Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Magic Bullet is not as "magic" as I had hoped

DH and I have used the Magic Bullet for a while to make smoothies, dips, etc., and we were very excited to start using it to make our own baby food.  This past weekend we took a trip out to a local organic farm and stocked up on veggies before the winter and set up shop in our kitchen.  Making baby food- at least in this early stage- is relatively easy.  Cook the food (I used recipes from, puree it, and plop it into individual serving sizes.
The Magic Bullet surprisingly required a lot of time and energy.  It may be because we filled the cup almost to the top, but it wasn't mixing well.  The food by the blade pureed well, but the bottom of the cup didn't move down.  I had to keep taking it off, shaking, banging, and stirring.
It was a long night, but in the end, the Magic Bullet did the job.
Anyone out there have a processor they love?

Here is the squash as it came out of the oven.  mmmmmmmmm

These trays are great because they have covers, stack well, and you can write on them with dry erase markers.  HOWEVER, it was VERY hard to get the frozen food out.  I had to get DH to do it.

This is a soft mini muffin tray I usually use for baking.  The frozen food popped right out, and it stores well in freezer bags.

The freezer is filling up!  The containers with the purple tops are small reusable containers I had ordered from Tupperware.  They are the "Freezer Safe" containers.  As you can see, we started with the oranges.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Graco Nasal Clear Sucks.... in a good way :)

JD had a very runny nose this week, and using the traditional bulb aspirator was torturous!  I ran to Babies R Us (Yes- even though I hate them, they are close to home) and scoured the first aid isle for options.  There were a few different battery operated vacuum aspirators, but I chose this one for one reason... the clear collection cup.  I knew my hubby would be fascinated, just like he is with our bagless vacuum.  Who doesn't like to see what they are sucking up?  haha
This model also plays over a dozen different tunes (it's that annoying baby toy music, but it's enough to distract him).  It worked great, and he didn't fight it as much as he fought the bulb.  It is easy to clean- just turn it on under running water.  This was a lifesaver!
**UPDATE- He totally loves this now.  He actually smiles when he sees it coming and will lie calmly while we get the boogies out.  Sometimes he tries to catch it in his mouth which is a bit disturbing, but overall, we are very happy with this  :)
**NEW UPDATE- It died this morning!  The music still works, but the vacuum doesn't.  We tried changing the batteries, but that wasn't it.  I'm going to contact Graco.  Even though it died, I want another because it worked and he liked it.
**NEWEST UPDATE- Graco quickly sent me a brand new one and a label to return the broken one for free.  Thanks Graco!

You can get it here!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Stay Home, Stay Happy!

I just finished reading Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood by Rachel Campos-Duffy.  Most books I have seen about "surviving" staying at home have been over-the-top and not at all practical for my family, but this one really delivers, and I can see myself reading this book again and again over the years!    This book is full of great ideas (my husband and I can't wait to try the "knock on the door" approach to discipline), inspirational passages, and great tools (I'm a huge fan of her lists)!  It is not at all about "surviving", but about enjoying staying at home!

A theme that repeats throughout the book is that you have to take care of you before you can be happy taking care of anyone else.  I know that is something that makes you want to say, "Oh that sounds great on paper, but it's not practical, and I don't have time for at-home spa treatments and long baths," but Campos-Duffy truly shows how to make it happen.  She wipes away common guilt ("it's okay that I didn't take advantage of every single teachable moment today") and shares examples from her own life that demonstrate that I am not alone in my stresses and concerns.

Most importantly, it's an easy read.  I read a chapter each night before I fell asleep and never felt that I would rather be sleeping.  It left me motivated and inspired to start the next day!  In repeating and reviewing what I learned from this book, I 100% believe that the way I view my time at home will change and my family will be happier.

Now that I have finished the book, I'm taking her "20 Mom Must-Haves" and creating my Christmas list.  Yes, some of the things are expensive indulgences, but we're worth it!  After that, I vow to catch up on my scrapbooking (I'm only 2 years behind), so that I can honor my legacy as a stay at home mom.
I highly recommend this book to any mom (it's principles can be shared with working moms too)! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Should have tried this sooner...

