Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Squishy Bean Peanuts? Goo?

We had a busy day yesterday. Shaun and I competed in Wii bowling until our arms were about to fall off. Then Shaun concocted a delicious pasta, cheese, sauce meal. (i just had it for breakfast). Then a great babysitter (hi Marilyn!) came to watch Bean while Shaun, C and I ventured to the doctor to see our new baby for the first time. Later, I went out with some girlfriends. Nice day!

Oh, you have a question? What'd I eat when I went out? Shrimp, fries and a huge salad. Delicious.

That wasn't it? How do we like the Wii? It's AWESOME!

Somehow I sense that you want clarification about something else...

What baby? Oh! The one currently gestating in my belly. Yup, we're excited to meet number 3, due in the beginning of August. Yes, we were surprised, but we're nothing less than overjoyed! And yes, we'll be excited for a boy, but no more than if it's a girl.

That was your question? Thought so :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Annnnd, We're BACK!

We've had a lovely week off and enjoyed each other's company immensely.

But things are starting to get a little hairy.  Last night, Shaun and I almost attacked each other.  Literally.

I was heading back from the bathroom and had paused outside of our bedroom door because the baby woke up and sounded more distressed than usual.  Right as I was about to walk into our room, Shaun opened the door and started to walk out. 

Did I mention that it's pretty stinkin' dark in our house in the dead of night?

He took one step forward and then registered that the dark blob in front of him was in fact a person, not a dark blob.

And he immediately crouched down and yelled, "EEEEAHHHHH!"  He was totally ready to take down an intruder, solely by his low center of gravity and his highly intimidating yell. 

In the meantime, I was equally shocked to have him open the door in front of me and jumped backwards with a puff of exhaled air, hands in a karate position in front of me.  I obviously was going to take down an intruder (emerging from the bedroom, obviously), with my highly skilled karate moves and stealth motions.

We stayed in our attack positions for a few seconds while we really gauged whether we were actually who we thought we were.   Or who we thought the other person was.  Um, yes. 

And without another word, Shaun ventured into the bathroom and I went to comfort the now totally freaked out baby. 

It's good to know we totally have our home's defense system completely under control. 


Monday, December 22, 2008

In light of our holiday week, we're spending a lot of time together as a family and as a result, posting may be light around here.

In the coming two weeks, expect a few more Christmas card rejects, a SmellyWasher product review, a TJ Maxx and a Marshalls review and a continuation of my baby product run-downs.  In between, you'll have a few anecdotes as usual.  :)

Enjoy the holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That's The Point of Everything, Right? :)

The other night, the four of us were hanging out in the living room, enjoying being together on a cold, rainy evening.   The kids were playing on the floor and Shaun was reclined against the couch playing a game on his cell phone.  Bean hopped over to him and asked,

"What are you playing, Daddy?" 

Shaun told her the name of the game and immediately she asked,

"Daddy, can I play?"

Shaun tried to stall her by saying,

"But Bean, you don't know how to play."

"Yes I do!"

"How could you?  A minute ago you didn't even know what this game was called."

Bean paused and walked away for a second.  Then she came back and asked to play again.  Shaun tried to thwart her request by asking,

"OK, then... what's the point of the game?" 

Without a pause, she looked at him and said,

"To win, Daddy."

Not quite what he was looking for, but she had him.  Smart girl.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Shaun, Bean and I were hanging around the family room this afternoon after Bean woke up from her nap.  Bean had been quickly dismantling our paper for most of the day.  Once she had disemboweled the colored circulars, she tossed the regular sections away and focused on finding things that she liked looking at in the coupon section.

At one point, she came up to us with a very serious expression and said,

"This is me when I was a little girl."

And this is the picture she was pointing to:

Yes, my daughter apparently identifies strongly with the reptilian skin and googly eyes of a gecko.  
But it gets better.  
Not 10 seconds later, she comes over with another picture and an equally serious expression and says, 
"And this is me when I was a tiny baby."
This time, we see this:

The girl's got some hilarious self-image notions.  I think it took us about 15 minutes to stop giggling.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby Products and Registries: Strollers

First off, I just want to say thanks to my readers and commenters for commenting on yesterday's post about carseats.  To me, the reader comments are what are going to make these entries worthwhile.  Eventually, I am going to post my personal recomendations for each product, but for now, I'm more talking about how to decide in what direction you're going for each piece of equipment.

Today?  Strollers!  Strollers are possibly the most varied of all baby products out there.  They range in price from a cheap $15 bucks to over $1000. For all intents and purposes of this entry, the strollers I'm going to suggest and talk about are single strollers.

To decide on what kind of stroller you should get, there are some questions you should ask yourself:

1.  What kind of terrain are you going to be frequenting the most often?  Bumpy grass and trails?  Smooth mall tiles?  Walking trails in a local park? 

2.  What size car do you drive?  The smaller the car, the smaller the stroller needs to be.  Technically you can fit a large stroller into a hatch back, but you're not going to get anything else in there. 

