Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today's Lunch: Vegetarian Style

We've been giving a good effort towards improving our eating habits around here.  In the past, we'd make grand plans to eat better!  More vegetables!  Less sugar!  HEALTHY, HEALTHY, HEALTHY!

But after the first two days of steamed brocccoli and bland chicken, we'd invariably give up and go back to our old ways.

And really, our old way sure tasted delcious, so who could blame us?

But with me being pregnant and Shaun wanting to improve his own health, we decided to it another roll.

This time, we're focusing on great recipes that highlight our favorite vegetables and using proteins (for both of us), and grains (for me) as supplements to the base dish.

I subscribe to Vegetarian Times magazine, which I LOVE, though a lot of the recipes tend to be a bit time consuming or require too many obscure ingredients.

But we got adventurous.  And today?  Today we tried Sesame Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Broccoli.

It was absolutely delicious.  The combination of the lightly browned and roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli and the tangy mixture of sauce was awesome.

The verdict?  A complete hit with everyone, including Bean.  C?   C didn't get to try it this time... She ate this instead:

Not exactly as delectable as our lunch was, but her turn will come.

The recipe itself is in under the link.  (Let me know if you have trouble seeing it).  I adjusted a bit by serving the roasted veggies over a spring mix of lettuce instead of baby spinach (we were out).  I'm not a particularly big fan of ginger, so I left that out as well.  (I also didn't have any).  In the future, we'll also add more broccoli. 

Everyone except for Shaun had a side of quinoa.  I made the quinoa in the rice cooker with three quarters orange juice and one quarter water, which highlighted the flavors in the original recipe.  Other than that?  Wouldn't change a thing.

One thing we noted is that if you don't have some of those ingredients on hand, the initial making of the recipe can be pricey.  But if you consider the possibility of making more dishes that are similar or possibly repeating this recipe, the successive makings are considerably less expensive.

The prep work was minimal and the most time consuming part of the recipe was waiting for the vegetables to roast.  

Anyway, definitely let me know if you give it a go!  I recommend this more highly than the Mac and Cheese from last time.  (So does everyone else).

Who knew healthy could taste so dang good?

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Little Bloggy Love

I'm running here and there and everywhere tonight, so I am going to be neglecting the poor bitty blog, but I wanted to give some love to my good friend Maya of Springtree Road and one of her recent blog posts about a pretty little (big?) thrift store hat that her prettier little (big!) daughter is currently in love with.

Check it out and leave her some love!  Isn't her girl adorable?!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Snow Days

We had a delightful bit of snow right in time for Bean's birthday.  She was absolutely thrilled at the chance to go outside and play in something other than frozen temperatures.  And of course, I was elated to go with her.  
We visited the animals in her zoo where she fed the tigers snow sandwiches and snow noodles.  The bears had a full helping of snow soup.
Then we chased the dogs around and watched them try to eat the snow.  I taught her the ever important snow play mantra, "Watch out where the doggies go, and don't you eat that yellow snow."  She dubbed it "pee-pee snow" and wrinkled her nose when she came across it on her treks through the yard.
We hid in the magic tree for awhile and tried to stay away from the big, giant DRAGON MONSTER!  The tree provides optimal invisibility.

We only thought we saw him a few times...  then he turned into a nice dragon monster, so we invited him into our tree area for a snack and some tea.  Bean was sort of shocked at how big he was.
But he settled right in and we served snow cakes and stick popsicles lightly dusted with some snow sprinkles.  The dragon's particular favorite was the snow pie, but I wasn't a huge fan.  After awhile, the dragon gave Bean a nuzzle and flew off to his cave for a nap.

We went in for dinner and then to bed for some nice dreams, lightly sprinkled with the possibility of more snow.   

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cute Dreams

Last night around 9:30, I went into Bean's room to check on her before tucking myself in.  Bean's eyes weren't closed like they were supposed to be.  Instead, they were as wide as little saucers and she very quietly said to me,

"Mommy...  it went away."  Her face looked so very sad and I still couldn't figure out what she was talking about so I asked her to say it again.

"It went away.  My dream went away!"

I asked her what she was dreaming about. 

"I dreamed I was a cooker in a big kitchen and then...  it went away!" 

She was really bummed.  Like, almost in tears bummed.  So I told her that if she closed her eyes and thought about being a "cooker" again, the dream would probably come back.

Worked like a charm.  She giggled, closed her eyes, and went right back to sleep. 

I like cuteness before I go to sleep.  Makes my dreams that much sweeter, too.

Baby Update

We went to the OB today, (all four of us actually, in the ice covered world where we live... we were quite a sight to see).  Everything checked out and we all got to hear the quiet but rapid heartbeat of what will be our third born. 


And for those of you that want to hate me a little, here's the weight update:  I've lost two pounds since the beginning.  This is despite not getting too terribly sick too often and eating like an adolescent boy.  Trust me, I'm not remotely trying to diet.  (Current craving?  Stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut.  It's not going to happen, but MAN, it sounds good). 

