Hide and Seek

As Declan gets older, he and Baxter are getting to be better buds. I think a lot of it has to do with Baxter eating all the food scraps Declan throws off his tray, but it’s also that Declan is more aware of the dog and thinks he’s funny when he runs really fast, licks his face and plays with squeak toys. We’re practicing petting Baxter instead of the usually hitting Declan does…but it’s coming along slowly.

While I was home the other day, Declan and I had a fun time trying to find Baxter in various locations throughout the house. Baxter’s not that great at hiding, which is totally fine since Declan’s not that great at finding…but it got a few giggles out of Declan, and it was a good way to exhaust him before naptime by crawling all over the house and taking a few steps as he’s learning to walk.

Since Declan and Baxter are my two favorite obsessions, you know I followed those two around with my iphone to take pictures.  So join us for a little hide and seek, won’t you?

A grayish Baxter trying the camouflage strategy in our game of hide and seek. Probably would’ve worked better if he didn’t need a bath.

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“Hmmm…where is that dog?”
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Aha! Got you!

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Good spot, B. Just not quite hidden…

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Found you again!IMG_4241

 

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Lumberjack Lunch 1st Birthday

Declan the Lumberjack

You guys, my baby is a one year old! I can hardly believe it myself but we have the epic party photos and mountain of new toys to prove it.  It was such a memorable and special day filled with family, friends, lots of good food and fun.  My amazing sister took 497 photos throughout the day, but here are a few of some of my favorite details…

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Bookshelves

Did you know that the number of bookshelves in your home can predict your kid’s success at school?

A study by a team of Stanford and University of Munich researchers shows that parents who own two bookshelves raise kids who do better in school. Whoa.

And with that, here’s why you should absolutely read books out loud to babies.

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Do you still read paperbacks and hardcovers or do you rely on tablets and e-readers?

 

 

What I’m Reading: When You Are Tightly Wound

In my opinion, stories like this from other moms in the trenches, sisters in “there’s spit up on your shirt” solidarity are not shared nearly often enough.  In some moments, they’re pretty much the only thing keeping me sane, reminding me that whatever it is I’m struggling with as a mom, “it’s okay” because out there are other women also staring down a house project to-do list that started a year ago and never gets a darn thing checked off. Or maybe it does but I just keep adding more that progress seems a mirage.  It’s super overwhelming.

“Isn’t it funny how parenting works out? It’s just so loud, even when they are asleep. You can never turn parenting off. It’s a good thing it’s what we always wanted, isn’t it?” – the 42-year-old mother at the library who has finally had that baby after 12 years of trying but still feels tightly wound at the end of the day

Last weekend I was in such a funk.  Trying to be a good wife, I even kept warning Mumbles about my mood, throwing him daring glances over my shoulder as I furiously washed another sinkload of dishes.  I cursed.  A lot.  And then I silently scolded myself for being short with him. In the next breath I was pissed at myself because what if I’m cursing too much and Declan is aware of my negative aura and his first words are the kind you have to bleep out?

And in a snap I was back to cussing and not caring because my fingers were turning to prunes, my manicure was chipping (said manicure was hurriedly performed on myself just one hour prior to my friend’s wedding a few days earlier…needed to clarify that point because what mom has the leisure time to patiently paint her nails?), and I was taking too long to do the damn dishes and I’m probably the one responsible for the drought in California.  Sorry. If it’s not my never-ending dish doing, it’s surely my 20 minute showers.  The showers hide the tears, folks. (Kidding! KIDDING.)

Just like the author, Kate, says: it all feels very tragic.  And it is.  Especially when I read that she hasn’t unpacked from a month ago – because neither have I, which means I’ll probably just not unpack and take the same bag with me next time we go to Havasu, and then I can rid myself of that guilt, call it time management and efficiency, and pat myself on the back.  But thinking of all those dirty clothes in that bag reminded me that I forgot to move the baby clothes from the washer to the dryer the night before so now they’re probably all mildew-y and I’ll have to rewash them. More bad words.