3.  What are must have features in your book?  Snack holders?  Big baskets?  Small footprint?  One-hand steering?  There are a million of features for every stroller, and often, strollers can be customized with add-ons, so don't nix every stroller that doesn't have the feature you're dying for without some investigation. 

There are four main types of single strollers on the market:

The Travel System:   This stroller system actually combines the bucket carseat with the stroller itself.  The bucket seat clicks soundly into the stroller allowing you to transport your kid from the car to the stroller effortlessly.  Bonus for my A-type friends:  The patterns of your stroller and carseat match, thus allowing you to breathe easy.  (And yes, yes, that appeals to me as well).  These strollers also happen to have a lot of the bells and whistles:  Snack trays, cup holders for the adult, one handed steering, ample storage, one hand folding, etc.  Once your child outgrows the bucket seat, they can sit facing the world in the stroller itself.  Most of these have five point harnesses, deep padding, and large canopies.    But with all the features comes a lot of weight.  These babies are BIG.  But they're super popular and that's for a reason.

The Stroller Frame:  A stroller frame isn't necessarily a technical stroller.  Instead, this converts your bucket seat into a stroller by adding wheels and a basket.  These are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to manuver.  Downside is that you have to purchase another stroller for when your child outgrows the infant seat. But they allow you to stroll around with your little one facing you, which when they're little, is the best thing for them when they have to be in a stroller.  Many other strollers don't give this option. 

The "Umbrella" Stroller - These are the lighweight cousins of the travel systems.  Generally, they don't hold the infant seat, which makes them great graduation strollers from the frames.  These often have the biggest price difference.  At the bare minimum, the cheap umbrella strollers have absolutely no bells and whistles, and are often the best strollers for quick jaunts into the store or to the post office.  These cheap strollers are great for bigger toddlers in times where they need a place to rest their legs, but you don't need a giant stroller to haul around.  The higher end umbrella strollers often have storage baskets, canopies, and five point harnesses.  Combi actually makes a travel system which I think is the best of both worlds.  It has the ability to hold the bucket seat but has the portability of a lightweight stroller.  Umbrella strollers are great for anyone, but the higher end versions are great specifically for city dwellers who need the lightweight portability of a stroller they can haul up and down steps or into stores without sacrificing the features. 

The Jogging Stroller - The bohemoth of the stroller world.  If you have intentions to jog or do trail walking, these are the strollers that should appeal to you.  Many of them accommodate the bucket seat if you chose to go that route, but sometimes you have to purchase an adapter kit.  There are many strollers that are built to look like jogging strollers, but are not recommended to actually take... jogging.  Definitely check on that. 

So, pros and cons?

The Travel System - Tons of bells and whistles, often very easy to use, offers complete compatibility with the carseat, allows you to purchase both pieces of equipment at the same time, fairly cost effective.

The Stroller Frame - Lightweight, portable, cheap, and easy to use.  Often has a super large storage basket and cup holders. 

The Umbrella Stroller - Lightweight, portable, and very versitile.  Offer many of the features that a travel system does, except in a smaller frame.  Can be relatively cheap.  Very small footprint, which allows for maneuvering in small spaces. 

The Jogging Stroller - VERY sturdy, smooth riding.  They often have big baskets and very easy steering.  Allows for strolling over varied terrains. 

The Travel System - Bulky and heavy.  All of those bells and whistles weigh a LOT.  Larger footprint, which makes maneuvering in small spaces relatively difficult. 

The Stroller Frame - You'll need to buy another stroller for when your child outgrows the bucket seat.  They don't have quite as many features as a travel system.

The Umbrella Stroller - Generally don't allow your child to face you.   If you don't buy one that can hold a bucket seat, your child is most likely not able to use it until they're about 6 months old.  (Most umbrella strollers recommend not being used until your child is 6 months old and sitting on their own...  I found that if the stroller reclined, you could put a 4 or 5 month old in one with no problem).  But alas.  It's a con, for sure.  They also don't generally come with a snack tray. 

The Jogging Stroller - HUGE AND BULKY.  The good ones are often expensive.  They weigh a ton and take up a lot of room in a car.  Child is often not able to use them until 6 months unless combined with an infant seat.  Child generally faces forward instead of backwards. 

Our Choice?
We registered for a stroller frame and a higher end umbrella stroller and found that to be an excellent solution.  The stroller frame served us well and because each of the strollers were so small, we were able to keep both in the trunk for the transitional period where she would be awake and wanting to sit up and see the world.  The umbrella stroller is a fantastic stroller to travel with.  We loved not having a huge bulky stroller in our trunk.  I really wish that our umbrella stroller had a snack tray, but otherwise,  we were extremely happy with our choice.

Tomorrow?  Highchairs and bathtubs (and maybe some other items if I feel motivated :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Registries and Baby Gear

You would not believe how many people I know that are pregnant.  It's. In. Sane.  But really exciting!  A lot of those people are having their first child. 

And generally, most of them are swimming in the sea of trying to get a baby registry together. 

