July 9, 2013
I’d like to think that we provide lots of entertainment for our little guy and fill his days with plenty of joy and fun. But riding in a shopping cart in Target for the first time? This was the best day of his life so far.
Photos are blurry because he would not. stop. moving. He was that excited. The whole time.
Why have I been putting him in the stroller all this time?? Shopping cart for the win.
July 8, 2013
Disclaimer: these do not look very appetizing. But they are good!
These oatmeal banana bites (my variation of the two ingredient cookies you may have heard about) are awesome to have on-hand for a quick breakfast when you otherwise have a hungry and cranky 9-month old hollering at you for his own breakfast.
Not that I’d know anything about that.
For the first 7 months of Graham’s life, like the diligent breastfeeding mom I was/am, I had oatmeal for breakfast just about every single day to help keep my supply up. And while quick oats are, indeed, quick to make, there are still certain “quick” tasks that become difficult to master with one hand while you have a squirmy baby on the other hip who will not let you put him down without a meltdown. All of a sudden, measuring half a cup of oats, adding a cup of water, opening the microwave, closing the microwave, setting the time on the microwave and pressing start, opening the microwave again, carrying a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal over to the counter, mixing brown sugar and cinnamon in, and slicing up a banana to put on top starts to feel like a near impossible task. Somedays it was and I just shoved a brownie into my mouth and called it breakfast.
Then I discovered the two ingredient cookies. Now, let me be clear: baking does not magically turn a combination of bananas and oatmeal into gooey chocolate chip cookies. When Googling for the recipe one day on my phone when I didn’t have the original link on-hand, I came across a few disgruntled bloggers who were upset that these just tasted like bananas and oatmeal, not the cookies they were promised! Well… they are bananas and oatmeal. And they are in cookie form. That does not make them sugary treats. I would not serve these as dessert at a dinner party in lieu of chocolate chip cookies!
Glad we got that out of the way.
The main ingredients are:
• two large ripe bananas
• one cup of quick oats
Put them in a bowl, mash them together, add anything else you’d like, place balls of them onto a greased cookie sheet (I grease aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, so there is literally no clean up aside from washing your bowl and throwing out the foil), and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Since I typically add brown sugar and cinnamon to my oatmeal, I did the same with this recipe: just eyeballed it based on two servings of oatmeal, and mixed in. If the two bananas I’m using are on the smaller side, I’ll add in a third to the mix.
I have been throwing these together one or two nights a week after Graham goes to bed, and it has made my mornings run so much more smoothly when Graham needs my attention. I just grab five or six of them and eat while I’m in the middle of entertaining him or getting his breakfast together. In general, preparing anything for our day the night before means I’m less crazed no matter what the day holds (lately: teething fussiness — yuck).
The best part is that they’re literally the same exact thing as eating my bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (minus the water, of course). And, since I’ve been known to be a snacker, grabbing a few more throughout the day while I’m grazing in the kitchen feels like a treat since they’re in cookie form, except they’re a generally healthy snack. At least, healthier than the Girl Scout Cookies I stockpile each year or going around the corner to help myself to some self-serve froyo.
What’s your best time-saving breakfast tip?
June 12, 2013
Every parent wants the world for their children. Becoming a mom has opened my eyes to the sacrifices I’m willing to make for my little guy without batting an eye, and it has made me understand how easy it can be to get passionately carried away when you want something for your child. I want Graham to have amazing opportunities and experience feelings of pride and success when he accomplishes something great. I want him to reach for the stars and discover his talents and work hard to move mountains.
But I also want him to experience failure.
I mean — I don’t want him to fail — but I want him to learn important lessons about life through failure, because at some point, everyone fails at something. If he plays sports some day, I don’t actually wish for his team to lose the game or the race, but if that happens (and it will) I want him to learn to accept defeat with grace and the understanding that not everyone can win all the time.
We’re not there yet so maybe my tune will change in a few years, but I have heard from acquaintances who have older children that many kids sports leagues don’t keep score these days. Soccer games and t-ball games are for learning and fun, and everyone wins.
Well. Of course I want my son to learn and have fun. I don’t want him to think, at age three, that winning is all that matters. But shouldn’t he learn that winning is at least an option? And so is losing? Shouldn’t he learn early on that when you win you have accomplished something, but you don’t need to gloat? Shouldn’t he learn that when you lose you can handle it with grace, take it as a learning experience on how to improve next time, and congratulate the winner on a job well done?
If he plays sports for a few years and no score is kept, what is going to happen when they do start keeping score?
As my husband says of our self-centered society, “Everybody gets a trophy.”