And that’s how it goes.  But then your baby giggles or cocks his head to the side with a smile, or does some other ridiculous thing that is so cute it breaks your heart and all the little pieces melt back together so you don’t even care that you don’t have time to put on makeup or do your hair or get out of your workout clothes (because – high five! – I totally made it to the gym!).

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Read the full article.

 

P.S. What no one tells you about having a baby.

 

Baby Registry Favorites

Now that Declan is almost 6 months new (seriously, whoa) I’ve had plenty of time to put to use all the items I registered for.  Here’s a roundup of products we’ve gotten a lot of use out of these past few months:

Stick Girl JAM Baby Registry Favorites 1

 

1. Aden+Anais swaddling blankets are on everyone’s list and for good reason too. They’re soft from the get go and large enough to make swaddling simple. Yes, they’re expensive blankets. Get them anyway. Sevenly sometimes has them in stock, which is neat because $7 from your purchase will benefit a worthy cause.

2. Puj Tub — What a great design! Folds flat for easy storage, has magnets so it can stay hidden propped up between a shower curtain and liner (sneaky!) or if you prefer, it’s got a hole to be hung by a hook on the wall, and it conforms shape inside a sink to cushion your little babe for bath time.  Declan has now outgrown this but we used it exclusively for bath time up until a few weeks ago. If you have a larger sink, you’ll get longer use out of it. Now we sometimes use it underneath our knees as a cushion while we bathe him in the tub in this Primo EuroBath.

3. Even if you plan on breastfeeding, sometimes you need to give your babe a bottle. This was definitely the case for us and we were happy we had some on hand in advance. A lot of people like the convenience of the Playtex drop-ins but it also means you have to keep buying the drop-in liners since they’re a one-time use and throw away type of deal. Like the k-cups of the baby bottle world, if you will. We use Born Free glass bottles and really like them and we also have a few Dr. Brown’s plastic since we didn’t know if our daycare provider would allow for glass (she does).  I also still really love these Lifefactory glass bottles that can transition to a sippy cup top, but keep in mind that glass is heavier for littles to handle (hence the silicone sleeve to protect if dropped).

4. Wubbanub. It’s so fun to say. And a clever little thing too. It’s a small little stuffed animal attached to a soothie pacifier, which helps little ones hold on to it so you’re not constantly fishing it off the floor or the creases of the car seat. 

5. Zippered Wet Bag. This is one of those items I didn’t register for but purchased for my diaper bag after he was born so we could put dirty diapers and soiled clothes in it while on-the-go.  It’s either this or buy dog poop bags and keep a roll in your diaper bag and car. (But note that if you buy the ones specifically marketed as disposable dirty diaper baggies, they’re like 5 times more expensive than dog poop bags. You’re welcome. Check out Arm & Hammer, PoopBags.com (for real, that’s a legit website) or any generic brand.  If you’re like me and shop a lot on diapers.com/soap.com just click on the wag.com tab and buy them there and save yourself some money.) I have this wet bag and we love it. We also bought this multi-compartment wet bag for daycare so they could send home dirty clothes in a separate compartment than the clean ones.

 

Stick Girl JAM baby registry favorites 2

6. I have a pretty floral nursing cover, aptly titled (and embroidered on the cover for all to see) Hooter Hiders that stays in my diaper bag. I love it because it has a wire open top to allow some air flow for the little guy. I also adore the Dria Cover, which stays in my pumping bag for work.  I have the Oslo style, though they’re all quite lovely and I wore it multiple times while pregnant. In addition to allowing you to nurse discreetly, both do triple duty as a car seat cover or blanket (but the Dria is much softer and more breathable fabric).

7.  The NoseFrida. Yes, the snotsucker. I know, I know. Sounds gross but it works. And no, you don’t get boogers in your mouth. Promise. Plus, it’s oddly gratifying to see that you’re actually getting gunk out of your kid’s nose. Especially since they’re screaming and wailing all the while.

