Archive for September, 2007

How to Charm Me

September 29, 2007

This week we’ve observed a family of black beetles that have taken up residence in our yard. They are pretty dramatic looking, as bugs go, and they always catch Will’s attention from car to door.

Today there was a pair of them coupled in the driveway, doing what I imagine it looks like when black beetles mate with vigor and enthusiasm.

Will studies them closely at them for a minute and then says, “Look Mom—they’re friends!”

Ritualistic

September 27, 2007

Here to give triplet advice? Much appreciated, thanks for stopping by, please click HERE.

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Thursday’s Theme at Picture This is “ritual” and while I don’t have time to search for the good ones, I immediately knew what I wanted to post—the ritual of taking a photo each month from 1 to 18 months with a sign. I love the reassurance of life’s rituals, both big and small. They all play a part in the fabric of life, and I am so glad we have this photo ritual to remember this time by.*  Here are a few of our “ritual” photos,  crummy snapshots and all.

For more takes on RITUAL, go to Picture This!
*(Which means I have to remember to take Henry’s 15-month photo now that he is 15 1/2 months. Tomorrow, I promise.)

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Will at one month. 

 

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 Will at 16.5 months, apparently not the first time I forgot. Yes, I’ve learned a little about white balance since then!

 

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Henry at one month, sleeping, as he did until he was about 6 months.

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Busy swimmer and sand box player Henry at 13 months. We do sometimes take photos of his face.

Baby advice needed—times THREE!

September 26, 2007

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NO, IT’S NOT ME. Seriously, do you think that’s how I would tell you?

Actually, I don’t know how I would tell you, but I know it would be from a prone position because I would be lying on the ground from the shock.

But anyway.

Dear friends of mine are going to be first-time parents and they are looking for advice on the baby stuff. You know, What To Buy, What Not To Buy, Nuggets of Parenting Advice and, of course, What Will You Give Them If You Are Done With It, because GUESS WHAT—she’s having triplets.

Internet, this is your moment to shine.

Since a triplet pregnancy gives you less time to prepare than a singleton pregnancy (which doesn’t seem fair, really), this mom-to-be-times-three is trying to get all her preparations done soon. Really soon.

And while she really needs a triplet stroller, three cribs and a day at the spa (oh, and a BLOG, because she is a great writer and boy, does she have material), you can help out by giving her and her husband the best parenting & baby gear advice you can think of. And come now, you don’t need to BE a parent to give parenting advice—we’ve all had parents, right? These babies will have two amazing parents, a wonderful extended family and all the love they could ever want, which is what you really need to start with. But love alone won’t get them to sleep, so if you have a trick, tip or piece of advice, pass it on!

I’ll start:

Swaddling—learn the swaddle in the hospital, and don’t be like me, thinking it was just a pretty way for the nurses to present the baby. As it turns out, it is an actual soothing technique, and it helps baby fall asleep.

We’ve learned to keep an “emergency” kit in the car with a receiving blanket, extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes for baby (and you, too!). Especially in the early days, diaper blowouts and massive spit-ups occur without warning in any location. As they get older, you can add snacks, paper towels, tissues, toys, etc—this kit has saved me (and other moms who have borrowed from it) many times, especially when you get a little cavalier about leaving the house without the full-on diaper bag.

It’s also a good idea to always have an extra receiving blanket handy in your diaper bag, car or stroller, or just up your sleeve. You’ll find it being pressed into service as you tuck it around your Baby Bjorn (s) while walking on a cool day, to wrap around baby as you contain blowouts on your way to a changing area, as a burp cloth, to roll up and support baby’s head or body, to lay him down and change him, etc.

Clear out some space in your freezer, even if you’ve been dutifully filling it with pre-made meals before baby. You’re bound to get a few more meals (or batches of cookies) that need to be frozen. To make room, eat the cookies.

For night changings/feedings, we liked having a clock that we could see in the dark, as well as a light with a dimmer switch. As the weeks go by, keeping the lights low at night is helpful in teaching baby the difference between day and night, an important distinction they don’t always come out knowing!

Your baby might come home with full-grown talons, so have some teeny baby nail clippers on hand, or dress your newborn in those gowns with the flip-over hand mitts if you need a few days to gain the strength and focus to cut those little nails. They also make little teeny cotton mittens you can use or use some baby socks. They can really scratch the heck out of their faces if their nails go uncovered/untrimmed.

Have some infant Tylenol and infant Motrin in the house, and know where the closest 24-hour pharmacy is. You never know when you will need it. And be sure you factor in location when choosing your pediatrician. You will be there ALL THE TIME, so make sure it is easy to get there!