I remember how exciting it was to do our registry, but I also remember how crazy it was to try to figure out what we needed to put on there and what we could leave off.  Also, later, there were several things that I wish someone would have told me to forget completely.

So, here's the beginning of my tips.  I'll be continuing this for about a week, once a day, until I get all my tips out there.  (Because trying to get it all in one entry?  WHO AM I KIDDING?!)

Ahem.  Here we go:

1.  Every baby needs a carseat.  Consider this a true MUST-HAVE on your registry.  But there's more variety out there than not.  First you have to consider whether you want a convertible car seat that can go from the time the baby is born until they're well into their toddler years, a bucket car  seat that will serve you well from birth until close to one, or both. 

Convertible Car Seat Pros
*  You only have to buy one carseat for the duration of your child's early years.  (Obviously, there are some exceptions... a second car, an exceptionally tall and skinny or short and round child, etc.).
*  They're bigger and generally sturdier than a traditional bucket.

Convertible Car Seat Cons
*  You have to transport a sleeping baby out of the carseat into the stroller, instead of taking the whole carseat.
*  They're generally much bigger than a bucket seat, so for smaller cars, it can seem a bit daunting to have your tiny baby swallowed by a huge seat.  (Though the ones that are made for use from birth are absolutely safe for newborns). 

Bucket Car Seat Pros
*  It's awesome to be able to transport a delicately sleeping baby into the house without disrupting a nap.
*  The bucket is a nice place for a baby to sit that is much less germy than a shopping cart, etc.
*  They're great for babies with reflux to nap in because they allow them to be upright.  

Bucket Car Seat Cons
*  They are ridiculously heavy and cumbersome.  And that only gets worse as your baby grows.
*  Your child is likely to outgrow the seat before they turn one, which forces you to buy another seat that can face backwards AND forwards that is the right size. 
*  The convenience of the seat often takes away from time where you could be holding your baby. 

My opinion?
I like the option of having the bucket seat along with the convertible.  Although I hate the bucket seat's cumbersome and ridiculously heavy presence at times, I do love that C has a safe place to sit at the grocery store and that when she falls asleep in the car, I don't have to disturb her when we reach our destination.  I'm careful to take her out as often as she wishes when we're out and generally will wear her at that point.  But I love having the option. 

Tomorrow I'll chat a bit about strollers.  We bucked the trend of traditional travel systems and I would never go back.  Tune in tomorrow for the why.  :)

And Now For Something Completely Random

Because I forgot that today was dated today and scheduled several posts on the wrong day, which results in my brain wanting to explode.  So I'm resetting for next week.  In the meantime, check out what Miss Beanie Bean looked like about a year ago.  Just a peanut, isn't she? 

My personal favorite?  The hair.  :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Card Rejects - Episode 6

I think I actually got a good one the other day, but the bad ones live on.

And this one?  This is particularly hilarious to me.  Thanks to Michelle for the great shot:

Bean was having a lovely day.  It shows, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Card Rejects: Episode 5

 "MOOOM!  She's PATTING ME!"  

BumWear Cloth Diaper Giveaway Winners!

First off, thanks so SO much to everyone who entered!  Trust me, I wish everyone could win something.  Without further ado, here is the list of winners with two alternates:

 Jasmine, who said:
I've bought a few fuzzi bunz to use with my daughter (due in a few months), and I'd love to add a few BumWears to the stash. It was a relief to see that the diapers I already had got pretty great marks, too. :) 
Pregnantly Plump, who said:
 That's the most thorough write up I've seen of cloth diapers! Thank you for that.
Hope we win!
and Erin who said:
 Thanks for all of the great info.  I can't wait to get started using cloth... Anyone have any tips for using cloth on a newborn?
 The alternates are:

Schrodinger, who said,
 we bought all bum genius hoping they will last through to potty training, now I'm concerned that they won't make it now :( Thanks for a great review of the other options out there.
and kara, who said,
have found that the diapers you'll love are a matter of fit - Bum Genius one size fit my daughter perfectly and are very economical since they snap open and come with two inserts. I'm very dedicated to the upkeep of the velcro, and pick lint out on a regular basis. Never had any problems. Fuzzi Bunz are cute and have the nicer snaps, but are more expensive and you'll probably buy additional inserts for them. Also, they never quite hugged up around my daughters slimmer thighs, and came up way high in the rise. We love the Bum Genius AIO's for the non bulky fit, and I dry them once in the dryer and then overnight on a rack in the house. I experimented with hemp inserts, but have come to love and respect the cottonbabies inserts. I have about 40 diapers in my stash, and wash twice a week. I'm interested in the BumWear, now! 
Thanks again to everyone!  It's my hope to get another cloth diaper review up and running sometime soon.  Keep posted!

I'll contact the winners by email.  If I don't hear back from them by Thursday at noon, I'll contact the alternates. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Box tops For Education Marketplace

I am about 3/4th of the way done my Christmas shopping and until yesterday, I hadn't set foot in a single store.  Instead, this year, I decided that the wise thing to do would be to forgo dragging two kids through the mall in favor of shopping online.  Combine that with the plethora of free shipping deals out there, and our house has been a UPS hotspot for the last month.