8. Alba Botanica Multi-Purpose Un-Petroleum Jelly has become a magic elixir in our house. We use it to combat the tiny red bumps and chapped skin Declan gets from all the drooling and hand-slobbering, and to prevent diaper rash.  Even Mumbles and I keep one on our bathroom sink to use for cuticles (if your nail beds suck), parched lips, and dry skin patches.

9. Speaking of snot, Declan’s full of it. Poor kid has had a rough time getting rid of congestion so we run this cool mist humidifier almost every night to keep the air moist so it’s easier for him to sleep soundly and breeeeeaaathe. The machine is very quiet but it does provide a bit of peaceful ambient noise.

10. A Sound Machine. The rule in our house is that baby doesn’t go to sleep without some noise going on.  Because, if he’s put to bed with total silence, the smallest thing like a spoon scraping the first glorious bite of ice cream out of the bowl will wake him up. Not cool, bro.  We’ve got the cute Sleep Sheep from Pottery Barn and it does the job well, though it automatically shuts off after a while. Baaaaaa!

11. Halo Sleep Sack. Since blankets in the crib are a no-no, a wearable blanket is a must. We actually learned about the Halo from a daycare center we interviewed and it’s worked out really well for us.  We might need to get a lighter fabric for summertime, but it helps keep Declan’s feet corralled so he’s not kicking and flailing in his sleep. His arms are another story, however.  We gave the Woombie a try but once he was done with the swaddle phase, he really wanted his arms free.  If you’re looking for a swaddle/straight-jacket experience for baby, give the Woombie a go.

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12. Dressing up your kid is probably one of the most fun parts but the honest side of having a newborn is that you get really sick of changing diapers and outfits two minutes after you got your wiggle worm into the last clean one.  Enter zippered pajamas, aka the best things ever invented.  The most superb ones zip closed from the neck down so in the middle of the night when your baby is all snugly and warm, you can just unzip from the foot to belly and get that diaper changed quick. Genius!

13. I don’t know about your baby, but Declan is a spitty kiddy. I never registered for bibs because I associated them with eating food, but Mumbles and I had quite the “aha!” moment when we realized he should be wearing them for the constant drool and aforementioned spit up. Luckily one of my girlfriends gifted us this one from Cotton On, which quickly became the one we reach for first because of it’s large square size.

14. If you’re doing daycare, a backpack or tote bag (with or without your kid’s name on it) is necessary. The bag will carry extra sets of clothes, pacifier, teething ring, burp cloth, socks, diaper cream, lotion, sunscreen, etc. and if it is big enough, would also carry a cooler with bottles for the day. Throw in an empty wet bag so nanny can put soiled clothes in the wet bag and keep everything else clean. Here’s how we do it: we have this cooler lunch tote from Kipling with Declan’s name on it (so the bottles don’t get mixed up), and a wet/dry bag which has two zippered pockets – one for soiled clothes that’s empty at the beginning of the day and another pocket where we put his clean outfits).

15. Burp Cloths. Sure, there’s lots of fancy ones out there and some of our friends and family even made us some really adorable ones. Buuuut, my favorite go-to burp cloths to keep on hand are old school ones like these Gerber cloth diapers. Super cheap, absorbent and big enough to actually catch projectile grossness coming out of your baby’s face and onto the clean shirt you just put on.

 

3 Things I could live without and notes on other items:

My one big baby splurge was this Graham Glider from West Elm. I love it. It’s in our living room. It’s beautiful.  That said, if I was tight on space, I could probably do without it. Declan’s nursery is quite large so we had room to keep our full daybed in there to act like a couch/sleeping space for nights when little man needs some extra cuddle time.  It’s the perfect spot to nurse and do story time for us.  Speaking of nursing, I don’t use the My Brest Friend as often as I should. I should. I really should. And, I’d recommend you use one or the Boppy…or something.  I’ve gotten in the habit of just propping up my arm with pillows but what I can tell you is that my posture is total crap now. And my neck hurts from hunching down.  Lastly, everyone said that I must get a wipe warmer and while it’s a nice spa-like luxury on baby’s bum, truth is, Declan could really care less. When we’re on-the-go or at Grammie’s house, he’s not getting warmed wipes and he is just as smiley so I don’t recommend that one unless you find that your baby absolutely hates being changed and you need something to make the experience more enjoyable.

