[Top Ten Tuesday] Favorite Baby Items: 4-12 Months

Is it terrible that I can barely recall this time?  I mean…it wasn’t that long ago but I am struggling to remember our concerns were, what Harry used, and what we preferred.  Initially the memories are fuzzy because you’re sleep deprived, nursing all hours of the night, and just trying to maintain some composure.  Then you realize it’s fuzzy because it’s happening so…stinkin’…fast.

A lot of the same favorite items from 0-1 month and 1-3 months stayed at the top of our list as the months continued.  The Ergo and Moby continued to be worth every little penny.  Cloth Diapers are a way of life around these parts.  We sent Coconut Oil to Harry’s new school in the place of traditional diaper cream.  And the one about Zero Expectations?  That’s not going anywhere.  The following items emerged as the year ticked on and, whether a singular item made the list or a theme emerged, these are in no particular order:

Maclaren  Umbrella Stroller – Now of course you don’t need a Maclaren stroller specifically.  We just happen to love ours a whole lot.  We debated strollers for a long time – “test driving” just about every kind you can imagine.  And as we got closer to our Chicago trip last October, we had to pull the trigger.  An umbrella stroller just made sense – it needed to break down quickly and easily, be light enough to walk around/travel with, and durable enough to withstand a lot of city walking.   Maclaren is generally a great quality stroller and I geeked out over the shoulder strap for ease of carry when it’s closed.  Throw in the fact that we scored a great deal on the floor model that we could still use a BBB coupon with…sold.

Toys/Jumperoo/Walker  – Several of the toys mentioned in the 1-3 Month Post were still toys that H loved.  Our favorite trick was to rotate through toys, hide some for a while, and then he’d flip out when he found them again.  Not books, though.  Books are always available and never in shortage.  Three of his very favorites to read through together and on his own: My Big Animal Book,  Spanish Words, and, to my heart’s delight The Very Hungry Caterpillar (surprise surprise, he loves the food). Some of the new toys we introduced at this time we kept appropriate for his developmental stage.  The Rainforest Jumperoo he inherited from his cousins was a massive hit until he was about 9 months old.  When “cruising” officially started, he wanted nothing to do with stationery activity.  His sweet friend Lucy lent him her Melissa and Doug Chomp & Clack Alligator walker and he is still in love with this guy.  He also grew more interested  in tactile toys – standouts being the B Squeeze Blocks  and good ole Stacking Rings.  The other favorite toys are the somewhat obvious balloons and the bouncy balls from the wire cages at WalMart (you don’t really need a link for those, do you?).

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Legwarmers – H’s Aunt Steph likes to make fun of his love for legwarmers.  Okay, my love for legwarmers and Matt’s inability to stop me from putting them on our son.  But the truth is that when H got more and more active, these were more than just aesthetically pleasing.   They became the best way to keep increasingly active legs warm, and change diapers as “the flip” came into play.  You know what I mean…the flip that makes diaper
changing and dressing babes SO MUCH more difficult.  With these I don’t need to go through the extra steps of pulling up pants on a babe who just saw the remote control across the room and wants nothing to do with me.  A onesie + legwarmers is my absolute favorite combo (when it’s too cold for just a cloth diaper).  They became our go-to for around the house lounging.  Okay, maybe some errands, too.

Lovey…and a backup! – I referenced this in the last Top Ten favorites as an afterthought.  Well afterthought no more…this kid is in LOVE with his bunny, Stinky.  Why the name Stinky?  Because he chews on the ears until they’re hard and crusty and smell to high heaven.   But he also walks around dragging him by an ear or arm, Stinky trailing behind him like Michael Darling and his teddy bear in Peter Pan.  It’s absolutely precious.   Some kids never take to stuffed animals but I think most little persons find comfort in something – a pacifier or blanket – and my advice as soon as you identify that object is to STOCK UP.  Stinky was getting some wear and when he lived up to his name, we’d take him from H for a day to wash and let him air dry.  When I wised up to the idea of a backup, I discovered he was discontinued and sold out.  Not cool, Jellycat.  I placed orders on random online boutiques, three times getting an email that they were out of stock and unable to fulfill my order.  FINALLY one came in the mail and with how excited I was, you’d think the bunny was my lovey.  Now we rotate them and never let Harry see that more than one exists.

