Category Archives: Tips

Things I Learned on a Trip to New York City

I recently took a trip with some girl friends to New York to visit a friend who moved there (or to New York City adjacent).  It was my 1st trip to The Big Apple (it’s been on my Bucket List for years) and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it with someone who actually knew her way around.  I would have gotten lost so many times in the subway system if it wasn’t for her!

I made a few observations as we wandered around the city:

1.  There are sections of the city you don’t want to take a stroller, especially during the holidays (I was kid free, wohoo!).  We visited Rockafeller Center two weeks before Christmas.  Even on a Sunday night it was nuts balls there.  Like shoulder to shoulder, inching along the road number of people.  There were people attempting to push strollers through that madness.  One lady had a double!!  Not only is it going to be really difficult to go anywhere, its dangerous with that many people surrounding you.  I think a kid could have been taken out of a stroller and the parent wouldn’t know for blocks.  Put your kid in a front pack, on your shoulders, in your arms.  Anything but try to push a giant stroller through 1,000 people.

2.  At Tiffany’s, even the cheapest thing is still expensive.  But so pretty…


3.  So many people, so many germs.  Germs germs everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!!  Pack a lot of hand sanitizer.

4.  It’s really disturbing to see people taking smiling selfies at the World Trade Center memorial.  Just don’t.

5.  When you get a precious seat on the subway you will automatically be perfectly positioned at crotch height for the guy standing in front of you.  Thank goodness for phones so you can stare at them instead.

6.  Perspective is interesting.  New York City is full of some crazy tall buildings but when your standing next to them, even One World Trade Center, it’s not that impressive.


7.  Unlike popular belief, the city is not over-run by rats bigger than dogs.  I didn’t see a single one.

8.  Make sure to check the museum collections before visiting.  I missed a bunch of famous paintings at The Met that I didn’t know were even there until after I left.  Boo.

I did get to see this beauty.


9.  I don’t know if there is a name for having a fear of walking over grates (sewer, ventilation, subway, etc) but I have it.  It gives me the hebegebees to walk over them.  Well, I was forced to confront that fear one zillion times (estimated) over the long weekend.  There are so many (seemingly) bottomless grates all over the city, it was impossible to avoid them.  I’d like to say it got me over the fear.  Wishful thinking…

10.  Eat.  Eat eat eat eat eat.  So many yummy things.

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11.  If you don’t pay to take a boat to the Statue of Liberty, she will be reeeeeally far away.


So there you have it.  Helpful, and some not so helpful, hints for your next trip to New York.  🙂

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Filed under Fun, Tips, Travel

The Great Debinkying Adventure

Before we had Rose, I had always swore that we wouldn’t use a binky with “our baby”.  Oh no.  No binky would touch the lips of our precious children.  I had seen too many children (children not babies) walking around with pacifiers in their mouths, taking them out to have a conversation with their parents. I just “knew” that I wouldn’t let that have a chance of happening.  Yaaaaaah. So all that conviction was thrown in the garbage after the multi episode, multi hour, cry fests that Rose would do those first few weeks.  When she was in the NICU, they gave her a pacifier as they couldn’t be holding her 24/7 with wires/tubes/uv light.  Out of desperation, I tried one of the pacifiers that she came home with and sweet lord there was silence.  Silence and a happy baby. We never looked back.

She wasn’t allowed to take it everywhere.  She mostly used it for naps and bed time and never really grew terribly attached.  Once her 1 year birthday rolled around and it was time to stop giving her a pacifier, we simply stopped giving it to her and it was like she never used it.  Wonderful!

When Evelyn was born we didn’t even think twice before starting her with a binky.  We even used a Wabbanub which was even better (side note: those Wabbanubs are a wonderful invention. You can use the animal on the end of prop it up and in the babies mouth when they are too small to keep it in).  She only had it when she was sleeping so I figured dropping it when she was 1 would be as easy as with Rose.  However, once her birthday rolled around, she was popping through some molars and used the binky as a soothing devise as she fell asleep.  So I put it off.  No big deal right?  Thing was, I started to notice that when it came to putting Evelyn down for sleep, she would just about leap out of my arms into the crib.  At first I thought this was great!  No issues putting this baby down.  Then I realized it was because she wanted to get that binky in her mouth as quickly as possible.  Then she started to scream like you were kicking her favorite puppy when you made her drop it in the crib in the morning.

