Five Fives

20140716-201714-73034917.jpg Today I’m sharing 5 lists of 5. Life with a toddler tot is…dynamic…to say the least. Things that are scary, fun, silly, annoying, real, life. So read on!

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Fetching Foam

20140711-070756-25676035.jpgA few months ago I found myself in a pickle regarding bath toys. From about 4 to 12 months, the standard foam letters were the highlights of the tub. Good to chew on and stick to the wall. But around the big birthday, I knew she was ready for something more. The problem was most things I saw were a little too advanced. Bath time basketball. Gone fishin magnetic poles. All good fun. But at a later time. I finally stumbled upon the Floating Wonder Blocks by eWonderWorld via Amazon. Read more…

Snugly Oldie, Multipurpose Goodie

20140710-133935-49175723.jpgWhether nature or nurture, Baby Willow loves a cozy spot to snuggle. In May, I bought her the Anywhere Beanbag by Pottery Barn Kids and have certainly gotten my dollars’ worth. It’s a high quality, cozy pod to lay in, grab a snack or catch a movie. Read more…

I Like the Way You Think, Baby!

20140628-220743-79663995.jpgI have a goal to raise a happy baby. I don’t believe in negative discipline. I don’t believe in guilt trips. I honestly don’t believe in saying the word no all of the time, even as hard as it is to avoid when my tot charges towards a trash can or cactus. Willow’s been trying out some new talents that accompany her growing brain’s ability to think. She climbs on everything. She’s got a cute fake cry. In the high hair her primary action is to swipe left right left right left right and fllllllling! Read more…

Ped Protection

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A baby shoe fitting is a nice first of the start of the second year. With bottles and swaddles behind, protecting the peds is a new top priority. My mom had found the perfect store online and as soon as I saw the pictures on the website of the cute shop I knew I’d be making a purchase there soon. The event landed a few weeks shy of Willow’s first steps, so you can imagine my primary requirement was that the pair I picked had to be good for the first steps. What I learned was that baby feet change sizes about every 3 months and that a flexible, thin shoe sole would be best. After browsing and ohh’ing and ahh’ing at the many choices, I finally settled on the Baby Pio Pio by Livie & Luca. The brand is known for having excellent quality and they also have a charitable outreach program.

20140426-230914.jpg Willow has really loved the transition to shoes. Where socks used to get the full pull and fling, the shoes sit tight and stay put. She’s a shoe girl. What more can I say!

I’ll Say Goodbye, Then You’ll Say Hello

20140421-231534.jpgGoodbye to the crawls. Goodbye to the falls off the mattress that’s laying on the floor. Goodbye to the breastmilk. Goodbye to the gurgly coos.

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Rosie clearly did not have a sling

rosieMy sling.  It is lost.  At 13 months, my tiny tot is a booming 22.5 pounds.  And we are currently living in a construction zone, which means 1) Not baby proof and 2) Limited baby proof sections 3)  Lots of baby carrying 4) Impossible baby wearing without my sling.

If I don’t recover this gem soon, I might find myself as a candidate for a arm wrestling competition real soon……………

When in doubt, throw it out…”The results from many of our tests reinforce the message that it’s best not to re-use any car seat that has been in a crash, whether or not it shows visible cracks. After our tests, even models that are not visibly cracked can still show signs of being potentially compromised upon close inspection: Plastics are visibly stressed, internal structures and bars are bent or have changed position, and parts that help create a taut, secure fit became pinched or difficult to use.” – from consumer reports

New Year, New Job, New House…Same Mama, Awesome Everything

20140301-005930.jpg2014 has started with a bang! My tiny tot has nearly become a toddling toddler. We bought a new house. My employer hired me on full time. It’s been so busy and a little neurotic voice in my head asked me to pause from my blog world in an effort not to jinks anything. My family of three has been through wave after wave of stress, shock, surprise, change and finally sheer joy. Read more…

My main event for 2014.

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Willow will be 9 months old in 3 days.  Hard to believe it.  Things I am working on are making an evening bath time before bedtime routine, waving hey hey and bye bye, getting Willow to take two naps a day,  teaching my pup to lap up the fallen happy puffs around her high chair.  You know, the basics.  The Bear Necessities.  Another thing that has certainly peaked my attention is initiating plans for THE FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY!!  Hey hey indeed!  I’ve been tirelessly perusing Pinterest for birthday planning ideas and last night I started a new board here to collect those that I love.   Read more…

We knew you. We loved you.