One of the places I've been feeling pretty awesome shopping through is the Box Tops For Education Marketplace.  Box Tops for Education is an awesome program started to help schools.  Each year, schools are eligible to receive up to $60,000 from the program through collecting box tops from eligible food, buying books from their "Reading Room" and through shopping at the Box Tops Marketplace.

The Market Place is basically a gateway with a list of over 70 stores, such as Old Navy, Barns and Noble, JC Penny, Oriental Trading Company, Pet Meds, Kohls, etc.  These are stores many of us would already shop and perhaps shop on a regular basis. 

I shopped for a chunk of my Christmas gifts through the Marketplace this year and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the process was.  All you do is create an account and chose the school you'd like to benefit.  Then you go to their main page and click on the store you'd like to shop and it'll redirect you to that site.  Shop away and without any further action from you, a portion of your purchase price will be donated to the school of your choice.  Nice, eh?

It's a great way to do a little good this holiday season with VERY little effort.

If you don't have kids in school, consider chosing a neigborhood school or the school of a family member.  You can be grandmom in California and chose your grandson's school in Philidelphia. 

I chose the school where I teach and I've been encouraging others to do the same.  If enough people do that, you can be responsible for a sizable check sent to your chosen school.  Makes me feel good :)

On the left hand side of the site, you can see the current deals from some Box Tops vendors.  Contribution amounts range from 1% to 20%.  Each of the vendors lists their contribution amount on the Marketplace main page.

There's no reason not to try it out if you're going to shop there anyway!  Take a few seconds and sign up and do some good for a community near you. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Favorite Bean

Some Beanisms from today:

"Mom!!  If you look through the scarf like this, it's like Oggle Goggles!"  (This makes me laugh EVERY TIME she says it.)

"Mom?  Mom?  MOM?  MOOOM?  MOMMY!"

"Huh?  What?  What do you need kiddo?"  (I was dozing off in a chair)

"Can you turn that light on?  Please?"

"Mmmph, um, not right now..."  I tried to close my eyes again.  She got really close to my face and said,

"Oh but you're a really nice lady!  And nice ladies help people."

Yep, she guilted me right into that one.

"Mom...  I have a question.  How... how do we talk with words?"

Sheesh, that was a doozy.  Then, a minute later,

"How does the weather change into other weathers?"

Looks like we need to start showing her the amazing attributes of Google.  :)

Christmas Card Rejects: Episode 4

"There, that's it.  Raise your chin a bit and we'll look perfect."   

Bad Mom Confessions 2

So yesterday, I spend a good fifteen minutes playing with this:
(The Leapfrog Alphabet Pal Catapillar)

Except, I already know all my letters and their sounds. 

I spent a good fifteen minutes on the "letter sounds" section trying to get it to sound out bad words.

Apparently, the good people at LeapFrog have great foresight AND a sense of humor.  If you start to get it to sound out a bad word, it will stop the actual sounding out process with a giggle sound effect and then resume making the letter sound.  That breaks up the total pronunciation of the taboo words. 

I think that made me laugh more than anything else.  (And yes, I tried to find words to get around the system.  Surprisingly, there aren't many).

Yes, I know.  I am easily on the mental level of a 13 year old boy.  Thank you.

Progress... Um, Sort of

We're making some sort of sideways progress with C's sleeping.

(By the way, THANK YOU to everyone who responded with advice and great encouragement.  I have an arsenal of things to try). 

Last night she slept for nearly 6 hours straight, then another 4. 

But then?  At somewhere around 4am, she was up.  But cranky.  So she was tired, but she was UP and vocal.  (She did eventually go back to sleep). 

We're getting there!

Baby steps. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Giggle For the Day

I'm beyond ridiculously tired so I'm not going to have a full fledged post tonight.  But I will leave you with these two links.

Bad Nativity Sets of Yore

Cavalcade of Bad Nativity Sets I

Cavalcade of Bad Nativity Sets II

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Product Review: Pop-A-Tot

We were given the opportunity to test a pretty fun piece of baby equipment for the past month.  Behold, the Pop-A-Tot.

Pop-A-Tot's creators are the parents of 5 children who, as outdoor enthusiasts, wanted a safe place for the smallest member of their family while they were out and about.

The Pop-A-Tot is a great alternative for an Exersaucer. I love the fact that it's as lightweight enough to literally carry along on your shoulder.  The carry bag allows you to tote it along quite easily.  Remarkably, it doesn't feel awkward to carry.

It pulls out of the bag and opens easily, fastening with two clips.


Initially, we were hesitant about the product because it seemed like our 6 month old was swallowed in it and her legs didn't touch.  The age range is 6 months to 18 months, so we knew we were on the young end of the age range.  (And come to find out, we had quite a tiny 6 month old).  There is no height adjustment.  But C seemed to love being in it for short periods of time and eventually, we decided to pad the bottom with something sturdy to allow her feet to rest on something.  After that, she enjoyed being in the seat even more.

