Lazy Parenting.

IMG_9813IMG_9816IMG_9801IMG_9811I was tired of saying things like “don’t hit your brother”, “don’t hang from the chandelier”, and “spitters go outside”. So, when the last bit of a bag of mini wheats got decanted on the floor all I did was watch.

Of course, I wrongfully assumed this would be an easy vacuum clean-up. The mixture of dog slobber and mini wheat micro crumbs was not something I took into account when I made my do-nothing decision.

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Danger All Around.

ping pong table warning labelmushrooms in new sodIMG_8641IMG_8638IMG_8640I’ve always been a worry wart. Being a parent, however, has introduced me to this whole new world of dangers I had hardly considered. As I pull in and out of my garage the warning labels on the ping-pong table remind me of the dangers my child faces at every turn. It’s easy to laugh at the absurd little picture of children climbing on top of a folded ping pong table-that is until you have kiddos and you realize that your child will probably attempt that at one point and could have an unfortunate encounter with that smooth, unforgiving concrete garage floor. I proceeded to take T out to the backyard to play after snapping some pictures of this funky caution label and found it was easy to take some more shots along the same theme. Hidden in my beautiful new sod are these awesome (and potentially dangerous) mushrooms growing with abandon. I worry about my son getting gangrene from drinking out my dogs “licker” as we call it. Ironically, after I photograph T taking these sips from the dog “licker” he waddles over and pulls a perfect-to-choke-on sized rock out of his mouth and hands it to me. Great.

I recently got in an argument with my husband over the missing bike pump for the stroller wheels. While I’m frantically searching the house and pleading my husband to tell me if he knows of its whereabouts he tells me he doesn’t know where it is and that “your the one that let’s him play with it”. Uh, very helpful and yes, I do let him play with it. It’s unlikely to cause any bodily harm and it keeps him occupied at times and away from other things that could cause bodily harm. I help T get food and sleep and provide him with affection and (hopefully) a learning environment, but most of the time I am simply trying to keep him alive. This morning he walked around the house with a shoe lace trying to stick the plastic part into all the outlets that had their plastic protectors pulled out. He started with the bedroom outlet and as I pulled him away to stick the plastic pieces in he made a run for the kitchen and found the exposed outlets there and then the living room. Ended up being a good exercise since he seemed to have a radar beacon going for all the outlets we had been careless about leaving exposed.

I have a little mantra I tell myself sometimes at night so I can steer my brain away from its fretful nature and it is, “I choose not to worry”.  I also think about the Bible verse that refers to our inability to add a single day onto our lives by worrying and I am certain that includes adding days on to our kids lives as well. Sometimes I can’t help but dwell on the fears, but I am doing my best to keep them at bay so that I can get on and live this little thing called life.

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Bleu Cheese Kaleslaw.

bleu cheese kaleslaw kale salad IMG_8611This is my knock off version of a kale salad I picked up at the deli section of the grocery store. I know how good those hearty greens are for me but I often find it hard to find ways to actually enjoy the process of eating them. This untraditional take on coleslaw is easy to scarf down and makes a nutrition-packed addition to those upcoming summer gatherings and BBQ’s.

Bleu Cheese Kaleslaw

  • 1 Bunch of Kale (the curly kind commonly used as a garnish)
  • Various Veggies/Fruits: I’ve done carrots/cabbage/tomato and apple/strawberry/tomato/carrot combos before.
  • Bleu Cheese or Gorgonzola crumbles
  • Coleslaw Dressing (I used premade Marie’s from the produce section to keep things simple).

Directions: Uh, pretty straight forward here-make salad and add bleu cheese and dressing to taste haha! Best to refrigerate it a few hours prior to serving though so all the flavors get to develop a little bit.

I will definitely be making this again. It’s easy, healthy (for the most part), and tasty.