More…

Of course there’s a zillion things I didn’t mention like video monitors, diapers, wipes, cribs, bedding, changing pads + covers, toys, books, diaper pails, baby carriers, car seats, strollers…geesh! Little babies need lots of stuff!  If you want to pour over more baby registry roundups (I read blog posts and product reviews for hours on end!), clear your afternoon schedule to check out some of my favorites from Lucie’s List, The Wise Baby, Young House Love, 100 Layer CakeletA Cup of JoBubby and Bean, Oh So Beautiful Paper, and Mint Arrow.

 

 

Hank Azaria on Fatherhood

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“I am not a children kind of person. I don’t like kids, I don’t gravitate towards them, they make me nervous when I’m around them…I didn’t particularly like myself as a child.  I feel about kids the way I feel about most people, which is most of them are annoying. Children are no exception — they’re just like annoying short people.” — Hank Azaria, on kids.

Hank Azaria can’t quite understand why anyone would want to be a parent. So, he starts filming a documentary asking his actor friends about being fathers and what it’s like raising kids. A short while into the project, though, Hank gets a big surprise. He finds out he and his long-time girlfriend will soon become first-time parents themselves. Well, that changes things a bit now doesn’t it?

The first episode in this web series is fantastic. It’s full of heartwarming nuggets of advice and insight from some very famous folks like Jim Gaffigan, Mike Myers, Rainn Wilson, and Kevin Bacon.

“It’s a tradeoff; you get the joy and the love, but you also get the worry.”  — Bryan Cranston, on becoming a parent. (as if we couldn’t love him any more — his interview is totally endearing.)

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What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you about being a parent?

 

 

What No One Tells You About Having A Baby

I want to preface this post by saying that these seven things are based solely on my own pregnancy, labor and postpartum experiences. Everyone has a different story to tell and deals with it all in their own unique way.  That’s the main take-away from it all — everyone is different — but here are some of the things that surprised me or what I wish someone would have told me:

1. “You don’t get a medal for a natural birth.” Actually, my mom did tell me this and I was so thankful to hear it. It really took the pressure off of me to feel like I had to have the same birth experience as anyone else or that one way was better than any other of one million scenarios I might be faced with. What a relief! Because Declan’s birth definitely didn’t go the way I had envisioned. The best way to give birth is the way that keeps you healthy and happy. After laboring for almost 12 hours, that epidural was a welcome part of my labor experience and I was beyond grateful for it. And when the doctor said we might need to have a cesarean, my first thought was of who would be disappointed if that happened, when instead it should have been how I felt about it. The unsolicited advice is sure to flood in while you’re pregnant and it doesn’t stop after you give birth either. No ma’am. But you’re the mom now, you make the decisions. The point here isn’t about a natural or medicated birth, cesarean or vaginal deliveries – it’s to say that it’s your body, your baby, your family, your health. You can thank anyone who gives you their opinion/advice or you can tell them to shove it. Do what’s best for you. And when it’s all over, give yourself a hug and a high five from me.

2. Everything is annoying. I had someone coaching me through labor with breathing, which was encouraging and helpful, but at a certain point the heavy breath sound they made sounded like a loud “shhh” and let me tell you: the last thing you want to hear while you’re sweating and groaning, enduring primal pain is someone telling you to shhh. No, you shhh.

Okay, so maybe it isn’t that specific thing that annoys you, but it will be something. Or everything. The smell of someone’s perfume or food during labor (which is a really jerk move if mama is not allowed to eat anything but ice chips and all she wants is a bacon cheeseburger), random strangers touching your belly while you’re pregnant (eww. and it’s almost illegal in some places.), the fact that your feet are so swollen you don’t fit into your own shoes anymore…let’s just say it’s okay to be cranky for a long while. You birthed a human. You get a pass.

