Saturday, March 24, 2012

Favorite Baby Products

With so many baby items on the market, it's hard to know what's worth the money spent. Some things you can get away with a) not buying at all or b) buying the cheapest version, and some things are just worth every dime spent. I've compiled a list of my cant-live-withouts, and reasons why I love them.

Petunia Pickle Bottom swaddling blankets

I received a PPB layette set, and there was a blanket within the set like the ones pictured above. They are super soft, organic cotton and the perfect size for swaddling. They have a little stretch to them which makes it easy to crank it tight and keep those houdini arms in check.

Munchkin refillable diaper disposal bags

I have this little refillable disposal bag dispenser in my diaper bag. It's filled with a roll of bags for quick disposal of those nasty blowouts. I like how compact it is. Refillable bags are available in 3 packs. I got ours at Target for under $4.
Lap Pads

My sister in law made me some lap pads to place on top of my changing pad cover. After doing a handful of changes, I quickly understood just how useful they were. They are much easier to pull off after your child turns into a fire hose on the table. Yank it off, and put a new one on..Voila, you're ready for the next change. I ended up making a bunch more since we go through them so fast.

Dr. Browns Bottles with Airflow regulator

I was gifted these magical bottles and we love them. Very little excess air is taken in, making for a less gassy feeding and a happier baby. There are many parts to this bottle, but luckily, it doesn't take an engineer to figure out how to assemble one..pretty straight forward. We've got the 4 oz. bottles and are about to move up to the 12 oz size as soon as Sal makes the move to 5 oz feedings in the next month or so. We tried Avent and Gerber, and we're not as pleased with them because he took on so much air.
Hair Dryer

Call me crazy ( or mother of the year) for this one, but my hair dryer now lives on Sal's changing table. It started out in there to dry his little leg creases and bum during a case of diaper rash, and has taken on a new identity as the baby shhhhhshhher. Nick noticed that whenever he'd turn it on during diaper changes, that Sal would stop fussing. We now use it when he's fussing while trying to get to sleep. I swear, he is out within 1-2 minutes of running it in the room. For that, I can deal with having to share my blow dryer with an infant. I may even get him is very own-but for now, it works for me to blow dry in his room since it works double duty. I get my hair dry, and he sleeps. Winning.

Chicco keyfit Caddy

We have the Chico key fit carseat, and the snap in stroller base. It's lightweight, and easy to open and close with one hand. I have mastered the whole baby from the car to the stroller circus in 30 seconds. Yes, I timed myself. I'm a dork, I know.
MAM pacifiers

We fumbled with pacifiers for a few weeks, and he just was not having it. I tried the gumdrops, the nuks and the Avent ones, and they all came out quicker than they went in. As a last ditch effort,I opened a pack of MAM pacifiers he received as a gift. With a little prodding ( thanks dr Karp and happiest baby on the block video), he started sucking on his pacifier. He still isn't a huge fan ( he prefers his hands), but if he is going to take one, this is the only kind he likes. They are a bit smaller than the other brands we tried, so I'm guessing it's just more of a fit thing, than anything else.

Seamless Multi-function Nursing tops

Okay, confession time...I live in these tanks. I've got three of them I rotate through. They are great because they have a pocket for leakpads, and the straps are not only adjustable, but they are convertible. It's a breath of fresh air from the super honkin wide straps on nursing bras. I think there is a serious need for cute nursing bras..the wide straps just don't float my boat..the straps on these tanks are narrower and can be worn crisscrossed, halter or traditional, and the clip doesn't show as obvious as other nursing tanks do. They're snug enough to wear under normal shirts and I like that they sorta help squeeze my leftovers in like lightweight Spanx.
Graco Pack & Play with Newborn Napper

The newborn napper rocks. It's soft and cuddly and vibrates gently. He's been in it since his first night home. There's also a nightlight on the console which I've used so that I can obsessively check on him in the middle of the night without turning on the overhead lights in the room.

Sleep Sheep from

Pottery barn sells a sleep sheep. One of my friends sent this to Sal, saying that it worked for her 2 kids--and it is my new BFF. I don't know what we'd do without the sheep. It plays 4 white noise sounds ( rain, heartbeat, ocean waves and a creepy whales under water noise). Its also got a timers and volume control. We've got it cranked on maximum volume and upside down next to Sal. It's his bedtime buddy.
Kicky Pants organic cotton sleepers his kicky pants sleepers. They're made of bamboo so they are seriously almost as soft as a baby's bottom. I want some for myself! I also like that they're cut a bit bigger in the booty, so the Gpant diapers I use fit in them a bit easier than with his other pjs. Too bad they're like $30 each! Worth it though.