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The Best and Safest Disposable Baby Wipes. (According to Me).

baby pulling out wipesThe EWG Cosmetic Skindeep database is an excellent resource to determine which baby wipe brands have “safe” chemical contents, but it doesn’t solve my problem of knowing which ones are actually any good. So, I had to try them out and ended up testing a dozen or so different brands to find the “best” ones. I was going to do a comprehensive review and then realized that no one really cares about that spread sheet I started. Instead, here are my top favorites and why, with honorable mentions, and a “yuck” list. Afterall, I don’t stick to just one brand. I shop for sales and pick up wipes based on convenience.

Best Newborn Wipe

DermaH2O WaterWipes

Why I like ‘em: These puppies are literally made out of 99.9% water and .01% grapefruit extract. These are the next best thing to using homemade wet washcloth wipes but LOADS more convenient (and by “LOADS” I mean fewer laundry loads of poopy washcloths).

EWG Skindeep Database Ranking: N/A

Where to buy them: Diapers.com, Amazon.com

Price: $0.067 per wipe or in bulk $0.061 (subject to change)

Cons: They don’t clean as well as some wipes out there, but thats the trade off with using just water. They also aren’t the softest and can sometimes drag on moist skin. Once you open a pack you must use it within a month to avoid mold growth. Anyone who has ever had a newborn knows this is no problem. However, if you keep a whole pack in the diaper bag you might want to sharpie on the date you opened them just to be sure you aren’t smearing mold on your babies tush. Oh, and no widget top available (you know…the little flappy lid).

Best Compostable/Biodegradable Wipe

Elements Naturals

Why I Like ‘em: For an unscented wipe these smell great. They clean well, are a sturdy wipe yet super soft, and don’t leave any funky residue on your hands or on little baby’s booty. Plus, they are compostable so the environmental impact is lessened just that much more.

EWG Skindeep Database Ranking: 1 (zero is best, but 1 is darn good)

Where to Buy Them: Whole Foods, Diapers.com

Price: N/A (Definitely one of the more expensive options but still within reason).

Cons: No “widget” top available (probably because the extra plastic wouldn’t be so “green”). They don’t follow one another out of the pack so you have to dig for each wipe (unless you get lucky) but I still consider them relatively easy to get out.

Most Economical

Walgreens Premium Baby Wipes (Unscented)

Why I Like ‘em: Easy to obtain, these guys are legit. I’m impressed with Walgreens for making a wipe that ranks safer on the EWG database than all of Huggies’ and Pampers’ wipes on the market. They work great, have a soft texture, are easy on the budget, and come with the amazing “widget” top (even when you purchase the “bulk” 3 pack!). Plus, they make a “green” option, called Renew Naturals Biodegradable, for a little bit more dough which is a nice option (although you loose the widget top).

EWG Skindeep Database Ranking: 2.

Where to Buy Them: Walgreens, Walgreens.com, and Drugstore.com.

Price: These go on sale ALOT. Keep your eyes open for BOGO and in-store coupons. I recently purchased them for $0.026 per wipe when I bought the 3 pack from Drugstore.com.

Cons: Can’t really think of anything bad about these wipes except that I have to drive a little out of my way to hit up a Walgreens (hence why I utilize the free shipping on online orders over $25).

Honorable Mentions List

BabyGanics Thick n’ Klean

Why I Like ‘em: These smell good, clean well, are pretty thick, and come in a variety of package sizes including a very convenient diaper bag/travel size. They are also easy to obtain if I’m running low. I always grab the unscented kind, but they do make a scented “baby fresh” wipe that is just as “safe” as their unscented.

EWG Skindeep Database Ranking: 2.

Where To Buy Them: BabiesRUs, BuyBuyBaby, Diapers.com, Drugstore.com, various drugstores etc.

Price: It varies but you are looking at around $0.05 per wipe.

Cons: Not the cheapest and not the “safest” but an overall good wipe that I don’t mind picking up once in awhile when the need arises.

