunker down and keep clicking for a good 5 minutes straight.  Stop every 10 shots or so to take a quick peek at lighting and angle, but don’t stop – I swear whenever I think I’ve got enough good ones, I end up taking just a few more, and it ends up being in that last set that I find the winner.
  • Prepare and take your time: getting a good photo can’t be rushed.  You want everyone to be in a good mood, and kids will clam up if you’re shushing them and hurrying them.  Set aside a good 2 hours to get the shots done – anything less and it’ll be a wasted effort.

Good luck and happy holidays!

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Is there anything better than getting friends and kiddos together on a sunny afternoon over good food and good wine?  I didn’t think so.  We took a day trip up to Sonoma this past Saturday for a long overdue get together some friends and our expanding families.  We sat outside at Imagery winery (which I highly recommend), sipped wine, played on the bocce court, and enjoyed their wood fired pizzas for lunch (which I also highly recommend).  It was so nice to relax and enjoy the day, and I took the opportunity to snap a few photos with my camera that’s been lounging on my shelf, unused for waaaaaay too long lately – just look at all these chubby little munchkins!

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Just a bit of inspiration.  We’re starting to get going on our home renovation project (kitchen/family room) and I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest to get ideas!

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