Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Worms


You've figured out by now that I'm a big dork, right?  Sure I wear cute clothes and I'm no longer sporting braces and a suburban mall version of "the Rachel" cut, but my inner nerd still lurks behind my renovated exterior.  I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that we're big into books around our house, and while I'm hoping to spare my children the pain of an awkward adolescence, I still want to share with them my love for the written word. 

Here are five of our current literary favorites for the two-and-under set:

Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
When you have a Dad who works in the restaurant business, you're expected to become a foodie.  I'm pretty sure that Chris' ultimate nightmare is having a child who only eats Mac 'n Cheese and Wonder Bread, so this book was a must purchase.  I figured this was more of a gift for Daddy than the kiddos, but it's turned into one of the Muffin Man's favorite bedtime reads.  The illustrations are sort of Midcentury Modern-esque, and the story is quick and charming.  If your kid is a hipster who likes to eat kale and shop at the local farmer's market, this book is for you.



Madeline
We received a board book version of this classic tale as a gift when the Little Lady arrived, and it's since become a favorite on our reading rotation.  Rose seems particularly taken with the tale of plucky little Madeline, so I've started reading it to her each night before she goes to sleep in the hopes that she will sleep for longer than three hours at a time.  Sometimes I gaze at the illustrations and fantasize that instead of putting two screaming children to sleep I'm enjoying a enjoying a dry martini at Bemelmans Bar.  Hey, a woman can dream.





Little Owl Lost
Last year I got Noah a Zoobean subscription for his birthday, and this was one of the books he received.  The story, about a little owl who falls out of his nest and is searching for his Mommy, is absolutely charming, and the illustrations are quirky and weird.  This book is so popular in our house that it's starting to fall apart, and there have been nights when Noah has requested I read it six times in a row.  I'm pretty sure I have the story memorized word for word, so if you're looking for a free audio book I'll be happy to record my dramatic rendition on your voicemail. 


But Not the Hippopotamus
One of my dearest friends from high school sent us a big batch of Sandra Boynton books as a gift when Noah was born, and I didn't really understand what a great gift this was until recently.  I never had any of her books when I was growing up, but the illustrations are really funny and the rhymes are some of the best around.  Noah always wants to skip to the last page of this story, so at this point I'm just hoping it's because he's enamored with the armadillo and not because he's worried he'll die before finishing the book like Harry in When Harry Met Sally.  He's a little young to have a morbid fascination with death...RIGHT?! 


Mitzi's Mitzvah
If you happen to be one of the Chosen People (or just married to one) you can sign your kids up to receive a free Jewish-themed book every month courtesy of PJ Library.  Honestly, they send some of the best books around.  Mitzi's Mitzvah was the pick for Rosh Hashanah this year and it's quickly become one of the books that I'm asked to read most often.  Noah gets really excited every month when he gets to open the big white envelope containing his new book, and once he gets it open (which takes about 30 minutes) we have to stop whatever we are doing and read the newest arrival.  I haven't yet figured out if he's most excited by the fact that he gets mail with his name on it or if it's because he likes the books so much.  Come to think of it, if he's anything like his Mother, the real reason he gets so excited is probably just because they're free. 

What are your favorite bedtime stories these days?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Deal on Breastfeeding

So, you're planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're not planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're thinking of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula once and awhile?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

I completely support your decision to feed your baby however you choose to do so.

You know why?  Because breastfeeding is no joke.  It's not always easy, and contrary to the popular belief perpetrated by all the celebrities who like to post #breastfeedingselfies, it is not always a beautiful thing.  It can be beautiful and amazing and wonderful but it can also be incredibly frustrating, terribly painful and just an all around pain in the ass.

I'm glad that Mommas who happen to be famous are sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding, but what I really wish is that someone with a household name would share some breastfeeding photos that show the less attractive side of nursing.  Because while it's nice to look at modern day Madonna and Child images, I think it would be more helpful if a celebrity shared a few snapshots of the other very real parts of breastfeeding.  No, they aren't pretty and they won't make for a beautiful photo op, but they are part of the reality, and it would be nice for women to see that they aren't alone when they feel more Medusa than Madonna.