We got our Maya Sling wrap last week, and I've been practicing every chance I get.  James is too big for the infant carries and too little for the hip carry, so we've been using the kangaroo carry mostly.  (My husband is slightly disturbed by this carry because it looks like the baby has no legs.)   He really enjoys this for about ten minutes, and then he is squirming and stretching.  Unfortunately that means I haven't been able to get much accomplished while wearing him.  I did try a nursing carry with him also, but he didn't like being so restricted (he never liked being swaddled) while eating.  I was really bummed about that because I can see how the wrap sling would make nursing in public easier and more discreet than just a hooter hider.
I do believe that if I had started using the sling sooner, he would have grown accustomed to it and would be less fussy. I do hope that once he is ready for the hip carry, we will use this a lot more.
I will keep practicing and will post updates if he grows to like it.  Please leave a comment if you have any advice for how else I can use this sling (besides future baby #2)!

**UPDATE- put him in sitting up, facing sideways with his head by the rings and his legs out straight. He likes this and will stay in it for over an hour while I'm shopping or doing things around the house- as long as I'm moving! Once I stand still, he fusses. He likes looking out at the world, but he also nuzzles into my chest when he is sleepy. Much better than the kangaroo carry where he has no choice but to look out.

You can get one here!

So excited about

Okay- I know I haven't blogged in a while, but we have been super busy at play dates and meetups.  I have to gush a little about how is changing my life.  I know that sounds extreme, but I have connected with some great moms in my area, and now James is hanging out with some adorable little friends.  (Granted- he sleeps through a majority of things.)
I had caught myself getting a little down about being at home when all of my work friends' lives were going on without me.  Because we have recently moved, I didn't have a network of friends in my area, and certainly didn't know any other stay-at-home moms.  Through, I am now a member of two SAHM groups that organize events and connect people for play dates.  I just search by keyword and zip code, and dozens of groups pop up.
Because James is only 3 months old, he doesn't get as much out of the groups as he will when he gets a little older, but it has been great for me.  I've learned a lot more about what is out there for moms in my community, I've had opportunities to talk with moms about issues and concerns, and I have made new friends that share things in common with me and my family.
And it's not just for SAHMs (there is even a group in my area for SAHDads)- you can find meetup groups for any interest: scrapbooking, cooking, dancing, politics, book clubs and more!  Check it out!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The best thing about the Graco travel system is the SnugRider Infant Car Seat Frame!

Like so many others, we registered for the Graco travel system.  Friends warned me that the stroller was so heavy I wouldn't use it, but I thought, "Not me- I'll appreciate the workout I'll get lifting it out of the trunk!"  (Now that the baby is here, I've never even attempted to put that stroller in my trunk- it's too heavy! haha)  The stroller (we call it the Cadillac.) is great for walks around the neighborhood, and we keep it in our entryway most of the time out of convenience/laziness.  The car seat aspect is awesome- he sleeps very well in it, and the straps are easy to adjust.
Before I became pregnant, I never even knew the Car Seat Frame existed, but as we were registering (and I became acutely aware of what baby products women were using in public), I noticed that everyone had this!  What sealed the deal for me was seeing a woman pushing it through the grocery store with ease and keeping her groceries in the basket underneath.   Then I saw another woman doing the same thing two aisles over!  I felt a bit frivolous because once he grows out of the infant carrier, the frame will be useless, but I knew I needed it.
Now I am lost without it!  It is super lightweight and turns on a dime (which makes it much easier to move around a store than a cart).  The basket underneath holds my huge diaper bag plus much more.  The lady at the Target checkout yesterday couldn't believe how many items I pulled out of there!
The one negative is that it takes two hands to pop it open.  There is a red plastic piece on the side that  snaps together when it closes to hold it all together.  It can be tricky to push apart, and there have been a few times when I couldn't get it open, which is slightly frustrating in a store parking lot when the baby is getting hot in the car.  (I've learned that if you hold the stroller with the red latch on the left, it snaps open much easier.)  However, it easily collapses with one hand which makes for a quick escape during a shopping meltdown.
I would advise no one to register for the Graco travel system without the Infant Car Seat Frame!