But that’s not real life. Everyone doesn’t get a trophy all the time. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t our kids be learning that from the very beginning? Are we just setting them up for even more disappointment if we shield them from reality for their early formative years?
So many questions, and I have no answers :) For anyone reading who has children old enough to play sports, do their teams keep score? How do you feel about the trend of not keeping score when kids are young?
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June 11, 2013
As Google Reader is almost extinct, I’ve tried out both Feedly and Bloglovin (both of which seamlessly imported all of the blogs I already subscribe to through Reader), and I think I’m sticking with the latter. Won’t you join me?
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May 26, 2013
Modern technology helped to keep my sanity intact in the early days of motherhood. Hours and hours spent nursing and unable to move were made less monotonous by the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest apps on my iPhone. I could text and email with friends without having to be in front of a computer. I watched the complete “Friday Night Lights” and “Felicity” series’ on Netflix, either on our living room television (via AppleTV) or my iPhone with earbuds in, depending on where I happened to be nursing Graham or where he fell asleep on me.
Don’t get me wrong: there were lots of moments of quietly admiring my little one and watching him peacefully nurse or sleep in my lap. Those moments of early bonding were very important and we had no shortage of them… but when you’re nursing for what feels like 12 hours a day (actually, according to BabyConnect I believe our max was nearly 8 hours spent nursing over a 24 hour period), you also still need something to make you feel connected to the outside world when your life as you once knew it has been completely turned upside-down. When I otherwise might have felt overwhelmed by the monotony, I was able to stay connected to some sense of normalcy by seeing what friends had been up to, ask questions of my mom friends when I was dumbfounded by my new responsibilities of being a mother, order diapers or other sanity-saving baby gear on Amazon in a matter of seconds, or just get lost in the sweet and honest relationship of Eric and Tami Taylor for 42 minutes at a time.
As with most things, though, there is a good side and a not-so-good side.
While modern technology made me feel connected when I needed it most, it also continues to keep me connected when what I need most is to be disconnected. When catching up on some blogs today (on my iPhone while nursing Graham, natch), I came across this post on Unclutter and it immediately struck a chord with me. “We’ve Cured Boredom and That’s Not Good.”
In particular, this quote by Scott Belsky stood out:
Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction. Our cars now have mobile phone integration and a thousand satellite radio stations. When walking from one place to another, we have our devices streaming data from dozens of sources. Even at our bedside, we now have our iPads with heaps of digital apps and the world’s information at our fingertips.
(I encourage you to read his full article entitled “What Happened to Downtime: The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space” via 99U when — you guessed it! — you’re avoiding boredom on the mobile device of your choosing.)
This insight from the original Unclutterer post also resonated with me:
It’s impossible to generate a truly creative thought while the incessant barrage pelts us. It’s like complaining that we’re not dry while standing in a rain storm. You won’t dry off until you go inside and get away from the falling water.
What has prevented me from boredom while nursing my little one has also infiltrated what used to be my sacred moments of introspection, brainstorming (intentional and unintentional), plain old quiet, and general unplanned creativity. I’m filling up any limited quiet time I do have — what with an infant around now, and all — with a whole lotta noise. In the last few years, I have probably had more ideas for products or projects than I care to admit that I have not pursued because my mind was too distracted by so much figurative noise to really focus on them. In being what I feel is “productive” with my downtime, I’ve become unproductive where it matters most: my creativity. My mind no longer really has any isolated time to just be. And I’d like that to change.
I’ve seen online friends commit to having social media-free weekends; perhaps I need to give that a shot (though it seems inconceivable to me — probably all the more reason I need to try it). It needs to go beyond weekends for me, though. I need to change my habits for the long term. While there is so much good that has come from the connectedness of technology and social media, I desperately need to find the balance of reaping its benefits without letting it infiltrate every waking moment and limiting my true productivity and potential.
When I close the Instagram app, I need to not immediately open it again out of habit (I have done that more times than I care to admit without even realizing it).
Have you become productively unproductive due to modern technology? If so, what have you done (or what do you plan to do) to take back some quiet time for your mind?
May 21, 2013
UPDATE: And the winner is Heidi M.! Heidi, please email me and I will put you in touch with my contact at Minted. Thanks to everyone for your entries… I hope to host more giveaways for you soon!
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Minted is such a great option for personalized stationery and invitations that won’t break the bank. While part of my job includes stationery design and we love creating beautiful and unique custom designs for our clients, sometimes time or budget constraints means that we aren’t the best fit for a client. When that is the case, we recommend Minted for their fast turnaround, huge selection of designs, and quality product at a reasonable price. (It was only natural that we become part of their design community so our work can reach a broader range of clients!)
