Babies

Gear & Gadgets for Moms with Little Ones

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As a mom of toddlers, I am often around other moms of small children and two common topics that come up over time are:

(1)  “How do I save time?”

(2)  “What’s an easy way to do this?”

Let’s face it–when you have kids, there is only so much time you can save and nothing is easy about being a mom :).  With that said, it is all the more important to have efficient gear and gadgets (please note that I am only specifying brand names when necessary):

(1)  Primo Bath Tub–This bathtub can be used from Day 1 and my 2 and 3-year-olds still use it.  It’s safer than using your own bathtub/sink and other baby tubs, saves water, and makes bath time a cinch (with this tub, bath time for each kid is only 5 minutes!).

(2)  Electric Pressure Cooker–Three words: One button cooking.  Throw everything in a pot, push a button, and walk away.  I cannot imagine my life without mine.

(3)  Stand Mixer–Many people have hand mixers (as do I) but the idea is that the less you have to do by hand, the better.  Also, mommy deserves a treat once in a while (try making a chiffon cake with a hand mixer–possible but would take forever!).

(4)  Blender–If you’re lazy, busy, or have kids who won’t eat their veggies (or all of the above), then a blender can help you and your family have a healthier diet.  Remember, there’s a difference between blending and juicing (both have benefits).

(5)  Contours Options Tandem Stroller–I have used this stroller just about every day since our kids were born and I would say that this is probably the best mommy gear we have in our home.  The reason is because the seats can recline 180 degrees, are adjustable, and removable/interchangeable.  The space under the seats has ample storage for shopping and day trips.  In addition, there is a shopping basket attachment that you can purchase.  (Before we had our second child, we would replace the second stroller seat with the shopping basket attachment–pure genius; I would get wide-eyed, envious looks from other moms of babies every time I used our stroller.)

(6)   TravelJohn Unisex Travel Disposable Urinals–This product is a godsend.  Anyone (men, women, boys, girls, adults, toddlers, etc.) can use it.  Plus, it’s odor and leak resistant (the internal non-toxic gel instantly absorbs urine and transforms all contents into a gel).  Super portable and disposable.  Use it anytime and anywhere.  Need I say more?

REVIEW: Behnaz Pure Rose Fragrance

Just received something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile–Behnaz Pure Rose Fragrance.  This water-based perfume (with no alcohol) is perfect for those who are looking for cleaner and non-toxic alternatives to traditional perfumes (especially mothers of small children).  Don’t get me wrong–I’m still a fan of traditional fragrances but, at this time (given the fact that my children are still so young), I would prefer to wear something less strong.

The Pure Rose is made primarily of distilled water and roses.  Because of this, you should not expect this fragrance to be strongly-scented, long-lasting or leave a “trail”.  Only you and someone in cuddle proximity will be able to smell this perfume.  I love that it’s made of real roses with no synthetic imitations–what has turned me off about ordinary rose perfumes is that they generally smell syrupy sweet or too citrus-y.  On my skin, it initially smelled a little powdery but then settled into a true rose scent.  Also, the texture is very watery but that is to be expected given its composition.  Another thing that I like about this perfume is that the packaging has the bottled date (expiration is six months).  This underscores the freshness and authenticity of the product.

The market has been long overdue for this type of product and moms of small children looking for cleaner and non-toxic fragrance options can rejoice!

Mommy Time Savers

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Happy and Healthy New Year!  As a new mommy of two, I’ve learned quite a lot this past year and my favorite thing to ask myself has been, “How will this save me time (and energy)?”  So, in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, here are my top mommy time savers:

(1)  Electric Pressure Cooker–This thing is amazing and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.  I use it primarily for meats, stews, and soups.  A dish that would ordinarily take at least a couple hours to make with my standing at the stove (what mother has time for that?) now takes an hour with my not even being in the kitchen.  I just toss everything into the pot, push a button, and go about my day.

(2)  Rice Cooker–I adore my rice cooker and use it just about every day.  Many people don’t realize that you can do quite a lot with a good rice cooker.  Not only do I use it to make rice, I also use it to steam vegetables (as a matter of fact, since I use it primarily to cook our veggies, I often call it “the steamer”).  And, like the electric pressure cooker, you set the timer and you’re free as a bird.

(3)  Grocery Delivery Service–Depending on where you live, delivery fees can range from reasonable to pricey.  It all comes down to how much your time is worth.  Being parents of a 2-year-old and 6-month-old, Derrick and I rely heavily on this service.  Sure, we’ll occasionally do the shop ourselves (if we forget to add on a few items to our weekly delivery) but we have the same reaction after every trip:  “Geez, that took a whole hour?” (if one of us goes to the store) or “We are NOT going to forget to put this on the list next week!” (if the entire family goes–and, yes, it takes longer for us to get the kids ready to go out than the time we spend at the grocery store)

(4)  Product Subscriptions–If you use any skincare products, I highly recommend this.  Many online stores offer a subscription service where they’ll send your products to you at regular intervals.  This not only saves you time but helps you to avoid the annoying situation of being in the shower and realizing all of a sudden that you’re out of your favorite facial scrub.

