Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Stay at Home Blues

I'm a "stay at home" mom who does anything but stay at home.

My kids and I -- we go to storytime, friends' homes, playgrounds, the grocery store, or even just on a walk around the block -- anything to not stay cooped up in the house. So, when the colds began to strike, the stay at home blues began to strike as well.

We've been stuck inside our house with sickness after sickness getting sicker and sicker of the carpet, the futon, the toys, the books, and the songs. To get outdoors and to see friends is to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. To be sick is to be stuck tight at home.

The moment I can take my kids out again, that golden window when there isn't yellow goop all over Grace's face and her juicy cough has finally stopped, I pronounce her "all better" and we get going socializing and playing outdoors. My soul always lightens. I feel myself deeply enjoying my kids, I feel like I've got a handle on being a mom of two very little kids, and I put on hand sanitizer like no one's business. But it's always just a matter of days before grace wakes up with snot all over her face and we stay at home for another week. And the stay at home blues come to visit again.

The most recent time Grace woke up snotty (I think it was cold number eight since January), I felt frustrated, but I reasoned Grace had been healthy for a whole week, so it was about time for her to get sick again. This wasn't something to have an anger fest or a pity party about, but an opportunity to get creative. What could I do to make a sick day fun?

A couple of hours later, my girls were buckled into their car seats and we were on our way to Wal-Mart to get a pet fish. Brilliant, Christie. Brilliant!

After watching the fish in their tanks for a few minutes, I asked Grace which one she would like to take home. She chose the black striped something or other for herself and an orange something or other for Cora. I bought some fish flakes because I figured that would be the humane thing to do.

We brought them home, put them in a giant plastic container that used to hold sourdough pretzels from Costco. Within a few hours, they were both dead. I guess I was supposed to treat the tap water? I don't know.

Grace helped me flush the fish down the toilet. "Bye bye fishies!" Soon Michel would be done with work. Another day of stay at home sickness blues was avoided. Thank you, fish.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Baby Registry for the Mostly Minimalist and Fairly Crunchy Parent

My friend, Caroline, is pregnant with her first baby, a boy due in July. She asked me to help her create a baby registry because she trusted that I'd tell her only what she really needed. I was flattered.

So I sent her a series of emails hitting all the things that I thought were essential. She told me that the advice was "pure gold" and that I needed to turn the emails into a blog post. Flattered again.

Here's the blog post. I hope this ends up being useful for someone now or someday in the future.

Overall Philosophy

Our culture tells us that we need so much stuff. Here's what I told Caroline...

You already have what you need to take care of your son right there on your body -- arms to hold him, legs to walk around with him, breasts to keep him satiated and feeling safe, your voice (which he'll recognize from day one!) to soothe him. So, anything you buy is just extra to make life a little easier.

Start with that mindset of plenty before you delve into thinking about your registry. I divided baby needs into different categories. These are...
  • post-birth
  • breast/bottle feeding
  • solid feeding
  • dressing/grooming
  • sleeping
  • diapering
  • bathing

Post-birth (aka TMI)
When you give birth, you have the longest, heaviest period of your life, so get some good pads. You can't use tampons or a diva cup post-birth. And you won't want to.