At first, breastfeeding hurts.  It doesn't matter if it's your first kid or your twelfth kid, the first two weeks are absolute Hell.  Your nipples will crack and bleed.  Every single time your baby latches it will hurt so badly that you will actually cry.  Eventually, your nipples will scab over and toughen up, but you will be horrified when the scabs come off and you realize that your nipples are scarred.  The scars never go away; for the rest of your life your nipples will look as though they did three tours in 'Nam, and you may have the PTSD to go along with that.

You will sweat enough each night to fill a child's inflatable pool.  Night sweats are not exclusive to breastfeeding Mommies, but they tend to go on for a longer period of time if you're nursing.  After you have a baby, your body needs to get rid of all the extra fluid its been carrying around for nine months, and apparently the most efficient way to do this is to cause you to sweat buckets while you sleep.  Make sure you have at least three extra sets of pjs within arms reach of your bed, because you will end up changing at least that many times each night, if not more.  You will be soaked, your bedding will be soaked, even your Husband or Baby Daddy might be drenched.  Your side of the bed will have its own little climate zone which will be similar to August in Miami: hot, humid and not somewhere you want to visit. 

Nobody ever has the right amount of milk (if there is someone who does, I have yet to meet her). You'll either have too much milk or not enough.  Both of these situations suck.  If you make too much milk, your night sweats will be horrible, your baby will gag and choke because your milk sprays into her mouth too fast, and you won't be able to leave the house for three months because you soak through a nursing pad every five minutes.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he associates your boob with being gagged, which will make you cry.  If you don't make enough milk you'll end up having to pump every second that you're not nursing, and you'll have to take millions of supplements and drink gallons of milkmaid tea.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he doesn't get enough milk from you boob, which will make you cry.  You will personally fulfill the old adage "crying over spilled milk", and it's not pretty. 

Your baby will probably be sensitive to something in your diet.  The only way to figure out what's making your kid fussy/farty/projectile vomit-y is to cut out everything except water.  Nursing happens to make you really, really, REALLY hungry and being unable to eat everything you see in your line of vision totally sucks.  It's entirely possible that your kid can't handle dairy or eggs or leafy greens or legumes or, God forbid, chocolate or coffee.  Heck, your kid might not be able to handle all of the above and you will want to throw yourself in front of a moving car rather than live another second without coffee and chocolate.

You, and only you, are on night feeding duty.  Until some enterprising scientist figures out how to make men lactate, you're stuck doing every single one of those night feedings.  At first you'll think this is a wonderful thing and that it will cause you to bond even more deeply with your newborn babe.  After a week or two you will realize that getting up every two hours to have a small human mash on your sore nipples for 45 minutes totally sucks and you will cry.  You will also develop such an irrational hatred for your non-lactating spouse that you will seriously consider smothering him with a pillow during one of the many, many late night feedings.  It's at the point that you find yourself debating whether or not to commit manslaughter that I suggest you put down the pillow, take a deep breath, and make peace with giving your offspring a bottle.  Sure breast may be best, but I suspect that having a few ounces of formula is far less detrimental to your kid's psyche than having a Mother serving time for smothering Daddy-o.

In the end all that matters is that your baby gets fed when he's hungry.  Do whatever works best for you and makes you the least homicidal.  And if anybody gives you sh*t about however you decide to feed your kid, I give you permission to punch them in the throat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baking Muffins with the Muffin Man


Not to toot my own horn or anything, but sometimes I really do step it up in the mothering department.  Sure most of the time I'm pretty much phoning it in, but once and awhile I manage to come up with an activity that both occupies the Muffin Man and is not mind-numbingly boring for me. 

Case in point: last week we made pumpkin muffins together.  He had a great time, the baked goods were delicious, and it occupied an hour of our day during that period of the afternoon when I usually find myself counting the minutes before wine o'clock. 