Fotor1greats2One of the things I looked most forward to when we headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday celebration was getting a few snaps of Willow with her living great-grandparents.  She only has them on my husband’s side of the family.  I never knew any of my great-grandparents.  I actually only knew one of my grandmothers and none of my grandfathers.  I’ve seen all of them in pictures, but all but the one had passed before I was born.   Read more…

A mother is a girl’s best friend.

20131120-231129.jpgI spent the evening preparing the house for the babysitter with various informational and instructional lists. While my husband was away for two months on business, I had the fine luxury of having my mom here to help me. So much happened over these last two months. Sprouting teeth. Curling hair. Child-proofing rooms. First trip for baby to the ocean. Baby started crawling. Baby started pulling to a stand. Thanksgiving dresses were sewn. Newborn to 9 months clothes and toys were shrink-bagged and tucked away.

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A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Amsterdam: Mama Approved!

blogpicIn Europe, every bistro, luncheonette and soup house is setup for curbside coffee, cocktails and crumpets. What’s unique is how the chairs are setup – all facing the street – which makes for excellent people watching. The service is dandy, too. You casually stroll by and when you find it’s time for a break, you just park it in an open spot and then voila! The garcon is there within minutes to offer you a coffee or warm tea. On our recent trip, my family went to The Netherlands. We stayed in a houseboat in the Amstel river in the heart of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is so beautiful. No loud honking or people yelling or trash. Instead, you find lots of bikes with cute bells and people buzzing and whizzing by dressed in their fall poplins and whimsical hats and fancies. Definitely an eclectic scene.

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“To be happy, one must find one’s bliss”

Yck2gimJMJV4j_KKikhiPONUQSAhbv4FtTXae5Gl1xYThe baby industry sells many products based on eliciting fear from unknowing parents. Low IQ, SIDS, not enough vitamin D, too many fruits, flat heads, too hot, too cold, and on, and on. I try to avoid that sort of propaganda when I can. But, when I read on an airline website that my jogging stroller was too big and would have to be checked instead of milling around airport terminals with me, I threw my grilled cheese to the side and started up my baby gear research engines.

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Transatlantic Baby – Episode Twee

2013-10-19 10.02.23After all was said and done, I was glad I toted so much baby gear with me while we traveled abroad to Europe.  Here’s a recap of how I survived an airport layover, an 8 hour flight and a commute to our final destination.  Get ready Amsterdam, here come mama and Willow! Read more…

Transatlantic Baby – Episode Een

IMG_6442Well slap me silly and call me Mama.  Traveling with Wilow ain’t no drama!

Checking In – When we arrived at the airport, we received the news that the first leg of our trip to Holland was delayed by 2 hours, which meant that we would miss our connecting flight.  Stay calm, mama.   Read more…

“Ahh, you startled me!” “Sorry, Mommy.”

Casper-Friendly-Ghost-ScaredThe only thing I can say about what I am about to tell you is: My ta-tas are scared! Read more…

And All That Bib!

20131004-233651.jpgShortly before Willow was born, I completed my meticulous, ridiculous, patriotic duty of home nesting. My husband likely shouted God Bless America and tooted his kazoo the day I finished. Not a single nook or cranny was left untouched. And in the kitchen the oh-so-important space for Tupperware was deprioritized and relocated to make way for a drawer dedicated to baby essentials. I swear that 7 pound bundle of joy was allocated as much space as a teenage girl could fill with nail painting supplies. Read more…

You ain’t seen nothing yet, b-b-b-baby!

option2Every morning on my way to work I call my sister.  I greet her with a lovely gooooooood morning, take a sip of my iced vanilla coffee and settle in for a 45 minute talk on all things life and mommyhood.  I give her the warm and fuzzy life updates associated with having a happy, smiley, wonderful 7 month old baby.  I ask her for advice on things sometimes as I am planning this or that, or I tell her a funny story.  Next I ask her for the scoop on her brood.  I normally get an update on how things have gone that morning with getting the kids ready and off to school or on how things went the prior night as she juggled through Read more…

James, Fetch me my dinner jacket and a package of diapers.

dipeAs I often do in life, I took the “scenic route” before discovering the fine art of diapering a young one.  Major cloth diaper fails, without backup disposables ready.  Living further than a 30 minute drive to shops carrying chlorine free options.  And the quintessential midnight diaper excursion for daddy, unplanned of course.  I suppose we could say that I just tried those things so that I would be better suited to write a review on this basic need of all new and repeat parents:  Diaper Service.  Or we can simply say better late than never.  Either way, I am on the righteous path now, and Willow’s bum has never been happier. Read more…

Say Cheese! Passport, please!