(5)  USPS Package Pickup–Because we do most of our non-grocery-related shopping online, we also make quite a few returns via mail.  If you’re like us, here’s a tip:  you’re eligible for free USPS pickup service if you’re mailing at least one Priority Mail package.  Just schedule your pickup online at www.usps.com.

(6)  Multiple Stations–Our home has two levels and when we brought our baby girl home, we decided that we needed at least one diaper changing station on each level to save us the hassle of running up and down the stairs with every diaper change (and if you’re parents of two or multiples under the age of 2, you understand the value of this).  So, we converted one of our loveseats into a changing station complete with a diaper pad, a month’s supply of diapers/wipes/baby powder, and a diaper pail.  To protect the loveseat, we draped it with flat bed sheet (but you can also use a sofa slip cover).  The key takeaway here is to have at least a couple “stations” for something you do often during the course of the day easily accessible to you (because minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days!).

(7)  One Size Ahead–If you have small children, you know that shopping ahead can save you the aggravation of impulse buying and/or having your child(ren) go without something for a certain period of time (and when you have kids, two days without gloves in the winter can seem like an eternity!).  This is why I always try to buy at least one size ahead for my children.  And it’s a great system.

(8)  Cook in Bulk and Freeze–This is quite common and self-explanatory.

(9)  No Holiday Cards–Before we had kids, I was the stationery queen.  Cards for everyone and for every occasion.  No more.  Other than handwritten thank-you and sympathy notes, we now use e-mail and social media to send birthday/congratulatory/holiday greetings via e-cards.

Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful–please feel free to share this post to anyone and everyone who would find it helpful!

Thank Goodness for Little Girls

  
So I’ve gone a bit nuts in preparation for the arrival of Baby #2–namely, shopping for clothes.  Shopping for boys is not nearly as fun as shopping for girls.  Cases in point and Exhibits A, B, and C:   

   
And I’m just getting started.  In addition to clothes, I’ve also invested in a tandem stroller and a couple new diaper bags among other things that are either little girl-specific or two-under-two-specific:

(1). Ju-Ju-Be Be Prepared Diaper Bag–This bag comes in several colors/prints and has received rave reviews from mothers of multiples.  The features of this bag are fantastic:  anti-bacterial material, Thinsulate insulation, handles and cross-body strap, pockets galore, etc.  Plus, it’s machine washable.  Need I say more?

(2). Ju-Ju-Be Hobobe Diaper Bag–This is a diaper bag disguised as a purse.  Perfect for the time being and running errands since Baby #2 isn’t arriving until July.  This style has most of the important features that the Be Prepared style has but is in a compact size.  

Neither of the diaper bags above are what I would consider stylish (organization is the goal here).  But the pros definitely outweigh the cons and with having two kids under the age of two, mama is going to need all the help she can get!

Old Mrs. Creet

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Once there was an old lady
Who looked like my grandma maybe

Every night
She’d take a bite

Of children’s toes
And a nose

If it’s past your bedtime
And you hear a chime

It’s old Mrs. Creet
Looking for something to eat

Don’t let her catch you
Awake or she’ll chew

Your toes and maybe your nose
So hurry and doze

Off to deep sleep
And as you count sheep

Out will creep
Old Mrs. Creet

Lip Service

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Since I’ve run out of my trusty La Mer lip balm, I’ve decided to give Mustela’s Hydra-Stick a try.  This, my friends, is great for both mama and baby.  Lightweight, creamy, and, best of all, works to keeps lips and cheeks soft (plus, it’s hypoallergenic).  Surprisingly, it’s a bit more creamy than the La Mer balm.  Max was getting little flakes of dry skin on his cheeks and the Hydra-Stick took care of it straight away.  Verdict:  perfect for dry winter skin and/or chapped lips and/or cheeks.

Baby Lounger/Chair: 4Moms Plush Mamaroo

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The 4Moms Plush Mamaroo is a fantastic infant/baby chair and lounger.  The electric chair has four side-to-side rocking settings as well as musical features.  It is pricey ($249.99).  However, you can get the infant insert and this chair should last a while in terms of growing with your child.  We have this chair in the living room during the day and Max sleeps very soundly on it.  The fabric cushions as well as the mobile balls are also machine washable and dryable :).

Puj Flyte Infant Tub

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After dealing with the hazards of the 4Moms Infant Tub (large, bulky, awkward, unstable, and, ultimately, unsafe), I decided to get the Puj Flyte Infant Tub for Max and am very happy with my purchase.  The Puj tub is compact enough to fit into most bathroom sinks, is mold and mildew resistant, is BPA and PVC-free, and is slip resistant.  I also like the fact that the material is a hard foam.  Max hates taking baths as it is and this tub makes the task easier and safer.