It turns out that Noah is skilled with a whisk.  All I can hope is that this doesn't foreshadow his wanting to pursue a dead-end career in the restaurant business.  Shudder.


Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins
These are some of the best gluten free, dairy free, sugar free muffins that I've ever made.  They keep at room temperature for 3-4 days, and they are moist and crumbly just like a normal muffin.  The Muffin Man himself couldn't get enough of them!

1 1/4 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix (see below)
1 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup almond milk (or soy or whatever you prefer)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tblsp. coconut oil
2 Tblsp. Yakon syrup or molasses
1 can pumpkin puree

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Position rack in center of oven.  Have your kiddo line a muffin tin with baking cups.

2. Mix flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves together in the bowl of an electric mixer.

3. Combine eggs, milk, oil, yakon or molasses, and pumpkin in a separate bowl.  Hand your toddler a whisk and put him to good use mixing up the wet ingredients.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until well-blended.  Do not over-beat.

5. Hand your little one an ice cream scoop and have him help you evenly fill each muffin cup.  Yes, this will probably get messy.

6. Bake about 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

7. Remove muffins from pan immediately and allow to cool on a baking rack.
 
Makes twelve muffins.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 cups finely ground brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca flour

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old Clothes, New Life

I suck at bathroom selfies, but I love my Splendid dress!
Every time I have a baby I get the urge to clean out my closet.  It begins with a compulsion to cast out every single piece of maternity clothing that ever touched my body over the past nine months, and ends with me standing in front of a row of empty hangers sobbing about how I have nothing to wear.  I suspect that it has to do with the crazy postpartum hormones combined with the fact that none of my pre baby clothes ever fit my post baby figure, but whatever the case it's truly a sight to behold to walk into my bedroom and find me sitting in a pile of clothing, crying.  Dramatic, much?

After I gave birth to the Muffin Man I spent an entire day going through all the closets in my house and getting rid of any item of clothing I found offensive, including old coats from 15 years ago, dowdy skirts, torn t-shirts and ill-fitting blazers left over from my (failed) former career.  I must have filled up at least 10 bags and hauled them to the Goodwill.

I love donating to good causes; in fact, I highly recommend it.  But if the urge strikes you to get rid of every single piece of clothing you own and you don't have the budget to purchase an entirely new wardrobe for yourself, it can be a problem.  Unless, of course, you live at, or are planning to relocate to, a nudist colony.  Since I have no plans to bare my private parts to anyone other than my spouse (and, unintentionally, the drug dealer at the park), I needed to find a way to satisfy my urge to purge while simultaneously refilling my closet with unoffensive clothing.

Enter Thred UP

I'm not exactly sure how I found this wonderful service, but I can tell you this: I am OBSESSED. They send you a giant polka dot bag, you fill it with all the clothing you no longer want, send it back to them, and then they sort through everything and either purchase it from you outright, take it on consignment, or donate whatever doesn't make the final cut to a worthy cause.  Once they've totaled up your items you can either ask them to send you a check, or you can use your newfound wealth to purchase items from the Thred Up site.  I personally always choose the second option for several reasons:

1. I don't have time to shop.  Unless Bloomingdale's has changed their store hours and now stays open until midnight, the chances of my finding time to drive there, park, pick out clothes and try them on during daylight hours is slim to none.

2. The stuff for sale on Thred Up is really good stuff.  Like things I could never afford were I to purchase them new, but that are in excellent condition and completely affordable because they are gently used.

3. I can try on my purchases at home and send back whatever doesn't fit free of charge.  I literally just hand the box to my postal carrier and once Thred Up receives the returns they credit my account.

4. Kids clothes!  I've gotten really cute stuff for Noah and all are brands that I would never shell out for normally because I refuse to spend $40 on a t-shirt that my toddler is going to inevitably get paint on.

So far, in exchange for a bag full of maternity clothes that I NEVER WANT TO SEE AGAIN, I have gotten:

  • Paper, Denim & Cloth shorts
  • Splendid t-shirt
  • Splendid dress
  • Petit Bateau shirt for Noah
  • Guess heels

and I still have $36 left to spend!