Breast/bottle feeding (aka TMI again!)
You spend a few hours a day at the beginning breastfeeding your baby, so it's nice to have stuff that makes that time comfortable like...
  • 2 or 3 nursing bras. You'll wear them day and night. I bought pricey Bravado bras when Grace came. I loved them. They recently wore out, so I've been trying other less expensive ones, but I really miss my fancy-schmancy Bravado bras.
  • Lanolin. For many women including me, breastfeeding is quite painful at the beginning, so you'll want lanolin to soothe your overworked nipples. Something like this.
  • Breastpads. I used disposable ones at the beginning just to make life easier during those first few weeks of adjustment. Then, because disposable nursing pads use the same technology as a disposable diaper and are not friendly for the environment, I switched to reusable nursing pads. I own maybe 12 reusable ones.
  • Nursing pillows are really nice. You end up nursing a few hours a day at the beginning, so the pillow helps keep your arms from getting so sore from holding the baby. When I registered while pregnant with Grace, I wasn't sure if it was necessary, but if I did it all over again, I'd definitely get one again. I have an extra one if you want it. You'll want a couple of covers too because it will get poop, pee, spit up, and breast milk on it.
  • Nursing cover. For nursing in public.
  • Pumping/bottles/formula/etc. Unfortunately, my babies never took a bottle, so I'm not going to pretend I know anything about this.
  • Burp rags. Prefold cloth diapers are great for this. 10 should be enough. If you have a big spit upper (my girls were), just buy more.
Solid Feeding
I know it feels really far away, but your son will be starting to eat solid food by the time he's six months old, so you might want to just throw a few things on your registry like...
  • Bibs. I used these and loved them. They're soft terry cloth on the outside with a plasticized center to keep them from getting wet. You'll definitely want these from day one in case he's a big spit-upper or drooler. It's easier to change a bib than change an outfit.
  • Soft tipped spoons are nice to have
  • Spill proof sippy cups. Two is enough to begin with.
  • High chairBooster seat high chairs are nice because you can just strap it to one of the chairs you already own instead of having a stand alone high chair that's a whole new piece of furniture.
  • Clothes. Baby clothes typically come in newborn (NB), 3mt, 6mt, 9mt, and 12 mt sizes. The NB size will probably be outgrown within a month, so you can skip it altogether if you want. His clothes will just look really oversized for a couple weeks. Between poop and spit up, babies can easily go through two, three, or four outfit changes in a day, so it's nice to have lots so you don't do laundry every day. So, get yourself a bunch of weather appropriate onesies, PJs, etc. (Also, you don't know how big he will be, so it's hard to buy ahead because you don't know what size he'll be during each season.)
  • Baby nail clippers are nice to have because baby nails are so tiny and can be tricky to keep groomed so the baby doesn't scratch his face.
  • Stuff for baby's first cold. :( Babies need to be able to breathe through their nose in order to bottle feed and breastfeed, so it's important to keep that nose clear when they get a cold. You'll definitely want a bulb syringe to clear out snot. We also found that running a cool mist humidifier helped a lot with keeping the mucus running. You'll also want a digital thermometer if you don't have one already and some baby Tylenol.
  • Portable cribs. We've never owned a "real" crib. Just portable cribs, aka Pack n Plays. Benefits: cribs are wood and kids can get hurt falling in their crib or can get stuck between the slats. Portable cribs have mesh sides, so they never get hurt or stuck. Also, when you travel, you can bring the baby's bed right along with you which can help him sleep better. A portable crib with a bassinet setting (i.e. the mattress can go up high or low) is nice. When the baby is a newborn, it's nice to not have to bend practically to the ground every time you pick him up, put him down, or stand there patting his back trying to get him to sleep. Besides that, no other special features are necessary. 
  • Crib sheets. You'll want two because of poop, pee, spit up, snot, etc. You can also buy a thin, waterproof mattress cover if you want.
  • Pacifiers. Babies love to suck. All the time. Some women just use their breasts to pacify their baby. Some moms (me included) use pacifiers to give their breasts a break. Pacifiers can help soothe your newborn, getting them from fussy to sleeping. If you want to go the pacifier route, I suggest registering for two different types because different babies like different pacifiers. I see a lot of parents using Soothie pacifiers these days. My girls didn't like them. But, MAM pacifiers worked for us.
  • Baby monitors can get so complicated. (video, light up, glow in the dark, etc.) We just got the most basic kind that simply lets you hear your baby when she cries.
  • White noise. Babies love white noise. Apparently women are super noisy inside, so it soothes them to hear white noise in those first very disorienting weeks.  If you have a smart phone, you can just get a white noise app. Or you can run the bathroom fan. When our babies are little (under 1 yr), we always run a small fan in their room because the moving air has been correlated with preventing SIDS. That provides white noise too.
  • Something to swaddle. Babies love to feel super snug. Swaddling a baby in a blanket is a skill that takes a little bit to master. But, these days, they sell nifty little blankets with velcro that make the swaddling super easy. This sort of thing. For old school swaddling, I registered for Aden and Anais blankets. They're a little pricey, but I thought they were worth the money. You can use them to swaddle, cover up while nursing, as a spot for changing your baby when you're out of the house, to cover a car seat with a sleeping baby from the sun, etc. They get softer with use and are super high quality. Other than that, people LOVE to make and buy baby blankets, so you will soon own waaaaay more blankets than you want!!
We've done a mix of cloth diapers and disposable diapers. Here are my thoughts on cloth diapering.