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I’m about to set sail crossing the Big Pond for the first time Tot-in-Tow and I am finding it to be quite complex to plan. One of the major obstacles is getting the Wee One a US Passport. There are some serious rules to get the application’s green light from the kind government officials at the passport agency, which if aren’t followed, will mean you leave empty handed with a big fat “better luck next time” sign hanging around your neck. I swear that when we were there, 100% of the families that waltzed in the door waltzed right back out because something was missing…including mine.

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Again! Again!

Watch video buttonIt’s a precious moment that starts with a flash of a smile all too quickly replaced by a revealed shyness and a hidden face that she tucks into my body when I play Willow one of the many videos I have recorded of her with my cell. She peeks around the edge of my body to look again once she hears more of her baby babbles coming out of the device. It’s one of the only times that I see her react like this and it is just too cute.

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Moon Baby Milestones

Makes the mama very proud!!

I am a footrest.

footrestIt’s funny how your brain changes so much when you have a baby. Prior to baby, I was a complete workaholic. I regularly worked 7 days a week. I often hosted weekend parties at my place – beer in one hand, laptop with spreadsheet open in the other. I used to dream about meetings and deadlines and agendas. I used to shop at Banana Republic exclusively and buy things that were dry clean only. I was also a globe-trotter. In the last 2 years I have been to London at least four times, Sweden twice, Holland at least twice, France once and India, in addition to around the US for family visits and such.

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If they made them in your size, you’d wear them, too.

Willow's cool leg warmersBaby leg warmers are chic and practical.  Paired with a bloomer, they provide nice cover-up from the chill of household air-conditioning.  They are shed easily before swaddling for nap time to prevent sweating and over-heating.  I definitely get my $ out of them.  They come in many cute styles for purchase.  Willow’s sporting a pair from Crummy Bunny in this picture.  Also check out Hobo Mama’s easy warmer pattern online for free.

Stack ‘em, Whack ‘em, Strain ‘em, Drain ‘em

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The Caterpillar Spillers Stacking Cups by Munchkin are bright, versatile and fun.  I purchased them online for $6 with free shipping.  The set includes 7 toys in a single package.  They are marketed for the bathtub because each cup bottom has a unique design of holes for straining water.  In our house, the cups are currently an indispensable part Daytime Playtime.   Read more…

diy baby quilt

quiltswatchesOne of the things that my mom does for each grandchild is the baby quilt. It’s a really special gift, amassed with a delicate blend of motherly and grandmotherly love. Each cut of fabric, motion of the presser foot and stitch off the bobbin is carried out with hands eagerly preparing to soon hold the new bundle of joy. Read more…

Reason #32 to say: More milk, please!

shotsThere is an amazing trick that makes taking your baby to get those dreaded shots at the pediatrician’s office much much easier.  I learned it from the nurse who did my home visit 2 days after Willow was born. Read more…

Imaginary friends ok, invisible friends not.

clean bearWe spend a lot of money on toys for our babies and kids! We love colors, toys that make sounds, toys that don’t make sounds. Plush, plastic, soft and fuzzy. We are struck by claims of IQ boosters. We pay extra for BPA free, natural wood, organic, non-toxic and made in the USA. Basically, we are willing to give more for things that will advance our children while keeping them super healthy. Interestingly, can we all also say that we regularly clean those toys so that they continue to be safe for the kiddos?

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This just in: New dogs and old dogs learning new tricks together.

olddogsWhen you are expecting, you are inundated with information on what to expect each week of pregnancy and upon baby’s arrival. You learn about the soft spot, the need to support baby’s neck, the necessity of cleaning all of that poo poo out of the “diaper zone”, the importance of skin-to-skin contact, the method of swaddling baby, the dangers of germs and smoke. The list goes on and on. I spent at least 6 months doing hard core research and by the time Willow was born, I felt like an expert. But, when it came to handling my baby, I quickly realized that I had to finally use the techniques and they took a lot (!) of practice to get good at them. Reading, while chowing down on delicious chocolate cake (yummmm) while pregnant so was not the same as being 4 days after delivery holding the new one. Now I found myself trying to react to real baby cries and needs. And while I personally had a ton of experience with babies from my younger years with my many nieces and nephews, it was a giant learning curve to get up to speed once I was a 24×7 caretaker of a tiny human.