Today has been a MISERABLE day, nausea wise.  I've been feeling really good for a week or two but this morning, I was literally flattened on the bathroom floor for a good half hour.  The grossness of that feeling has lasted all day, through a nap, and into a headache.  I'm really hoping my mom is right and today is just the last hurrah before the blissful second trimester. 

All in all, though, it all looks good.  And I'll take nausea anyday for that to be the truth.

We have one more visit then a sonogram on March 17th.  And yes, we're finding out the sex.  Do you really think we have that kind of patience to wait?!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Bean!

Dear Beanie Girl,

Happy Birthday!  We've stretched the celebration out over the course of the last week and you've been floating high above the earth on a pink cupcake flavored cloud of bliss.  You worked really hard to figure out how to hold up just three fingers to show how old you were going to be on "Jan-oo-ary Twenty Seven".  It cracks me up that you use your thumb and first two fingers instead of your first three.  It looks kind of like you're trying to flash me a gang symbol.  Being as how you've been doing that since you were a wee little thing, it wouldn't surprise me.

Bean on her second birthday

Your likes and dislikes are becoming more pronounced and really give clues as to the you-ness of you.  Your favorite color is pink.  Your favorite food is a bagel, (still!).  You love broccoli and will eat it for a snack any day of the week.  You love dressing up and still prefer wearing a "princess" (skirt) to a pair of pants.  This summer, you practically lived in skirts.  You're more likely to wear long pants now, though I suspect that's more to do with your Daddy keeping the house at 62 degrees than because you really want to.

 "Olive you!" About 2.25 ys old

You've been potty trained for a long time.  You're sleeping well in your own bed and only occasionally crawl between us in the middle of the night.  When you do, you'll roll over and scoot your back against mine and sigh before dropping off to a peaceful sleep.   I can't say I mind those moments too much.

 Bean's first tricycle ride

Your favorite playtime activity is cooking in your play kitchen.  I can't even begin to tell you how many meals I've been served in an odd assortment of dish ware.  You love animals of all kinds, and if you had your choice?  We'd so have a cat.  Being as how I'm as allergic as they come and how we have a dog who would eat it, it's not likely to happen any day soon, but that doesn't stop you from hoping.

 Twenty Seven Months

You'll often come up to me when you should be doing something else, (like going to bed or going potty), and right as I'm about to get stern and send you off, you beat me to the punch and say something like, "I just wanted to hug you!  And now a kiss!"  Considering that you're generally too busy to stop and do that on a normal occassion, I don't fuss too much.

 Bean and Mommy :)

You are your father's daughter in that you're absolutely in your element when you're around a lot of people.  You're finally getting to the point where you don't get too shy when an adult speaks to you directly.  I used to rephrase the question to be more familiar to you or repeat it so you'd have time to think.  Now I have to bite my tongue and refrain from prompting because you'll often come up with your own response.

Showing Her Serious Side

You've taken to saying that you either want to be a chef or an animal doctor when you grow up.  I'd be ok with either, though if you end up as a chef, will you come and live at home again?

 And the not-so-serious side

You love talking on the phone, which is weird beyond belief to me.  Then again, if you're on the other end of the phone, I can't help but being excited to talk to you.  Since you're excited to talk to everyone, it makes sense to me.

 Now a Big Sister

You make a pretense of being frustrated by your little sister sometimes, but when we're out without her, you ask about her constantly.  After she wakes up from her nap, you'll often yell, "I'M GOING TO SEE C!" and race in there to say hello.  You LOVE making her laugh and she'd laugh at you before anyone else.  I hope and pray every day that you and C will always love each other, even when you're driving each other bat crazy.

Getting Bigger, And Showing a Flash of 16 yo Bean

I hear people tell me constantly, "Enjoy it!  It goes fast!"  And it does.  My heart aches a little daily at how quickly you're getting older.  I try to remember those first moments of your babyhood and have found that the crispness of the memories are fading with time.  Part of me rails against you getting older.  I want you to be 3, 2, 1, and a newborn all at once.  I want to scoop you up and drink in your first smile.  I want to catch you in my arms after your first steps.  I want to hear you call me Mama again.  I want to have these moments every day.

Bean's Best Buddy

As I'm grasping at the early memories, you'll run up and smile and I catch a glimpse of that first gummy grin behind your toothy smile.  I'll sense a wobbly first step in your running leaps.  I'll hear that baby lisp in the first hours of the morning when you call for me from your bed.  You're 3.  But you're 2 and 1 and earlier, all wrapped up in a pretty little package that still grins at me, runs to me, and reaches for me.  And the complexity of a person that you've become is made of those moments.  3 doesn't replace 2 just as 2 didn't replace 1.  It's all you.  And I couldn't love you more.

Happy 3rd Birthday!



Monday, January 26, 2009

Mean Maraca

With my kid and her superhero hearing picking up every. single. word. breathed. when I get mad in the car, I think I need this hack.

The Mean Maraca via Parent Hacks

It reminds me of the time that Shaun got cut off by some crazy lady and instead of getting mad and yelling, we drove up next to her and took a few stuffed animals from the back and made them dance in the window at her.  We were laughing too hard to be mad anymore and she?  Well who knows, but if she didn't think about her craziness a little and loosen up, I'd be a little concerned about her lack of a sense of humor.