  • Changing area. You don't need to buy a changing table. A changing pad with a couple of covers on top of a dresser or on the floor works. Or you can skip the changing pad and just put a blanket down.
  • Newborn or size one disposable diapers. I can't overemphasize how exhausting those first couple weeks are. It's nice to just do the disposable diaper thing to begin with. Plus, cloth diapers will probably not fit that teeny brand new baby butt. Keep in mind, newborns go through up to 10 or 12 diapers a day. We also use disposable diapers overnight because they work best for preventing leaking.
  • Disposable wipes. For the first few exhausting weeks and for wiping hands and faces while you're out and about.
  • Desitin or an off brand for diaper rashes. Make sure it's max strength 40% zinc oxide.
  • Cloth diapers. There are several different ways of cloth diapering. We like the bumgenius brand with snaps. 16-20 diapers is enough. Don't get velcro diapers because the velcro wears out about two years into cloth diapering. has a lot of useful info about cloth diapers. They also have a chart of cloth diaper compatible laundry detergents.
  • Diaper pail. We just use an open trash can with a diaper pail liner inside. The liner gets washed with the diapers.
  • Cloth diaper compatible diaper rash cream. Can't use regular diaper cream on cloth diapers
  • Wet bag to keep in your diaper bag for bringing dirty cloth diapers home.
  • Baby washcloths as reusable wipes. Just have them sitting in a tupperware of water. You can use them to wipe the baby's butt and then just throw them in with the diapers, wash them, and reuse them.
  • Baby wash. They have tear free head & body washes.
  • A couple baby wash cloths. They're nice and soft compared to regular washcloths.
  • Hooded towels are cute, but not really necessary.
Large purse, bag, or diaper bag to hold all this stuff when you're out and about.

Baby carrier. We use a Bjorn because we got one for free. Everyone swears by the Ergo, so I'm sure it's excellent!

Car seat. Infant car seats with a base that you can pop the car seat in and out of are really nice because if your baby falls asleep on the car ride, you can just pop out the car seat and take it with you instead of having to unstrap him and risk waking him up. But, then you have to upgrade to a non-infant car seat around your kid's first birthday. (Or you can skip the infant car seat to get This car seat. It's expensive, but works for kids from 5 lbs to 100 lbs. You don't have to buy anything else! Only problem: it doesn't pop right out.)

Stroller. Registry advice tells you you need about 20 different strollers. We used a jogging stroller (single BOB revolution) with car seat attachment. That's all. The BOB is pricey, but really nice. There are also less expensive jogging strollers on the market.

Kudos to you for making it to the end! Now please go find someone else you trust for a second opinion on all of this!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gray's Two-Year-Old Pics

The past almost seven months (aka ever since Cora was born) have been very joyful, but extremely exhausting. The past month, I feel like I have finally turned a corner. Our family is finally getting used to our new normal, and we've settled into some predictable and sane rhythms. It's good to get back to things I used to do like taking pictures of my friends' kids! So without further ado...

Meet Grace Cheetwood.

She's five days younger than my Grace and lives just down the street. I've become good friends with her mom, Jenna. We hang out most weeks with our kiddos in tow - always a highlight of my week! This past week, I took her daughter's two-year-old pictures. Here they are.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...