Seventh Generation Free and Clear

Why I Like ‘em: Tons of places carry Seventh Generation products so it is not a hard task to find these. They come in widgets as well when you buy them individually ( I’ve heard rumor that any bulk packaging does not give you this option). Good overall wipe and they have a cute sheep embossed on them.

EWG Skindeep Database Ranking: Most recent formula is N/A. Previously they ranked a 1, but they’ve added ingredients. I’ve looked these ingredients up individually and nothing seems too terribly alarming.

Where to Buy Them: Oh gosh…Target, grocery stores, health food stores, drugstores and loads of places online.

Price: $0.047 or thereabouts.

Cons: Again, not the cheapest and not the “safest” wipe option. To me, these have a funky smell to them. The wipe is also a bit on the smaller size. I do think they work well though so I have no problem picking these up when I’m running low (my husband likes these).

Yuck List

Earth’s Best Tendercare=Gross, soggy, soapy wipe that made my baby’s bum red.

Nature’s Babycare=Tear easily and are IMPOSSIBLE to get out of the package.

Atitude Eco-Baby wipes=dry and expensive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Svan Creativity Cruiser.

svan creativity cruiser scootersvan creativity cruiser scooterI’ve been eyeballing this little wonder since before T could walk. Not the easiest product to find, the indoor-only Svan cruiser typically retails for $100-125. Well, I found it in walnut (they offer natural/light wood and espresso as well, but walnut is my favorite) for $80 at Albeebaby.com and I got 15% off with free shipping and no tax (used 15OFF at checkout). Came out to $68 which I considered to be a steal for this little gem. T is just big enough for it at 14+ months. Recommended age begins at 18 months and up through 5 years (great longevity if it can hold up to my boys).

svan creativity cruiser scooterMy husband and I have dumped a bundle of cash on getting both the front and back yards redone as well as some other maintenance jobs around the house so we are OFFICIALLY on a diet when it comes to spending the ol’ $$. Thought I would sneak in a post on a cool (luxury) toy that we’ve added to the household before I start posting on ways to say money with a newborn haha. T loves the toy and started playing on it before the wheels even got screwed on. Our sturdy, wannabe-hard-wood laminate throughout the house is the perfect playground for the Svan cruiser, but it rolls pretty well on the area rugs as well! Leave it to the Swedes to design a “creativity” cruiser that lends itself as a blank slate to the kiddo’s mind. I hope to see this thing around for years to come.

Note: Unendorsed post…just sharing a good deal :)

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My First Etsy Sell.

Sold!!

felted bears koala teddy pandaI made my first Etsy sell. I was and am very excited. I’ve had a tiny little shop called MerleyBird for awhile now where I have a couple of my felted creations for sale. Having an Etsy shop allows me to continue to create while not having to worry about what I’m going to do with a surplus of felted giraffes. Of course this “creation” only occurs on those rare occasions when I get enough uninterrupted downtime…aka T is asleep and there aren’t any glaring housework situations to be taken care of.

The elephant I purchased from another wool artist on Etsy. She has more for sell here.
The elephant I purchased from another wool artist on Etsy. She has more for sell here. This is her photo also.

Curious? What is felting?

I do traditional dry needle felting. I take raw wool roving (which looks like big fluffy clouds of wool cotton balls) and manipulate the fibers with a single barbed needle until they “catch” on each other and can be formed into shapes. The best way to really see what I mean is to check out a couple of youTube videos. My curiosity was what got me started. I bought the most adorable little elephant off of Etsy for T’s nursery. I love that thing. I wanted a mobile for his room also but the cute ones on Etsy run well over $100 for what I had my eye on. So! I learned to make my own.

Why Felting?

I’ve had interest in MANY types of artsy craftsy kind of stuff over my lifespan. I like felting mainly because I am only limited by my skill and imagination when it comes to creating pieces. Plus, felting doesn’t require a lot of room and can easily be stuffed back into my plastic Sterilite storage container for another day (unlike say the spread that is necessary when doing a quilt).

mobile needle felted animals elephant giraffe
The mobile I made for T’s room. He was a wee bit younger in this picture. Sigh.