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Music TableI mentioned several toys earlier but this one deserves to stand alone.  You may recall that Matt and I are anti-battery operated toys.  We’re not total grinches – we just prefer constructive toys that don’t play the same songs over and over or randomly start talking in the middle of the night (it happens…and it’s creepy).  We love BOOKS and activities that incite the imagination.  But this toy is our big exception.  You can choose different options (so it’s not always the same sounds or theme) and H was playing with it as soon as hand-eye coordination strengthened.  And it’s what kickstarted his dancing…and we love his dancing.  Do the same songs, phrases, and noises still get stuck in our head?  Of course, but his little bouncing bottom makes it all worth it.

Bath Tub / Toys – Harry always enjoyed bath time   After he fought with RSV at 4 weeks old, he even loved the warm showers we’d take with him to help him breathe clearly.  But since the time he could sit up baths have become something super special.  This boy LOVES his Primo bathtub, to the point where he refuses to take baths in a plain tub when we travel.  He’s comfortable in this one and it has been great at every stage of growth.  With toys, we’ve kept it fairly simple but H is certainly never bored – we pour water from the ducks, write out messages for Daddy, and give kisses to the fishes…to name a few activities.  Afterward we pile them all into his organizer (okay that’s mommy’s favorite part).

Sunscreen + Swim Float – Once H hit 6 months, we had a lot of pool time and we’re pumped for this year.  The basic supplies were swim trunks, a long-sleeved SPF shirt, a sun hat with a brim, this really awesome pool float (witha detachable shade!) and, of course, sunscreen.  There is a whole post or two’s worth on how we’re beginning to evaluate our skin care.  We’ve long evaluated our diet and since moving to a Real Food diet, we hit the slippery slope of scrutinizing every single thing we digest and chew.   Then H came along and we started looking at skin care products more closely.  His skin is just so perfect and beautiful, I didn’t want to put nasty chemicals on it.  I’ll refrain from the long list of things we avoid…but you learned last time that we’re obsessed with Coconut Oil.  One of the things it definitely doesn’t do is protect him from the sun.  Our latest discovery is from our awesome friend Sarah’s newest adventure into the world of Arbonne.  Basically, I trust their products on account of their high standards (WAY higher than the FDAs) and I’m pumped about their sunscreen for H.  (Yes, it’s pricey…but knowing and supporting an Arbonne consultant has benefits.  Let me know if you want to ask her questions about it!)  More than anything, I recommend reading up on ingredients to avoid and checking out your sunscreen options.

Video Camera – We dropped the ball here.  We caught some good moments on iPhone camera and more than enough pictures but given how often Matt and I watch old videos and sigh, we wish we’d taken more footage.  If you don’t have a video camera or if you’re like me and your iPhone’s memory is always filling up with pictures, I recommend a Flip Cam.  That’s our new plan.

Cooking Supplies –  Here’s the motherload of this list that demands a post of its’ own soon.  Starting at 6 months, Baby Food became our obsession and object of focus.  Where to start, what to try, and so…many…opinions.  The most amazing thing is realizing how incredibly personal this topic (just like nursing) can be for other mommies.  Here’s my disclaimer – every parent does what they genuinely believe to be best for their child…this I trust.  Some parents like to talk about other parents’ decisions in a judge-y or flippant tone.  There’s just no room for this.  We all need to support each other as we work to make good decisions for our babes with what means and capacity we have.  With that being said,  we chose to not use boxed cereals or oatmeal and make all of H’s food at home…Real Food diet from day one.  H doesn’t eat anything that we wouldn’t eat ourselves (minus Puffs…those are necessary for on-the-go).  It’s also one extra way that my full-time working self can love on H and feel solid about what he’s eating when I’m not around.  That’s only 3 days a week but time apart from him never gets easier.  So we get to pour a lil bit of love into his food and a bonus result is the fact that at this rate he eats almost everything we do (except white sugar…because apparently we’re “mean parents”).  To prevent this post from being any longer, here are the basic tools we already had on hand to get started: Jelly Roll Pan (for roasting veggies), Steamer Basket to use with pots (fast and easy way to soften veggies), Blender/Smart Stick/Food Processor to puree softened veggies and fruit (the Smart Stick is seriously awesome for convenience and easy clean up),  Ice Cube Tray and/or Freezer Storage Containers to store food after bulk prep.