As she's grown, she's come to enjoy it more and more.  So far, we've taken it outside, to grandmom's house, to a promotional event for a local restaurant, to Thanksgiving dinner, and often put it into the trunk to take to places where baby-proofing might be at a minimum.

The Pop-A-Tot runs about $50-$60 which I think is definitely worth it.  It's about on par with an Exersaucer, price wise.  The major difference between a Pop-A-Tot and an Exersaucer is the versitility of the entertainment.  On an Exersaucer, the toys are generally fixed, (though you can get older versions where there are no toys, which allows you to put your own on the tray).  The Pop-A-Tot has tabs where you can attach toys via linking rings, (the common component to most play mats).  Toys can be rotated to keep a child's interest.

 The Pop-A-Tot also has cupholders for snacks and drinks, though C loves putting toys into them and taking them out.

We started off as fans of this product and we're enjoying it more and more with every use. For those with more than one child, this is a great way to provide a safe place for your littlest one at events for your older kids.  Because of it's compact storage size, it's also an ideal alternative for those who have small apartments or houses.  I'd recommend it for sure.

Check out the Pop-A-Tot site for more information and for ordering information.

The Pop-A-Tot makes life with a little one much easier, and that works for me.  For more Works-For-Me-Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

To My Daughters

To My Daughters,

As you both grow, I've been thinking through what life lessons I want to pass onto you before you head off into the world of adulthood.  Yes, it's forever from now, but I can guarantee that I'll wonder where the time went when that time comes.  So while the two of you are sleeping peacefully in your beds on the floor above me, I'm left alone with my prayers and wishes for your futures.

Always remember to be kind.  Treat others with respect and dignity.  Especially those who many  would assume don't deserve it.  Lift others up with your actions.  Offer a helping hand to those in need.  And when you can do nothing else, offer a smile.  The world will be a better place because of it.

Love God with all your being.  God's done incredible things in my life and I have no doubt he has blessings in store for you. 

Cherish your family.  Your family will be the ones who prop you up when you need support.  They will celebrate with you for victories great and small.  For a long time, they will know you better than anyone on earth.

Run after your dreams with abandon.  Remember the wishes you had as a child and pursue them while you can.  Do something every day that makes you smile.  It doesn't have to be a grand endeavor, only something that you love to do. Keep in touch with your creative spirit and don't fear failure.  Failure might come, but it won't stop you. 

Be honest and fair.  Your integrity is more valuable than any other facet of your character.  If people can trust you, they will embrace your confidence for all it's worth.

Listen to good music and eat good food.  Bad music and bad food serve a purpose, but they don't satisfy like the good stuff.  Enjoy the finer things in life on occasion.  Spoil yourself sometimes.  But only enough that it always seems special. 

Give freely.  Don't covet your possessions.  Things are just things.  Money is just money.  None of it buys happiness.  True happiness comes from elsewhere.  And a touch of it is in giving to someone who's truly in need.

There are a million lessons.  A hundred thousand things that I could pass onto you girls.  And chances are, as time goes by, I will.  But for now, I'll end with the most important one:

Love often, love well, and love all.

Always Yours,


Monday, December 8, 2008


About an hour away, there's a little place called Storyville.

In Storyville, kids have the opportunity to play pretend in a grand environment.  There's a kitchen, a post office, a store, a dress up loft, a water area, a puppet theater, a baby garden (where babies play, not where they're grown), and more.  It's incredible.

And?  It's free.

Anyway, here are some fun pictures of our trip:

Bean was intently watering her "garden".  The garden itself was rubber mulch and there were baskets of reinforced plastic flowers that you could "plant" in the garden.  Totally ingenious.   Oh, and she's wearing a princess outfit courtesy of their dress up corner.  Of course.
I posted one of these pictures in C's monthly update.  There was a small gated section called the Baby Garden where kids under 1 can play freely.  There are plenty of soft, tactilely oriented toys to play with along with a veritable library of board books.  On the floor there were about 8 plastic mirrors that a sitting baby can look into.  These were a HUGE hit.  Above the mirrors are giant flowers with a padded handle bar for new standers to hang onto.  Super fun and well received.