 

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Pasta and a Baby.

toddler eating spaghettitoddler eating spaghettitoddler eating spaghettitoddler eating spaghettiT has had pasta before but this is the first time that I’ve really let him self-feed the messy meal. He had a wonderful time. Can’t really get through baby/toddler years without a good spaghetti photo shoot. What kind of baby blogger would I be if I didn’t pay homage to this special milestone? I had to peel more than one noodle out of his hair before the meal was over. I never saw him put one up there but they managed to appear none the less.

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My Experience Breastfeeding While Pregnant.

breastfeeding on the beachTwelve months was the minimum that I had hoped to breastfeed T when I first started breastfeeding him a few minutes after he was born. Surprise, I found out I was pregnant again when T was around the 10 month mark. I didn’t want to cut him short just because our family was growing. He is close to 14 months now and I am nearing the halfway mark of this second pregnancy and I just don’t feel like it is quite the right time to start the weaning process. Afterall, my midwife was well aware that I was still nursing and deemed it safe to continue since I was at low risk for premature labor.

1st. Trimester:

I did experience some extra tenderness. And by that I mean that I had to often shield my poor breasts from the shower nozzle because the water pressure (which is not overly impressive in our house) was too much to take. Good news, breastfeeding breasts (the areola area) don’t actually need washed after all according to several credible medical sources (look it up). I also experienced abdominal cramping similar to that which is experienced in the 1st. trimester anyway, the breastfeeding just brought it on a little extra.

2nd. Trimester:

So far so good. I did spontaneously burst into tears once when T took a particularly nasty chomp…blame that on those unstable hormones. The tenderness is much less. I have to remember to drink lots of fluid because I realize my body is under quite a bit of stress to produce and perform at the moment.

Overall so far:

I don’t regret continuing to breastfeed T regardless of being pregnant. I’m trying to take my queues from T (within reason) on when to wean and use my intuition. We don’t nurse too often as it is and the “burden” is mild. At 14 months, this kiddo is always on the go. Nursing provides us with some much needed cuddle time to connect (unless he was worn himself completely out, cuddling is rarely on his agenda). Will tandem nursing be in store for us in the future? Who knows. I’m trying to educate myself just in case it ends up becoming a reality. Some of the best resources for tandem nursing and nursing in general that I’ve found online so far are…

 

 

 

 

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Getting a Toddler to Eat Greens.

toddler's green smoothy

…The alternative.

toddler eating greenstoddler eating greens

toddler eating greens

If you’ve lingered in health food stores or cracked open any nutrition books lately then you’ll have heard the news, “Greens are great for you”. Packed with nutrients, these superfoods offer up something special for the bod. How in the world do you get a 14 month old (or any youngster) to down these? Some greens (like collards, chards, kales etc.) can be so particularly tough that I struggle to chomp on them. How much less is a baby with their first molars half covered in gums expected to eat them? You could cook them…(hmm) or you could simply hide handfuls of them in the Toddler Green Smoothy! Only 4 ingredients, this bad boy is my go-to for getting all those wonderful greens into my son’s belly.

In a blender combine…

  • IMG_8440Greens (To keep it easy I buy prewashed, prepackaged green “mixtures” that contain variations of chards, kale, spinach, and stuff of that nature).
  • Strawberries (Fresh or frozen work. I prefer fresh but I keep a bag of frozen in the freezer for the many days I happen to be fresh out of fresh strawberries).
  • Banana.
  • Whole Milk Plain Yogurt (Not doing the dairy thing? Substitute Almond milk or a soy product. If you haven’t introduced your child to almonds then be sure to have a conversation with your pediatrician about it and be mindful of allergic reactions).

Yep. My son loves this. He will willingly gulp down two sippy cups full of this stuff.