Eating Supplies – The quick and dirty rundown: Snack Cup for his puffs and eye-hand coordination practice, Sippy Cup (used primarily for his daily smoothie), Favorite Animal Plates (he loves getting to the bottom and seeing the animals…clapping is typically involved), plenty of Spoons (because  they double as toys and always seem to go missing), Thermos Food Jar (for food on-the-go or warm lunch at school), and reusable snack bags (for his waffles and chopped fruit).  But our very favorite, for wherever we are: POCKET BIB.  Once Harry was sitting up, this thing got way more comfortable and also became the only bib he couldn’t rip off.  The pocket catches food and it’s super easy to clean off.  We also tried the Summer brand but Baby Bjorn is much more durable.

Some honorable mentions – our pack n’ play (Chicco…a wee bit heavy but couldn’t travel without it) and our jogging stroller (Joovy Zoom 360…another category we “test drove” at nausea).  We really do try to keep it simple and minimal.  We had a Bumbo and it was nice (especially with the tray) but didn’t stand out over time.  After seeing how quickly H grew out of things and transitioned into new phases…our focus remained on essentials and things with long-term value, like legwarmers!

[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part III

In The Story of Harry Part I and Part II, we shared the back story on our fertility story.  Basically, I heard I may not be able to have kids, told Matt when we started dating, he was really awesome, we got married, eventually started trying to get pregnant and found it not coming so easily. We moved back to Texas from Vancouver, slowed life down a bit and pondered our options.

In Part II, I mentioned that fertility treatments were not an option for us.  To expand upon that a bit: as a couple, we were lucky that this was a required pre-marital topic of conversation.  Since my fertility was questionable, we talked about what would happen if we couldn’t get pregnant.  As I mentioned in Part I, in the 10+ years I had been given to consider my fertility I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t get pregnant, then I was 100% called to adopt.  Did I want a sweet, soft baby with baby smells and baby sounds?  Of course I did.  But could I pay thousands and thousands of dollars for a baby that may not happen when there are children out there in need of love and a home?  I personally could not.  And neither could Matt.  And that was nice, to be on the same page.

Now this is a highly personal choice for every person and couple.  If I had not had years to ponder the possibilities, I know how quickly I would have continued to explore every other option.  In this day and age, we women are made to believe that we can do everything and we can do it whenever we want.  At a young age we are pointed to birth control in an effort to “control” our bodies and their natural functions (for our personal convenience or to mask the symptoms of other health irregularities).  Then, we go off of this medicine and expect quick results when we want it to do what we’ve told it not to do for a while.   And THEN we’re pointed to take more drugs and pay more money to get it to do that.  For every single person that’s experienced it, in any fashion, it’s sincerely tragic when it doesn’t happen.  For some, it calls you to question your womanhood and what you have to offer your spouse.  This was something I had always battled.   This is why Matt’s comment in Part I was so epic, “this world will not be deprived of a beautiful mom…perhaps only of beautiful babies.”  Throughout this time he reminded me of this, constantly.  So while we consider fertility to be a blessing…we also had to consider infertility to be a blessing.  All roads still led to a family and plenty of babies out there want one, too.  That was our personal choice.

So as we found ourselves home in Austin, we laid low and began to look toward adoption.  Because I turned down a job offer upon arrival in an effort to rest for a bit, my schedule was far less demanding than when we lived in Vancouver.  Now I was taking care of my nephews (my sister liked to refer to me as her “lady in waiting” in those days) and we were staying in, sleeping more, doing less.   Matt quit drinking caffeine and alcohol and boosted his Vitamin C, taking some of Dr. Shannon’s advice as a last-ditch effort, but I moved on from the daily tasks of charting and monitoring.

I was also fighting the urge to become bitter.  Accepting that God’s in charge doesn’t automatically prepare you for the emotions of His plan.   Embracing the idea of adoption was incredibly easy, but releasing myself from the idea of being pregnant certainly was not.  There were only three instances where I allowed myself to be vulnerable with close friends…to tell them how hard of a time I was having with our fertility test results.  Every single one of them found out they were pregnant within a matter of days.  For each of them I was thrilled and so truly happy.  That part came easy.  But facing a very likely reality that we would never get to experience this gift of biological parenthood, that was heartbreaking.  I didn’t let myself cry over it until I heard a pregnant couple complain about the inconveniences of morning sickness and food cravings.  That was too much for me.  I could be genuinely happy for you, but I was not in a place to sympathize with your pregnancy symptoms.  I excused myself and cried in the restaurant bathroom for 15 minutes.  That was my emotional low.

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Can I just say that the Infertility scene in the “Up” life sequence made me “ugly cry”?  Still does. 