3. You’ll be sore. Like really, really sore. In places you didn’t think you would be. While pregnant, I could feel some of my bones moving and making room. Ouch. But the most surprising for me was my arms a few days after giving birth. “Why the heck are my arms tired?” I wondered. Oh, you wanna know why? Because I was holding my legs spread open for three hours while I was pushing a human out of me. Also, every centimeter of my neck was sore from curling into myself and straining at the start of each push.  So, word to the pregnant/wise: work out. Like, just a little. Do some stretching or yoga…maybe get some of those resistance bands. Because not only was I sore after delivering, when our little babe started packing on the pounds, this mama was getting quite the workout from all the bending and lifting. (On the plus side, I think I’ll have hot mom arms in no time.)

4. For the first few weeks at home, your boobs are out all the time. All. The. Time. Invest in a good robe, lots of nursing tops or good curtains. We moved to a new neighborhood just before Declan was born so I’m not sure if we have nosy neighbors. If we do, I think I’m probably going to be a popular lady on our block.

5. Just when you figure out one thing, something else. For us, we had latch problems at the get-go so Declan lost too much weight. We supplemented with formula for one day until my milk came in (my goodness is that uncomfortable!) and then I nursed and pumped to supplement with breast milk for a week and he gained two pounds so they told us to stop. Oi. Then his frenulum was just a bit too tight so we had it snipped. And all this with cracked, sore nipples, bleeding so much you’re practically in diapers yourself, not showering, not sleeping, hardly enough time to eat a decent meal, and trying to recover from major trauma to your lady parts while riding an emotional roller coaster. It’s rough. Which leads me to…

6. It’s okay to cry a lot. I was so relieved the first time one of my mom friends humored and comforted me in solidarity that the first few weeks with a newborn are pretty miserable. Why don’t you ever hear this? No one tells you. Of course you love your baby. Of course. But it cries all the time (which is enough to drive you crazy), it’s hungry all the time (so your boobs are super sore), it only sleeps in short spurts (so if you weren’t crazy before, you are now), and you hardly have time for teeth brushing, showering, eating, full sentences. What is there to love about all that? Yet I was bombarded with texts and Facebook messages asking me if motherhood was “total bliss” or if I was “in love with being a mommy.” Those first few weeks? No. The answer is no. Sometimes you’ve fed, burped, changed, held, snuggled, and changed that diaper (for the fourth time) and yet he’s still crying?  WHY?!?!?  Ahhhh!!!

Giving birth is hard. Having a baby is hard. Breast feeding is hard. Sacrificing the life you had in order to care for a helpless little human that relies on you for absolutely everything and cries loudly and spits up on the shirt you just found the energy to change into is not fun, nor is it glamorous. It’s okay to have feelings that aren’t rosy and it’s more than okay to ask for help. Please do. Other moms have been through it. They get it and they’ll help you get through it with a bit of humor and sanity too. (Let’s not forget that post-partum depression is real and affects a lot of women. It’s important to identify your emotions and talk openly with your partner and doctor. This article outlining varying thoughts and feelings you might experience was a great read for me and helped me to understand my various states of emotion.) If you’ve had a baby and it’s been all bunnies and sunshine and roses, that’s so great for you. Congratulations. Please share your secrets. But, for the rest of us: it’s okay. You’re a good mom. It’ll get better and easier (which is what all my mom friends encouraged me with…and it is, day by day).

7. You’ll love your dog more. So, so many people warned us while we were expecting that as soon as the baby arrived, Baxter wouldn’t get as much love or attention. On the contrary, having a newborn has given us a whole new level of appreciation for our fur baby. He seems so easy now; he entertains himself, eats and relieves himself without crying and, heck, he even burps himself! When Declan goes down for a nap, the first thing Mumbles and I do is curl up with Baxter on the couch for some quality cuddle time. Love that little guy! (Oh, and don’t believe anyone that says having a dog is a good introduction to having a baby — lies, LIES I tell you!)

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What are some things you wish people had told you about giving birth or having a baby? I’d love to hear your stories!!

 

Read more “what you don’t expect when you’re expecting” stories via CNN here.