I guess this means that I won't have to move to a nudist colony after all.  Thank goodness, because the people who live in those places never seem to be individuals I'd actually want to see naked.

This is totally not a sponsored post.  I just like to let you know when I discover nifty stuff that makes life easier & more stylish.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preschool Panic: We be Illin'

Germs everywhere!
We're in the final stretch of the infamous preschool search, which means that at least once every week you can find us examining yet another institute of lower learning throughout the Los Angeles area.  Last week we took the Muffin Man with us on one of the tours, because they like to have the kids check out the school and see if they are comfortable in the environment.

I thought this was a great idea and Noah enjoyed playing with the other kids.  He even got to bring home a special, preschool-specific party favor called THE FLU.

That's right, my friends, thanks to some dirty little preschooler who also loves to play with firetrucks and plastic screwdrivers, we have been struck down with a nasty virus.  Oh my goodness, having a sick kid sucks.  Thursday night Noah was up every hour crying and coughing and sneezing and not sleeping.  Add to this equation a three month old who wakes up every three hours like clockwork, and you've got a recipe for a parenting nightmare.   

There is a special place in Hell for the parent who sent their sick kid to school last week. 

Now I'm sick, the baby is sick, and the Hubby is sick.  But Noah is feeling a million times better and has all the energy in the world!!!  The only thing I have the energy to do is lay in my bed moaning while I repeatedly blow my nose and drink mint tea.  Shockingly, my son doesn't find that very entertaining, which is why I'm thankful that Amazon Prime has two seasons of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and that my son knows how to work the remote. 

I can't say that I'm proud of this new parenting low that I've reached, but I'm tired and I feel like crap and I just can't right now.  Hopefully I'll be back on my feet before all the screen time does permanent damage to Noah's brain and before the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood theme song makes me suicidal. 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no we won't be applying to that preschool.  Because Chris is concerned that if I run into the parent of the sick kid at a future fundraiser he won't be able to prevent me from committing homicide.

Well that, and the classes were more like mild anarchy than structured learning.  Hey, I can let my kid run wild at home, I'm not going to pay somebody else for that. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Flower Child

Peace is the word (or the name of this bouquet, as the case may be).
When you have a new baby who finds it immensely entertaining to be awake in the middle of the night for long stretches of time, you often find yourself sucked into a TV rabbit hole.  Over the last few months, during which I've logged at least 100 miles pacing the floor in my living room trying to get my newborn to sleep, I discovered the show Shark Tank.  I realize that I am totally late to this party but oh my gosh you guys this is the BEST SHOW EVER.  And no, that's not just my exhaustion talking.

If you are unfamiliar with Shark Tank please take a moment to look it up and watch an episode.  Basically, the premise is that people who have invented products go in front of a panel of potential investors and try to get them to back their company.  I realize it sounds incredibly dull when written in black and white, but I promise you it's fascinating. Mainly because some people invent the stupidest stuff and then can't figure out why they aren't making any money.  Sure, I like to laugh at these idiots and their ridiculous inventions (football scented "Man Candle" anyone?) but at least they are taking a risk and putting it out there.  Hey, I'm just sitting on my ass watching my kid throw blocks at his baby sister, so who am I to judge?

Once and awhile, however, they do showcase a product that I find intriguing.  I got particularly excited recently when I received a bouquet of flowers from one of the companies that I'd just seen on Shark Tank.  It's shocking that I recalled watching them on the show, considering I can barely remember my own name and phone number these days, but when a box from The Bouqs company arrived at my doorstep I got practically giddy.  It was sort of like having a celebrity show up at my home, except that I wouldn't be arrested for bringing them inside and trapping them in a glass vase.