Then in early April (four months since we’d moved back), I suddenly grew very lazy.  I had super low energy and felt a little queasy.  I wrote it off but then tried to count back to my most recent cycle and couldn’t.  I was going to dismiss it for a few days more but then remembered that my dear Diana mentioned me wearing an A-line bridesmaid dress for her August wedding.  Since she was going to pull the trigger on that pretty soon, I went to the grocery store for my sister and picked up a test (without telling her).  I went back to her house and took it.

Positive.

Back in Vancouver, a sweet nurse friend gave me about a couple dozen pregnancy tests when she found out we were “trying”.  I had gone through them during our efforts and taking them became a very sad experience.  I would wait until I was 5, 6, up to 10 days late…all negative.  This “positive” was hard-earned*.

I walked out of the bathroom, stunned, and showed my sister.  She had me turn around and take the other test in the box.  Another positive.  I panicked…”I’m on sabbatical…who will hire a pregnant woman…we’re not prepared for this!”  My sister reminded me of the logic that had carried Matt and me through so much, “everything happens according to a plan and you’re not in charge.”  Clearly.

I texted Matt, “Call me ASAP.”  He called me, out of breath, “Are you…?”  Apparently, unlike me,  Matt had not stopped counting the days.  He had been suspicious before I even thought it an option but didn’t bring it up for fear of dashed hopes. Such a faithful man.

We were pregnant.  We were going to have a baby.  There were many challenges to face and come through, but the seemingly impossible had become possible.  Through no rhyme or reason but solely through the grace of God (though we do strongly believe He did some work through Dr. Shannon).

I will always remember my very first doctor’s visit, specifically when my doctor did the dating sonogram and I saw our baby for the very first time.  I cried and mentioned to her how ever since my diagnosis at 17, I had prepared myself for this to never happen.  She responded with, “It’s maddening what some doctors put young girls through…you didn’t need to go through that for so long.  There’s so much we don’t know.”  I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy when I told her that I was thankful for it.

And I am.  How else would Matt and I have tackled such critical conversations early on?  My questionable fertility led us to better habits, an incredibly healthier diet, and, most importantly, a surrender to the Lord’s plan for us.  The word “control” finds ways to sneak itself into the lives of the most faithful and we were certainly no exception.  Even in our boasts of obedience to His will and our acceptance of His plan, we were still blindsided.   How sweet is that! (And how foolish is boasting?)  Now our hearts have been opened to adoption and the calling still remains.   This is not to be written off, it is not to be tossed aside or forgotten.  But we got to start our family with Harry.

Look at me, making progress in Harry’s story!  The next one is the last of this series and it’s the motherload…his Birth Story.  (Only 14 months later!)

Peace and Blessings to you as you start the week…make it a meaningful one!

*I am highly sensitive to the fact that our “hard-earned” positive is still laughable compared to the thousands and thousands of couples who go through longer periods of fertility woes, miscarriages, and those who never receive the positive test result.  I very much believe that the journey for each couple is different, not to be weighed against each other or competed against.  We received a beautiful gift and however any future gifts should present themselves (biologically or by other means), our lessons learned were to never assume where God’s plan is taking us and, no matter where it leads, to never stop counting our blessings.

[Mommyhood Monday] The Story of Harry, Part II

It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday.  Busted. Grace please?

In Part I of Harry’s Story, I left off at the part where I met Matt and was quickly swooned by his acceptance of fertility question marks and his willingness to journey through God’s plan with me.

Matt and I met Christmas 2006, began dating in 2007 and grew serious later that year.  We were engaged in March of 2008 and married in February of 2009.  It was shortly after our engagement that I began taking my temperature every morning and following the charting procedures for Natural Family Planning (NFP).  Now some people assume that our decision to use NFP* was based on me being Catholic and that we entertained no other option.  Others assume we wanted babies from the start.  But the truth is that we weighed several other options and did not want to get pregnant right away.  NFP was simply the only choice we could personally move forward with clear eyes and full hearts (can’t lose, right?).

*If you want to know more about our decision to use NFP, I am happy to share.

The factors that led to our decision to delay pregnancy were the same of most newlywed couples.  After a long-distance engagement, we wanted a bit of time together.  Matt was in the thick of grad school and we were living in Vancouver, Canada for at least a couple of years.

Now I could get into the next part with great detail but I’ll keep it a little close to the cuff.  Basically, we had a very early pregnancy “scare” (that word is important) that had us all in a fuss.  “We’re not ready!  We have a timeline!  How could God do this!?”