Bean's cousins were there and were trying to get her involved in playing "The Three Little Pigs."   Bean just wanted to be the cat.  She kept insisting that the cat wanted to visit the pigs.  Hey, can't blame her for improvising.  
H is taking a ride in a VERY cool rocking wooden boat in the nature/water area.  That area had a huge log to crawl through and a little cave area with a ceiling illuminated by constellations.  
The shopping area had three registers where you could ring up your pretend purchases.  The kids did great taking turns, which SHOCKED me.  I think it was because there were so many cool things to touch.
That's a very cute baby in a produce bin.  She's much sweeter than the sweet potatoes.
H was VERY intent on giving exact change.  
Ahem.  My diva found a full length mirror and without an ounce of prompting, she began to twist and pose in front of it.  Oh my word.  She's such a girlie girl.  It's hilarious.
R and T are super proud of their giant block tower.  They also had a section where you could create a track on a magnetic wall for a ping pong  ball to roll down.  Most of that was for older kids, but I definitely sat and played with it forever.
These crazies jumped in front of the camera.  Don't know who they are. 
Ok, just kidding.  I love them and they make me laugh.  
And they do a really good impression, no?
Storyville is attached to a local library, so it's not very big.  To combat huge crowds, they only allow a certain number of people in at a time.  I LOVE THAT.   It was really nice to have a good amount of people without feeling overrun.  
And we'll totally be going back. 

Sleep? Sleep!

I need advice. 

(And before I go any further, if you read this and feel compelled to criticize, please just stay silent...  my psyche can't handle that on no sleep).

Here's the deal.  C is not the world's best sleeper.  She's not the world's worst, but as it stands now, she's not all that great. 

Her daily sleep generally looks like this:

Up at 7:00am. 
Nap at 9:00am (usually for an hour or a bit more)
Nap at 1:00pm  (This nap is generally two hours or more)
Bed at 7:00pm

Once she's in bed, I can generally expect that she'll be up at 11:00, 2:00, 5:00 and then 7 for the day. 

I can go in there and feed her for five minutes and she's usually back out again. 

Lately, she's been waking up and wanting to stay up for hours in the middle of the night.

Other things:

We have a nighttime routine and she knows what to expect. 

She has a security blanket that she sleeps with and it calms her.  She also sucks her two first fingers, so it's not as if I have to worry about replacing a pacifier. 

She can fall asleep in a variety of ways:  rocking, nursing, driving in a car, and lying down on her own.  Her favorite method is generally nursing when it's me putting her down, and I don't mind.  She will go down for other people easily though, so it's not really a problem.  And there are plenty of times when she's still awake after nursing and I'll lay her down and she'll fuss for a second and go to sleep.

We are not opposed to letting her cry, though I draw the line at letting her get hysterical.  Fussing and on and off crying is ok.  Screaming is not.  It's just not how we roll.

She's a happy kid and generally has a good disposition. 

Some days she will wake up and go right back to sleep on her own, and some days she doesn't.

There's not a whit that's consistant with the kid.

Except that she is nursed 100% of the time and oh man, she doesn't take a bottle.  (We're trying).  

Oh and she sleeps in her own bed as co-sleeping didn't/doesn't work for ANY of us.  Well, C might eventually fall asleep, but I never will and that's half the goal.  So that's not really an option at this point. 

Anyway, I'm very keen on figuring out a way that we all can get a little more sleep in a row. 

Suggestions?    I'm game to hear most anything, (though again, if you want to be preachy or judgy, this isn't the forum for your comments, sorry). 

I'm just a wee bit tired. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bygone Bratz?

It seems that the day has come where we will finally witness the demise of the much debated Bratz dolls. 

According to The Times,

A judge in California has ruled that all Bratz dolls – and their related merchandising — be withdrawn from circulation.

The trouble began three months ago, when Mattel, manufacturer of Barbie, won a legal challenge against MGA, the Bratz parent company. It successfully argued that the original drawings for the Bratz dolls had been developed by Carter Bryant, the designer, while he was still in its employ. He had then taken the idea to MGA, which introduced Bratz in 2001.

The jury awarded Mattel substantial damages, causing the share price to rise by 5 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange. This represented an immediate financial victory for Mattel; but the real vindication will come from the long-term effects of the shelf ban, since in recent years the Bratz dolls, with their preternaturally pouty lips and demented gaze, have been steadily encroaching on Barbie’s market share.

I would imagine many mothers of young girls are cheering this ruling with every ounce of their being.  For many, the dolls represent everything that we are fighting for our daughters NOT to emulate.

But what's interesting to consider is the success of the Bratz dolls up to this point.  Who is buying these?  How did the Bratz dolls end up as ridiculously popular as they have become? 

Someone is. 

Perhaps it's just a sense of incredulity that any mother would wish their daughters to grow up so fast.  Or maybe some mothers don't believe that the dolls have that much of an influence.

But watching my daughter learn from and imagine with many of her toys and shows, I find that hard to swallow.

And with the dolls being described like this, (via  The Times),

Overtly sexualised, fashion and fame-obsessed, the principal Bratz pursuits are dressing up, going out, parading about in front of a microphone and doing their make-up. They come pre-daubed in garish eyeshadow and mascara, with glossy,collagen-enhanced lips and distinctly minxy, come-hither expressions. They make Barbie look like a Sunday school teacher.

I'm not willing to take a chance.  

And the Barbie comparison is a subject to consider...  Barbie, in her early days, was also viewed with a hefty dose of criticism.   So is that it?  Are there people out there that consider themselves "forward thinking" enough to merit these dolls as worthy for their daughters to play with?  Do they assume that the negative attitude about Bratz dolls is a result of an overtly Puritan attitude and that people need to lighten up and get with the times?