Weekly Preview

I might not post anything substantial today as I'm working on Bean's birthday post and a post about the CPSIA nonsense.

I think last week I managed to hit 4 out of my 6 intended posts.  Not bad!  This week, here's what's on my agenda:

  • A product review and giveaway on Wednesday.
  • Bean's 3rd birthday post
  • Possibly merging my archives by the end of this week.  Possibly.
  • Another cloth diaper post.  Finally.
  • A baby update after Wednesday's appointment.  (We need a nickname!)

And copious amounts of pics and stories from around here.  Because the four of us are finally well, I'm really, really hoping to venture out and DO things.  I'm tired of being in my house 24-7.  Goofy germs.

OH!  And we're supposed to FINALLY get snow tonight and tomorrow.  If that's the case, we will absolutely have snow pictures.  There's nothing my kid would want more than to gambol around in the snow on her birthday.  (If we don't get snow, I might cry big salty tears and sequester myself in bed until I'm given a ticket to a tropical island. Because if we don't get snow?  I wanna be somewhere WARM!)

That's all for now!  Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Would Have Googled It, But I Was Laughing Too Hard

Bean, to us, after petting one of our dogs,

"Where... where's the doggie's belly button?"

Shaun and I looked at each other.  Neither one of us really knew the answer to that... or even if dogs had belly buttons at all?  Anyone?

Shaun told her he wasn't sure dogs had belly buttons.  She wasn't entirely satisfied but went with it.

This is right after she did her dramatic retelling of her favorite Bible story, except this time, somehow, a princess appeared in the middle of Daniel and the Lion's Den.  (Or Daniel and the Dandelions, if you prefer). 

She's a trip.  And almost three!  I'll have a big update on Miss Bean this Tuesday :)

Friday, January 23, 2009


Guess who slept for 9.5 hours straight last night?

That's right.  This girl.

Every. Single. Stinking. YEAR.

I put all of my Christmas paraphernalia away at least a month ago.  And because we were relatively organized this year, I assumed that I had gotten it all into the appropriate boxes.

Apparently... I forgot what happens when you assume. 

Look what I finally noticed staring at me from the kitchen shelf:

Sneaky little booger.   

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today's Breakfast

We needed a little "yum" in our lives

How's your day going? 

A Year Ago

It was over a year ago that we took Miss Beanie Bean to San Diego for an awesome vacation complete with me being able to touch a REAL. LIVE. DOLPHIN. 

My brain almost exploded at that time.  It still makes me giggle with glee to think about that trip. 

Anyway, I happened to be looking through some old picture files and found this one: 

She's holding an orange, freshly picked from an orange tree in the backyard of our gracious hosts.  I was just getting used to my new camera at the time, hoping to get good enough to take some pretty shots of the baby due about four months later. 

Bean was entering into that delightful stage of curiosity and glee over everything. 

It was one of, if not the best vaction I've ever taken.  I remember stressing a bit about the new baby's arrival, wondering how I'd manage, how I'd love both of them equally. 

I was pregnant enough to show a smidge, but not enough to be completely uncomfortable. 

I wasn't sure life could get better.

It did. 

And I know that next year with our new little family member, I'll look back on the pictures from this month and think the same thing. 

And that?  That's awesome. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Problem? MANAGED

I now have 39 messages in my inbox.  NONE of them are unread.

I might have deleted the one email that had the meaning of life in it, but really...  how am I missing what I didnt know was there?

So, in short... if you have emailed me in the last three years and I never responded?  Kindly email me again.  I promise I will write back.  :) 


(And I am checking out OtherInbox!  Might be the anser for my pack-ratty needs)

WFMW: Myself Belts - Teaching Toddler Independence and a GIVEAWAY!

When Bean potty trained and started wearing normal underoos, her pants went from fitting normally to perpetually falling off of her non-existant hips.  Elastic waisted pants were easier and didn't droop.  But the jeans and khaki pants?  She'd either run around with one hand constantly yanking her drawers up, or the pants would fall down around her knees by the time she'd slow down enough for me to hike them back up.

It was driving me INSANE.

So I bought a few regular belts and those did the job quite nicely.

Except the poor kid could not for the life of her figure out how to undo the belt and get herself to the bathroom when necessary.  When she'd try, half the time, she'd end up having an accident because it'd take so long.  It actually set us back as she started to be extremely reluctant to go to the bathroom on her own.

So a solution needed to be found.

Enter Myself Belts.  Created by enterprising moms who not only saw the same problem I saw, but put their efforts into finding a solution.

Myself Belts are made with a snap on one end that fastens onto a belt loop and a piece of velcro on the outer side of the snap.

 The other end has a corresponding piece of velcro so that when the belt is threaded through the loops, the loose end can be fasted onto the stationary piece with one hand.

 (Much clearer instructions here). 

This belt is absolutely awesome.  Bean loves being able to do it one handed and by herself.  I love not having to correct her plumbers crack every time she wears a pair of jeans.

The belts come in leather, patterned webbing, and metallic patterns.  From fancy to casual, there's a belt for every occasion for every kid.
We're on our second belt here, having grown out of the first one.  I can easily say that we'll continue to purchase these for our kids as long as they need them.  I would suggest ordering a size bigger than what you'd think you'd need as it's easy to cinch the belt tightly, but not so easy to cinch it at all when it gets too small.