As I'm sure you can imagine, when one names her child Rose she ends up receiving lots of bouquets of roses.  For a few weeks there our dining room looked and smelled like Descanso gardens in the middle of May.  I did notice, however, that unlike many of the arrangements we received from florists, the blooms from The Bouqs company lasted the longest - almost two weeks.  According to the literature included with the flowers, it's because they ship them directly to the customer immediately after cutting them, so they aren't sitting around in a refrigerated truck for several days before reaching the recipent's doorstep.  When I opened the box and pulled out the blooms, I observed that they had some sort of weird slimy stuff on the ends of the roses.  Assuming (wrongly) that my fresh flowers were starting to rot, I immediately emailed the company ready to complain, but I was assured that it was just a gel that keeps the flowers hydrated in transport.  I thought that was a pretty nifty invention, as it meant that I didn't end up with 12 little plastic water tubes filling up my recycling bin and contributing to my ever-expanding carbon footprint.

You know what's funny?  I don't think that The Bouqs got an investment from Shark Tank, even though it's a really cool company.  I'm pretty surprised, considering that the product is far superior to the other online floral delivery companies I've used in the past.  Oh well, I guess there's no accounting for taste... just look at some of the dudes I dated.

I'm excited to be an ambassador for The Bouqs company, which means that I'm helping to share the love for their beautiful blooms.  Go ahead, treat yourself (or someone you love).  You can thank me later, perhaps by sending me roses?!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Baby Registry 101

Baby showers are fun!  Especially if there is alcohol for non-preggo guests.
Last week I received a request for a list of my must-have baby registery items.  On the one hand I am incredibly flattered that a reader* takes my advice seriously, but on the other, I'm concerned that I am the voice of parenting reason in this person's life.  Nevertheless I'm always happy to share what I've learned on my bumbling journey through pregnancy and motherhood.
*close friend

First of all, let me say this: people like buying stuff for babies.  You need not feel guilty for registering for things that you need, and inviting people to a party that involves you receiving presents for your soon-to-arrive offspring.  That being said, I think it's super tacky when people only register for expensive high end items, because those of us on a budget can't always afford to buy Mommy-to-be a crystal baby rattle.  Babies really don't care if something is from Gumps or Goodwill; they are just as happy to take a crap on a $400 blanket as on one that cost forty cents.

So, without further ado I present:

The Top 15 Baby Registry Items
(and a few optional ones as well)

Carseat.  If you only register for one thing (which would be weird, but to each their own) it should be a carseat.  Unless you literally live next door to the hospital where you are planning to give birth, and you have no intention of ever taking your kid anywhere in a vehicle, this is the one item you must have.  You will not be allowed to leave the hospital with your newborn until you have demonstrated that you know how to put him in the seat and that the base is properly installed into your backseat.

Stroller.  The stroller that you choose is really going to depend on where you live and what your lifestyle is like.  If you walk a lot and you live in an urban environment, you need something that's rugged and indestructible.  I would not be able to function without my UppaBaby.  If you think there's a possibility of welcoming another child, then I suggest picking one that has the option to add a second seat, so you don't end up shelling out another $700 for a second stroller two years later.  If you don't walk much at all and your main reason for having a stroller is simply to transport your child from the car to the mall/grocery store/pediatrician's office, then it makes no sense to spend a ton of money on a fancy stroller that's heavy and not really designed to be lifted in and out of a car every day.  Pick up a Snap-n-Go, and use that until your kid grows out of his infant carseat, at which point you can transition to the umbrella stroller.  I keep my umbrella stroller in my car and use that when we're out and about, as it's just easier to leave the Uppa at home where it's the centerpiece of my living room decor, which I've dubbed "Buy Buy Baby Showroom Chic".

Swaddles.  These are everything when it comes to your newborn sleeping for more than an hour at a time.  The nurses at the hospital make swaddling with a regular blanket look easy, but I can tell you that it is not (and I've had two kids) and that your baby will manage to escape from your swaddle no matter how tight you think you've made it.  These are a million times easier than trying to dick around with a blanket in the pitch black of the middle of the night while you're exhausted.  Be sure and register for two packages of these because babies pee through everything and the last thing you need is to be trying to wash the same two swaddles over and over every day.  I confess that in desperation I have put my newborn in a dry, yet peed on, swaddle, but you have the potential to be a better parent than I am simply by asking your friends to buy you these amazing inventions.