Carter's footless Sleep & Play snap up Romper

If I could, I would dress him in these footless one piece rompers every day. They are easy in and outs, and I don't have to mess with a onesie over his head, and pants to match. I'm excited to find some short sleeve and shorts ones for summer.

There's probably a ton that I missed, and if I think of them, I'll edit and add later. What are your can't live withouts?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Giving credit where credit is due

 Two years ago today,
I was wheeled into an operating room to give future pregnancies a chance at making it to viability.

And guess what?

It worked.

 I really can't begin to explain how very thankful I am that we had the opportunity to see Dr. Hubert and have him give us the time of day-- he is to credit for this child making it into our arms.

Gotta give credit where credit is due.

Thank you, Dr. Gary Hubert!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

West Coast Nursery

So, now that our move is getting closer ( we don't have an exact date yet--but sometime within the next month and a half), I'm getting antsy to just.get.there.already! Having never been to China myself, I am a bit apeshitcrazy nervous about what it's going to be like. Will I have extreme culture shock, or be pleasantly surprised at how westernized the area we will live in has become? NZ assures me the latter, although he doesn't sugarcoat things at all, and totally admits that we will run into some aspects of dealing with cultural differences that will just.plain.suck.

My goal is to not stick out any more than one white girl can. Neither of us speak Mandarin, but in all of NZ's travels and business dealings over there, MOST people seem eager attempt to speak practice English with Americans. I've made NZ take pictures inside of a Chinese Walmart, just so I know that there is some familiarity and continutiny amongst the big box stores over there--I figure all is well so long as there is a Walmart close by. LOL. And yes, Walmart China is much like Walmart America...except for the Crocodiles on ice, Frogs in the food section, and motorbikes in the entry. I'm sure one day I will totally overlook the crocodiles, and even miss them once we're back on US soil.

Or not.

Knowing that we would be moving shortly after Salvatore's arrival, we put together a make-shift nursery. It's bare bones and everything serves a purpose. Other than the frame I repurposed into a chalkboard to announce his arrival, there isn't anything else that signifies that this-is-Sal's-room.

One thing that I have been looking forward to doing once we arrive in China, is getting Sal's nursery together. Like, a REAL nursery, that says, this is Sal's room. Not knowing exactly what we will find while shopping for his nursery, I started brainstorming ideas on pinterest. I came up with a not-so-babyish idea, which pays homage to his roots of being a California kid.

photos from pinterest

The apartment comes furnished, and since we will be there first inhabitants, we were able to suggest furniture color and style to the landlord, and he will do his best to match it. The furniture selected for the nursery is white. I think we selected a long dresser in white and a bookshelf. We will hopefully make it to IKEA to add a rocking chair, crib and rug to the space. (Yes, China even has IKEA!)

photos from pinterest and IKEA

And these are the fabrics that I plan on making crib sheets and changing pad covers out of.

fabric photos from & pinterest

We will see how much of this I am able to re-create abroad. Most of the artwork can be purchased or printed and framed, so I think I can get close!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top o' the morning to ya

Aren't these cute?

I made them from Target dollar bin socks for Sal to wear on St Patty's day.

I love his chubby little legs in them!

They're super easy to make..check out my tutorial.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Look who's 2 months old!

What a month of growth! Sal no longer fits in any of his newborn clothing and is now officially wearing 3 month onesies and sleepers. We had to improvise on his "2 month" onesie since he outgrew the one my sister  had made him. If you look closely, I cut the iron on transfer out, and laid it on the onesie he is wearing. He's getting so big! 10lb, 5 oz at his most recent pediatrician visit.

This past month, he has rolled over ( accidentally, but it still totally counts!), started smiling, found his hands ( he LOVES his hands!) and his mouth has turned into a!

He also got his passport, went to a fishing trade show with his dad and grandpa, had his first park dates ( we went on one again today- with his cousins), and even made eyes for the little girl down the street. He was smitten by this older woman from first sight. It was hilarious. She had him smiling like never before.

Every day it's something new.

Can't wait to see what month 3 has in store for us!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby Whisperer vs Happiest baby

A few weeks back, after a few particularly fussy days ( say, crying from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. one fine Sunday, with his only breaks for feedings and two 20 min naps), I reached out to a few friends who had kids for suggestions of baby literature. I needed something, anything I could get my hands on to make.this.crying.stop!