Hello sign!!

So two weeks ago we decided to stop the binky cold turkey.  No binky at nap, no binky at bedtime.  She took it great!  Hahaha!  Just kidding.  She screamed her head off.  She threw her lovey out of the crib in anger (we had been introducing a lovey in prep).  She screamed some more.  Then, 20 minutes in, she passed out.


Not a further peep was heard until her usual 3:30 wake up.  Instead of scrounging around for her binky and falling back asleep, it was scrounge around for binky, realize it wasn’t there, then scream her head off.  Luckily that lasted only 5 minutes before she passed out again.  Then she slept in to 7:30.  Score!  The nap was a little harder but she fell asleep in about 10 minutes and then cried off and on for about an hour and a half.  The next night she went down in 5 minutes.

Now, if she isn’t really tired, she will cry for about a minute before snuggling with her lovey and falling asleep.  This really isn’t any different then with the binky so yay success!  She also learned quickly that if she throws the lovey out in anger the lovey doesn’t come back.  No lovey throwing has happened since. 🙂

The very best side effect of having her give up the binky is that now, as you are putting her down for the night, she will gladly snuggle in your arms as you sing to her.  Not much is better then baby arms clutched around your neck with a baby head snuggled on your shoulder.  Sure it’s more like a death grip because she is trying to avoid going into the crib but I’ll cry ignorance and enjoy it.

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Filed under Evelyn, parenthood, Rose, sleep issues, Tips

Starting my babies on “solid” foods

Sometimes I blog about this kind of thing in the hopes that it would help someone.  Sometimes I do it just so that I can remember just what the heck I did since selective mommy memory is a real thing around here.  I’m saying this is a little of both. 🙂  Keep in mind this is just what worked for us and my girls.  All babies are different heaven knows.

I waited to start “solids” with both girls until 6 months.  I write the word solids in quotes because there isn’t much solid about the foods you start with.  I bypassed the standard 1st food of rice cereal due to the studies about the amount of arsenic in rice these days and went with an organic sweet potato instead.  I peeled, cut up, steamed, and blended a nice sweet potato, the orange ones, called jewel yams here in my area of California.  Then I mixed it with enough breast milk to water it down to a fairly liquid consistency, not pour off, but dribble off the spoon.

Homemade Baby Food

Both the girls took no time to learn how to take a bite from the spoon (they had been watching us eat for weeks) but it did take a few feedings for much to actually go down their throat.  Ha!  Most of it dribbled out of their mouths and onto the bib.

The first few weeks I only gave them “solids” at dinner time.  I would do a short nurse right when I got home from work then offer an ounce or so off food while we were eating dinner.  At around 7 months, we started in with lunch too, and 8 months, breakfast.  Still only 2 oz at a time.  All this time they would get 3 – 4oz bottles during the day and nurse first thing in the morning and right before bed.  As the months went on, they would eat more solids at meal times and decrease the amount of milk they drank.

As allergies don’t run in our families (except my shellfish allergy), we only fed a new food 2-3 days before changing it up.  If there are family food allergies, I would make it more like 4-5 days.  In the end Evelyn can eat everything and Rose is allergic only to Mango.  Luckily that showed itself quickly by giving the poor thing a flaming diaper rash.  We still have to avoid it which is harder then you think!

I make quite a bit of the purees myself as it its cheap and easy to do.  I would post recipes but really, it’s buy organic veggies and fruit, steam until soft, blend in the blender until smooth, add breast milk or water until the desired consistency.  If it’s too watery (I started to feed it thicker after a week or two), add baby oatmeal.  I like the Happy Baby brand with the probiotics.  Once you introduce a number of things you can start blending them together.  Especially the not as sweet veggies.  I add kale and broccoli to something sweeter like sweet potatoes or strawberries.  While my girls would eat the more bitter things at first, they stopped once they got an opinion.  Ha!  I freeze the pureed mixes in flexible ice cube containers then store them in the freezer in ziplock bags.  30 seconds in the microwave and you have a cheap and easy meal.