Baby bath tub.  Newborns are really, really small.  I'd honestly forgotten how small and floppy they are until I popped out another one.  They also happen to be slippery when wet.  While they don't need to be bathed more than once a week at first, it's just easier if you have a tub that you can set up on your kitchen counter for bath time.  This one folds flat for easier storage, which means there will be plenty of room in your bathroom for the seven million brightly-colored bath toys you will end up needing once your baby becomes a toddler.

Washcloths.  Attempting to wash a teeny-tiny baby with an adult-sized washcloth is akin to a Monty Python skit - hilariously uncomfortable.  Do yourself a favor and get some baby-sized washcloths, because bathing an infant is hard enough without accidentally smothering your kid in a giant soaking-wet piece of terry cloth.

Baby Carrier.  I have both the Ergo and the K'tan and I love the latter for when they are really little, and the Ergo as they get older.  Honestly, some days the only way to get anything done (dishes, laundry, meal prep) is to stick your kid in a carrier and go about your business.  This is also an amazing way to breastfeed in public without anyone noticing.  I don't want to brag, but I've actually worn my newborn to a bar and breastfed while enjoying a margarita.  Mother of the year right here, folks, but when it's girl's night out, you gotta do what you gotta do.  

Bouncy Chair.  Oh my goodness this has been a lifesaver with both the Muffin Man and the Little Lady.  One of the reasons the bouncy chair is so amazing is because it's portable.  If you're expecting your first child you probably don't yet understand the value of this feature, but believe me when I tell you that being able to put your kid down wherever you need to (hello, bathroom!) is invaluable.  The vibrating seat is also incredibly calming for most little ones, and the toy bar across the top usually manages to keep an infant entertained long enough for Mommy to take a shower.  I can't guarantee that it will hold your kid's interest long enough for you to shave your legs, but at least you will no longer smell.

Boppy.  If you plan to breastfeed you will need a breastfeeding pillow.  Your Mother or your Mother-in-Law will tell you that these are ridiculous and that they did just fine without them back in her day, but chances are your Mother smoked cigarettes and drank like a fish while she was pregnant with you, so I'd like to gently suggest that you ignore her advice.  Breastfeeding can be tricky at first and until you get used to it your arms, shoulder and neck muscles will ache.  These pillows help take off some of the pressure and can assist you in finding a comfortable position that works best for you and your ravenous offspring.

Activity Gym.  You need one of these.  Also portable, like the bouncy chair, these are fantastic for tummy time.  When your kiddo starts to become more aware of her surroundings she'll enjoy all the stuff hanging from the crossbars.  My daughter is currently obsessed with staring at herself in the little mirror, so here's hoping that passes before she's in high school and one of us has to share a bathroom with her.

Baby Monitor.  Trust me, you want a video monitor, especially if you're a first time parent.  You know why?  Because you will be constantly paranoid that your child is suffocating in his sleep even if he's lying in an empty room.  Yes, they are pricey, but I'm sure you have at least one parent who feels guilty for abandoning you at a young age and now likes to try to buy your love with expensive presents.  If that's the case then I suggest you drop a few hints about which monitor you're eying. 

White noise machine.  Don't screw around with the Sleep Sheep because it only stays on for 45 minutes.  Ask yourself this: "do I want to be awakened every 45 minutes to turn a soft plushy sheep back on?"  I'm guessing the answer is a resounding "no".  Get yourself an industrial-strength basic white noise machine that runs indefinitely and that's loud enough to drown out even the noisiest of your friendly neighborhood tweakers.  If you live in a city this is a must.

Nightlight.  Whether your newborn will be sleeping in your room or in his nursery, you'll need some sort of soft, not-too-bright light to keep you from walking into walls and breaking toes during those middle of the night feedings.  We love the salt lamps because the light is bright enough to make feeding and changing easy, but not so bright that Mommy and baby wake up too much.  I personally prefer to do my makeup by nightlight so that I can't see how tired I look in bright light. 