The two most popular suggestions were "The Baby Whisperer", which was a book, and available instantly thanks to itunes..and a DVD called " The Happiest Baby on the Block". I read the Baby Whisperer the first day I bought it--she had some good points that I hadn't thought of, and so I tried her E.A.S.Y method the next day.

EASY stands for: Eat, Activity, Sleep, You.

So, theoretically, you feed baby, give him some activity, then put him to sleep, and then you have time for yourself.

So, instead of just feeding him, burping him and trying to put him back down, I adopted her method for a couple of days, by putting him down for some tummy time or putting him in a swing as an "activity" before "sleep". It worked 50% of the time. But truthfully, when feeding in the middle of the night, the last thing I wanted to do was let him have "activity" time. I wanted him back to bed ASAP!

I liked that she sees the baby as a person, and makes a point to say that we should talk to babies as  humans--talking to them through diaper changes etc. No baby talk or coochie coos. Hallelujah!

But in the end, I either didn't understand her method clearly, or it simply didn't suit our parent-baby relationship. I adopted a few methods and ideas, and kept searching for something to help me better understand and soothe our son.

This is where the DVD " Happiest Baby on the Block" comes in to play. I had youtubed a video when I initially heard of Dr. Karp and his ability to get a screaming baby to turn to jello in a matter of moments. It seemed too good to be true--there are multiple videos on youtube of parents proving this method successful. After seeing the testimonials, I was S-O-L-D!

(click here for a clip from Dr. Karp's appearance on "The View")

Our DVD arrived this past week, and NZ and I sat and watched it last night.

This morning, as Sal fussed a bit after breakfast, NZ swaddled him, shook him ( gently, like the video--I promise no shaken baby syndrome here), shhhhsh'd him, and soothed him. He did 4 of the 5 S's as outlined in the video demonstration, and wouldn't you know--Sal was lights out within just minutes.

I have had success with it two more times today, and I am starting to believe in magic!

Either that or Dr. Karp is a genius!

I do believe we have the Happiest Baby on the Block today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Donate or Trash? Store or Ship?

It's so hard to say goodbye...
It's started.

The list making. The sorting. The OohMyGawd we're really doing this. The boxes. And so goes the purging of  our belongings.

And I am realizing..sorting out a lifetime of belongings into one of four piles is difficult. I mean, the physical part of it is easy--open up a cupboard, and start pulling out the items. Ask yourself, Purge or Keep? and then subcategorize...Donate or trash? Ship, pack or storage?

Thankfully, neither NZ or I are pack rats. We're both pretty rational about getting rid of things that we just don't need or use anymore. Sentimentalness doesn't run in this family.

Or so I thought.

Until I found myself tackling our linen closet, knowing very well that I was going to have to part ways with my duvet covers...and with the closing of the closet doors, and a pile on the floor, I realized that I was actually a bit sentimental about getting rid of them.

Seriously, duvet covers. Of all things to be attached to...

I have a bit of a linen love affair. Really, I do. It's under much better control now that I am married, but in my single days, I spent my extra hard earned money on duvet covers. My favorite one was a cherry print one from Pottery barn. I saved up for that one, and the day I put it on my bed was one of the best, ever..You think I'm kidding, but I'm not!

And now it's time to fold up my cherry print duvet and put a price tag on it.

Yep, that's right.

The duvet covers did not make the pack or ship or storage piles..Which means that hopefully someone will see them at our garage sale and decide that they NEED them, just as I once did.

Lil man necktie

The services for my great aunt and uncle will be held shortly.

NZ and I want Salvatore to learn how to dress appropriately for situations. When the day arrives for him to attend school, we are prepared to fight him tooth and nail if he thinks pajama pants are appropriate school attire. PJ pants belong at home, not at school. This being said, men in our family will wear suits to funerals.

I set out last week trying to find a suit for Sal to wear to the memorial service. Apparently, I am the only mother of a 2 month old who thinks that suits would be a good product to purchase, because EVERYWHERE I shopped, I found nothing. The only thing I found remotley dressy for a 2 month old were communion clothes, and that wasn't what I was going for.

So, I lowered my search standards to a collared shirt and slacks. I'd add a necktie to it and it would have to do. Unfortunately, dress shirts in a 3 month old size are also unheard of? I ended up at Kohl's with a brown polo shirt in my hands...Hey, it had a collar.. Hello lowered standards!. Boo for brown, but it came home with me because I needed something anything!