You can get it here!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The First Years Happy Flyer Tummy Time...he likes it!

I was a bit nervous once I put this together that he would be scared and off balance up there, but he responded to this with excited cooing (and a little spit up)!  His arms aren't quite long enough to twirl himself around, though he did move himself a little accidentally when reaching for the mirror.  As, you can see, just a few days on this flyer, and he is holding his head much higher. Once his arms grow a bit and he can place his palms on the floor, I can see this toy as really helping him get ready for crawling.  He does get a little fussy after 5 minutes or so, but that is no different than on any other tummy mat, and he really is working hard while he's up there (he makes those "man at the gym" grunting noises).  He is very secure on the platform, which is curved to contour to his little body.  There is also a nice variety of things to look at and hear around the mat.  My dog got very excited when she heard the squeaking and crinkly fabric!  (Why do dog toys and baby toys all make the same sounds?)  The last positive note is that when he does spit up from excitement, the mat below the platform is just big enough to catch it and easy to clean.  :)

You can get one here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

JC Penny has great Christening outfits!

my handsome JD
My sister, James' Godmother, looked everywhere for a suit for his Baptism.  There were gorgeous gowns everywhere, but not a big selection of suits.  Even Strasburg only had very plain outfits for boys.
She struck gold at JC Penny.  The suit is just two pieces, but it looked as if he were wearing a shirt, tie, vest, and shorts.  It has a little cross design on the vest and tie, and it fit him comfortably and was easy to put on.  Price was great, and she even got 10% off because it had a tiny smudge on the back!
As you can see, he loved it!
You can see JC Penny's great Christening gear selection on their website.

Baby O is getting Christened in a couple weeks, and JD's outfit is too small!  Back to JC Penny we went, and I have to say, if anything can rival the cuteness of JD in his suit, baby O will!

O is ready for his Baptism in his suit from JC Penny!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

lug Tuk Tuk Carry-All Bag is awesome

I have searched all over for the diaper bag of my dreams.  I couldn't find one at Target or Babies R Us to put on my registry- but my cousin surprised me with this lug bag!
I love having a compartment for everything, and this bag has all the compartments I need inside and out plus more.  I have it in brown (also comes in red, black, teal, pink, grey, and green), which coordinates with my stroller and makes it possible for my husband to carry it without feeling weird.
It has insulated pockets for bottles (milk for James & Poland Spring for me), a large ventilated pocket for clothing, and adjustable straps for carrying and attaching to the stroller!  My favorite is the tiny zippered compartment at the top which I stuff with emergency pacifiers!  There are also cushioned compartments that are perfect for your camera and phone.
I know this bag is a bit expensive ($92.95)- but I truly love it!

You can get it here!

I used Palmer's Organic Massage Cream for Stretch Marks...

...and I didn't get them!  Now I know a lot of it has to do with genetics (My mom definitely has them!)  and other factors, but I swear by this lotion.  During my pregnancy, I rubbed it on everyday before I got dressed.  Even if it didn't work, it smells so yummy that I would use it anyway!
I also used the Palmers Cocoa Butter Sunscreen Lotion during the summer whenever we went to the beach.  They come in pump bottles that I put right next to the shower.  My husband has always used Palmers for scars, so he initially pushed me to try it, but now I'm in love!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub

I read a lot of reviews before I registered for this tub.  At first the "spa" tubs with motorized showers were very appealing, but I learned that the showers rarely worked or had bad water pressure.  I was also concerned with how hard the tub would be to keep clean and mildew free.
We've been very happy with this tub.  It is simple, but serves the purpose.  It has never had a mildew-y smell, and it is quick to clean. He's still using the newborn hammock, which holds all but his bottom above the water.  Hanging his hands and feet over the sides of the hammock to feel the water is his new favorite thing!  I also like that there is a small basin of water separate from the main tub.  I use this to keep some water soap-free to rinse him with.  I'm curious to see how this tub grows with him, but so far so good!