Myself Belts also make larger sized belts for special needs adults and teens with dexterity problems.  I love that.

For one of you lucky readers, the generous creators of Myself Belts have agreed to give away a belt!  Comment on this post by February 4th with your favorite item or way to help you kid gain a little independence and I'll randomly chose a winner on the eve of February 4th.  The winner will get a girls belt or a boys belt in the size of their choosing!  Best wishes!

Things that teach my kiddos independence work for me!  For more WFMW tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I've Got Issues

So, there are 6394 messages in my Gmail box. 

WHAT THE HECK IS IT ALL?  Why am I compelled to avoid the delete button?  It's like pack-rat-ism in a virtual sense.

Worse?  There are 1463 unread messages. 

I think I need to take care of that.  My brain feels cluttered.  (More than usual, that is.  :)

The Most Amazing Mac and Cheese You'll Ever Have I Promise and Swear

Yeah, it's that good. A few days ago, I picked C up after her nap and snuggled her into the couch with me to watch the end of Food Network's Food Network Challenge. Five chefs had gathered to compete in making the assigned dish to see which would win the judge's favor. The assigned dish? Mac and Cheese.

Everything looked so good, I had no choice but to hunt up a recipe and haul myself to the grocery store for ingredients.

So I popped online and found this recipe, which I'll reprint here for your stomach's delight. My additions/substitutions are in italics.

Oh, and warning, it's kind of rich and well, really delicious.

Here goes!

Cornbread Topped Apple Macaroni and Cheese

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon - olive oil
1 cup - diced yellow onion
2 cups - cornbread muffin crumbles (store bought), about 2 large I used regular breadcrumbs because I didn't have time to make cornbread and the store didn't have any prepared.  I really think a cup and a half is plenty, too.
2 cups - uncooked elbow noodles
1/4 cup - all-purpose flour
1 cup - half and half
1 cup - whole milk
1/2 teaspoon - salt
1/2 teaspoon - black pepper
1/2 teaspoon - ground cinnamon
1 lb. (16 oz) brick - Tillamook® Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated Any cheese brand will do.  The company that sponsored the contest where this recipe won is Tillamook cheese. 
1 1/2 cups - diced Granny Smith apples (or other tart apples)  I would have added a smidgen more, actually.  The Granny Smiths were DELICIOUS in this.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cornbread crumbles, stir to combine and remove from heat. Set aside.

To prepare the macaroni and cheese, begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook about two minutes or until roué is golden. Good Roux or Roué is the element responsible for holding your cheese sauce together and keeping it creamy, so don't rush this step.  Slowly whisk in half and half and milk; stir until the mixture has thickened and slightly darkened, about three minutes. Season the sauce with the salt, pepper and cinnamon.

Slowly add the grated Sharp Cheddar cheese, a little at a time; and stir until completely melted. Remove pan from heat. Mix in the reserved noodles and apples. Stir until well combined. Pour the pasta mixture into a greased 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish and top with reserved cornbread mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly, golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

I think you could possibly prepare this ahead of time and heat it later, though that may do weird things to the cheese.  You can shred your cheese and cut your apples ahead of time though.  If you do that, this only takes about 15 minutes to prepare, and then while it's baking, you can clean up and set the table, etc.  

I know at least one person who doesn't like mushy apples.   Because all of the components of this dish are hot when you combine them except the apples, I think you could bake it for 20 minutes and have the apples warm, but still crisp.  Actually, that's kind of what we did... unintentionally.  I was really impatient and wanted to eat so I took it out early and the apples were great :)

It was a hit with everyone and I ate it for three meals the next day.  (I'm PREGNANT, people!  Leave me be!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Impeccable Timing, Really

Bean has never been prone to the stomach flu.  In fact, she's only had the stomach flu once.  I was 9 weeks pregnant with C and my gag reflex was on a hair trigger.  Needless to say, the two of us shared space in the bathroom until she was over the bug. 

But that's been it. 

Until today.  When I'm 11 weeks pregnat with Baby #3.  And pukey. 

Shaun had just gotten out of the shower and was dressed and dapper for a nice dinner and a movie with yours truly.  Beanie Bean was sitting on his lap bouncing around when WHAM! 

Yeah, I'll just let you fill that WHAM in on your own.

I've never really seen Shaun move that fast.  Poor kid had a few more bouts before she was done. 

So we cancelled our date and stayed home to care for the Spewmeister. 

I. Don't. Do. Vomit. .

Luckily, I married a saint, and he cleaned EVERYTHING up.  Everything! 

And Bean?  Hasn't been sick since. 

Hey, if we're going to deal with spew, at least it's short lived.

I hope.

I'm just amazed at the timing!  She's good.  Very, very good.  Shaun told her that next time she wants us to stay home from a date, all she has to do is ask. 

Growing Pains

"Failure to thrive"

My heart dropped down out of my body and slunk out the door. My kid wasn't growing, that much was abundantly clear. But "failure to thrive?" That brought to mind kids from neglectful homes, struggling to survive from lack of care. My little ball of lovable sunshine was as far from those images as I could get.