Homemade Baby Food 1

When Rose was a baby they had come out with square plastic containers which were nicer then the glass as they were lighter and you didn’t worry about breaking them in your diaper bag.  However, by the time Evelyn was born, they had come out with the fabulousness that is the squeeze pouches.  These flexible easy to pack things are so great.  They even makes tons of organic ones.  I just put a soft silicon top on it (not required but easier on her mouth) and she sucks it right down.  There are refillable ones that I put my homemade purees into.  They even have spoons that connect to them for when the babies are just starting out.

Baby Food Pouch.jpg

When you buy those don’t just run to Target.  My own hometown grocery store Raley’s actually has them 30-40 cents cheaper.  Score!

The baby food aisle in Raley’s.  Tons of organic at good prices!!


I use the pouches when out and about, or when I want to feed more fibrous greens.  The companies industrial sized blenders make a much smoother puree.  I usually end up with unappetizing chunks.  😛

We also did some baby led weaning.  Sooner with Evelyn then with Rose (that whole second child thing) although I have found, at least until they get molars that can chew things more efficiently, I need to make sure I feed purees as well too make sure they got enough food.  Especially once I weaned and they were not getting a good amount of healthy breast milk anymore.  It just takes too long for them to eat to get enough food.

So there you have it!  Once Evelyn gets more teeth, we will make and buy less purees and do more of just what we eat but until then, it’s a great way to make sure she is eating all the good stuff she needs.

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Filed under breastfeeding, Evelyn, Rose, Tips, weaning

Tips and Tricks for Bathing Babies and Toddlers

I know several people who bath their children every single night.  Every. Single. Night.  These people obviously have more time and energy then I do since I feel accomplished when I get the little rug rats in the water every other day.  Baring super dirty incidences, three times a week is more our style.  Of course we have girls, and it may be that they stay a little cleaner. Most of the time.


We started both girls out in the infant bathtub set up on the kitchen counter.  Some people put the small tubs into their bathtubs but I say why start on the crinked back and sore knees before you have too.  As long as you never leave the baby in the bath by herself (and you shouldn’t for multiple reasons), they are perfectly safe up on the counter and no leaning over is required.  Plus, you can just dump and wash out the tub right into the sink when you are done.  We also use the sprayer (on low) to rinse off the soapy water from hair and body.  We started out putting the tub into the sink like it’s designed but found it was nice to have the sink free for baby rinsing.  We have the basic one but there are all sorts of fancy tubs available too.  
Just be aware what you place next to the tub. Babies have long arms.



The newborn sling is helpful in the first week to keep the umbilical cord out of the water but once it’s off I highly suggest putting the baby right into the tub.  Both our girls greatly enjoyed the baths more once they were immersed in the warm water instead of out in the cold with only their little butt cheeks warm.  If your baby doesn’t seem to like the bath, try fooling around with the water temp.  Rose liked a coolish bath while Evelyn suddenly became Miss Happy Baby once I tried a slightly warmer than normal temp.

I never used the toddler side of the infant bath.  The girls liked to lay comfortably in the Newborn side and were kind of pitched forward in the Toddler side.  Once they were sitting up (at least partially on their own) we moved them to the “big” tub.

The No Longer a Newborn but not a Toddler Baby:

We did things differently with the two kids.  When Rose was a baby, she was our precious only child and we had 2 arms (or 4 if we were both playing with washing her) so we started her out in a Ducky Tub inside of our bathtub.  This thing was great.  The sides were squishy (no conked head when she fell over), it didn’t take a long time to fill, and it was cuter then cute.  She loved the freedom of sitting up and playing with toys and we loved how easy it was to rinse out and prop up to dry.  We did have to kneel down now so I recommend either a folded towel (our cheap route) or buy one of those nifty knee pads for under your knees.


With Evelyn, we now have two kids on our hands and there is no way that Rose would fit into that cute Ducky tub with Evelyn (although I’m sure she would love to try). Thus comes in the Baby Tub Seat.  This thing is great.  Ours hooks on the side of the tub and Evelyn puts her arms over the edge and contentedly chews on a foam number while watching her sister splash around. Others suction cup right to the bottom of the tub which I think is even cooler.