You can get it here!

We love Small Paul!

Our nursery is monkey themed, so the Small Paul line looks great hanging in his closet!  The outfit James is wearing in the picture is super soft and cuddly!  The designs are modern, but the colors are still classic "baby".  I love the hood on this one; you can't really see, but it has little monkey ears up top.  So cute!  You can see the line at Paul Frank's website .  I especially like the look of the bugaboos with his designs!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Infantino Surfboard Tummy Time Mat" is cute but unnecessary

The design of this mat looks great, but you can accomplish the same goals by rolling up a towel under his chest during tummy time.  The attached pillow gives him needed support when on his tummy, but the small toys and water feature are useless.  We're encouraging him to look up when he is on his tummy, but the floating creatures are under his nose.  He also likes the way the plastic water thing feels and won't stop trying to suck on it! haha
I'm now looking for a good mat that has a mirror or something to look at that will encourage him to lift his head.
Here is Ava showing James how tummy time is done!
Here is a funny video of my husband finding alternate uses for the mat! haha

I love ""

I have ordered form this site many times, and now my favorite gift to get new parents is the personalized photo frame.  I've also done the personalized frame in the "Mr. and Mrs. Collection" as a bridal shower gift.  The quality is great and everyone always raves about them!
Check out the "Personalized Baby Frame"and the "Personalized Canvas Art"!
(They also have a Grandparents Day sale going on now.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best Nursing Bra Pad? Lansinoh wins hands down!

I tried Madela and Avent before discovering the Lansinoh pads, and Lansinoh is my favorite by far!!!
The Madela pads are shaped similarly, but are slightly smaller and thicker.  They didn't lay flat, and gave a lumpy appearance under clothes.  The Avent pads are even smaller and thicker, and despite their thickness, I had problems with leaking straight through!  I couldn't even finish the box of Avent pads because my husband kept making fun of the way they looked under clothes.  There was no way I could wear them out in public with a straight face.  They don't stay in place well enough to wear to bed- so totally useless!
The Lansinoh pads are super comfortable, full coverage, and leak proof (for me at least).  They have a sticker to hold them in place, but I don't even need to use it.  The backs are so smooth that they are totally incognito under clothes.  You can get them here!
Now that I'm smooth, I'm off to find a nursing bra with enough support!

"Fisher-Price Take Along Swing- Woodlands" is much more portable than any other swing we've tried

This swing is wonderful for use around the house and for taking along when you're visiting friends and family!  It is super light and fits easily in the trunk- even with the stroller!  The baby loves it and even sleeps in it sometimes!  There are no hangy toy things on this swing, so I either stick my own on there, or place him in front of a window (we're still anti TV).  My only complaint is that the legs stay folded in, but the seat doesn't, so you have to hold it closed.  I wish there were some kind of latch system that kept it compact so that it didn't spring open.  But then again, if there were, I'd probably be complaining that it wasn't quick and easy to set up- which this one is.  I've mastered taking it out and setting it up with one hand while holding the baby!  Gotta love it  :)

You can get it here!

"Graco Soothe & Swaddle Bouncer" lets me take a shower in the morning!

After we first brought him home, one of my concerns was that I would seriously never have time to take a shower, get dressed, and dry my hair before he woke up for his next feeding!  I spent many days with air-dried hair and hairy legs because I had to rush all of my usual routines during his little naps.
Solution... this bouncer seat!  It vibrates and plays soothing music or the sound of gentle waves.  There are a few things hanging from the top, but they seem to be more for show, because they aren't in his line of vision.
So now, after a feeding, I pop him in the seat right in the bathroom and he coos and bounces away while I get myself ready.  He usually falls off to sleep after a bit, and I have plenty of time to take care of me before his next feeding  :)  I also sit him in this seat in front of our sliding glass doors, and he loves to spend time staring outside.  I love to sit next to him during this time and talk about all of the things he will do someday out in our backyard!
This particular bouncer has some flaws however.  The controls are at the bottom, and he constantly kicks them with his feet.  It would bother me if it was my feet, but he laughs whenever he kicks them.  Sometimes he even turns on the music himself with his feet!  Also, I would definitely recommend buckling your baby in.  When he isn't buckled, he sinks down, and the vibrations seem to bounce him right down out of the seat.  It would also be better if the toys were actually within his grasp- but he truly doesn't seem to mind these apparent flaws and loves this seat!