Our NICU nurse recommended the Chicco Keyfit infant seat for its amazing infant positioner, esp. good for very small babies in danger of positional asphyxia. We got the Keyfit and really, really love it—so easy to adjust. For “big kid” car seats, we have the Britax Marathon.

The exersaucer, from about five months to walking was our best friend—both kids loved the upright position after months on back and tummy. (That being said, of course you’ve heard it’s best to borrow or buy second-hand the optional gear, like swings, bouncy seats and exersaucers. Some babies can’t stand the stuff, and you’ll never know until you try a few times.)

I really prefer the softness of jersey knit and flannel crib sheets—the regular cotton ones, even high-end ones just felt too rough for new baby skin.

I’m a big reader, so it is no surprise that I have read a LOT of baby care books. My favorites? Baby 411, Your Newborn Head to Toe and the classic, given to me by a dear friend, Your Baby and Child: From birth to age five (Hi Barbara!).

I also have read all the sleep books, (Ferber, Weissbluth, etc.) and by far I really like Jodi Mindell’s Sleeping Through the Night. Who wouldn’t, with a title like that? Of course, you could also go with Jennifer’s brilliant sleep book idea over at Playgroups are no place for children, but we probably shouldn’t scare future parents that much!

The best advice we got about baby furniture from experienced parents was this: don’t get a high chair. They’re too expensive, and take up too much space. Instead, get a feeding seat that can be strapped to one of your chairs. When baby is done with the tray, it becomes a booster seat at the table. They take up much less space and are so much easier to clean—also great for traveling. We love our blue and green $25 Fisher-Price one.

The packs of prefolded cotton diapers are ok as burp cloths, but the flannel ones are really, really soft and nice and more absorbent.

When baby starts moving around, soft-soled leather slip on shoes like Robeez are fantastic until they really start doing a lot of outside walking— in winter they keep the socks on, keep the feet warm and protect the toes of little crawlers. Target has a cheaper version of Robeez shoes, plus there is an eBay store that sells similar soft-soled shoes for much less than Robeez, search for “ShoesZoo” on eBay.

We have the Diaper Dekor diaper pail, and find that it does a pretty good job of containing the smell. You can use regular bags in it or the special liners, which I like because they last FOREVER, and they are in a tube format, so you can change a stinky pail before it is full, without wasting a bag that is less than full.

I love the Vera Bradley and Skip-Hop diaper bags. And to put in them, Amazon sells giant economy boxes of disposable diapers and wipes at great prices (often better than the warehouse stores, and the boxes are usually bigger than any you can get at other stores), and they come straight to your door with free shipping. Yes, that’s right, I said straight to your door with free shipping. Why would you buy diapers anywhere else?

Oh and, don’t get hung up on the newborn diapers with the cord cutout—both my babies were too small for the cord cutout so we had to fold it over anyway, and by the time they grew into the area where the cord cutout is, the cords had fallen off.

Strollers, strollers, strollers—I did more research on strollers than the rest of the baby gear combined. Baby Bargains is a help, as is the good parent feedback available on the Baby Bargains message boards. My big piece of advice would be don’t buy a matching travel system—most infant car seats fit into most strollers just fine, and you get a much better stroller if you buy it separately. If you are wondering if your car seat of choice fits your stroller of choice, just go try it out at a baby store. Oh, and definitely buy your stroller through Marilyn at A Running Stroller, fantastic prices, fantastic service (call her and talk to her for advice and ideas) and NO shipping charges. She also has GREAT prices on Britax car seats, Skip-Hop diaper bags, etc.

And don’t forget the lovely Internet! Find the support groups and parenting sites that work for you, from Baby Center and Parent Dish to all the blogs you could ever want—see list to your right for starters!

Okay, your turn, Internet! What could you not live without with a newborn (or three) in the house? What’s the best parenting book, children’s book, sleep technique, piece of gear, web site, parenting blog, easy recipe or just plain piece of advice you can think of? And if you know any moms of multiples, please ask them to stop by and share their advice!

More of the same

September 25, 2007

No time to post here, busy congratulating coworker Molly on her engagement, if you didn’t hear the squeals of joy from where you’re sitting. Oh, and getting work done.

But, we’ve always got time for photos, and so I continue with overdue summer photo week.

Today, Henry’s pal Theo’s first birthday at the beach. Of course, Theo is now 13 months old, and driving by now, but never mind.

The classic handfull of cake!

Theo’s pal Martha at the beach party.