With the baby, all you really need are a set of the foam letters and numbers.  Those things will keep a teething baby happy for as long as you want to wash them.  Once the kid starts to grow though, a more diverse number of toys can be given although Rose spends a large amount of her time just splashing around like a mermaid instead of playing with anything.

The biggest bane of a parents existence is the toy manufacturers insistence on selling every type of squirt toy possible.  It is actually hard to find bath toys that don’t have some sort of squirting tendency.  What’s the problem you say?  Mold.  Gross, smelly, black mold.  Even if you make the effort to squeeze as much of the water out as possible that black stuff will grow inside of those plastic petri dishes and your child will be squirting it right into the bathwater when they use them.  I used them for a year or so (you can see quiet a few in the picture below) until I started to wonder what the crud floating in the bathtub was.  Yuck!  I know you can plug the holes with glue but I didn’t know of any glue I wanted my girls to potentially ingest when they chewed on the toys.

I have also tried the tub crayons which, while fun for Rose, are kind of a pain.  They do wash off fairly easily but if you are like me and don’t wash your tub every day, the kid will have little bits of plasticy crayon floating around with them until you do.  And by washable they mean on your knees scrubbing with a sponge.   If you wash your tub more than I do, or have a maid, Rose thought they were a blast.

I love this photo but it will forever bug me that some of the letters and number are backwards.
Toddler Bath

I’ve done a lot of hunting and finally found a few toys that Rose uses a lot and I’m comfortable with on the ick factor.

1.  Foam Letters.  They stick to the tub, teach letters and numbers, and apparently taste wonderful.  Need I say more?

2.  Penguin bowls.  Rose likes to use these to pour water from one thing to the next and make the little spinny thing spin.  Or pour water on her sister.  


3.  Tea Set.  This was a new purchase that has gone over like gang busters.  Rose loves to have pretend tea parties in the tub (I fill the tea pot with fresh water) and I love that it is full of holes and dries easily.  A secondary benefit was that it got her to stop drinking the bath water.  She had something she could drink from that had clean water in it.  I think I got ours at Walmart.

4.  Elmo Sub.  Another toy that floats around with cute little characters that dries easily.  The characters themselves have no openings (bonus!).  Rose’s take?  It’s Elmo (duh).  (Note that it is not available on Amazon right now but might be at Walmart or Target.  This boat is the same concept.)

5.  Foam Animals.  While they don’t exactly “magically expand into shapes by just placing them in water!!!”.  With a little manipulation they do pop out of their little capsule and expand into a little animal.  Usually cheap (I bought mine at the dollar store) are a fun little thing to have around that can be ‘new’ each time.


Even if your baby has a full head of hair like Evelyn you really don’t need a separate body soap and shampoo for a while.  Most baby soaps are gentle enough for both hair and body washing.  We learned the hard way that Rose has very sensitive skin and even using simple Dove gentle soap made her break out.  Any Johnson and Johnson product makes her look like she has measles.  

We finally found that Aveno baby products worked well for her skin type and we never looked back.  As a baby we used Aveno Soothing Relief Cream Wash which was great for her poor ezcema and once she was around a year or so (and had finally grown enough hair back) used Aveno Gentle Conditioning Shampoo for her hair.  As her hair grew longer and more easily tangled (with it’s baby fineness) we also started to use the “Super Sensitive” California Baby Conditioner on the ends with good luck.

I took a risk and branched out with Evelyn and tried Aveno’s Calming Comfort Baby Bath when she started to get cranky at bath time.  I can’t say if the lavender scent worked to calm her but I do know that she didn’t break out with it and she smells divine.

***A note on bubble bath.  We used to use bubble bath with Rose then we noticed that, while potty trained, she was going to the bathroom a lot.  Like a lot a lot.  I read about bubble bath irritating girls urinary tracks so I stopped using it for a week.  She stopped having the issue.  Enough proof for me!  Even though we used the hyper sensitive stuff (because of her exzema issues) it still seemed to give her problems.  She was disappointed but soon forgot about it once the bottle disappeared.