It was that last part that stopped us in our tracks.   I mean, did you guys read Part I of this story where I had to tell Matt that I might not be able to have babies?  How far we had strayed!  Me, with my incredible perspective and questionable fertility, had allowed myself to get so wrapped up in a timeline that, for even a quick moment, I “feared” pregnancy.

We weren’t pregnant.  And though our planned timeline was safe our hearts were softened to the idea.  We continued to postpone pregnancy for the next few months.   Then I was offered a job…my dream job involving international travel and event planning and career growth to the max.  They requested that we stay in Vancouver for at least 3 years and after plenty of conversation, we agreed to those terms.  I was THISCLOSE to signing the dotted line when I casually asked about “family growth”.  Though an employer cannot legally state a preference it was said, in no uncertain terms, that they preferred for those 3 years to be uninterrupted.

So now I was staring my PCOS in the face.  If you recall from Part I, the clock works against you with PCOS and delaying another 3 years meant that 1) the timeline was being forced by us and 2) the fertility window would keep closing.  So I rescinded my verbal agreement and told them that they would be better suited finding someone else.  They pressed for more explanation and finally I told them that I couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t get pregnant for three years.  They weren’t too happy and I’ll never forget the tone of their voice when they said, and I quote, “you are turning down a great opportunity because you want to be a mommy someday?”  Well, when you put it that way…yep.

So then, with perspective again refreshed, we began actually trying.  Six months into trying, a laughable amount of time compared to so many couples, I began to speak with a doctor about it.  He chuckled, told us to try for six more months and then we’d run tests.

In the first six months I read Dr. Marilyn Shannon’s book, “Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition.”  We received a copy in our NFP course and let me just say that if I am ever lucky enough to meet Dr. Shannon, she won’t be ready for the amount of love and giddiness I will exude. This is what got me to examine our diet and our supplements.  We cut out high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and most processed foods.  I began taking a prenatal and we kept in shape.  We felt great but still weren’t pregnant.  So we ran the tests.

Our results showed two strikes.  Not just one for my PCOS, but one for Matt as well.  Two strikes and a less than 3% chance of ever getting pregnant.  I got a second opinion and the results were confirmed.

This time our perspective didn’t fail us.  We were tired, a bit beat down, and emotionally drained but we knew that this wasn’t a battle for us to fight.  Our hearts had been preparing for this for years.  We made the decision to move back to Texas and take a break.  No more charting, no more counting days and taking temperature.  Fertility treatments were not an option.  We just wanted to surround ourselves with family and friends back home and start to save for adoption.

So we moved back to Texas.  I was in a bit of a “mourning state” so I turned down a job, took a sabbatical, and worked for my sister as a nanny to my two nephews.

I know this is a lot of back story and that is definitely why it’s not entitled, “Harry’s BIRTH Story”.  But my intention here was also to document our journey.  Perhaps it also sheds a little bit of light on why I am Mom-arazzi with our babe…I am in a constant state of wonder that this little miracle is actually ours.  That and he’s really cute and fun.

Next Monday, Part III.  If it makes you feel better, I will commit to there only being IV parts.  Call it the “Lost” treatment…the light at the end of the storytelling tunnel is near!

Peace and Blessings friends.

[Top Ten Tuesday] Favorite Baby Items: 1-3 Months

Oh these months.  These months are a blur.  A beautiful, joy-filled, sleep-deprived blur.

A few weeks ago I listed out the Top Ten Baby Items for 0-1 month.  With the exception of the Swaddle Pod, all of these continued to carry me through the next few months.  The following are the items that began to stand out after we got to know Harry a bit better:

Feeding Supplies – Harry didn’t drink from a bottle until he was almost 3 months old.  We were so happy I was able to breastfeed that entire time but then realized we should introduce something else soon or he might refuse when I wasn’t around.  Since then, we have never had a problem with Harry taking the Green to Grow bottles (BPA free, what what!) and I love our Boon Lawn Drying Rack.  We hand wash all of our dishes so we didn’t need a container for the dishwasher but the Munchkin Bottle Brush is, hands down, the best bottle brush out there (trust me…between my sister and myself, we tried them all).