The BBC does an interesting side-by-side analysis of Barbie and Bratz.  The most interesting comparison is where each creator got their inspiration. 

Ruth Handler saw her daughter Barbara imagining her paper dolls in grown-up roles

Carter Bryant based drawings on children he saw walking from school, Steve Madden shoe adverts and the cover of a Dixie Chicks album

So in that vein, some parents may rue the day that Bratz were invented, citing the increasingly  trashy clothes and makeup marketed to the tween set as a result of the Bratz movement.  But I think the trend started far before that.  Yes, the Bratz dolls did NOTHING to help the trash factor in relation to young girls, but one can't go all out and claim that the Bratz dolls started it. 

History has been full of intensely polarizing toys and books.  This set is no different.  

For one, I am thankful that the reign of the prematurely seductive dolls is quite possibly drawing to a close.  But if the inspiration for the dolls is any indication, I'm more than a little fearful for what overwhelming trend will come next. 

Minor Note

For those of you who know us and send Christmas cards to us, and you don't have our new address, drop me an email and I'll forward it along. 

Yes, we moved in April.  No, I haven't passed out the new address.  I chalk it up to having a 6 day old baby at the time of the move. 

Anyway, getting Christmas cards is my absolute favorite thing ever.  This year Bean is all about mail, so I thought I should probably get the address out there so we can actually get some cards.

(And yes, as soon as I get my act together and get a decent picture of either the two kids or all of us, I'm sending ours out too!  Holla if you want one).

Yes, I said holla.  I'm so cool.

Christmas Card Outtakes: Episode 3

On first glance, this isn't THAT bad, (aside from it being rather unfocused).

But then?  Then you see that Bean and I are about to exercise some judo chops.  C is highly skeptical of our skills and Shaun?  Shaun's practicing for his GQ cover shoot.


Bean's been chock full of hilarious sayings in the last few days.  And then there are those things that always make me smile when she says them, like,

"Mommy, YES I MEM!"  (Yes I am)


"Forseys are my favorite animal!  (She is fully able to say horsey, but is convinced that horses are forces).

Yesterday, we were loading up in the car after a birthday party for her friend Caroline.  She got some Goldfish in her party bag (the crackers, not real ones).  I accidentally spilled them on the ground and she burst into tears, telling me indignantly,

"Mommy, spilling Goldfish makes me CRY!"

I asked her what else makes her cry and she thought for a minute, listed a couple of things and ended with this,

"And BAD zebras!"  Because we all know how cranky those bad zebras get.

And then, last night at dinner, we were chatting it up with her and Shaun asked what she wanted to be when she grew up.  Without a bit of hesitation, she shouted,


Hey, at least she has a goal.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Took Miss C to the doctors today for a weight check today and found that she had gained a few ounces, but no more.  She's now officially a peanut.  A small, cute peanut with lots of smiles.  20th percentile.  But the doctor isn't worried.  In any case, we're going back for another weight check at 8 months.  So long as she continues to increase instead of plateauing, we're in good shape.  A good small shape.


Speaking of today's doctor's trip, I totally ran late and didn't get to eat breakfast so afterwards, I stopped at the bagel place and picked up a bagel.  After a second of thought, I decided that I would be ever so nice and pick up a bagel for my bagel loving daughter to share with her daddy.

Best of intentions.

But the drive!  It's so LONG!

Yeah, by the time I got home, both bagels were happily residing in my belly.

I just can't help myself.


Bean has an interesting taste on Christmas as of today.  When asked what she wants, she now says "NOTHING."

She saw a bunch of things on the dining room table that came in the mail and asked what they were.  I said, "Christmas presents".  Shaun asked Bean what he should get her for a Christmas present and she said,

"Nothing!  I don't LIKE Christmas presents!"

She means it.

But weirdly, she has very sweet ideas of what to give everyone else.  C is getting a bagel because C loves bagels.  (That's true).

Not sure where this all came from, but it's pretty funny.  I don't think she'll object to opening some packages on Christmas morning, but we'll see.  :)


I got to take a two hour nap today while my girls slept for 2.5 hours each at the same time.

I felt like super mom.

Or really, after the nap, I didn't feel dead tired, which was pretty super. 


Best part of being used to waking up every few hours?  A nap doesn't result in that awful post nap hangover grogginess anymore.  It's just par for the course.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Product Review: Little Playful Chef's Kit

Bean has loved helping in the kitchen since she was old enough to stand on a chair.  She loves helping with dishes, mixing things in a bowl, and definitely tasting things.

We were given the opportunity to review a Little Playful Chef's Kit and it's been a hit around here.
As soon as the package arrived, Bean BEGGED me to put the apron on her.  I found that the apron was easily adjustable and would fit a variety of sizes.  I love that aspect because I know it'll fit her for years to come.

Oh, she wore the apron for days straight.

The kit includes child-sized tools that are just right for the beginning set to learn their way around kitchen utensils.