Labor & Delivery Tips

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Maxwell was born last Tuesday, 12/30, at 6:50PM.  I never thought I would experience a love that rivaled that of the one I feel for D.  It is quite a powerful thing.

My labor was a difficult one.  My water broke on Monday, 12/29, at 2:30AM and we didn’t go to the hospital until about thirteen hours later.  Pumped with enough drugs to be a walking pharmacy (Pitocin, epidural, penicillin–just to name a few), I finally consented to having an emergency C-section after three and a half hours of pushing as I was unable to get Maxwell though my pelvic bone.  Tears of joy streamed down my face when I heard his first cries.

Up to that day, I’ve read countless blogs and received lots of advice from friends on labor/delivery/hospital tips.  With that said, I thought I would offer tips from my own experience to help others:

(1)  Pack light–This is contrary to what many advise but I found that we actually overpacked my labor and delivery bag. My suggestion would be to bring the following:  two sets of clothes for you and your partner, one set of going home clothes for the baby, a small space heater (hospitals are notorious for thermostat breakdowns), phone and charger, disposable/shower shoes for you and your partner, one set of travel-sized toiletries,  wallet, driver’s licenses/IDs, and a case of bottled water.  Everything else (including newborn diapers, swaddle blankets, burp clothes, sanitary pads, and disposable underwear) is provided by the hospital.  Our hospital even had free room service so hot food was always available on demand.

(2)  Drink lots of fluids–Hence, the case of bottled water.  In my case, I was pumped with so many drugs that I needed to flush my system out.  Drinking lots of fluids (staying hydrated also helps with your milk coming in as well as keeping headaches at bay).

(3)  Leave the diapers, take the pads and underwear–A couple friends recommended that I take as many newborn diapers from the hospital as I could as they would add to our collection at home.  I discovered that this did not bode well for us as Maxwell outgrew his hospital diapers just a couple days of our discharge (and there were leaks galore).  Luckily, I also brought home from the hospital medical-grade sanitary pads and disposable gauze underwear (should have brought home more) which continue to be LIFESAVERS.  Both save on time and effort on laundry and provide more than adequate coverage.

(4)   Don’t skip meals but eat light–Nausea and pain may deter you from having three square meals a day but force yourself to eat light (having something in your stomach also helps curb the nausea while providing some nutrition for your body and, if you’re breast-feeding, your baby).

(5)  Don’t stress over your new body weight/image–In the coming weeks, you will shed lots of weight and inches just by having given birth, going to the bathroom, and moving around (and improving circulation and digestion).  It took you nine months to gain all the baby weight.  Give yourself nine months to lose it all (you may even surprise yourself).  I say this because women (and men) who rush and/or lose lots of weight during a short period of time do damage to their bodies (both internally and externally).  In other words, you don’t want to wreak havoc on your organs, digestion, metabolism, and, at the same time, have lots of loose skin to show for it.

(6)  It’s the little things–Do little things that make yourself feel pretty.  Indulge in your favorite perfume, shampoo, aromatherapy, etc.  Get a manicure/pedicure.  Style your hair.  Sometimes, it’s all about the small things in life.

Down to the Wire

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So the baby’s due in exactly one week and I have a feeling he’ll be late.  Reason being there are a set of things that have to happen before (real) labor which haven’t happened, yet (the “bloody show” being one of them).  Plus, there have been decreased movement from him for the past couple days which has me worried.  That plus the impending move (again) has me stressed out.  I’ve been told, time after time, to stay as active as possible (in other words, walk lots) to encourage the baby to arrive on time but it’s easier said than done (with my cankles, swollen balloon-like feet, and fatigue).

Thankfully, all of my holiday shopping is done.  As far as shopping goes, the only things I’ve been getting now have been baby stuff and things for the house.  Our Turkish towels from Bed, Bath, & Beyond have not lasted well and I discovered the other day that Nordstrom’s hydrocotton towels are actually less expensive, softer, and (supposedly) last longer (in terms of fluffiness and shape).  I placed my order for the new towels a couple days ago and will let you all know how they hold up.  So given the fact that Bed, Bath, & Beyond has an amazing return policy (not as great as Nordstrom’s but pretty close), I took the Turkish towels back and exchanged them for other things that we can use in the new house.  Another discovery for the home has been Archipelago scents.  So far, my favorites are Agave Sage, Bamboo Teak, and Verbena Basil.  In addition to the diffusers, the brand also has a great line of candles.

As for the new house, I’ve been tasked with selecting the design, colors, appliances, etc.  Although I enjoy doing it, it’s also a huge undertaking, especially with the baby on the way.  Architectural Digest has been a fantastic resource for interior design and decorating ideas.  More details to come.