Bouncer – There are a million different bouncers out there and, surprise surprise, I was super picky.  I’m not really all about the themes – jungles, teddy bears, etc.  Some of those are pretty cute, but I wanted something simple and classic.  I considered the Mama Roo but had trouble with the price tag, especially since we were already getting a baby swing from my sister.  I really wanted something like the Maclaren Vida Bouncer but with better reviews.  Then I came across the Combo Pod Bouncer – a bumblebee! This animal I could handle.  And I have to say, it was fantastic.  It was around this time that Harry started coming into the office with me a few mornings a week.  Between the Bee and our beloved Moby, Harry was soothed and proved himself to be an amazingly content babe.   My iPhone or iPod plugged in to play music for him and though he never took to falling asleep in it, he loved hanging out in it – especially as a change of scenery from the magical Nap Nanny.

Moby/Ergo – I allowed myself one repeat from the 0-1 month list.  It was not easy to choose – the Nap Nanny was clearly a super close second.  But baby carriers might as well have a permanent spot on my Top Ten Items lists for the first couple years.  Harry always loved the Moby and he’s finally grown into the Ergo.  It’s at the point now where it just makes more sense for me to wear him whenever we’re in public than to use a stroller.  He can look around, he’s always happy in it…he falls asleep in it more easily than the strollers and I still love wearing him.  At this stage, wearing my nephew in the Baby Bjorn started to hurt my back but from  months 1-3 and through today, I’m super comfortable in both of my carriers, as is Matt.  The entire family wins.

Burp Cloths/Bibs – Of course these are handy from the start but since Harry never really had any acid reflex or spit up of any kind, these didn’t come in useful until he discovered his fist.  Harry has drooled through his outfits and sucked oh his fingers/fist since he was around two months old.  Since then, he’s been in a perpetual state of wet/sticky and having these around is always useful.  For some reason I didn’t buy a lot of bibs for him (I do wish I had purchased as least one with his name on it…not that he cares) but the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs are my absolute favorite. They are shaped perfectly for over the shoulder and they snap together to make an actual bib for babe.  They’re not a flimsy fabric (great absorption) and, always a bonus, they’re super cute and classy all at once.  We do have a few of the Baby Bjorn Bibs but they’re not so comfortable on a tiny babe, though I’m happy to have them as we journey into solids.

Boppy –  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the Boppy is the best pillow for nursing.  If I wanted something only for nursing, I would have gotten a Brest Friend pillow.  But the Boppy worked decently for nursing, more effectively as Harry grew, and I definitely made good use of it for that purpose.  The Boppy began to shine in our house when Harry needed more tummy time (NOT a fan for the first month or so) and when he was able to hold his head up.  And, truth be told, I LOVE the Boppy as a laptop desk and as a general comfort pillow for me.  It’s like a hug around my not-so-tight midsection that I like to cuddle with. Don’t be alarmed if you see me using it when Harry is 15 and any other potential babes are way past baby-hood.

Cloth Diapers – Cloth Diapering is a topic that I love so dearly, it will soon have its own Top Ten list AND Mommyhood Monday post.  We began to switch over from disposables in the 2nd and 3rd months.  I was pretty nervous about it but wow, I absolutely love it.  To be fair I need to include disposables because we definitely mixed it up, especially in the 3rd month.  Now we are 86% cloth – an exact number given that Harry only wears disposables when he is at my mom’s house on Mondays.   I could go on and on (thus the future posts) but know that 1) this ain’t your mama’s cloth diapers.  No pins required.  2) We have yet to have a blowout in a cloth diaper – only in disposables.   They have held things in that no disposable could contain.  3) They’re incredibly cute.  Proof pic:

…and that’s not even the ones he has with robots on them!  We started out with BumGenius 4.0 (almost all with snaps) and now we’ve got some Charlie Banana, FuzziBunz, Bonnibuns and Oh Katy.

Coconut Oil – Another item that deserves its’ own post.  Coconut Oil is AMAZING!  Did you ever see the videos of Tyra Banks rolling around on the floor, talking about how much she loves Vaseline?  That’s how I feel about Coconut Oil. But without the Mineral Oil (because it took me 29 years to realize that was in petroleum jelly) and without the crazy (no offense) Tyra vibe.  Cradle Cap?  Coconut Oil.  Diaper Rash…even with cloth diapers?  Coconut Oil!  I love the smell of Mustela lotions but with Matt having eczema, we decided to treat Harry’s skin early on as though he would face similar dermatological issues.  We use some Aveeno products but Coconut Oil is a great moisturizer and smells like a Pina Colada (!).  More importantly, I love that it’s the all natural route.  And it has dozens of uses in our home, for all of us.   I order ours off of Vitacost – they have sales and free shipping all the time and you can’t beat the price per ounce.