Humidifier.  Especially if you're having a winter baby, these help to combat the dry, over-heated air that's particular to cold and desert climates.  The air is so dry in Los Angeles that I have ours running all year long.  One thing to be aware of with humidifiers is that you MUST clean them thoroughly every week.  If that's not going to be realistic for you, then please refrain from using one, because the last thing you want to do is send mold spores into the nursery disguised as a soothing mist.

Muslin Blankets.  These are the triple-threat of the baby product world.  They can be used for swaddling, as burp cloths, and as nursing covers; heck, I've even used one as a scarf in a pinch. Perhaps the best thing about these is that they just get better (softer) the more you wash them, and there's a very good chance your kid will end up using one as his lovey when he's older.  My son, of course, prefers a small fuzzy blanket that is smelly, discolored, and practically in tatters. They say that blankies represent Mommy, so I guess when you look at it that way, Noah's choice is spot on. 

Diaper pail.  Diapers smell.  This will mitigate enough of the scent to ensure that your entire house doesn't smell like you lit an "esssence of poop" scented candle.

Changing pad and covers.  A changing pad is the magical way you can transform your dorm room dresser into a cute changing table (okay, that and a coat of paint and some new drawer pulls).  Be sure and register for more than one cover for your changing pad, because babies have incredible comedic timing in that they like to pee and/or poop right when their diaper is being changed!  Avoid having to send your exhausted spouse/baby daddy out in the middle of the night** to Target to get a spare changing pad cover.
**8PM becomes your new "middle of the night" once you have kids
                
Crib mattress pads and sheets.  I suggest you register for at least three.  That way, when your kid eventually gets the stomach flu and liquid is shooting out of both ends you don't find yourself stumbling around in the actual middle of the night trying to figure out what to put down on the crib mattress because you ran out of pads and sheets. 

Optional Items:
People are going to buy you lots of really cute clothes.  Many of them will be impractical, so I like to suggest that you find the closest children's resale store and stock-up on zip-front onesies and newborn gowns.  If you want to add a few clothing items to your registry, pick out several special pieces that you would really like to have but wouldn't necessarily purchase yourself.

Highchair.  It's going to be at least six months before you'll need one of these.  If you have your heart set on something super chic to match your midcentury modern decor then by all means register for it, but Craigslist and the resale store are excellent sources when your little one is old enough to start solids.

Swing or MamaRoo.  My kids have never been big fans of either of these items, but others won't sleep anywhere else.  Every kid is different, so you kind of have to just pick whichever one you like best and hope that your kiddo responds positively.  Worst case scenario you can sell it on Craigslist and use the funds to buy yourself a cute jacket that fits your postpartum figure. 

Breastpump.  Most health insurance covers the cost of a pump, so I suggest calling your insurance carrier and finding out before you register for one.  If you only plan to breastfeed for a short amount of time, you can always rent a pump through the hospital.  I'm going to be honest with you here: I don't know anyone who has received a pump as a gift.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't register for one, but just be warned that nothing creeps people out more than the thought of their friend or loved one being milked like a dairy cow.

Diapers.  If you're planning to do cloth diapers then you should probably register for whatever you need with that.  I also think that you should also hope someone gives you a year's worth of daily laundry service, but if you're cool with poop then go for it.  Just be warned that once they start eating solids (or drinking formula) that sh*t stinks.  Literally.

What are your must-haves for a baby registry?  If I've forgotten anything, be sure and let me know by leaving a comment below!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fix My Wardrobe

Looking professional, yet hip, thanks to Stitch Fix!
I have a confession to make: I'm kind of lazy.  In my defense according to my astrologer this is due mainly to my star sign (what up, Pisces people!), but whatever the root cause I am one lazy lady.  This means that I am always, always looking for a shortcut.  I want to accomplish what I need to with the least amount of effort, which is probably why I failed at my original chosen profession and why I spend so much money on therapy.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of anything that makes my life easier with minimal amount of effort.  As I've shared in the past, I do not like to shop.  Actually, I'm pretty sure in this instance that "hate" would not be too strong a word.  I detest, can't stand, absolutely loathe shopping for clothing.  Nothing ever fits me, the stuff I gravitate towards is only in the budget of an individual with a trust fund, and I honestly just don't have time to spend cruising the mall or, horror of horrors, sitting in Los Angeles traffic driving from boutique to boutique trying to find unique pieces.  Oh, and let's not forget that I have two children and shopping with one child in tow, let alone two, can only be described as a visit to the third ring of Hell.