Yet, it was what it was.

For four months, sweet C didn't put on a bit of weight. Her height and head circumference grew a smidge, but not much. The truly alarming factor was that she had gone from the 90th percentile to practically off the charts. And while I'd heard time and time again that those charts are meant for a guideline, I also knew that a sharp drop in weight gain like that was something to be concerned over, percentages or not.

Initially, the doctor suggested I start supplementing, assuming that her main problem was a lack of milk from me. I agreed to start with a guilty conscience. If that were the problem, had I just gone 4 months into starving my own kid? But deep down, I suspected this wasn't the problem. She always ate thoroughly, finished happily, and very, very rarely would cry because she was hungry.

But we started the bottles anyway. And surprise, surprise, she decided she'd actually take one after all. (Before this point, she refused bottles with a mighty effort). She sometimes prefers to take a bottle than nurse, as it allows her to look all over the place while eating. But when she's mellow and sleepy, we still have sweet nursing sessions with her tucked into my lap.

In addition to the supplementing, her doctor sent us to the lab to get blood drawn.

The prospect of taking my baby in to give vials of blood freaked me right out.

I didn't sleep well the night before, I felt sick the whole time we were waiting. And then? We get into the room where the tech had me hold her hand down. She put the needle in, eventually found a vein, and drew the necessary blood. And the kid? Not even one whimper. She's a champ. I needed a hug afterwards, but she was all smiles. Trooper.

A few days ago, we got the results which were initially frustrating. The lab messed up the birth date and put mine in instead, thus running a report with her blood against ideal results for a 27 year old woman. Not exactly what we were looking for. But the doctor was able to hand chart most of the results and ruled out the biggies.

He did note that her immunoglobulins were low. Not crisis low, but low enough to note. This can suggest a few things, all of which are treatable and manageable. But in order to narrow down the options, he wants us to test her blood again this coming week.


Anyway, that's where we are. Trying to pack the little one full of nutrients to help her grow. Trying to decipher what if anything, is amiss with her little body.
There's still that chance that she's just charting herself to be majorly tiny. Like Mommy.

And that wouldn't be a bad thing. We small people have WAY more places to hide during hide and seek.

All in all, keep us in your thoughts and prayers this coming week and as we wait for results. This could be nothing, and that's what we're hoping for. But on the off chance that something is not quite right, we'd appreciate the love!

(And really, how could someone that cute have anything wrong at all? You know?!)

Baby Products and Registries: Swings, Bouncers and Exersaucers

Here we are with another installment!  If you missed them, here are the posts on:


On today's agenda?   Those great products that give your wee ones a safe place to play or sleep while you catch a shower, a snack, or just your breath.  None of these are really essential, though all are nice to have in their own way.

Swings, Bouncers, and Exersaucers

Surprisingly, there are quite a few options when it comes to swings.  The main two types are full sized and travel sized.

Full sized swings often have the option of swinging the baby side-to-side as well as front-to-back.  This is a nice option for when you have a particularly fussy child who has definite preferences from day one. 

These also tend to have more bells and whistles.  Reclining seats, toy trays, spinning mobiles, and more than one or two speeds. 

Older style swings operate on a hand crank, and they can be noisy and frustrating to use.  (This really is only an option if you get a really old one).  Most others are operated on battery power, though some have battery power AND an AC adapter, which is golden, especially if your little one refuses to sleep elsewhere in the early weeks and you want to avoid middle of the night battery changes.  (You have enough to do in changing your child).  

Travel sized swings can be folded up and stored very easily, making them the ideal solution in tight spaces.  They're also easy to transport, which makes for nice visits to places where your little one may not have a place to sit. 

These also generally have music and attached toys, though they're often more limited than a full sized swing. 


Bouncers are small chair like seats with a harness that sometimes vibrate or bounce.  They are highly portable and many, many parents swear by their usefulness in allowing them to shower while keeping the baby close by. 

Some bouncers have toy bars suspended above the seat.  Some of these play music or light up.  More often than not, these can be removed. 

Some bouncers are battery operated and vibrate while others rely or a baby's natural motion to bounce. 


These are round activity centers with a rotating seat in the middle for the baby to sit in.  They are generally rated from aged 4 months and up, though some doctors don't recommend that babies use them until 6 months old or until their head control is extremely established. 

Some exersaucers come loaded with toys and musical components in every available space.  Others, (generally older models), are relatively bare which allows versitility with which toys you chose to put on there.  A nice feature of having attached toys is that you're not going to be constantly fetching fallen toys from the floor. However, the same toys over and over can get boring for a baby.  The best models have detachable toys with open spaces for snacks or additional toys to be rotated in. 

These are generally large and don't collapse easily for storage or travel.  (For an Exersaucer alternative, check out my review on the Pop-A-Tot)

Pros and Cons

Very few kids like all three of these, nor do you remotely need all three to have options when you need them.  So which one is right for you and your baby?  Unfortunately, what your little one will like is really not determinable until they make their arrival.  My suggestion is to initially borrow these, find out what your kid likes, and then get one thing to start.  But, even with that, each of these have their own pros and cons.  You can use these from birth onward.