Stuff to Make it Easier:

There are a few other things that I have found to make life easier in the bath.

1.  Hooded towels.  These are great to wrap the kids up in after the bath.  It keeps their heads warm and usually come in fun characters which helps with the dreaded bath exit time (Rose looooves her bath and fights getting out every time).  I have two per kid so that one is always dry and ready.

2.  Facet protector.  Once the kids are big enough to be roaming around in the tub a facet protector is a must.  It’s like their heads are magnetically drawn to the thing.  I started out with the frog you see in the picture above but, while cute, it doesn’t have a hole for the shower thingy.  I picked up a whale one a while back from Amazon which installed easily and looked just a cute.

3.  Toy/Soap Holder.  I originally used a mesh frog thing that stuck on the side of the shower with suction cups to hold all of the toys.  However, the suction cups were forever falling off and putting all the toys in was a pain.  Recently I picked up a extendable bathtub basket that is fabulous.  I can easily dump all the toys in there after the bath and they are fully dry by the next day.  I also keep all the soaps and shampoos in there to keep them from constantly falling into the bathtub from their former home on the side of the tub.  You can see ours behind Evelyn in the above picture.

Do you have any tips or tricks for giving little ones baths?  I would love to hear them.


Filed under Evelyn, Rose, Tips

Being your own advocate (even when you don’t want to)

My fairly non confrontational nature has always made it hard to stand up for myself.  Not that I’m a pushover, but it takes a lot of emotional effort to go out of my way to make my feelings known (especially to a stranger).  Luckily for me I’m married to someone who has no problem making those phone calls or sending those emails (thanks hon!).  This stems from years of shyness in my childhood that was only partially overcome through tons of effort once I realized that I wouldn’t get anywhere in life living in a self imposed bubble.
Sometimes however, like in the past few weeks, I put on my big girl panties, take a deep breath and stick my neck out to make sure I get what I need.
At the beginning of the year, I learned through the fabulous online working mommy community that insurance now covers the rental of, if not the purchase of, a breast pump.  My electric pump that I use 3 times a day at work was already second hand when I was nursing Rose 3 years ago and has been starting to sound a little sickly.  I took it apart the last time it stopped working and found a manufacturing date of 1997!  Thus started the saga of me forcing myself to be an adult and my own advocate.
1st phone call: To the insurance company to ask how I would go about getting a pump.  I got no details other then I needed to go through one of their supplier for it to be covered.  Cool beans.
2nd phone call:  To the supplier who turned out to be a middle man for an actual supplier (and you wonder why our insurance is so expensive).  They said all I needed was a prescription from my doc and they would do the rest.
3rd phone call: To the doc to get a prescription.   Found out I needed a physical anyway (oh joy) so made the appointment and got the prescription.
4th phone call: To the middle man (previously known as the supplier) who told me to fax over the info.
5th phone call: (Big girl panties #1) To the middle man as it had been a week and I hadn’t heard anything.  They said they sent the info onto the supplier and that I should call them (heaven forbid the middle man do it).
6th phone call: (Big girl panties #2) To the supplier who was totally unprofessional. First she didn’t know what I was talking about then suddenly ‘remembered me’ and said she didn’t have any rentals available for another month or so (so why didn’t she call me to tell me this!).  *Side rant: I totally support people working out of their homes (I could hear her kids screaming in the background) but please try to be professional about it.  Answer your phone with the name of your company.  Speak to me like a valued customer, not someone who interrupted you day.  Make your answering machine state the name of your company not just leave the automated message on there.  Sheesh! Rant over.*
7th phone call:  (Big girl panties #3) To complain to the middle man who said that the lack of rentals was a problem with all their supplies (why didn’t they tell me that before) and if I changed suppliers it would put me at the bottom of the list.
8th phone call: To the insurance company who said I could do a purchase instead of a rental (total pat on the back moment to myself for realizing I should ask that question).
9th phone call: To the supplier who said they could drop ship me a pump if I changed the order to a rental.
10th phone call: To the middle man who changed the order to a purchase (I finally got a fabulous woman who spent 30 minutes just to make sure everything was right).
11th phone call: (Big girl panties #4) To the supplier because it had been over a week and I hadn’t heard anything.  On a really weird coincidence, the middle man called me as I was leaving a message to the supplier asking if I had received the pump.  I think they lit a fire under them as the supplier called within 2 hours and said they would ship me the pump.
Phew!  That was, count them, 11 phone calls (not counting the 2 that I received) that I had to make in order to get this pump shipped to me.  Every single one of them took a lot of emotional effort make.  Every single one of them was needed for me to get this pump before I was done pumping and/or my pump gave up the ghost. Every single one of them was worth it.
*On a side note: I know by typing “big girl panties” 6 times I am going to see traffic to my site from strange men looking for pictures of large women in their underwear.
A thing of beauty