Henry investigates the party favors—bananas, to go with the banana cake!

The full set of photos from the party and his first visit from newborn cousin Kate is here.

It’s not over ’til it’s over

September 24, 2007

The calendar says fall, but it still feels like summer here and I’m not complaining a bit. We got in what was probably the best beach trip yet on the first day of autumn, and if this keeps up we’ll still be swimming into October!

Which means I can still haul out the remainder of summer photos I have yet to post, so consider this summer photo week. Also, this takes the place of “embarrassing pictures of Anna” from the Face Behind the Blog tag Christina gave me, because I still haven’t done any scanning.

So enjoy this taste of summer—outside and here on the computer. Today I give you young William, not to be confused with the William at my house who spent the weekend wearing strands of shiny, glittery mardi gras beads and asking me, “Mom, am I pretty?”

This William lives next door, and I shot these on the eve of his second birthday—if you can believe it—he looks wise beyond his years, don’t you think? And I like the first one for my Best Shot Monday.

I would have preferred to shoot it vertically, but we went outside and he gave me that great look before I even had the camera up to my face, so I just snapped it before that expression disappeared! I didn’t have time to turn the camera. Funny how those kinds of shots can sometimes be the best ones. Head over to Picture This for more Monday photos!

Photoshop users: I shot these accidentally at ISO 800 because I had been inside and forgot to turn it down when we went outside—holy grain and noise! His skin looks really weird on the Web. What to do—isn’t there some kind of noise-remover/plug-in for PS?

How about a spell that scrubs toilets?

September 21, 2007

So I just (I know! The last person anywhere!) finished Harry Potter and the Pile of Cash a few weeks ago. When I first read Harry Potter, it was before I had children and I mostly found the magical powers and spells amusing. Now in the seventh book, and with two children and banana chunks everywhere, I’m desperate for them.

All this came on as my husband and I recently spent way too many minutes of a precious double nap time (yes! both of them at once!) looking for a lost remote control (later found in the GARAGE, finally a lost item I had NOTHING to do with.), and I couldn’t help but think, hello, where’s my wand, I’ll just do my Summoning Charm (Accio remote!) and be done with this nonsense.

Which then led me down the primrose path of wondering what it would be like to parent with these magical powers tucked into your diaper bag. Squished bananas on the floor? How bout a little Magical Mess Solution? Dreading a long car ride with kids? Just disapparate instead! Trying to get out of the house with your hands full of kids, shoes, sippy cups and diaper bags? Use a door-opening charm, silly! “More milk please, mama!” Sure, kids, let me just flick my wand at you and use my refilling spell. And I’m not sure WHAT I would use to battle wits with a crabby three-year-old, but I’m sure it fall under the category of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

How about you? If you could choose one what magical power or spell to get you through your days, what would it be?

If you need inspiration, check out the Harry Potter Lexicon!

Oh, and I’m guest blogging today at Mike’s Got Nothin—hope you’ll stop by!

And this is how I reward you?

September 20, 2007

So I’ve had a lot of new readers this week, thanks in large part to a “blog star” award/linky love from the always funny and interesting Jennifer at Playgroups are no place for children. (And if you don’t read her, you should!)

If you are new, welcome. I’m so glad you stopped by, and I’m sure you’ll be back for more now that you’ve seen all my interesting posts. Like this one right here.

This day has already run off the rails and we haven’t even made it through the time formerly known as “nap time.” Which means the “afternoon” will be “really fun.” And might end with a “cocktail.”

See how fun it is here? Be sure to come back soon!

(Oh, and don’t miss it—my first guest blogging gig, over at Mike’s Got Nothing tomorrow. And you thought THIS was a good post. )

How to charm me

September 19, 2007

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After a morning swim at the beach last weekend on our mini “bacation” away, Will and I headed to the sandwich shop to pick up lunch for the family. (Hey, every meal can’t be steamed lobsters and heirloom tomatoes!).

I’m distracted by the menu, and contemplating my choices of (A) extra avocado and (B) smoked or plain turkey, (went with smoked, but no extra avocado) and it takes me a moment to realize he is completely awe struck by the person in front of us.

We’re waiting on line behind a man in full-on bicycling gear—a close fitting, bright blue lycra jersey and since it was a bit chilly out, blue lycra tights instead of just bike shorts.

Will looks up at me with dinner-plate-sized eyes and breathes, “Mom! A scuba diver!”

People with small children aren’t normally allowed to eat this well

September 17, 2007

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I know, I know, what do I think this is, Smitten Kitchen or something?
But I didn’t MAKE the food seen here, I just ate it.