With Father’s Day coming up, the folks at Minted offered me the opportunity to customize some stationery for a special father in my life. Most of the stationery in our home is a bit feminine, so I decided to take the opportunity to get Nick his very own stationery. Their paper airplane Airmail design perfectly suits his sense of humor and affinity for old-school silliness, so I had it customized for him on their signature 17pt cream stock with a light blue backer and blank envelopes.
I’m a sucker for a pretty package so I was excited when my order arrived and inside the cardboard box I found this heavy duty embossed box:
When I opened it, I found my order wrapped tightly and adorably, all ready for me to gift to my hubby.
When I removed the plastic wrapping, I was really impressed with the quality of the cards — the subtle texture of the paper gives it a really high-end look.
As if I weren’t already pleased as can be with my order, they had to go and make me love them even more when I saw the bottom of the box with a cheeky little message.
Well played, Minted. Well played.
To enter to win a customized stationery set of your choosing, enter via Rafflecopter below. There are six ways to enter and you have until 11:59 PM (EST) on 5/27 to do so. Good luck!
I was generously provided with the stationery shown above and a giveaway for my readers from Minted.com, but all opinions (and photographs) are my own. I am a Minted.com affiliate and I may receive a commission from orders resulting from this post. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to bring this giveaway to you!
May 15, 2013
I’m somebody’s mom.
I’m somebody’s mom??
It still blows my mind a little bit that Nick and I created a person and he’s been in our lives for eight whole months (as of yesterday). I’ve always had this feeling that I’m an “imposter” adult — I just don’t feel like a grownup most days and I still have trouble accepting the fact that I’ve been out of college for 11 years — so there are often moments when I’m out and about with Graham and I have to remind myself that I’m a mother and he’s MINE.
I love being a mom, but it is not a role that came very naturally to me. Don’t get me wrong: the loving-my-child-like-crazy part came naturally, yes, but the changing-and-feeding-and-multitasking-and-not-freaking-out-every-time-he-cried part did NOT. Nick is much more of a natural at this whole parenting gig, and I followed his lead quite a bit at the beginning. While we both had our moments, he was a lot less frazzled when our helpless little being was screaming, whereas I would often immediately feel panicked and overwhelmed. It helped a lot to have a partner who was much more calm, cool and collected when Graham needed something, and it certainly taught me a lot in those early, terrifying days when my hormones also weren’t helping me out at all. I am so thankful to have a partner who has been such a huge help as I learned the ropes. I had a lot of ropes to learn.
I wanted to feel comfortable going out and about with Graham somewhat early on, but that’s just not how it worked out for us. When he was nine days old, he wasn’t acting like himself and we found that he had a bit of a fever; we decided to take him to the ER (it was a Sunday night, of course, so the doctor’s office wasn’t open), and he ended up being admitted to the hospital for three long and torturous days. We know now that anytime a baby that little is sick they admit them in order to take every precaution, but at the time we feared the worst and were a complete mess. Hearing your baby scream while they give him a spinal tap (so they can rule out meningitis) is beyond heartbreaking. Fortunately, though, it was viral and not bacterial so we were able to take our healthy-again little guy home after a few long days of never leaving his side in the hospital. BUT… it meant that I was no longer very eager to get out of the house with him. What was already a scary idea became downright terrifying after the hospital ordeal, so we spent most of our time at home in those early months. It was just as well, though: Graham nursed about every two hours at the beginning, and he was a slow eater, which meant that sometimes there was only 30-45 minutes between feedings for me to get anything else accomplished. That made it very difficult to get ready to leave the house with everything we needed, let alone ACTUALLY leave the house for any amount of time.
I work from home (I took 10 weeks off from work when Graham was first born) and we have in-home childcare about 25 hours a week, so it was very easy even once I was back to work to not have to leave the house every day. We also live in a walkable town, which is amazing, but it made car trips that much more overwhelming for me when they were necessary because they weren’t frequent enough for me to ever get a great routine down. I’ll be honest: it took until Graham was about five months old for me to not feel like a complete mess every time we left the house, and for me to want to go out alone with him. But at five months was also when he magically became much less needy and much more independent, so it felt like my world shifted a bit and we could finally rejoin society. Some babies are happy as can be without much entertainment; Graham is not one of those babies. He has always been particularly needy so the amount of time he remained happy in his stroller was very limited.
Now that he is eight months old, motherhood feels so much less chaotic and frazzled and so much more FUN. I’ve loved my kid to pieces all along, but I feel like only in the last few months have I come out of that newborn-induced fog and been able to really embrace motherhood with more confidence. I’m sure the beautiful spring weather has something to do with it, but going out and about no longer feels like such a huge undertaking and I don’t let myself get so worked up anymore if I have to wrangle a crying baby into the car seat or stroller.