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Filed under Musing of Life, parenthood, Tips, working mom

Baby Sleep Issues Update Pt. 2

When we last left off on The Young and the Sleepless, our heroine was disparately attempting to wrap her sleep deprived brain around a solution to rid her life of the dreaded Sleep Bandit.  She tried everything she could think of but to no avail.  Finally after a seemly random full night of sleep, she used her slightly fuzzy powers of reasoning to determine the most likely cause of the Sleep Bandits temporary absence……

So was it the Vit D or the absence of decaf coffee and chocolate in my diet.  The Vit D was easy to try.  Her wonderful day care provider made sure that Evelyn was out in the sun off and on most of next day.  That night, she did go down easier and had one three hour stretch of sleep but then was back up every 2 hours.  Check that one off the list.

That left the decaf coffee and chocolate.  I already knew that Evelyn was sensitive to what I ate.  A single glass of anything citrus (orange juice, lemonade, etc) will cause her to empty the entire content of her tummy on whoever is holding her at some point by the end of the day (or on your aunt’s beautiful hardwood floor. Sorry Gayle!).  I had seen charts showing the amount of caffeine in “decaf” coffee (25 mg) and tea (12 mg).  Dark chocolate is on there too (20 mg). While the numbers are smaller in comparison to regular coffee (75-120 mg), it’s nothing to sneeze at when you think I was drinking three cups per day with the occasional piece (or 3 pieces) of dark chocolate per day (hey, it’s free at work).  I might as well have been drinking a cup or two of regular coffee.  I did a little searching of the internet and found that apparently this is a known issue for babies under 6 months.  If fact it can be worse for people who avoided caffeine during pregnancy.  Dang me and trying to be healthy during pregnancy.

To test this theory, I cut out all coffee, tea and chocolate for two days.  Then took the pumped milk from the third day directly to daycare.  Halfway through the second day of exclusively caffeine free milk, Evelyn had a huuuge diaper and then was a changed baby.  She was more smiley, napped better and generally gave off happy baby vibes.  That evening she woke only once to eat at 3:30 and then again right before it was time to get up anyway.  Humph.  As the days went on, the happier baby continued to be stick around and the sleep continued to go well.  Yay?

To cap off the study, on Monday she went back to daycare and went back to eating the older caffinated milk.  During the day she was cranky.  Night time sleep, up twice.  Tuesday night sleep, every two hours.  Uggg. 

So the conclusion is that if you have a cranky colicy no sleeping baby it may be the caffeine in the milk.  Poop.

Luckily milk chocolate has very little caffeine or I might have to switch to formula.  (kidding!!)




Filed under breastfeeding, Evelyn, sleep issues, Teething, Tips

Rule #32 when photographing children

If you forget that your toddler has a banana when you take her outside to take pictures of her in the beautiful evening light, you only get photos of



“Mommy, do I have any banana in my teeth?”


Filed under Humor, Rose, Tips

Rubber ducky….

Rose really liked the blog post of her Facebook friend Sonia and her ducky bathtub.  When she got one of her own she wanted me to post something similar.  Here goes.
Rubber ducky, your the one….

You make bath time lots of fun…

Rubber Ducky, I’m awfully fond of you!
Copy of IMG_1989_edited


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Filed under Fun, Humor, Rose, Tips