**UPDATE!  I guess all babies really are different!  Baby O LOOKS AT THE HANGING THINGS!  He actually stares at them for long periods of time.  He does NOT like the vibrations, but would rather bounce.  This chair is still a lifesaver  :)

You can get it here!

"Tiny Love Nature's Serenade Developmental Mobil" Noisy- but he likes it!

This mobile was a project to put together, and it doesn't quite sit flush on his crib (because the sides of the crib are curved), but he really enjoys watching it.  But.... it drives me NUTS!  The music is repetitive and annoying and the little bugs make a lot of noise when they move.  The blue light is pretty bright also. In the middle of the night, it lights up his whole room.  The good news is that he is almost always fast asleep by the time it turns itself off (how it puts him to sleep I'll never understand).   I just have to keep the volume down on my monitor because it is so irritating.  I have read that some babies are scared of it, but mine is captivated and content  :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beware of Babies R Us return policy! Read before you register!

As stated on their webpage, Babies R Us "will gladly accept returns on merchandise within 90 days of the original purchase date."
The problem:
My in-laws bought us the travel system we registered for.  They bought it right after we registered in March and gave it to me at my shower in May.  A couple weeks after our baby was born in July, we decided to try out the stroller and discovered a defect.  We called Babies R Us, but they could do nothing for us, even though the product was defective and even though it was from our registry.  It was after 90 days.  Luckily we were helped by the manufacturer, but it took a whole afternoon of phone calls.
Because most people register more than 90 days before the products will be used, this new policy is causing a lot of headaches.  And remember, they will not accept returns within 90 days without a receipt unless it is from your registry.  Make sure you save those gift receipts for gifts not on the registry, and don't register early for gifts you may want to return!  (You'd be surprised how many gifts you end up returning!)

"Bright Starts Baby's Play Place" is AWESOME!

This is a great play mat!  We especially like that the sides fold up, making it like a shallow box.  It keeps our little dog away from him as he plays on the floor, and we keep a couple small stuffed animals inside for him too.  (Funny story- We had trouble in the beginning with our dog trying to snatch the baby's toys out of here, but lately she's been dropping her own toys on the mat.  I think she's learning to share!)
When the sides are down, it's great for tummy time, and he loves feeling the different textures and crinkly fabric.  When he's on his back, we dangle a few of his favorite toys from the bars, and he bats at them with his hands and feet.  He also loves checking himself out in the mirror that comes with it.
When I need to get things done around the house, he can entertain himself in here for a while.  Well worth the money!

"Koala Baby Plush Sheet Saver" Great for little messes, but not leak proof!

I  have to admit that I was hesitant to try Sheet Savers at first because of all the scary stories about putting unnecessary things in your baby's crib.  But after my first experience changing the sheets in the middle of the night (I actually had to change them twice that night!!), I gave them a try.  Tied on tight, they seem perfectly safe, especially because my baby is not rolling over yet.  They are a lifesaver when there are minor spit-ups or tiny diaper disasters.  However, I have found them to leak through when there is a major diaper leak or a monster amount of drool!
For now, I lay my guy along the length of the sheet saver so that spit-up and diaper leaks are covered.  When he gets too long for this, I will need to turn him horizontal and choose to place either his head or his bottom over the saver.  Or maybe I could just tie on two!  I would recommend having a few of these- especially if your baby spits-up a lot!

You can get them here!
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