The best part about life with a not-so-little-anymore baby is the personality on this kid. Honestly, we just have such a blast with our little guy. Over time, smiles slowly led to giggles, which led to absolute uncontrollable laughter, which led to waving and clapping and bouncing and singing and so much more. It is amazing and incredibly entertaining to see his unique little personality come to life.
This post is all over the place… but then again, so is motherhood. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say as time goes on because it truly feels like something changes nearly every day. As comfortable as I continue to feel with my new title, I’m sure I’ll still wake up tomorrow just the tiniest bit surprised that I am actually someone’s mom. I’m not so sure that will ever cease to amaze me; actually, I hope it never does.
May 13, 2013
Having been fans of Minted for years, my partners at Curious & Co. and I have recently become part of their amazing design community. We just participated in their holiday party invitation challenge with two unique designs that we created, and voting is now open. If you like what we’ve designed, we encourage you to head on over to Minted to vote!
I’ll also be partnering with Minted on a giveaway for my readers very soon. Please stay tuned!
May 8, 2013
Not to sound cliché, but it’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re a new parent. It’s also amazing how quickly your needs for baby crap gear changes as your little one grows and changes every five minutes! We still use a good number of the items that I raved about in my last Parenthood Survival Guide post, but there are also a lot of new items that got added to our list of must-haves as Graham has continued to grow from newborn to infant. I thought I’d share them with you all here, and I’m sure I’ll have a whole new list compiled in the next few months, as well!
Below are the items that we found invaluable throughout Graham’s first six months of life. Is there anything you’d change on this list if you’ve already been there, done that?
1. Miracle Blanket
I registered for this because several mom friends had recommended it, but I really wasn’t convinced that it was totally necessary. And then my kid started breaking out of his Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets and we realized that the Miracle Blanket is actually the most amazing thing ever. It bought us our first 7-hour chunk of sleep when Graham was 7 weeks old, and continued to grace us with many amazing 10+ hour nights after that. We used it right up until he was able to roll over.
2. Footed Pants
Baby socks tend to disappear off of baby’s feet, particularly when said feet are still super, super tiny. Footed pants pretty much saved my sanity and took socks out of the equation entirely. Once Graham discovered his feet and wanted to play with them all the time (barefoot, of course), the footed pants had to go, but they were totally awesome for the first several months of his life.
3. Trumpette socks
If your little one has outfits that are too adorable to pass up and you simply must deal with tiny baby socks to go along with them, Trumpettes are, hands down, the best. I always thought they were ridiculously overpriced for as small as they are (and I mean, come on — they’re socks!), but then I learned that they’re seriously the only brand that stays on. Until, of course, your little one learns how to pull them off. But even Trumpettes take a little longer for him to figure out!
4. Puj Tub
Graham was a tiny little guy at birth and is still on the smaller side, so we were able to make use of the Puj Tub until he was close to 5 months. This awesome tub folds up to fit in larger sinks (we used our kitchen sink), and is a major space-saver when not in use. Super useful if you live in a small space, or an older home with very little storage space.
5. Angel Dear Robot Blankie
Graham still doesn’t sleep with his “lovey,” but having it nearby when we’re rocking him to sleep often helps to comfort him. Before we started giving it to him, I slept with it so it would smell like me, which is supposed to add an extra bit of comfort.
6. Boppy Pillow
I know I talked a big game before about how the My Brest Friend is so superior to the Boppy — and as a breastfeeding pillow, I still think it is. But the Boppy definitely has its place in our house, and that is as a support pillow as Graham was learning to sit up on his own. We also have this Organic Cotton Slipcover that is super soft (a hand-me down from my niece, Ginger) and we still use it every single day when he sits and plays, since the occasional tumble still happens.
7. Vulli Vanilla Flavored Ring Teether
These are the perfect size for little hands to grab onto — they were one of the first small things that Graham really grasped onto. I also think the vanilla flavor had something to do with how much he loved these. They still come along with us on most car rides, and the texture of the lamb in particular seems to feel good on his gums. He rubs so hard that we can hear it squeaking on his gums!
8. Fisher-Price Cradle n Swing
The swing was short-lived, but 100% worth it for the time that it worked. At the beginning, it was where we would sit Graham while we attempted to eat dinner together for a few minutes. There was also that one week when it resulted in a few three hour naps in the afternoon. Man, that was an awesome week ;)
9. Fisher-Price Rainforest Bouncer
Certainly any bouncer will do, but this is the one that was given to us, and it was another short-lived but invaluable device when we needed 10 minutes to eat dinner in peace or throw in a load of laundry (and, when the swing wasn’t cutting it for whatever reason). Babies can be picky and sometimes Graham preferred to bounce rather than swing. Hey — whatever works, kid! He usually preferred this over his Rainforest Gym or just lying on a plain blanket and playing with toys, because it allowed him to sit up a bit and see everything that was going on. He also loved batting at the little birdies.