Toys – As Harry moved into the more alert stage, he began to develop QUICKLY.  In the beginning he didn’t have a preference…if he could grasp it, he loved it.  But the ones he quickly took to and still hasn’t tired of are the Lamaze toys – specifically Mortimer the Moose, Olivia the Owl, and Jacques the Peacock.  I love them, too.  (I STILL want to order Rusty the Robot for Harry but Matt asked me to exercise some self-control.)  Harry also obsessed over his Skip Hop Treetop Friends Soft Book  for a while and, of course, Sophie the Giraffe.  One item that quickly rose the ranks was the Sassy Rattlin Ring, along with the Bright Starts Rattle.  Now – in the mindset of Monica the minimalist and book lover – I’ve realized that I’m the parent who would rather buy books than toys.  Especially toys that make noise and require batteries.  There are some exceptions – and at this stage that was the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.  It wasn’t too loud, it had a variety of classical song lullabies and was super simple for Harry to operate.  He still loves it because the noise and lights are out of the ordinary from his other toys.  And I love it because I never had to put duct tape over the speakers or take out the batteries to maintain my sanity.

Zero Expectations – There is no Amazon link in this item.  Truth be told – I had no idea what to expect when it came to our baby.  I had no idea if he would be a sleeper or colicky or would have acid reflux or what kind of temperament he would enter the world with.  I was raised around babies and have babysat/nannied since I was 12 years old.  I am no baby expert, but I was comfortable enough with babes to know that they’re all different.  And as you may have read yesterday, I had long ago come to terms with the fact that we may never have a newborn baby of our own.  So when we found out we were pregnant, we were ready for anything.  Maybe it was just our perspective but we knew that babies don’t sleep through the night.  From nannying, I knew that sleeping through the night (pediatrician’s cruel definition of 6 hours) doesn’t typically come until the 6 month mark for an exclusively breastfed babe.  Anything earlier than that was to be celebrated (and we did!).  But we took it all in stride – we cherished every single exhausting moment.  We don’t know for certain that we’ll be able to do this newborn gig again (fertility wise) so from natural labor to nights broken up by feedings every 2 hours, our only expectation was to love this little being. The ability to do that, and everything else, has been such a blessing.

Community – Again with the something you can’t buy on Amazon.  I have an incredible group of mamas around me.  From family to friends to a Facebook group that all have babes born around the same time as Harry…having other women to talk with and process with and be able to gauge how “normal” something is blesses me greatly.  A book with advice can be very, very helpful but a book can’t listen to you vent or give you a knowing, much-needed hug.  Find parents who may not parent the exact way you do but still respect the choices you’re making.  Fellow parents you can share your learnings with and who can pass along their learnings/knowledge.  Parenting is hard – it’s much easier if you are able to enter it with a team who supports and loves you and your babe.

An item not on the list but that we’re so glad we introduced was his “lovey” (AKA security blanket/stuffed animal).  I had never heard of a “lovey”, at least not referred to that way, before I was in search of one for Harry.  But I knew I wanted him to have a best friend stuffed animal.  And yes, I’m that mom who wanted to choose it for him.  We ended up getting him the Jellycat Cordy Roy elephant for Christmas and after Harry had RSV, he was Christened as “Wheezy” (we’re cruel, but funny).  At Easter we made the lovey a duo by introducing the Jellycat Bon Bon Striped Bunny (still unnamed/not yet Christened).  Who knows if he will take to them but so far, he doesn’t sleep without them.

So that’s my personal Top Ten list of Favorite Baby Items for 1-3 months.  You?

[Top Ten Tuesday] Movies About Babies

We love movies.  And television.  Perhaps a little bit too much.  In an effort to keep this under control, I had to go with movies that were only about babies or pregnancy, not family or parenting.  That’s an entirely different list.

Top Ten Movies About Babies:

Juno

The music.  The message.  The wit and humor.  It’s the little indy film that could.  Ellen Page portrays a pregnant high school junior and while never making it look glamorous, gave a lighter side to teen pregnancy.  And since I worked from home throughout my pregnancy, I basically got to dress just like her.

Quote: Couldn’t choose just one…

“I could so go for like a huge cookie right now, with like, a lamb kabob simultaneously.”

Mac: “I’m not ready to be a Pop Pop.”  Bren: “You’re not going to be a pop-pop. Somebody else is going to find a precious blessing from Jesus in this garbage dump of a situation.”