Swing Pros
Most babies love swings.  I've heard of very few who fuss while in a swing, particularly when they're very small.  The rapid sway motion is similar to the motion they experience in the womb.  Swings also allow your baby to be slightly upright, which many babies prefer, especially when young.   You can have two options of direction of the swing, which adds more versatility to finding what your baby will love.  Swings are often soothing enough to get a baby to sleep, which can save the sanity of a sleepless mom or dad. 

Swing Cons
The big ones are bulky and take up a considerable amount of room.  The small ones sometimes don't generate enough oomph to soothe a particularly fussy child.  They can be rather expensive.  If you kid is dependant on the swing, you might have a hard time getting them to sleep elsewhere.  If your swing is battery operated, you can potentially spend a FORTUNE on batteries. 

Bouncer Pros
They are small enough to take almost anywhere.  It's easy to go from room to room, which is nice if your little one has fallen asleep and you need to move.  They can be very inexpensive, (though some extremely expensive options are out there as well).  They can vibrate, which is sometimes enough to conk out the most fussy child.  They also respond to your baby's movement which can be soothing all on its own.  You can use these from your baby's birth onward. 

Bouncer Cons
Some kids really hate the bouncer seat.  Some kids love it.  It's one of those pieces of baby gear that you'll never really know if your kid likes until you try it.  Some don't fold up completely, which makes for awkward storage.  The more sleek options without to plethora of plastic are often ridiculously expensive.  They can be dangerous if left on a table or counter in the vicinity of another kid.  (Best advice, use on the floor only)

Exersaucer Pros
These are great entertainment for an older baby.  They allow for a baby to take in their surroundings from a new perspective, which is often enough to entertain a baby alone.  They are sturdy and tip proof.  They last far longer into babyhood than a swing or a bouncer.  When your baby gets to the age that they're crawling and getting into everything, this is a safe place for them to play while you cook or do what you need to do. 

Exersaucer Cons
These are HUGE.  They are giant, plastic beasts and can't be stored easily.  They can't be used until a later age than a bouncer seat or a swing can be used.  They can be expensive and sometimes overwhelming. 

Swings, Bouncers, and Exersaucers are all great places for your baby to safely play or rest while you need to get something done.  As with anything, these shouldn't replace you interacting and holding your child.  But in moderation, one or a couple of these can be a lifesaver to a tired parent in need of a break, a shower, or a sandwich.  :)

After I give a rundown of most things you can get in preparation for your munchkin's arrival, (or even after your kiddo gets here), I'm going to give my list of the best of the best in each category.  This will be based on personal use, friend recommendations, and reviews.  Stick around!  

For now, definitely let me know what you think of any of the above and if you have a favorite, post it here!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Coming Attractions

I've been a total slacker in posting lately.

But my linen closet and coat closet couldn't be cleaner!

Seems as if nesting is taking over. It's absolutely wonderful for the state of my house, but it's not helping my blogging.

Anyway, this coming week will be better. Chock full of fun, even!

1. Another Cloth Diapering 101 post. This one will focus on care and troubleshooting.

2. A review AND giveaway of one of my favorite toddler items to date.

3. Another baby gear must have post. Not entirely sure what will strike me to write about here. We'll see.

4. A reprint of a recipe for one of the most unusual and delicious batches of homemade mac and cheese you'll ever have.

5. Possibly a list of random things I'm trying to find new homes for in all of my reorganizing.

6. A new and in-depth look at the CPSIC law. It ain't pretty, folks... and it's just getting uglier.

And all of this will be sprinkled with my usual (before slacking) smatterings of Bean and C stories and pics.

Stay Tuned!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too Cool To Sleep

The other day, I went into Bean's room to wake her from her nap and discovered my little diva decided that she must maintain her coolness even while in bed.

I had to bribe her to get her to stay still and let me take a picture.  But for the amount of laughing I did when I encountered her hilariously somber face (before the photo session), and those shades were worth the price I had to pay to get a picture to capture the memory.  Nice :)


Last night, C went to bed at 7, woke at 2:30am to nurse, and slept until 6:30am.  (And then nursed and went back to sleep AGAIN)**

It was like a miracle. 

We've been on an upward swing for awhile, which has been lovely.  Last night was the culmination of several weeks of progress. 

But the irony?  At 1am, my oldest little love comes a knocking.  And woke me up. 

And then became our little space heater.

A space heater that smacks us between the eyes in her sleep.

But it was ok.  I actually feel more rested than I've felt in a LONG time.  Blessings!

(**Our routine was formed after MUCH tweaking.  7pm worked for Bean when she was a baby and works for C just as well.  Cry-it-out, for many, many reasons, some of which I will talk about soon, doesn't work for my little second born.  What happened last night works for us, and that's what matters. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Text Message FAIL

Yesterday, I was doing 11 things at once and intermittantly texting with my friend Emilie. Earlier in the day she saw our new van and later texted me saying,

"Your van looks like it's in really nice shape."

I fired a text right back and waited for her response. it took a bit longer than expected. It read,

"it took a minute, but I think I understand what you meant."