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Hey that’s mine!

20130829-125412.jpgI’m really lucky to have a baby that never cries. And by never, I mean never. So, you can imagine the shock I had yesterday when I saw tears well up in my baby’s eyes. Here’s what happened:

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Hot Fudge is to Good, as Hot Car is to Bad.

20130828-151935.jpgAs the summer sizzle begins to fade, kids are returning to school, Halloween planning is in the air, and people are starting to get back into the fall swing of life. The air starts to cool. Outfits change from the perky neon pink to a more snoozy maroon. And hooray for favorite TV shows returning, like Parenthood! Lots of changes. Well unfortunately your car is not getting the memo or even noticing. It, on the other hand, continues to be a sanctuary of heat under the mid-day sun. Read more…

Pumping at work just got easier.

women at workIn the old days, women returning to work would either ween their babies off breastmilk or would have to deal with excruciatingly sore breasts full of a days supply of milk. The women who could pump at work were stuck with the odors and germs of pumping in the bathroom. Well luckily, ladies, those days are over. Hallelujah. Here is a run down of what you need to know about pumping at work:

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Watch Me Grow!

toesIt seems that I am constantly finding Willow doing new things.  From the first time she turned her head towards the television program that I had been watching (I’ll admit it, it was Wheel of Fortune), to the time she recognized herself in the mirror, to all of the times she gives huge smiles while watching videos of herself, to the moment she realized she could pull her legs up and put her toes in her mouth, to that first spontaneous laugh.  Way too many things to list in just 6 months.   Read more…

F.A.M.I.L.Y. That spells love.

treeWillow is very fortunate to have a lot of family members that are really excited about her and want to be a big part of her life.  She has 3 full sets of grandparents and lots of aunts and uncles.  When I was growing up, I had one living grandparent, one close aunt, and many distant aunts and uncles.  The importance of family is something that up until I had Willow I think I took for granted.  I have lived away from family ever since I went to college.  I was tight with money and vacation time and so I did not do regular visits home.  Also interesting is that just after Willow was born, I became very possessive of her, even with family, and was weary about visits and sharing her time with others.  Afterall, she lived in my belly for 9 months and then was glued to me (we are talking super glue!) for the first 2.5-3 months.   Read more…

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Now that I’m back at work, one of my favorite parts of the day is when I get to lay in my big, comfy bed to get Willow to sleep. (I’m a huge fan of co-sleeping. It has worked tremendously for us and allowed this mommy to stay well rested over the last 6 months. I totally recommend it to breastfeeding moms!!) All day I’m away from the house on weekdays. To help me through the adjustment period these last 3 weeks, my mom and husband have been great at sending me pictures and videos throughout the day. When I get home, I normally eat a delicious meal, play with Willow, catch up with my husband on his day and his business. All wonderful things. But when the sun goes down, so does Willow. That’s the time I get some serious snuggle time. Read more…

The key to getting good discounts on baby purchases is planning ahead. If you wait until you actually need something, you are more likely to pay full price.

$10 is a small price to pay for happiness

happiestbabyThere is a must-see video available online that gives advice on how to soothe a baby. It is called “The Happiest Baby on the Block”, and is based on the book with the same name. I had originally planned to read the book when I was preggers, but never got around to it. Then in the days leading up to the birth, and trust me there were many of them (!), I found out there was a movie made that teaches the basic principles of the book. They are called the 5 S’s, which are 5 soothing techniques that when used individually or in combinations actually work to soothe a baby.

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Birthing Center or Hospital? Choose your own ending maybe?

bigger bumpBefore I became preggers I was under the opinion that I would go to a hospital for sure and get an epidural immediately.  I definitely judged birthing centers as being completely inadequate.  I felt like a birthing center was a place for hippies and lacked people with specialization to handle major medical events like birth.  Shortly after becoming pregnant, I started reading a ton of literature on natural child birth.  I read that birthing is a natural process and that the woman’s body is designed to do it without interventions.  I read that women are far more likely to get a C-section the moment they step in the door of a hospital. Read more…

Knock knock. Who’s there? The boog in my nose – WAAA!

bulbHow do you make a tissue dance?  Put a boogie in it.  How do you make a baby stop crying?  Pull a boogie out of it.  (Not funny?)  Today’s post covers how to get a boog out of a baby’s nose.  You can tell when a cry is triggered by a boog because the baby will cry sort-of, then pause, then sniffle, then have a weird expression, and then cry again.  Or maybe that’s just Willow.   Read more…

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Baby Gear – Months 0 to 5

As the wise old man once said, “If it makes the baby happy, it makes the mama happy”.  Here are some things that have kept us ladies pretty pleased over the last 5 months.