Baby Mama

Surprisingly, I didn’t really think much of the movie the first time I watched it.  The second, third and fourth time…totally different story.  It got even funnier after I was pregnant.  When Amy Pohler’s character pees on the sink because she can’t open the toilet?  I haven’t done it but I have no judgement…I hate those locks!

Quote: “If you listen to DMX, the baby comes out goin ‘Ennngghhh!”

Waitress

Though this isn’t the most morally stimulating of plots (unhappily married, accidentally pregnant and begins an affair with married OB/GYN),  I love how Jenna gradually warms up to her baby.   I also love how they portrayed the moment when mommy met baby for the first time.  Everything else just got blurry.

 Quote: “Dear Baby, I hope someday somebody wants to hold you for 20 minutes straight and that’s all they do. They don’t pull away. They don’t look at your face. They don’t try to kiss you. All they do is wrap you up in their arms and hold on tight, without an ounce of selfishness in it.”

   

Look Who’s Talking

 I’m pretty sure Walking on Sunshine was the very first song I put on Harry’s playlist.   I loved this movie as a kid and when I watched it as an adult all I could think was, “why was I allowed to watch this movie as a kid?”  You’re going to see that as a recurring theme here.   And I’m willing to confess that when I guess what Harry’s thinking, I think of it in the voice of Bruce Willis.

Quote: “Help! Help! Somebody burp me before I blow up!”

Three Men and a Baby

Another movie that I have no idea why I was allowed to watch this as a kid.  I guess it’s assumed that movies with babies and kids are safe for other kids to watch.  Watching it now – I cringe a bit when I imagine a mom leaving a poor baby on the alleged father’s doorstep.  This movie’s lucky it didn’t end up as, “Three Social Workers and a Baby.”

Quote: “Oh, this is disgusting. It’s all over and it’s… it’s sticky and… we’re going to need some kind of cleaning fluid to get this off.”

Mr. Mom

It’s been a while since I’ve watched this but we’re long overdue here.  Though I’m wondering if I should watch it as Matt will soon be solo with Harry for longer stretches during the week.   I’m not gonna lie – I’d put money on the chances of him holding up Harry to a hand dryer.

Quote: “I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they’re great… and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn’t enough. You’re out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you’re strung out on bedspreads Ken. That’s serious.”

Bella

Chances are you’ve never heard of this movie.  But within days of us watching it, Matt bought me a copy.  If a movie could encompass the way my heart feels, I think this is it.  There’s heartache, there’s redemption, there’s a greater plan than the sum of our “mistakes”.

Quote: Hard to pick, as a lot of this movie’s beauty is portrayed through motions, not spoken words.  But if I have to… “My grandmother used to say, ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.'”

Raising Arizona

The reason this list isn’t numbered is because these last three would be tied for 1.  All three of these are movies I watched a lot as a kid (again, with the exception of Baby Boom…why?!).  Raising Arizona has scene after scene of lines that are on rotation in our house, especially since Harry came. It’s Coen brothers brilliance.

Quote: Too many.  There’s this.  But my favorite random one has to be:

“Son, you got a panty on your head.”

Parenthood

You know movies that stick with you in all walks of life?  Somehow, something in this movie is always relevant.  Lately, it’s been the scene where Rick Moranis’s wife pulls out her secret stash of Ding Dongs, taking a break from their strict diet.  Though I’m the one leading our Real Food lifestyle, I’ve definitely had daydreams about such indulgences.  I’m willing to bet Matt does, too.

(And this movie inspired the current TV show which is…awesome.)

Quote: Karen: “He likes to butt things…with his head.”

Nathan: “You must be so proud.”

Baby Boom

This one takes the cake.  The making of baby applesauce last week just reminded me of how much I love this movie.  While I was definitely given a more “ease-in” approach to motherhood than Diane Keaton was, I’ve juggled similar thoughts when it comes to being a working woman who wants a successful career, but ultimately knows that the babe will always come first.  The nanny interviews used to make me laugh, now they give me the heeby jeebies.

Quote: “I can’t have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting”


Honorable Mention: She’s Having a Baby (never actually seen it but heard great things), Hand That Rocks the Cradle (scary!), Father of the Bride II (“Father of the bride and a baby? GET OUT OF TOWN.”)

I know a lot of these are probably pretty predictable, but not without reason.  What did I miss?  What movie gave you a good belly laugh during pregnancy and during the infancy of parenthood?