Of COURSE I had to look back at what I sent! What I had meant to say was,

"yeah! gotta love a type people who keep things in the garage!"

But what was said was entirely different,

"Yeah! Gotta love a type people who keep thongs in their garage!"

Takes on a whole new meaning, there :)

I'm glad I only text with those who can laugh with me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

C- 8 Month Update - Belated Style

My Dear Sweet C,

Um, Mommy is a slacker.  You should probably get that message now so that when you're 14 and I do something slacker-ish, you know it's because I can't help it and I still love the bits out of you.

Here's your 8 month update, a good two weeks late.  I'm going to call it an 8.5 month update, because really, there's no way in tarnations that I'm going to remember what happened before and after you turned 8 months. 

I'm certainly not lacking in things to talk about in terms of what you've been up to this month.  You started crawling, army style.  This allows you to fixate on something across the room and actually get there.  I don't think you could be more pleased with yourself.  A few days ago, the something you wanted to get was me.  Watching you haul yourself across the floor with a giant grin on your face made my whole day.  I like being the object of your affection. 

You're also sitting up from lying down.  This happened MUCH later for Bean, so I was second guessing that it was really happening until I actually caught you in the act.  This cuts down on your frustration levels as I'm sure that all of that flailing around on your belly really is tiring. 

You're still sporting the same two teeth from last month with no new ones on the horizon.  But I'm sure they're coming, and I'm sure sleep will disappear as a result.

You're waving hello and goodbye now and I truly don't think there's much that can make you happier than a room full of people to grin and wave at.  It's a good thing that most people are captivated by your antics and wave and grin right back.

You're also grasping the meaning of shaking your head "no" and nodding "yes".  About 2 times out of 5, you will shake or nod your head in response to a question I'm asking you.  And those times, it makes sense.  The other times, you're just imitating me.  It still shocks me that you're quickly reaching the communicative point in your babyhood and that more words or signs are going to quickly follow.  Your ridiculously verbal sister started talking by 9 months, so I'm interested to see where you land.

And baby girl, in about 7 months, you'll no longer be the littlest baby in our house.  Part of me is sad that your babyhood is going to have to be so short.  But I'm so thankful that I listened to my instincts and took every opportunity to snuggle, cuddle, and sort of spoil you when I could.  I never realized that the time I could do that would be cut short by the needs of another, littler person, but I'm glad that I took those chances. 

And C?  Please start growing.  You've completely stalled in weight and we're trying to figure out what's up.  Start packing on the pounds please, so Mommy can stop stressing, k?  At 15 pounds, maybe it's as simple as you wanting to stay light enough that I'll carry you around everywhere.  If that's the case, just drop me a note or something to let me know.  And realize that a pound or two?  it's not going to stop me from snuggling you as many chances as I can get. 

I love you from here to there and everywhere,


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Overheard at the Dinner Table

Earlier today, Bean sat at the table making two stalks of broccoli talk to each other.  This is the conversation they had:

"It's time for bed."

"I don't want to go to bed."

"You HAVE to go to bed."


"Because I said so."


"Because I'm the king of the world and I said so."

Looks like someone is paying close attention to the King Daddy set of reasoning as to why she needs to do what she's told at times.

But then, she followed with this,

"And I'm the princess of the world!"

Not sure if the Princess Broccoli won that one or King Broccoli did. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

TJ Maxx and Marshalls - My Kind of Shopping

I'm a bargain hunter.  I thrill at getting the best deal possible for something.  A good day in my book is when I can come careening into the house after a grocery trip and frantically wave my receipt at Shaun while shouting, "LOOK HOW MUCH I SAVED!"

So it's no surprise that I love TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  So when given the opportunity to go shopping and talk about my experience, I jumped!  Both Marshalls and TJ Maxx are what I would categorize as a discount department store.  You can find the same goods that you would find in your local Macy's or Sears or Hechts (do they still have those?).  But due to overstocks, unusual selling patterns, and quick cycling merchandise, these two stores are able to offer name brand products at a fraction of the price. 

I danced happily into Marshalls before Christmas to do some last minute gift purchasing.  Shaun and I split at the door and I headed immediately into the toy section.  Marshalls always has great toys for way cheaper than other stores.  I'm a huge fan of wooden toys, both to gift and buy for our family, and these are never in short supply.  I bought a little friend a cute pet care set that was regularly $24.00 elsewhere.  I paid $12.00.  50% off is nothing to sneeze at, for sure.

Shaun came over with three boxes of snow boots in Bean's size and one lone ADORABLE boot that he was unable to find a match for in the entire store.  That marked the one disappointment that I had that night and have had a bit in the past... because the stores are generally busy and chock full of bargains, the stock is sometimes disorganized and tough to sift through.  However, a bit of digging generally remedies the situation. 

We walked out of there that night with a pair of snowboots for Bean, three toys for other kids, and a book.  For about $25.00.  Not too shabby.

TJ Maxx is very similar to Marshalls, though our local one is considerably bigger and focuses more on clothing than toys and homegoods.  It's the go to place for socks and underoos.  No doubt.  I also found several sweet dresses and outfits for the girls that make me happy.  I do feel that to a degree, you get what you pay for as far as brand names.  The nice part at TJ Maxx is that I can get my brand name clothing at a considerable discount. 