So I got pretty darn excited when I heard about Stitch Fix.  I would like to thank some random Facebook acquaintance for "liking" the Stitch Fix page, which caused it to show up in my news feed and led to my signing up for the service.  Whoever you are, thank you.  Thank you for saving me from having a sad and pathetic wardrobe.  Danke for steering me towards clothing that actually fits my postpartum shape.  Gracias for rescuing me from wearing maternity clothes even though I'm no longer pregnant.  Merci for ensuring that I no longer dress like a homeless person who lives in a minivan.  I will be forever grateful to you despite having no idea who you are.

Here's how Stitch Fix works:
You sign-up and fill out a profile with all of your sizes and style preferences.

You request how often you want a "fix" - once a month, every 2-3 months, etc.

You pay $20 and your stylist puts together a box of five items she thinks will work on your body and that you will like.

A pretty box arrives at your door, you dance a little jig, and then you try all the stuff on and decide what you want to keep and what you want to send back.  Let me just reiterate that for those of you with kids: you try stuff on at a time that is convenient for you in the privacy of your own home.No fluorescent lighting.  No toddler screaming for an applesauce crusher.  No crying in the parking lot because you paid for a babysitter and ended up not buying anything at the mall except an Orange Julius (do these still exist? I'm old).

Once you decide what you like, you send back what you don't want and the $20 styling fee is deducted from the price of the garment(s) that you keep.  And it's not even a pain to send the stuff back.  They give you a big envelope and a prepaid label that you simply hand to your postman
Ah-mazing.

I've had two fixes so far and another one is on its way to me right now.  I'm kind of irrationally excited.

I will say that the first fix I got was much better and more my style than the second fix.  I wish that I had pictures of all the pieces I received the first time, but I'm an idiot and I don't, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  If you need some photo proof, check out the photo above for a 100% Stitch Fix styled outfit.

Here's what I got in my September shipment.  Please excuse the bad photographs and how hideous I look, but by the time I get around to trying clothing on it's usually close to midnight and I have to be up in three hours to feed the baby and I just don't have the energy to put on makeup for some blog photos.  I'm a disappointment, I know.  Feel free to speak at length with my Mother about that very subject the next time you run into her.

So without further ado, what came in my box of fabulousness:


Market and Spruce Chevron Maxi Dress - $88.00
I loved the way this looked in the box and it was soooooo comfortable, but the Hubs said it didn't flatter my figure and made me look like I have no boobs and no hips.  RETURNED


Pomelo Colorblock knit shirt - $54.00
This was not my style at all and also not flattering in any way. RETURNED



Kensie bootcut jeans - $98.00
The jeans fit really well, but I don't like bootcut.  I'm a skinny jean kind of lady.  RETURNED


Market and Spruce Lace Back Top - $58.00 
No no and no.  I don't do lace.  Toddlers and white (or ivory) clothing do not a happy marriage make. RETURNED 


TCEC chevron caridgan - $48.00
I would have never picked this out for myself, but I actually liked it.  It's a great weight for fall in LA, and super reasonably priced. KEPT!

The moral of the story here is two fold: one, you should sign up for Stitch Fix and save yourself the nightmare of going to the mall; and two, I really need to start listening to my Mother and "just put on a little bit of lipstick already" before I pose for pictures. 

Just in case you were wondering, this is in no way, shape or form a sponsored post.  I simply want to share my love of Stitch Fix with you beautiful people.  That being said, I do get a credit if you use the above link to sign up for the service, but you, too, can share the love and reap the rewards should you decide to get some fashion-in-a-box delivered to your door.