Newborn | aden + anais azure swaddle blankets, my breast friend deluxe nursing pillow

1st Month | 4moms mamaroo, gerber side snap long sleeved Ts

2nd Month | joovy babasling, white noise for babies sleep

3rd Month | espirit animal kingdom booty socks, mamas and papas baby snug

4th Month | infantino pop & swap gym, tillie knock knock

5th Month | fisher price jumperoo animal kingdom,  happy bellies: oatmeal cereal

You is smart. You is kind. You is important.

you is kindAs a parent, I have a duty to my child to teach her to love herself. I read a lot of articles on this topic. Some articles note that a little girl will gain confidence in her body image based on the way the mother describes her own body image. Some articles note that you shouldn’t ever call a little girl beautiful because she will grow up thinking that her looks are the sole representation of herself. Some articles warn us to be careful not to enter children into boy/girl stereotypes for things from toy selections as a child to career selections as an adult.

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Grandma Spencer’s Cupboard

I have a red moleskin notebook that I keep in a spare drawer in my kitchen that is used to capture fun, original ideas for Willow for when she is older.  The notebook isn’t used to collect ideas from the internet or magazine.  Since I am now operating with 50% of my original brain, I have to write the ideas down so that I won’t forget.  So far my husband and I have logged The Elements of a Perfect Tree House, Pink Pig Tuesday Mail Mailbox, Silly Chili and more.  Today a new idea came up and I texted my mom about it.  She’s good to run things by to enhance ideas like this.   Read more…

Swaddle. Bottle. That's what I always say.

my husband

Yes MAM!

mamAs a first time mom, I was heavily coached at the hospital within hours of Willow’s birth not try a pacifier for at least 2-4 weeks for a couple of reasons – establishing milk supply, nipple confusion, inadvertently skipping feedings, etc.  So, I took the advice from the lactation consultants and waited to try them with Willow.   Read more…

I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dirty stains, too.

20130806-221449.jpgI’ve only ever used one brand of stain remover. But of that one brand, I’ve already been through 60 ounces of it. It’s basically the Kingslayer of stain removers, in my humble opinion. I had received a ~3 oz sample of it in the quintessential baby shower gift: the diaper cake. I think I only need to give one example to show why it made sense not to even try anything else… Read more…

There’s no such thing as a free breast pump, or is there?

pumpIf you want to have a long lasting and loving relationship with your nips, invest in a good breast pump.  That advice can’t be taken lightly.  I read and watched a lot of pump reviews when I was picking mine out and found that the vast majority of cheaper options caused women to get sore and even cracked or bleeding nipples.  Yikes!   Read more…

Scrub-a-dub-dub, get that sunscreen off my soft spot.

nursing padsLet’s face it.  The very concept of washing a baby’s soft spot is intimidating.  Especially when washing off sunscreen is involved.  So is the rest of the slippery baby body once it gets wet.  You worry about dropping, dunking, water or soap in the eyes, etc.  When I set out on my quest for bath supplies for my baby, I found that I was pretty picky.   Read more…

Water and shaking, both not for babies!

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We headed off for the zoo today. Knowing it would hit the upper nineties this afternoon, I wondered about keeping Willow hydrated and cool. As you might be able to tell, we are normally chilled from the sizzling summer heat in air conditioning or in the pool (Laguna Matata). My first thought was to make her an extra bottle with H2O. I’ve never done this, so quickly consulted “trusty” google first. Good thing. What I learned was that while water is a great bev choice for adults, it is definitely not for the little babies. Thing is we adults eat in excess of what our bodies require, but breastfed babies instead get exactly what they need nutritionally from the milk, no more or less. So if water is added to their tiny systems, you risk diluting the baby. Crazy! Suggested instead was…yep you guessed right…a extra bottle of milk! After our hour long stroll around the park, Willow guzzled it right on down.

It never ceases to amaze me how much a mothers body can do for her baby, even this long after she’s been out :)