10. Emery Board
One of the best pieces of advice we received from a nurse at the hospital was to use an emery board to file baby’s nails instead of using those terrifying nail clippers to clip them. Their nails are so soft that filing is super simple; we use the emery boards that came in our American Red Cross Grooming Kit, but any small emery board would do. At the beginning Nick would file Graham’s nails while I fed him (so he was distracted), but now that he’s a little more active, the best method is usually wearing him facing out in the Bjorn and filing them then. He is so excited by everything he’s seeing by being in the carrier that he doesn’t even realize you’re filing his nails :)
11. Cotton Bibs
If you’ve got yourself a drooler, you’ll go through many, many bibs each day. SO much better than changing his outfit every few hours (and thus having much more laundry to do), and inexpensive if you buy these large packs at Babies R Us.
12. JJ Cole Car Seat Cover
If you live in a cold climate or your baby will be little in the winter months, this is a great alternative to a blanket that you have to tuck in every time you put baby in the car seat. We kept this attached to our car seat all winter and just zipped it up every time we were ready to go, or unzipped and removed the blanket part entirely if it was a warmer day (without having to remove the whole cover). We also have a BundleMe but we opted to use that on the stroller, since the back layer supposedly negates the safety standards of car seats. Probably one of those overly cautious things that new parents do, but just not worth the risk in my opinion.
13. Hygeia Enjoye Breast Pump
If you’re breastfeeding and ever plan to be away from your baby, a good breast pump is a necessity. I tried both the Medela Pump in Style and the Medela Symphony (hospital grade pump that we rented from the hospital). Of the two I really liked the Symphony for how quiet it was and how much more milk it allowed me to get, but it was pricey to rent each month so we decided to purchase a pump. On the recommendation of my friend Emily, I decided to purchase the Hygeia Enjoye. If it weren’t for her I never would have even heard of this company, but after using it for the last several months I find it really superior to the Medela pumps. The best thing about it, in my opinion (and as someone who hasn’t had the easiest time with breastfeeding) is the fact that you can control both the strength AND the speed of the pump — something that is not possible with the Medela models. Both Medelas have a two-minute faster letdown cycle and then a slower cycle where you can control the strength but NOT the speed. With my Hygeia Enjoye, I am able to control both, which has yielded more milk overall, which is obviously the ultimate goal! For that reason, it was well worth the money (not to mention that it is a hospital grade pump so it is safe to borrow or lend to someone as long as they use their own tubing, etc.). I was also able to use my Medela breastshields with the Hygeia pump, which was really nice. My only teeny tiny complaint is that it’s very loud, but that’s a small price to pay for the liquid gold I’m able to pump with it.
14. Hands Free Pumping Bra (not pictured for obvious reasons… the photos are ridiculous)
I think that all breast pumps should come standard with a hands-free pumping bra, because sitting there and holding the parts for twenty minutes while you pump just makes pumping even more of a bummer. (It’s necessary and you’re doing wonderful things for your baby, but let’s face it: pumping sucks.) There are lots of hands-free pumping bras out there; I got the Medela brand because I was desperate and it was the first one I could get my hands on at our local Babies R Us, but I have also heard good things about the Simple Wishes brand.
15. Amazon Prime membership (not pictured)
I’ve long been an Amazon.com superfan (which you have probably noticed with all the links). Yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate (see below) but it’s really just because I think Amazon is simply the bees knees. Having the ability to order a case of diapers and have them show up on my doorstep the next day with no shipping fee? Kind of amazing when you’re a new parent and you just don’t have the energy to put on real clothes to run to Target. (For the record, you get guaranteed free second-day shipping with an Amazon Prime membership on eligible items, but more often then not, stuff arrives to us within one day.) Not to mention that I’ve price shopped, and I still get better deals on most items by buying on Amazon.
For the items that helped us survive the first month of parenthood, be sure to check out my last post in this series!
All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
April 30, 2013
… and I now have a 7 month old. How did that happen??
Obviously blogging has taken a backseat to taking care of this little guy, but I do miss it. I’ve been collecting a little list of some of the baby items that were invaluable to us in the first 6 months of Graham’s life, so I hope to put together another post soon to help out some other mamas and mamas-to-be!
What’s new with you? :)