But the genius of the product are the recipe cards that accompany the set.  Each card has a shopping list, a tool list, and the recipe.  But the best part is that there are easy ways on each card to engage your child in learning about nutrition, kitchen safety, measurements, and sequencing.

The creator of this product also makes a cookbook.  When reviewing the Little Chef's Kit,  that was my first thought:  "They should SO make a cookbook!"  I'm really excited to pick the cookbook up and start making other recipes.  

Each of the measuring cups and spoons are color coded so that even the youngest child can begin to "read" the recipes by matching the color needed on the recipe card with the color on their utensil.  Bean loved being able to feel independent when I'd ask her to find the right spoon.

The recipes are healthy and VERY easy to understand.  (Rather crucial for the young set).  Bean and I chose to make the pita pizza and found that we both learned things as we read through the cards.

It was an interesting exercise in self control for me as well.  The instructions very clearly state what are kid jobs vs. what are parent jobs.  I had to step back after explaining directions and allow Bean to have at it.  The result was a very self satisfied kid who inhaled the entire dish.  I suspect that had a lot to do with the "I MADE IT!" factor.

All in all, the kit is a big hit at our house.  When not in use, the apron, recipe cards, and tools store in a clear backpack that is easily tucked into a cabinet or hung behind a door.

Playful Life, the company producing this product, is dedicated to teaching kids life skills that will help them as they get older.  The company is dedicated to helping parents teach their kids every day through meaningful activities that are also a ton of fun.  Their products are appealing to kids in so many ways:  colorful, simple, and easy to understand.  I love the company's vision and goals and wouldn't hesitate to buy more of their products in the future.

Anything that helps me have fun with my kids while in the kitchen works for me!  For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Hey Blogger!

Two things that I think would be pretty darn sweet to the blogger populace:

1.  Number the comments.  Oh holy moly, (moley?)  (what does that mean, anyway?)  (Any relation to that song that goes "Mooley mooley, mooley mooley, mooley mooley!"  Does anyone know what I'm talking about?)   Someone find me a way to number comments in blogger so that I don't have to count for giveaways.  Generally, I'm not popular enough to have to count to any number higher than 20, but that cloth diaper giveaway that I'm doing?  It's got more comments than I have fingers or toes, so we might have some difficulties.

2.  If people chose to use word verification, make the things that the rest of us need to type funny...  words like "oompa" or "chimichanga" or "smoosh" are lovely choices.  I think that'd make a sometimes frustrating task ever so much more fun.

Just my thoughts.  Carry on.  :)

Monday, December 1, 2008

C: 7 Months

Hey Sweet Baby,

Happy 7 months and a day!  This has been quite a month for you.  You're hitting milestones left and right. 

This month you learned to clap your hands and grin whenever someone says "YAY!"  Generally speaking, you do this after you're done being fed or when I come and get you in the middle of the night or when you see one of us coming around the corner or... ok, you do it all the time.   And you know it's cute.

You also sprouted your first tooth yesterday.  I'm going to miss you gummy grin more than you can possibly imagine, but I do have to say, a grin with those two bottom teeth is pretty much the next best thing.

This month also marked the occasion of your first word.  You now reach your arms to me when you're upset and say "Mama! MAAA MAA!"  You only do it when you're looking for me or at me.  And as soon as I pick you up, it becomes a quiet "Mamamama" as you either rest your head on my shoulder or burrow your face in my neck. 

It's my favorite thing EVER.  I'm not sure how much trouble you'll be able to get out of by doing that as you get older, but if I were you, I wouldn't stop trying.

You're slowly progressing towards a crawl.  I really thought you'd be everywhere by now.  And when you're rolling around, you are.  But it's nothing compared to a solid crawl.  You can get on your hands and knees, but more often than not, you push yourself backwards.  I would think this would be frustrating.  But you take it in stride, collapse on your belly, and proceed to roll to your destination.  Single minded, you are. 

You went to the doctors at the end of last month and we found something startling.  You went from being a chunk monster to a peanut.  90th percentile for weight straight down to the 30th.  Way to freak me out, kiddo.  I've been trying to pack you full every chance I get, though you're not much on bottles or food.  You like a good cheerio, but that's about it in the solid food realm.  We're working on it.  For now, it's plenty of nursing, plenty of the time.

No one has been sleeping very much around here, mostly due to colds and nightmares.  So we've had our moments (looong moments) snuggling in the deep shadows of the night.  Ever so slowly, you're starting to learn to put yourself back to sleep when you wake up in the night.  Some days, I get out of bed and come to your bedside, only to see you curled up on your stomach, fast asleep. 

I covet a full night's sleep...   But one day, I know that I will look back on those soft encounters in the dark hours of the evening and wish them back.  So for now, I'll hold you close as you settle in against my chest and fall asleep to the rhythm of my heart.  I'll gather you near to me and breath in your soft baby breath.  I'll kiss your cheeks as I settle you back in your warm crib.  And we'll both be content for awhile.

Love always,

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