When I got home, I googled baby neck ties, and found a brilliant tutorial over at Very Homeade and scoured my stash of fabric for "tie worthy" prints. I chose to use some plaid that I had leftover from a previous sewing project.

The ties are incredibly easy to make ( and quick to boot! 30 minutes from first cut to finish). I'd show you step by step how I made mine, but Very Homeade's tutorial is much better than anything I could do ( believe me..she maden her tutorial so easy that even a caveman could do it).

For not being my original plan, I think his little outfit came out quite well.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

just another day in paradise

With a cross pacific move on our horizon, and my stay-at-home-awesomeness, I've been making an effort to squeeze in as much family time as I can get. Both sides of our family live close--although my side lives about an hour north of us in Santa Barbara.

visiting great granny Pat

I made the trip up to Santa Barbara last week, surprising my mah on her lunch hour, and visiting both my granny and my grams and gramps.
My sister and my cousin joined me over at grams house, as we wanted to keep her company, being that she just lost her brother and sister-in-law to a fatal collision last weekend. Sal got lots of lovin' and thanks to his shots the day before, was extra snuggly for everyone.

Sal with his 90 year-old great gramps
who was probably teaching him how to swear in italian

Sal and cousin Jared
wearing matching striped shirts-how cute!
Sal and great grams
grams in heaven, having 3 of her 4 grandchildren and 1 of  her 2 great grandsons with her

This truly was, just another day in paradise.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Diaper Duty

Ever since being pregnant with Denise, I have had moments where I think I'd like to use cloth diapers. I did a lot of research while pregnant with her, and my favorite ones were the hybrid g diapers. The ability to use the biodegradable flushable inserts while on the go, and the cloth soakers while at home really floated my boat.

photo property of Megandfamily

Fast forward a year or two, my sister-in-law was talking about how many diapers her little guy went through in a 24 hour period, and I was floored! I told her about g diapers, and she and her husband decided to try them out in an attempt to cut down ont he monthly diaper expense and save some landfill space.

Well, now that Sal has come along, I wanted to use the g diapers as well, but with the impending move overseas and my shocking discovery  new understanding that dryers are not commonplace in Chinese homes, I just couldn't see myself hanging diapers to dry. We'd be in a sea of soaker pads, and that's just not something that sounds appealing to me..Plus, if they aren't dry by the time I need one, we're going to be up $h!t creek, literally.

My ever so sweet SIL surprised me a few weeks ago by bringing over 6 g pants that her son had outgrown so that I could try them out. I ordered soaker pads from and was super excited when they arrived. I was getting to try g diapers out for the cost of the soaker pads! But, jump-the-gun me ordered the wrong size soakers. I ordered smalls, and the g diapers on loan are mediums.

What's a girl to do?

Jump online and buy a small g pant, of course! Most people would just exchange the smalls for mediums and wait for their child to grow into the next size up, but I just HAD to try them. I'm way too excited about cloth diapering, aren't I? So, I waited and waited for amazondotcom to deliver my size small Good Fortune Red g pants....and in the meantime,  a gift card for Babies R Us showed up on my doorstep from a well wisher. Being impatient, I headed to BRU on my way back from Santa Barbara yesterday and picked up a 2 pack of small gpants for my incredibly impatient self to!

Wouldn't you know, the amazon order was sitting on my doorstep when we got home.

And to top it off, we got super news yesterday when the landlord for our apartment in China agreed to install a washing machine/dryer combo for us. I didn't think he'd go for it, since we were told that they are not all that common over there...but he did! So yay! Thank you Mr. Landlord! I'm thinking maybe now, I can continue the use of the g pants over there. Of course I will have to purchase medium soaker pads, and some gpants, but I think the initial investment is worth it. 

I'm day two into g pant territory, and so far they've been relatively easy to use and change..and yes, I have already tackled my first poopy diaper, and it really wasn't so bad at all.

Right now, I have an arsenal of 6 soaker pads and 3 gpants. So long as the pants don't get soiled, I can manage 6 diaper changes in the g pants per day, and the rest will be disposable.

I've got a box of disposable diapers worth of money ( approx $34 plus a gift card) into this trial, but with 10-12 diaper changes a day, it's going to save me half the daily diaper changes. Economically speaking, it just makes sense. I already do a load of laundry every day, so it's not going to cost any more to wash them than we already pay for gas etc.
Rockin' his first gpants
And aren't they adorable?

To read more about g pants, check out this blog over at Meg and Fam. She breaks it down and has great answers to typical cloth diapering questions.