Tips:

I have a designated and “altered” silicone topped “smoothy” sippy.  Use any soft-top sippy cup and cut the top just a bit to allow the thicker fluid to come through (if your child is age appropriate).

Credits:

My friend Lauren got me started on this when she was telling me about the cute, little frozen yogurt treats that she makes for her daughter. I attempted it and made them way, way too runny…like a smoothy. And that, my friends, is when I started giving this beverage regularly to my all-to-willing kiddo.

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Preparing Myself for Baby #2.

positive pregnancy test homeChanges ahead. It’s going to be wild. I’ve heard several bewildered comments and smirks about the “two under two” family dynamic we will be embracing. Believe me, having just been through the baby thing, I have a pretty good idea of how ridiculous life will be for the next few years (thank goodness we aren’t preggo with twins…multiples would definitely add another dimension of crazy). The plan is that there is no plan. I’m going to take it day by day and try to keep afloat. There is no way to be fully prepared for any unknown, unfortunately. But, there is some “me” prep work that I’ve been doing for this upcoming birth (due August 7th). Sidepoint: Is it weird to post a picture of something that I’ve pee’d on?

What’s on my Nightstand?

  • Water. I feel significantly different physically when I’m well hydrated.
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (by Ina May Gaskin). I’m only part way through this book, but have felt very uplifted reading through the many natural birth ina may gaskin's guide to childbirthstories that start this book off. Some of the stories are along the lines of “I was so empowered and felt no pain,” which I cannot relate to, but there are plenty that have the “I was in a lot of pain,” which I can definitely relate to. It gives homage to the many different experiences women have through birth that happen with little or no medical intervention. The rest of the book goes more into the birthing process itself and is packed with knowledge from one of the world’s most renowned midwives. Very much looking forward to reading this throughout my pregnancy.

What’s on my Exercise Regime?

  • Let me start off by saying that I am impressed with myself for having any exercise regime at all. My first pregnancy was one that included a LOT of couch sitting and no formal exercise of any sort. I have had an easier time with this second pregnancy (theories as to why 1>It isn’t my first rodeo. 2>I have lots of things to distract me from physical aliments. 3>I’m taking better care of myself which includes less stress since I’m home and not living/working in Las Vegas). 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates has been my go to video. I highly recommend it. It is challenging enough to make me feel like I’m not wasting my time while not exhausting me. I believe I’m actually more energized from it.

What’s on my Checking Account?

  • A charge to my doula. I’m not messing around this time. I’m bringing in a professional to be with us throughout the birthing process. Having hired a doula has changed my outlook for this upcoming birth from apprehensive to excited. That alone is well worth the $$. Speaking of dollar signs. The question I get most commonly asked about hiring a doula is, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how much do they cost?”. In Southern California, the going rate for an experienced and certified doula ranges between $800-$1000.

 

What’s on my Butt?

 

  • h&m maternity jeansWho knew H&M had awesome maternity clothes. Not every location has it, but if you are lucky, your local store will. I actually think my maternity jeans from there are more flattering than my regular ones! My old maternity jeans gave me frumpy butt. I’m very happy to have some maternity clothes that makes me feel like a regularly dressed person…with an extended abdomen.

What’s on my Nook?

  • It’s actually an Ipad with the Nook app, regardless, it’s Pamela Druckerman’s book Bebe Day by Day. Essentially, this is a bulletpoint version of her previously released Bringing Up Bebe. Although I may not agree with every one of those bullet points, there is tons of food for thought and lots of wisdom to be found for parents and parents to be. I highly recommend both books (Bringing Up Bebe is funnier and lengthier, but I’ve actually had success getting my husband to read the Bebe Day by Day version).

What’s on my Mind?

  • I need to put another load of laundry into the wash. I’m down like 3 or 4 loads. My husband has complained he is out of underwear. He may have to resort to wearing that ol’ jockstrap.

 

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