We spent a glorious, beautiful weekend away visiting my college roommate (a professional cook) and her partner (a gourmet cook who could be a professional) and as you can see, WE ATE VERY WELL.

I didn’t even photograph all of it, just the first course, because I was too busy EATING and couldn’t be bothered to wipe the melted butter off my hands, you know, from my lobster. So in addition to what you see here, just imagine a glorious pasta course with pungent olives, sweet, juicy heirloom tomatoes, fruity olive oil and sharp basil, then the next course: perfectly steamed lobster and the previously noted melted butter.

And this gorgeous salad:

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And because we were celebrating the summer birthdays among us, including that of a well-indulged three-year-old, there were giant cupcakes.

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And because he had an audience and a sugar high from the ice cream (!) and candy (!) he had ALREADY HAD THAT DAY, Will gave me a great photo op.

 

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He doesn’t do this at home. Seriously.

 

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He knows he got away with something really good here.

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And he knows he still has plenty of candy left for tomorrow.

So my Best Shot Monday? You get to pick your favorite this week—I’m busy eating the rest of my cupcake before Will sees it.

(Photo folks: these are all SOOC, shot in manual (1/125 at f/4, ISO was up to eek! 1600 because of that photo I took of the candles) with external flash and no post processing. I’d love to hear from some experienced flash users about what I can do to improve on the flash use. For example, I wanted to preserve a little more of the ambient light in the room, but the flash overpowered it and made it look like high noon. Is this where I need to learn about dragging the shutter, or just power down the flash? Or was it just that I had forgotten to take down my ISO to 400? )

For more Best Shot Monday, click over to Picture This!

Quick question

September 16, 2007

Are you seeing a blue bar instead of my usual H & W header?

And if so, WordPress, where did you put it and can I have it back?

Please?

Ha!

September 13, 2007

So it is a gorgeous late summer day here. The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, my little boy was all ready to smile for his “first day of nursery school” photo and…my battery died.

Did you hear me? My battery died. I know this happens around the world to lots of people, but frankly, this doesn’t happen to me. First of all, I have a digital SLR camera which doesn’t eat batteries like a point and shoot does. Second, I use my camera nearly every day, and download photos at least every week if not more frequently. (You do too, right? You aren’t risking fate and heartbreak by leaving your precious photos on the card for weeks or months, right? If you do, stop reading RIGHT NOW and go download. And backup to CD. Go on, I’ll wait for you.)

As I was saying, I am pretty tuned into my camera and its needs and I never walk around with an uncharged battery. Until today. When my firstborn has his first day of nursery school. And he is so cute about it that my teeth ache.

But never fear. I did the quick “wipe and swipe” treatment, (You know, take the battery out, wipe the contact end on your pants a few times and put it back in. You’re bound to get a few more photos out of it, even if you think it is dead. Try it!) and got a few, though of course my white balance settings were for indoors. Thus, Will appears blue here, but at least I caught him on his way into nursery school. with his nursery-school issued school bag, bigger than he is.

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I’ll try to catch a non-blue one later (with my fully charged battery!) when I pick him up, but this will have to suffice for now—it also works for my Thursday’s Theme photo at Picture This, which happens to be “three” today. I think it fits!

Oh, and remember Puck? He showed up! Welcome Samuel Thomas, and congratulations to Anna and Mike!

Here, read this.

September 12, 2007

Did I mention I was BUSY? So busy that I cannot possibly have an original thought of my own?

But not to worry, the Internet won’t let you down like I do. I’ve put together a little sample of some of my recent favorite posts from ’round the net, and seriously folks, you’ll want to do the clicking. Come on, have I ever steered you wrong before? Okay, there was the knitted mohair willy warmer, but besides that?

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So meet Kristi, homeschooling mom in Idaho, who holds a back to school parent/teacher conference. With herself.

Me: Thanks for coming in. I just wanted to go over a few things with you.

Me: Keep it snappy. I’m a busy girl.

You also might enjoy her take on Fashion Week.

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Then go read about Amalah and think to yourself, “there but for the grace of God go I,” because she dropped her new iPhone in the toilet. Then celebrate with her when she learns just how awesome Apple customer service can be. I’m thinking of going to a Genius Bar, saying I dropped MY iPhone in the toilet, and by the way, I flushed it, can I still have a new one? Please?

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And then, if you don’t read Beta Mom, you should. Here’s her analysis of what parents should really be paid for their duties, including their work as exterminator, manicurist and plumber.

Okay, that ought to be enough to keep you busy and off the streets. At least until I have an original thought of my own.