Both stores have recently upgraded their checkout system, putting to end a system of misery that used to exist.  The people are friendly (so long as you're friendly to them), and the merchandise is plentiful.  If you're looking for quality products at great prices, give these places a try before venturing to a real department store.

Keep most of your money where it belongs.  In your pocket.  :)

No One Will Ever Claim She Lacks Personality

The other night, Shaun and Bean went out on the back deck to check out a gorgeous sky full of stars.  Shaun took the camera out and while he didn't get a single picture of the stars, he got a few hilarious ones of the munchkin.  Enjoy:

Cheesin' it up
One of those moments where she had no idea the camera was headed her way... love that genuine grin.
And then there are the moments where she hams it up.  And how!
My personal favorite.  Looks like her daddy... full of mischief :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Evening Rambles

I just ate mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  Mixed together.  It was so delicious that I might make a big container and just keep it near my bed for midnight snacks. 

Skipping C's morning nap and then driving home during the time of her afternoon nap with hopes she'll transfer easily inside is wishful thinking.  WISE UP, SELF, WISE UP!We

Winter is no fun unless there's snow.  So weather?  LISTEN ON UP, BUSTER!  Give me snow or give me balmy 70 degree weather and a tropical drink with an umbrella! 

Bean survived a cold without getting an ear infection.  This is a minor miracle.  I think it's because she sneezed all of the germs all over me instead of letting them settle in her head.  She's a generous girl, don't you think?

We are now that family.  We have a minivan.  A craigslist ad with a price that was too good to pass up has resulted in us getting our very own blue 2002 Sienna.  And as much as you might get to make fun of me for it, it's a sweet ride.  You should hear the sound system. 

I had three friends have baby girls in the past few weeks.  They've all chosen gorgeous names.  If we have a girl, I seriously fear for the poor child's psyche as we have NO girls' names whatsoever.  Suggestions?  (Ok, we'll take boy suggestions too :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Update on Upcoming Ban on Reselling Children's Items

Again, courtesy of BabyCheapskate:

Mariel, who runs a twins club, wrote me to say that her club contacted the legislative clerk for the Consumer Trade and Consumer Protection sub committee and was told that under the CPSIA they will be allowed to have third-party sales such as their yard sales. Looks like consignments sales and yard sales may be okay. I'm looking forward to seeing an official public announcement on the matter.

In a recent post here on BC a reader also comments that her local Freecycle group sent out an email telling members that gifting on Freecycle will still be allowed.
Also, in the comments, an anonymous reader posted several ways to try to help change this new bill:

What can you do?
1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman 888-531-9070.

Comments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30, 2009.

2) Email or snail mail your representatives.

3) Call your representatives. For their contact information just enter your zip code.

4) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue. The top 3 in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.

5) Sign the petition.

6) Spread the word! Write about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and encourage them to do the same.

7) Join others in fighting this cause.
Facebook group
Twitter search

8) Join the etsy community in the virtual chat with CPSIA Small Business Ombudsmen or send a handmade children’s item that will become “hazardous goods” as of 2/9/09 to Bobby Rush, founder of H.R. 4040.

WFMW: Smelly Washer Review and Giveaway!

I have a smelly washer.  It smells like wet socks that have been left in the dryer for two weeks. 

In other words, gross.

But I should rephrase.  I HAD a smelly washer.  Awhile ago, I posted a cry for help to try to get my washer odor eliminated.  I'd tried EVERYTHING.  I left the door open, I cleaned it out with bleach, I sprinkled holy water on it, EVERYTHING.  Some things would work for a day or two, and then I'd notice that awful mildew odor creeping back. 

Turns out, in most HE washers, water and detergent residue get built up behind the seal and start to form mold. 

Gross, isn't it? 

Anyway, one of the comments on that post was from the creator of Smelly Washer.

Smelly Washer Solution is billed as an all natural (VERY important to me) solution to smelly washer odor. 

A quick email exchange later, and he agreed to send me a container for testing. 

Enter a chorus of angels singing. 

Because it's nearly impossible to get the water level high enough to soak the upper part of the seal, I did have to wipe behind it once with a few clorox wipes.  Then I set the washer up to soak, added the Smelly Washer solution, and added some more water.  It sat for hours and did its thing.  (For more detailed instructions for your particular type of washer, visit the Smelly Washer Blog)

Then I set it to spin and drain.  And that?  That was probably the grossest part of all.  Little moldy flecks were pouring into the sink and smelled AWFUL. 

I repeated the process twice and then?

Then I opened the washer door and gingerly stuck my head in to smell...


It's awesome.  Worth the money and the time.

I'll continue to use Smelly Washer to maintain a mildew free washer tub and I have no doubt it will continue to do its job like a charm!  

For you, my lovely readers, I have a container to share!  Comment on this post with the grossest description of your smelly washer smell, and I'll randomly pick a winner two weeks from today.  (January 21st 2009).

Things that take mildew odor out of my washer REALLY work for me.  For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.
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